Do Two Recent Trends Tell the Story of Today’s Young Men?

According to a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, young men today may be either dropping out of the workforce to play video games or turning to hours of game play because they cannot find work. The report ties two trends together to create this hypothesis. The first trend is the decrease of working hours among men in their twenties:

Between 2000 and 2015, market hours worked fell by 203 hours per year (12 percent) for younger men ages 21-30, compared to a decline of 163 hours per year (8 percent) for men ages 31-55. These declines started prior to the Great Recession, accelerated sharply during the recession, and have rebounded only modestly since.1 We use a variety of data sources to document that the hours decline was particularly pronounced for younger men. These trends are robust to including schooling as a form of employment. Not only have hours fallen, but there is a large and growing segment of this population that appears detached from the labor market: 15 percent of younger men, excluding full-time students, worked zero weeks over the prior year as of 2016. The comparable number in 2000 was only 8 percent.

The second is the evidence that millennial men are spending an increasing amount of time playing games on computers and video consoles, more time than social interaction away from an electronic device:

Younger men increased their recreational computer use and video gaming by nearly 50 percent over this short period. Non-employed young men now average 520 hours a year in recreational computer time, sixty percent of that spent playing video games. This exceeds their time spent on home production or non-computer related socializing with friends.

The proliferation of games – through online services, rental outlets, and stores – in our culture suggests that it’s a hot industry, particularly for young guys. Watch a television commercial these days, and that’s all you see guys doing.

Now, the decline in young men in the workforce and the increase of time spent playing video games don’t automatically correlate, but the report’s theory may make some sense. Young men may have thrown in the towel when it comes to finding meaningful employment and turned to video games to pass the time. Or, they may spend so many hours playing games that they don’t have time to work.

Does the NBER hypothesis hold water? Are guys turning to video games while ignoring work or because they can’t find work? There’s no real way to know for sure, but the combination of these two trends is pretty alarming for a generation of young men in the prime of their lives.

Millennials Should Learn from Us, Not Lead Us

Several months ago I read an article by a Christian-turned-atheist who actually bragged that they were “de-converted” because their small children posed unanswerable questions to them about their faith. I remember sitting there for some time after reading that, trying to figure out why a grown adult would ever publish such an admission, even if they were in fact incapable of matching the intellect of a 6-year-old.

We see similar peculiarity every election cycle when adults submit the sanctity of their vote to the wisdom of their children’s immature, if not cute, political observations. Even political science professors jump on this mindless phenomenon, not to condemn the ignorance of letting toddlers just out of diapers determine the direction of the free world, but to applaud it. Take University of Colorado (Denver) prof Michael Cummings who wrote in his book, “Children’s Voices in Politics”:

“There are some very young people, politically precocious, who have strong ideas about public policy.”

He suggests that kids as young as 5 have some really engaging thoughts on issues like homelessness, the environment, and education, and that perhaps it is time to consider letting kids vote as soon as they want to vote.


Let me preface this by saying that you won’t find too many people that have a stronger appreciation for youth, or a desire to work with them, instruct them, guide them, laugh with them, connect with them, and try to be a positive role model for them. I’ve dedicated my life to those things and am consistently blessed by the experience. And one of the greatest joys in my work is to see how so many of those high school kids, flush with passion but lacking in wisdom, grow and mature as they age.

That maturing is increasingly a challenging prospect, however, in a society that seems to worship youth simply for being young. Products and merchandise are prolifically peddled to keep us looking younger, feeling younger, and acting younger. From a physical standpoint, that makes a modicum of sense. Most people would prefer the curves and chiseled physique of a 20-something to the lumps and wrinkles of a 75-year-old.

But from an intellectual, logical, or philosophical perspective, idolizing youth is about as dumb as it gets. From across the pond, Clare Foges exposes precisely why in a piece blasting the absurdity of regarding young people as “political sages”:

[W]hat is galling is the veneration of youthful opinion regardless of the sense it makes; this growing idea that being under 25 confers some special sagacity that the rest of us might benefit from. A generation reared to revere the words “empowerment” and “respect” is demanding that they are empowered and their views respected.

Last week’s election revealed the judgment of many young voters to be as we might expect of those with relatively limited experience: hopelessly naive. They turned out in their droves for a man who became a kind of millennials’ prophet; promising to lead them out of the badlands of austerity and towards a future where everything is nicer, cheaper, or indeed free. They voted for a man who would have endangered our economy, the whisper of whose name can send the pound on a swan-dive.


There is no wisdom here, no great lesson to be learnt; just the insight that many young people rather like being offered free stuff and ask few questions about how, ultimately, that stuff is funded.

Sound familiar? In addition to other demographic exploitation, America suffered for the last eight years under this same hopelessly naïve political approach. While some lamented the voters who chose Barack Obama because he was (half) black, I was far more concerned with the voters who picked him because he was “cool.”

  • For these youthful voters, his “dabbing” on Ellen overshadowed the galling reality that he racked up more debt than all previous presidents combined.
  • They overlooked the tragic realities that his backwards foreign policy led to the rise of ISIS and endangered the free world as never before, because he “slow-jammed the news” with Jimmy Fallon.
  • The fact that he shot baskets with Clark Kellogg and filled out an NCAA bracket every year was of more importance to them than the failure of his signature healthcare policy that stripped coverage from millions and raised premiums on nearly everyone in the country.

This is the problem inherent in a youthful mind, it overemphasizes idealism and undervalues consequence; its grasp on reality can be obscured by impassioned rhetoric and emotion. If the Obama phenomenon wasn’t proof of that, consider who millennials turned to in droves during the most recent campaign: a socialist once marginalized in Congress for his hair-brained adherence to failed pie-in-the-sky economic fantasies.

Which brings us back to Foges’ analysis:

Yet the passionate sense of grievance among many young people — that theirs is a generation uniquely betrayed by the generations above — should not simply be “listened to” as though it were true; it must be robustly challenged…What should be challenged too is the youthful expectation of a free lunch. For instance, many 18 to 24-year-olds — reared on the language of rights — believe it their right to receive a free university education, as Corbyn [read Bernie or Barack in America] exploited so successfully. What must be communicated to young people is not congratulations for backing wish-list politics but the reality that public resources are finite.

Wishing for a better world is nothing to be derided, and there is always something appealing about youthful enthusiasm…But when it comes to the way we run our country, we have a duty not to kowtow to youthful dreaming but to confront some of the myths that underpin it. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Socialism is a proven disaster. These might not make for inspiring Facebook posts but they have the virtue of being the truth.

I wholeheartedly concur. And as one who loves and works with young people every day, I would hasten to add that the greatest service we can render to them is not lionizing their idealism, but rather disciplining them to remember it is never an adequate substitute for wisdom and truth.

Survey: Young Voters Leaving GOP in Droves

Young voters have never been a strong demographic for the Republican Party. The group was one of the core areas of support for Barack Obama and conventional wisdom has held for years that young voters trend liberal and then become more conservative as they get older. A recent study from Pew Research disputes the conventional wisdom and has alarming news for the GOP.

The Pew study included several surveys of voters of all ages over a 15-month period from December 2015 through March 2017. The survey found that about one in ten voters from both parties switched parties at some point during the 2016 election season. The numbers were similar for all age groups across party lines with one exception.

Almost half (44 percent) of Republicans aged 18-29 left the party at some point during the campaign. About half (21 percent) of these young Republicans returned by March, but 23 percent still identified or leaned Democrat two months into the Trump presidency.

“What makes these figures even more striking is the stability of nearly every other age group within both parties,” Republican pollster Kristin Soltis Anderson writes in the Washington Examiner. “On the Democratic side, roughly three-quarters of their voters stuck with the Democratic Party through and through – including those younger voters who supposedly felt so disillusioned with the Democratic Party over the treatment of Bernie Sanders.”

The leftward movement of young Republicans was partially offset in 2016 by the rightward movement of older voters. About a quarter of Baby Boomer Democrats left the party with 14 percent still identifying as Republican in March 2017.

“These voters no doubt played a large role in the success of Trump in states and counties with many ‘Reagan Democrats’ who were drawn to the GOP with Trump’s message,” Anderson says.

Nevertheless, Anderson sees long-term problems for the GOP. “The half of young Republicans who wobbled or left the party altogether were die-hard enough to be on board with the GOP all the way through the moment that Trump sat well atop the primary polls,” she says. Young Republicans who deserted the party to Barack Obama, because of the government shutdown or due to the party’s early embrace of Trump were already gone by December 2015 when the survey started.

Current trends suggest that young voters are also not becoming more conservative as they get older. Anderson pointed out in a separate column that both Generation X and Millennial voters are moving more to the left as they age.

“The Boomers got more conservative, Gen X got a little more Democratic, and over the last 10 years, the millennials got more liberal,” Anderson says. “It’s not just that Democrats have held a consistent advantage over the GOP with this generation (and they have – by massive margins), it’s that the proportion calling themselves liberal Democrats has increased substantially since the 2012 election.”

Demographic trends are not written in stone. The shift of young voters to the left is not foreordained for upcoming elections, but business-as-usual conservative politics will not win the group to the Republican Party. It will likely require an earthshaking event or a politician with a special connection to younger voters.







Harvard Study: Millennials Are Rejecting the Hook-Up Culture

A new Harvard study found that Millennials are tired of casual hook-ups and one night stands.

Titled The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment, the study polled 3,000 individuals aged 18-to-25 from across the country and asked them about their attitudes on sexual attitudes and relationships. It was conducted by Harvard’s Graduate School of Educationunder the umbrella of its Making Caring Common Project, which aims to “helps educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice.”

Moreover, the study examined two key facets: forming and maintaining healthy romantic relationships and dealing with widespread misogyny and sexual harassment. Here are some key findings from the study:

1.Teens and adults tend to greatly overestimate the size of the “hook-up culture” and these misconceptions can be detrimental to young people.

2. Large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them. Yet it appears that parents, educators and other adults often provide young people with little or no guidance in developing these relationships. The good news is that a high percentage of young people want this guidance.

3. Misogyny and sexual harassment appear to be pervasive among young people and certain forms of gender- based degradation may be increasing, yet a significant majority of parents do not appear to be talking to young people about it.

4.Many young people don’t see certain types of gender-based degradation and subordination as problems in our society.

5. Research shows that rates of sexual assault among young people are high. But our research suggests that a majority of parents and educators aren’t discussing with young people basic issues related to consent.

One of the study’s authors, Richard Weissbourd, told ABC News said there were two pervasive problems that could be deduced from the study.

“One is, we are failing … miserably to prepare young people for romantic love, probably the most important thing they will do in life,” Weissbourd said. “The second is that there are very high rates of misogyny and sexual harassment.”

He also suggested that people wildly overestimate the amount of 18-to-25 year-olds engaging in casual sex or hook-ups. Here’s more from the official press release:

“We hope that this report is a real wake-up call,” said Dr. Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Faculty Director of the Making Caring Common project, and lead author of the study. “While adults, and parents in particular, wring their hands about the ‘hook-up culture,’ research indicates that far fewer young people are hooking up than is commonly believed. Unfortunately, we also found that most adults appear to be doing very little to address these serious problems.”

While some of the conclusions of the study highlighted some serious problems, its explanation of sexual harassment and how to rid society of it is more muddled. Given current attitudes among Millennials, will they be able to differentiate an innocent compliment from full-fledged harassment? Can Millennials learn to differentiate fact from fiction and be more judicious with respect to their personal lives, given these findings? Let’s hope so.

Why the fallout over the hook-up culture? It was doomed to occur, as it has reached its apex. A March 2015 study found that 37% of Millennials polled view causal sex as morally reprehensible. Also, a study released in August 2016 found that Millennials–those born in 1990’s and early 2000’s–have fewer sexual partners than their predecessors. The hook-up culture of decades’ prior promised sex without consequences–with help from the entertainment and fashion sectors along with radical Leftist activism of the 1960s. And what has it rendered? Broken hearts, unsatisfactory romanic relationships, divorce, and cultural upheaval–just to name a few. It’s good to see studies from reputable institutions recognizing the problem with today’s dating culture.

A return to virtue and intentional dating is long overdue. Perhaps my fellow Millennials are willing to give real love a shot after dabbling in the hook-up culture.

Stranger Than Fiction: Wood Paneling Threatens University Of Michigan Students

Today’s college students are a rare breed. When I was at the University of Georgia, I focused on my studies and keeping my grades up enough to not lose my scholarships. These days, it seems like students only focus on what offends them.

The latest case involves the most bizarre aggression ever: wood paneling. That’s right, some students at the University of Michigan have made it known that they are “marginalized by quiet, imposing masculine paneling” in one of the school’s historic buildings.

The Michigan Union building, set to undergo a three-year, $85 million renovation, is the target of student outrage because Anna Wibbleman, the former president of an organization called Building A Better Michigan, which is dedicated to giving students a voice in building projects, shared concerns that the paneling marginalized some students, though she apparently offered no further explanation. The paneling is a prominent feature of the century-old structure and looks to remain prominent in the renderings of the renovated facilty.

Fortunately – and perhaps refreshingly – the school isn’t putting much stock into the complaints:

Asked to weigh in on Wibbelman’s comments, campus spokesman Rick Fitzgerald stated in an email to The College Fix that “concern about the paneling is not something that has been brought forward to the university as a concern from students, who have been involved with developing this project for several years and through dozens of meetings. Students certainly have expressed a desire that the renovation assures a welcoming, inviting, and student-oriented building. It is their building.”

“There is a significant presence of wood paneling on the interior of the building and we expect most, if not all of it, will remain after the renovation,” he said.

The current president of Building A Better Michigan claims that Wibbleman really meant that the quiet nature of the building was the issue more so than the actual materials in the structure itself. But whatever.

It’s nice to see an institution stand firm against such ridiculous assertions, rather than simply bowing to the weird whims of a few squeaky-wheel complainers. Hopefully, other schools will follow suit.

The Trend Of Sologamy Demonstrates The Despair In The Lives Of Selfish People

Single feminists want to have their cake and eat it too, and this case it’s a wedding cake. Some women who want to put their career first but are tired of others asking them why they are still single are engaging in a totally self-serving act – marrying themselves. It’s called sologamy, and it’s a new trend that’s both laughable and sad.

Take Erika Anderson, for example. Last year, the professional from Brooklyn (surprise, surprise) married herself in a ceremony that resembled a real marriage ceremony:

“I would describe it as women saying yes to themselves,” Anderson said. “It means that we are enough, even if we are not partnered with someone else.”

In many ways, the 37-year-old bride looked like any other on her wedding day. She wore a white dress and had a bouquet. Anderson looked stunning with the Brooklyn bridge and New York City skyline behind her.

Except when she walked down the aisle, no one was waiting for her. That’s just the way she wanted it.

Anderson sees it as “celebrating independence” and saying, “You’re worth it!” She also apparently took the sologamy plunge as a great big “shut up” to the family and friends who kept asking her why she was still single. By the way, she’s still dating and open to a traditional marriage. Does that mean she’s cheating on herself?

Sologamy has become a bit of a cottage industry, with websites springing up selling self-marriage kits (complete with rings and self-affirmation cards) and offering consultation and photography services. Hooray for capitalism, I suppose, but I want to retch at the notion of “micro-moments of positivity [that] add up, creating an upward spiral.”

Maybe it’s because, even though I’m single, I find fulfillment among my family and friends, my ministry team, my job, and – most importantly – through Jesus, but I can’t help but see the concept of sologamy as representative of utter selfishness. I haven’t found the right woman yet, but I don’t need a ring or an attention-drawing ceremony or self-affirmation cards to know my purpose or worth in this world. Through Jesus and healthy relationships with others I’ve learned to be content no matter what stage of life God has me in.

There’s obviously something missing in the life of somebody who sees a totally symbolic ceremony that serves primarily to garner attention as the answer to life’s problems. There are so many ways to feel your worth in this world. Join a church or synagogue. Get involved with a non-profit. Serve people in need. Invite friends over for dinner. Focusing on others draws attention away from the self and creates a healthier outlook on life. Marrying yourself just telegraphs your unhealthiness to the world.

Half of Millennials Are at Risk to Lose Their Jobs to Robots But Aren’t Doomed

Baby Boomers aren’t the only people threatened by the rise of automation in jobs. 50 percent of Millennials are also expected to be affected, says new study from Indeed.

Here’s how Millennials compare to Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, with respect to job seeker interest in automation prone industries:

In an interview Daniel Culbertson–the chief Economist for Indeed Hiring Labs and author of this report–said Millennials are just as risk of losing jobs to robots as older generations are.

“Millennials show a considerable amount of interest in occupations that face a threat of automation,” said Daniel Culbertson to Washington Post. “That gets lost when people talk about millennials being so highly educated and more interested in tech roles.”

He also added that colleges degrees don’t make Millennials immune to this phenomenon because well-paid, highly skilled jobs could be vulnerable in the future.

A September 2013 study from Oxford University found that the rise of automation in jobs will likely threaten 47 percent of U.S. jobs over the course of 20 years. Yikes!

The debate surrounding job creation in the U.S. is not new. In fact, President Trump has made it a priority of his to promote and encourage more American-made products with his “Buy American, Hire American” initiative–even at the expense of free enterprise. While a noble undertaking, this initiative could have some dire consequences. “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe–a leading voice on vocational trades and American-minded jobs– perfectly addressed doubts most of us share on this executive order:

“First of all, I’m not sure I really understand it, to be honest. I mean, I’m not a lawyer and it’s an executive order and it’s full of a lot of fine print,” Rowe said. “Secondly, and more importantly, it feels like it might be a shortcut. And as my pop used to say, ‘shortcuts lead to long delays.’ I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t.

“If the executive order makes things more fair,” he continued, “if it does something to clamp down on, uh, currency manipulation and whole lot of other things I also really don’t understand, it feels like happen in the global economy that disadvantages our country, then I’m all for it.”

“But if it’s one of these things that is going to ultimately bring about some unintended consequences, I get nervous,” Rowe said.

Individuals like Rowe have been working to combat the stigma of “dirty jobs” — especially with his mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a charity that “rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist.” The charity focuses on how to address the widening skills gap and works on debunking the myth that possessing a four-year college degree best ensures success.

One doesn’t have to be an economist to recognize that bad policies–namely high taxation, spending, and currency manipulation–have undermined job growth under a free enterprise system such as ours. Government has entangled itself in job creation for too long, when it should only be tasked with creating a business-friendly climate. Unfortunately the inevitability of technology, like automation, will put many individuals out of work–although many innovations that result from market forces will have positive contributions on the economy.

Fellow Millennials: there are many occupations you can pursue without fear of losing your jobs to robots–especially if you possess a worthless college degree. What are some initial steps you can do? Learn useful skills. Start investing and saving for the future. Work your way up the economic ladder. Tap into the gig economy and learn from successful ride-sharing companies. Embrace creative disruption. And most of all, don’t rely on government handouts.

Game on, robots!

Millennials: All Grown Up With Nowhere to Go

A lot of us have probably taken a look at the antics of the Millennials, rolled our eyes and sighed, “Why can’t you just grow up already?”  As a certified Gen-Xer with an old pair of Sergio Valente jeans knocking around in the back of the closet to prove it, I can admit to a certain amount of this myself.  After all, we were the ones who spent our childhoods drinking from garden hoses, riding our bikes, and disappearing for the whole day with our friends while our parents nary batted an eye.  Generation Snowflake, meanwhile, can’t go more than five minutes without a smartphone fix and don’t even know how to communicate with another human being without texting.  They have very strong opinions about everything, even though they don’t seem to know much about anything, and their constant need for validation renders them incapable of hearing an opposing view without being reduced to a quivering mess of emotional jelly.  We pulled triggers on our BB guns, while they get triggered by words they don’t like.  How are people like that supposed to deal with the big bad world when they can’t even deal with the perceived slight of a microaggression?

Well, as it turns out, they can’t.  And to be fair, it’s not entirely their fault.

It’s a story that can be found in the pages of The Changing Economics of Young Adulthood, a report released by the Census Bureau that provides some comparative statistics of how young people are doing today versus how they were back in 1975.  The results are pretty sobering.  For example, the report finds states, “In 1975, only 25 percent of men aged 25 to 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men.”  It also found that fully one-third of adults aged 18-34 are still living at home with their parents–a total which is greater than the number of people from the same age group who are married and living with a spouse.

How did this happen?

NBC News has a story which explains:

“That is a product of a shrinking blue-collar economy,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce, a non-profit institute at Georgetown University.


Traditionally, men occupied most positions in industries such as manual labor and construction work. With those mostly gone, male wages have been hit harder than “women who started off behind” but excelled in school and college, Carnevale said.


Men are “more easily drawn away from schooling by blue-collar jobs because they pay $20,000 to $25,000 out of high school,” he said. Even though that job may not be there in ten years and will never pay more than that, he said.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Donald Trump made this one of his foremost campaign issues.  The loss of some manufacturing jobs and the importation of cheaper foreign labor has made it a lot harder for people–particularly boys, as the above example shows–to find decent-paying work that doesn’t require advanced technical expertise.  To those living with this harsh reality in places like the Rust Belt, Trump’s message found a lot of resonance–and got him the votes he needed to win the presidency.

The problem, however, goes deeper than that.  We’re still left with the question as to why boys are drawn away from schooling in the first place.  Recent statistics have shown that women, for the first time, are now more likely than men to have college degrees.  Even at my daughter’s high school, in an honors course that has around 20 students, she tells me that here are only four boys in the class.  How is it that the educational system, which steered girls away from advanced coursework in days of old, is now turning out more college bound girls than boys?

The answer, I think, has a lot to do with making primary education so college-oriented in the first place.  Even from elementary school, parents and kids are drilled on how important it is to go to college–and as a result, the curriculum and the number of hours spent in the classroom have been geared toward that goal.  This means recess is now a thing of the past, and even physical education–which used to be every day–is now only held two days each week in a lot of schools.  Kids are expected to be at their desks for over six hours a day, where they’re supposed to sit still and learn.  While this may work for most girls, as any parent who has raised a son can tell you, for boys it’s practically torture.  Is it any wonder, then, that so many of them decide early on that they hate school and can’t wait to get out of there?

The truth of the matter is that boys learn differently than girls do.  Just as boys physically mature more slowly than girls, boys also don’t reach educational maturity nearly as fast.  My own experience is a good example.  In middle school, I was a very average student who got my fair share of C’s.  In high school, though, something finally clicked and I was a straight-A student who graduated at the top of my class.  It took me that long to mature into a good student–but I’m not sure it would have ever happened if I’d been subjected to the same early barrage of standards that kids have to meet these days.

So what’s the answer?  We certainly don’t want to slow down the educational advancements that women have made, but at the same time, we don’t want that to happen to the detriment of boys, either.  As the Census report shows, when men lag behind it’s bad for everybody–so how do we design the educational system so that it lifts everyone up?  That’s one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation.  I think we can start by acknowledging the differences in the learning styes between girls and boys, and perhaps rethinking the idea of single-sex education.  This isn’t necessarily to say that schools should be all-boy or all-girl, but perhaps we should be teaching individual classes that way.  We also need a return to recess, so that kids can be kids even when they’re in school.  College is important, yes, but it’s not like you have to get it all figured out by the fifth grade.

Reestablishing trades programs in high school would also help those who want to learn valuable skills, but don’t want to pursue a college track.  As Mike Rowe has repeatedly pointed out, there are a lot of well-paying jobs out there that go unfilled because employers can’t find enough skilled tradesmen to fill them.  Schools should be encouraging kids to pursue those jobs, not turn their noses up at them.

As to the Millennials…

Maybe it’s true that the previous generation didn’t quite do right by you, and that’s why things are such a mess.  Maybe your parents hovered too much, and the schools foisted a bunch of unrealistic expectations on you.  Maybe you didn’t have great examples of what a strong marriage was like when you were growing up, and that has made you scared to make commitments in your own lives.  But you’re still young, which means you still have time–but don’t make the mistake of thinking you have forever.  Instead of waiting for opportunities, seek them out and take some risks.  Find a couple of roommates if you have to, and go get a place of your own.  Get married and build a life.  You might start out poor, but you won’t stay that way if you work together.

And, once in a while, put down the smartphone and look at real life.  It has a way of passing you by if you don’t.