Gotta Grow Up

I remember a jingle of a few years ago that said something like “I don’t wanna grow up. I just wanna be a <name of company> kid.” It was catchy and cute and in my opinion, vaguely disturbing. Why? Because it explicitly spoke to a desire to avoid one’s responsibilities indefinitely. Unfortunately, the jingle resonates with a population which agrees with the basic premise.

Earlier, I wrote of the teachers in Wisconsin acting like children. VDH applies the principle  more broadly and damningly:

We live in a therapeutic age, one in which the old tragic view of our ancestors has been replaced by prolonged adolescence.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.

I see this constantly, particularly with younger people, but all too often with those who are my age and older. The only concern about purchasing something is whether they have the cash or credit to afford the portion of the purchase price which is required today. Little to no thought is given to whether they will be able to continue to afford the cost of owning it in the future, how long it might last, if it is necessary to begin with, if they could get a more reasonably priced item if they searched for a bit, etc. In short, it would seem that they have taken to heart the following lyrics:

When I think of all the worries people seem to find
And how they’re in a hurry to complicate their mind
By chasing after money and dreams that can’t come true
I’m glad that we are different, we’ve better things to do
May others plan their future, I’m busy lovin’ you (1-2-3-4)
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don’t worry ’bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Live for today

Another catchy jingle, but horrible advice for those who desperately need to get past adolescence and grow up. The people in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) who are stuck on 16 going on 50 are part of that group:

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.

It would seem that in addition to the “I owe, I owe, so off work I go” of the average American consumer, we must add “You owe me, you owe me, so off to work you go” to the version being sung by those who believe that they deserve more than the market is willing give them.

There are far too many of us who want to be given what we have not earned, who refuse to grow up and understand the realities of life, of markets, of employment and the responsibilities of adults.

Recognizing that our culture is tilted this way, we would all be wise to consider just what parts of growing  up we have been heedlessly postponing to the long-term detriment of ourselves and others.