Matt Towery

But there seems to be many more who don't. Too many more. The blame for their absurd sense of entitlement without personal sacrifice can most fairly be put on the shoulders of the generations that immediately precede them. This nation has changed its way of thinking about work and relaxation. What used to be a day's holiday has morphed into a long weekend that starts on Thursday and ends the next Tuesday. It's usually concluded with the explanation of: "We couldn't get a flight out. Sorry." Vacation days, once limited to two weeks a year, are now tacked on like so much "extra credit" in grammar school. Business planning becomes problematic. (As if it could get any more so.)

The trend isn't confined to working stiffs, either. Recent television programs about the rich and famous in Palm Beach and the Hamptons can only lead to a similar, sour conclusion: These capitalist aristocrats may think they work, but many of them wouldn't even recognize a hard day if they saw one. Between official holidays, travels abroad and six months at one of these two centers of relaxation, there's just precious little time to dirty one's fingers by indulging in the "W" word -- work.

The problem is that our emerging young workforce has seen these same TV shows. It's likely they believe everyone is by divine right owed an apartment like the ones on MTV, a BMW convertible and plenty of cash to unload on a whim. And why not? Their parents had it good, they say. Why shouldn't they?

Yes, most generations think they had it harder than the one that follows them. (Often, they're right.) Certainly as I bang out this column during the long Memorial Day weekend, I can fairly be accused of just plain old envy and bitterness. But in the polling business, I've found that hard numbers often combine with anecdotal experiences to form a rapidly focusing picture -- a new trend. That's why I find it unsurprising that young adults plan to travel more than ever this year, in spite of the hard times. They look to be following the road of less productivity in America; a road first mapped by their preceding elders, and now being paved by their offspring.

But let's be optimistic. It's good to see young people venturing forth to see the world they live in. After all, youth is a fleeting thing. Let's just hope that when they finally return from their travels, they still have a job to pay for it.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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