When i was growing up, most men worked. Most of the moms stayed at home, raising the family & managing the household. Teenagers got jobs, when they were old enough. I started working for 50c/hr in a horse stable, mucking stalls at 14. Then, i got a better paying job at 65c/hr at a farmer's produce stand. But the holy grail for the kids where i lived was construction work. Those guys made big bucks. They made $2/hr & more! They drove hot cars, & had hot girls riding with them. My best friend growing up worked with his dad in construction, as a laborer. We didn't get allowances, or a lot of gadgets for birthdays or holidays. We got clothes, & usually one item that was 'fun'. I got a 22 single shot rifle for christmas at 16, & plinked happily away, even though i had to buy my own ammo.. at 50c/box. My buddy had a nice hunting shotgun, & if i wanted to go bird hunting with him, i'd need one too. It took a long time to save up $35 to buy a 16 ga pump from a neighbor, & i could not afford to shoot it much, since i had to buy my shells, too.
I had a bicycle.. one i had cobbled together from broken ones, & it had bad brakes. But i rode it everywhere. At 16, i put together a functional car from broken volkswagen beetles that my dad had acquired for that purpose. One was a mangled mess, but with a good engine. The other had a decent body, but a blown engine. Combined, they made a functional car.. my car, & it enabled me to get a higher paying job to buy gas & other stuff. It was a union job.. $1.60/hr as a dept store stocker. But now, i was flush with cash. I drove all over town with my buddies, & the road was my new home. Mobility was like a drug, & i was addicted. Sometimes we took my car, but it wasn't very powerful or big, so my buddy's impala was better.
But to finance this high rolling lifestyle, i had to work. I had to save my money, manage it, & spend it wisely, or i'd be stuck at home. Gas was cheap, but so were the wages. I'd buy a coke every now & then or a burger, but not much. Eventually i scrimped & saved, & at 17, bought a new car.. really, almost new. ..only a couple of years old, for $1000. That was a TON of money, but this car was nice. A fiat convertible, with less power than my beetle, but was a cream puff & fit my upwardly mobile, flamboyant personality. I had to work full time in the summers to pay for it, making payments to my dad, who financed it at reasonable interest. It was only a 2 seater, so i could only carry one buddy, or a girl at a time. But with this new symbol of status & prestige, my confidence soared. I bought a motorcycle, too, & continued my cruising ways. I kept this car through college, where i credit it to sweeping the girl of my dreams off her feet. She rode with me a few times, dazzled by my confidence, prosperity, & dreams of the future... at least, that's what i thought.
So what does this trip down memory lane have to do with production? That is the point of this article, isn't it?
Yes. The point is cultural changes, & not for the better. Young people in middle America, where i lived, were expected to work & earn their own way. There was no expectation of a free ride. Sure, some rich kids were spoiled & given everything, but they were not respected. Young men had an expectation of working at fruitful labor.. doing something useful for society. Building, farming, manufacturing.. these were the productive, high paying jobs for working class people. College kids went into engineering, medicine, or some other profession. Very few of my peers wanted to be actors or sports heroes, or rock stars, or politicians, or govt workers, or welfare queens. USEFUL PRODUCTION was the expectation, & all the people could see the benefit, not only for the kid working, but for everyone. My folks wanted me to be a lawyer.. they were in real estate, & saw the need of jurisprudence in their industry, & had to pay hefty sums for those services. They also thought that i liked to argue, & was eloquent enough to succeed as a counselor (who, me?). I went to college, continuing my education. But i wanted to do something. I wanted to be outside, & create something useful. So i dropped out of college, & went into construction, still a high paying job for a working stiff. I'm a retired home builder, now, and i do not regret my choice. I am sure i would have been a successful lawyer, but the climate i grew up in.. with farming, construction, & production, elevated as esteemed avocations, put me on that path. I also found out after studying genealogy, that many of my ancestors were in the building trades, so it could have been in my blood, too.
But the cultural influences on me, as a young man, where productive work was esteemed, embedded in my psyche. I have seen those influence waning, over the years. Sales, huckstering, political maneuvering, flash, & celebrity worship has taken over as the cultural admiration point. I watched Gilligan's island & star trek, but did not expect or want to be an actor. I listened to Crosby, Stills, & Nash, & the Beatles, but did not expect or want to be a rock star. But now the dreams of young people seem to be in NON or even counter productive 'work'. Easy living, not hard work is respected & admired. Partying & free stuff are expected as a right. Oh, there were deadbeats in my generation. I knew of many who wanted to just drink & smoke pot, drifting along doing as little as possible to survive. They were early riders on the govt gravy train, which enabled them to pursue uselessness as a career.
I see the corrupting influences of easy living, the 'get rich quick' philosophy of life, & the Great Fiction, that says govt can enable you to live off of everybody else, as taking over as the new cultural norm. The result of this philosophy is decline for the nation. No culture can sustain an increasing number of dependents & moochers. The explosion of govt & the welfare state is destroying the productivity of America. Instead of useful, productive work, people want easy street. Instead of building & growing, we elevate mooching & looting. This philosophy is deadly for a culture, & has caused the collapse of many societies in the past. When a work ethic is disdained, production will continue to decline until supplies dwindle to nothing. Printing money & living on borrowed fiat currency, without a vibrant, productive society to pay for it, only makes the bubble worse, when it pops.
I may not live to see the bubble pop. I can only hope that there will be a cultural awakening, to reverse this trend. But the signs are all there, for those who can see. If we do not return to a productive, strong work ethic value system, we will collapse under our own weight of uselessness & privilege.