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Friday, October 28, 2016

Welcome to the United States of Entitlement

The epidemic has been sweeping the nation long before the current election climate. I blame the post-World War II boom. Housing and cars were more affordable. Jobs were plenty. Most white Americans wanted for little, and they thought the good times would last forever.

When the air started leaking from the economic balloon in the late Sixties, it was easier to blame blacks and women for taking jobs away from hard-working white men than to tighten their belts. When the Energy Crisis of the Seventies came, well, surely it was the fault of those damn Arabs than American dependence on cheap foreign oil. When the savings and loans collapsed and the junk bonds tanked in the Eighties, it had to be the fault of overseas banks, not American greed and the nostalgic desire to return to the flourishing post-WWII era economy. To make sure we had nicer houses and nicer cars, we racked up debt in the Nineties based over the value of our Dotcom portfolios. It wasn't our fault the tech market, which produced very little in either products or services, crashed in 2001.

Unfortunately, the Greatest Generation didn't pass on their values of thrift, hard work and sacrifice. No, their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren only heard their stories of the good times. They simply can't understand why they don't have what Grandma and Grandpa had. And they are pissed by what they perceive as not getting their share.

I see it in the everyday interactions among the younger generations.

Little things like cutting in line at a deli counter because I'M in a hurry. Nearly running over the teenagers in the crosswalk when those kids have the light and right-of-way because I'M late for an appointment. Screaming at a barista for using regular milk not soy when he/she should know MY order because I'M here every fucking day. Muttering "rag heads" under MY breath when passing the neighbors who just moved in because they don't dress exactly like I DO.

There's something inside you that thinks, "I'm better than those people. I deserve to have more than them."

As the late, great Mark Twain once said, "The world does not owe you anything. It was here first."

But that doesn't matter to Americans. Everyone else has the good life. All we want is our share.

Our share of what exactly?

Not the 1200 sq. ft. ranch that would fit our budget and allow us to save for retirement. No, we want the 3000 sq. ft. McMansion with the granite countertops and gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

Not the tech school training to become a welder, a position that in our area starts at $50/hr. No, we want a bachelor's degree in Art History and a guaranteed six-figure salary.

Not the less prestigious job that will give us more time with our kids. No, we want the position where everybody kisses our ass and the babysitters raise our children.

I wish I was making up these examples. I really do. But these come from family, friends, and in the welding case, my dental hygentist.  Seriously, her husband's company is looking welders who are willing to put in an honest eight-hour day and can pass a fucking drug test.

(By the way, you really shouldn't be playing with acetylene while you're high.)

So before you pull out your pink Hello Kitty Glock and become a statistic on the evening news because you're pissed at the world for not giving you what you think you deserve, ask yourself this: What am I doing to change my situation?

Yeah, I know. That's not what you wanted to hear.

Kind of like my niece, Amber. She assumed when we said we'd help her with college, we would fill out all the forms and hand her $40K in cash.

No, we said we'd give her a place to stay and co-sign a student loan on the condition that she worked to earn part of her tuition and she filled out her own paperwork.

She stomped out of our place over a year ago without a word. Last, I heard she'd been arrested in Toledo in June for selling pot.

Think she's an unusual case? No, she's not. I see just as many people my age acting the very same way.

Amber could have changed her situation. She chose not to.

Just like the people my age who hate their job. They haven't bothered to apply anywhere else. It's easier to bitch that they deserve better without bothering to look for it.

"What I deserve" is wishful thinking. Amber thought she deserved $40K The lady behind me at the deli counter thought she deserved to be waited on first. I see it with writers too. They deserve to make a million dollars on their first book just because they wrote it. "What I deserve" is ultimately self-defeating.

"What am I doing to change my situation" is proactive. Genius Kid wants a car. He's been applying at several businesses that will hire teens. He asked his dad for coaching before he had his first interview yesterday. He has a budget for saving his money. My friend Angie wants a writing career. She's been working on her craft and submitting manuscripts. She's bought the tools for creating her own ebooks. She's taking business classes specifically aimed at the publishing industry, too. Both GK and Angie are taking concrete steps to accomplish their goals. "What am I doing to change my situation" is a productive. Even if GK and Angie don't accomplish their specific goal at this time, they are both developing skills that can be used in other endeavors.

But you wanna know something? Angie's already met some of her goals. I have no doubt she'll accomplish the rest. Same thing with GK. When he's already figured out how to save money for the video games he wants, I have no doubt he'll have his own car in the garage this time next year.

So before you shoot the person you think is less deserving than you, take a good hard look in the mirror. What did you do today to change your situation?

As I've said before, you're more than welcome to cry on my shoulder about the unfairness of it all. But like your high school math teacher, I need to see your work first.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks. :)

    I agree, Americans are really good at scapegoating. Not all of us, clearly, but enough that it's noticeable. Too many people are sure that if they can't have what they want immediately, it's always someone else's fault. :/

    Angie

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    1. A lot of our discussions earlier this week about tools and techniques stuck in my head. The kid was excited about his first interview. And in between it all, I dealt with some trolls, both IRL and online. It made me think, "One of these groups is not like the other."

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