Yesterday I was reading an economist’s blog, when a millennial posted something that made my jaw drop.
I’ll say first that not all millennials are like this and not many (I hope) are this rock bottom stupid and twisted. I have to say that, because otherwise my sons – and Foxfier – will kill me in an unpleasant way. Also, because it’s true. Just because you were born around the same time as someone else, it doesn’t mean you’re just like them. That fallacy is one of the things making public schools hellish. People are not widgets, not even people with the same birth year.
I wouldn’t mention his generational status, except that it’s a matter of “Is this what they’re learning?” and as such is important.
So, I was reading this blog about how people with advanced degrees still can’t find jobs. So far, so good, right?
And then this kid comes on, informs everyone he has an MBA (An MBA!) and that until his phone starts ringing off the hook with job offers, he’s going to take every opportunity possible to vote for higher taxes. It’s not that he believes it will do him personally any good, but if he’s going to die a pauper, then how dare we have any savings, and besides, we’re all h8ers anyway.
I thought he had to be a mobi, but there was no break in his stand, no “haha, fooled you” and slowly, with growing horror, I realized he was saying this seriously.
And I was aghast.
My mind boggles that someone could go through school for a graduate degree and be ignorant of where jobs come from. I mean, everyone by ten is informed of where babies come from, but where jobs come from seemed to be a total mystery to this adult male.
How is this even possible?
And then I realized it’s possible because it’s what our media and our stories and even our text books (in the one economics course younger son took, it was all about social and economic justice, as though, you know, jobs and production were a matter of distributing around so many grams of justice here and there, and the economy were a closed pie) talk about jobs as though they were these things that are dispensed by government and which the wealthy can somehow hoard all to themselves.
Think about it. We talk about job creation as though it were a mysterious thing, somehow connected to the government (which it is.) He probably got the (incorrect) hagiography of FDR in school too, and how good it was for the nation for him to hire people to dig pointless holes.
Add to this what I call the “school mentality” – which is something afflicting writers too, particularly now with indie – in which you’re trained to do a certain number of things, and if you do them well, then you get a reward. Everyone is trained to this at the end of twelve years, much less twenty or however many it took him to get an MBA.
He did everything right. He turned in homework, took tests, got his sheepskin. And yet, the expected reward of a good paying job hasn’t materialized.
Is it any wonder he’s mad at everyone and, in a classical case of projection, thinks everyone are h8ers for ignoring his plight?
Why isn’t the president creating jobs for MBAs, filling pointless papers or something? How can the rest of us, middle aged people, smug in our jobs and in our savings (ah, I wish) not realize he is drowning. Where is our compassion? Why isn’t the country as a whole not demanding that the government do something for our young and unemployed?
The idea of an economy as a natural system, with natural laws, which the government can’t change but only distort would probably be totally alien to him, and he’d accuse us of making up stuff to justify not giving him a good paying job. He can’t understand that the government can no more legislate the economy than it can legislate rain. You can send all the water from Colorado to California (where it does no good, because farmers aren’t allowed to irrigate because delta smelt because with water as with money, the more the government takes the more it pisses away.) but you can’t make rain fall in California, rather than in Colorado.
He certainly can’t understand that by voting higher taxes for people who still have jobs, he’s taking away the excess money of the economy, the money that could be spent on things other than survival and perhaps at some point be saved enough that the person doing the saving can start a new business or invest in a promising one that will create jobs.
In a way the young know-nothing is right. We have failed him. We have failed him as a society, in what we’ve taught him and what we’ve failed to teach him.
Teach children that economics is a finite pie; that wealth can’t be created, it can only be redistributed; that all change and goodness flows from bureaucrats who can only be pressured by righteous activists, and you’ve created the perfect economic lemming who will vote for rope to hang himself and others with.
Make him believe that envy is a virtue and that the fact that he has less than others gives him the right to punish others (if I had a dime for every time I heard “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” as mission statements for everything from politicians to economists in my sons’ textbooks, I’d BE one of the superwealthy.) What you have is a willing puppet of the superwealthy and their politicians, the people who are rigging society with regulations so restrictive that only huge corporations with captive lawyers can compete, and small business, small entrepreneurs need not apply.
Note too that in all this it never occurred to this young man that he could start his own business. That is probably, of course, because “what kind of business can he start that will employ an MBA?”
My sons, trained in STEM are starting businesses while in school. Multiple ones. Writing and art and music and working towards a rapid-prototyping business, and trying to think up other small streams of income. No, it’s not what they want to do for life. It’s what they want to do to pay for school. And if a job doesn’t come calling, they try to create one.
I don’t know how common that spirit is, but if it exists at all, it goes against everything the kids are being taught in school.
What they’re being taught is so profoundly stupid that it takes years of education to make rational people believe it. And it explains many things, but mostly it explains the trouble we’re in.
It reminds me of when Marshall was in the abusive middle school and they were giving him detention for stupid things (like he was supposed to get a paper signed by the teachers at the end of the class, to say he’d behaved. He’d never actually MISSbehaved, but instead of interpreting his asking for clarification as “he’s having trouble hearing” (which he was) they interpreted it as his being rebellious and mouthy. The teachers, who were mostly the parents of the girls who were harassing him with spurious accusations found excuses to delay signing the paper. And then the kid would get detention for being late to the next class. And because he was getting detentions, he was obviously bad and needed more signed papers/supervision) I once found myself on the phone with a chirpy secretary informing me that they were giving him yet another detention. I said “At this point, what good do you even think you’re doing? This sounds like ‘the beatings will continue till morale improves’” To which she chirpily and gratifiedly answered, “Precisely.”
This is when I called my husband and asked him “Is there any reason I shouldn’t go to the school and create the sort of scene in which the news say ‘three heads were found in the toilet and we’re still looking for the others?’” (Hey, look, I’m a Latin woman and they were messing with my younger son. I was being good even asking.)
Dan, who is from New England and a Mathematician, just said, “Let me deal with it.” I am given to understand he called them and was polite at them, which I’m also given to understand, coming from a New Englander is WAY more painful than heads in toilets. All he says is he informed him that they were insane and that the detentions stopped now. As in, right that minute. And they did.
Looking at the mess of what we’ve failed to teach our newly minted MBAs, all I can say is that we need to be polite at them as soon as possible. I suggest the following “No, jobs don’t come from government. No, if you take everyone’s money away you will never have a job. No, taxing others as a form of punishment is not sane, and not only doesn’t help you, but it materially hurts you in the long run. No, you are not entitled to a job because you have a sheepskin. No, your phone isn’t going to ring off the hook, because our president has your understanding of economics and is making it impossible for anyone to accumulate enough capital to create jobs. He’s also chasing jobs off shore with punitive taxation. No, this doesn’t’ mean anyone hates you. No one owes you anything. Want a job? Make it.”
We have to be polite, and firm, and speak in small words. We also need to write this in news, in stories, in blogs. We need to shout it from the rooftops and not be dismayed.
Because what they’re being taught in the schools financed by our taxes (and even some private ones) is a total distortion of reality.
And if we don’t stop this crazy train now, this is all going to end up with everyone starving. And heads in toilets.
ADDENDUM: If you’re interested, I started a “how to write a novel” workshop over at MGC, and I’m also guesting at Jagi Lamplighter’s blog for her Superversive feature.