Teenage Dreams, Meet Post-Obama America

Kids these days.

If they’re not playing World of Minecraft on a WiiTV, they’re blasting that crazy hippity hop “music” on their iSurface pads. Why that Bieber-Eyed Gagas band gives me a headache every time I dial up stations on my wireless. Would it kill them to play a traditional pop standard now and again? Now THAT was music!

By gum, if I didn’t know better I’d think every adolescent is hopped up on Four-Hour Monster Energy Pills and whatnot. As an aging member of the brilliant Generation X, I try to do my part. But when high schoolers tear up my azaleas with their Harlem Shake Mobs, all I can do is scream obscenities and hurl grapefruit at their heads. (Call the cops all you want, but it’s not my fault I lost the belt to my robe.)

Part of the problem is poor education. Long ago, schools traded in reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic for activism, awareness and attitude. Instead of demanding excellence through rigorous studies, every miniature mouthbreather is told he’s a Very Special Snowflake worthy of praise and wealth from American society.

Sure, my kids are special, but the rest of them? Feh. At the fifth grade science fair, one of the little scrubs got an “A” for melting crayons with a magnifying glass. You’re breaking some new ground there, Dr. Hawking.

It’s not just cranky old me noticing the gap between ability and confidence. A new poll by Junior Achievement found that kids are dangerously ignorant about their financial futures, especially the rising cost of college. And despite the worrisome future of the job market, teens’ self-confidence is stratospheric.

Junior Achievement’s CEO Jack Kosakowski said, “my personal big take away at looking at the numbers is a lack of understanding of the cost of college.”

In this year’s survey, more teenagers said they planned to be financially independent — around the time they turn 26. Fewer teenagers said they would be able to support themselves between the ages of 18 and 24.

And while 52 percent of surveyed teens said their peers borrow too much money to go to college, just 9 percent of them said that they themselves are saving money for the future.

Adding to widespread financial illiteracy, several studies have shown that the majority of teens think they have above-average intelligence — a statistical impossibility.

Despite feeling smarter than their parents’ generation, today’s students self-reportedly study for fewer hours. On the bright side, they get better grades because of grade inflation…

The trend of self-delusion among teenagers is a particularly American problem, Kosakowski noted. “The only things our kids rank the highest in are confidence in their abilities,” he said. “Math, science, and everything else has gone down.”

Instead of just complaining about “kids these days,” there are ways we can improve their chances. And if you expect wise financial counsel to come from the government, you should look up our national debt.

School choice can help students get a far better education and parents must teach and demonstrate common-sense money management. But all of us — young and old — need to speak the truth about basic economics or the youth of today will get a very rude awakening when looking for a job in the post-Obama era.

Before I close, there is one golden piece of wisdom I can offer to the yearning teenagers of today that they should always hold near and dear to their precious little hearts: Get off my lawn.

Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.

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