I recently read about a 23-year-old woman in Spain who sued her parents because they refused to continue to support her. She was living at her parents’ home, had no money, never finished high school, and testified that her parents were putting undue pressure on her to get a job.
She had held a couple jobs briefly but she quit because – and I quote – "It was too much work." Which is kind of the whole point.
The lazy young lady may win her case because the average age at which Spaniards leave home is 29, so she should have six more years of mooching left.
Spain is not alone in this outbreak of laziness. More than 20 million Americans between the ages 18-31 are still living with their parents. And I recently read that in the future a good chunk of American males may never have a job during their entire lives!
I personally know a 30-year-old man who has sired two children, lives with his mother, and apparently feels in no rush to get a job. I've had another young man tell me at age 25 that he feels burned out and hopes to retire at age 30.
I can't relate to any of this. In high school I worked every summer. For two summers I picked citrus alongside Hispanic crews who could work rings around me. These Hispanics must not have been related to the Spaniards, because where I might pick 30 boxes of lemons per day they'd pick 50.
Between my junior and senior years I got the worst job ever. I had to crawl under lemon trees, dig a basin around each tree, and paint around its circumference 18 inches high to prevent insects from crawling up the trees. The toxic "paint," which I'm quite sure contributed to my health problems later in life, was a nasty substance I can still smell 50 years later.
For this work I got paid the princely sum of $1.25 per hour.
As a youngster I also worked at a gas station, mowed lawns, delivered newspapers, raised show steers, and ran a rabbit business that multiplied rapidly. In the summers between my three collegiate years I worked in the oil fields and during Christmas and spring breaks, when everyone else went home, I worked at the university livestock facilities.
Through it all I gained a work ethic that has served me well. I'm 67 now and plan on working until I take “The Long Nap.”
The unwillingness to work entry-level jobs by young people today has created a shortage of workers in agriculture. Farmers have had to plow under entire crops because they couldn't find anyone to pick them, and many farmers are now switching to crops that can be picked by machines.
Ranchers tell me it's getting harder to find good cowboys and many have switched to hiring cowgirls. Even illegal workers are passing up farm and ranch work for higher-paying jobs in big cities.
The shortage of milkers is forcing many dairies to switch to robotic milking machines, and it's predicted that by next year the agricultural robot industry will be a $16 billion industry.
But inventors can never build a robot to replace the cowboy, can they?
Helicopters are already being used in Texas to gather cattle, and drones could be used for the same purpose by ranchers who can't afford copters. I can envision squeeze chutes that automatically squeeze and release on the their own, and sensors are already available that turn a bright red when an animal has a high temperature.
Perhaps a drone will fire a bullet that contains antibiotics at a sick feedlot animal, thereby replacing pen riders.
As robots proliferate, Americans will live much easier lives – but that doesn't mean it will be any less dangerous. I have a lazy 35-year-old friend who tripped over the round robotic orb that was automatically vacuuming his carpet, and he broke his ankle. His unemployment benefits will soon end, but he likes not working so much that he'd like to turn it into a permanent position.
I told him if he was looking for opportunities in the non-employment sector that Spain is nice this time of year. Last I heard, he was looking for a nice, wealthy Spanish family to adopt him.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers may log on to www.LeePittsbooks.com to order any of Lee Pitts’ books. Those with questions or comments for Lee may write to him in care of this publication.