Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Wussification of the American Male


(Full disclosure:  The David Brooks cited in this blog is a left-wing editor and columnist for the New York Times)
This come from the blog cited above.

“According to figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has a smaller share of prime age men in the work force than any other G-7 nation.”

- David Brooks
The Missing Fifth”
The New York Times

When did this happen; when did the men in America lose “Their Mojo” and decide it was okay to stay home and let someone else put food on the table?

In the late 90′s I lived in an affluent neighborhood in suburban San Francisco. It was kind of likeBeaver Clever’s home town; dads went to work and mom’s stayed home and nurtured the children, well in most cases. Actually, in 2 of the 34 homes in our tract, it was actually the dads who raised the kids and the “she-men” drudged off to work each day. Perhaps this was a clue of things to come.

I am happy to say that my daughter recently married a wonderful (and hard working) young man. I must admit that as a prospective father-in-law, I spent a fair amount of time over the past 10 years interviewing my daughter’s boyfriends. And, needless to say, I was heavily focused on their career potential.

Thinking back, there was more evidence in these PSIL’s (Potential son-in-law) interviews than I realized. In my generation, no one grew up dreaming about working for the government, but not so anymore.

One recent PSIL’s ultimate goal was to be an English Teacher, another wanted to be a Firefighter and High School Football Coach. And even one of the most industrious PSILs ended up going to work for a government funded defense contractor after graduation; mostly because the private sector wasn’t hiring.

The Sad Facts

David Brooks reported a number of sobering facts in his recent piece on this topic:

“In 1954, about 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today that number is around 80 percent. One-fifth of all men in their primeworking ages are not getting up and going to work.”

“The number of Americans on the permanent disability rolls, meanwhile, has steadily increased. Ten years ago, 5 million Americans collected a federal disability benefit. Now 8.2 million do. That costs taxpayers $115 billion a year, or about $1,500 per household. Government actuaries predict that the trust fund that pays for these benefits will run out of money within seven years.”

“More American men lack the emotional and professional skills they would need to contribute. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 percent of those without a high school diploma are out of the labor force, compared with less than 10 percent of those with a college degree.”

The Law of Unintended Consequences

As we are all painfully aware, the United States has been on a fast track to becoming a Nanny State for decades, but the whole “Hope and Change” campaign that Obama bombarded college students with in 2008 put the whole thing on steroids. Let’s face it, Obama’s message was simply “elect me and I’ll take care of you.’

We now have 99 weeks of extended unemployment benefits, Obamacare, military Chaplains officiating over gay marriages among combat soldiers, and to me, the worst is a president who can’t report anything good in America with using the word “I” in every other sentence and “plays the victim” card when his critics get a little tough — not much of a male role model.

I think all of this has brought about unintended consequences that have undermined one of the greatest forces on earth — the self determination of the American Man.

The ”Mancession”

My friend Mark Perry has been writing about the fact that most of the pain of the great recession of 2008 has fallen on men — take a look:

“Male employment is down by 4,932,000 jobs since the January 2008 peak, compared to female employment being 2.549 million jobs below the peak. Therefore, we can say that for every 100 jobs lost by women since the start of the recession, men have lost 193.5 jobs.”

“On a percentage basis, men have suffered about 66% of the recession-related job losses, and women only 34%.

And then there is this:

Women Unite?

As the above chart indicates, the decline of the American male has been somewhat offset by the rise of the American woman. Clearly, more so than any so-called minority, American woman have taken full advantage of decades of affirmative action to even the score in the battle of the sexes.

There is one problem with this. In my father’s generation, there was no doubt about who was responsible to protect freedom and the American way and no doubt about who was responsible for putting food on the family table. Although my generation (the age of Aquarius) was considerably softer, by and large, my men friends knew that their family’s standard of living was pretty much dependent on their career and work effort.

But it appears that for as many as 20% of today’s American males, this is no longer the truth. Thanks to our emerging Nanny State, our kids are learning that their economic well being defined by the state — and if you want more than your neighbor, well, you’re just greedy.

So where will the innovative drive that built the US economy in the past come from?

My fear is that with the exception of the relentless dedication of many single mothers, I’m not so sure that today’s successful women have the same drive as successful men of the past; if they don’t have it who does?

Our National Focus

Clearly, with millions of Baby Boomers retiring every year, stressing the capabilities of Social Security and Medicare, now is a lousy time for our young men to go wimpy. But can you blame them when we live in a country with half the country votes for candidates who promise to have the government take care of them?

Perhaps Brooks said it best:

“Reinvigorating the missing fifth — bringing them back into the labor market and using their capabilities — will certainly require money. If this were a smart country, we’d be having a debate about how to shift money from programs that provide comfort and toward programs that spark reinvigoration.

But, of course, that’s not what is happening. Discretionary spending, which might be used to instigate dynamism, is declining. Health care spending, which mostly provides comfort to those beyond working years, is expanding. Attempts to take money from health care to open it up for other uses are being crushed.”

Not only is no one working on solving this problem; few even realize it exists.

Do yourself a favor and spread the word!

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