The Generational Loss of American Values

It’s important to understand this new generation of Americans known for their non-American label in John Zogby’s book, First Globals. Born between 1979-1994, today’s college students and young professionals, this 72 million strong age cohort (the biggest since the baby boomers), also known as millennials, thinks of themselves as global citizens, not American citizens. To those of us with strong national identity and a deeply rooted belief in American exceptionalism, this lack of shared values by today’s young millennials is disturbing.

Shaped by the 9-11 terrorists attacks, their response was totally different than most of us in other generations; they looked beyond our borders when the rest of us were turning inward and rallying around the flag. This generation prefers the World Cup to baseball, the Internet to television, and they have no loyalty to American made products. Hence, they’ve been dubbed ‘buyers without borders.’

They see an America that could not defeat its enemy (global terrorism), and an America that is no longer the lone superpower in either militaristic or economic terms, especially since the financial collapse of 2008. First globals also see a crisis of confidence in familiar institutions, with scandals undermining their trust (whether it be Catholic priests, scout leaders, coaches, or government and corporate scandal and corruption).

Zogby notes they’re the first generation born and nurtured in crisis. Their parents coddled them at home and have ended up delaying natural progression into adulthood. Therefore, many millennials are still living at home. But all of these factors made them one of the most motivated generations desiring to make a positive difference in their damaged world. Zogby’s polling shows 1 in 3 globals prefers to be called a ‘citizen of planet earth.’ He claims to move them on to independence requires a ‘sustained effort by the greater village.’ That ought to send shudders down your spine. Hillary’s ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child has paralyzed an entire generation of youth into being dependent on others for their success as adults.

First Globals is co-authored by Joan Snyder Kuhl who started a company called Why Millennials Matter, calling herself a millennial matchmaker for businesses. She’s turned teams around to get high performance from these young people in the workforce who often experience a major values-generation gap with leaders and managers in corporate America. One of the goals of the book is to help older generations understand how to work with, motivate, and harness this next generation that often appears selfish, unmotivated, and flaky.

Our stagnant economy is lingering to the point of risking millennials becoming the ‘lost generation.’ A subgroup has been dubbed ‘college educated not going anywhere’ or CENGA. When social engineers decided everyone needed a college education to be ‘successful,’ coupled with NAFTA gutting the U.S. manufacturing sector, these CENGAs obediently took the bait and are one of the most educated groups of any generation. They and their parents have plunged deep into debt to get that college education.

But they graduated into a world where they cannot find jobs, must less well-paying jobs that align with their education, goals and values. Globals are some of the most socially conscious Americans, in-touch with non-governmental organizations, passionate about solving social problems, and un-phased by both borders as well as vertical bureaucratic thinking and decision-making.

They’re also the most digital and technologically savvy generation, opening the door to globals becoming some of the most innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers, well-positioned to be the world’s problem-solvers. Many have started companies of their own making products that have already revolutionized the way we think, work, and play. They seek cross-cultural experiences and the traditional 9 to 5 workday means nothing to them. They work in a 24/7 non-stop environment. There are no boundaries between work and home, their personal life is infused with their work, which is why they like socially responsible companies and desire work assignments that offer opportunities for global philanthropy, like social entrepreneurial ventures that aid third world countries.

Millennials have traveled abroad, are the most racially diverse generation as well as the most tolerant. This poses problems for traditional values like traditional marriage. They’re the first generation where the majority believes it must learn to speak a foreign language and the first that doesn’t need ‘diversity training.’ Millennial women are the least likely of any generation of women before them to not stay at home and bear children or raise families. Zogby calls them the “transition to the next America.”

But for those with strong traditional values, a sense of American patriotism, and belief in the pillars of America’s founding values, the first globals pose the greatest challenge to retaining those values. Who will bear children and raise the next generation, especially given the sacrifice of globals’ parents who gave them well-adjusted childhoods and helped them attain high levels of education? Of course, most of their education has been hijacked by the common core agenda that intentionally sought to make them global citizens loyal to no nation, including their own. It worked. Parents and families are no longer the dominant sources of values transmission. Public schools are.

Organized playtime?

First Globals says these workers had childhoods that were so structured to the point of being scheduled to death, so they know how to work and show-up on time, etc., but they lack the ability to work independently. They’re used to being given specific instructions (essentially follow orders), which seems to contradict the claim that they’re positioned to be the world’s leaders and problem-solvers.

Given these trends, Zogby concludes employers need to change their workplaces to accommodate millennials’ need for ‘organized playtime.’ Yet when you speak to employers, their number one problem is getting young people to show up on time and actually do their job. Not every job can accommodate the Google environment where group think playtime is a cleverly veiled workplace.

Globals also expect rapid advancement. Like so many young people, they expect instant gratification and to attain what their parents have immediately upon college graduation. There is no preparation for or tolerance of the concept of working your way up the ladder. They want to jettison straight to the top despite lacking practical training or the skills to warrant such positions.

But when they can’t show up on time and do their jobs without hand-holding, it’s no wonder businesses are straining to find and retain employees who can perform basic operations. How do retail companies, delivery systems, etc. adapt to make everything a group brainstorming session? Rugged individualism is dead. Doing hard things as an individual is also a foreign concept to these globals. It apparently takes a village to run a business, too.

Taxpayer subsidized aid to globals?

Zogby notes the U.S. is investing more money to train leaders in developing countries than they are in our own country. He says corporations need to provide start-up capital and see globals as an emerging market. Zogby says immediate presidential leadership as well as from Wall Street is needed to tap private equity and to create a global citizens fund of low-interest loans that are revolving and regenerating in order to avert a long-term crisis.

He suggests Wall Street rule breakers (in other words, law breakers) to provide training and oversight as part of the fund. He actually thinks this will restore globals’ trust in Wall Street. Really? Having law breakers work off their sentences by showing globals the ropes of their get rich quick schemes or exploitation of innocent investors is supposed to restore trust? Zogby also proposes the loans could be repaid through forgiveness of student loans. Why should taxpayers subsidize this generation when other generations’ wages remain stagnant, their debt hangs over them like a financial albatross to families, they also lack access to capital, and they’re being overtaken by a rising tax burden?

Future implications

Perhaps the most concerning trends for this millennial generation are their ‘gig’ mentality and the lack of desire to plant roots or start families. This has long-term implications for societal pillars like families and a sense of community as well as for government. The lack of roots changes home ownership, and hence the traditional property tax base that funds public schools and other government services. Though these young voters handed Obama his presidency, half of them still aren’t voting due to their distrust of politicians.

Open door

While many traditional values haven’t been retained by globals, conservatives have some golden opportunities to snag this generation and bring them into the fold. This millennial generation more than its predecessors hates bureaucracy and debt, values privacy, and lacks a trust in government and corporate America. Grassroots conservatives have populist values that connect with this generation – like eschewing debt and corporate cronyism along with abhorring NSA spying, the possibility of drones being used against Americans, the surveillance society, the intrusion and financial disaster of ObamaCare, and the abuses of executive power and taxpayer resources are all issues that can help conservatives band together with globals.

Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of nine turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.