Words are Deeds for Young Americans (and update)

I keep wondering why I don’t see or hear young people react to the burden newly imposed on them – and forever – by the implementation of Obamacare. It seems to me that, by and large, they don’t know about it. In addition, they tend to harbor an all-around cynicism of such completeness that they deliberately tune out anything negative as if it were completely expected. I except young Christians from this generalization.

To raise this question is to ask why president Obama continues at such a high level of popularity. (Although his ratings are sinking, they are still high by most standards.) The best answer I can give to this question is so simple, it took me an embarrassingly long time to grasp it. It is that the young, and many others who are not young, think that words are deeds.

Recently, I spent a little talk time with two young women I knew not to be on my side on much of anything. They told me that they supported Obama because he is “pro-women.” They assured me that he resisted the Republicans’ many attempts to abolish “contraception.” (NOT abortion.) They couldn’t name any successful Republican venture against contraception. I interpret this to mean that they may have heard of some speech by some extremist somewhere and considered it a done deed. Both were insensitive to my argument that if they mean by “pro-women,” defending contraception, most relevant decisions belonged to states and are therefore not within Mr Obama’s realm of decision-making.

I am not here dumping on the young and feeble. I was having a meal with these young women because one is a sometimes reading buddy of mine. (A “reading budding” is like a drinking buddy without the hangovers.) The other has a quick intelligence that is so obvious it invades the room she is in like a strong perfume. Neither is a dummy and I am always charmed by their company. But they are preoccupied by many other issues, more personal ones. They satisfy themselves that listening to words makes them politically conscious enough and good citizens, I suspect. And, of course, even in the absence of confirmation bias, they would hear ten of Mr Obama’s well-delivered speeches for one speech from any Republican at all. (“Confirmation bias” is the well-studied tendency to pay more attention to items of information that conform with one’s opinions than with those that diverge from it.)

So, when Mr Obama speaks of improving the economy (five years later and some), his young supporters consider it done. Difficulties finding jobs, or good jobs, stagnating wages, irresponsibly mounting college tuition, rising and absurd mountains of college debts, must come from somewhere else. The more frightening prospect is that the bad economy – started elsewhere but continued by the Obama administration – is becoming the normal state of things for young people who have little memory of happier times.

Here is a tangible example of the new normal. Some dispositions of Obamacare law 2,000 pages-plus drive companies to limit employment to thirty hours a week. Now, consider a reasonably well paid young worker taking home $13/hr. (Taking home). With the new limited work-week, this young worker has to manage to live on about $20,000/year. It can be done, easily in some rural areas , with difficulty in most American cities (except Detroit, of course). In my town of Santa Cruz, rent and utilities would easily eat half of this
amount. Of course, depending on where you live, with that kind of income, you might be eligible for food stamps.

I have seen something like this happen in France. We may have a French disease.

I try hard to think back and I suspect I did the same when I was young. I mean that I confused words with deeds. That plus a strong sense of justice may explain why I was a leftist. It took years and a really good education to get into the habit of looking at the facts behind and after the words. That new custom turned me into a conservative libertarian quickly.

This analysis is all bad news. I hope the young of today are smarter than I was, and quicker. They surely know more than I did; they are closer to the facts if they want to be. I hope I am wrong about mistaking words for facts. Please, tell me that I am.

Update 8/4/13 A story about “fourth trimester abortion.” It takes place on the campus of Georges Mason University , one of the few universities in the country that is neither leftist nor born again. I think it would be worse elsewhere.



About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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9 Responses to Words are Deeds for Young Americans (and update)

  1. Pingback: Words are Deeds for Young Americans | Notes On Liberty

  2. McHenry says:

    I’m sorry but you are right. No one in my social circle views obamacare negatively. The leading view currently is that any perceived downside to its exercise will quickly be resolved once the confusion about switching up systems resides. “Any large change will undoubtedly have some rocky areas” they all tell me.
    It’s as if bad legislation can be passed under the guise of confusion, because if no one knows whats going on then we can’t really say its bad now can we?
    The down side for me is that I know so little about it that I cannot really argue, but I am convince it is bad simply from what I know: expansion of IRS powers and the forced cutting of workers hours.

  3. Good grip, Mc Henry! (The commenter is one of the young people I have in mind.) Your confusion comes from the fact that you are too lazy to read more than 2,500 pages of legal/bureaucratic jargon. Bad boy!

    Do any of you friend know that they are being forced to pay for people like me ten years ago: Overweight, pack a day smoker (of tobacco)?

  4. Where I’m at – in Westwood, Los Angeles – everybody can see that Obama is awful. The problem is not that we are gullible or don’t listen or have confirmation bias, but that there is a lack of an alternative.

    For all of Obama’s faults, the Republican Party is much, much worse. If, as many hope, the neoconservatives continue to lose election after election to libertarian candidates in the Republican primaries, then this may change.

    But as long as imperialists and demagogues like Chris Christie, George W. Bush and the uber-fascists John McCain and Lindsay Graham continue to wield power in Washington, the Democrats will be the alternative party that smart, passionate young people identify with and vote for.

    Interestingly enough, prior to the illegal, failed invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the GOP and the Democratic Party actually vied for the hearts and minds of the young. When the GOP made the decision to murder innocent brown people abroad for no reason at all, and with no evidence whatsoever, they lost our hearts as well as our minds.

    The fact that imperialists continue to peddle their lies to the gullible and the stupid only serves to strengthen the Left’s grip on the young and the intelligent.

    • Brandon: Are you saying that conservatives are losing to libertarian candidates in Republican primaries? When, where?

      Also, it’s not completely clear what you mean by “conservatives.” Do you mean people who favor small government BUT (except for) strong national defense? Please, explain when you have time.

      If that’s what you mean, doesn’t “conservative” mean the same as “constitutionalist”?

      “…innocent brown people”?
      Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party SS? “Chemical Ali,” mass murder with chemical bombs of Kurdish civilians? Isn’t the expression redundant? Doesn’t “brown” automatically mean “innocent”?

      When brown people mass murder other brown people, it isn’t as bad as when white people do it. The victims are not as deeply dead, right? (Same as for blacks killing blacks.)

      I am glad you made clear in your heated response that you prefer Mr Obama to the only viable alternative. Clarity is good.

      • Conservatives have been losing to libertarians in a number races, the most prominent one being Rand Paul’s win over the fascist Mitch McConnell’s personal pick (what was his name again?).

        The GOP primaries (presidential and otherwise) are also shaping up to be about foreign policy and civil liberties. These days it’s not good to be a neoconservative. Lies eventually catch up with political movements. I wonder if Chris Christie is going to pretend that the war in Iraq was a rousing success, much like some people do here on this blog.

        There are many strains of conservatism in the US. A “strong” national defense to the paleoconservative, for example, means not going around the world and invading and occupying other states. Can you give me an outline for what you mean by “strong national defense”?

        The Kurds are just as guilty as the Ba’athists for murdering innocent people. The difference between the two is that the Ba’athists got a hold of the post-colonial state’s center, therefore guaranteeing the rents that are earned for pretending that Iraq is a part of the international state system.

        Your remarks about skin color are duly noted, but I would remind everybody here that the “us versus them” paradigm is no less potent in politics today. For example, are our wars in the Middle East about geopolitics or religion? Dr J would dupe his ill-informed readers into believing that religion is to blame, rather than interests of state.

      • Got me there!

        Brandon, having had his mouth washed with soap, has turned to providing surrealistic material to this blog. He is welcome.

        In the meantime, I keep recommending the blog Notes on Liberty which he continues to steer more than ably.

  5. Jacques, your post is brilliant. You have a large piece of the truth here. The enormous gap between words and deeds is all but invisible to many, including but not limited to the young. The young are perhaps particularly vulnerable, due to the dumbing-down of formal education. The video of students signing a petition to legalize fourth-trimester abortion (described by one signer as ‘cool’) is a prime example. But very few people have the ability to recognize, let alone deal with, the complete severance of rhetoric from reality that the current president specializes in. It’s beyond lying, because ordinary lies can be calibrated in relation to some known truths — there is a one-to-one relation that can be mapped. Now — and this is not totally the president’s fault, though he has certainly amplified the trend — we have pure rhetoric, the way we have virtual reality, unrelated to anything in actual experience. And many people take this rhetoric as a substitute for actual experience. It becomes their world.

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      I agree about the dumbing down of formal education. I see that the Texas board of education has packed the biology review team with creationists and ‘intelligent design’ types.

      How ever I also point to the mass media & organized sports. How many times have I heard a player/coach/commentator talk about giving 110%?
      When cultural icons [like it or not] babble on about 110% can 4 trimesters be far behind?

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