The Entitlement Generation

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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About 16 years ago, when our granddaughter (our first) was beginning to play soccer, we were loyal fans of her team and, like good tutu and tutu kane, we lugged our coolers and beach chairs to almost every game. Even at her young age of 6 or 7, we encouraged her to learn the values derived from teamwork and competition. But the frustration set in almost immediately: “So how many goals did you score, Sweetie?”

“I dunno, Bapa, we don’t keep track.”

“Oh, well it looked like you were winning.”

“I dunno, Bapa, we don’t keep score!”

But at each season-end potluck, every kid got a candy lei and a trophy.

Yes, those were the days of preoccupation with a child’s self-esteem mustn’t discourage her by withholding the thing she should have received only for winning, mustn’t damage her fragile little psyche, mustn’t make her think she’s not as good as the kids who won. Worst of all, don’t let her think she’s a loser!

This misguided philosophy was to carry over to academic grades, to the workplace and to social policy. In short, you are entitled to a reward for just showing up, regardless of performance. Little did we realize, we were raising the entitlement generation.

And how has that generation manifested itself? Hello, Occupy Wall Street!

A statistical analysis of original OWS protestors in New York City’s Zuccotti Park shows that two-thirds are under age 35, with a majority of those in their 20s. Although no leadership has ever emerged, nor have they ever formally articulated any “demands,” their sense of entitlement comes through loud and clear: They are entitled to a good-paying job, they are entitled to a house to live in, a college education, health care, a pension plan and they are entitled to happiness. They are practically unanimous on two major issues: They are “angry” about the inequality in the world, and three-quarters of those polled voted for Obama.

Speaking of Obama, it’s not likely he kept score as a kid. The “social justice” to which he so frequently refers is just another way of saying all are entitled to benefit from the labor of a few. Or, as his boyhood mentor here in Hawaii, Communist, Frank Marshall Davis, likely taught him, “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.”

When talking to “Joe the Plumber” during his campaign, he paraphrased that basic Communist tenet: “You know, we need to spread the wealth around!” Is it any wonder he got the “entitlement vote”?

We must not forget that self-esteem comes more so by missing out on a trophy and working harder to earn one the next time (from loser to winner). Self-esteem and a sense of independence comes from earning one’s own way. One of the most important revelations that came to me during years of solitary confinement was that I owed every success in great part to my previous failures.

When we reward a child or anyone at any age for mediocrity, we are enabling and perpetuating their mediocrity.

Suggested New Year’s resolution: When faced with a choice between truth and political correctness, have the courage to choose truth.

Have a bright and prosperous 2012.

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