In the midst of a hilarious address to the 2013 graduating class at the University of Virginia, comedian Stephen Colbert had a serious message for the eager crowd: if you owe anything, it’s to the Chinese.
The Comedy Central host told the crowd that they do not owe the previous generation anything because “… thanks to us, you owe it to the Chinese.” The “Colbert Report” host was the keynote speaker at the valedictory exercises in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend for the “Wahoo” graduates and their parents.
Speaking on behalf of his own generation, Colbert said, “And don’t worry if we don’t approve of your choices. In our benign self-absorption, I believe we have given you a gift! A particular form of independence, because you do not owe the previous generation anything. Thanks to us, you owe it to the Chinese.”
The grim reminder that China owns nearly $1 trillion of United States Treasury debt is the sagest advice Colbert gave the millennials facing a bleak job market and a slow economy. Perhaps he should have encouraged them to further their education pursuing lessons in speaking Mandarin.
But he spoke the language of the graduates by lamenting their self-absorbed attitudes stating, “tweeting your Vines, hashtagging your Spotifys and Snapchatting your YOLOs — your generation needs everything to be about you. And that’s very upsetting to us baby boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing.”
“We’re the original ‘me’ generation” he said, referring to the recent TIME magazine cover declaring the millennial generation the “me me me” generation. “We made the last 50 years all about us. We took all the money. We soaked up all the government services and we deep fried nearly everything in the ocean. It may seem that’s all that’s left for you is unpaid internships, Monday to Tuesday mail delivery and thanks to global warming, soon ‘semester at sea’ means sailing the coast of Ohio.”
“But while we may be leaving you with an economy with fewer job opportunities for the new graduate to slip into, while traditional paths may seem harder to find, that also means that you may learn sooner than most generations the hard lesson that you must always make the path for yourself.”
More of Colbert’s address can be heard here.