Where We’ve Been; Where are We Going?

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No, I don’t have the  answer “to Life, the Universe, and Everything”.

What I do have is some thoughts on #Occupy Wall Street and such.

What started this? Personally, I think the whole generation is frustrated, and I think it’s our fault.

Why? We raised them without giving them the realistic expectation that some would succeed and some would fail, maybe repeatedly.

We adults knew this, you don’t live in reality for long without learning it; but we shielded them and kept giving them awards for showing up. And for doing silly extra credit work.

We also didn’t teach them history, except for the garbled garbage that the revisionist (so-called) historians write. If history teaches anything, it’s that there are winners and losers. We, the responsible adults (no, that does not include most of the NEA), knew this, we watched it in our parents lives and lived it in our own. From what I’ve read, most of these kids think history began on 9/11. Their idea of ancient history is Vietnam and the protests.

I’ll readily admit the 60’s were one hell of a time to grow up. The first things I really remember is Alan Shepard‘s spaceflight, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Kennedy’s assassination but, I knew people well (including my parents and some of my teachers) who remembered World War II like it was yesterday and some of them remembered World War I, although not as well. The first funeral I remember was my Great-Uncle Henry’s and his World War I uniform (to me at 5 or 6) looked ancient. But you know; that’s about the same timeframe as it is now since Armstrong walked on the moon. (Gad, I’m getting old, and America is still young. How does that work, anyway.)

We didn’t teach economic history in any meaningful way either. I suspect these poor kids wouldn’t have a clue how capitalism is supposed to work. All they’ve ever known is the perversion known as crony capitalism.

We also raised them to believe that you couldn’t have a satisfying life without a college degree (or several) and a high paying job for everyone, the big house, the fancy car, and all those other material things. Nobody ever told them one could have a good life as a tradesman or shopkeeper or any of the other jobs that you don’t need multi-hundred thousand dollars student loans to get. The world just doesn’t need all those lawyers and English majors and such. Therefore it’s become a buyers market.

Nor do you need a Harvard degree or a Wharton MBA or whatever to succeed , you do need to know what you’re doing however, and it helps a lot if you have some real-world experience and a grip on reality.

If I had been raised the way they were, I’d be frustrated and angry, too.

Actually, I am, too. The whole false edifice that was built to make people believe that the government really, really cared about them: you know, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, all the other entitlement programs are about to crash the entire western world’s economy, and I’m beginning to believe that may be the best outcome available. This is a recipe for a complete unraveling of the society we’ve known. We would be wise to come up with a better answer than that.

From what I’ve seen of these kids, I don’t think they’re afraid of hard work or even of working with their hands: they just don’t know how, and that’s our fault. They also need to learn some real history because the indoctrination they got in school isn’t going to help much in a reality based world. We need to be very careful because The Gods of the Copybook Headings are, I suspect about to make an appearance again.

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Has anybody thought about who is going to fix the wiring in 2030, or the plumbing or the rest of our infrastructure? Are we going to have to continue importing illegal aliens to do it?

I suspect that these reasons may be part of why this protest is inchoate and centered in the cities and/or around the liberal arts schools is simply because that is where it was thought that fairy tales were real life. They forgot that in the original of Hansel and Gretel the children got eaten.

This train of thought got started in discussion with some of my younger colleagues and then I did some reading. One of the article I read was from New York magazine by Noreen Malone. It’s titled thusly:

The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright

My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation.

I know this might read as very woe-is-us, but these are the facts: Nearly 14 percent of college graduates from the classes of 2006 through 2010 can’t find full-time work, and overall just 55.3 percent of people ages 16 to 29 have jobs. That’s the lowest percentage since World War II, as you might have heard an Occupy Wall Street protester point out. (Not coincidentally, one in five young adults now lives below the poverty line.) Almost a quarter more people ages 25 to 34—in other words, people who should be a few years into their independent lives—are living with their parents than at the beginning of the recession.

Being young is supposed to mean you have the luxury of time. But in hard times, a few fallow years can become a lifetime drag on what you earn, sort of the opposite of compound interest. Because the average person grabs 70 percent of their total pay bumps during their first ten years in the workforce, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, having stagnant or nonexistent ­wages during that period means you hit that springboard at a crawl. Economist Lisa Kahn explained to The Atlantic in 2010 that those who graduate into a recession are still earning an average of 10 percent less nearly two decades into their careers. In hard, paycheck-shrinking numbers, the salary lost over that stretch totals around $100,000. That works out to $490 or so less a month, money that could go, say, toward repaying student loans, which for the class of 2009 average $24,000. Those student loans (the responsible borrowing option!) have reportedly passed credit cards as the nation’s largest source of debt. This is not just a rotten moment to be young. It’s a putrid, stinking, several-months-old-stringy-goat-meat moment to be young.

continue reading

I don’t have a lot of confidence that she is right but I hope so. I also hope that her generation can get past their indoctrination to learn some of life’s lessons really quickly so they can help us old-timers to get this country and/or world moving again.

So there you go. The answer really is 42.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

3 Responses to Where We’ve Been; Where are We Going?

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    It leads to a lot of head-scratching, doesn’t it? Well, the weather is turning so I believe those crowds on wall street will start to dwindle quickly, even the ones getting $10 an hour to be there will be thinking it’s not enough money to be cold and miserable. Maybe they’ll head down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where it’s slightly warmer and where they should have been protesting to start with.
    Yes, parents have to shoulder part of the blame for a generation (or two) that shuns hard work and the trades. But I also blame too much government interference in our lives. Kids are told NO by the government a lot more than we were. You CAN”T work until you’re 14 (limited) or 16 for most jobs unless you’re employed in a family business. They keep driving up the driving age, the drinking age, many areas have curfews–we’re keeping them cuddled kids for as long as possible. College tuition at a state unitiversity used to be something a kid could actually pay for without a loan if they started work at 15 and worked every summer. Not today. And yes, they see the internet, facebook 20-something millionaires and think that’s available to everyone. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted that there’s a fasttrack to the kind of wealth that in the old days was through inheritance. I think we need to stop placing so many restrictions on kids. If they want to work when they’re eleven for a few hours on a Saturday, so what? And if we can trust an 18-year old with an AK, I think we can trust them with a beer or two. If we stop taking away the opportunity to act responsibly, I think we’ll see them take on more responsiblity.
    Interesting post, Nebraska. Didn’t mean to get so long-winded.


    • I think you’re right, and you work from a different perspective than I do. I hadn’t thought of the age restrictions in quite that way before, probably because they pretty much existed even before the government mandated it. I can remember Dad’s insurance agent telling him that he couldn’t have one of the local kids mow the grass (what little there was) because if he got hurt; it would be treble liability.

      You’re absolutely right about giving kids enough room to succeed and fail, I didn’t express it very well, but that was one of my main thrusts. I was one of those kids that saw my mom at breakfast and lunch and dad at dinner. In the summer it was all free time. to be used (outside, out of the way). One of my cherished memories is hitting my thumbnail with a hammer (small hammer and not very hard) and whining about it. Dad looked at me and said, “I didn’t feel a thing”.

      Of such things are an independent man made. I would give anything to see parents give their kids the kind of room to grow and responsibility we had. I was doing most of the mowing (of 5 Acres) when I was ten and was responsible for keeping the mower running too, as well as a lot of the other tokens of maturity including access to firearms. But I was probably unusually mature, I spent most of my childhood with adults for friends.

      Anyway, that’s what this post was, a thinking piece. I got pretty long-winded myself, Oh well, I like when it when intelligent people spell out their thoughts, so Thanks, Freedom.


  2. Pingback: The Gods of the Copybook Headings; Updated « nebraskaenergyobserver

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