I see Comrade Burns has taken another page from John’s Little Red Book to hold forth yet again on his notion of making the United States a communal roadside bangles and holistic herbal healing stand. From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs or something. In the last episode, we discovered the reason kids aren’t buying bikes is because we don’t live in a worker’s paradise. Well I’d like to take a moment and interrupt John’s embryonic five-year plan to simply say, “Piffle.”
Essentially what John is claiming in his two-part Burnsafesto is that Millennials need more money and more free time to spend it in. He’s channeling Bernie Sanders, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was grooming himself for a 2020 run at the big top on Pennsylvania Avenue. He then goes on to say some complimentary things about slackers in general, and Italy and France specifically. John Burns, Making America France Again in 2020!
Left unchecked he can go on ad nauseum about all manner of utopian nonsense, if it’s not gun laws, it’s helmet laws or the value ascribed to labor and the history of the Protestant work ethic, with emphasis on Max Weber’s contribution to our misery. Next he’ll be advocating free love and wind-powered motorcycles. Cripes, remember when Ratio Rites took care of all the complicated stuff? Those were the days.
There was never a time in this country where people had both time and money. You might have time, you might have money, but you never had both unless you were a Rockefeller. My dad busted his ass, his dad busted his ass, all dads bust ass, or they had plenty of time and no money, and hopped trains to hobo camps. Ask John Steinbeck. It was a Thomas Hobbes world of nasty, mean, brutish and short but for the Baby Boomers who lived through the greatest increase of global wealth in world history, also known as a historical anomaly, and who came to expect this Big Rock Candy Mountain to last forever.
That would be John and my generation, and out of those millions of people there were a select few, an almost imperceptible few, who lived a life few can imagine, they were motojournalists for California-based motorcycle magazines. That would be John… And they had the world by the gonads!
… Right up until the world of print media went straight to hell in a handbasket. Thanks Al Gore…
So now, John, who glimpsed the good life at the pinnacle of western civilization’s beneficence, is disenchanted because the music stopped, and he has obtained an associate membership in the International Workers of the World (IWW), hums Woody Guthrie tunes to himself, and wants us all to use sustainable energy and become social democrats.
Cry me a river, Emma Goldman. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is making unmentionable gestures.
The fact is Millennials have plenty of money, it’s just not theirs, so what? This country is cash poor and we pre-order aircraft carriers. Why should Millennials be any different? Besides they have something better! I have one word for you, Benji: CREDIT! Kids today can’t walk through a college bookstore without having some company jam a credit card in their hot little freshman hands. They are nearly giving money away today, back in the halcyon days of the Carter administration you’d be paying double-digit interest rates on somebody else’s money. And what is all this griping about not having time?
Not having time is fighting WWII. Not having time is standing in bread lines during the Great Depression. Camping out at the local Apple store for the release of the iPhone X is not “not having time.” So, let’s just dispense with that wrongheaded notion right now.
I’ll tell you where things started to go wrong; the advent of electronic ignition and fuel injection. Much like the supplanting of Zippo lighters for Bics, and kids not routinely having a toolbox anymore to keep their crappy rides running, things got too easy, or disposable, or both. If you trace back the beginning of the end, you can date it back to the advent of smokeless powder. It used to be if you wanted to start a war and kill millions, you really had to work at it. Today? A handful of jokers can do it by turning a couple keys and pushing buttons.
Cripes, you can crash the world economy by selling bundles of Jack’s Magic Beans on the world exchanges until they find out there’s no beanstalk. It has gotten entirely too easy and consequence-free to be catastrophically stupid and unmotivated. If you know what a set of Carb-Stix are, you are made of the stuff that settled the West, if you have actually used them you are part of motorcycling’s Greatest Generation!
Time was if you wanted to ride, you had to know how to set points and do it. This meant you had to have a tool bag filled with tools you knew how to use. And you couldn’t be distracted by sexting with your prom date or playing Wonk Daddy III on your Palm Thing. You could sit there for hours on end reading Life magazine and go slowly insane or you could fix your ride. So you learned how to go outside and do shit! Like mix oil and gas together and twist the nuts off an ill-handling two-stroke. Back when the tires were chiseled from granite and gas was cheap, you pulled your fun up by its bootstraps.
The Russians reportedly undermined our electoral process with bots that promoted societal divisiveness, like advocating Texas secession and the return of open-class two-stroke MX bikes. And now Johnbot – a Franco-Italian slacker bot of all things – is advocating more leisure time and tripling everyone’s pay. I just want to say I’m all in, I’ll take one of those new Z1 lookalike retro-rides, and if it’s not too much to ask, maybe a lunch date with Katy Tur. (Note to wife: Just kidding honey.)
Here is the problem in a nutshell: The population has roughly doubled since I was born, while the corresponding surface infrastructure to support their annoying road-clogging travel has not. More traffic, less fun. And then consider today’s kids, the onerous rules they have had to grow up with: more people, more rules, less fun. And there are a LOT more alternative activities that require considerably less investment in both time, money, and talent, than in the days of yor when the Earth’s crust was still cooling and John and I were fresh-faced youths. Couple this with John’s no-money-no time, “don’t start the revolution without me,” quasi-reality and you get what we got.
So here’s what I say: Defy convention, young people, and get a bike. Declare your independence from societal mediocrity and ride the wheels off the thing. Stand up on your hind paws and dare to be different. Go out on a date or something, strip a clutch basket bolt, bleed some brakes, embrace all life offers you!
Oh, and one last thing, ride hard, check your tire pressures, and look where you want to go.