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Yep, that’s 70 trillion! Let me take a moment on the onset to provide a foundational perspective: 70 trillion dollars is 70 million millions, 70 trillion dollars is 70 thousand billions, 70 billion dollar bills stacked would be 4.723 million miles high, 70 trillion pennies stacked would reach 66 million miles high, 70 trillion ants would weigh 208 thousand tons Plus..to add to my messaging today: 70 trillion also...drum roll, please... is the amount of inheritance baby boomers will pass along as a head start to the next generation, and therein lies perhaps one of the greatest threats to our nation’s future (https://bloom.bg/3BSs3ez).In my previous column (The Great Resignation, July 2022, https://bit.ly/3vBj0dI), I wrote of the passion for, and importance of this thing they call work. As I suggested, work is not only what we do but it often defines who we are. Our nations willingness to work has us, in just 246 years, with a mere 4 percent of the world’s population, already producing 25 percent of the entire world’s output. It has led to a prosperity unthinkable just 100 years ago. We enjoy a freedom, a quality of life, a standard of living, a life expectancy, and an infant mortality rate envied the world over. As I said in the last column, but it bears repeating: the life we bitch about is the very same life others dream about. Without any risk of patriotic arrogance, I contend we deserve it, and we deserve it because we worked for it! That which is earned, is deserved, therefore, indeed a just reward. We are the king of the hill, and thus suffer the slings and arrows the world over as the tall poppy. (Google tall poppy syndrome.)
It’s normal for one to be periodically envious but many are not envious, but actually jealous, which is a much more dangerous perspective. You see, envious is: Keira has that beautiful house, I don’t have that beautiful house, I wish I had that house. Where jealousy goes like this, Keira has that beautiful house. I don’t have that beautiful house; I wish Keira didn’t have that house either. This is why America gets sucker-punched by the media and, in extreme cases, terrorism. However, we can further defend our success, as not only was it earned, but in addition, with that success, we are a most charitable nation and live the mantra of: “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” “Given” may need some clarification, for all we were given is the opportunity to work passionately and do so under the structure of a capitalistic economy that rewards work.
I’ll bet you can identify with my experience: my parents’ life, notwithstanding significant challenges, was much better than their parents. My life much better than my parents. Further, am I the only one here that wants to come back as one of my kids … even better, one of my grandkids. Helicopter parents hovering over our kids’ lives is now giving way to a new concept called snow plow parents. This is when over protective competitive parents push aside any and all difficulties in the way of little Biff and Buffy’s life journey.
Hey, I get it. Life is tough, and a head start on that tough life is significantly beneficial. If there’s a family tradition that benefitted us, why would we deny our own children that same opportunity?
The problem is that our success, as a generation, has been so epic, so over the top, it has actually produced wealth that, if transferred, could be the foundation of ruin. Not only for the ruin of our children and family structure, but our very country, for it will remove the need to … the desire to … work! Throughout our lifetime, have we not encountered those that are born on third base yet go through life thinking they hit the triple? Now, consider an entire generation of them … yikes!
From a broader perspective, make no mistake while indeed a historic term, we are an empire. Consider for a moment the fate of historic empires such as Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece and, of course, Rome. On average, they lasted only 330 years. Statistically, half of them didn’t even last that long. Are we perhaps one generation away from our societal implosion? Did their unparalleled prosperity eliminate the need and desire to work? I think this subject is worth the discussion, not only in a classroom, but also a board room and the front room.
I am certainly not telling anyone how to raise their own kids or spend their own money. But a red flag warning was waved over the last two years with the ever so presently popular, “I Quit My Job.” Not only did many quit, but did so by proudly proclaiming such through social media. Of the 68MM that left their employment last year, 44MM were self-initiated as opposed to a layoff or termination. Ironic is it not, that last year $435 billion changed hands in inheritance. Could that have enabled many of those “quits” or simply a coincidence? I think not. Remember as they say: “Money isn’t everything, but it can change your family’s future if you pass it along.” Be aware that said “change” cuts both ways. Change for the good or for the ruin? Please understand this is not a message of how to raise your kids, but rather the need to preserve the value of work!
The preferred approach, I feel, is to give your kids enough of a head start or means to do something they love and for which they have a passion. If it’s a passion such as the arts, social work, or teaching the underserved community but doesn’t pay enough to cover the mortgage, by all means, subsidize a bit. After all, you certainly don’t want to give the government more of your hard-earned dollars to waste. But, don’t subsidize to the point of removing both the desire and need to work. In other words, give the next generation enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.
Now, let me get out of the unintended “know it all” hole that I’m digging and confirm that I was once the world’s foremost authority on how to raise children … then I had my own.
“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” — Sen. Everett M. Dirksen