Do Young People Work Hard?

May 15, 2006

Sen. Hillary Clinton apologized to her daughter yesterday for insensitive remarks she made about the work ethic of young people, according to the Associated Press.

In those recent remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Clinton said that young people today “think work is a four-letter word.”

In those remarks, she said young people have a sense of entitlement after growing up in a “culture that has a premium on instant gratification.”

The senator said that her daughter, Chelsea, phoned to complain after learning about the comments. The 26-year-old was hired in 2003 by McKinsey & Co. as a consultant, reportedly for a six-figure salary. She received a master’s degree from Oxford University after graduating from Stanford University in 2001.

“She called and she said, `Mom, I do work hard and my friends work hard,”‘ Clinton said Sunday.

When I first read Hillary’s comments, I immediately thought of the affluent suburban kids in my college who partied their asses off rather than studied. So I thought, “What’s so controversial about that? It’s true!”

But you know what? My husband and I as well as all our friends did work hard — often multiple jobs — to pay tuition, other bills and start a career. The senator’s comments really were a gross generalization.

I forgive her though. Clinton recently told students at Long Island University that she plans to introduce a bill that would ease their debt load. The proposal would limit loan payments to a certain percentage of their incomes.

I can’t think of a better way to repay hardworking young people. That, and health insurance for those unable to get it at work.