A recent kerfuffle on the gossip pages involved the engagement of 65 year old Dennis Quaid to his 26 year old girlfriend. It’ll be his fourth marriage and her first. Typing “Dennis Quaid” into Twitter’s search field offered, as the third suggestion, “Dennis Quaid Gross.” Click on through, if you care to visit the worst place in the world.

Nestled in among all the reactors are scolds who suggest that Quaid is somehow taking advantage of this young woman (who is a PhD student, for what that’s worth) – as if she’s too young to know that she shouldn’t marry a (rich, famous, fit, attractive) 65 year. Because… well, who knows, other than that they find it gross.

This idea that she’s “too young to know better” is an odd paternalism in a time when the social narrative-constructors are pushing the “wisdom” of teenagers like Greta Thunberg and David Hogg, and advancing the idea that the voting age should be lowered to sixteen. On the other hand, there’s an almost schizophrenic concurrent narrative that college students are too young to be exposed to ideas or words they find uncomfortable (see: deplatforming, safe spaces, trigger warnings), that their decision to take on student debt in pursuit of a college education needs to be remediated with public money, that they need to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age twenty-six, that fraternities should be done away with, and that the smoking age should be raised to 21.

Society is increasingly being structured to treat and excuse young adults as children, at least in terms of consequences. Responsibility is delayed, and consequences are displaced, reassigned, or socialized.

The millennials who are the beneficiaries of this premise of authority without responsibility are happy to advance the trend. They are barking back at those who are calling them out with “Ok, Boomer,” a phrase meant to mock and dismiss, as if such observations don’t carry weight because they’re made by “old people” who don’t understand the plight of today’s millennial. Even in this, they eschew the responsibility of defending their views, while asserting that they should be in control of things.

Authority without responsibility is, not coincidentally, a cornerstone of socialism and socialistic thought. David Mamet called socialism the “abdication of responsibility,” and the popularity of openly socialist Bernie Sanders, “I have a plan for that” empress-wannabe Elizabeth Warren, and “Squad” leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is directly traceable to millennials’ enamorment with dumping risk, responsibility, and living costs onto the collective. Meanwhile, the practically costless amplifier known as social media has made people think their opinions-of-the-moment, half-baked ideas, and “feelz” are a lot more valid and matter a lot more than they actually do.

Born of this dichotomy are such as the campus activists who recently shouted down Wall Street Journal columnist Heather Mac Donald at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA. Across the nation, students at top-tier universities are actively campaigning against free speech, against the free exchange of ideas, against open and honest debate, and against anyone that dares suggest that their lives aren’t all that bad. Their stunning lack of self awareness is mirrored by their darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent plaint that she’s tired of being characterized as solely being about “free stuff.”

Here’s the gag about socialism/communism in the modern age: No one even bothers talking about the first half of Marx’s maxim, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” except as an abstract “other,” who has endlessly deep pockets and is expected to pay for everything.

When was the last time you heard any of the progressives suggest that “free college” should go hand-in-hand with an obligation to study that which best matches a student’s abilities and talents to society’s need? America is facing a shortage of nearly half a million welders by 2024. Why aren’t Warren, Sanders, AOC and the other progressive taste-makers proposing a government careers ministry, that determines what those entering adulthood study and do, and mandate half a million kids of college age go to welding school? Why aren’t their supporters demanding this?

Because that would involve accepting responsibility for their political advocacy. They want to socialize society, but only insofar as it benefits them, off-loads personal responsibility, puts others on the hook for their choices – good, bad, or terrible, and lets them continue to live in a gray zone between childhood and adulthood.

Thus, we are supposed to heed the words of Greta and David, but we are also supposed to shield their ears from opposing viewpoints. We are supposed to fund college with tax dollars, but dare not question the degree and career choices of those getting the free ride. We are supposed to accept without even daring to comment certain life decisions of teens and tweens, but if a twenty-six year old PhD student chooses ‘poorly’ in the opinion of some, she’s not old enough to know better.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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