Find your teenager a job this summer!
Summer is approaching, and I worry that too many budding Progressives with unearned, idle time on their hands might engage in nasty, stupid things proportional to the temperature. Maybe we'll get lucky and enjoy a cool summer, but I wouldn't bet on it. And even if we do, Progressives will blame climate change!
I think one of many reasons for the current mess we suffer in our politic is that too many of the younger generations (Millennials in particular) did not learn the hard lessons many of the rest of us did when we were adolescents. These are lessons our parents and grandparents learned – some by surviving the Great Depression, some by winning WW2. These are not book lessons, but life lessons every citizen should learn before standing on a box and virtue-signaling.
One lesson everyone needs to learn (and eventually does) is simple enough: you work, you get paid. If you work poorly, you get fired. If you work well, you get promoted. It may not happen quickly, but it does happen. A smart employer will reward your exceptional work in order to keep your labor.
Sure, we admit that while we performed those messy summer jobs mowing lawns, busing restaurant tables, bagging groceries at the local supermarket, baling hay at the local farm, or babysitting – none of these labors was intellectually rewarding. But they were honest jobs, and in their brutal ways taught us how the real world works.
And were we not thrilled to get that first paycheck...but abruptly confused by the many indecipherable deductions? We wondered, "Who is confiscating these monies from my pay? What the heck is FICA?"
It's also true while we worked these menial jobs at age 14-18, we were angry. We looked around and coveted the relative leisure and comfort of those who employed us. We rarely imagined that they had endured equal travails when our age. But they did! Instead, it seemed to us that something unfair was happening.
But they freely chose to pay us the wages that we freely chose to accept. Today's social justice warriors don't get it – or don't want to get it – and I think largely it's because these SJWs did not endure that adolescent grubby wage-earning labor. Where, one dares ask, did these kids find the money they played with? (We know.)
In that more civil era, we were just kids, and our prejudices and fantasies about how the world should work did not count much. And should not have. We might even have toyed with the idea of socialism, imagining that these "other" people with so much money should be coerced to "share more of it" with us.
Sadly, these days, we give much too weight to the feelings (sic) of teenagers, especially those who have not yet been tested by or tasted the real world, or worse, who have been indoctrinated to believe it's not fair.
Our society continues to fail in this matter, spoiling kids way past the expiration date.
Of course, children should be children, and allowed and encouraged to play and discover and wonder and take risks, and even stumble and scrape a knee. But eventually, the adults (hello, parents!) must interrupt and guide them to grow up to more adult behavior, and to understand and accept natural consequences.
This isn't rocket science and certainly not Progressive social engineering dogma. It's tried and tested fact.
Parents and guardians should seek out and find their teenage children a summer job – unless those children are entrepreneurial enough to find ones on their own. (Rejoice if that child is yours!) Either way, the lessons they learn will serve them well in the challenging world ahead, and keep them (and us) out of trouble.
Rick Swenson is teaching International Baccalaureate (I.B.) math in China these days. Some of his adventures are posted on his blog, Dancing with the Dragon.