DR: I would like to take a bit of a look at young people entering the job market. This is a theory that I’m still noodling around with, but I think we see a more defined and more deeply etched line between various classes. I think we’re developing an economic and social caste system in this country, and I think it’s going to be reflected in the many measures in the fate of the kids who graduate from the Ivy League schools, versus the kids who graduate from state schools, versus the kids who graduate from community colleges. Meritocracy gives way to a sort of redefined aristocracy and I’m wondering what this is going to look like, what this is going to reflect. I don’t see too many Yale people sitting out there asking if I have an extra quarter. But, I get the feeling I’m going to see a few kids from branch campuses and no-name colleges finding themselves in that.
I’m also interested in the connection between geographic isolation and economic struggle. Emporium was an excellent example of that. People live there because they want to live there. People often times live in places because that’s where they choose to live. And this sense of place is put at risk, it can be lost.
I learned this myself because I was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. My plan as a young man was to live my life there. To me it was all the city that I needed and it was all the place that I wanted. In 1977, the steel industry started to go. There was really nothing left there for me, and I had to go.
I am curious as to the different ways that this depression will displace people, physically, emotionally, culturally. I see a huge potential for a ripple effect. We’re not going to see people traveling like the Okies in the 1930s, but we’re going to see changes just as significant, and just as important, and, I fear, maybe just as unfortunate.