Five years ago I dated a girl who made $150.00 a week as a Chili’s hostess and spent $500.00 a week on pedicures and pocketbooks. By the time she was 25, she was 30K in debt and applying to another credit-card company. One day I said to her, “whatever happened to earning it?” She didn’t like that. The relationship didn’t work out.
Now our state is in an 8-billion-dollar grave and this country is STILL teetering on the precipice of a second Great Depression. If you want to blame the Political infrastructure, I’m right there with you. We’re asking multi-millionaires to lose sleep over Middle America’s deficit. They’ll do the monkey-dance and meet behind “closed doors” but it gets worse every day. I don’t know ONE person who’s not worried about his/her job. Not ONE.
How’s this happened?
I have some theories. This country has lost all patience. When I was young my parents bought an $80,000 house and over the next 20 years built it up to a $200,000 house. They took their time, lived within their means, and eventually all their hard work paid off. They showed me what making a fiscally-sound life plan really meant. But now? You have 20 year olds on Ruby Tuesday’s salaries buying 250,000 houses they can’t afford. Why? Because Americans want it RIGHT NOW. Logic and reason have gone out the window. Grocery baggers and fast-food employees want Tony Soprano’s digs and the flashy car to match. The greedy banks have been giving it to them for years. Make the quick buck on Joe Public and worry about the fallout later. Well, later is here and the fallout has arrived. Foreclosures are everywhere and if the housing market’s in the toilet, the whole system falls apart. No industry feeds more industries than housing.
But we already understand that. Sure.
Here’s what I don’t understand. I have a cousin who’s 21 and another, he's 18. Neither has really worked a single day in their whole life. Yet she drives a $20,000 car and he’s going to Italy next month. I’ve been working since I was 14. I can’t even afford Little Italy. Am I jealous? No. I’m worried because the message sent is that you don’t have to work hard to have the nice things in life. You just get them. You are ENTITLED to them. It’s this entire generation. The message has been softened. We are now telling kids, YES, this world DOES owe you. So when they enter said world, that mindset stays the same, and by the time they’re 25 they’ll be 30K in debt (on top of college debt). The problem? Nobody’s taught these people the value of working to own something outright, not owing some credit card company your shirt. There's a lost joy in knowing they can never take it away from you. It's yours.
How do I know this? I’ve seen it firsthand. See above.
What about college? If someone gets a B.A. then they don’t have to work hard, they can work smart. Are you kidding? This pipe-dream that a college degree means the cushy corner-office is a joke. Everybody goes to college now. Need proof? HVCC just broke its all-time enrollment record this semester. You need a B.A. to wash dishes in this country. But the problem is nobody wants to climb the corporate ladder. They want the big-shot title today. Honestly, college acceptance is too easy. It needs to be much tougher. We need college/vocational schools to be a farm system for our society. The fact is higher education is cake, and anyone who can fill out a Loan Application Form can get it. There’s no weeding out. Then college degrees are everywhere, kids who can't get jobs are in debt to loan providers. It’s education inflation. But hey, the universities got their money, and that’s all that matters. Right?
It’s not only the young though. Look at Barack Obama. Nowadays you can be elected President with nothing more than a couple “real” years of political experience? I thought a man/woman took a shot at the Oval Office after a lifetime of public servitude, after decades of being a player on the National Scene. Guess not. But what choice did we have? We had to elect Obama. His opponent ran with a woman who couldn’t even name a single Supreme Court case. How about the former Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler, who demanded a trade last season, and got exactly what he wanted? Now he's stinking it up in Chicago. How does an NFL player who’s never won a meaningful game and is making millions for it get to DEMAND a trade, and GET it!? What’s the message there? Whine and cry and be rewarded?
A metaphor for America: the parking lot outside the Jenny Craig in Latham is packed year round. The same parking lot outside ABC Fitness? Packed in January for resolutions. After that? Not so much. Give me the magic pill. The quick fix.
The truth is we live in an I-Phone-DVR-society. We don’t even have to sit through commercials anymore! Everything is instant. I WANT IT. I DESERVE IT. GIVE IT TO ME. Between cell phones, and scanners, and Twitter, It’s all about me. This world OWES me! Patience and working for it is a thing of the past, and because of that this upside-down country will continue to slip into the financial abyss. And until we turn the I-Pods and Facebook pages off, I don’t know how we reverse this generational mindset. And that makes me sad.