The Election of 2012 and The ‘Lost Generation’

Articles have been appearing on the Internet for the last few years about the new “Lost Generation.” To refresh your memory, the original Lost Generation was led by the writer Ernest Hemingway. It was created out of the catastrophe of World War I which , by the time it ended in 1918, had resulted in the butchering of ten million men — for no apparent reason, in the eyes of men like Hemingway, except for the egos of the world’s leaders who were engaged in the most futile gang turf war in world history. That Lost Generation was disillusioned with the values of Western society and its foundations. Any society that could do what it did to its best and most courageous citizens, including gassing them, has brought its very existence into question.

The new Lost Generation has an entirely separate problem. It has, in the most profound sense imaginable, an identity crisis. The people in America between the ages of 16 and 29 have the worst unemployment since the end of World War II in 1945. Almost six million of them live at home with their parents, and the vast majority of those are men. Marriages among young adults have hit a historic low. Less than half were married as of last year. This is what faces a generation that, from all appearances, is obsessed with the creation of a personal identity.

Whether the feminists want to admit it or not, men are raised with the idea that their function in life is to work. ( Or, if not, they need to be self-supporting via a trust fund or the like.)  If these young men cannot make a living sufficient to get married, help raise a family, or even take care of themselves, they will be lost for sure. And when one considers that the Republican Party has been the champion of the American family, it is faced with the reality in the 2012 election that the American family is under grave threat.

This threat, however, is not necessarily moral. The rhetoric of the Republican Party has always been that the American family is under attack because America has lost its values. In this case, it is uncertain that such a claim may stick. Economist after economist, for example, lay the blame for our economic woes directly on the wholesale dismantling of the American factory system, suppression of wages through cheap labor, and a corrupt banking and investment system that was largely left unattended by government for over a decade.

It would seem these aspects of the economy fall right into the laps of the Republican Party. It is the Republican Party that has advocated free trade, the evil of organized labor, and the de-regulation of the banking industry. So, if a young person is sitting at home as one of the chronically unemployed, who should he or she blame? It is easy to blame President Obama and the Democrats for their overspending and failed stimulus policies, but where does the Republican Party point to in its own history to find the answer? In retrospect, there were lots of mistakes to go around under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush that put the economy into the condition it is in now.

Furthermore, if the government stops spending the money it is spending now, will these young people have anything? There are already voices in the press I have read and heard that are blaming this situation on the unemployed young people. There are saying this young generation is unprepared for the world, is lazy, on and on — essentially, these voices are saying that men no longer feel a requirement to become men and remain boys. If one looks at modern movie comedies, for example, even thirty and forty year old men act as if they are fifteen.

The ultimate question, then, is whether the youth will look to themselves for a solution or look to the government.  An optimistic view would be that they will do both. They will look to their own strengths to climb out of this economic mess, and look to a government that will release the future burden of an unplayable debt. There is also the pessimistic view, which is they will turn to the government because they feel they have nowhere else to go. The great Damoclean sword hanging over the heads of all conservatives is the decadent corporate and banking structure that has existed in America since the 1970’s.

Without being over-dramatic, if this generation does not receive an adequate answer from capitalism, they may abandon it.  We’re starting to see it now, with academia pushing the issue and fomenting disillusionment.  Unemployment has always bred radical answers to societal problems. Let us hope the Republicans have the wisdom to save capitalism instead of saving the government. If not, it may lose the Lost Generation forever.

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Comments

  1. P Winteregg says:

    Close, and much of the analysis of the plight of this generation is good, but you have been talking to the wrong economists–and apparently all of them liberals.

    In spite of the MSM hype (& hyperventilating), American manufacturing output and productivity levels are still the envy of the world. Although there are storied areas where some categories of heavy manufacturing have dramatically collapsed (think: steel), in many cases this is a result of a lack of free markets and due to government over-regulation.

    Our problem is not “suppression of wages through cheap labor” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), but that we’ve allowed ourselves to overprice our labor relative to actual market forces. Unionization is a main key here as it can artificially force labor costs to outstrip gains in productivity, thereby raising real wages faster than natural inflation and market demands would otherwise allow. In other words, if wages had been allowed to grow based on actual market pressures and productivity needs, we now would most likely not have issues with jobs moving to cheaper labor markets.

    To claim that our “corrupt banking and investment” system is due to lack of government oversight is laughable. Although there are examples of oversight failures, one only has to look at the root causes of the meltdown in 2008 to realize that our greatest problems have been, and continue to be, too much government interference, regulation, and market manipulation. For instance, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are government creations, and the DC directed mandates to give anything that could breathe a mortgage led to a whole series of problems. By interfering with natural market criteria for credit-worthiness, the government’s actions are found at the root of the mess we’re in, not free-market enterprise.

    I agree that Republicans have much blame to share. But where we seem to differ is I believe they should apologize for too often taking part in government over-reach, over-regulation, and outright market interference. There is a place for oversight–to be sure that our marketplace is fair and legal. But our dire situation is far more due to our government overstepping its bounds than to failures in justifiable oversight.

    If we truly want to win our youth and our future, we first have to reject any liberal notion that free-market capitalism is inherently evil. We need to once again teach the truth that our country’s meteoric rise in the world has been based on individual liberty, self-reliance, self-responsibility, and yes, free-market capitalism. Our times of greatest growth and power have always been when these principles have been to the fore.

  2. keith brabender says:

    I am shocked by your dewy-eyed reply. Your reply is factitious pseudo-conservative verbiage. To say that you do not know what suppression of wages through cheap labor means insults your own intellect. The real wages of the American worker have remained flat while production is great. So then, who is getting the fruits of the labor? Why did the Republican party make no attempt to control illiegal immigration? To say labor unions are the culprit in this mess is way too facile. They have not had any power in the private sector for the last twenty-five years.

    You say lack of regulation for the banking problems is “laughable.” Even the common man knows that the name of the game in business today is greed. The amount of theft and corruption I have personally seen in twenty years is a horror. Conditions were not always like this. Derivatives are science fiction. From 2000 to 2008 the Bush/Cheney team refused to do anything about the corruption, blaming the problem on easy money, as you do. The banks loved making these loans because they made a killing on them in the short term. The country be damned. The banks used Fannie Mae as a whipping boy to hide their own sins. Tell me,how many banking chairmen are in jail?

    Free market capitalism is not inherently evil. Why was it that every time the banks were in trouble the government ran to bail them out? Birds of a feather flock together. This is a system that has repeatedly been there for those who committed the crimes. They left the banks alone to steal, and then, when the schmemes no longer worked, the government handed them bags of cash. This is the unltimate free-market hypocrisy, which every average Joe conservative feels way too obliged to defend. Talk to the common people, brother. They will tell you. Live on their wages for a while and then tell me what you have learned.

  3. Jordan Bell says:

    Free market capitalism is not inherently evil. Why was it that every time the banks were in trouble the government ran to bail them out?

    What you just described is not free-market capitalism. In a free-market there would be no central bank, and there would be no bailouts. What you are describing is crony capitalism, and is a result when the largest banks banded together to get government to create the Federal Reserve as the lender of last resort to bailout the banking system when their mal-investments caused them financial trouble. The passing of legal tenders laws forcing the use of one paper currency also allows them to inflate the money supply, as the Fed can just print up money out of thin air. These banks should be going bankrupt, not be bailed out.

    I suggest you read up on Austrian Economics and try to get away from Keynesian.

    http://mises.org/

  4. Jordan Bell says:

    This sums it up on what we have here:

    Everyone knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe any political position a speaker doesn’t like. There isn’t anyone around who is willing to stand up and say: “I’m a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system.”

    But I submit that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians, intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that.

    Fascism is the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police State as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive State the unlimited master of society.

    http://lewrockwell.com/rockwell/fascist-threat192.html

  5. Anonymous says:

    “factitious pseudo-conservative verbiage”
    (fake) (fake) right too many words

    Isn’t this a double negative?

    For being a Brabender, one must learn that tenderness goes a long way.

    “American worker have remained flat while production is great.”
    Last time I tried to go water skiing at the local hole… too many boats on the water. IOW – how’s that smart phone working out for ya?

    “not had any power in the private sector for the last twenty-five years”
    Wisonsin, California and New Jersey would argue differently.

    “Conditions were not always like this”
    I agree, it is unfathomable that “our” government would force (said guarantee) banks to make loans which the banks, historically speaking, knew they’d never reach maturity.

    It wasn’t the banks that was doing the whipping…. try the tax payer, at least the banks were able to CYA, (I guess that should the T for “their”)

    How many Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac politicians who appeared before congress defending it’s solvency are in prison?

    The taxpayer reaped what the government sowed. Your angst at the tools would be better directed at the operators using them.

    One thing worth mentioning… both parties spew of immigration policy is disgusting.

    If “greed” is so bad, I am amazed that the 99% aren’t more pleased at Jobs passing.

  6. Keith Brabender says:

    The response by anonymous is typical. Conservatives refuse under any circumstance to blame anyone but the government. This is a terrible fallacy for this reason. What you are ulimately saying is that the government determines the conduct of the nation. It does not. I haved been in the real estate title industry for over twenty years and the government reacts more than it instigates. The private sector is always way ahead on what it is trying to do.
    In my opinion, pure and simple, if the consevatives refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing on the part of international banking over the last ten years, they have failed to recognize many of the underlying problems in our current system, and therefore cannot find adequate rememdies.
    Your diatribe very much reminds me of the teenage boy who refuses to accept any responsibility and blames it all on his parents.

    P.S. Jokes about my name ended in the third grade. Perhaps you should attempt to grow up and move to the fourth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    (let the pissing game begin, which ends as this is my last comment)
    No, sir, your response is typical. You never answered a single question I proposed. (nice tactic) I never excluded conservatives from their responsibility. “I agree.”

    Yes, government does ultimately determine the conduct of the individual (which is worse). I can’t believe the naivety of thinking otherwise. Have you not witnessed the government instigating moral policies in public education? Skip your property tax and watch what liberty you have slip away. Methinks you should spend more time with the originators who give the title business work. In my 30 years in real estate with access to, essentially, three generations of experience…. blah blah blah.

    Funny, I have reread my post, I didn’t skirt any responsibility.

    Diatribe –
    A forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something

    Did you not read your original post?

    Ps. my apologies if you received my comment offensively, albeit a ‘joke’ it was written with the intent of jealously, I’d love that name, and a subtle introduction of how a little tenderness in your writing could go a long way. At least I am grown up enough that I wouldn’t let it bother me.

  8. Keith Brabender says:

    I am not offended about my name. I find the government blame game adolescent. Besides, I am Ronald Glenn on the website. I am accused of being way too tender all the time. The comments I get on my essays almost always revolve around the fact that I am too soft.
    I still cannot believe that so few, if any, simply do not see any guilt in the banking industry. That is my pissing session. Blame the government. Blame the government. Blame the government. I could go through all your original arguments but for the sake of time I will take one. I said there is no power in the PRIVATE sector unions. I heard yesterday an economist state that 10% of the population is in a Labor Union. That is not a seat of power.

    Look, we can piss all we want saying we don’t understand each other. I have one pain in my neck. Conservatives I know personally and those I read on the internet refuse to put any blame for this on the banks. The rest is all political rhetoric.

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