Thursday, April 06, 2006

Who You Calling Lazy?

From Po:

The story of today’s young adults is always reported one of two ways.

In the most common method, today’s young adults are portrayed as lacking character and drive. They are coddled and spoiled and only have themselves to blame for being unmotivated.

In the alternative method, society is held responsible for young adults’ failure to grow up. These kids would be motivated and working harder if we gave them opportunities – which we don’t. Thus, they are disconnected from society. We made them this way. We stewards of society are to blame.

Those are our options. Blame the youth, or accept the guilt ourselves.

I would like you to consider a third possibility. This is going to sound radical, so don’t reject it outright – give me a moment to argue my case.

Is it possible that America’s young adults aren’t lazy and unmotivated at all? Sure, there’s always plenty of laziness evident – but when you compare them to what we were like at their age, they look pretty industrious. This is also true when you compare our young adults to those in other countries.

Yesterday, I mentioned near the end of my post that these kids are working very hard. I noted that a higher percentage of 22-24 year olds have jobs than people age 55-59. I also pointed out that half of the students in college have jobs - and nearly half of those jobs are full-time jobs.

I decided to look into this a little further.

Measuring what's going on with young adults is tricky, because they don't categorize easily. They are both in school and working. They are primarily children, but some are already parents - and some of those parents are home taking care of their babies.

So when you compare today's crop of kids to the generations of yore, or you compare them to kids in other countries, you have to take all these scenarios together. You can't just look at how many are in school, or look just at how many are working.

For instance, you know from my education post last week that the United States ranks #1 in sending kids to college, and we rank #3 in how many graduate from college. The college population has swollen from 12 million to 16 million in the last twenty years.

Our youth are simultaneously on the job. A higher percentage of 16-25 year olds have jobs than in most of Europe, Japan, and Korea. We're not talking summer jobs either. Over 6 million kids in America, aged 16 to 19, have jobs right now, this month. The summer-job bump will be about 2.5 million jobs. The few countries that have more kids working - like the United Kingdom - end traditional education at age 16 and don't send nearly as many to university.

So we compare favorably to the rest of the world. How do today's kids stack up against recent generations? The short answer is: far more are in school, while nearly as many are working. Meaning more today are doing both.

Is that a good thing? It's hard to say. I think we'd prefer if a student could focus on his homework. But to all those who say we are coddling these kids, I say you're wrong. Fully 1/3rd of all 18-20 year olds are both in school and working simultaneously.

Also keep in mind the following: that's just paid work. 22% of young adults are doing unpaid volunteer work - the highest percentage ever. We have 8 million 16-24 year olds volunteering.

Some are taking care of their families too. 4.5 million 19-29 year olds report that they are "family caregivers," taking care of parents who have physical or mental limitations.

And don't forget about our military fighting our country's war. Half of the military - 600,000 of them - are under age 24. You calling them lazy?

And in case you're still focused on that small set that are neither working nor in school, don't assume they are bumming on their parents's couch. Most of them are young moms, staying at home to raise their children.

Still not convinced? Consider how many young adults are taking extra classes in the summer. In the last ten years, it's gone up 80%. Now more than a quarter of all young adults take summer classes. Half of them hold down jobs while doing it.

You want their life?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are referring to people like myself who graduated from college with degrees in computer science or engineering and have been unable to find work in our field. I have done the 7-to-6 minimum wage grind but it is the most absolute depressing aspect of my life. I feel as if I am wasting my skills, my time and my effort in a useless manner. I would love to use my computer skills but I am unable to acquire the job because I lack experience, which is more important than the degree.

It’s all very frustrating and confusing. Though I graduated at the worst possible time in August 2001. I must say though I am very angry about current politics, the lies and how I am treated like a selfish brat when all I would like to do is be free to use my skills and be part of society instead of under the corporate boot.

As for the baby boomer pot smoking college goof balls that shit on their parents generation that gave them secure careers who now mock us and now shit on generation x and everyone following. They are afraid. They want this generation to work harder then they ever had to so we can pay their SSI and medical when they retire. And thank you for handing us a corporate America that has no loyalty, trust or human dignity associated to it anymore. Damn right I am lazy, as I believe in democracy, not autocratic organizations that load the politicians pockets.

As for my choices as a California youth with housing prices beyond anything I could ever afford without a decent job I have only a few choices.

Choices for myself:
1. Give up and commit suicide.
2. Fight politics and their rich boy corporate oligarchy that funds them. Of course I have no money and would have to leech off people, as it’s a full time investment and would also alienate my family more so than I already have.
3. Give in and do the 7 to 6 with no future and no hope of a future based on the jobs I have had in the past. Which I am currently looking for yet for some reason most entry level jobs require huge background checks, several interviews and previous experience of which normally has no relevance to having a college degree. Actually the computer degree is a detriment if mentioned and is another slap in the face.
4. Attempt to start my own business but I have no collateral and am unable to earn it from the low end job. After all I am depending on family support anyway to pay medical and other expenses as I work. Now this is where most young people will have to focus their effort and where I put my energy. Unfortunately the older generation seems to think I need to get out and work 20 years first before it is realistic to start my own business. I am fairly certain I will be unable to do it alone without help, you know like those families of yester year that struggled together. Instead I am shoved off to struggle alone and mocked for this choice. It’s crazy.
5. Find an illegal or socially unacceptable way to make ends meet. This actually looks far more practical these days based on the way the rich and middle class manipulate money. Never mind the current economic crises we will be facing in the next year if you have been paying attention. I don’t see anyone who has money playing by the rules or working hard and I know very few that ever have worked hard. On the other hand I see my blue collar family who has worked hard and they have been losing ground economically over the last 5 years and I think it’s only going to get worse.

So where is my incentive for working hard? I wish I didn’t have the education as all it has done is made me miserable. Naivety is the best way to live if you are going to work hard for a living and for someone else.

And from my experience employers don’t train employees anymore. You have to show up with knowledge to do the job and pay for all your training out of your own pocket. This is what my generation gets to look forward to in spades. And of course a huge amount of debt, SSI, Medicare, Globalization, backstabbing disloyal corporate leaders, economic crises and possibly a huge amount of international hatred generated by the war.

Also so we spend a good 20 years in education and now they want us to work hard doing manual labor of which they are busting the unions and the good paying jobs. So we can look forward to a nice pay cut in the future after getting our hard working jobs. I actually heard some news that corporations are training people in India to be truck drivers because they are unable to fill those positions. Do you believe this crap?

Imagine the incentive foreigners have going form around the 3rd world wages of about 1 dollar a day to the United States minimum wage. Talk about an incentive. Give me that incentive and you would see me busting my ass for sure because someday I could go home and live well and I know I would be able to support my family. But tell me to just work hard while I am expected to climb an economic avalanche and all you do is piss me off.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Competing with Chinese workers

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. For years I'd bought into the "lazy" crap and I'm just now starting to be aware of what effect it's had on my life. FYI to all the people out there who think that working hard is the be-all end-all of life: More often these "lazy" kids are paralyzed by fear and depressed by the load that they're under. I spend all day crying in bed, only pulling myself out of it to go to a class that I hate to get a job I can't stand, so that I can live my life the way you think it will work . . . and this makes sense how?! People just want to slap a label on us instead of helping us or genuinely caring. I have some advice for YOU, oh mighty parents and officials: take time out of your busy, successful day and come spend some time with me. Look at the problems I face, watch me try every choice available to me only to fail. THEN go back and say I'm lazy--or can you?

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting discussion. I am on the other side of the fence.. educated, working and supporting adult children. Those 'lazy' kids.

One is a part-time student in university who hopes to graduate the same time as her 4 year old graduates from High School. She lives in an apartment we pay for (utilities, high speed internet and satellite TV included). Lazy or a permanent student playing the system of welfare and student loans?
Another - 24 years old - GED and no work experience. Worked a 'crappy' job paying 10.00 /hr for 3 days and them quit because it was a 'crappy' job. Doesn't work. Stays up all night playing video games or watching TV and sleeps all day. Smokes and drinks and by the smell of his room does a bit of pot. He gets a few bucks from the gov't. Lazy, has a high opinion of his worth or just lacking in some common sense?

Are todays young people lazy, unmotivated, lacking opportunity? Certainly by no means does this apply to the vast majority of young people. They continually amaze me by their ideas, thoughts and abilities. They give me hope for the future.
However, I do think that some deserve the description of lazy and unmotivated. The trick is to find the switch that motivates, that induces someone to get up off their butt and become productive adults.

I have told all my kids to find something they enjoy doing but do something. If it means volunteering - then volunteer. Having a corporate lifestyle is not for everyone and your value is not tied to a paycheck.

Unfortunately, I cannot undo what parents have done and I have yet to find the motivation switch for some of my kids.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I find all that very interesting and very contrary to what I am experiencing with young people to whom I have offered employment. Good opportunities. I work in the Russian Oil and Gas industry and have offered employment to some in this age range. The jobs consist of taking a list of oil and gas companies which I provide and finding the addresses and phone numbers and perhaps a contact name by using the internet and associations such as LinkedIn. This involves sitting at a computer and finding out this info and emailing it to me. Overwhelming work ??? I pay a flat project rate of $500 for a list of approximately 300 names of companies or will work out an hourly rate of no less than $12-$15
per hour cash and I get lazy kids who ARE INDEED laying around mom's house playing video games and are not in school and have crappy jobs such as selling memberships to fitness clubs for $7.00 an hour and making no bonuses because the economy is bad and people can exercise for free. So I do not know where you are finding all of these great kids. Yes, there are a lot however, get real...there are many many who sit on their butts waiting for their parents to hand them what they think they are entitled to. By the way, I am doing the work myself because I have looked in California and am now in Houston and haven't been able to find reliable help. I travel to Russia and Europe very often as my headquarters are in Moscow and even offered the opportunity of international travel - paid by my company and received a "oh well I have to see what's going on" attitude. Stop indulging these brats and as far as the single mom nonsense, if they are too stupid to use birth control...I have no pity for stupidity.

9:26 PM  

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