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Ruining Everything

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Adults are awful. Is there anything adults don’t eventually ruin? The economy was ruined by adults, the national debt was rung up by adults. Wars, famine, you name anything and somewhere there’s an adult somewhere on the verge of ruining it.


The ruining of things was generally reserved for adulthood, making things more expensive or illegal for adults to engage in. But kids, well, they’d been left largely alone to be kids. Over the last few decades the line of fun ruining has been creeping down, younger and younger, to the point now that kids have gone from being kids to being a pool of potential plaintiffs.

We aren’t raising kids anymore, we’re raising victims. There was a time when it was accepted by people that sometimes, sad as it is, bad things happen. A major part of life was learning that sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, something goes horribly wrong and someone gets hurt. Not anymore.

We’ve now moved to a mentality that says “if something goes wrong, someone else must pay.”

Stay home from work and watch local TV, and you will see a series of commercials on how to get what you’re owed. What once was a string of ads for trade schools and community colleges has been supplanted by a string of ads from law firms telling you how you can qualify for disability, how you can divest yourself of your assets so you can get Medicaid to pay for your nursing home, how you can sue anyone who ever looked at you cross-eyed once.

It’s a smorgasbord of pathetic human beings giving testimonials on how their “wrong” was righted by a check secured by a lawyer with an 800 number.


Here’s a tip: If the main point of initial contact for your lawyer is an 800 number, you’re doing it wrong. You hired a shyster on contingency.

But if your first instinct is to sue when something bad happens, you’re probably a shyster too. And possibly an idiot to boot.

A lot of people are very stupid. On that point, Jonathan Gruber was correct. The ad running now with the man in a fireproof racing suit being set on fire doesn’t have the disclaimer on the bottom reading “Professional stunt person, do not attempt” because only geniuses are watching.

It also doesn’t have that because people started setting themselves on fire after seeing it the first time. It has something so painfully obvious to anyone with an IQ greater than their shoe size because lawyers with 800 numbers, TV commercials and highway billboards exist.

But those lawyers wouldn’t exist if people didn’t call those 800 numbers.

We’ve gone from a society of rugged individualism and self-reliance to a nation looking to sue. Why earn a living when you can get a lawyer to convince a jury to award you one? Why seek a job when you get a government check?

This entitlement mentality has found its way into childhood in the push to instill self-esteem in every child. What once was earned is now instilled. Children who have yet to discover or exhibit any particular skill, talent or ability are showered with praise that used to be reserved for accomplishment. Actual accomplishment and exceptionalism are punished by being treated the same as their antithesis.


Participation ribbons are the new black.

In a world where kids are becoming more and more obese, which will undoubtedly soon lead to lawsuits, lawsuits are leading to the banning of sledding. Yes, sledding – the fun act of sliding down a snow-covered hill on a plastic butt-rocket as fast as you can – is now being banned because of liability issues.

Dubuque, Iowa, has banned sledding in 48 of its 50 parks because “By banning sledding on certain slopes or posting signs warning people to sled at their own risk, cities lessen their liability if someone is seriously hurt, but they're still more vulnerable to lawsuits than if they had adopted an outright ban.”

Thanks lawyers and the losers who hire them. You all suck.

Why do this? Well, “judgments in sledding lawsuits in the past decade, such as a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Neb., after a 5-year-old girl was paralyzed when she hit a tree and a $2.75 million payment when a man in Sioux City, Iowa, slid into a sign and injured his spinal cord.”

Sad and tragic, but their (or her parents’ in the case of the little girl) fault. Sometimes, as unfair as it is, bad things happen. They aren’t someone else’s fault; they just happen. This used to be an objective fact, now it’s something that will be objected to in court.

But “unfair” has been outlawed. What used to be pointed out as motivation – the person with nicer things, better car, bigger house, etc. – are pointed out for criticism. Rather than telling children they, too, can achieve and earn as much as the successful people we see in our lives, we attack the successful people as people who have things they don’t deserve.


Fast food workers think they deserve to have their pay doubled but attack those who risked everything to start the franchise they work for. These crybabies want no part of the risk, only a greater reward.

That mentality is fast becoming the story of modern life: You have more than I’ve determined you need or deserve, so I demand some of it. A temper tantrum attitude that should be greeted with punishment from parents is now being expressed by parents to their children.

As we rob children of their childhood and stop keeping score at their sporting events, they’re taught to love themselves more than anyone else ever could. They document every moment in life and share it with the world. People now value virtual “elationships” as much as real live interactions with fellow humans. We remove playground equipment and deny them the ability to play games like “Tag” because someone might feel badly if they are “it.”

The future is, to put it bluntly, screwed. These people someday will hold the reins of power, and they will be as prepared for responsibility as Justin Bieber will be for fatherhood (minus the money to pay someone else to raise the kid).

It used to just be spoiled brats and child actors who grew up never hearing the word “no” and being indoctrinated to believe they were special. Now everyone is. As lawsuits and the threat of them remove more situations in which they might learn the awful truth, future generations will become further insulated and more dangerous to themselves and the concept of liberty itself.


What can be expected of someone who expects everyone to cater to them? Whatever it is, it isn’t good. Maybe we should file a class action suit against the lawyers and the parents who are creating these monsters.

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