Too often, the news is full of stories about anti-social, isolated young men resorting to gun violence in numbers that are far greater than any other American demographic.
No doubt about it, the nation is facing a serious social crisis. We are once again confronted by the horrible reality that our civil society has been torn apart by yet another evil act. Texas’s 18-year-old male committed the inexplicable and the unimaginable.
Sociologists point out that young men feel alienated from many of the once-ubiquitous civil and social institutions. This was only possible because millions of children were locked up and separated from their peers for at least a year by the pandemic. Is there any accountability for such a reckless decision?
Membership in local service clubs is declining both at a macro and a larger scale. Many communities across the country are experiencing a decline in church attendance, where young men can fellowship with one another. Nearly half of Boy Scouts members are now non-existent. Other examples are too numerous to list here. Too many young men feel isolated, isolated, and ignored. In some cases, they feel more defensive.
We should all be concerned that young men seem to be isolated from the “community” they have. These online communities encourage extremist views and eventually lead to radicalization.
As a father to three children and a citizen concerned about the welfare of my family, I have been thinking about this topic for some time. As I do so often, I sought out answers and searched for solutions. It has been a topic I have discussed with men I trust in my life. There are many opinions. Perhaps our young men lack the brotherhood that has historically linked men to civil society.
This is an example of a strange thought that might come from a manic-contrarian and committed free-market capitalist like myself. But could the fact that America’s labor Unions have been in decline for more than 40 years be responsible for the steady and downward economic and social decline of American males?
The blue-collar jobs that these young men had as their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers were no longer available to them, as they are no longer able to support their families. They didn’t vanish, they were sent to other countries with cheaper labor so that Americans could purchase cheap plastic items from Europe, Japan, and China. But at what price?
This phenomenon, which economists refer to as the gales for creative destruction, is a supposed irreversible phenomenon. It’s something I have used more than once, and I don’t object. It came with a significant cost, however.
Perhaps the lack of a sense of brotherhood (or value-added solidarity) among young men in many unskilled jobs has resulted in the second generation of males who are disconnected from the camaraderie and real meaning of what they do. Because work is a source of real virtue, especially when it has value for others. These macro forces, which look a lot like economic determinations, have left our boys without purpose in this new world of social destruction.
My first and foremost identity is American. I’m also an economic conservative. A Republican is a distant third. While I am a strong advocate for free markets and lower taxes wherever possible, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that private industry can embrace organized labor as a civil and societal benefit, as well as as an economic and moral positive, given the growing dysfunction around us.
Maybe our society needs a paradigm shift in how “capital” and labor are viewed. Entrepreneurial capitalism is the best way for working families to have the morality and prosperity they desire. No other economic system or arrangement is even close. We can’t ignore that there is serious dysfunction in the world. Civil society is in crisis. The current state of affairs cannot be continued.
There are things that are more important than the bottom of a ledger sheet. Reintroducing this generation to a brotherhood centered around meaningful work, purposefulness, and the intrinsic value of male friendship, teamwork, and the indispensable benefits mentorship can bring are just a few of the positive outcomes that could be achieved.
Many of our great-grandfathers, fathers, grandfathers, and uncles had worked in labor unions. Perhaps it is time to resurrect this American institution which was once a bedrock. It helped us build a civilized, organized, and more civil society. It should be modernized to reflect today’s information-based, decentralized digital economy.
I propose a more ethical economic system and social structure that recognizes that we all stand on the other’s side, and are fighting for America’s soul. We all have an interest in each other’s success as Americans. We cannot play against them or each other.
All of us must work together for a future of unprecedented economic prosperity. More doors must be opened to allow future generations of men access to a stronger and more stable economy. This will create meaningful, purposeful, and hopeful jobs, as well as better opportunities and less isolation.