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Rather than write about economics today I would rather talk about our youths (“Utes” as my cousin Vinny would call them) and their thought process.  First I would like to say, GO UConn!  They won their 4th NCAA title in 15 years and their 2nd in the last 4 years last night.  Tonight the “Husky women” play Notre Dame in the women’s final trying for a college basketball 2’fer, men’s and women’s.  Go UConn!

I read yesterday that UConn’s Senior Captain Shabazz Napier chimed in regarding the “unionization” of Northwestern athletes, that the athletes should be paid and that they are not even fed well.  He said and was quoted, “To some credit, you feel like you want something in return… Like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I am starving.”

Really?  I’m sorry but I must call complete and total BULL on this.  I went to UConn from 1978-1982 when the basketball program was just becoming a force to be reckoned with.  I walked on and played varsity hockey my freshman year.  We practiced for 10 days during the winter break as did the basketball team.  During those 10 days we ate with the basketball team.  I have to say that for those 10 days I ate better than any time during my 4 years at school (except at my parents house on weekends).  2 years on their meal program in dorms and 2 years in an apartment where we cooked for ourselves.  I can still remember the months of Sept. and Oct. (before the first freeze) where I would buy a “bakers dozen” of sweet corn for $1 which was my food for the day (along Kraft mac and cheese for .19 cents per box) and looking back at the steak dinners we were fed with the basketball team with a longing stomach.  Other than the “inconvenience” of having set hours that we could eat in the cafeteria, we ate excellent food and the best part was that it was “all you could eat.”  We were young and hungry…they fed us as much as we wanted and the food never ran out.

Before getting to the meat of my topic, UConn back in the day had high hopes of a national ranking.  They had the best recruiting season of any team in the country when they signed Mike McKay and Cornelius Thompson, this was followed by Chuck Aleksinas.  The only thing that they lacked was a coach as Dom Perno was stuck in the 50’s and 60’s as we approached the 80’s.  As a side note, I sparred a 3 minute round of kickboxing with Chuck in 1982.  I must have hit him 100 times which must have felt like 99 mosquito bites and 1 ant bite as he was 6’11” and 280 or 290 pounds.  (I at the time had gotten my normal weight of 170 down to 137 for a tournament in Madison Square Garden).  He never hit me once but I have to say that if he had it would have been a disaster.  I can still remember the “wind” and the “sound” that was created by his “size 15” feet!  He wanted to go a second round…I had enough sense to know not to!

This is the problem today, our youth has been taught to feel “entitled.”  Entitled to everything.  Is it their fault?  No, probably not.  Our generation which was given everything from A-Z by our parents has and is teaching this next generation that they are “entitled.”  Our parents worked hard for everything and in comparison to today’s world…there was not a whole lot of “stuff” for them to buy.  Even if there was, the Great Depression and WWII rationing was still too fresh in our national memory to use credit.  If they couldn’t pay cash…they figured they didn’t need it.

Then along came our generation of the kids in the ’60’s and ’70’s.  We worked hard cutting lawns, shoveling driveways or doing whatever it was necessary to make a little money.  We grew up and new “stuff” had just started to become available.  Some of us paid cash and some of us used credit.  Today, the “ute’s” work ethic is gone.  There are lots and lots of new stuff yet a very large percentage of kids don’t work either because they don’t want to or they can’t find work.  Kids today rely on their parents to buy this latest “new stuff” for them and whether it’s done on credit doesn’t matter because “they got it.”

As for Shabazz “going to bed hungry,” as I said, I highly doubt it unless he has some very special dietary needs.  If it were me, I would work (which I did) during the summers to make some money.  He is a scholarship athlete that has everything paid for.  I went to UConn and paid for my own tuition and board my last 3 years as my dad paid for the first year (that was our deal).  Yes I took out student loans but I worked.  I forewent a 1/2 scholarship elsewhere because the “1/2 tuition” would have cost double what UConn cost at the time, I did what I had to.  My senior year I went to my last semester for 3 days when I realized I did not have enough money to make it until May.  I went back home and worked for a stone mason for 2 weeks (in Feb. the temp never ever rose above 20 degrees) and made enough to finish.  I did what I had to do…

…But this is not the case today, we as a nation no longer think like this.  We have had war after war all over the world but it was never “inconvenient” for us.  Nothing since WWII has been rationed or even in short supply.  The only shortage of anything ever was gasoline in 1973 and 1979.  Our national psyche unfortunately has totally “un” prepared us as a nation for what is mathematically coming.  We no longer know what it’s like to be inconvenienced, much less do without.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we were not able to “print and spend” dollars for trade because foreigners would not accept them?  Can you imagine the array of products that simply would not make it to the shelves of Walmart if we could not spend our dollars internationally?  This is going to happen at some point and to some extent.  Unfortunately in my opinion, what happened in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina will be a template for what will be seen in many cities and even towns across the country?

We were a great country that got “fat and lazy” and lived off the fat, then the muscle and now the bone of what was left to us by our predecessors.  We as a nation physically still have the ability to turn this around (financially not so much); mentally I am afraid this is no longer the case.  I’m pretty sure that we will look back at the current “lean times” and long for them.

P.S.  My wife Kathy took “3rd in show” last week with her painting and now plans to enter into several national competitions.  Each time she starts something new I can’t wait for it to be finished as her learning curve is as steep as any I’ve ever seen!