Inside the Entitlement Generation – The OTHER Entitlement Generation
By Author: Admin | November 22, 2011
Margaret Wente has a currently popular newspaper article (as of the date of this posting) with the above title, available here. In it, she concurs with the view that young Canadian university graduates have a unified ‘mindset’ – a dangerous and invariably wrong premise. She builds upon this with more generalizations such as, “Many students openly admit their goal is to succeed with the least amount of effort”, and “That’s the way it’s been all their lives.”
The generalizations are similar to the immigration department’s generalizations of (sometimes) fake education documents for skilled workers from certain countries, and a zealously sceptical assessment of young foreigners from certain parts of the world purporting to study in Canada. At least the immigration department has statistics to back up some of their generalizations. By contrast, Ms. Wente prefers to rely on like-minded persons of the same generation, who benefited from a formerly robust Canadian welfare state in the 1970s (which had government departments with names such as “Measurement Canada”), who are also less inclined to support it now in their old age. Articles such as Ms Wente’s help rationalize the privatization or cutback of government services.
The title of her article, which refers to the “Entitlement Generation” made me think of the people of Ms Wente’s generation who were active in the ‘me’ generation of the 1970s, when recreational drug use was rampant, and there was no knowledge of AIDS, and as a consequence, sexual activity proliferated. The same generation “sold out” in the 80s, when privatization, off-shoring of jobs, and trade union busting proliferated, to the benefit of the established and well-connected classes. That same generation has entered the 21st century, financially fat, ascribing to new age philosophy that advocates the young generation of Canadians to place less emphasis on the accumulation material wealth – which remains largely in the hands of Ms.Wente’s generation.
Indeed during the financial crises of the late 80s, many journalists of the day were concerned their financial portfolios, in contrast to the journalists of 1930s who were part of the class that had no significant financial portfolio and did not fawn over, and suck up, to financial elites. Those journalists of the 1930s were more in the tradition of muckrakers, unlike journalists of the kind like Ms Wente, who are more like corporate stenographers, providing fawning portraits of corporate CEOs.
Similarly, during the 1980s, there was a lax entrepreneur immigration program that attracted thousands of Hong Kong businessmen to Canada, fearful of the 1997 takeover by the People’s Republic of China. The program was lax in the assessment of where the funds came from, as well as in the assessment of the ability of the person to bring job-building entrepreneurship into Canada. Indeed, one prominent Canadian immigration lawyer in the 1980s had a lax staff member who somehow presented a Madam of a bordello as potential immigration business applicant.
On the positive side, Ms. Wente did concede that (to the extent that there exists an attitude of entitlement), that it is also present in the generation of parents who bred the current allegedly lazy, self-entitled, generation of Canadian university graduates – parents around the age of Ms Wente’s.
An additional positive aspect to Ms. Wente’s article is the advocating for the return of more streaming and vocational education in Canada. This would help obviate the need for Canada’s immigration department to issue work visas for bricklayers from Portugal as well as tool and dye makers from Hungary – in other words it would give Canadian youth an opportunity to tailor their skills to the demands of Canada’s labour market.
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