Unemployment and Apathy Grow Poverty

Most Midwest farmers have spent the past week preparing for the spring planting season and closely monitoring soil temperatures in anticipation of #plant13.  There are a few things that I still need to get done before I head to the field, but I’ll admit, my energy level is low right now.

While eating my lunch on Friday, I was trying to figure out why I have less ambition than I used to.  Several thoughts came to mind:

  1. It’s been a long winter.  (Those early spring snowfalls dampened my spirits, even though I appreciate the moisture they brought.)
  2. I’m not a spring chicken any more.  (I’ve been farming for 50 years!)
  3. During the winter months, I’m less physically active even though hog chores keep me pretty busy.

Then I had the proverbial “light bulb moment…”  I believe government has played a large role in my recent frump.  It seems that apathy and anxiety has become a pandemic affecting our nation.  Why?

Breaking news on Friday, April 5, was that U.S. unemployment numbers are lower.  This sounds like good news until you realize that unemployment fell for all the wrong reasons – five times as many people quit looking for work than jobs that were created!  The job participation rate of “prime-age” workers, age 25 to 54, fell to match the lowest reading since 1984, according to CNN.

While taking a lunch break on Friday, I continued to wonder why fewer Americans are feeling the need to search for a job when I came across an article by Tim Elmore, author of Growing Leaders.  He makes a case for how adults are stealing ambition from kids:

“One of the most valuable commodities we can cultivate in this emerging generation of kids is ambition,” writes Elmore.  “By wanting our children and students to be happy, we may have created the most depressed population of kids in recent history. By leading them in this way, we have all but removed ambition in them…  Think about it. If I grow up in a world where almost everything has been given to me, or made easy—I start feeling entitled to it.”

Have Americans become so politically correct that we’re taking the will to learn away from our kids?  Every kid is different, yet many sports programs and educational endeavors try to treat everyone equally.  My own grandkids provide a great example. Some, like Devin and Jessica, have a passion for sports.  Carlie enjoys writing and dancing.  Darin enjoys hunting, fishing and gardening.  Zach is interested in wood working and mechanics.  Hallie, Lindi and Jessica are very artistic.  Sydney is an avid reader, while Quinten is a computer guru.

Each one of my grandchildren have different talents, skill sets and interests, but they’re driven to pursue their passions. That’s what we need!  We need to do away with “cookie cutter mentality,” which reminds me of the one-size-fits-all approach our government has taken to the school lunch program.

Speaking of government… I received a notification on Friday of an update from the Caffeinated Thoughts blog with news that Iowa Senator Brad Zaun filed a bill (Senate File 336) to repeal the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa State Board of Education.  Senator Zaun believes an increase in educational funding will not lead to an increase student performance.  He says he wants “real education change” and is quoted as saying, “This bill will increase student performance and give parents 100% choice.”

Regardless of whether you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, the fact remains that America is facing big issues that need to be addressed.  Unless we change current policies and attitudes, unemployment and poverty is only going to grow.  How can a nation maintain its position as a World Leader then?

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