A very unscientific study in the States has concluded that American men between the ages of 18-25 cannot do one quarter of the things their fathers could do. Our fathers, the study showed, could fix a fusebox, or a defective toilet plunger. They could also work with wood, change the oil in a car, or the tyre if it went flat on the road. They were handier around the house. And apparently, they had a lot more practical knowledge about how things worked, and how to fix them when they didn’t work.
Conversely, the study concludes that your average young man today is good at fixing up a big bowl of mac and cheese or ramen noodles after a huge night out drinking booze. Also, today’s generation is supposed to have made huge advances in video game playing skills and the pimping out of MySpace pages.
Is it true? Are today’s young men less skilled in practical matters than their fathers? Probably. In academic terms, the division of labour has worked hard in the last twenty years. There are many goods and services we enjoy as part of our modern life that we’d be utterly incapable of producing ourselves. We lack the knowledge to build a transistor or brew up our own Coke or make yoghurt and grow blueberries for breakfast. Does that mean we are less manly than our fathers?
Hmm. Well, in evolutionary terms, human beings develop the skills they need to survive. Cheap energy and cheap credit over the lat 100 years have made it pretty easy for just about anyone to have a great standard of living with very little practical knowledge about money, energy, or electricity. We suppose another name for this phenomenon might be “civilization.”
How much practical knowledge can a culture afford to forget? How safe it is to leave that practical knowledge in the hands of a few? If the oil collapse narrative is true, we may just find out in a few years time…
Markets and Money
Do young people today have less practical knowledge than their parents? Leave a message below.