We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, December 21. 2015
On the other hand, there is a reason to be disappointed when the issue revolves around responsibility and entitlement. Some claim this is a standard complaint from generation to generation. Perhaps it is, though I don't remember my parents consistently commenting about the work ethic or willingness of any of my friends to think and act responsibly. There were moments when singular behaviors led to stern conversations about smoking, or drinking and how 'kids aren't like they were'. Of course, I'd later hear my parents tell humorous stories of their own proclivities as adolescents and young adults. Some behaviors and complaints do travel across eras.
My parents taught me to work. They instilled an understanding that I'm responsible for myself, and my family, and I need to earn the income to fulfill that responsibility in a dutiful fashion. I began seeing a therapist recently to work through some job-related concerns I have. She keeps using the terms "thoughtful" and "caring" about stories I recount. I always make a face and say "it's an obligation." Maybe some of the things I do are thoughtful and caring. I prefer to think I'm living up to my obligations. Others can think what they want about my motivations. I don't consider an obligation a negative. Like all things in life, there is a price. Obligations are prices with positive feedback loops. Live up to them, and you're trustworthy and should earn a level of respect.
The difficulty I have with the younger generation in my office is an unwillingness to fulfill obligations. More importantly, they confuse obligation with expectation. Sure, they all mean well. They are polite, courteous, friendly, oh-so-PC, inoffensive to a fault. Their 'obligations' to society are met. Obligations to accomplishment are severely lacking. While Woodrow Wilson may have felt the proliferation of cars was symbolic of an entitled generation, I believe an entitled generation is one which wants things handed to them, free of any perceived price.
I don't think all kids are disappointments like this. I see plenty who put themselves out there and work hard. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming, and very visible, number who believe that just getting a college degree is some kind of magical potion which creates jobs, intelligence and responsibility. We have candidates catering to this mindset in both parties. As I pointed out to two of my management peers, who happen to both be starting families now, there's a strong chance they won't even consider sending their kids to college, nor should they necessarily assume they will have to.
If I had to say I'm disappointed in the next generation, and I'm not completely, it's primarily because journalists present entitled behavior as the norm all young folk should expect. That isn't to say I'm not concerned about misplaced priorities, poor behavior, and outlandish desires. At the very least, college protests 50 years ago were about stopping a war. Today they are just about how to surround students with bubble wrap. Stories about these outliers are presented in generally positive tones, despite the very negative aspects of what they are seeking and the methods which they utilize. There is never a question of motive or potential outcome, just a supposition the means justifies the ends.
Ultimately, society will struggle on somehow. I have faith in the human spirit. Even if every last young person was simply an entitled brat who didn't want to work, work still has to get done and will get done. People tend to find a way. Civilization made it through the Dark Ages. Which probably means the only real reason we can possibly have to be disappointed is because we just don't want to see every generation repeat the mistakes of prior ones. There's no need, or desire, to repeat the Dark Ages any more than there is a need or desire to repeat the 1950's. While the first article I linked to suggested advancement, growth and spread of wealth created a sense of envy on the part of older generations, I'd say that's the least likely reason for disappointment. I don't envy what my kids have or will have. I think it's great they are living in such a world of abundance. Like anyone else, I just don't like seeing avoidable mistakes being made. Even more importantly, I don't like seeing those mistakes being treated as net 'positives' for society.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:23 | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (0)
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Its the K-12 education system that is the root cause. They give partial credit as well as credit for trying. They teach that 70% is passing when in the real world, its more like 97%. Above all, they teach that everyone is special independent of any kind of accomplishment. Hence, the kids come out with as specail snowflakes with an entitlement complex the size of the Mississippi.
That "you're all special" bit has been around for some time. Remember a friend telling me about the time her son came home from school proclaiming he was a "special person". She agreed he was a "special person" but lamented that the school had stopped soon: sure he was a "special person" but so were his father, mother, big brother, and even his baby sister. Furthermore, she said, the school should have pointed out that even "special persons" pick up after themselves and help with the dishes.
Our offsprings are all or just in that demographic; all are appalled by the lack of work ethic in that group. The one who is technically in that cohort is appalled at the lack of work ethic in colleagues just a few years junior.
But then, we are older parents, and had some rather old-fashioned rules such as 1) you will graduate from high school with a proper diploma; 2) you will then go on to post-secondary training, for which you will be expected to pay tuition and books (we will help with the rest at an institution of our choosing - usually one within an easy commute from our home); 3) you will take courses leading to a marketable degree/diploma. It worked: all three have found careers for which they are well suited, and the work ethic we instilled is there to this day.
Hooray! Another parent who learned the two main principles of parenting: Vigorous use of the word, "NO"; and vigorous application of the advice, "EARN IT!"
The other main principle not raised by Frances, is "Put your family in a position where your kids' friends are a positive influence". Live in a good community of like-minded families where friends are within walking distance and exercise the "NO" option as applied to choice of friends.
Thank you for your kind comments. As to living in a "good" community, we were fortunate in that we were able to sell first house at a good profit and move into our present neighbourhood which would - undoubtedly - be considered "good". Actually, I wondered when - a few months after we moved in - a house just down the street was being listed for well over twice what we'd paid for ours. Granted, it has a great view, but my comment to my spouse at the time was that we can't afford the neighbourhood. It's gone considerably up-market since then, with solid but older homes being torn down for mini-mansions. But we are still here, if only because selling and moving elsewhere would mean we would be in a lesser place (our home is lot value these days).
Looking back at our children's school friends, they came from different but generally reasonable neighbhourhoods. Some were not. I well remember one child complaining that the only question I had about friends was where their grades were. My response was simple: given this child's aspirations, friends had better be the studious types and not "mall rats". They never were, and said child reached the goal.
I have heard the word "special" so mean in Special Education.
"John is special." Translation: John is in Special Education classes.
Not too many kids want to be considered special in that way.
My parents generally thought, with good reason, that I was being irresponsible about many things. I can't say they ever faulted me for my work ethic, though they showed great restraint in that regard, as my life was pretty cushy compared to theirs--they both came of age in the Depression and WWII. I was exposed to culturally influences that were brand-new problems for them, like pot and easy sex, so I'm sure they often found themselves thinking that the younger generation was going down the tubes. It's humbling now to reflect on how casually I took the ability to do things like go to college, which they had had to move mountains to achieve for themselves.
I have some sympathy for the "free education...freedom from debt" sign. I never incurred any college loan debt, and while I worked during my university days, my parents paid for the greater part of the financial obligations of my undergrad years. The student loan fiasco has subsidized wasteful university expenditures on administrative bloat [ though some of this bloat is federally mandated] and posh but unnecessary facilities.
Back in the day, part time work during the school year and/or summer work could pretty much pay for tuition. Those days are gone.
A lot of the problems come from how they were educated- everyone deserves a prize and no one's feelings should be hurt. That's not the way it is in the real world.
I don't have sympathy for that position, and I had a similar experience to yours. Unless by sympathy you mean that it helps to leave college without debt (as I did).
Certainly it helps. But my wife had a student loan which was paid off the year we before we were married (10 years later). She was the first person in her family to go to college. Both my sons will have some debt. I have made it my goal to make sure it's minimal, but I think it's important to understand they have a skin in the game here.
I worked throughout college. My sons have a difficult time finding jobs (and internships), mainly because of rules and regulations which limit who can work and how they can work. Neither got their first job before the age of 16, whereas I was working at 13.
Is it good to have a 'free' education? As someone who had one (thanks, Dad), absolutely YES. But it's not a question of it being free. I had an obligation. That obligation, as he put it, was to get an education. If he was paying, I had to be getting something out of it, and I did.
Today, there is the ability to have a 'free' education with absolutely no obligation whatsoever. None. Just take a few classes, go ahead. Bernie Sanders will help you pay for it all if you vote for him, because you deserve it.
I think you and I are on the same page, though perhaps a difference of a few degrees apart. I see no reason why an education should be 'free' of anything. The price should either be debt or the obligation to learn - and perhaps a bit of both.
What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.
And these days, the collection of most of the books that matter are out of copyright and available free or for a pittance in reprint.
Granted, the hard sciences do require a bit of instruction, but even much of that is eroding with such things a Khan Academy.
Left over is the credential and the regimented, i.e., extract as much money as possible from the student, of requirements. State schools which are not suppose to be money-grubbing like the private schools, should start letting students test out of credits. Remember, non-profit just means the top administrators divide up the "excess" earnings rather than returning it to the owners.
"Back in the day, part time work during the school year and/or summer work could pretty much pay for tuition. Those days are gone."
Those days are gone because of skyrocketing tuition rates created by easy student loans. The solution is not more easy money, the solution is to cut off the gravy and force colleges to cut expenses and offer their product at a reasonable rate.
Exactly so. Easy student loans drove up the money available to colleges,and they took full advantage.
Probably hear-say, I read some years ago that there was a graffitum on one block in the Great Pyramid to the effect that young workers were disrespectful of their elders and did not want to work hard...
Well, just look at the condition of the Pyramids today.The idea was to build them to last. The Elders clearly had a point.
I was able to pay for college (BS) and graduate school (MS and PhD) from merit scholarships and summer job earnings + Ta's duties in grad school. Don't think that is possible these days. My undergraduate summer jobs were 1. logging and peeling pulp (if you know what that is you are probably a north country boy), 2. working in a veneer mill, and 3. pounding spikes on the railroad. Each of these was hard physical work and I was always glad to see September and the start of the school year. School was easy compared to those jobs. In grad school I was always able to get a summer job-internship they are called now-a-days so ended up with no debt. My parents had saved for my college but I didn't need it so they were able to use it for my younger sister and for other extended family members in need.
Have you ever thought that your ability to withstand the rigours of the next school year stemmed in some part from the advantage your body gained from all that hard labour?
It's funny how things get expensive after the Feds get involved. I remember people saying medical care was going to get expensive because of Medicare. Now I understand what they were saying now that I watch college tuition skyrocket now that the Feds are guaranteeing student loans. This is another problem created by the government so it could swoop in and fix it. A little understanding of the first rule of economics (demand is infinite but supply is finite) would help us avoid these problems.
I'm also interested in the progression of generational attitudes. The Greatest Generation did some great things, but a lot of them raised spoiled kids. Now it seems that their kids are raising even more spoiled kids. Their parents, in general, wanted everybody to pay for somebody else, These kids want everybody to pay for them! They're going to wake up and complain that they can't make a living and demand the government fix it when the real reason is they are paying for the promises of their parents (Social Security, Medicare, service of the debt, their taxes, and their college debt (and if they don't need college debt because it's all been forgiven or college is free, this part just gets piled up on their taxes.
Milton Friedman explaining your first paragraph some 40 years ago.
As for your second paragraph, we are seeing the rise in wealth in society with more upper middle class brats and their sense of entitlement. We've an over-production of "elites". If we look closely, most of the whining on the college campuses is from those expecting to be handed power.
And finally, Adam's famous quote fails as the grandkids study poetry and art, they squander the middle generations wealth derived from engineering and commerce, and undo the stability brought by the grandfather's study of war and military matters. Mises in his 'The Anti-Capitalist Mentality' gives a similar insight into the anti-capitalism of those family members not running the family business and how they despise the one keeping the family gravy train going.
Being able to speak freely is a right. Actually being listened to is a privilege. The more people who understand both of these statements the better.
I don't disagree with the comments but I think there are two important factors:
1. The lack of any real rite of passage into adulthood. No real challenge and test of ability, knowledge and skill. I do believe the great depression and WW II were the challenge and the test for the greatest generation. We don't have that, anyone can slow dance though life in this country or simply drop out.
2. Teaching and guidance by parents and other adults outside of school. Our public schools teach very little life skills and even the reading, writing and arithmetic they do teach has been watered down and full understanding of these subjects is not essential for graduation.
There isn't enough challenge for our youth and we don't demand that they learn or perform. Anyone who has raised children knows that between 18 months and 13 they are like empty vessels that can easily be filled with knowledge or crap. It is a true shame that so many are simply filled up with crap. After puberty it depends on so many things but one of those things is what you did (or they did) before puberty. You can instill a life of learning on your children that will stick with them into adulthood or you can let them absorb the crap so common in our culture and hope they somehow manage to rise above it.
As much as many of today's youth can be fragile and pathetic, and as much as we can (rightfully) blame a toxic media culture and crappy schools for being a poor influence, it all ultimately goes back to parents as the last line of defense.
The "kids these days" complaint is eternal; the "parents these days" seems somewhat new to me.