Have kids forgotten how to work? Have people? Ben Stein thinks so.


Actor, economist and writer Ben Stein can come across as somewhat of curmudgeon, but he's nearly always right. After lamenting that very few people these days, especially kids, have a strong work ethic, Stein actually suggests work camps as a means of instilling self-discipline and drive in this recent column:

At these camps, young people would be taught how to get up and get dressed in the morning when the alarm goes off, instead of going back to sleep. After being made to eat breakfast, they'd go shovel cow manure or dig ditches or sort laundry or mail -- actually work every day for eight weeks in the summer ...

This dinner would be followed by a very short lecture or movie about the merits of work, preferably by someone who actually works and has done well in life by working. Once at camp, the campers couldn't leave except for a verifiable death in the family, and then only for three days, which would be tacked onto their stay.

Seem harsh? I kind of think so, but I suspect that Stein is partly joking. In any case, his argument certainly seems to have merit. But I would suggest a different solution: What if every high school kid had to take an entrepreneurship class and run their own small business -- This way, they'd develop their own drive and be responsible for their own schedules -- grades would be doled out based on profitability.

I like that idea more because, at some point, everyone has to develop their own work ethic -- It can't all be based on digging ditches for The Man. The Man can't make you pay off your credit card every month or open a ROTH IRA.

In any case, I'd send Stein's column to all the lazy kids you know.