HART: Commencement reality speech

Ron Hart
Ron Hart

In yet another bad decision, an education administrator asked me to give a high school commencement speech. The principal must know I write a column; he obviously hasn’t read it.

When I questioned his wisdom, the principal said, “Just give the kids some sound graduation advice.” I asked, “Should I tell them I hear the Monsanto plant is hiring?” “No,” said the edu-crat, “encourage them. Tell them they can do anything.” “So I should lie? Have you seen most of these kids? They can’t do anything.” Most think Sharia Law is a no nonsense daytime TV judge show.

That’s the problem. Kids are getting pie-in-the-sky advice and, judging by obesity rates, they are also eating the pie.

Should I turn into Maya Angelou and tell entitled kids who graduated because of grade inflation, who think Mao Tse-Tung is the Asian equivalent of French kissing, who don’t read newspapers and who can’t find Syria on a map, that they can do anything? Or would a healthy dose of reality be preferable?

Guess which one I am going with.

Students should prepare for jobs. Maybe do one less Trail of Tears field trip, and learn about real jobs. Maybe let them do more Take Your Children to Work Days, unless the parents work in the adult film business. That’d just be awkward.

John Maloney is right about the misinformation we get as kids. Growing up, I really thought from watching TV cartoons that quicksand was going to be a bigger problem than it turned out to be. I was not prepared for real-life problems, like relatives who want to borrow money.

The top 5 percent of students in that class do not need me telling them they can do anything. They get it. The damage comes in pandering to the bottom half of the class who are led to believe “Just be yourselves and the world is your oyster.” They then say, “Why trade school? I’m told I’m the best white rapper in Calhoun County.”

That sort of coddling, false confidence is why half of American workers are unhappy and disappointed when they have to work hard at something. They inevitably view themselves as “victims” (a.k.a. Democrats). Intuition tempts us to call this “compassion,” which is really feel-good lies told to kids who take the onus off them and put the blame on others. It becomes a perpetual excuse.

Boys go to work out of school and are blindsided by reality. They never know what hit them; it’s like marrying a Kardashian.

Unrealistic expectations may be the reason suicide rates are up among middle-aged Americans, now outnumbering automobile accident deaths. Suicides are up a staggering 40 percent from 1999 to 2010 among whites. This is the generation of ninth place participation ribbon recipients who post the sandwich they had for lunch on Facebook. They confuse any effort with success. And their parents often don’t have the guts to let their kids face consequences.

Students are victims of a giant fraud: the government-run education system that has molded them for 12 gullible years. Public schools are government-run; teachers are government-hired; and government determines standards, pay, curricula and graduation requirements. Government seeks to produce compliant citizens it can someday rule without much pushback. Smart, independent thinkers are not wanted. Blowing smoke up your graduation gown serves government well.

The result is kids who are not prepared for life or for the workforce. Twenty million young “adults” between the ages of 18 and 34 still live at home with their parents. Most parents have child proofed their homes, but millennials still get back in.

The Greatest Generation was saving Europe from Nazi Germany at age 19 and asking nothing in return; kids today stay on their parent’s insurance till age 27. Kids are voting for socialist Bernie Sanders in droves, scared to death they may have to pay for something someday.

They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps. “Why work? The government or my parents will take care of me.” Kids watch reality TV shows like the “Deadliest Catch” and marvel at men who work hard each day.

Few lessons in school teach the value of hard work, ingenuity, gumption and entrepreneurship. Those lessons are as rare as Donald Trump bumper stickers in the faculty parking lot.

Teachers today spend more time helping students decide which bathroom they “most identify with” using, rather than which job they should prepare for so they can support a family. We need to start teaching the tenets of economics, so kids will stop being tenants in their parent’s basements.

Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at or visit