Civil Liberties

Ron Hart: Grumpy Old Man Graduation Speech, High School Edition


Columnist Ron Hart was asked to give a high school commencement speech. Here's part of what he wrote:

Students are victims of a giant fraud: the government-run education system that has molded them for 12 gullible years. Public schools are government-run; teachers are government-hired; and government determines standards, pay, curricula and graduation requirements. Government seeks to produce compliant citizens it can someday rule without much pushback. Smart, independent thinkers are not wanted….

The result is kids who are not prepared for life or for the workforce; 22.6 million young "adults" between the ages of 18 and 34 still live with their parents. Twenty-six percent of parents have taken on debt to support their adult offspring.

These kids drive right by "Help Wanted" signs at Starbucks and play video games all day. They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps. "Why work? The government or my parents will take care of me." Kids watch reality TV shows like "The Deadliest Catch" and marvel at men who work hard each day at their job, catching fish.

Whole thing here.

I'm not as down on the younger generation, who seem to be doing pretty well for themselves (at least compared to my cohort, which graduated from high school in 1981). As even Hart acknowledges, "suicide rates are up among middle-age Americans," and that's got nothing to do with kids these days. Labor-force participation is down among all groups under the age of 50. I don't blame kids under the age of 25 for slacking—it's mostly their parents who are pushing them to do all sorts of non-employment activities, especially spending more time getting all sorts of edumication, year-round sports, and the like. There but for the luck of birth went me!

But for the folks between 25 and 50: What the hell is wrong with you compared to folks in 1990?

As long as it's graduation season, we might as well listen to Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann's epic "Everyone's free to wear sunscreen" (1999), which seems like it comes not just from a different time but a different planet: