Young Americans No Longer Work – What’s Up with That?

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We just returned from a summer vacation at the beach. As is my usual affliction, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can’t help but notice the “little things”. I think it’s the writer’s curse – the inability to simply look past the subtle, in search of some elusive deeper meaning. One little thing I couldn’t help but notice was one that confirms a larger trend I’ve been noticing for years – that young Americans no longer work.

I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. There obviously are young Americans who do work. They just don’t seem to be nearly as numerous as they once were. When I was young, a summer job at the beach was considered a dream job. You could make money and enjoy plenty of off time at the beach or pool. A beach job often came with low cost housing as well. It was an example of working your way to the good life.

Young Americans No Longer Work – What’s Up with That?
Young Americans No Longer Work – What’s Up with That?

But it’s completely different now. At least 90% of the young people working the beach shops and arcades were of foreign origin. Mostly Russian and East European, though a young lady from Ireland waited on us at a popular restaurant a couple of times. She’s returning to college in Ireland in September.

But that begs an obvious question – where are all the American kids who once staffed the beach jobs in abundance?

From what I could see, they were busy enjoying the beach life. There was none of the effort earlier generations expended to get there.

When and why exactly have young adult Americans become entrenched members of the leisure class? And what are the implications for the future?

Young Americans No Longer Work – My Theories

One of my bedrock theories on non-working young people is that the only serious responsibility most kids have today is getting an education (scroll down to the section titled “No apparent responsibilities – other than education”).

If that’s true – and I think it’s become the norm – any serious endeavor outside the education complex is viewed as a distraction from the real prize (a college degree). That includes after school work and summer jobs. So when summer comes around – and there’s no school – there’s nothing left but leisure. Young Americans, who once eagerly sought summer beach jobs, now opt for a life of leisure. That’s complete with services provided by apparently less fortunate young foreign counterparts.

The rise in summer school attendance parallels this trend. Increasing numbers of high school students attend summer school, making summer employment even less likely.

Why Young Americans No Longer Working is Not a Positive Development

I’m fully aware millions of parents – and naturally young people – see no problem with this trend. Education is seen as critical to future successful employment. The exclusive emphasis on schooling seems like a logical course.

But is it really? What could possibly go wrong?

I can think of a few less-than-desirable outcomes:

  • All emphasis is placed on a single outcome: the attainment of a college degree. But what if that degree turns out not be the economic panacea it’s expected to be?  Millions of college grads have found this out in recent years.
  • Increasingly, higher education is being financed by crippling levels of student loan debt. The leisure young people enjoy today may not be as easy to pay back when the bill comes due.
  • Young people are being conditioned to a life of being served by others.
  • A young person who doesn’t hold a paying job before age 22 or 25 may be far less prepared for employment than commonly assumed. There are certain qualities – punctuality, taking orders, working with customers and clients, and learning the importance of completing your work – that are learned in lower level jobs. This goes double for any future effort at self-employment.
  • A life of leisure is costly. Undoubtedly some young people will grow up to be high income earners perpetuating the myth. But the vast majority will fall well short. They’ll find life to be much more difficult than they assumed earlier in life.
  • Young people who don’t work don’t apply for work. That will leave them unfamiliar with the job-hunting process that will be critical later in life.

These is just my take on where the absence of young working Americans is leading. I’ll bet you can add a few more.

Final Thoughts on Young Americans No Longer Work

Like a lot of trends common in our culture, this is another phenomenon that barely gets noticed. It’s become another “air and water” topic, that’s so common it’s ignored. It’s that normal. But when we start looking for answers to various complex problems, this is the kind of issue that becomes truly relevant.

Is education alone the only way to train young people for adult life? Or are there other ventures, like after school and summer jobs, that put people in the middle of the employment universe early in life, that are just as important?

When I think about the work I do today to earn a living, I’m increasingly appreciative of some of the many early jobs I held in life that taught me more about how the business and employment worlds work than my education ever did.

And I wonder if today’s young people are missing that important learning phase in favor of a future outcome that may not be as rosy as commonly assumed. More than ever, this generation seems to be being prepared for an adult life that won’t be relevant to the majority. Maybe it it’ll “all work out”, but departing from established norms always carries a price that’s never truly appreciated when it’s playing out.

This may be one of those examples.

( Photo by andrewphoto )

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57 Responses to Young Americans No Longer Work – What’s Up with That?

  1. No, it’s not that your a writer that you notice these things. I notice it also. I’m a people watcher anyway so I notice all these things also.

    It’s funny because I have went through this with my son this summer. He made no effort to get a summer job. I don’t give him money. I’ll pay him here and there for some chores that are above and beyond his normal duties. It doesn’t amount to anything a ten here and there but that’s it.
    A job to me meant freedom. It gave me a sense of freedom. I could buy things or go places without begging my father or mother. I knew they wouldn’t give it to me anyway. He knows I won’t give him money but it doesn’t seem to effect him like it did me.

    I’m not sure what the answer is. He’s a good student. Was on the honor roll last year. Plays varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse during the seasons. He rather sit on the couch all summer playing his play station.

    It’s not like I’m an example. I’m constantly working, reading, playing golf. I hardly ever sit. I talk to him all the time about money and jobs but it just doesn’t seem to kick in.

    So really if I had the answer I’d write it here.

  2. Maybe it is us. I know that everybody I know does nothing but bitch and complain about there job or boss or something else. They wish they could win the lottery or some other nonsense.
    I know he hears it. He doesn’t hear it from me but he hears it from everybody else. He associates work with it being a pain in the ass. Are adult attitude has changed and it has bled into our kids.

    As long as these kids have cell phones, nice clothes and the means to hang out all summer all on someone else’s dime, why not? I would have also. My kid doesn’t get that stuff and he still doesn’t want to work.

    Again, I could say it is our fault but in my case I don’t know why? Sometimes I have to run an errand during the day and the roads are packed. Why? I ask that question all the time. Why isn’t anybody at work. During a work week my mother would take me for clothes or something and the roads we’re empty. So we’re the stores. I don’t get it period. Not just with kids.

  3. Hi Tim – A lot of what your son is experiencing is directly from the culture. As my wife and I have learned from raising our own kids, they pick up things from outside the house that you can’t counter balance. The pull of TV, the Internet and the social media is powerful. They’re surrounded by other young people immersed in the same propaganda. It shows a good life where no one has to work hard to get it, as if it’s their right as Americans. Meanwhile the education establishment pushes the idea that all you need is a good education. Real work isn’t part of that, and is probably looked down upon. I remember the milk cartons when I was in school that said “Education (with a picture of a diploma) or else…” with a picture of a ditch with a shovel in it. I get what they were trying to say, but it totally degrades those who make their living by manual labor, as if it represents second class status. It’s even worse today.

    A class of kids, especially those from working class backgrounds, who expect to live well but not to work hard is a generation set up for failure. Whether that happens on a personal level or a collective one, it will happen. There’s never been a generation in American history so ill-prepared for the challenges they face in the future. We can also blame the media and the establishment for painting a rosier picture of the future than reality would suggest. But it’s always easier to believe pleasant lies than hard truths. Especially when you’re a kid and have no basis for comparison.

    I keep thinking those kids who will come here to work from foreign countries will probably be better prepared for the real future than our coddled American kids, who are busy embracing a future only a few will be able to sustain. It looks so seductive now, but as the saying goes, “payback’s a bitch”.

    And we haven’t even added into the equation the official coddling kids get from policies like “anti-bullying”, etc., that keep them snuggled in a cocoon that will fast unravel when they reach adulthood. Ugggg…

  4. To your second comment – I’ve noticed that as well. There are two factors at play here. One is that statistically, fewer people are working than ever, especially full-time. The other is the 24/7 economy. Most people no longer work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. So traffic and human activity are now 24/7. I’ve seen the same thing.

    My son recently took a job as an assistant manager, that has him frequently working nights, weekends and extended hours. He was complaining about it one day, and I explained the concept of the 24/7 economy to him. We’re all paying a price for 24/7 access to banking, hotels and pizza in the form of unlimited schedules. As I’ve said in the past, there’s payback for everything. The 24/7 convenience we enjoy is paid for with crazy work schedules. I don’t see this changing.

    In my house, because of the work schedules, our “weekends” are generally Monday and Tuesday. Saturday and Sundays are just other days. We even frequently celebrate holidays on alternative days when we can all get together.

    Life is changing faster and more completely than we realize.

  5. Yes, he follows all these professional athletes and they are always posting things about there 20 cars or palaces they live in or some exotic vacation they are on. It never mentions the work that went into it.

    At look at my son and quite honestly he’s a spoiled B. I don’t know how it happened. I never spoiled him ever. He acts entitled but sometimes I look at him and wonder where the hell he came from. I don’t act like that.

    Your probably right about all the small influences that are hard to see.

  6. My wife and I ask the same questions. We can’t blame ourselves completely. Today we’re no better than co-parents. For example, the state is now a co-parent. Witness the mother in Illinois who was recently investigated by the child protective services for the “crime” of allowing her 8 year old daughter to walk the family dog around the block. We have all the responsibility if something goes wrong with our kids, but others have full rights to set the rules for how we raise them.

    Other co-parents include the schools, TV, the internet, celebrities, psycho babble psychologists and other assorted “experts”, the social media and school social situations. When I was a kid my parents had ultimate authority over me. In raising my kids, I had no similar authority. It’s probably even worse now.

  7. I know each generation is different, but I am forever grateful to working class parents who gave us kids everything they had and taught us an incredible work ethic. Grateful, too, for all the jobs from 11 years old on – starting with babysitting, bean picking, Taco Bell (yes, I still eat there!).

  8. I’m totally with you Jackie. I learned something from every job I ever held, even the lousy ones (if nothing else, they taught me what not to do!). But the customer service and learning to deal with people and blend work into your life lessons were all good ones. Not to mention the pride of earning your own money. I still get excited when I get paid, and often when I pay for something and realize it was made possible by my ability to earn a living. That sounds simplistic, but it’s a real motivator for me.

  9. Yes, with all due respect jackie my parents and yours did not have to deal with the nightmare of social media that has more influence on kids than honestly any of us parents have.

    My son has been taught a work ethic by word and deed by myself but it hasn’t changed his attitude.
    My parents had it easy. Much easier than now. They are told in school if I touch them they could have me arrested. There is so much outside influence now that I am out maned at every corner. I have very little chance. We have so much less influence now. When you have adults and teachers and whomever undermining anything taught in the home it’s almost impossible to deal with.

  10. A few years ago I was listening to James Dobson on the radio, fielding a call from the parent of an uncontrolled 14 year old. Dobson and his expert guest told the parent that “unfortunately your disciplinary options are very limited today”. For example, they noted that earlier generations of parents could throw a misbehaving 14 year old out on the street. Today that would be neglect at best, and abuse at worst. But for some unrepentent kids, that’s the only solution. So again, parents have all the responsibility, but none of the options for dealing with crisis. The law and the system protect kids to their own detriment.

    This at least partially explains why the prison system is so overcrowded. Kids who don’t learn as kids, grow up to be misbehaving adults. The system isn’t doing them any favors.

  11. There are multiple reasons for young people to not be working. First most obvious is that those starter jobs are now taken by low skilled recent immigrants as full-time positions. I won’t digress into a discussion on why raising the minimum wage won’t help (Just look at Venezuela). The second reason has to do with the big emphasis on getting that almighty college degree but no emphasis is placed on getting a degree in an area that will result in needed job skills. On that note, most college-bound students are looking to fluff up their resumes with extracurricular activities, not allowing time to work to earn money. I used to try to hire 17-18 year old, knowing I would have to adapt to their school schedules, but they wanted to only work Monday thru Wednesday with the rest of the week off (the busiest days of business). They needed every holiday off plus they would only want to earn a certain amount or their chances of getting a scholarship or grants would be eliminated. Understandable, their desire to further their education chances but their attitude towards the job was the worst part. They felt they didn’t need to perform properly because it wasn’t a “real” job like the dream job they think they are going to get after college.
    I am like Tim in the fact I told both my children that other than lunch money I wasn’t going to pay them for doing chores as that was part of living at home. I did use my contacts through my job to get my kids hired for part-time work around their school schedule. I explained the basis of budgeting their paychecks, especially when getting and using a cell phone (I started them with a pre-paid plan) but the cost was all theirs. I use that as an example because when they (young people) have to pay for things instead of getting everything handed to them, they learn the value of earning money.
    We as parents created this younger generation of entitled based on our need to create a “better” situation for our children by creating safe “unstressed” environments with no pressure to do anything but gain that degree. Real life doesn’t work that way.

  12. Hi Maria Rose – My wife and I intentionally didn’t try to make it easy for our kids. But they adopted that attitude anyway, at least to some degree. It’s too easy to fall for what’s easy, and that’s the problem. Getting them to pay their way in adult life has been a transition as well. Our whole culture now expects something for nothing, and it’s infected the majority. It’s as if the connection between spending money and earning it has been broken. That won’t be easy to fix, especially on a culture wide basis.

    Also, your point about extracurricular activities is right on the money. From when their five years old, parents start to build a college worthy resume for kids who are barely out of diapers. If you have a chance, watch the movie “Baby Boom” with Diane Keaton. It was made back in the 1980s when this coddled kid syndrome was first starting to spread, but it does it in a humorous way, back when our culture still had a real sense of humor about such things.

  13. You try to pass on some wisdom, but kids don’t put much credence in parental wisdom. So we don’t have to shoulder all of the blame either.

    My 17-year old boy is absolutely clueless. But my 15-year old girl is focused and motivated. Who knows where they get their ideas.

    Perhaps they are heavily influenced by their grandparents, who worked hard their entire lives and are now well off in retirement. They are very generous, wanting to give the kids everything they never had. But the kids have never experienced their grandparents as workers. They just seem to have a life of ice cream and vacations.

    Our culture is also all about appearances. You only see the good stuff on Facebook. And the fancy houses and cars obscure the massive debt.

  14. That’s absolutely true Neil, the kids see the evidence of success – the big houses, the nice cars, the leisurely lives – but never the blood, sweat, toil and tears that produced it. I suppose this is the penalty we’re paying for a mature, successful society. There are enough people enjoying the good life today that the vast majority of worker ants are viewed as failures who did it all wrong. But as a child psychologist once told my wife and I, life will cure a lot of these ills.

    We can only hope.

  15. Tim, I hear you! Facebook leads you to believe that others have a better life – better spouse, parents, vacations. Probably kids think that other kids have richer parents so they don’t have to work. I will have to say my kids are pretty well launched but there were some really rough times along the way.

    You make a good point about schools – that holds for church, too. Growing up, teachers and church adults were assumed correct until proven otherwise. (Heaven help them if they were lying about what you did.) You listened to their direction and would never dream of saying F U, you aren’t my mom.

  16. The point is that I have done all that Maria and it hasn’t made a dam bit of difference.
    I won’t let my son get his driver’s license until he pays for the school and gets his own insurance. It doesn’t bother him. He rides his bike or takes the bus. It does not motivate him.

    The reason those immigrants have those jobs because they don’t ask for all the perks and entitlements all the spoiled American kids ask for. I know several people who own businesses and they hire immigrants. I ask them why and they tell me American kids quit after a day. They want all those things you described.

    This is a very frustrating topic for me. Like I said above, doing battle with all the outside influences is almost impossible.
    For every one of me there are ten who tell him different.

  17. Tim, my son’s girlfriend was telling us a few days ago about a friend of hers (early 20s) who took a job but didn’t want to work weekends or past 9 pm weeknights. This isn’t unusual. Sometimes parents of such kids will come on the job and battle it out with the boss. A business can’t use people like this. You have a business to run, and too many coddled American kids don’t want to do what’s necessary. Unless you can fill a need, you have no part in the economic chain. Foreign kids get that, American kids increasingly don’t. It comes from being protected all their lives, which is largely about protecting them from this frightening concept called Reality.

    One thing I definitely noticed about the European kids working at the beach was that none of them had attitude issues. They seemed like they wanted to work, and were willing to do what was necessary. All this raising American kids to feel somehow special is backfiring big time, and nobody sees it.

  18. Tim, interesting you brought up the driver’s license thing. Me and my 3 siblings as well as most other kids of my era, got their driver’s license on their 16th birthday, the earliest day possible. We were super happy to have the old clunker that dad provided us to drive. FREEDOM!

  19. My blood is somewhat boiling from this topic. So here is peer pressure or keeping up with the Jones that is not so obvious. My son see’s his friends parents give them 800 dollar cell phones, 200 dollar cleats for soccer. There given cars, money, etc etc for not doing anything. As long as they get good grades and stay out of trouble. That’s there attitude.
    My son doesn’t have that. When everybody around him has this he thinks I have a problem. I’m the only one who is different. It puts a great deal of pressure on me.
    How do compete with all the idiot parents and still teach a work ethic?

    I have to get off here. I’m not getting anything done. I could go on for days on this topic.

  20. Tim we lived in a neighborhood like that when our kids were very young (up to 10 and 8). It was a “wannabe neighborhood” (the kind where people aren’t really rich, but they wannabe – which can be even worse), and a lot of the kids had it all. But most of those kids were seriously lousy human beings. Bragging, insensitive, disloyal, cliquish, status-conscious. All the things you shouldn’t want your kids to be. But kids don’t get that way by accident. They were trained by their parents to be that way. We moved out, and it was the best thing we could have done for our kids.

    On a personal level, it taught me the true evil that comes with conformity. When everyone just goes along, there’s no one to stand up and challenge something that’s patently wrong. The pastor at a former church we attended put it best in discussing this topic. He said the last thing the world needs is another slick business man with no scruples or morals. That’s what you get when kids are raised to think it’s all about the stuff.

  21. Tim and Kevin and all those who don’t feel it is right to just give everything to their children will have negative reactions from their children at first (what teenager/ young person likes to follow every rule set in place) but by enforcing the conditions that one has to earn to get will eventually (when they are adults) be seen as the better path.
    We all envy those who have (why are the Kardashians so popular) because we want to feel part of the group. But group/hive thinking is not good when facing the reality of living life. How many here have answered their kids with the statement because I said so when all else fails to convey the word NO.
    We all came from parents who were part of the Great Generation, who in turn, tried to raise us better than how they were raised (depression era) but now it is our turn but economics have forced us into a turnabout to utilizing skills our grandparents had to use–appreciating life without trims. Just keep the standards up.

  22. I don’t mind saying Kevin, I have grown very weary and tired of dealing with all this crap. I knew it would be hard to raise kids but had no idea the difficulties of today’s world.
    I hate what we have become as a country and society. I’m ashamed of the idiots we have become in America.

  23. At the same time try to keep it all in perspective Tim. All we can do is all can do within the scope of the world and times we live in. I’m actually happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. But at the same time, I feel less in control than ever. But I’ve learned to let go of it all, and to concentrate on being the best I can be in the circumstances I live within.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that success in life is learning to adapt successfully and meaningfully with the world around me. To accept imperfection in myself, those around me and the world in general as a normal part of life. I don’t like what I’m seeing any more than you do, and that’s why I write about it. But it’s more a matter of a) raising the issues, and b) discussing how we deal with it.

    One benefit I’ve gotten from the comments is that we’re all dealing with this on some level. That’s very comforting. The worst thing possible is to assume its some sort of personal failure we face alone. Many, maybe most of the problems we face as individual are more cultural than we realize. It helps to know this.

    Maria Rose is right about focusing on the skills of our grandparents. I find myself doing that more and more. We’re seeing all kinds of big picture negative developments that are affecting us on a personal level. We need to deal with them, and seek happiness and fulfillment as we do, always understanding we can’t change the way the world operates.

    I’m amazed by the deterioration in my own lifetime, yet I feel good about how I’m responding to it. The outcome will never be perfect (or conclusive) but I don’t think it’s intended to be.

  24. A freind that works at a theme park said they would much rather hire foreign workers and pay their room and board instead of hiring the local kids.

    The foreign kids actually appreciate the jobs and opportunities to learn and interact with the customers. They show up everyday and compete with each other for overtime and extra shifts.
    Plus its much harder for them to just quit and go home.

  25. Hi Rick – That’s consistent with stories I’m hearing from employers all over. American kids want limited schedules (as in limited by their own convenience) and mostly want to get paid for showing up. We’ve collectively done a poor job of raising motivated kids. Many of them seem focused on some future dream job, and feel a current job is beneath them, or maybe they’re doing it just to satisfy their parents.

    It wasn’t necessarily different years ago. I remember a grocery store manager I worked for telling me that some kids just wanted pocket money for weekends and concerts, and they were lucky if they showed up for work. But the difference back then was that more kids were motivated. They may have been paying their way through school or hoping to get an apartment or buy a car. None of that seems to be a priority among young people any more.

    Meanwhile everyone’s complaining about immigrants, but they’re largely snapping up jobs Americans won’t do any more. In my own time, I’ve worked in retail, a factory, as a janitor, security guard, newspaper delivery – you name it. That’s why I find the current non-working phenomenon to be so bizarre. I love the saying from Thomas Edison – “Most people miss opportunity because it comes dressed in overalls and it looks like work.” That’s so true, even if you’re starting up a million dollar venture.

  26. We live in a global economy and the fact is that there are many people in the world that are willing to work harder than us, and for less money.

    It is easy to blame others. I feel it myself. I cannot (or just will not?) compete with young, ambitious and highly educated professionals who are willing to put their careers before all else. How can we expect our kids to?

    North America is a victim of its own success. Countries with much higher populations are taking capitalist principles to new heights.

  27. I couldn’t agree more with your last point Neil. Successful societies choke on their own success. If you study history, that becomes obvious. There are various mechanical reasons how that plays out. For example, a society may come to view “their way” as the only one that works. That shuts out new ideas. Perhaps more important, they become obsessed with preserving the status quo. That’s almost always the beginning of the end. Humanity is like an airplane, in that if we don’t move forward, we risk crashing.

    Developing countries seem to have more human energy than the rich ones. From what I can see, many of the immigrants are better Americans than the native born variety. We underestimate how important motivation is. A motivated immigrant will almost always outperform a self-satisfied local. That’s what we really need to be analyzing. American kids not working is a symptom of that bigger problem.

  28. My mother in law came from Lebanon. She grew up there and left the country in 1971. It was a war-torn country at that time. She tells me to this day that when she turns on her facet and water comes out and it’s clean, she is still amazed by this. She excepts certain realities of life much more than I do.

    The reason being I believe is that even though I believe I’m not spoiled I am. I’ve never known or lived in a war-torn country. I’ve always had running water. I’ve always had shelter, food, clothes, heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer. I have been free to pursue any kind of life I desire without interference. Most immigrants come from those kinds of environments that we have no clue about. They are grateful just to be out of it.
    So at the risk of offending. 9-11 was horrible. I knew someone who died there. However, there are people all over the world that deal with this type of thing all the time. I live in an area that has a lot of immigrants. I talk to them. You know what they say when I have asked them about 9-11. Welcome to our world. I saw a kid speak at our church once who watched his whole family get their heads cut off from some local warlord. Including his 5-year-old sister. He was kept around to work and ended up escaping. Living in tunnels, eating garbage for a year until he got to where he got help. Eventually ending up here. He’s a doctor now. Dedicates his life to helping people like him. While we complain that the air conditioning is out.

    We are victims of our own success. The longer it goes the worse we get. All the countries throughout history that have reached this status have failed. You forget what got you there. As each generation passes it gets further and further from the depression. Further and further away from the things that built the country in the first place. Yes, there have been issues. The housing bubble, dot-com crash. In each case what did the government do? It inflated another bubble somewhere else all to avoid pain. Instead of letting things crash, which is what it should have done. We don’t learn from avoiding pain.

    We have whole generations of people now that have grown up around doing anything to avoid pain. It shows in us and it rubs off on our kids and keeps getting a little worse with passing generation.

    So maybe you are right Kevin. The things pointed out in the original article are the natural progression of a spoiled country.

  29. All good points Tim. We’ve gradually morphed in to a culture that’s centered on pain avoidance. The signs are all around: depression, an opiod epidemic, rampant suicides, debt (to avoid paying now), lying politicians, the false god of medical technology (and technology in general), smartphone obsession, celebrity worship, widespread victim mentality, “social justice warriors”, an unshakable faith that the government (or more likely the Federal Reserve) will always fix what’s broken, pride in military action of any sort. All these are signs of a culture that’s lost touch with reality, or more specifically with the cost of reality. We want it all, including our delusions of grandeur, and we don’t want to pay for it. Can we blame young people for lining up behind it all?

    When I compare myself to my grandparents, and the lives they lead, I’m spoiled too. It wasn’t that my parents spoiled me, but we live in a world that does. I mean heck, my grandfathers dug ditches and picked cabbage – I write web content from a centrally heated/air conditioned home, complete with a kitchen full of food. Unless I step back and consider how my grandparents came up in the world, me and reality don’t meet on a daily basis. I’m having a bad day if payment does come in on time or my computer starts weirding out.

    Andy Stanley at Northpoint Community Church in Georgia did a riveting sermon on this. He said an air conditioner crapping out, or a major car repair, or a bad day at work are all rich people problems. Poor people don’t experience them because they have no air conditioner, no car, and often no work.For perspective, he threw out statistics that 70% of the world doesn’t have running water, more than half survive on no more than one meal a day, and similar problems. We can’t appreciate any of that. A person coming from that alternative universe sees our “problems” for what they are – non-problems. I mean heck, look at all the anxiety in this country over a comfortable retirement – if you’re from a poor country you can’t relate. Which person is closer to reality? I say it’s the person from the poor country. He’s just happy to have work, a place to live, food to eat, and some extra money in his pocket or in the bank.

    As former supreme court nominee Robert Bork once said, “there’s nothing morally wrong with America that a good depression won’t fix”. Of course, the Fed makes sure that long overdue depression never hits, so we keep tooling along down the same road, dying a death of a thousand cuts all to avoid a painful purge that will reset the culture back to something roughly approximating reality.

    As I’ve written before, overcoming adversity is an empowering experience. In a culture devoid of REAL adversity, we learn to overcome nothing. In the process, we become weaker, not stronger.

    (I promise you I’m not this depressing in person, but I can’t help reporting what I’m seeing all over the place.)

  30. When my step-daughter was 13, she made the statement to me: “you make my life a living hell”.

    The issue at hand was around minor chores and offering the rest of the family some common courtesy.

    In her defense, she is a hormonal teenaged girl with a flair for the dramatic, but the point remains.

  31. Yes, how ironic that a few chores make “life a living hell”. We can’t entirely blame kids though. On TV everyone has everything and nobody does anything. That becomes their normal. The Social Media just reinforce it. Then you have troupes like the Kardashians who are famous for being famous, and reaching the stars without doing anything seems like the preferred route. Their immature minds can’t process or accommodate the more difficult reality. They personify difficulties into people, ie, you’re making my life miserable. We have to hope that life teaches them otherwise, but it’s not too encouraging right now.

  32. So I guess we reached a conclusion. Kids not working is another symptom of all described above. One thing this made me realize is that if I think it or not, I am spoiled.
    I don’t want to think about it so I push it away. I tell myself I have worked hard, made good choices. I have earned it or better yet, I’m entitled to it.

    I’m a dam lucky or fortunate human being. I think often times we are going to be the people who god asks what did you do with all that was given to you. I often thought of that in the rich young ruler concept. I am the rich young ruler.
    The other day I spent an hour debating in a store over what travel bag to buy for my golf clubs so I take them to South Carolina and golf at 400 a round resort courses for three days. Which I do twice a year with one of my close friends who lives there. In a private gated community in a 500000 dollar home.

    Maybe it’s time for me to face reality also.

  33. It’s definitely culture wide and includes us. But kids have no basis of comparison so they’re really products of a corrupt system. We shouldn’t be surprised if they expect the good life with minimal or non-existent effort. On a related note, I read recently that the average full-time college student carries 12 credits at school. In the late 1970s it was 15+. And in the late 1970s college students were much more likely to hold a job than students today. So the contagion is spreading across the culture in a very consistent way.

    On a side note, I’ve been hearing that churches in Africa have been sending mission teams to the US. That’s a real turnabout, but more evidence of the moral and spiritual decline here in the “good, ole US of A”. I just can’t fathom how much worse this could get. I mean, now there are serious discussions on Universal Basic Income (UBI) to pay people to not work, or to supplement income they can’t earn otherwise. When discussions like that get serious you know the problems are even deeper than we think they are. And once again, it’s all related.

  34. UBI is going to happen. It is happening already in the poorer communities. There is a guy next door to me. He doesn’t work. He’s 25 to 30 and in good health. He gets his rent, food stamps plus a cell phone all paid for by the good ol taxpayers. I can see into his house at night. 50 inch plasma on the wall air conditioners in all his windows. Free internet, etc etc. He brags about it.
    As it creeps more and more into the middle class it’s going to happen. They need to keep the consumer train going as long as possible.

    Why should he work. He;s got his needs met without it.

    Yes, there are serious problems that are masked over by bogus government numbers.

    So all you describe is symptoms of very serious unseen problems. We see the symptoms but have no idea why or how they are there. Kids not working is one of many.

  35. Unfortunately I see a lot of that. There’s an apartment complex near where I live filled with it. Young people on disability for emotional disturbances. I had a cousin on disability because he was on drugs. I know someone who’s on it because she gets nervous around people. A guy with a similar affliction. Someone else on for drugs. Does nothing all day every day, but gets a check every month. Posts all over the social media about how great her life is. So you’re right, UBI is already here. A formal program extended to the masses is just the next step in the progression. From what I can see it isn’t creating better citizens either.

    My faith, upbringing and personal convictions won’t allow me to participate in that development.

  36. As of right now you still have to play the medical game. That will go away the more widespread it will become.
    We have plummeted into lunacy. Now we have all these therapy animals. I was at a Wendy’s in PA and while waiting in line I had a dog sniffing my leg. Some 400 pound lady with her therapy dog. It’s unreal.

    Just when I say to myself what else? There it is boom, therapy animals.It’s another symptom of a society and country that is a the verge of destruction.

    These are the examples set forth for are youth to follow. Yet we have the nerve to say ” What’s wrong with today’s youth” ? Look no further than the idiot adults leading the way.

    Again I a plummeted into a rant.

    Mine won’t allow me either to participate in it.

  37. You’re absolutely right, young people are a reflection of the adults. My wife often says the problem today is “babies raising babies” – kids being raised by adults who haven’t grown up and refuse to. Somehow our culture perpetuates that condition. When I was young, young people wanted to grow up. Now it’s like they want to exist in perpetual youth. All this stuff has consequences, but they’re missed because they come about gradually.

  38. While I would in no way compare my experience to someone who has been through a war experience or suffered true deprivation, I did have the experience of living in northern Europe for many years when I was a young adult and it changed my perspective in so many ways.

    For example, to this day, the huge houses that are considered standard here, seem bizarre and wasteful to me esp. after living in a small flat on the top floor of a building without an elevator (so, yup, I schlepped my groceries up five flights of stairs every week) or central heating (I used a portable gas heater in the winter AND wore lots of sweaters!)

    There is so much that I could say on this topic but suffice it to say that I learned that so much of what people in America think are necessities are, in fact, luxuries. And yet so many people I know still feel so hard done by…

    It’s weird to me – we have access in this country to the greatest literature and music ever created through free public libraries or radio, the most beautiful nature in the world to walk or bike in, fun movies though low cost subscriptions, good nutritional food for health and with which to prepare tasty, healthy meals to share with family and friends and the list goes on…and yet so many people still feel deprived.

    I’m not saying there aren’t people with genuine problems, such as living in true poverty, facing gang violence, or people with chronic, serious illnesses or things like that but, let’s face it, many of the people complaining, aren’t in those groups.

    I just don’t get it…

  39. Most the issue Suzie is not with people like yourself who know a different life.
    It’s with the spolied Americans who never bother to leave here or never lived anywhere else or know better.
    I know plenty of people who have traveled abroad and they all come back saying the same thing. Thank God we live here.
    I think that’s horrible. I was one of those kids at one time. My eyes were opened when I finally did go overseas and saw how cool it was. I looked at it different. Up to that point I was a rah rah America is the best. That’s how I grew up and that is what was drummed into my head from an early age. It’s brainwashing at it’s finest. My kids don’t want to go to Lebanon because they have been taught in school that it’s full of terrisosts. Doesn’t matter that my wife has been there several times and as recently as two years ago. She still has family there.
    You are so right. Nobody in London had a air conditioner in there homes.
    Anyway, good points. We are the most spolied people on Earth, yet we have no idea why or how.

  40. You’re absolutely right Suzy, geography changes everything. Northern Europe is also wealthy, but life is still different. I’ve noticed on HGTV programs on housing in Europe and it’s much smaller and less well furnished. The showers are often spaces in the bathroom or laundry rooms with a shower head and floor drain – no tub or even shower stall. Kitchens are small, and bedrooms have little closet space. And we feel deprived living in a 2,000 square foot house because we can’t afford a 5,000 square foot house.

    My life hasn’t been the hayride some experience, but I wouldn’t trade the hard times for anything. I think I appreciate my life more than most because what seems like simple pleasures to others are joyful experiences for me. I’m happy to eat a good meal, take a drive to the country or the beach, listen to an inspiring speaker or preacher, watch a beautiful sunset, listen to a good local band at a free concert, or just have interesting conversation. I even like working!

    I think the core problem in America is high expectations. We’ve been conditioned since childhood – from parents, schools, and the media – to think we’re destined to save the world, all while living a life of luxury. How could you not be disappointed/disillusioned?

  41. I want to write this story. Your right Kevin, I should just blog it. LOL

    Anyway, we have two good friends who are from Trindad and tobago. Very good people. They came here when they we’re 17. They are in their 40’s now. They started their own business and did well. They have two kids that we’re born here. She tells me she takes them back home every year and all they do is complain. This is a tropical paradise. They complain that it’s too hot. No high speed internet, no video games no air conditioning. The houses are small. Of course they are right on the ocean. The kids there snokel, surf etc. They want to do nothing but sit in the house.
    She tells me all the time, she regrets moving here. She hates how her kids act. What this culture has done to them. They know nothing else.

    Just wanted to tell that story.

  42. I didn’t read through all the comments so maybe one has touched on this but one reason that kids aren’t working summer jobs is because in some areas schools are in session year round. Not many have adopted this, but for the students in those that have, they have no time to work during the summer. Another reason is that many of the types of jobs they used to get no longer exist. Girls always worked part time in retail clothing stores. Full time child care centers have taken over babysitting duties. Guys could always get a job pumping gas. Now so many retail stores have closed due to online shopping, and gas stations no longer are full service with people pumping gas for you. Lawn service companies have taken over mowing lawns. I’m not normally one to defend kids today, as I do think they are too pampered and indulged. That is the parent’s fault, of course. However, I do see many kids working at fast food establishments. And for many not working, it isn’t always because they don’t want to.

  43. Hi Kathy – I agree with what you’re saying, in general. But a lot of us aren’t doing the work we were 20 or 30 years for the same reason. I got into blogging because there was nowhere for a 50 year old wash-up mortgage guy to get a job anywhere. My wife was in mortgages as well, and now she works in jewelry sales. So as to the jobs that are no longer there – which I totally agree – we have to figure out what to do instead. In the main article I pointed out all the beach jobs once held by American kids, but are now filled by foreign kids. The same stories are coming from many directions, that American kids don’t make for good employees. We had to go through the same thing with our son, who was also resisting work like the plague. There seem to be too many distractions, as well as societal condonement of non-working kids.

    I also think a lot of employers don’t want to hire them out of fear of lawsuits, which is a legitimate concern (for the employers). No such concern exists with foreign kids. In the end, even when you subtract for employment shifts, we’re still left with a bunch of kids who don’t want to work. The beach example is a perfect one, because those jobs haven’t been eliminated by technology, and yet American kids play on the beach, while foreign kids man the stands.

  44. Hey Kathy, if you read through the comments, you will find out that we all come from multiple geographic areas. So what we see in different areas may vary but the key point in this discussion is why our young almost adult children not feeling the need to work period.
    By the comments, we all agree, that we as parents have some of the blame along with the economic situation in the jo areas.
    The crux is how to create a desire to earn your own money to be an independent adult in our low movitated young adults. We have created such a cushion around them as protection to reality of the real world that colleges have to offer “ adulting courses”. We lost the respect of being a source of guidance, maybe because of the use of technology to help during the child rearing ages because we also needed to indulge in our needs, again partly fueled by non-adaptation of family responsibilities and business demands. ( the USA is just now considering adapting parental needs to the business template way behind other countries).
    Rather than ignore history, we need to look back and learn from previous generations and adapt the better points of successful parenting in developing successful children capable of self support without leaning on others. Plus we need to pressure changes to the business concept beyond the one presented by those high earners who aren’t giving us lowlifes a great example of a “better “ life by their lifestyles.
    Complaining doesn’t solve anything but constructive thinking will make a difference.
    I just watched the debate between the governor Democratic candidates here in New York and my take from it was that if a process works you can adjust to the times but you can’t expect change immediately without adjusting just because you say. Actions must match words. Talk is just air moving.

  45. “Talk is just air moving” – I love the way you phrase things Maria Rose! I think your point about creating the desire to earn your own money is the critical point. That’s what seems to be missing. Kids/young adults no longer connect earning and working. There’s the Bank of Mom and Dad, and then there are loans. Student loans may be the biggest culprit. Why work to pay for school if you can just borrow the money with no immediate effort on your part, until after graduation, then you move from a nirvana-like youth into the adult pressure cooker, for which you’ve not been adequately prepared? The rise and apparent need for “adulting classes” is yet another sign, and one that SHOULD be a national embarrassment (but alas, we’re clearly beyond shame, and even think such developments are somehow “cool”).

    This, in my estimation, is the real problem here. A generation that doesn’t connect work to reward is a recipe for disaster, both for the generation and for the entire society. Easy living and debt have replaced the virtue of work that previous generations accepted as a part of life, and even welcomed. I also blame the early retirement crowd. If you’re 18 or 21 years old, and you buy into the early-retirement-at-35 myth, why work hard – you’ll soon be cashing out with millions to lead the dream TV life of an independently wealthy jet-setter.

    This also helps to explain why kids don’t want menial jobs, they probably think they’re beneath them. That’s a dangerous delusion, and one we’ll be collectively paying for for decades. We have a lot of unaddressed chronic problems in America, but the way they’re being passed down to the current younger generations promises to make things worse. That’s why we need to discuss these issues. Though we’re all aware of it here, my suspicion is most people don’t ever think about this, or worse, they don’t see anything wrong with it. But we should be certain of what we see, and pass it on to others. Maybe that will ignite a shift. We always need to hope.

  46. Lawsuits are a huge issue. Especially with American people in general. How many commercials do you see a week about how much money this person or that person was awarded for all kinds of issues.
    I know that I hear it come out of many many adults now. I’ll sue. If I don’t get my way. Or you fire me or I fall on your property.
    I’m required in NY to carry so much insurance when I hire someone I just don’t do it.

    I have another story.One of my best friends has a sister who I have known for 30 years. She was a dental assistant. Cleaning teeth, things like that. She developed a bad back and had to quit eventually. She sued her boss for making her stand 6 or 7 hours a day. She claimed this is what ruined her back and prevented her from working.
    He never required her to stand it was just part of the job. You normally don’t preform dental work sitting down. She lost, then went broke and lost everything. She could not pay her bills anymore. After that everytime I saw her she always was bringing up filing lawsuits for every little thing that went wrong in her life. She even tried to have her own brother arrested for yelling at her.

    She would have been perfect for a job I could have given her. Just answering phones and doing estimates. She even could have worked from home. I wouldn’t hire her because of fears of her sueing me. She stopped talking to me and is mad to this day I won’t hire her. I told her why and she didn’t get it.

    My point is, I see this mentality all over the place now by many adults. They are looking for a lottery ticket, or quick payday so they don’t have to work.
    This is just another symptom of a society that has lost it’s way. This attitude filters all the way through to our kids.

    We have as adults have lost of sense of reality and by our actions it has filtered into our kids lives. We have stopped being role models. I’m not saying everybody but it has to be at least 70 percent.

    So before we ask what’s wrong with kids now. We should be asking what is wrong with us? How did it go so far? Where did our mentality come from? I know I didn’t grow up that way. Most people my age didn’t either. Yet we are the worse offenders.

  47. That’s another reason feeding the “why work” mentality. As Tony Robbins said, lawsuits are all about gaining access to someone else’s wealth. And you’re absolutely right Tim, it’s affecting the kids. It’s all part of the bigger something-for-nothing philosophy shredding our culture. It’s like getting government benefits. No one worries about the cost to the nation, only about their own access to the money.

    It makes me think of this verse from Matthew 24:11-12 “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because disobedience will expand, the love of many will grow cold.” That was one of Jesus’ end times prophecies. I don’t know if we’re entering the literal end of time, but both those prophecies are coming true in our own time (with the false prophets being the many experts and gurus telling us how we should live, and why what we know is wrong is actually completely OK).

  48. Kevin and others here if you can access CBS .com to view their videos, look at the taping of the debate between the two Democratic candidates and listen to responses. The reason I use this as an example of using words to say nothing but “sound” impressive. Cynthia Nixon talks the talk well but gives no solutions.
    I guess one solution to changing attitude is to give a good dose of reality to our young adults. Cut off the bank of Mom and Pop. I know that as parents we naturally want to forever take care but we have to if only so we can take care of ourselves. Give them the roof/bed but make a set of rules for living in the house. Noise, use of facilities, trash pickup, etc. Live by your schedule, not around theirs. Buy groceries for your needs and cut out the non-stop diner setup—stick to your meal schedule not theirs. It is sort like stepping backwards in child rearing but this time you are saying that word No both verbal and in deed. Let them try to sue you for support especially when they don’t follow house rules. (Remember that 30 year old who moved home after college with his pregnant girlfriend and mooched off his parents for 8 years and claimed he couldn’t get a job that suited him despite having a child to support) we have to become like those parents and exercise tough love.
    We need to stop pampering our young (there a fine line between being supportive and being taken advantage of). Look at the parents of the three young men who had mental conditions that needed medication whose parents felt the medication was useless and allowed them to not follow their doctors advice and gave them access to deadly weapons.
    Instead asking how the world got to this stage, let’s find a replacement path. And stop following the crowd jumping off the cliff, take the path less traveled. Your children will only hate you for not trying to be their parents.

  49. We can’t rely on political solutions. That whole bunch is completely disconnected. I have no use for the Republicans, but I can barely stand to listen to Democrats. They’ve become very proficient in the art of saying all the politically correct things, drawing the enthusiastic support of the media, but without ever giving the details of what they’re going to do. I don’t care how nice you sound, I want to know the specifics about what you plan to DO, and that’s never disclosed.

    As to the Republicans, they claim to be for lower taxes, small business and reduced regulation – until they get into office. Robert Ringer calls them the Demopublicans. Others have called the two parties the Republicrats. Either is appropriate. Other than the banter and the hyperbole, they’re two sides to the same faded coin.

    I agree Maria Rose, it’s up to us to change how we’re dealing with our kids, even older ones. This easy life fantasy has gone way too far, and that’s the main issue.

    That said, I know a lot of young people who are working two or three jobs and trying to get ahead against the odds. This is where I completely agree with Kathy – it’s never been harder for average people to move forward. But the types who are living and working like this aren’t held up as the examples, and they need to be. To my thinking, they’re the ones who have their heads on straight.

  50. Funny to mention politicians. Last night I briefly hear this conversation on John McCain and Ted Kennedy’s friendship. It was asked of Ted Kennedy’s widow. She was saying how they would meet for hours and talk about immigration and how to fix it and that they really cared. I thought to myself they wasted alot of time because it is worse than ever and nothing ever got accomplished.

    All of them speak this why. They talk the good talk but have no real answers. I’m honestly amazed anybody votes or still listens to any of these people at all.

    Speaking of false profits I agree with your comments. I lump politicians right in there at the top of that food chain.

  51. The false prophet/politician connection resonates with me. They make false promises, but what’s worse is that so many people believe them. People get all emotional about one politician or party, as if they’re going to save us. They’re completely oblivious to the longer term trend, which is downward no matter whose in office or which party controls. It’s incredibly simplistic thinking and only contributes to our problems.

    I had a guy sound off at me about Trump at the barber shop a couple months ago. He made the comment, “all the people who voted for Trump oughta be shot” – this guy is clearly an enlightened intellectual, of course. I naturally argued with him, causing him to storm out. But the reality is even if Trump were removed from office today, we’d still have all these problems. We had them before Trump, and we’ll have them well after he’s gone. That’s why I say the emphasis on politics is just a distraction. We’ve got to move beyond politics. And when we do, we’ll once again make those bozos accountable to us – the way the Constitution intended.

  52. It’s just another symptom. I stopped listening to these people a long time ago.
    I basically just laugh at people like this anymore.

    I find most people who are so passionate about this nonsense have no real belief system other than the world system.

    The systems of this world are all corrupt. If I was honest about it I would say, on a day to day basis it makes no difference to me who is in the Whitehouse. I barley give it a thought. They are all the same to me. Different ways of doing things but all with the same end result.

    I remember having this discussion with a female friend of my wife. She was so upset when Trump won because in her mind he hated women and it would set them back 100 years.
    I asked her recently if her liFe had changed since he won. She said no. It had no real effect on her at all. Yet she wasted so much energy being upset that I really thought she might have a breakdown.

    On a day to day basis within the context of your daily life it is a non factor.

    The next puppet whomever it is will have the same problems. Rinse wash repeat over and over.

  53. My children wanted to work,but I told them they couldn’t because of their busy schedule. They volunteered and they treated it as a job with responsibility. Many times they were told that other volunteers did not show up and they were appreciated because they did. They didn’t have a computer until our oldest was a senior and applying at colleges (we took them to the library for their homework that required a computer). We provided tracfones for emergencies, but they were to call friends on our landline. We bought clothes at garage sales and VOA, we “spoiled” our children by providing piano lessons and payment for their extras like band,etc. Our children knew these extras were dependent upon their efforts in the classroom. I worked during H.S. and it got me nowhere, colleges want well-rounded applicants. The proof is in the pudding- one child got into an Ivy and the other in a well respected private college. With scholarships, working during college and during summer, and our help they graduated debt-free. Our help did not include any type of spending money and when they were juniors in college we stopped buying minutes for their phones. Both have gone onto graduate school with no assistance from us,one has graduated debt-free and the other will be when she graduates. I feel it is the constant example we have shown our children that has rubbed off on them. Experiences count, stuff doesn’t. We only had so much money and it would be used for lessons, not phones ( in a side note they are not addicted to their phones like so many are of all ages). Also, I think our conversations about money during their childhood, what things were worth and how to handle money has helped them to have a better understanding of money and to spend it according to their values. I loved working during H.S., but I wasn’t given the choice of joining the extras in school and I felt the loss, I didn’t want my children to miss out. Everyone has different reasons for whether or not their child works, it comes down to knowing what is best for your child.

  54. Thanks for a different perspective Polly. It did seem that you kept your children well channeled throughout their lives, and that paid off. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A lot of kids are plain spoiled and don’t even have any chores at home. I saw a lot of that with my kids friends a few years ago, and many were even given brand new cars by their parents. It’s good to hear there are kids being raised with old fashioned values, and the fact that they worked proves their validity.

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