April 1, 2011

The youth of today - I despair a little.

Yesterday morning on the train into work (yes, I'm back at work, my personal recession was short lived), a group of university students sat next to/near me. Or rather, in groups of one or two they sat near me over the course of three stations.  Overhearing their conversation was not an option, it was impossible to avoid. Along with the usual talk about parties, music, and a not too surprising lack of talk about their studies, a particular brief exchange when one at a later station joined their group, caught my attention.

Upon seeing and greeting his friends the last one to arrive (the only male in the group of five) was asked if he was "still slacking". His answer was greeted with assent and approval amongst the group: "Absolutely. Trying to put in the least effort possible to achieve the most benefit."  While the females all agreed ("Same as everyone"), I couldn't help but wonder a couple of things. 

Firstly, based on the rest of their conversation, I had assumed that their agreement with the statement was genuine. But was it just a social requirement? Perhaps it was a little of both.  More importantly it fits with my post earlier about our culture of 'laziness' which manifests itself differently with conservatives and liberals. Everyone seemingly indeed is trying to get the most they can with the least amount of effort.  That's symptomatic of human nature and not entirely a bad thing.  Why walk a mile to the store for milk when you can walk 50 yards across the street and get the same milk?  Why pay $4.00 for that milk if someone is selling the same gallon for $2.00?

On the other hand there is a point at which it turns from being functional optimization to pure laziness.  Why work to earn the two dollars for milk if the government will give me money every month that I can apportion to milk and rent and other things?  What alarms me is that the slippery slope of laziness is much more real than many other slippery slopes that get talked about in the media. How is the United States supposed to work itself back into greatness over time if the youth of today is more interested in playing, partying and 'slacking' than really putting forth some sort of effort?  The culture of entitlement spreads beyond welfare and into everyday life and is increasingly able to be observed on different scales in different generations.

Some of the other comments I heard later on bear out that sense (true, these are Canadian kids but I guarantee you in any city from Miami to Anchorage you could overhear the same thing).  The male of the group was obviously in a different place than the rest of the females.  Firstly, he smelled of marijuana, or rather his clothes did.  True, that's not new - stupid hippy baby boomers have been doing that for decades.  But to be in public absolutely reeking of the stuff? Obviously he didn't care.  What made the sense of entitlement more obvious were some of his other comments;

"Thank God I never went to college."  That was surprisingly greeted by the females who were either justifying their own attendance or really feeling that way.  The most dominant response was  "Its just a time killer."  Really?  In that case save yourselves, or more likely your parents, the cost and just hang out for four years.  Yeah, it's still lazy but at least it's cheap lazy.  The male also spoke about his multiple vacations.  He found Cuba was disappointing.  Poor baby.  He was comparing it to some of the 5 star resorts he'd stayed at in other tropical countries and the food and bed weren't as good.  No doubt he was affording all of these vacations by himself.  So he had every right to be disappointed.  Maybe if he understood that Cuba was a communist nation where laziness is an exaggerated unintended consequence of the political system.  But, then again he is happy to not be in school learning.  At least he's not being even more indoctrinated by liberal professors.

Youth - They seem to be without motivation (other than partying) or direction or a sense of purpose.  Very little spirituality is evident.  How can a country have a direction if its people don't?  It's easy to see why they'll riot or turn out en masse to protest something they clearly don't have a real grasp on. Like say the Wisconsin protests or voting for President Obama., or environmentalist hysteria.  They are seeking a direction, even if they don't realize it. A couple of generations of bad parenting perhaps have done this.  I don't know, but the paradigm is not the right one for success.

I'm sure this all makes me sound like I'm a grumpy old man with a "kids today!" attitude.  I'm not old.  I'd hazard to say I'm not really all that grumpy either.  I'm a pretty friendly and optimistic guy typically.  Nevertheless, when hearing and seeing conversations like that it does make me despair a little for the future of the free world. 


  1. This attitude is not by any measure limited to todays youth.

    You see I am U.A.W., not by choice mind you, so I see this every working day in people from age 18 to 65.

    The resentment if not outright anger from my immediate co-workers I receive, for not only doing my job but quite often and naturally going all-out to beat my own expectation's, is more than apparent.

    They blame me for making them look bad?

    I give them the standard union answer to this; "It's not my job", adding, to worry about them.

    I have my own contract with the company in that I put in the required time they schedule, do, to the best of my ability to achieve the best possible outcome of any task set before me and in return I receive payment for services rendered.

    The funny part, if there can be one, is that these same co-workers believe I should throw my hat in the ring to become a union steward.

    My response to that is; Be careful what you wish for.

  2. My stepkids are now in their early 20s. They used to be like this. Then Life kicked 'em in the groin and they're starting to "get it." But if I paid all their bills for them I'm sure they'd still be in that lazy stage.

    It also bugs the heck out of me that a single 20yr old with a full-time job can still get foodstamps. And it bugs me even more that they'd WANT to be on foodstamps.

  3. Christopher - I agree it's not limited to youth or even today's youth, but it does seem like it's getting worse with each generation demanding more and providing less. Maybe it's like what happened to Rome during its decline.

    You'd make an interesting shop steward. Infiltrating unions to break their power is both nefarious, and brilliant. But you can't do it alone. We need union steward sleeper cells everywhere...

    Innominatus - I think a reality check does happen for most people at a certain age. My worry is that with each generation we get further down the path and the wake up call back to reality is, as a result, also further down the path - we don't get as awakened as the previous generation did.

    Also, I wonder what food stamps taste like.

  4. Kinda sad.

    We as a civilization have extended our children's adolescence at least a half-decade after it should be over and the kids should be on their own. This is just the end result.

  5. King Shamus,

    You make a really good point. Society is aging, birth rates in most demographics are declining, and the need for productive youth has never been greater if we are going to support an aging population with social security style benefits. Yet society is compounding the problem by tolerating and even encouraging an extended adolescence.

    This I believe is part of the rationale behind the push for increased immigration and the tolerance for normalizing illegal immigrants.

    In Canada the Fraser Institute did a study decades ago that indicated that immigration levels in Canada would necessarily need to be quite high to support an aging baby boomer population. It made no value judgement on the wisdom of such a policy. I should try to find that study because there was some interesting stuff in it. However, more recently they had this to say;

    "Recent mass immigration has negatively affected Canadian living standards and is challenging the country's existing national identity, culture, and social fabric, concludes a new book released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading economic think tank."

    (From http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Fraser-Institute-Mass-Immigration-Affecting-Well-Being-All-Canadians-Immigration-Policies-1052341.htm)

    It's worth a read because the situation in the U.S. is fairly similar.

  6. You may relate to this post from my blog....


    Have a great day


  7. Thanks for the comment Mike, I will check it out tonight for sure.

  8. Mike - I certainly see the parallel.


Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

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