Winget Comment Reminds Me of Just How Soft We Have Become

“Funny how a generation of outspoken, squirm-in-their-chair, boisterous, mischievous kids turned out to be the most productive generation in the history of our world and all without the use of psychotropic drugs but instead, involved parents.”

Larry Winget comment on Nov. 23rd PI Window on Business Post “Is bipolar disorder becoming like First Amendment claims . . . an excuse for bad parenting and questionable adult behavior in the future?

As usual Larry Winget, who is the five time bestselling New York Times/Washington Post author of books such as Your Kids Are Your Own Fault through which he delivers healthy doses of tell it like it is common sense, didn’t pull any punches regarding yesterday’s post on bipolar kids.

In fact, he stirred in me the memories of my father who having been born in 1916 spent most of his young life persevering through the trials and tribulations associated with a global depression, the loss of a parent (which left his mother a widow with 7 kids at the height of a collapsed economy), and serving his country at sea in the Second World War.

His was not a sheltered existence of expected privilege as these real-life events hit home in a very real and practical way.  For example, and despite being a straight A student in high school, he did not graduate because his family could not afford to pay the $5 for him to write the final exam.  Flash forward to today and I cannot count the number of times that I see people spending the equivalent of a 100 times that amount on frivolous bobbles merely because they have had a bad day.  Given the benefit of this historic perspective, a bad day in the here and now, was probably considered to be a great day when my father was a kid.  And perhaps this is the entire point for today’s post.

I have to tell you that like a punch in the throat (this is the most descriptive example with which I could describe the impact of a Larry Winget observation), he has on numerous occasions given me pause for thought, causing me to view a given situation through a lens that is not distorted by the clouded rhetoric of an increasingly self-absorbed world.

This is an eye-opening experience that is definitely not for the weak of heart or intent, nor for those sufficiently content to live a life of rationalized self-pity.  It is also through this lens that I have come to wonder if we have become far too soft and coddled to the point that we have lost our edge and with it the gumption to face life’s trials without reaching for a prescription bottle or a consequence evading, I am entitled addiction.

Now before you begin to write those hostile notes accusing me of an incomprehensible insensitivity regarding the plight of the addicted, which for some is without a doubt a very real and serious problem that requires treatment, hear me out.

Looking at life during my father’s time, and then looking at the world today I am shocked by the number of people who claim to be having a tough time of it.

For example, there is a woman who has had to take sick leave from her job as a cashier at a local retail store because of headaches and stress.

Then there is the couple in their 40s in which the man is on disability for depression but somehow has the will to putter around the house fixing electronic devices, while the wife – who can’t seem to keep a job – miraculously finds the time to be actively involved as a member in a local organization including running as its President.

The stories do not end there as I am seeing countless examples of people who are purportedly suffering from depression, anxiety disorders and other maladies that limit their focus to only those activities from which they derive the greatest pleasure.  In other words, it is no longer just a “if it feels good do it!” world but, has somehow mutated into a “if you don’t like it, ignore it!” world of shedding responsibility and accountability.

If this is not the case, how do you explain the fact that despite being deeply in debt, or behind in the rent people will spend money on everything from inflatable snowmen to lottery tickets and booze all of which is in the name of a deserved respite from the rigors of life?  What kind of a message is this sending our children?!  Worse yet, how is this preparing them to face and overcome the inevitable challenges in the real world?

Thinking back to my father, I never realized the osmosis power that witnessing a life of example can have in determining how I would inevitably respond to my own challenges in adult life.

For those who have not read my books, in 2001 I had built a business that I had sold at the height of the boom for $12 million (mostly stocks and debentures).  During those years my personal income was between $45,000 and $75,000 per month – not including bonuses.  In other words I had been incredibly blessed and entering my 40s envisioned a life of leisured pursuits including the intended purchase of a small winery in either Northern California or the Niagara on the Lake Region in Canada.

God had other plans as first the publicly traded company that had acquired my firm went belly-up and then, after salvaging key clients and starting a new firm, those clients succumbed to the bust aftershocks ravaging more than 85% of the company’s revenue stream.

With personal assets tied to the company, and despite a frugality of lifestyle that had become my trademark with business associates, it was just a matter of time before all that I had built dissolved into a distant memory accentuated by the sheriff delivering eviction papers one Friday morning.  An indirect business associated had called the loan on my 3-story house in one of the toniest parts of the city.

Now I am not going to kid you, standing on the precipice of such a dark abyss presented many challenging days in which I felt like I was trying to run through molasses with my legs tied.  Nor I am going to claim that I was always able to put on a happy face.  But through faith and determination I was able to persevere and eventually overcome to lead a life that is better aligned with who I am and, as it turns out, what I was meant to do.

This being said, I doubt that I would have been able to rebuild my life without the quiet and resolute example of my father who never complained but always with an “upward and onward” call to action showed me what could be done despite circumstances.

Without speaking for Larry, I can only surmise that his peppery prose is designed to ask each and every one of us as adults and parents, what kind of example are we setting for our children?  Are we creating a generation with a soft underbelly of a poor me, life is unfair entitlement mindset or, are we equipping them with the necessary tools to overcome and achieve?

As it stands now, it appears that for many living in a world that is free of the consequences associated with a global conflict re a World War, complete and total financial desolation in terms of a 1920s type depression, and the need to struggle for even the most basic requirements of every day life such as a widow with 7 children, we have become like overly sensitive orchids in which only a hermetically controlled green house of life circumstances will keep us from wilting into inconsequential oblivion.


2 Responses to “Winget Comment Reminds Me of Just How Soft We Have Become”
  1. sandiscott48 says:

    Agreed. Growing up in the 60’s & 70’s there were the usual booms and busts in the economy. My parents both worked as it was necessary. Although we were sad at times. There really wasn’t too much time to think about it. We had schedules, school and work. No “play dates” just an impromptu game of baseball in the street. We all had to do our share. My parents never lived beyond their means. And I took this to heart. I realized the value of a higher education and payed for school. This made me appreciate and utilize my knowledge to become an entrepreneur. As my father told me- life is filled with possibilities. When my parents came home from long days of work. I pitched in around the home and made dinner. It was just the way things were. Chores were just a way of was work and school. I was not a perfect person, however; I was constantly busy and didn’t have time to worry. Not all in my family of origin took this to heart. However, this had an impact on me. My father’s charity and philosophy (which he lived more than spoke of) enabled me to cope with a lot of things others may not of had the tools for.

  2. fielding dent says:

    On the “entitlement mindset” I believe that this is all too pervasive at this time. I see this in business and dealing with employees. It’s sad. When purchasing items at the grocery outlet. I hear more complaints by employee’s and inquires of the time then I do in any other setting. I see this reflected in parents, children, educators almost anytime dealing with others. People seem miserable. And I am not wanting to detract from the legitimacy of this…as we have all had times such as these. Me father and other friends have all suffered profound losses and still went to work as second nature. Not to say that they did not have moments of physical illness and personal despair and their share of tragedy. Their values were as such…that they took care of themselves, kept their personal problems confined to appropriate outlets. Not that they never mentioned it…albeit in vagaries. They moved forward…seemed to see things of this nature for what it was and made the best of it. Sometimes stresses are very overwhelming indeed. There are many several alternatives when dealing with life’s problems. Sometimes it takes some effort to look for these. Sometimes we don’t always make the best choices….the question is how we view the totality of each situation. Would buying a bobble make you happy in such a case? Would purchasing a lottery ticket solve one’s ill’s of the moment? Perhaps. Or, would this be a chance to invest in your business? Yourself? Your children? There are always varying options available to almost any situation. What is prudent is key here. Not necessarily whats available or convenient.

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