David Brooks—the former conservative—skewered the University of Missouri St. Louis yesterday. Brooks wasn’t aware, and UMSL administrators don’t read. But some of us caught it. Brooks wrote of The Missing Fifth. Did you know that 20 percent of American men in their primes don’t work?
Americans should be especially alert to signs that the country is becoming less vital and industrious. One of those signs comes to us from the labor market. As my colleague David Leonhardt pointed out recently, in 1954, about 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today that number is around 80 percent. One-fifth of all men in their prime working ages are not getting up and going to work. [Emphasis added.]
How sad. How embarrassing. I’d say “how shameful” except the Supreme Court ruled shame unconstitutional, or so it seems. We’ve had that feeling, shame, removed from our souls.
Men who do nothing are deadbeats, much more so than people who try to pay their bills and can’t. We’re talking about able-bodied men who simply choose to sit on their asses and sponge of others—off of foolish women, in many cases.
Brooks errs in his proposed solution, of course. Brooks thinks American education the solution. He hasn’t been paying attention. I have some other ideas.
Higher education isn’t the solution to our problem; education is the problem.
The University of Missouri’s wing schools, UMKC and UMSL, offer the course “Introduction to Labor Studies.” This course is why 20 percent of men believe that sitting on their brains is their right—nay, their duty—as young, able-bodied American men.
In Labor Studies, professional derelicts Don Giljum and Nancy Ancel teach students how to avoid work, how to destroy a company’s profits, and how to harass and intimidate managers.
Think about this: the state of Missouri uses tax dollars to teach Missouri students how to rip off employers. Knowing that, why would you hire someone who went to a public university in Missouri? Why would you open an office or business in the state? What could be more foolish than to expect Missouri to encourage business?
Here’s a solution. It’s a tiny, tiny step, but it’s a step in the right direction: Shut down the damn Labor Studies course in the University of Missouri system.
An alternative solution if that’s too radical for our legislature: rename the course “Introduction to Deadbeat Studies.”
But do something before "Men at Work" becomes nothing more than a trivia question.
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