The Greatest Generation Screwed Up
The greatest generation did more for our country than any other generation. This was the generation of WWII. Nearly every American participated in the war in some way. There were those who enlisted, side by side with those who were drafted. Many gave their all. The people at home also participated as best they could-knitting sweaters, conducting scrap metal drives, buying stamps and bonds. Many items were rationed, like sugar, gas, and meat. Women took the place of men in factories, like “Rosie the Riveter”. When our men came marching home they were honored, not spit on and called baby killers.
These men and women converted our country into an economic giant and world power. Much of the credit can be given to the GI Bill, which enable veterans to achieve a college education. But I think it was the American spirit more than anything else. The country had learned the value of teamwork and meeting goals. Entrepreneurs arose across the country with new ideas, and all the citizens had the goal and expectation of being a respected citizen in their community and taking care of their family. The middle class flourished like in no other country in the world. Even factory workers, mechanics, and plumbers joined in. Even labor unions also contributed, initially.
I believe the key to the success of this country was that the family unit as well as the community were of the utmost important. The almighty dollar was not the driving force to success. A fair day's work for a fair day's pay, was the standard. Even the successful entrepreneurs were not totally driven by the dollar. They had ideas and wanted to be the boss. Of course, the desire for great wealth was there for some, but it was tempered by a tax code for the highest earners of about 90%. Still they thrived.
These people who worked so hard and suffered so much, for their families, community, and country made a monumental mistake. They didn't want their kids to have it so hard. The children began to be more and more pampered. They didn't have to work as a child, were given all the toys, then cars, and spending money or credit cards. College at expensive school became expected. Goals increasingly became money oriented and they expected to be given everything they desired. If they didn't get it, they wouldn't hesitate to steal it. When I was young, the door to the house were never locked. Car keys were left in the ignition. I hitch-hiked from Ft. Myers to Gainesville, with a paper sack full of clothes, to attend the University. There was never any problem getting a ride. If you had wheels you gave rides. If you didn't you accepted them, color didn't matter.
Now, some of the “Me generation” has earned its way to the top. They still don't understand that at the top, they are still part of the team. The lowly hourly workers are indispensable and play a large part of the bosses success. Sometimes it's in spite of the bosses management skills. The television series, “Undercover Boss”, really highlighted this. However, worker's salaries and company dividends in recent years have stagnated, while executive pay has soared. Far more time and money is invested in producing the executive compensation justification document, than the company annual report.
The vast middle class formed by the vets of WWII, which propelled us to the top of the world, has almost disappeared, as the same workers are being pushed into the lower class. This is exemplified by the high number of workers who no longer are required to pay income tax. It's like the “massa” is getting rich while the cotton pickers slowly starve to death. However, there are a number who abuse our current welfare system. This system needs to be converted to workfare. Unemployment offices need to be converted to employment offices and not to just pass out checks. Nearly everyone can do something. Even multiple amputees can answer a telephone. Nursing mothers can help baby sit.
So this is how the Greatest Generation screwed up. They should have made their children earn the money to buy their own “first car”, take responsibility, respect others and never allow them to develop a sense of entitlement. They'll be better off, if they work their way through college, or at least help out. Taking your kids on a camping trip will mean more to them than a world cruise. Of course money is important, but the real things that matters are: supporting yourself and family, enjoying your family and friends and your work, then teaching this to your kids. You only get it one time, so have a good time in your life.