July 6, 2016

Fisking Mr. Ham - A "Lazy, Spoiled, Entitled Narcissist"

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. - Edmund Burke

Now and again, I check into my LinkedIn feed to see if anyone has pinged me for any reason which requires I respond. I leave the occasional "Congratulations!" to people with new jobs or anniversaries. In doing so, I run across links that others post (not unlike Facebook), which occasionally attract my interest. Today, I happened across (another) Millennial post, complaining about various things related to perception of Millennials.

I am not often motivated to respond to such things, but occasionally (when the mood strikes me), I like to write a response. I do not write such responses in the hope of changing minds - it's more to keep up my own rhetorical skills, as well as (dare I say it) engaging in an enjoyable bit of mental fencing.

So, today's post is by Shane Ham, a self-described "lazy, spoiled, entitled narcissist," though I think the title is intended to be ironic, rather than truly descriptive. Mr. Ham has a bone to pick - well, make that several bones to pick. His main point seems to be that "We Millennials have been dealt a raw hand, and so don't blame us if we are as we are." With that said, on a first-read, I would have to say that Mr. Ham is ignorant of history, makes no attempt to understand views other than his own, and expects others to do things for him. 

Dear Mr. Ham:

You are obviously capable of writing, and also intelligent enough to seek out other readers. After all, your essay was edited by "LinkedIn Campus Editor Amanda Proença Santos" and he thanks "Grace Moon, Waleed Khan, Emily Ji, Professor Hanssen, and Professor Holt for reading...and giving...feedback." However, you appear to be sadly typical of many Millennials in several ways. First, you are ignorant of both history and political science. You state:
All we saw for the past eight years was a president with a vision for real change have to fight against a political party that was dedicated to do the opposite of whatever came out of his mouth. 
I suppose it would be too much to ask you to either (1) pay attention in political science class (presuming you took one), or (2) engage in some basic internet research. With this statement, does you even wonder, given how deeply unpopular the PPACA was within the Republican party, how it got passed with that party opposing the President's every desire? With the appropriate disclaimers concerning accuracy, here is what Wikipedia has to say:
The One Hundred Eleventh United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government from January 3, 2009, until January 3, 2011. It began during the last two weeks of the George W. Bush administration, with the remainder spanning the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. It was composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The apportionment of seats in the House was based on the 2000 U.S. Census. In the November 4, 2008 elections, the Democratic Party increased its majorities in both chambers, giving President Obama a Democratic majority in the legislature for the first two years of his presidency. 
So, for two of those eight years (during which PPACA, a major effort, was passed), the President was not opposed by a Republican majority.

But, even leaving obvious history aside, do you even know that it's not the President who passes laws? He's supposed to enforce them, or veto them. Those are his limits when it comes to lawmaking. (Well, that is, except for the massive administrative state. The current President has passed a massive number of administrative rules, and has chosen not to enforce other laws with which he disagrees.) Congress has the job of lawmaking, not the President. How many laws have been passed by Congress, yet vetoed by the President? How many more has he threatened to veto? Who is being obstructionist when it comes to legislation passed by Congress, but vetoed by the President? Do you want a president, or do you want a monarch?

Continuing on....
We are fighting wars we don’t understand how we got into. When we had the opportunity to help suffering refugees and fulfill some of those ideas we learned about, we shut our doors.
We got into some of them during President Obama's time in office. In some, he was opposed by Congress. In others, he went without asking, in a "...kinetic military action." Whence the President's vision for real change?
We are not inspired by the current state of politics. A part of us genuinely believes that things really don’t have a chance to improve whether we do something or not. Leaders are supposed to spark a longing for something greater, but all we see is a deeply divided political landscape.
Why do you automatically take the President or members of Congress or governors or...etc...for your leaders, instead of governors? There are inspirational leaders at every level of civil society - they are in the police, the fire, the schools, the military, the churches. Improvement almost never happens because government takes some drastic step - the great changes happen among the charities, at the local level. Who told you that government was the answer to all of your ills?

You go on:
Millennials are holding off on plans to marry, buy a home, and have children because they won’t be able to afford them.
Do you think it is easier to buy a home and have children if you are married? While an older statistic, at least one set of statistics shows that married people, with both spouses in the workforce, have much higher earnings than others, particularly single men and single women. If you are holding off marriage because of lack of money, it's based on perception, not reality.
Our society has progressed so that each generation expects a better standard of living than the one before it. However, for the first time in American history, it is very likely that this may not be the case....
So lower your expectations. Rent an apartment for awhile, rather than buying a home. Buy a used car, or no car and live in a city.

In fact, lower ALL of your expectations. Stop going to colleges that cost small fortunes to attend because you want all the amenities at those colleges. Want to afford education? Go to a local branch of a state college - the one near me has yearly full-time tuition, room, and board at an estimated $8,478 per year. It has very few amenities, but it has good professors and a quality education. Work during the summer instead of traveling, hanging out with friends, sitting on social media, or complaining. Typically, colleges end at the end of May and go through Labor Day. That's roughly three months of earning time - 13 weeks, 40 hour weeks, at $7.25 an hour - that's $3,770 before taxes (which refund you can save in the Spring to add to next year's expenses). So, $5,500 a year for college. If that's ALL loans, you could graduate with less than $30,000 in debt - with low interest rates and generous payoff, you can pay off that debt like any other.

I think I could write virtual reams about your post. But, I am tired of it. You engage in so many assumptions, sweeping generalizations, and biased reasoning (and have other rhetorical issues which I am not sure how to name...), that it would take a book to answer them.

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