We live in a therapeutic age, one in which the old tragic view of our ancestors has been replaced by prolonged adolescence. Adolescents hold adult notions of consumption: they understand the comfort of a pricey car; they appreciate the status conveyed by a particular sort of handbag or sunglasses; they sense how outward consumption and refined tastes can translate into popularity and envy; and they appreciate how a slogan or world view can win acceptance among peers without worry over its validity. But they have no adult sense of acquisition, themselves not paying taxes, balancing the family budget, or worrying about household insurance, maintenance, or debt. Theirs is a world view of today or tomorrow, not of next year —or even of next week.
So adolescents throw fits when denied a hip sweater or a trip to Disneyland, concluding that it is somehow “unfair” or “mean,” without concern about the funds available to grant their agendas. We see now just that adolescent mind in Wisconsin. “They” surely can come up with the money from someone (“the rich”) somehow to pay teachers and public servants what they deserve. And what they deserve is determined not by comparable rates in private enterprise, or by market value (if the DMV clerk loses a job, does another public bureau or private company inevitably seize the opportunity to hire such a valuable worker at comparable or improved wages?), or by results produced (improved test scores, more applicants processed in an office, overhead reduced, etc.), or by what the strapped state is able to provide, but by what is deemed to be necessary to ensure an upper-middle class lifestyle. That is altogether understandable and decent, but it is entirely adolescent in a globalized economy.
Those of us with teens in the household see the adolescent dynamic Hanson describes on a daily basis. My daughter and almost all of her friends fit the description at least part of the time. The few who have broken out of this mindset--i.e., accepted the responsibility of adulthood--are generally those who have had to do so by events; i.e., because of real world problems facing their families. It's tough to get a teen to "grow up" when life is so easy and they don't really have to be responsible. Often the goal is just to get them out of the house so they can begin to appreciate what the "real" world is actually like.
In a way, the childlike, irresponsible attitude of today's adolescents is a reflection of our attempts as parents to shield them from the real world; to give them a better life than we ourselves may have had; to limit the hardships and even the pain we might have experienced when we were their age. They are clueless about the real world because we have protected their childlike innocence. However flawed that attitude might be on our part, our hope is that once they do leave the nest, they will (hopefully) have learned everything necessary to be resilient enought to cope with the real world.
As they will have to--as long as we don't bail them out over and over again when they screw up (which they will).
I only wish we, the taxpayers, were dealing with real adolescents, instead of the grownup variety that seem to populate our political class--particularly on the Democratic side of the aisle.
At least then we might have some small modicum of hope that they might grow up when forced to face the real world.
Unfortunately, we are not dealing with innocent adolescents (although they are behaving as badly and irresponsibly); we are dealing with adolescent--or rather, INFANTILE--psychological defense mechanisms (e.g., denial) that are being used by individual ADULTS and and enabling political parties.
The adolescent-adults of our political class have little incentive to grow up, since they believe that "the rich" will always be there to rescue them from their own poor judgement and self-destructive behavior. All they have to do is tax those "rich" people more and more and more; and then they can overspend, overindulge, and party like there's no tomorrow.
Whenever the taxpayer loudly complains and says, "ENOUGH!", they become sullen and ungrateful, muttering darkly about how they're doing it "for the children" (which, when you think about it, they are since they ARE the children in this picture); or bringing up the old reliable Marxist class warfare scenario to justify their adolescent rantings.
These guys and gals are not just grownup, oversized adolescents; they are PERPETUALLY and ENTIRELY ADOSESCENT in their worldview and mindset.
God help us.
[Political cartoons by Eric Allie]