Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

America's Most Pathetic Generation

Not long ago I read that young Americans today have an inflated sense of entitlement. I already knew this was a whiny generation, but I had no idea how deep the problem was until I read Mathew Klein’s op-ed piece in the New York Times.

Mr. Klein argues that his generation is trapped in desperate circumstances, living in a dark world where hours of SAT preparation don't lead to high-paying jobs. He tells a tragic story about his friend, a Chinese major, who was forced to work as a lifeguard and move back in with his parents. He moans about his generation "losing faith in the future" and weeps for the "years of career-building experience lost."

He even compares the travails of his generation with the struggles of young Arabs fighting against their despotic regimes. "The uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are a warning for the developed world," he says. Then he complains that we can't blame Obama completely. "He's not the only one responsible for the weakness of the recovery," he declares.

The Obama administration had better take heed: the Nintendo generation has spoken. Frustrated lifeguards around the country might rise up and throw bottles of suntan lotion at their leaders.

Nobody is saying that economic conditions are good for young people today. But guess what? They weren't so hot a few decades ago either, before the boom in the late1980s. When I was a college graduate, I took a poorly-paid, tedious job in a law firm. It paid the bills, barely,  but gave me some good experience and more importantly, helped me find a few grown-ups who were willing to write me recommendation letters.

If Mr. Klein opens a history book he might find less to complain about. Nobody sent him to fight in Vietnam, or Korea, or in the Pacific. My grandfather, who was separated from his wife and son for four years during World War II, would have loved to work as a lifeguard and live rent-free with his parents instead of getting shot at.

The only real tragedy in Mr. Klein's story is one he doesn't explore: the parents of his buddy, the Chinese major. Think of the darkness in their lives: after years of raising a kid and paying through the nose for his education, he grows up and finally moves out. An adult, at last. And then, just as they think they're free, he moves back in, bringing his attitude of entitlement with him.

They're the ones who should be writing op-ed pieces in the Times.