How the west learned to incentivize nonproductivity

For large numbers at the lower end of the spectrum (still quaintly referred to by British reporters as “working class”), the ritual of work — of lifetime employment as a normal feature of life — has been all but bred out by multigenerational dependency. At the upper end of the spectrum, too many of us seem to regard an advanced Western society as the geopolitical version of a lavishly endowed charitable foundation that funds somnolent programming on NPR. I was talking to a trustiefundie Vermont student the other day who informed me her ambition is to “work for a non-profit.”

“What kind of ambition is that?” I said, a little bewildered. But she meant it, and so do most of her friends. Doesn’t care particularly what kind of “non-profit” it is: as long as no profits are involved, she’s eager to run up a six-figure college debt for a piece of the non-action. The entire state of Vermont is becoming a non-profit. And so in a certain sense is an America that’s 15 trillion dollars in the hole, and still cheerfully spending away.

In between the non-profit class and the non-working class, we have diverted too much human capital into a secure and undemanding bureaucracy-for-life: President Obama has further incentivized statism as a career through his education “reforms,” under which anyone who goes into “public service” will have their college loans forgiven after ten years.