Guest Post: Spoiled Teenager Syndrome

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Is masking risk, cost and consequence a strategy that leads to success? No; it is a pathway to catastrophic failure.

What are the core characteristics of the spoiled teenager? The conventional view is that the spoiled teen "gets everything they want." In my view, the key characteristic of Spoiled Teenager Syndrome is that risk, cost and consequence have been masked.

This is a systemic point of view, meaning that the masking of risk, cost and consequence help us understand not just the eventual failure of spoiled teenagers but the eventual failure of every group or enterprise that masks risk, cost and consequence as a strategy to paper over an unsustainable Status Quo. This includes families, companies, states and nations.

The spoiled teen is spoiled precisely because the risk, cost and consequence of their choices and actions are suppressed by Mommy and/or Daddy. Since Mommy and/or Daddy diligently cover the cost and mask the eventual consequence of Junior's unrealistic expectations and poor choices, the risks created by Junior's choices and lifestyle are also masked. Junior naturally assumes Mommy and/or Daddy will bail him out of every scrape and "make it right" at no cost to Junior.

Masking risk, cost and consequence creates an illusory world that eventually crashes on the unforgiving rocks of reality. Anyone who knows parents who have spoiled their kids has stories that beggar the imagination of those who have no choice but to live in the real world. In one such instance within our circle of friends, the daughter who was caught shoplifting told her Mom that she did not want to go to court, and Mom had to do something so she wouldn't have to face any consequence from her actions.

This 16-year old apparently believed that Mommy could push risk, cost and consequence aside in all cases; even the law should give way if it proved inconvenient or painful.

Are the values, experiences and skills spoiled teens receive going to help them navigate adulthood, or will they encourage a state of permanent adolescence? When will Mommy and Daddy stop hovering, warding off risk, cost and consequence? We know the answer: when they are finally unable to do so.

Did all their "help" masking risk, cost and consequence actually aid their child in the long-term? Or did it cripple the child by leading him into a false sense of security, an illusory state where someone will always save you from consequence?

What sort of skills to assess and manage risk does the spoiled teen have in hand when risk has been cloaked? How can the teen understand cost and trade-offs when the true costs of their lifestyle have been hidden? How can the teen navigate adult life, which is characterized by taking responsibility for one's actions and being accountable to others, when the consequences of his choices have been smoothed away by Mommy and Daddy?

One intrinsic characteristic of parents who have masked risk, cost and consequence is that they do not perceive themselves as having spoiled their children. Instead, they see themselves as "good parents" who are protecting their children from the unpleasant rough edges of life. In their view, there is plenty of time later in life to learn about risk assessment, short-term and long-term trade-offs, costs (both financial and emotional), accountability, realistic appraisals and consequence.

These parents seem blind to the reality that their coddling and hovering have left their children disastrously ill-prepared for adulthood. If there is any recipe for guaranteed unhappiness, it is nurturing expectations that are wildly at odds with what real life offers. Risk and return are indeed causally linked.

I have watched in amazement as coddled 19-year olds taking a few classes at community college and dreaming of rock stardom confidently declare that they would be OK with being a firefighter in a wealthy city because the starting pay was $80,000. That there are 1,000 applicants for every opening did not seem to register in this young man's assessment, nor did his inability to clean up a weedy backyard; he stopped after an hour or so because there was no consequence to a sorrowfully half-baked effort.

I grieve for young people so ill-prepared for a recessionary economy, not to mention marriage, managing scarce income and capital and a hundred other aspects of unsubsidized adulthood. Their parents have essentially robbed them of the slow and relatively safe part of the learning curve, where you get fired for being late at 16 years of age rather than at 26.

Is it any wonder that many young people are boiling with frustration when they exit college and the protected enclave of their parents' home to find a world that doesn't respond to their desires for creative expression and their long list of likes and dislikes, i.e. demands?

On the other side of the ledger, I have seen quiet young men and women, residents in youth homeless shelters, who received no buffering at all between the teen years and unforgiving adulthood. Abused at home or simply abandoned, they hit the road as the only alternative open to them. Penniless and without family support, they often face bleak choices. Their appraisals (in my limited experience) are by necessity realistic. Of course they are hurting; but ironically, perhaps, they are in some ways better prepared to navigate adulthood than teens who have yet to be exposed to risk, cost and consequence.

Is masking risk, cost and consequence a strategy that leads to success? No; it is a pathway to repeated catastrophic failure. What is the Central Planning strategy being pursued by our Central State and the Federal Reserve? Masking risk, cost and consequence.

Masking risk, cost and consequence is disastrous not just for teens, but for entire nations.

My new book Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now available in print and Kindle editions--10% to 20% discounts.
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Thu, 01/03/2013 - 12:54 | 3118945 IvyMike
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But it's acceptable for capitalists to mask EXTERNALITIES, i.e., risk, cost and consequences?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 12:57 | 3118952 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

Read much?

"the masking of risk, cost and consequence help us understand not just the eventual failure of spoiled teenagers but the eventual failure of every group or enterprise that masks risk, cost and consequence as a strategy to paper over an unsustainable Status Quo. This includes families, companies, states and nations"

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:04 | 3118975 icanhasbailout
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This article is so appropriate given Chris Christie's spoiled brat rant from yesterday. "Waa waa the rest of the nation should suck up the costs of our risks and pay for our lack of sensible risk management policies!"

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:10 | 3119004 trav777
trav777's picture

hell, half of that $60B he wanted was probably his personal buffet tab

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:25 | 3119064 economics9698
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IvyMike “But it's acceptable for capitalists to mask EXTERNALITIES, i.e., risk, cost and consequences?”

Hey dumb ass this web site wants to remove the Federal Reserve and federal government market intervention so that the full consequences of irresponsible behavior are felt aka bankruptcy.

You are a idiot, look at the arrow count.


Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:29 | 3119078 IvyMike
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If we go by your standard of a popularity contest, what's that make you in regard to Obama's election count results?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:51 | 3119167 TWSceptic
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The difference is, people on this site generally vote rationally instead of based on emotions.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:52 | 3119180 economics9698
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I voted for Ron Paul then Gary Johnson.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 21:17 | 3119216 IvyMike
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I wanted Ron Paul to show up in his Texas Ranger's White Stetson to fulfill his Statist-rights role as my bedroom chaperone.

"The STATE of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like SEX, using its own local standards."

~Ron Paul
Aug 12, 2003

P.S. Looks like 18 people so far hate LOL! Paul's Statist-Rights screed is all right here, these last 10 years:

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 21:26 | 3120749 akak
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My worst fears have just been confirmed --- StarFleet has just issued an official pronouncement that due to a horrible and unprecedented transporter accident, AnAnonymous, LetThemEatRand and MaxFischer have just been fused into one single individual.

All residents of earth are hereby warned to flee the planet.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 23:58 | 3121084 TheFourthStooge-ing
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The stinkularity is near.

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 00:11 | 3121101 akak
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It is more non-american US 'american' gravitational can-kicking and blobbing-up.  Always farming the stellar core and extorting the weak force.

Stinkularity being muchlike roadsides of Chinese shitizenism fabled past and present --- blackness and no possibility of escape.  Once beyond the squat-event horizon, final dark outcome is ass-ured.

Alas, alas, Planck's Constant alas. 

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:11 | 3119013 GMadScientist
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Exactly. The fat fuck wasn't exactly hit by a massive was well-forecast weather disaster...but whocouldanode?!

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:14 | 3119029 Temporalist
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I have to say I listened to his speech, and while I understand the sentiment of ZHers on his request for "relief" the main points were that why does NJ and NY get punished for many months, those very states that provide so much in guv revenue to fund relief for other state's disasters and who step up for other state's regardless of partisan politics, when other states disasters get "relief" immediately.


It is not just a double standard it seems spiteful; and the bite off your nose to spite your face kind.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:33 | 3119096 icanhasbailout
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Because the request is absolutely outrageous. $37B for New Jersey alone, more than their entire annual state budget?


Have you seen what he plans to use the money for? A great deal of the request is to cover private losses that should have been insured. Another large chunk is for future risk mitigation, which is no one's business but New Jersey's own.


Christie is exploiting a tragedy in order to engage in a looting of the public Treasury. It's shameful in the extreme, and deserves nothing but contempt. The fact that he has politicized the issue so while complaining about others' politics makes his behavior even more odious.


New Jersey should get nothing, as a lesson to others that if your requests are not reasonable they will be rebuffed.


Besides, we don't have the money - we're flat fucking broke. This is a not-insignificant point that seems to escape all these pigs at the public trough.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:00 | 3119194 Temporalist
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Whoa ease back on the reins I agree with that all.  I'm not defending the "plan" itself just the rationale for his argument that why should they be treated any different, if not better, than other states.

I know there is no money but the precedent was set and now suddenly they want to renege on their own "rules" (not surprising really).  The "not having money" never stopped them before incidentally.

I am curious to see what happens with the next "disaster" and how the funds are handled.  And isn't FEMA enough?  What are they there for to take away guns and charge cell phones?  Is that why their budget is so big?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:44 | 3119428 glenlloyd
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States unable to budget for these kinds of events are nothing more than spoiled teenagers. The fed govt has for too long led them to believe that 'mommy and daddy' can protect them from their bad choices...and not being able to fiscally cope with this kind of disaster is their own fault.

This is nothing more than a conscious choice to live where the threat of these types of events can take place. If you want to live there then you are accepting the consequences of living there.

States who've gotten into bed with the fed govt on funding to the point that they can be manipulated by the loss of said fed funding deserve the consequences of those actions. States who are not reliant on the fed govt will fare better in the long run and their independence is less likely to come under threat.

Just cuz Chris Cristie has managed to 'buffet' away all the NJ funds doesn't mean the fed should step in and pick up a porky tab.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:45 | 3119435 kaiserhoff
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Well said Kitty Cat.

There is an infinite list of reasons to hate libtards, but these idiots are just completely out of touch with reality.  Everything about Joisy, New Yawk, and Calipornia is over-hyped and out of control.  Time for them to crash back to earth.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:22 | 3120043 Svener
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But he is a republican and fundamentally doesn't not believe in that. Is there any where we can find what the dollars will go?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:49 | 3119734 Bad Attitude
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Another component of the apparent lack of interest in getting disaster aid for New Jersey and New York is that Dear Leader is still president. If Sandy had happened on Bush's watch, there would have been 24/7 news coverage of the disaster until the Federal government was dropping bags of FRNs out of helicopters over the disaster area. Instead, Sandy happened on Dear Leader's watch. Dear Leader showed up, was seen walking hand-in-hand with Chris Christie on the beach, and the media was satisfied. The media is not going to report anything that would hint of criticism directed at Dear Leader.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:14 | 3120022 Pants McPants
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You just summarized the problem with centralized economic management.

Funny to read Christie fiegn shock at not getting his money's worth.  Unfortunately, as a Statist, the only lesson Christie is likely to learn is he who takes first takes best. 

Tragedy of the Commons.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:26 | 3119069 Stuart
Stuart's picture

AND did anyone notice, no crack reporter ever asked the question of exactly what will this money come from, not one!

They just don't get it.  Uncle Same is broke and counterfeiting to make ends meet.  They just don't comprehend where money comes from. 

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:46 | 3119441 kaiserhoff
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You dare question Snooki?  Nice avatar;)

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:10 | 3119008 NotApplicable
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Obviously not enough to understand what capitalism is. With this logic, we could state any evil in the world, attach the word capitalist to it, then ignore the fact that the evil is not a product of capitalism, but rather, other behavior by someone who engages in capitalism.

But of course, when one fails to apply actual meaning to words, resorting instead to scare-mongering imagery, well it's all an attempt to appear smart by looking very, very dumb.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:21 | 3119050 greyghost
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oh no not charles hugh-whatever blathering on and on and on. i swear this ass is paid by the word. god help us.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:58 | 3119210 ZeroAvatar
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GAWD, I know!  These 300 word diatribes should be banned!


We need one-syllable sentences like 'ook', 'eek' and 'gimme' that our paralyzed minds can somewhat comprehend./s

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:23 | 3119059 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

Let them eat birth defects!

Pollutants' role in birth defects becomes clearer.
Nature. 18 July 2011

Ambient Air Pollution and Risk of Birth Defects in Southern California.
American Journal of Epidemiology. Volume 155 Issue 1, pp. 17-25.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:57 | 3119202 jon dough
jon dough's picture

Pollutants role...?

"We only see the high levels of pollutants in the placenta, but we don't know if it's a true causal relationship," cautions reproductive health scientist Aiguo Ren of the Institute of Reproductive and Child Health at Peking University in Beijing, one of the authors of the new study."

Ambient air...?

"In conclusion, our results suggest that, in southern California, exposure to increased levels of ambient carbon monoxide during pregnancy may contribute to the occurrence of ventricular septal defects and exposure to increased levels of ozone may elevate the risk of aortic artery and valve defects, and possibly also of pulmonary artery and valve anomalies and of conotruncal defects. While our results for cardiac defects are supported by the specificity of the embryologic and exposure timing and some evidence from animal data, these initial findings need to be confirmed by further studies."

So, correlation does not necessarily equal causation?

Needed to link 2 journals to get to that point?

What was your point?


Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:15 | 3119283 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

"correlation does not necessarily equal causation"

I've seen this common capitalist attempt to mask externalities before. Maybe you should take a statistics class.

"Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint."

~Edward Tuft
Statistician, Yale University

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:53 | 3119473 jon dough
jon dough's picture

He also included another definition:

"Empirically observed covariation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causality."

See? He and I used a form of the word "necessary". How about that? Words are fun.

His point - with which I agree, FWIW - was that when someone says "correlation IS not causation", it makes for an incomplete and erroneous statement. I think we could both agree with that sentiment.

I was just trying to dispel your own pronouncement in your second sentence that "pollutants' role in birth defects becomes clearer" when the authors you cite are less than certain.

You actually believe that all economic systems do not use Capital as properly understood?



Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:02 | 3119490 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

You actually think pollutants don't harm?

Why are you trying to mask risk, cost and consequences?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:57 | 3119205 Temporalist
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So you have a birth defect resulting from pollutants?  Let me guess, you have no brain and only a brain stem right?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:22 | 3119291 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

Are you, like some spoiled teenager, trying to mask the harm you've caused other people?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:28 | 3119638 SilverDOG
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We've have a shill !

Good luck IvyDike, you have bitten far more pillow than you can chew. HAa haaa haa !

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 16:04 | 3119790 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

A shill for clean air and clean water? Sure!

Problem, pollution shill?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:26 | 3119323 Acet
Acet's picture

Look mate, Capitalism fails because in a system that celebrates greed, politicians and law officers will not be incorruptible, so the most effective way to maximize capital accumulation is to fix the rules and their enforcement.

It's just as blind to blame all the evils of the World on Capitalism as it is to blame it all on the corruption of political and judicial institutions while ignoring huge effect that Capitalism had in causing them.


Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:06 | 3118987 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

The free markets don't work like that.  You are talking nonsense when you claim the free market masks risk and consquence.  Try again.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:14 | 3119028 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

I've heard that ideological perfection has been reached in a place called heaven too. Meanwhile, back to empirically observed reality.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:40 | 3119414 Central Bankster
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The fact that you think we practice capitalism tells me you should take a little more time reading and less time attacking others. 

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:00 | 3119496 IvyMike
IvyMike's picture

You sound so Soviet about that.

In your logic, critiquing Communism, i.e., attacking others, is verboten if it offends a practitioner.

Did you gradjinate from a public skool or sumthin', Mr. Politically Correct?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:31 | 3119666 SilverDOG
SilverDOG's picture

You do appear completely grasp addicted.

Any grander fractionalization have you?


Thu, 01/03/2013 - 14:44 | 3119429 MachoMan
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Exactly...  there is this unfettered love for the academic concept of capitalism without the slightest acknowledgment of what happens in the real world when the starting gun is fired...  I realize I harp on it quite a bit, but I'm really sick of seeing it...  The paradox of capitalism is that the normalization of profits never willingly occurs by rational actors...  ergo collusion and inter-meddling (public and private). 

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:18 | 3120035 Pants McPants
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How does eBay and Craigslist work, then?  How about black markets?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:47 | 3120119 MachoMan
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Aside from missing the point of my comment (and attempting to cherry pick representative markets), were you referring to the market activities outside of nigerians trying to get me to western union them some money or otherwise scamming me?  Or the transaction fees involved?  [this is not an economic system; further, you'll notice that most producers stay away from marketing on those sites for fear of margin compression/actual competition...  it's only secondary sales or defects that end up there for a discount]

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 18:20 | 3120216 Pants McPants
Pants McPants's picture

"The paradox of capitalism is that the normalization of profits never willingly occurs by rational actors...  ergo collusion and inter-meddling (public and private)"

Yeah, completely possible I misread the above comment - the word 'never' piqued my interest.  Of course I realize an instance does not disprove your statement, however, eBay and Craigslist are good examples of rational actors accuring profits based upon mutually beneficial exchange.

No sarcasm intended; and my apologies if I misread your post.

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 00:28 | 3121116 MachoMan
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Ebay and Craigslist are mediocre micro examples of markets working for very particular goods and services...  in some instances they're actually auctions, but in many they're simply marketing formats...  throw in scammers, shill bidders, gray market items, bing cash back (god that was awesome) etc., and they're not so rosie nor apples to apples.  Aside from the fact that selling granny's sterling tea pot or otherwise desperately getting rid of stuff slightly too good for a yard sale/dumping off at goodwill is not necessarily the kind of transaction contemplated by the economic mandate of rational actors.

Again, this has nothing to do with an economic system of governance...  (macro).  In the scheme of economic power, macro > micro [until the macro flogs the mule one too many times and it lays down]

PS, rational actors accruing profits based upon mutually beneficial exchange has nothing to do with capitalism...  nor socialism...  nor any other economic system implemented in the real world...  that's not the real test.  To state that, without also stating to whom the profit goes is to leave out well...  everything.  The devil is in the details.  (lol @ mutually beneficial)

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 00:29 | 3121127 CunnyFunt
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I don't even know what "capitalism" means anymore. I just use the fantasy term "free market", instead.

I've made some bank using CL, but it's just like anything else ... DYODD.

The world can't be sucker-proofed.

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:55 | 3120137 DoomedforGloom
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I’m happy to see you mention "empirically observed reality" in it's opposition to "ideological perfection". Wow you can admit we live in an imperfect society. With that being said, please propose this alternative and clearly superior system that you have in mind is as it’s evident that you just love capitalism so much (sarcasm of course). Let me guess you YouTube’d Zeitgeist?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:58 | 3120144 DoomedforGloom
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I’m happy to see you mention "empirically observed reality" in it's opposition to "ideological perfection". Wow you can admit we live in an imperfect society.

With that being said, please propose this alternative and clearly superior system that you have in mind is as it’s evident that you just love capitalism so much (sarcasm of course).

Let me guess you YouTube’d Zeitgeist?

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 13:22 | 3119054 USS Bernanke
USS Bernanke's picture

Oh great, another commentary from the spoiled generation on why children are the problem and why if children were just like their parents, there would be no problems.  Yes... the baby boomers and generation X are model citizens who have not let the ship be burdened with unsustainable weight.  It takes two to tango.

Everyone is a product of their times.

The author can go stick a fork up his ass.

Although I must admit he does make logical points, I just merely don't agree with his lack of insight on connecting it to the bigger picture.

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