According to BabyCenter.com, the American Dream is on life support. Our biggest fear as parents is that our kids won’t get the opportunities to reach their true potential. They will scrape by, crippled with debt, unable to find meaningful, rewarding careers, left behind in flyover America by a cut-throat, globalized economy and an out-of-touch electorate. Broke, destitute and totally unfulfilled, they’ll live in our basement at 40 if we’re lucky, and we’ll share a refrigerator box under a bridge if not.
“Parents are afraid their children won’t have an easy go of it because they aren’t having an easy go of it. Many are struggling to make ends meet”, says author Pamela Paul (Parenting, Inc).
After five centuries of steady progress, ours is the first generation whose standard of living is below that of our parents. Projecting that decline to our children is a major source of parental anxiety.
Is this fear rational? Absolutely.
This trend has been in place in America since the early 1970s, with intermediate peaks and troughs on a downward slope. The reasons are many (I’ve floated a couple about debt and paper money), and while they may debatable, there is no arguing that it’s gotten harder to provide financial security, even with two spouses working.
I remember the childhood homes of many friends in suburban Connecticut; few as parents today offer anything comparable. My neighborhood in Austin, TX was built by young families thirty years ago, but is mostly empty-nesters now, as couples with young children can’t afford to buy in.
What can we do today to prevent this path of decay for our kids? How can we set them up for success? Are doing everything we can?
Take Control of the Narrative
It all starts in our heads, with the stories we tell ourselves, and our children (who will adopt our stories). We can begin by freeing ourselves of the anxiety of victimhood.
Sure, we can log into Facebook and blame Donald Trump, the Clintons, Barrack Obama, or George W. Bush, pointing to the “A Team” that the other side trots out as better suited to save. We can hitch our families’ hopes and dreams to the grand plans of Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie, or Elizabeth Warren. If only “our guy” got the job as POTUS, everything would be okay. Flowers and unicorns, right?
If the last 20 years taught us anything, it’s that your political party will not save us. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and shame on me.
Ridding yourself this fantasy is liberating, like smashing down a door with a sledgehammer, hitting a walk-off grand slam, or chewing a stick of Juicy Fruit in a 1980’s TV commercial.
The presidential race has become a dog-and-pony show, infested with sociopaths and pampered circus clowns who know little other than how to regurgitate cheap soundbites for television cameras. Their reign of mindboggling incompetence is unblemished by success of any kind in decades.
Turn it off, and tune it out. Unless you are truly inspired, don’t even waste your time at the voting booth. Your civic duty as a parent is not to get dragged down into the dirt with the pigs. Not voting when there are no worthy candidates is a vote itself. Starve the beast until it comes up with more thoughtful, prudent arguments, and a vision for the future informed by the examples of history. Everything else is mere pandering.
There is no longer any meaningful distinction between the mainstream republican and democratic parties, just two sides to the same debased coin minted by lobbyists. Don’t give them the satisfaction of “taking sides”, nor let them bait you into fabricated arguments designed to divide and distract while they empty the coffers.
The world is not black and white, nor should it be seen that way in anything other than a caricature. It’s brown, blue, gray and green, with vibrant color, turmoil, and wonder. We live in a great country, on a beautiful planet, relatively speaking (ever been to Mars?), despite not because of the major political parties and their string of blunders.
Remember the black-and-white-cookie episode on Seinfeld? Were we not further along in a post-racial America than one would assume when turning on the TV today? Why? Is it because the powerbase prefers we point fingers at each other rather than understand what’s really going on behind the curtain?
Our Future is Yours and Mine
Social Security and Medicare will not be there for your family, so unshackle yourself the chains of giving a damn. They are massively insolvent (i.e. bankrupt). Spilled milk.
Grandiose government benefit programs like these are giant Ponzi-schemes, the short-term products of favorable demographics, vote-garnering politicians, and a timely bonanza of fossil-fuel extraction (three-hundred million years of life on earth carbonized underground, converted to instant but fleeting economic activity). Sure, we’d love to have these programs forever, but the accounting doesn’t work.
We can means-adjust them and/or phase them out, not because we want to, but have no choice, and we’re adult enough to understand the difference. We’ll have to scale back the global military empire too. There isn’t any arguing with math equations.
Relish the Now
Seize the opportunity afforded by the information-age. Never has knowledge and know-how been so easy for the individual to obtain. Our children can achieve mastery on so many subjects from the comfort of home and at no marginal cost. They can start early, building skillsets in areas they love with total freedom to explore. What sets apart the great ones isn’t their formal education or inheritance, but an unrelenting thirst for knowledge and willingness to work. Politics and presidents be damned.
Yes, much of the world is catching up to America’s living standards. The arbitrage afforded by the first-mover-advantage combined with favorable consequences of WWII (the US dictated monetary terms and had the only manufacturing base not left in a smoking pile of rubble) is closing, but this was inevitable.
Other countries are simply following our early model of liberty (not perfect here, nor anywhere, and I am not suggesting either). But, that means opportunities are opening all over the world for your kids. They need not be chained to the shuttered factory in Detroit. Let Detroit and America reward the risk and ingenuity for entrepreneurs to invest and re-purpose those factories. Let people and capital go where they’re treated best. We can embrace and encourage the inevitable feedback loop called progress, and the more quickly we do, the more quickly the pendulum swings back to our shores.
And let’s be clear: it’s not really a bonehead politician’s fault any more than his populace, always proceeding in the affirmative when presented with the flimsy prospect of getting something for nothing, pushing invoices ever further into the future. Things move in cycles, and it’s time to pay the piper, re-learning some important lessons of history.
Let’s learn quickly, and without war, and tune out the charlatans that know little the laws of prosperity and more the platitudes of snake oil salesman, scapegoating, and empty promises. People go mad in herds and often at the behest of sociopathic storytellers, and only come to their senses one at a time.
So, one at a time, open your eyes, and tune out the propoganda. Put your kid on your shoulders, go to a ball game with your neighbor, then pop a stick of Juicy Fruit on Monday morning and take a bite out of the global (or local) economy. Sell something to somebody, back it with a guarantee, and do it with a smile.
Liberate yourself of the lie that you must identify with a finger-pointing political party. Collaboration is what the country and your children need most right now. So get your ski’s shined up, and grab a stick of Juicy Fruit…(sorry I love that commercial).
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