The American Dream has lost its hustle: Young workers just aren’t buying it

Felix Salmon at Axios: Even before the pandemic, young people mistrusted capitalism. “Now, with a strong labor market at their backs, they are increasingly proud of, and being lauded for, turning the tables on their employers – the exploited have become the exploiters.” The behavior now called “quiet quitting” is nothing new: the phrase “phoning it in” dates back to 1938 “and the novelty then was the phone, not the conduct.”

According to Axios, what’s new is that people used to be ashamed of slacking off and now they’re proud of it.

The 1999 movie “Office Space” came this close to making slacking off heroic – but then, in the final scene, it turns out that the protagonist, Peter Gibbons, is perfectly happy to put in an honest day’s work after all. It wasn’t the all-American paragon of hard work he was rebelling against, just soulless corporate drudgery.

Hard work used to be part and parcel of the American Dream. For millions of younger workers, that’s no longer the case.

I wonder whether young people are really lazier today, or have they returned to a more healthy view of work being a part of a balanced life? Most people shouldn’t live to work; they should work to live.

Mitch Wagner @MitchW