Tom Brokaw has written a book about the Greatest Generation, a generation that grew up with fathers in the home who saw it as their duty to instill in their sons a work ethic. The Greatest Generation went on to win World War II. Newt Gingrich is right when he warns that the newest generation does not understand or appreciate the value of good, hard work.
Tragically, 40 million children will go to bed tonight without a father in the home to teach them the economic facts of life. One wonders how exactly these children will ever learn any kind of work ethic. While in some cases there is a fine mother like mine who can instill it in them, more often than not it's simply not possible.
When I was 10 years old, I wanted an expensive, new 10-speed Schwinn bike. I asked my mother - the late Hollywood actress Jane Wyman, who could easily afford it - if she would simply buy the bike for me.
She said she would loan me the money if I signed a note acknowledging the debt. I said, "Mom, I am only 10 years old. What can I possibly do to make enough money to pay you back?" She told me I could earn money by selling newspapers.
I signed the note, and every Sunday until I fully paid for that bike I sold papers in front of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. Later I asked Mom why she made me work for that bike when the other kids' parents simply gave them their bikes.
I'll never forget what she told me. She said, "I build men, not boys, and if you don't learn to work for what you want now, you will end up as a 40-year-old boy."
"I want a man."
I pray that that's what she got in her only son. At least that's what I try to be.
On that issue alone, Mom would have voted for Newt Gingrich, who holds the same convictions she did.
World War II was followed by incredible economic growth, which gave the false impression that prosperity was no longer just around the corner, but guaranteed by the power and majesty of the federal government as here and forever present.
What we have now is what has been called "the entitlement generation," Americans who believe that by merely existing they are entitled to a host of unearned benefits paid for by money extracted from their fellow Americans' tax payments.
That the pockets of those American taxpayers are not bottomless - and sooner or later will no longer be available to the tax-and-spend crowd that infests Washington, D.C. - has not reached into the minds of this spoiled generation. They really believe that money somehow grows on trees, or at least on printing presses.
We are fast approaching the time when the Feds will no longer be able to print enough paper dollars to finance their multiple programs which are designed to buy the votes of the nation's taxpayers.
Hard work gave birth to the Greatest Generation; we are giving birth to the neediest.
• Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com, or e-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.