Middle-class young bucks fucking around on Facebook instead of building wealth

David Brooks says the Chinese will destroy us because today’s “Jareds” screw around on Facebook all day instead of working long hours like their grandfather “Sam”:

Sam entered a world of iceboxes, horse-drawn buggies and, commonly, outhouses. He died in a world of air-conditioning, Chevy Camaros and Moon landings. His life was defined by dramatic material changes, and Sam worked feverishly hard to build a company that sold brake systems. Sam wasn’t the most refined person, but he understood that if he wanted to create a secure life for his family he had to create wealth.


Jared lives a much more intellectually diverse life than Sam. He loves Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and his iPhone apps. But many of these things are produced outside the conventional monetized economy. Most of the products are produced by people working for free. They cost nothing to consume.


Jared is also providing much less opportunity for those down the income scale than his grandfather did. Sam was more hardhearted, yet his feverish materialism created more jobs.

Jared worries about that. He also worries that the Chinese and others have a material drive that he and his cohort lacks. But he’s not changing. For the past few decades, Americans have devoted more of their energies to postmaterial arenas and less and less, for better and worse, to the sheer production of wealth.

Of course it is unthinkable that any East Asian person would ever waste time on electronic gadgets and social media. Beyond that, though, do the middle-to-upper-middle-class “Jareds” of the world actually work less than their grandfathers? No, they seem to work a little more.

Nice try, though, Bobo.

Update. You all know why that top decile is working so much harder today than in 1980 right?

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That Used To Be an Outrage

Adding to what DougJ said, I’m old enough that I remember it was an outrage when you called American workers lazy:

Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa`s remarks Monday that American workers lack drive and a strong work ethic not only elevated the war of words between the world`s two biggest economic rivals, they highlighted a growing gap in perception that afflicts U.S.-Japanese diplomatic relations.

Speaking during a parliamentary discussion of the declining American economy, Miyazawa said:

“I have long felt that (Americans) lack a work ethic . . . to live by the sweat of their brow.

“Because so many American university graduates were recruited into Wall Street, the number of engineers in charge of developing goods has declined.“ The Bush administration and several American politicians known for their tough stance against Japan responded quickly and forcefully.

“These kinds of comments are probably helpful in the sense of stirring the rages in all of us,“ said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

“Beyond that, I would say that the American work force is second to none, that the American work ethic is legendary and has promoted the greatest prosperity in the world and throughout the world, including countries like Japan.“

House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) was more emphatic in his denunciation of the Japanese leader`s remarks, calling them an “ignorant expression of Japanese racism. . . . Americans work hard every day, and our productivity is higher than Japan`s.“

When the angry reaction began rolling in from Washington, Japan`s Foreign Ministry quickly issued a statement saying that Miyazawa “has no intention whatsoever of criticizing American workers“ and that the term “work ethic“ was used only to explain the “philosophy of work.“

Fitzwater said Washington regarded that as an “apology.“ President Bush said Miyazawa had “gone out of his way to make clear he is not denouncing all American workers.“

That was 1992, which in America is like ancient history. Interesting that what used to be called an insult is now the received view among our Galtian overlords.

Looks like Miyazawa wasn’t wrong about his Wall Street v. engineers remarks, either, was he?

Strapping young bucks not looking for work

Remember that if fiscal austerity helps keep the unemployment high, it will just be “structural unemployment” resulting from the laziness and ineptitude of the American working class (via):

It really makes you despair: we’ve been over and over the evidence, and there’s not a hint in the data that a mismatch between occupations and jobs can explain any important fraction of the jobless rate.

Sometimes I think there may not be enough strapping young bucks to account for all the ingrates soaking up gubmint unemployment benefits, that there could be some meth-addicted white trash on the job too, maybe some former union workers too.

The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter.

How about a big Charlie Rose round-table about how the American middle-class doesn’t deserve jobs or health care because they’re all a bunch of fat lazy fucks who couldn’t cut it in China?