Unemployment, Education and the Cultivated Victim Mindset
One Wall Street adviser recently stated that actual unemployment is at 37.2%. I don't doubt this. Certainly, a lot of blame is warranted towards the top, but am I the only one who is thinking that America is just giving up on herself? Where is the spirit of entrepreneurship? Where is the can-do attitude?
It's dead in the water. People would be rather just take whatever money they can from the government than try to fix their lives or their communities.
I have noticed more and more that Americans are living in learned helplessness. They can't seem to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and many don't want to. It's not just the younger generation - I know people from my generation (X) whose main goal in life seems to be just to throw their hands up and quit trying.
Now pardon me if I delve for a moment into politics, but an unrepentant gold digger is running for governor in my state, Texas, and she's illustrative of some huge perception problems we must overcome if America is going to return to any sort of sanity.
Wendy Davis built up her pro-choice credentials with a sob story about how she struggled as a single mother. Only, it turns out that she wasn't actually single for that long, and she had a wealthy older man pay for her college tuition, including her Harvard Law School payments. She dumped him the day after he made the last loan payment, and then saddled her kids with him (he got full custody) while she went off to pursue her political dreams.
I am a woman, and women like this make me furious! I know I am not the only woman who feels this way. Women such as myself, who did not prostitute ourselves to sugar daddies or sacrifice our children for our careers, have little love or sympathy for a sociopathic social climber like Wendy Davis.
But Wendy Davis will still get a lot of support, and part of it will come from people blinded by the abortion issue, and part of it will be from people who make a false assumption that a Harvard degree actually makes you smart and insightful.
I've read various comments on Wendy Davis stories in the past few days, and in a few of them, Sarah Palin has been called by Davis supporters a "moron" who needed to go to a variety of colleges prior to graduating. And yet, what bright ideas has Wendy Davis put forward, other than she believes in late-term abortions? Where are her brilliant solutions to our problems? I don't see any.
Yet, she went to Haaaahvard, so she's "qualified" to rule the rest of us. According to some.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is considered to be worst kind of "white trash" - in part because she isn't trying to become an elite. Sure, Wendy Davis used her husband's 401K money to pursue her Harvard ambitions, but, well, that's OK, because it's Harvard, you see, and don't women need a hand up to go there? Rationalize much?
Palin, however, did not work her way up on Todd Palin's money. When she was younger, she fished alongside him on salmon fishing boats in the cold, dangerous waters off of Alaska.
Whether or not you like the political viewpoints of a Davis or a Palin, it's clear that Davis will automatically get more "cred" because of her Harvard degree. She will also get more forgiveness for her blatant gold digging because of it. I don't think these biases are good for the future of America.
I see a scary trend towards denigrating blue collar work, ironically from people who claim to be pro-poor. These days, someone who comes from an actual blue collar background would not be considered good presidential material, because they aren't seen as "smart" enough. Yet, someone with an Ivy League degree and no real-world experience would be just fine. If you run a construction company, you would be passed over by someone who didn't actually run a business, but went to Harvard and stayed there to teach for a little while before running for office.
Now, let's say the Zombie Apocalypse actually occurs. You have a choice of joining two bands of survivors. One team is led Wendy Davis, and the other by Sarah Palin.
Which team would you choose?
Now, some of you may respond "neither!" - but for the sake of this exercise, if you had to choose, and you had a half a brain with your head, you'd choose the woman who knows how to shoot a bear and isn't worried about mussing up her fake blonde hairdo.
If you haven't seen it, you must see the episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska where Kate Gosselin goes camping with Palin and her family. Miserable Kate has a hissy fit and selfishly drags her kids away when clearly they were enjoying themselves. Kate Gosselin on camping: "Why would you pretend to be homeless? I don't get it, I just don't get the concept."
Kate Gosselin is a product of learned entitlement and victimization. She's utterly helpless and frozen without modern conveniences to protect her from the elements.
We need more determination, and less victimization. We need more can-do instead of cannot. We need to make a shift away from "education" just for the sake of education to teaching real-world, applicable skills.
Even here in Texas, things are bad. Here in Austin, certain sections of the city are coveted by parents who want to make sure their children are raised in the "good schools." They aren't there to learn farming or animal husbandry, but to be prepped in a very competitive environment for Ivy League universities. All the children get iPads. They start taking SAT prep classes before they even get into high school.
These kids are dumped into as many extra-curricular activities as possible so they have that something "extra" to put on their "resume" for the competitive college market. And while I certainly feel there's value in after school sports and music programs, none of these kids are learning to do anything hands-on. Wood shop? Metal shop? Forget it. That's not only not going to get you into a good college, it might be a strike against you. Those tracks are for the "dumb" kids going to vocational schools someday.
You may have heard of Common Core. I will state plainly: Common Core is evil. This is the insidious new standard being pushed from the top. It's caused a lot of outrage, in no small part due to lessons such as this one, where small children are taught to be activists and use "emotional" words to pressure their parents to get a new park:
One of the main problems with this type of indoctrination is that it subtly teaches kids to be subservient victims of an elite class that must be petitioned in order to get what they want. And this is how the elite want it. They want you to believe that you can't do it yourself, that you must ask them for favors.
An empowered, entrepreneurial spin would teach the children not how to use propaganda techniques to try to get what they want, but how to set up a lemonade stand to raise money themselves for a new park.
But oops! Can't have a lemonade stand without a license these days!
This is one of the reasons why education just for the sake of education is problematic. Kids who don't learn how to do stuff learn the useless skill of over-analyzing the injustices of "the system" - and this impotent outrage is then utilized by organizations with agendas to shift public policy. Instead of creating a generation of can-do entrepreneurs and self-sufficient citizens, victims are made.
This victim-type thinking is so prevalent today that most young activists don't even realize they've fallen for it. To whit, the recent petitions by the Black Student Union at my alma mater, the University of Michigan. They all scream "we have no power and we must petition the elite to give some to us!" Let's go through a few of these victimized statements:
Victim Statement #1:
We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
- We recognize our inherent power as human beings and we don't need you to do anything for us because we can do it ourselves. If we want more money to spend, we will raise it ourselves.
Victim Statement #2:
We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
- We intend to help low income students by starting our own low-income housing co-op that will purchase and lease property to students in need.
Victim Statement #3:
We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
- We will raise funds to create a new multicultural center located on central campus.
And on and on. What utter, naive fools these kids are! Being put into a mindset that you must "demand" things from others puts you in a permanent state of arrested development. It is the mindset of a child. No wonder Wendy Davis is so aggrieved by her critics. She, too, has the entitled mindset of a child. She is a victim of her life, not a creator of it.
Clearly, our education system is one of the main proponents of this victim thinking. It will take a lot to shift from this sort of toxic philosophy to a better one. Here are a few of my suggestions as to what I'd like to see from schools:
1) All children should take classes in business and have hands-on experience starting and running a business in school.
2) More focus and emphasis should be placed on real-world skills for children of all economic groups, skills that can empower people to live independently, including gardening, home repair, sewing, carpentry, auto repair, plumbing, and other useful crafts.
3) Teachers who teach for a living should be supplemented by people in the community offering classes in their areas of expertise. Teachers should also be required to take sabbaticals where they apprentice with local businesses and take on real jobs for a while.
Well, I'm a dreamer, aren't I? Wouldn't it be nice if people complaining about lack of jobs actually started their own business and created something of value instead of helplessly expecting the system to fix their lives for them?
But life is probably going to force a shift back to reality for people very soon - a massive economic collapse is going to make real-world skills much more desirable, and the ability to navigate an iPad much less useful. In the meantime, I believe it is very important to start the conversation and get people thinking differently.
What would you do to fix education?