KidLit, Capeshit, America As A Private NYC Preschool, And The Boy Who Won’t Be The Best At Anything

It appears that each generation of vaguely literate upper-middle-class Americans must find a particular genre of writing and clutch that tightly to its collective breast. The Lost Generation had their dissipated tales of ennui from Hemingway and Mr. Zelda Fitzgerald, the Greatest loved their massive trash novels (think Thorn Birds). The Boomers read Updike and Jong with (mastur)bated breath, and their younger siblings luxuriated in the privileged sense of wokeness conferred by suffering through an entire rambling Novel Of Blackness by the likes of Toni Morrison or Alice Walker.

Generation X has something unique — the upscale-parenting screed. This is something genuinely new, and like “trap music” it was nowhere until the moment it was everywhere. It litters the pages of the Atlantic and New Yorker the same way Tom Wolfe used to bully his way through the fiction section of every respectable East Coast magazine. The alpha example of this is “When The Culture War Comes For Your Kids,” a recent Atlantic piece skewered by Steve Sailer at Unz Review. Written by a National Book Award winner, the article bemoans the misery of finding out that your child can’t make the cut for a private preschool because at the age of two, his sense of visual ideation was already far behind the curve of other, more promising, two-year-olds. Later on, the author realizes that it will cost $1.5M to send his child through a NYC private primary and secondary education, leading him to whine preciously about schools filled with the progeny of “finance people” rather than the children of “orchestra conductors”.

The alternative to playing this brutal, and brutally expensive, game? Why, it’s horrifying:

When parents on the fortunate ledge of this chasm gaze down, vertigo stuns them. Far below they see a dim world of processed food, obesity, divorce, addiction, online-education scams, stagnant wages, outsourcing, rising morbidity rates—and they pledge to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling.

This single sentence should obliterate any vestigial feel-good beliefs you might have that the elites give any kind of shit about heartland or heritage America. They know how bad it is down here on the ground: the opioids, the joblessness, the PTSD from our endless foreign adventures, the hollowing-out of everything beyond the city limits of twenty white-hot real-estate markets. They know how bad it is — and their primary concern is to ensure that their children never see or touch it.

Despite Packer’s undoubted competence as a writer, he is too close to this particular forest to see anything besides the privileged and individual trees. He accurately describes the hellscape of American meritocracy while failing, tactfully or otherwise, to mention the glaringly obvious reason for its creation, to wit: we now have an unlimited supply of rich people, successful people… scratch that. There is now an unlimited supply of people, period. And it will only get worse. Much worse.


Start with this: What is the number of potential immigrants to the United States? I’m not talking about how many we actually get, or how many KIDS are CAGED in NAZI HOLOCAUST DEATH CAMPS at the southern border. I’m asking: If becoming a fully-privileged American citizen were as simple as getting on a one-way steamship, the way it was in 1850, how many people would do it?

Here’s my candidate for that number: 6.7 billion. There are 7.7 billion people in the world. 0.32 billion are already Americans of some sort, de facto or de jure. Figure that there are 700 million folks who are doing just fine where they are: the one-percenters across the globe, much of Western Europe, all of Japan. Everyone else, and I mean everyone, would be individually better off by coming to the USA. Everyone in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia. This list shows that the USA is tenth of 185-plus countries in global per capita income. If you’re from any of those 175 other countries, and you’re not individually wealthy, you should get on that boat.

We cannot comfortably accommodate an additional 6.7 billion people, so we have policies in place to prevent a global migration to the USA. In previous generations, those policies were meant to ensure that the best possible potential Americans came here. That was nasty, but it was also usefully pragmatic. Our current media-industrial complex mostly operates on emotion, so we now have emotionally-based rules. If you look pathetic and miserable enough, and if you’ve suffered enough to get here, we will let you in and pay your bills. Simple as that. Don’t be fooled by the talk about Trump and his Nazi camps; we are importing immigrants at a historically unprecedented rate. For every Irish person who came to America during the potato famine, we have one South-American-American and nine Mexican-Americans. There are probably five million Indians (not Native Americans, mind you) in this country, keeping a fierce headlock on the three million upper-middle-class tech jobs that American’s won’t get an interview to do.

The only humane way for the United States to handle this would be to:

0. Determine the maximum number of possible immigrants the country can absorb every year without becoming post-Cold-War Yugoslavia in terms of ethnic and religious division;
1. Hold a global lottery for those spots, giving the winners free travel to start their new lives here;
2. Enforce immigration laws with Swiss ferocity otherwise.

The system we have now, by contrast, is hugely unfair. It creates dozens of secondary industries which prey on immigrants — everything from rapist “coyotes” at the border crossings to the 200%-markup visa-hostage-holder body shops like Accenture and IBM Global Services. Our emotions-based rules, which privilege “families with children”, have created a situation in which children are repeatedly used, and abused, as human passports. There are only two groups of people entering America with any regularity nowadays, and they can be split into two groups:

0. People with more money than God;
1. People with nothing to lose.

In other words, the whole country is a macrocosm of New York City’s school system. There are too many kids and not enough decent schools, so prospective entrants must be either rich or willing to suffer. The number of prospective students is effectively limitless. It is a pressure cooker with no safety valve. The prize for making it through the process is massive: in the case of our immigration boondoggle, it’s a chance to live in a place where the water is generally drinkable and the police are unlikely to rape you when you call them, while in the case of NYC schools it’s a chance to retain your parents’ precarious position on that ledge far above processed food and country music.

Is it any wonder that everyone involved is gaming the system as hard as they can at all times? That people are willing to mis-classify their children as handicapped in order to gain entry to a particular NYC kindergarten, or rent a previously-abused child just to make it out of Juarez? To do otherwise is to fall back into the bucket of crabs, from which you will never escape.

There’s no small irony in the fact that most New Yorkers are ultra-liberal types who can simultaneously champion open borders and bemoan the skyrocketing cost of living anywhere near Manhattan. You asked everyone to come be your neighbor, and now you’re surprised that there’s a bidding war? What did you think would happen? Oh, that’s right, you thought the same thing that George Packer thinks. You thought that your own privilege and position would be immutable, that it would protect your children the same way you saw the Baby Boomers protected by their parents’ privilege. Perhaps you thought that we would have yet another insane explosion of middle-class attributes in this country, like we did after World War II, and there would be room for everyone somehow — but how could that be, when everybody is already going to college and everybody plans to work at Goldman Sachs when they get out? Your father got a great job because he had a college degree, period, which was rare at the time. You got a great job because you had an Ivy degree, which was rare at the time — but now there are a billion people in line for that Ivy degree, and the line starts outside the preschool, and there are people in sleeping bags who arrived the night before!

America, we are told, now belongs to everyone. So your position in this country is no longer guaranteed, whether that position is Managing Director at Goldman or head cashier at the Dollar General outside Wichita Falls. It’s gonna be meritocracies all the way down for your children, no matter what the consequences, and — I cannot emphasize this enough — it’s happening this way because you wanted it this way. We had 300 years of people, mostly European, who did unspeakably unpleasant things in order to create this country as Paradise on earth. Things which kept them awake at night for the rest of their lives, things which dammed them to a Hell in which they firmly believed. They butchered children and burned villages and marched the natives down the Trail of Tears. They ate human flesh on the pioneer trails and died of grisly diseases and they sweated puny crops from rocky soil. They jumped on grenades and stepped on shit-smeared punji stakes, died in trenches from Ypres to Chosin. They did this in the belief that they were securing a future for their families and their descendants.

Well, the joke is on them. Many of their descendants now are just “fur parents”, not real parents — and there is a headlong rush for the spoils left behind as a consequence. Those spoils will be divided by the most powerful among us, by the polyglot and multicultural meritocracy which will endure without end, forever, Amen, and there’s just one little catch: it’s always going to be the wealthiest and most powerful who somehow become the most meritorious.

This calcification of American society might be the reason for the twin entertainment passions of the Millennials: KidLit and Capeshit. KidLit, of course, refers to the bizarre trend of reading children’s, excuse me, “Young Adult” books well into adulthood. It is disgraceful, but I understand it. Not only is there a genuine shortage of worthwhile adult fiction in 2019, one most also come to grips with the fact that our Millennials had their development deliberately stunted — by helicopter parents, by emotions-based education, by the sweet heroin rush of “free” college loan money that made everyone’s formative years a nonstop blur of Starbucks and bottle-service partying through gender-studies degrees with no thought as to when the bill would come due. How can we blame them for reading kids’ books? They’re still kids. One out of five still live with Mom and Dad. We gave their job opportunities to the meritocracy; we invited the world to come in and compete with them, even as we crippled their intellectual and moral growth to the point that they couldn’t be expected to compete.

In other words, we created a world where the Millennials would always be powerless. You can’t create a world like that and expect its inhabitants to consume the same literature consumed by their parents and grandparents. The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers thrilled to the story of Audie Murphy, the five-foot-five sharecroppers’ kid who became a war hero through sheer guts and determination. That won’t play to Millennials, who know that war is a never-ending meat grinder and that regular people never get the chance to be extraordinary. So instead they get Capeshit, aka “superhero stories”, as exemplified by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its imitators. I’ll say this: if you watch that garbage, you should be ashamed of yourself. Superhero shows are despicable. Not because they’re boring, not because they’re childish, and not even because the MCU has become a self-parody where identity politics matter more than the Silver Surfer’s difficulties with Galactus. Rather, it’s the underlying message that you start life with all your “powers” that makes Capeshit so morally stultifying. Superheroes are born super. They don’t earn it. Their parents rigged the game for them. This is even true of Batman; his superpower is being rich, and he inherited it from his parents.

The recent Amazon series “The Boys” deconstructs this idiocy wonderfully, not least because it admits what any sane person knows: if superheroes really existed, the only reasonable thing to do would be to kill them as often, and frequently, as possible. The main character of “The Boys” is first seen having an argument with his girlfriend where he says, “I can’t just ask for a raise! I’m not… some kind of superhero!” By the end of the season, he’s killed two “Supes”. That is the message we should be giving young people: that anybody can eventually compete on even terms with the most powerful people or institutions out there. We shouldn’t be addicting them to moronic fairy tales where people inherit “wizard power” or “superpowers”. Capeshit and KidLit are like the easy availability of marijuana: they stunt ambition and they make people comfortable with their existing lot in life. Capeshit tells you that Bree Larson is magically able to beat up six-foot-six weightlifters, because she has special powers. It is a never-ending paean to genetic aristocracy, which is odd in The Current Year — but you can’t rely on the commissars to think all their actions through to a logical conclusion.

This corrosive influence of undemocratic fiction is nothing new: David Brin made some similarly serious points about Star Wars a long time ago:

Just what bill of goods are we being sold, between the frames? Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn’t be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow.
.
“Good” elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability.
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Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough.
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True leaders are born. It’s genetic.
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The right to rule is inherited. Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.
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I never cared for the whole Nietzschian bermensch thing: the notion — pervading a great many myths and legends — that a good yarn has to be about demigods who are bigger, badder and better than normal folk by several orders of magnitude. It’s an ancient storytelling tradition based on abiding contempt for the masses

What can I say — he might have foisted The Postman on us, but he’s not wrong. (Incidentally, The Postman, as a book at least, is a brilliant riposte to this. The hero is a thief and coward who eventually comes around to serving greater ideals. He has no special powers. Any of us could have been The Postman.) When adults spend their time consuming wizard books and superhero stories, it just makes them feel even more powerless. And it saps ambition. You learn to not care how good you are. There’s always someone “super” out there somewhere — someone with a Harvard degree, someone who was doing real physics when they were twelve years old, someone whose internship made them the natural choice for the next opening at Skadden, Arps.

My son and I are currently working through a variant of this problem. Last weekend, we flew to New Mexico to ride the Angelfire Bike Park. It was the first time either of us had been on a ski lift, and the first time we’d tried real downhill mountain biking. I survived and even thrived a bit, mostly thanks to the astounding Trek Session 9.9, which allowed me to regularly hit speeds of 30mph or more in midair before landing on multiple fist-sized rocks without incident.

(Made in Taiwan, to my sorrow. There are several decent “all-mountain” bikes made in the USA, from Alchemy and Guerilla Gravity, but the true downhill rigs are rare enough to not be worth producing locally.)

John did a lot better than thrive. On his second run down the “Boulder Dash” jump trail, he posted a better Strava time than the majority of adults who had ever recorded a personal best there. He cleared two of the three massive jumps at “Candyland”. Several times he ran down fully-kitted college-aged riders and passed them — sometimes while simultaneously “styling on them” or at least yelling “YOU GOT YEETED ON!”

Alas, but not all was well in Mudville. His efforts to catch and pass a very clued-in and fast local kid, who was two or three inches shorter than John was, didn’t pan out — he was making ground on the kid, but he missed a turnoff for the next trail and was unable to make up the lost thirty seconds that resulted. On the ski lift, he was furious. “If I can’t even beat that kid, what’s the point?” And, after some discussion, “I’m not the absolute best BMX racer, not the best fencer… What if I’m never the absolute best at anything?

“Well, what if you’re not?” I replied. “What if you’re only among the very best, as a rider and perhaps at some other things as well? What if you can combine being good at a few different things and succeed that way?” I had in mind the Scott Adams idea of a talent stack.

“That,” he snapped, after a moment’s worth of consideration, “is a trash idea. You should be the best at something.” We spent the next two days talking about the difference between being very good at something, which is absolutely within our control, and being the very best, which is not. I worry that his outlook has been poisoned by the effortless mastery demonstrated in so much of today’s media, whether it’s The Last Jedi or the Red Bull Hardline mountain bike race, which shows you the dazzling double backflips but doesn’t show the two broken spines suffered during practice.

What I didn’t tell him at any point in our conversation was this: He’s not ever going to be the best at anything, because I’m not going to permit it. If I think he is on track to be the world’s best downhill mountain biker, I’ll send him to chess camp for a summer, and vice versa. Being the best at anything is a miserable affair with only occasional satisfactions. Being very good at several things, by contrast, is a path to happiness. This is even true of mere competence across a wide range; I do a lot of things in unexceptional fashion, from riding bikes to playing music, and I enjoy all of it. This, I fear, is what our meritocratic Illuminati have forgotten. They are building a master race of highly specialized individuals who are unlikely to thrive outside their hothouses.

Perhaps a better analogy for those best-of-NYC-schoolkids would be… bonsai. Beautiful, yes. Fascinating, of course. Valuable — well, certainly. But utterly perfect, completely manicured, absolutely dependent on their support structure to excel. My philosophy is different. I keep uprooting my son and planting him in difficult conditions, to see if he will thrive. If I am successful, then you could be dismissive and say that I’ve merely cultivated a weed, an ugly hybrid that can grow without beauty anywhere. Or you could say that I’ve created a wildflower. It doesn’t matter how you describe it. The windows of our greenhouse have been broken, at every level from national to local. The seeds are blowing in from everywhere. Too many for this soil, too many for any soil. The boy will have to take root regardless, against any storm, and particularly for the day he looks up to see that his gardener is long gone.

101 Replies to “KidLit, Capeshit, America As A Private NYC Preschool, And The Boy Who Won’t Be The Best At Anything”

  1. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    I don’t see anything wrong with STRIVING to be the “best”. Whats hard to learn is that invariably you will eventually encounter someone who is better at whatever you think you’re the best at, Not all of us, in fact precious few of us, will be as good as Juan Manuel Fangio, Bobby Fisher or Mike Tyson. But if you can learn to just be the best YOU can be, it will allow you to sleep better at night.

    Reply
  2. AvatarShrug

    Speaking as an actual lefty millennial, I think you hit on a lot of interesting points. It’s tough, man. I know it always has been, and it has certainly been tougher, but that knowledge doesn’t make things easier.

    We as a generation are in a bad spot. The boomers and the greatest have trashed the planet and have left the government in some wreck of what it used to be, even if it was never particularly great. They have made it as difficult as possible for the youth to actually be successful in the pursuit of short term profits. The mandating of corporate profits above literally everything else has made it pretty fucking shitty to be starting from the bottom. The right wing (as well as idiot centrists like Pelosi, Biden, and Schumer, may they all rot in hell) cast blame on us as though it’s our fault. We have but the cards we were dealt to play with, and much of an entire generation was handed a 2 and 4.

    I live with my parents because I cannot afford a house. I cannot afford a house because, despite working 40+ hours/week, I don’t make enough money for a mortgage, even in my rural town. I don’t make enough money because, after having been told that college is the only way to success my whole life, I have a useless degree that cost me damn near $70k. I even went to a local, state school for Christ’s sake! But its all for nothing. It’s even taken me a few years to find steady employment that pays a living wage because good jobs don’t exist for the young. It’s fucking rare that you can find a place that doesn’t exist simply to be extort you for your soul in a trade for juuuuuuust enough money to participate in our consumerist society.

    You often bring up how young people aren’t having kids. Well shit, man. I can’t afford a fucking kid.

    You bring up how we sometimes don’t care or feel that we can’t. Well, buddy, ennui sets in pretty goddamn hard once you look around and see all of your friends struggling in the exact same way with precious little hope of a better tomorrow.

    As you say, we have been robbed of romantic ideals of war and other notions of society and “greater good.” As the first of the internet generation, we have had information force fed into us that dispels such lovely notions. Wars kill people and are fought so that the poor get killed for the rich. Political leaders, taken as a whole, have enough skeletons in their closet per capita to start a Halloween party. Rich people got that way by fucking over every single person in their path and burning the rest down so they can get a buck. Religious leaders have a long, disgusting history of child rape.

    There are no heroes. There are no. goddamn capes. You look around and see mountains of trash piling higher and higher, encircling is like Hannibal’s forces did the Romans at Cannae.

    This website is full of people who are going to look at me like an idiot, brainwashed, privileged millennial who just doesn’t get it. That’s because you aren’t here, man. You don’t get it. You still believe that the American Dream and American Exceptionalism exist. What you don’t seem to see is that my generation is left to pick through the refuse of such ideas, watching while fucking fascism (Somehow. Again.) takes hold and the world burns, trying to find even a crumb of that and often coming up short.

    Reply
    • AvatarFred Lee

      I think what you say is interesting, but I do have to ask why you paid $70K for a useless degree? $70K could have gotten you a very useful degree. Or a Corvette. Either one of which would have been better than a useless degree.

      I realize that is now in the past, and you must live in your current reality. But to this Gen X-er you sound awfully bitter about the inevitable result of a decision over which you alone had authority.

      Reply
      • AvatarShrug

        I was 18, chief. You ever make a mistake when you were 18? It’s not an age known for it’s well-reasoned decisions. You don’t see the problem with handing an 18 year old keys to a high interest loan and telling them that this one thing is what will decide the next 50 years of your life and if you don’t go you are screwed from jump?

        Further, I finished my BA in 3 years. By the time I realized my degree was going to have little value (at the ripe, old age of fucking twenty) I was two classes short of graduating. So the choice was graduate and at least have a degree to my name, or change my major and spend another 50 grand over what would probably be two more years of schooling. I did make to prudent the decision here, pal. You have no right to make the assumptions you are making.

        Reply
        • Avatarpanatomic-x

          @shrug – you’re right. don’t let the sunday morning quarterbacks get to you. the thing is to learn from your mistakes and i’m not even sure that $70k for any degree is really a mistake. follow dave ramsey’s advice to get out of debt and get ahead. you’ll be fine.

          Reply
        • AvatarMike B

          “We have but the cards we were dealt to play with, and much of an entire generation was handed a 2 and 4”

          Any millennial who attempted to start a career in the 5+ years during or after the recession knows exactly what that feels like. Competing for jobs with 10 or 20 year industry veterans willing to work for peanuts isn’t an inspiring first taste of the workforce. Kids are promised $65k jobs for undergrad degrees by clueless high school guidance counselors, but four years later all you can get is an internship.

          The student loan vending machine has simultaneously diluted the value of degrees, flooded the job market with adolescent minds unprepared for intellectual work (much less any managerial training), and crippled their ability to pay because. If everyone and their sister can get a $100k loan at 18, you damn well believe universities will charge as much as the students can get their hands on.

          No free market institution would ever be crazy enough to lend that kind of money to a kid. But with guaranteed federal dollars it’s a spending frenzy on tuition, and the very education that is supposed to get you ahead is what puts you in the hole.

          These are not the same times as 30 years ago. Inflation adjusted incomes have been and continue to be stagnant, but the cost of real estate and education is exponentially higher. It’s a stacked deck dealt to a generation, and the dealers are still adding more cards to the shoe.

          Reply
        • AvatarS2k Chris

          I sometimes wonder if I was the only kid at the end of the last millennium to be told “hey major in something that translates to a job.” Because I certainly was, by my parents, teachers, counselors, college professors, friends, neighbors, everyone. I said I was going to major in “business management” and everyone said “what the hell are you going to do with that? You like business? Study accounting or finance.” So I did. I’m no MD at GS, but I’ve been making six figures for nearly a decade, having reached that “milestone” about 5-6 years into my career. I guess I was lucky al those people came back from the future to impart that advice upon me?

          Reply
          • AvatarJeff Weimer

            We’ve told our children that they were going to go into a field that has a positive job outlook or we weren’t going to pay. They both did (Nursing and Computer Engineering), and will graduate with zero debt; one on my GI bill and the other got so much in scholarships that we can afford to pay as we go.

    • AvatarEverybodyhatesscott

      I’m an elder millennial with no college debt because my parents helped me, a mortgage that is hard, my first kid and I lean slightly right but damn you’re spot on. “ Go to college, go to college, go to college! “15 years later, well why did you go to college? We were lectured our entire lives to go to college and hold off on kids. You know what I should’ve done? Had my first kid ten years ago. It’s 10,000 x better than avocado toast and partying till 5am.

      Reply
      • AvatarNoID

        My abridged millennial experience: Married ten days after high school graduation, first child one year later, moved six hundred miles from home and started college zero-point-one years after that…fast forward five years and two more kids, graduating with honors and giving the damn commencement speech, hired before I graduated…fast forward another seven years and two more kids, now pulling in close to six figures at a job a freaking love (engineering job in the performance division of an OEM), living in the mid-west where a dollar generally spends farther than I can throw it. I’m still paying off college debt and the realities of supporting a family on one income means that cash flow isn’t quite what I’d like it to be, but I at least feel like I’m doing OK.

        I managed to make it as a millennial, albeit following a very non-traditional (or maybe it was traditional in the past…) path, but I have a lot of friends who didn’t. Some tried hard and failed, some just kinda wafted through young adulthood chasing bullcrap degrees or nothing at all, still others who I wouldn’t have expected to amount to much pulled it together and are doing quite well by finding a trade or starting businesses. Meanwhile my parents went from upper-middle class east coast business owners to essentially existing (I wouldn’t call it living) off of social security and part-time work out in a dilapidated old farmhouse they inherited from my grandfather. And yet I’d say they’re happier than they’ve ever been, somehow, probably because they’ve escaped the cyclone of The American Dream and are left to focus on what’s important.

        Jordan Peterson makes a good point: It’s really hard to start from zero, and while a lot my millennial friends didn’t start at zero, they were sold a formula that certainly helped them arrive there in their mid 20s to early 30s. The college-at-all-costs mentality with easy Federal dollars funding over-priced degrees where the end of the tunnel was illuminated by a train, not the sunshine of a bright future. Yes, I went to a four-year university and received my share of loan money, but had the right opportunities not presented themselves I was very close to pursuing a career as an automotive technician and skipping college. I also went to exactly one college party while I was in school, and I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until I was 19 or 20. I mention this because I didn’t use college as a publicly-funded Rumspringa, I actually used it as a means to an end because I already had a family counting on me. That outlook was probably a nontrivial factor in my relative success.

        I agree that millennials were dealt a crappy hand. Some sympathy from those who dealt it would be nice, especially since they’re the ones who by and large hold the keys of power right now. Something besides pissing and moaning from the millennials stuck at the bottom would be nice too.

        Anyways, nanny nanny boo boo, I made it and you didn’t, suck it up buttercup, lolz kthxbye. I have a worthless Star Wars canon novel about Leia Organa to finish.

        Reply
      • Avatarpanatomic-x

        all three support the war machine, the medical and educational cartels and wall street. i’d say that makes them centrist. in these areas, there is no significant difference between mainstream republicans and democrats. everything else is window dressing for the masses.

        Reply
    • AvatarKen

      The concept that working 40+ instead of 80+ is part of the problem you have with achieving success. You’re in a hole by your admittance. Now you must double down to make it out. The belief that there are few opportunities just because you haven’t found them limits you. I hope you are able to find the road to success. It’s all around you and yet at the same hidden. Working just to work isn’t enough, working to just pay bills isn’t enough you have to have an end goal to strive to. Also the idea you can’t afford xyz, well it’s always hard to afford anything unless you’re upper middle class.

      Reply
    • AvatarPanzer

      “The greatest trashed the planet…”
      No fuckwit, they beat the -actual- fascists, laid the groundwork for the future victory against the Socialism described by Orwell in ‘1984’, they built the welfare state and finished off the industrial revolution so our parents generation and ours would be the richest/most privileged class of humans of all time.

      “Durr I got 70k of college debt, but it’s not my fault ‘cos I was only 18”
      Well actually it is your fault. You’re right that our generation was misled by our trotskyist shithead teachers into believing college was the only way forward. But you should have been able to see the writing on the wall and dropped out like I did before you got too far down the debt rabbit hole. I left uni 8 years ago at 20, been working since then, paid for some travel and now I make 70k a year as a drainlayer. No problems here.

      “Oh noes, fascism is coming back again”
      You can fuck right off with this shit. The working class is finally holding our elected governments feet to the fire with an actual authentic right that doesn’t apologize for existing unlike the National Review crowd. If you think that’s fascist you need to read your history. The working class is doing this because they are suffering from the same problems as you and many others are, but they never had the luxury of racking up 70k of debt to go to college and get blazed between basket weaving lectures.

      Reply
      • AvatarNewbie Jeff

        “they beat the -actual- fascists, laid the groundwork for the future victory against the Socialism described by Orwell in ‘1984′”

        Absolutely. This is the greatest indignity to the memory of the WW2 generation… that the terms “Nazi” and “fascist” are so carelessly thrown around in every corner occupied by leftist hot air. Combine that with the fact that most people under 40 have zero knowledge of WW2 history, and are completely ignorant of the debt that we owe them. It’s a safe bet that anyone screaming “Nazi” today has no idea who Goering or Himmler was, what country Auschwitz is in, what “blitzkrieg” was, and thus the monumental task put before a generation of 18-24 year olds to confront such evil without today’s cozy assurance of overwhelming military superiority.

        …instead, today’s millennials spew garbage like Shrug’s, unwilling and unable to understand the context of just how many fought, suffered, and died to deliver unto all of us a world so (relatively) peaceful. The entire world could have been Poland, but it wasn’t thanks to the WW2 generation. All we had to do was not squander it… and we as a country have failed. Like my dad about my grandpa (B-17 crew chief and top turret gunner, 99th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, 50 combat missions): “I’m so glad he didn’t live to see the country like this.”

        Reply
        • AvatarFred L.

          I think it’s perfectly reasonable to honor the memory and accomplishments of the self-proclaimed “Greatest Generation” while at the same time acknowledging that many of their policies have, in the many decades since, had a ruinous impact on the country.

          Reply
          • AvatarPanzer

            The boomers are to blame for what you’re talking about though, not the ‘greatest’. Social security, medicaid and American industry would have all been safe in the hands of a prudent and intelligent generation like the one that created these things.
            Instead the boomers just did lots of drugs and pussy and ended up protesting a war they didn’t understand and subscribing to a marxism they understood even less.

    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “This website is full of people who are going to look at me like an idiot, brainwashed, privileged millennial who just doesn’t get it. “That’s because you aren’t here, man. You don’t get it. You still believe that the American Dream and American Exceptionalism exist. What you don’t seem to see is that my generation is left to pick through the refuse of such ideas, watching while fucking fascism (Somehow. Again.) takes hold and the world burns, trying to find even a crumb of that and often coming up short.”

      You are a brainwashed, privileged millennial idiot, and you don’t get it. My guess is that Jack appreciates your comments because it proves the point he’s trying to make: you are the intended product of decades of “progressivism”, i.e. you’re helpless, angry, hate America and will reliably vote for more of it.

      In between your f-bombs and denouncement of your own country, I see only excuses. While you may have been able to negotiate results in college, in the real world results are just… results. A lifetime of participation trophies and safe spaces have left you unprepared and unappreciative. In your self-absorbed whining, you miss another significant point: that BILLIONS of people living in the real world would gladly have your sorry state, your 40 hrs/week doing whatever it is that you do, and the paycheck that comes with it… and probably live in utter bliss the rest of their lives (their kids, however….). You’ll never see it their way, no matter how much woke-media you consume.

      The ultimate irony here is that, predictably, you’re an avowed leftist. Pelosi is “centrist” (!!!) hell-rot, which means your brainwashing is complete. You’ll probably vote Bernie despite the fact that he was JUST capitalist/Republican/enterprising enough to sell his shtick in a bestseller, add some zeroes to his bank account, and buy more houses than he needs, God bless ‘Merica. This is the intended result… not that American exceptionalism failed you, but that you were taught to fail American exceptionalism and you and millions more did.

      The country is going directly down the toilet, but it’s not because there’s not enough of you… it’s because there’s no longer enough of me. I’m a millennial, and I won’t bore anyone here with the details, but I came from next to nothing. I was “there, man”. I was given a loving childhood, and for that I’m eternally grateful, but not much else. I made stupid decisions when I was 18, too, and you know what? They aren’t excuses, they’re just stupid things I did when I was 18. Now the only thing standing in the way is an ever-expanding “post-colonial” movement of Marxists who are bound and determined to repeat some blip in history that they were too triggered to learn about, and squander what was given to them that, like you, they don’t appreciate.

      Reply
      • AvatarDan S.

        Thank you for saying this, it needed to be said.

        I guess I’m also doing fairly well by Midwestern millennial standards. My upbringing was better than most, but I’ve worked hard for everything I have at this point, while I’ve watched peers and family members who started in the same place wind up more like typical millennials through bad decision making.

        I’ve also “been there”, too many people making excuses and not looking for ways to change their circumstances m

        Reply
    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      “despite working 40+ hours/week”

      I’m about to start my 63rd trip around the sun and I can’t remember a time when I only worked a 40 or so hour week. I’m no silver spoon recipient, rural blue collar raised. Folks couldn’t afford college, so it was on me. In my time there were no loans specifically for college, scholarships and grants were it. I didn’t have the GPA in high school (my fault) to qualify for scholarships and wasn’t in a position to chase after grants. What I did do was go to work for a large corporation that offered tuition assistance. AND i worked an additional part time job. Did it suck. Of course it did. My social life was limited and my life was basically work, school, sleep, repeat. But in the long run it was worth it. I now live quite comfortable, and have for a number of years.

      There are 2 types of education one can get a college. One that gives you skills and training for the job market, and another that is education purely for the sake of learning (history, art, etc). As you have found, for the most part a BA is useless in the business world.

      You stated that you now make a living wage (whatever the hell that means) and live with your parents. If that’s the case, unless you’re a burger flipper you should be able to put away a few dollars each pay period. That’s assuming you don’t have a new car payment and don’t piss away most of your money on social activity’s. Save up some money then start your own small business doing what YOU like doing, that there is a market for. Start small and part time; you’re unlikely to make your first million in the first year. Be prepared to put in FAR more than 40 hours a week, and be persistent. The IRS will accept that you lose money (on paper) for 5 out of 7 years before they declare it a hobby instead of a business.

      Or you can sit around with your friends and piss and moan about how unfair life is, and the “man” is keeping you down. Your choice.

      Reply
    • AvatarJMcG

      Fascism is just another word for communism. Which is just another word for oligarchy. Which is where we are now and heading deeper.
      There are over three hundred million “Americans” now. More are being encouraged to come here every day. That – that alone- is enough to ruin this country.
      There are entire developments near where I live filled with Indians. The real estate signs are written in Hindi or Urdu without any English. Do you suppose a house in those developments will ever be sold to a white or God forbid, a black? You need to learn who your true enemies are.
      Then you need to get yourself a Class B CDL and get yourself down to the local Union hall for electrical power linemen. In a couple of years you’ll be making six figures. That, or get a job with FedGov.

      Reply
    • AvatarDaveL

      You’re not an idiot. In fact, I just had a similar conversation with my college aged son an hour prior to reading this brilliant JB piece. You guys are screwed, and it sucks.

      Here’s a copy and paste from a comment I left here last week since it applies- “I’m envious of those who believe America will continue to exist as it is. Unfortunately I know it’s already over.”

      Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Shrug, I want to be kind, I have millenial kids who deal with many of realities you mention, but I have to say, boo-fucking-hoo to you.

      You mentioned “fucking fascism” taking hold in the context of how tough you have it in today’s world. Let me tell you about someone I knew, his name was Emil Reed, who had some experience with real fascists. Emil’s wife Etta was my mother’s best friend, apparently my mother was the first friend she made after moving to Detroit. I called them Aunt Etta and Uncle Emil when I was a kid and our families were so close that it wasn’t till I was about 7 years old when I figured out that what was different about them from my other aunts and uncles wasn’t just that they spoke English in a heavy European accent, it was that they weren’t really my aunt and uncle.

      Etta’s maiden name was Silver. She was from Sighet, also the home town of Elie Wiesel, in Hungary. She had twelve brothers and sisters. I’m not sure where Emil was from, but before the war he was in the hardware business. Emil died at 94 and it was at a memorial service for him that I first learned that Etta was his second wife. His first wife and baby were murdered by actual fascists, real Nazis, not your fictional boogeymen.

      Emil and Etta met in a displaced persons camp after the war. They immigrated to the United States in the late 1940s, ending up in Detroit. Etta’s brother Sol survived. At first they believed they were the only living members of their family but in the 1960s they would discover a sister in Ontario has also survived. In 1950, Etta and Emil had their first child and also started up a leather apparel company with Sol and his wife, whose name escapes me at the moment. Their son Mark is a neighbor and friend of mine and still runs the busines. I sometimes buy leather scraps from Reed Sportwear to use in my embroidery shop. I’ve never met a more ethical businessperson than Mark.

      The way I heard the Reed Sportwear story is that Sol had some kind of background in the apparel business and got a sample leather jacket. Emil managed to talk his way into a meeting with a buyer from Hudson’s the big Detroit department store, long since absored into what is now the Target corporation. Emil was the straightest arrow I ever knew. I think the most casually I ever saw him dressed was with a tie and a sweater. At the end of the meeting, the buyer said he’d order hundreds of jackets. Emil told him that there was only one problem, he didn’t have the money to make them. Apparently he impressed the buyer and funds were paid in advance. Equipment was rented, employees were hired, and the company is still in business, selling leather jackets in all 50 states. They even still make some stuff in Detroit, though most of their goods are imported. Based on research I’ve done, I’m pretty sure that Reed Sportswear made the motorcycle jacket worn by Marlon Brando in The Wild One. You can still buy that same jacket, made in Detroit with the same patterns a lot of the same equipment.

      Emil Reed started over, penniless, after his wife and child were murdered, He started a new life, and a new family, travelled halfway around the world to a strange country, learned a new language, and made a very good life for his family.

      Are you saying that you have fewer advantages in life than Emil Reed had in 1945?

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Good comment as usual Ronnie, and I might add:
        Does Shrug have fewer advantages than:
        post 1865 former slave black sharecroppers?
        post 1865 Civil War veterans with missing limbs?
        post 1918 WWI veterans with shell shock, burned lungs (from gas attacks), and missing limbs?
        Dust Bowl refugees (Okies) in 1932?
        post 1959 Castro Cuba refugees?
        post 1975 Vietnam boat people refugees?
        post 1975 middle-aged steel workers, autoworkers, and other industrial workers who lost well paid jobs due to subsidized foreign competition, poorly considered regulation and tax policies, corrupt unions, and incompetent management?

        Reply
        • AvatarShrug

          Damn, man, you’re right. My life is better than that of some of the most unfortunate people in relatively recent history. Did I ever say that it wasn’t? Both of you feel free to re-read the opening paragraph where I acknowledge that things have been worse. I am extremely fortunate in many ways. That people suffered, at times horribly, in the past does not make life easier for me or for millions and millions of others. Shit, my life is better than the aggregate of the people in Syria, or one of the many countries where the US has promoted civil war and staged coups like Honduras. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems worth acknowledging. There is always something worse. Saying X isn’t as bad as Y doesn’t make X good and it doesn’t make X go away.

          You may not know this, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: people are allowed to have problems and struggles that make life more difficult than it needs to be even if it doesn’t ring the same bell as sharecroppers and actual Holocaust victims.

          So yeah, you are correct that my life is nowhere near as bad as many of the people you mention. That doesn’t mean I should just shut up and take the punches as thought there aren’t avenues avenues of change that we can take to make better future for the whole.

          As an aside since it was brought up, the impact of the shuttering of numerous middle class jobs in the 70s, and not just in steel, is still being felt today and has largely been magnified since then. My area in particular has seen a sharp rise in poverty since the closure of most its once-numerous glass making facilities. The nice middle-class careers in this area that existed for my parents are not available to me now.

          Reply
          • AvatarNewbie Jeff

            “Both of you feel free to re-read the opening paragraph where I acknowledge that things have been worse.”

            I did re-read it, and the rest of it, because I pay attention to the details like that (a helpful tip to make oneself more employable). Like most of our generation, you pay lip service to a debate escape route, (“I know others have had it worse, but…”) then the bulk of your rant is about you(r excuses). The problem is, this isn’t a left-wing echo chamber, and leftist bumper-sticker slogans won’t get much mileage here. I’ll let you in on a little secret: a little perspective can be healthy for conceptualizing your problems as you ponder your lack of upward mobility in a time of unprecedented job opportunity.

            So you want to talk solutions? You rightly point out that middle class jobs aren’t what they used to be… maybe you can explain to the class why you support an open borders ideology and a party that doesn’t just disregard the integrity of U.S. citizenship, but trips over itself to subsidize every miserable soul that votes with their feet from all of those regimes we haven’t staged a coup against yet. I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on how encouraging unchecked illegal immigration might affect “nice middle-class careers”…

            …maybe you’ll have some answers for dolts like me, who somewhere along the way gave up on the belief that the government could effectively control immigration, saw the political will turning against the country’s interests, and figured the last viable option left was to just build a stupid wall. But I’m guessing that’s the point where I’m a “Nazi”.

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            Maybe if you spent more time on giving yourself marketable skills and less time cultivating your own oikophobia (read a bit of Howard Zinn have you?) you’d be in a better position to support yourself.

      • Avatareverybodyhatesscott

        Penniless is at 0. not 100k in debt with a high interest loan that can never be repaid. I’m sorry people killed his wife and child but he got a do-over. A lot of Millenials would gladly take penniless do over.

        Reply
        • AvatarNewbie Jeff

          “I’m sorry people killed his wife and child but he got a do-over. A lot of Millenials would gladly take penniless do over.”

          Please tell this was just poorly conveyed, and you don’t actually mean that millennials would take a “penniless do over” at the expense of the murder of their spouse and children.

          Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            Abortion hasn’t created soulless levels of selfishness in the people who have been indoctrinated to accept it as a virtue at all.

    • Avatararbuckle

      I’m also a Millennial and I actually agree with most of what you wrote but I have no idea how you can go through that stuff and remain a leftist. At best the leftist ideology of 2019 is the same line of crap that people used to sell 18YO you on a worthless $70K degree

      Reply
      • AvatarCJinSD

        Young leftists aren’t smart enough to figure out that the government underwriting unlimited student debt was all about redistributing wealth to unproductive old leftists.

        Reply
        • Avatararbuckle

          I don’t understand it at all. They hoodwinked you at 17 or 18 years old to greatly enrich themselves and their pals, then once your eyes are opened to how bad you got scammed, you support polices to make those same people even wealthier and more powerful?

          Reply
          • Avatar-Nate

            _THIS_ .

            Don’t forget : blame it on the very people who tried to prevent all this .

            J. Gobbles would be proud, so very proud .

            -Nate

    • AvatarBootyToucher

      I’m an older millennial and my experience has been different. Folks who I grew up with who consistently worked hard is doing very well, and those who didn’t are not. Most fall somewhere in the middle. The saddest thing I see from millennials is their sense of entitlement, especially entitlement for instant rewards. You don’t get the high paying job right away. Your loans don’t go away right away. You can’t buy a house immediately after graduating college. Life is harder now than it was in the 1950s- a more than doubling in population will do that. But those truths about hard work and instant reward have always applied.

      Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      I’m a late gen x/ early millennial. I’ve got over 60k in loans. Got a job and worked my way up. I appreciate the point of view but down appreciate the excuses. Baby boomers as a whole had little to do with short term gains. Maybe the few elite rich folks. If anything they needed the short term gains because many retirement plans were getting pulled in favor of 401ks. I need those same gains to have a chance to retire.

      And while college is more expensive, it’s also far more accessible than it ever has been. Online courses. Colleges in every major city. Need based grants.

      Part of the problem I see with college is the perceived lack of education at the HS level at the same thing the demand for all modern classrooms by students.

      Baby boomers have no control over corporations. No control and have been victimized by early retirement or layoffs by these same corporations. Many are in the hook for their children’s college education. Many don’t have retirements.

      Reply
    • AvatarDanio

      What strikes me about these screeds is the revelation in the realization that life is hard.

      Millennial here, though I resent misnomer “generational” categorizations because they’re a very basic fallacy of the many.

      I’ve made my way to reasonable success so far by never taking anyone’s advice at face value. Promises are broken. Casual advise is limited by the person’s depth. Finding a strong mentor is rare.

      Try many things. Fail and succeed. Learn from experiences. The unfortunate part of this stubborn mindset is that educational route is expensive and littered with trappings, not unlike flushing $70k for a worthless degree. You’ll pay for education either way. The value is in the life experiences found along the way that will make a person more valuable in a real sense.

      I now have 3 diplomas in frames, leaned against a wall in an office closet. Two earned while working with a family. With one I gained a very specific set of skills for a specific job, the other to break a glass ceiling. I didn’t know what I needed until I was there, though. If I listened to every boomer/greatest career path suggestion, I would have never found out. The world changed and they missed it. I don’t blame them, they’re just as blind and stupid as most of us are.

      Reply
    • AvatarDirt Roads

      “The boomers and the greatest have trashed the planet and have left the government in some wreck of what it used to be, even if it was never particularly great.” Bullshit brother.
      How far back do you want to go to play the blame game? I’m a baby boomer and I got handed a world just out of two world wars and Korea, then as a kid found myself smack in the middle of civil unrest, Viet Nam, MLK and JFK and RFK assassinations so don’t whine to me about what kind of world you got handed. Shall I whine to? I can play that game but what I did instead was get out of my mother’s basement and work my ass off in a world where my college degree did squat for me. I found other ways, and here I am still alive. Not rich, just doing OK.
      This blame game on other generations is the biggest pile of crap I hear from the millennials. Your situation is always someone else’s fault, never yours. Get off your ass and do something about it. My generation had to. You don’t have it any worse than anyone else, and the planet is still here. You want to talk about government being crap? Get onboard the train brother. Shall I remind you of Ronald Rayguns, the Kent State massacre – I could go on and on.
      Get of your whine train already for crying out loud. I just want to slap you. And everyone else in this thread who is on that same train.

      Reply
  3. AvatarF. Lee

    I smiled at the description of the Gen-Xer parenting style.

    My sister is a successful, intelligent Gen-Xer with a very successful, very intelligent husband. Their son (my nephew) is bright and precocious, but didn’t make it into the preferred kindergarten. Which meant that he wouldn’t make it into the preferred grade-school and definitely not into the high-school from whence many extremely successful entrepreneurs graduated.

    The average parent would be disappointed, but accept this lot and enroll in the second-best school. But not my sister! Realizing that their little one wasn’t headed for the top of the educational heap, they picked up stakes and moved to the very outdoorsy town of Steamboat Springs, CO. From whence, of course, many an Olympian hails. And my nephew now, instead of being enrolled in the elite schools, is instead enrolled in ski-racing programs with the children of elite athletes.

    Mediocrity is *NOT OK*. Their son *MUST WIN*. No matter the cost.

    Reply
    • AvatarKen

      The potential 2nd coming of feudalism and the limitation of mediocrity there is a shrinking window to get an offspring to the position to not be part of the lower caste of society. Many elitists that have achieved their higher level would like to limit the upward mobility of those below them and lock in their positions in society. It’s an absolute imperative that every parent do what they can to help their offspring not end up in the whole category in society that will most likely increasingly be closed off to those without certain socially fashionable demographic features as meritocracy becomes an anarchism of the past.

      Reply
  4. AvatarDavid Florida

    My elementary-aged kids will eventually play piano, swim, master calculus, troubleshoot electrical circuits, and run a 5k. If there is any doubt about “useless degrees,” I will have them in a skilled trade faster than you can say “Masters of the Universe.”

    Even the heirs of a Jeff Bezos will have to pay someone who knows how stuff works, sooner or later.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Heritage America is like pornography; you know it when you see it. It’s the suburbs of the Midwest and the breakfast restaurants of Clarksdale, MS. It’s rural Montana and the quiet, harmless spaces of Vermont and New Hampshire. It’s everywhere people have an interest in preserving American life as it existed prior to 1965. When you are in a small town where the streets are named after Korean and Vietnam War casualties, you’re in Heritage America. Any place they don’t lock the “public” restrooms, you’re probably close. Any place you can let your teenaged daughter walk at night, any place there aren’t needles and human feces on the streets. It’s that Reagan-esque city on the hill. It’s not perfect and it never was but it beats the way we live in Portland and San Francisco and Manhattan now.

      Reply
      • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

        Heritage America is where I have my chunk of this spinning rock we call Earth. Well, kinda Heritage America. It ain’t Mayberry, but it ain’t New Jack City either. The only time I lock my car door is when I’m in the “big town”, there is still a 4th of July parade and war memorials (Revolutionary thru Vietnam) that are maintained. The last few years have seen an influx of folks moving here from Atlanta and bringing some of their attitudes, and problems, with them. In a few years when I retire completely from work, I’ll likely move further out and see if I can’t find Mayberry.

        Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I think Jack’s estimate on the number of potential immigrants to the US would drop dramatically if the US welfare state disappeared as in: What you mean I have to pay the delivery costs for my anchor baby out of pocket? You mean I won’t get food stamps and public housing assistance? You mean I don’t get free public education in the language of my choice, and I’m not eligible for affirmative action and in-state tuition? What kind of hell-hole is this place, and how do I get back to Syria, Nigeria, Mexico, China, India, Guatemala, etc.?

      Reply
  5. AvatarKeith

    There has never been a majority of our population that supported open immigration.

    But there have been enough overly emotionally types propagandized and funded by corporations and the ultra rich to effectively get whatever immigration system that they want.

    I learned yesterday from my father that I had a great great grandfather who was in a Louisiana militia that fought the Spanish for the west florida parishes, and the English in the battle of New Orleans.

    Reply
  6. AvatarFeds

    I’m in working on a Saturday instead of being with my children, so I’m not going to write a treatise, but what fascinates me about your writing is that we see the problems of the world similarly but see the solutions lying in opposite directions.

    Reply
  7. AvatarJMcG

    Jack, you and Mr Sailer are doing God’s work. America is finished though. I have four kids and I can’t tell you how it pains me to say that. The wings are coming off.

    Reply
  8. Avatarstingray65

    Funny how so many people of color want to come to the racist USA. It’s also funny how so many Leftist NGOs that claim America to be a racist hell-hole work so hard to provide assistance to people of color to illegally come to the racist USA. It’s also funny how many Leftist activists, who detest the sexist (patriarchal), homophobic, Islamophobic, trannie-phobic and otherwise deplorable American public, want to import Muslims who treat women as 2nd class citizens (at best), think non-heterosexuals should be outlawed (or killed), and wage Jihad against non-Muslims (especially Jews and atheists). Perhaps the Left thinks that bringing in a diverse and colorful cohort of immigrants from all the failed cultures and lower IQ ethnic groups around the world will turn the US into peace-loving “socialist” Scandinavia (which happens to be 90+% white and not actually socialist)?

    Of course people such as Packer (and Shrug above) also tend to think that US citizens should not have their constitutionally guaranteed gun rights, which would mean that only “racist” cops and “baby killer” soldiers commanded by “Hitler” Trump would have guns. And they tend to rail against meritocracy while supporting affirmative action and racial/gender quotas, but then do their best to circumvent their desired “social justice” to make sure their own dim/lazy kids (assuming they have some) get their spots in the best schools, neighborhoods, and employers. They also tend to support high taxes and “free” public services (including to illegals), but do everything in their power to avoid paying said taxes themselves while walling themselves off into exclusive neighborhoods and private schools that are diverse only in the sense of offering multiple shades of white skin and Leftist politics. Perhaps they believe that the rules and taxes they advocate are only for the “little” (aka deplorable) people? Yet perhaps the rest of us should be sympathetic as it must be difficult to constantly feel guilty about all your personal hypocrisies, unhappy about all the injustices of the world, and continuously proven wrong in all your policy “solutions”.

    Reply
    • AvatarShrug

      Ahh you pigeon hole me mistakenly. I’m largely ok with private gun ownership. The “ban all guns” crowd is wrong. As is the NRA in their crusade for an AR on every corner.

      Some pretty easy gun laws that already have a decent level bipartisan support already would be fine by me. Make it harder for the people that shouldn’t own tools specifically designed to kill human beings to own tools specifically designed to kill human beings. Close the gun show/private sale loopholes and mandate background checks among some others. Would it cure our mass shooting epidemic immediately? Of course not! But you can sure as heck make it harder for people to pull them off.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        “Common sense gun control” has been around since 1968 and periodically toughened and refined almost every time some mentally ill person shoots some people. Unfortunately, the laws seldom work as intended because of general government incompetence, and the fact that so many Democrat Mayors, DAs, and police chiefs refuse to enforce them because the vast majority of violators are people of color, which means the laws are deemed “racist”. Throw in Leftist advocates for the mentally ill not wanting to do anything that might discriminate against the mentally ill (like lock up the dangerous ones) and gun laws end up only “working” in confiscating the guns of the law abiding and mentally sane.

        Reply
        • Avatar-Nate

          A serious reality disconnect here as the mass shooters are, like homosexual paedophiles, mainly White men .

          It’s the gop that stopped taking care of the mentally incompetent and refusing to enforce the firearm laws on the books now, not any Deomcrats nor ‘lefties’ .

          Lying and claiming the opposite side is doing excactly what you’re doing is a time honored tactic, it only works on ignorant by choice or stupid people, the rest understand that you need to lie to try and support your baseless ideology .

          Nice try though .

          -Nate

          Reply
          • Avatarhank chinaski

            Per capita, no, the distribution fairly matches the general population, particularly if you loosen the definition of mass shooting to include the typical weekend in Baltimore gangland event. If you narrow down to workplace (got fired, come back gunning) shooting, then that group stands out.

            The vast majority of the ‘angry white male’ shooters were essentially fatherless, for what that’s worth.

          • AvatarDaniel J

            Nate

            Last I checked law enforcement is apolitical. At least in my neck of the woods. Care to elaborate?

            Oh, and in my neck of the woods the Democratic party ran the state all the way up until the early 2000s and did nothing for the mentally incompetent.

          • Avatar-Nate

            @Daniel ;

            You’ve obviously never had anything to do with law enforcement .

            It’s so politically biased as to make your comment laughable and I’m a law enforcement supporter being a staunch Conservative .

            Gang shootings are nothing like the mass shooting,s cute attempt at obfuscation .

            -Nate

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Okay, since you brought it up: every weekend there is a multiple shooting in Chicago. Why do we ignore that and focus on the much rarer “mass shootings” that usually dont come close to matching Chicago’s murder count for the same time? Is it race?

          • Avatar-Nate

            Because a mass shooting is very different from the daily Chicago (yuck, I’ve been there no thanx) Los Angeles, Pittsberg, New York City and so on shootings .

            Yes, there is clearly a racial aspect to the larger mass shootings when compared to drug addled losers randomly shooting into a crowd of people wearing the wrong color shoes laces and you and every one else here knows it – don’t get cute on me now .

            -Nate

          • AvatarCJinSD

            The recent Virginia Beach government office mass shooter was black, but I saw it mentioned zero times in the national coverage. Since 1982, 57% of mass shootings have been perpetrated by whites. Since 2009, the numbers have skewed considerably less white. Propaganda gets traction with the stupid though. Some people seem capable of blocking every truth they’re ever exposed to.

  9. Avatarstingray65

    Jack, while I largely agree with your points, I do disagree with the hero bit, because the Left does have a modern day super hero – 16 year old Swedish sailor and climate-scientist Greta Thunberg – she is the perfect Leftist hero in virtually all modern respects: not male, not Christian, anti-Capitalist, has a disability, supports social/climate justice – her only real flaw is that she is a white Swede (perhaps she is 1/1024th Eskimo (Sami)). And like most super heroes, nothing earthly can stop Greta from her mission: not facts, not logic, not history. Greta will save the world from global warming even if she has to skip all her schooling and sail her 5 million dollar carbon fiber racing yacht all around the world (and keep the airlines busy shuttling her crew from port to port) until the next ice age comes and she can walk across the oceans.

    Reply
  10. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    We gave their job opportunities to the meritocracy; we invited the world to come in and compete with them, even as we crippled their intellectual and moral growth to the point that they couldn’t be expected to compete.

    Ironically, Packer says he’s against meritocracy(apparently because of its elitism) yet he bemoans what a poor education his kids are getting, the fact that the curriculum is all about the negative aspects of American history and that they never learn what we used to call “civics”. I’ll almost forgive the Gramscian socialists for taking over the schools, taking over stuff is what leftists do, but I can’t forgive them for taking what was, into the 1960s, a world class public education system and turning it into a dolt-producing factory.

    Not that long ago, my older sister retired after teaching junior high science for over 30 years in the NYC public schools. She said she would have kept going for another 5 years but that district policies made it impossible for her to teach – and that was before the current racialist chancellor Carranza has decided to make the NYC schools even more about identity politics and gut whatever academic rigor and behavioral discipline still remain.

    Reply
  11. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Superheroes are born super. They don’t earn it

    I’m no expert on comic books, but whether or not they “earned” their super powers, it seems to me that many of the Marvel characters were not born with them. Spiderman got bit by a radioactive spider. The Fantastic Four went through some kind of radiation belt (ya think folks in the ’50s and ’60s were a bit concerned about radioactivity?).

    Maybe it’s a DC vs Marvel thing, like I said, I’m no expert.

    Speaking of comics, if you’re not aware of it, “comicsgate” is the latest front in the culture wars, with a lot of not-left creators either pushed or gatekeeped out of the industry moving to crowdfunding, rather succesfully. Richard C. Meyers started a YouTube channel called Diversity & Comics wherein he criticized the woke comics industry and got called a Nazi for his efforts. His critics challenged him that if he thought he could do better, prove it. So he came up with Jawbreakers. So far he’s had two six-figure Indiegogo campaigns. Ethan Van Sciver was pretty much driven out of DC because he voted for Trump. His Cyberfrog campaigns on IndieGoGo have brought in over $800K.

    I do agree that grownups spending a lot of time watching superhero movies, reading comic books, or discussing the finer points of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones makes me want to say yIn Suq!

    Reply
  12. Avatar-Nate

    So much hyperbole ~

    I’m an uneducated Blue Collar schlub who left home before my teens and yet managed to carve out a decent little life and my 40 YO Gen-X son is doing far better than I after he gave up on College after two years ~ he just bought his second house whilst raising two children .

    I can’t imagine living with my parents after I left when i was 8YO, if I was in shrug’s spot I’d simply buy a trailer and some scrubby land to set it on ~ he claims to live in a rural area…

    So much to think about here but opportunity is out there, you just have to decide you want it badly enough to go get it .

    -Nate

    Reply
  13. AvatarNoID

    Jack, do you ever appreciate anything just because it’s fun? I enjoy deep, thoughtful reading of the fiction and non-fiction variety, I’ll binge watch the hell out of a good documentary, I love getting out into nature and enjoying God’s original handiwork, but sometimes I just want some junk food. Star Wars books, Marvel movies, theme parks…just a little hit of the opiate every now and then, is that OK?

    That said…adults reading kids’ books has driven me insane since I was an actual kid.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I was tempted to get on my high horse and respond that adults in Western Civilization have had “fun” with non-juvenile fiction and literature for thousands of years — but that’s unnecessarily arch. I’ve read a lot of science fiction. I’ve read trash like Philip Roth and “Bonfire Of The Vanities.” I even read two of the stupid Game of Thrones books. My concern is with YA fiction and the like replacing adult-oriented material in an era where people aren’t exactly reading a lot anyway.

      Reply
      • AvatarNoID

        Yes, it’s a valid concern to be sure. My eldest son (12 yrs) is a voracious reader, and one of my primary goals is to make sure he isn’t filling his mental belly with baby food.

        Reply
  14. Avatarwlitten512

    I’m going to be 32. College was a hideous mistake that at least did not leave me in a mountain of debt. I started working as a plumber in a major metropolitan city two years ago and I now make $45/hr. Yes, I am occasionally covered in shit. But literal shit is better than figurative shit and there are very few people I can’t tell to go fuck a bag of glass. If I lived anywhere else I would live like a king. It could be worse. I could have been a psych major.

    Reply
  15. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    I bombed community college after two semesters because I literally can’t do math no matter how much I studied the crap out of it, thankfully they sent me a bill for $0 for those two semesters. Now I’m working for $45K for 40 hours a week, not a rural area but not living with parents either, I can squeeze a few hundred in profit a month if I cut. Kids aren’t happening anytime soon, but I can’t complain.

    Reply
  16. Avatartrollson

    Aren’t they one and the same? Superhero comic books and shows are just kid books for slightly older kids. I agree that these people are stunted in their development, and so they wrap themselves in the comforts of a carefree childhood. But aren’t you kind of doing the same thing with biking?

    Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      I know right? I still watch Anime and enjoy comic book movies just because I can. I mean jeebus, we have the technology now to put graphic novels and comics that I read as a youth on the big screen.

      Reply
      • Avatartrollson

        Not sure how that is a counterpoint, since you were riding (bmx I presume?) well into your adult years.

        The other overgrown manchildren over there just prefer their comic book escapism, or video games, enough fuel entire industries.

        Then again, who do you think they make $10k+ bicycles for anyway?

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Putting aside my personal situation — I had a UCI professional license and I trained hundreds of riders, including an Olympic team member and a double world champion — the difference between being an active participant in a sport and a passive consumer of garbage like “Captain Marvel” is obvious on its face. You might as well take this to its logically absurd conclusion and say that the members of Seal Team Six should stop playing army.

          Reply
          • Avatartrollson

            Of course any sport is better than sitting around wishing to be some costumed jackass. That’s just not the point you were trying to make in the post. You were saying that it’s a symptom of a generation that hasn’t grown up. I couldn’t help pointing out the irony, and since the selection of “non grown up” things that you’ve written about is copious, I picked BMX. Hurling yourself through the air on a kids bike is awesome, but it’s still not something adults are expected to do.

            Not sure where to even begin with the seal team six comment. Sounds like something a “pro gamer” would say when challenged on the maturity of video games.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Which leads to a question: what are adults expected to do? And what should they be expected to do? My grandfather met every societal definition of adult but he played tennis into his eighties. Is that different because it’s hitting a ball and not riding a bicycle?

  17. AvatarRock36

    Generational classifications are slightly better than astrology. At their best they hint at the world and societal contexts that directly influenced people in a given date range yet still level the blame for all the bad generational characteristics on the individual anyway. The worst generational classifications imply an essentialist logic that follows the same structures as identity politics. Either way it is meta-narrative garbage.

    I think a big issue here is that what we classify as “middle class” is no longer “middle class”. The middle class hasn’t been squeezed out of existence, the current definitions are no longer relevant.

    You can seek to define and claim objectively that income earners in the middle distribution of income are the middle class. Seems simple enough right? It makes quantitative sense, but to me it no longer makes qualitative sense.

    I wonder if the a more useful way of looking at the middle class is more along the lines of the people/households with the middle distribution of power and influence in a society. A much harder metric to assess, if not impossible.

    In the past, these two distributions likely tracked with one another, so middle class incomes were once a good surrogate metric for middle class power, but power distributions have skewed higher on the income scale (i.e. you need to richer to wield the same relative power and influence earlier middle class sectors did). Therefore, to maintain a income distribution definition of what middle class is has become obsolete.

    I think that leads to a lot of the disconnects between expectations and reality, especially when we reflect on the not so distant past and try to figure out what the fuck is going on. The nightmare is that the guys like the one who wrote the article are the middle class, we many of us are just no longer in the club.

    It’s all bullshit anyway.

    – Model Year ’79 Gen X’er

    Reply
  18. Avatarhank chinaski

    Fer chrissakes guys enough with the uphill both ways in the snow crap. I’m not going to join the dogpile on Shrug and the millennials. They’re caught between the Limousine Liberals and Chamber of Commerce ‘Conservatives’ both doing their best to keep wages down by importing as many peasant scabs as possible from the far reaches of the ‘flat’ world. As long as it’s done legally. Organized labor is dying and the monopolists are stronger than ever. They are corralled into usury and left with a selection of fierce, strong, independent, carousel worn wammins to pair with (or not). A generation of men without families, and therefore purpose is *dangerous*. They will be picking your nursing home. Be nice to them.

    Despite the howls of President ‘literally Hitler’, it’s Communism, not Fascism that’s gaining ground. They’re even flying the same flags.

    Random recent observations:
    Professional class parents in our circle are paying $$$ for private SAT prep tutors as early as freshman year. They’ve sent their snowflakes to third world clinics for CV buff-points into places where kidnapping and related violence are a non-zero occurrence.

    Re. David Brin’s points that echo the monarchy above: are our elites actively reimposing the feudal system or is it the natural state that we are returning to?

    Jack, Vox Day riffed on your Stallman piece this week.

    Reply
    • Avatarhank chinaski

      clarification to above: ‘to volunteer in third world clinics’.

      More anti-sob stories: I think my parents paid over 15% on their mortgage when I was a kid with a solid low double digit down. I paid around 3% with almost nothing down. Pops got drafted. I skated.
      I sat in the back of the Buick in line on even (or was it odd) days to *hopefully* get gas.
      Perhaps as much as 20% of my peers were ROTC. A lot of the guys that weren’t faced serious headwinds as jobs dried up after Glasnost. One of the Zoomies got cut loose early as a result.

      My point is to defuse the divide and conquer vibe. The young will probably be voting to cut your pensions. The old will be voting down your kid’s school budgets. They are more likely doing it out of necessity than spite. The ‘New Americans’ will certainly be voting against anyone but themselves, at least for the over the table money, and of what they don’t ship back home. It goes without saying that the Bill of Rights means absolutely nothing to them.

      I strongly agree with the ‘Jack of all trades’ method, no pun intended. “A man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” (edited because I felt like it)

      Reply
    • Avatartrollson

      They’re not caught between anything other than their own bad decisions and their stubborn unwillingness to adapt and learn from their mistakes. It’s never their fault, it’s always the world conspiring against them. I know these people well, although I do my best not to know any of them.

      Reply
  19. AvatarJosh Fromer

    I’m 35 and like many elder millennials, I was told that a college degree in literally anything was a key step on the stairway to a successful adulthood. Remember, this wasn’t our peers telling us this. It was our teachers, parents, career day speakers and boomers. The same people that told us we had no choice but to go to college are the same ones that now pontificate about how stupid it was for us to listen to them.
    I find it more than shortsighted that the people that so gleefully trash my generation as lazy and entitled seem to forget how easy they had it. Boomers and Gen X’ers benefited immensely from low cost of living, cheap gas and low college tuition. Something my generation as never had.
    I can’t help but laugh when a boomer says “I worked way more than 40 hours a week!” Really? How many hours are you working now? The answer is probably zero. That’s because you could retire at 55 to a beach house in the Keys with a 7 figure bank account and pension supplemented with social security that will pay out way more than you ever paid in.
    Millennials, at least most of the ones I know are hard workers. We’ve been mislead, loaded with debt, fought in wars and then shit on because god forbid we expect to live a fraction of the American Dream that was sold to us and we’ve paid for many times over.

    Reply
    • Avatararbuckle

      I don’t really prescribe to the “Boomer Privilege” mentality. Maybe many of them really did have it easier but I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes either.

      That said, I fully agree that the education industry completely swindled a ton of students currently aged 25-40 with all zeal and promises of a wild west snake oil salesman. High schools and colleges have done more harm to Millennials than any Wall St. bank or health insurance company ever did.

      For some unsolicited advice, those of you reading this with children or grandchildren still in lower grades I highly recommend that you counsel them to not attend college unless someone else (family money, scholarships, military, etc.) is footing the bill.

      Reply
    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      “Boomers and Gen X’ers benefited immensely from low cost of living, cheap gas and low college tuition”

      Low cost of living? Where? In 1978 for my first home purchase my then wife (Registered Nurse) and I (welder) barely qualified for a mortgage at 11% with a minimum of 10% down payment.

      Cheap Gas? Again, where? In 1979 the second OPEC oil embargo hit, pretty much doubling the price of gas overnight. The same had happened 6 years earlier. So in the space of 6 years gas went from $.25 a gallon to nearly $1.00. My income didn’t go up a corresponding amount, so changes had to be made. I went from a V8 powered pickup to a death trap Datsun 1200.

      Low college tuition. OK, I’ll give you that one. It WAS less expensive than it is these days. However gaining admittance was a good bit harder. They didn’t accept every sack of skin that stumbled up to the door with a fist full of money. For those who goofed off a good bit in high school (raises hand), what was known as junior college at the time was where you had to start. Once you showed you could handle it, THEN you could transfer to regular college. And hope that most of your credits would be accepted there. So cheaper, yes. Easier to attend, not so much. .

      Reply
    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “That’s because you could retire at 55 to a beach house in the Keys with a 7 figure bank account and pension supplemented with social security that will pay out way more than you ever paid in.”

      …and here we have made contact with an inhabitant of Planet Millennial. Here on earth, most Boomers LOST their pensions… just ask anyone who worked at an airline or OEM. Every Boomer I know, including my parents and my friends’ parents, are concerned about surviving in retirement. Really, a “house in the Keys”?

      “Boomers and Gen X’ers benefited immensely from low cost of living, cheap gas and low college tuition. Something my generation as never had.”

      Have you ever traveled to another developed country? Do know what gas costs per liter in Germany? Or the average price of a home in the U.K.? VAT in Sweden? Our generation absolutely has low cost of living…

      “…fought in wars…”

      Did I see you over there? Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be bringing this up as though it was something you, or 98% of the millennial generation, ever actually did.

      Reply
    • AvatarDirt Roads

      Waaaaaahhhh
      STFU
      Boomers had it easy, sure. The Greatests had it easy, sure. It’s just us poor poor Mills who have it so damn hard we need safe places and keyboards so we can sit on our asses and complain about how everyone else had it SO EASY while EVERYTHING is sooo hard for you.
      Until you reach the ripe old age of 60+ you don’t have enough retrospection to make those calls.

      Reply
  20. AvatarDaniel J

    Just a few things…

    I’d rather be excellent at one thing. Sure, there is always someone better but I’ve spent way to long being really good at one thing and mediocre at a bunch of different things. I’m a software engineer by trade (a better embedded engineer ) but there are people here far better at it than I am.

    The other thing I just don’t appreciate is many of the articles have a negative view on those without kids. We don’t have dogs or cats and also no kids. We might adopt in the future but right now there have been health issues and family issues that have gotten in the way. You have a kid and that’s fine. Don’t look down on me because I/we didn’t make the choice you have.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I hope its perfectly obvious that my vitriol is aimed, not at people who are struggling with conception, but people who participate in three abortions so they dont miss out on the latest food trucks or brewpubs.

      Reply
  21. Avatardejal

    Immigration.
    0. People with more money than God;
    1. People with nothing to lose.

    Canada openly does 0 (Chinese in BC) and it’s tough for the 1s to make it to Canada.

    Watch some Capeshit, MCU movies on your TV in Soap Opera Display Mode, most likely Sports Display Mode.
    They “grain” movies up to give them gravitas. Watch an Ironman or Avengers movie in this mode and you are struck how shallow the story, acting and directing is, beyond what you already thought it was.

    Reply
  22. Avatar-Nate

    RE : Kid lit ;

    Some ‘adult’ literature is not much better ~ right now I’m reading an Archy McNally novel……

    -Nate

    Reply
  23. AvatarMatt Montes

    When are we going note, that while some loans are subsidized but the government, they were made un-bankruptible in the 2000s. That’s a feature not a bug. Student loans used to be able to discharged in bankruptcy which encouraged lenders to actually give a fuck. I would support returning student debt to the world of bankruptcy while introducing private sector student loans and profit to the world of higher education.

    Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      I thought that an Obama executive order at some point in his Regime brought student loans under government control, and the taps were opened, and the uni bigwigs get a YUUUGE payday!

      Reply
  24. AvatarAoLetsGo

    I have a Millennial sample size of 18, which includes my 2 kids, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and 14 nephews and nieces.
    All of them were raised in the Mid-West and all of them went to good to excellent public schools. They also all went to public universities, except one that went to a small, private (not elite) college.
    From this group of millennial’s, we have:
    3 medical doctors
    5 engineers
    4 corporate businesspersons
    2 lawyers
    1 teacher
    3 still in school

    The 2 lawyers struggled the most to find a decent job after graduation but are starting to make some money now.

    One nephew had an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and he took a lot of grief for that. He went straight on to get his masters in HR and then landed a job with a Big Oil company. Now he makes more than any of them (except the doctors). I was never worried about him; he is a smart kid with a dynamo personality.

    My unbiased, favorite story is about my daughter. Her high school grades were mediocre, and she went to a small private college and got a Business “Marketing” degree with okay grades. However, she did take full advantage of alumni and professor mentoring and networking. In the 7 years since graduation she has worked for 3 top, national advertising companies, making big promotions every time she jumped. Yeah, she is smart and hardworking but just as important she is gorgeous and ruthless.

    Reply

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