Frank Sinatra once crooned about having the world on a string. Generation Y has grown up believing that parents, teachers, and bosses would tie that string around our collective fingers. Now that adult realities are hitting home, the frenzy isn't pretty.
My generation -- those in their late teens, twenties, and early thirties -- is the most over-promised youthful cohort in American history. Our Boomer parents told us we could do and be anything, if we believed in ourselves. The government and higher-education establishment bolstered that misconception through excessive student loans, promising jobs, jobs, jobs if only we'd make passing grades and get that four-year degree.
As the narrative goes, Generation Y would graduate and immediately land a high-paying post that gives us plenty of time off to pursue a Bohemian lifestyle into our 30s. Forget marriage and childbearing -- at least for now. Those traditions cramp our style. Better to cohabit, and if birth control fails, there's always "dilation and evacuation."
We're optimistic, so we think that work and family life will go well. After all, we believe in ourselves. Isn't that enough?
In a word, no. Hard economic realities, instigated by toxic federal policies and a fascistic alliance between big government and big business, have ensured that no matter how hard Generation Y wants "the good life," defined as few responsibilities and lots of stuff, most of us won't have it.
For the first time in American history, young people are likely to be worse off financially than their parents. That reality has Generation Y hacked off.
We're witnessing the first glimmers in Occupy Wall Street. Imagine spending a week promising your pre-school child a ream of goodies from the local candy store, only to give steamed broccoli to him instead. A tantrum would ensue. The same result is occurring in Manhattan's financial district. (A key difference is that OWS goons defecate on cop cars. I doubt even lenient parents would tolerate such behavior from a 4-year old.)
Europe, further into the socialist swamp than is the United States, is witnessing legions of young people taking to the streets in protest over government goodies denied. It's turned violent and destructive. It's the future here.
The entitlement attitude is pervasive among the young because we've only known the politics of class warfare. Our sterling public-school educations have made sure we never forget what society owes us. Every demographic except the white, Christian, heterosexual male is oppressed. We don't take too kindly to having our self-esteemed taken down a peg.
"One young employee told a startled manager that he expected to be vice president at the company within three years," writes Jean M. Twenge in Generation Me. "When the manager told him this was not realistic (most vice presidents were in their sixties), the young man got angry with him and said, 'You should encourage me and help me fulfill my expectations.'"
What can invigorate the economy and lay the groundwork for my generation's success? First, young people must give up on President Obama's hope and trust Hope. The decline of Christianity -- and its emphasis on hard work, thriftiness, and loving thy neighbor -- and the rise of moral relativism have led to social ills that demonstrably harm the economy.
Poverty in two-parent households is 8 percent in the United States; in single-parent households, it's 35 percent. Increasingly, men are no longer men in America. We've abdicated our role as leader and protector in favor of video games and perpetual adolescents. Fueled by a me-centered attitude, the rate of no-fault divorces has spiked following California's legalization in 1969 (one of Ronald Reagan's biggest mistakes, and regrets):
From 1960 to 1980, the [U.S.] divorce rate more than doubled -- from 9.2 divorces per 1,000 married women to 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women. This meant that while less than 20% of couples who married in 1950 ended up divorced, about 50% of couples who married in 1970 did.
Ready access to abortion and birth control has removed responsibility from the sex act. Laws play a role in reversing these trends, but there is no substitute for a cultural and religious revival. It's necessary.
Secondly, on economics, we must return to true free-market principles. And true is essential. The current conglomeration of the federal government, state governments, and corporations is not a free market. It's crony capitalism. In a free market, companies win or lose based on the value they provide customers. There are no bailouts. There is responsibility.
These two viewpoints -- the social and fiscal -- are antithetical to the agenda shared by President Obama, congressional Democrats, and establishment Republicans. Rather than deal with core problems, they prefer pledges of more goodies -- the most recent example being the president's student-loan plan. More promises, backed up by the huge promise: You can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, however you want it.
It rings hollow. It's only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea, and our hearts are crying out perfidia.
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