Unaccountable America

I'm often shocked by the children of liberal acquaintances.  One has a daughter with depression.  Another has an ADHD son.  Yet another has a bipolar son.  All in their twenties. 

Of course this is the season of the man-child, as in Kay S. Hymowitz's Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. The Girl Project has raised up a generation of girls to be anything but wife and mother.  But the Girl Project's unintended consequence has been to raise up boys to be slackers: inattentive and angry.  Now we talk about "preadulthood."  It's the new extended transition between childhood and adulthood. 

A century ago, experts discovered "adolescence."  That was the new transition period for teenagers.  Used to be, in the 19th century, that kids went directly from school to work, childhood to adulthood, in their early teens.  But with the invention of the high school, a lot of children hung around in school all day and became adolescents.  The ones that got into trouble were called delinquents.

In reality, this is nothing new at all.  Anyone that has cracked a 19th century novel knows that the rich kid characters displayed all the characteristics of adolescents and pre-adults.  In those days they were considered to be merely the spoiled children of the idle rich.

You can see that, whatever the reality, the social science jargon is convenient for today's idle rich, or rather, today's affluent parents with troublesome children.  When you medicalize your kid's problem then it removes the worry and the stigma of disappointment and accountability.  And for the kid in question, my friend Stephen reminds me, there is also a payoff, the excuse: I'm bipolar, so I'm not responsible.

Suppose all this is not the glorious achievement of an age of feminist and medical miracles, but the age-old result of the rich shirking their responsibilities and paying for nurses, servants, governesses, and teachers to raise their children?

The unaccountable culture extends beyond the family into government.  A friend told me recently about a problem at her daughter's high school.  A young math teacher with a problem had approached her, as head of the PTA.  Washington State now requires kids to pass Algebra for high school graduation but many kids can't handle Algebra.  Couldn't she help push for pre-Algebra classes to help those kids?  What's the point, said the school principal.  We tried that some years ago, but it didn't work.

Oh well, I guess we'll just have to let those kids fail. They probably never would have amounted to much, not without more funding.  

It's a good thing that nobody lets BP get away with talk like that.  Imagine BP saying: I guess that people in the Gulf of Mexico will just have to deal with all that oil;  It's just not practical to make those well preventers 100 percent effective.  They tried to fix them years ago, but it never worked out.   Or Wal-Mart, defendant in a gender discrimination suit now up before the US Supreme Court.  Gee, we'd like to promote all those women checkers.  But what are you going to do when women keep taking off to have children.

We know there are Two Americas.  The are the Makers and then there are the Takers as Peter Schweizer puts it in Makers and Takers: Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less... and even hug their children more than liberals. But that is just at the individual level.  So what if conservatives are happy and generous workers and liberals are whiners?

There is Accountable America and then there is Unaccountable America.  In Accountable America liberal lawyers sue Wal-Mart for discrimination against women employees based upon statistical patterns of promotions.  In Unaccountable America, 50 percent of college kids need remedial instruction while high school teachers demonstrate over their collective bargaining rights.  In Accountable America President Obama tells BP to post $20 billion on account to pay for oil spill damage and BP asks,  "What's the account number?"  In Unaccountable America Sen. Chuck Schumer calls a spending cut of $0.06 trillion in a $3.8 trillion budget "extreme."

Not everyone is going with the flow on this.  Robert Epstein has written The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen.  He has a simple idea.  He say we should give young people adult authority as soon as they demonstrate readiness.

The German General von Seekt had a similar idea for the young soldiers in the German army.  He wanted young soldiers that were "self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility."  It worked so well that now the US Army trains its soldiers the same way.

Obviously the dog-in-a-manger government workers and certified victims of Unaccountable America represent the opposite pole and they are welcome to it.

But what is it in the hearts of Unaccountable Americans that allows them to make so many excuses for themselves, and aim their sights so low?

Christopher Chantrill  is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
I'm often shocked by the children of liberal acquaintances.  One has a daughter with depression.  Another has an ADHD son.  Yet another has a bipolar son.  All in their twenties. 

Of course this is the season of the man-child, as in Kay S. Hymowitz's Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. The Girl Project has raised up a generation of girls to be anything but wife and mother.  But the Girl Project's unintended consequence has been to raise up boys to be slackers: inattentive and angry.  Now we talk about "preadulthood."  It's the new extended transition between childhood and adulthood. 

A century ago, experts discovered "adolescence."  That was the new transition period for teenagers.  Used to be, in the 19th century, that kids went directly from school to work, childhood to adulthood, in their early teens.  But with the invention of the high school, a lot of children hung around in school all day and became adolescents.  The ones that got into trouble were called delinquents.

In reality, this is nothing new at all.  Anyone that has cracked a 19th century novel knows that the rich kid characters displayed all the characteristics of adolescents and pre-adults.  In those days they were considered to be merely the spoiled children of the idle rich.

You can see that, whatever the reality, the social science jargon is convenient for today's idle rich, or rather, today's affluent parents with troublesome children.  When you medicalize your kid's problem then it removes the worry and the stigma of disappointment and accountability.  And for the kid in question, my friend Stephen reminds me, there is also a payoff, the excuse: I'm bipolar, so I'm not responsible.

Suppose all this is not the glorious achievement of an age of feminist and medical miracles, but the age-old result of the rich shirking their responsibilities and paying for nurses, servants, governesses, and teachers to raise their children?

The unaccountable culture extends beyond the family into government.  A friend told me recently about a problem at her daughter's high school.  A young math teacher with a problem had approached her, as head of the PTA.  Washington State now requires kids to pass Algebra for high school graduation but many kids can't handle Algebra.  Couldn't she help push for pre-Algebra classes to help those kids?  What's the point, said the school principal.  We tried that some years ago, but it didn't work.

Oh well, I guess we'll just have to let those kids fail. They probably never would have amounted to much, not without more funding.  

It's a good thing that nobody lets BP get away with talk like that.  Imagine BP saying: I guess that people in the Gulf of Mexico will just have to deal with all that oil;  It's just not practical to make those well preventers 100 percent effective.  They tried to fix them years ago, but it never worked out.   Or Wal-Mart, defendant in a gender discrimination suit now up before the US Supreme Court.  Gee, we'd like to promote all those women checkers.  But what are you going to do when women keep taking off to have children.

We know there are Two Americas.  The are the Makers and then there are the Takers as Peter Schweizer puts it in Makers and Takers: Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less... and even hug their children more than liberals. But that is just at the individual level.  So what if conservatives are happy and generous workers and liberals are whiners?

There is Accountable America and then there is Unaccountable America.  In Accountable America liberal lawyers sue Wal-Mart for discrimination against women employees based upon statistical patterns of promotions.  In Unaccountable America, 50 percent of college kids need remedial instruction while high school teachers demonstrate over their collective bargaining rights.  In Accountable America President Obama tells BP to post $20 billion on account to pay for oil spill damage and BP asks,  "What's the account number?"  In Unaccountable America Sen. Chuck Schumer calls a spending cut of $0.06 trillion in a $3.8 trillion budget "extreme."

Not everyone is going with the flow on this.  Robert Epstein has written The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen.  He has a simple idea.  He say we should give young people adult authority as soon as they demonstrate readiness.

The German General von Seekt had a similar idea for the young soldiers in the German army.  He wanted young soldiers that were "self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility."  It worked so well that now the US Army trains its soldiers the same way.

Obviously the dog-in-a-manger government workers and certified victims of Unaccountable America represent the opposite pole and they are welcome to it.

But what is it in the hearts of Unaccountable Americans that allows them to make so many excuses for themselves, and aim their sights so low?

Christopher Chantrill  is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.