America’s Little Emperors

In the mold of China’s corpulent, privileged little terrors, America reared its own class of adult babies who assume they are untouchable. It may be they are hearing “no” for the first time.

My wife told me an interesting work story last night.

It was a work “adjacent” story because it told to her by a workmate about and experience of the workmate’s family member.

The workmate’s daughter is working for a local software company and apparently doing well. After a few years with the company, Jill (not her real name), had been recently promoted to a managerial position and was doing her first round of individual performance reviews with the members of her team.

Included in her team was another young lady, Ann (again, not her real name). Ann is a recent college graduate, just completing her first year with the company. Ann had been doing well and the face-to-face review was positive, at least until the end when Jill informed Ann the company appreciated her efforts and in line with her performance and company guidelines, she was to be rewarded with a five percent raise.

Much to Jill’s surprise, Ann’s countenance darkened. Thinking she had done something wrong, Jill asked Ann if there was an issue. Ann defiantly replied, “Five percent isn’t good enough. I want twenty percent.” Taken aback, Jill tried to explain that five percent was at the top of the range for such a junior position and that the company was already paying above market rates for that position according to local compensation surveys. Ann was nonplussed. She replied, “Well, I want to buy a house and to do that I need a twenty percent increase. I can’t believe you don’t get that.”

Jill deescalated the meeting and Ann seemed to calm down. They both exited the conference room on cordial terms, Ann went back to her workstation and Jill made a beeline to her boss’s office, the CEO of the company. Relatively new to management, Jill was concerned that she had done something wrong and wanted to inform the CEO of the situation and get his counsel.

Jill related the story to the CEO. Ann was hired before Jill became a manager, so she was not completely informed of the circumstances around Ann’s hiring. The CEO was part of the process, so he filled Jill in about the circumstances. “Ann was a difficult hire”, he told Jill. “Unbelievably, she was aggressive and almost combative. She rejected our first offer as being too low and when we asked what it would take to onboard her, she named a price fully fifty percent above the market for an entry level position. You know that we offer five weeks of paid time off effective immediately upon hiring – she wanted unlimited PTO. We still wanted her because even though she had zero work experience, we saw a lot of potential – so we sweetened the salary a few percent and she turned us down.”

Jill said, “What happened? She is here, so I assume something changed.”

The CEO replied, “Well, after about a week she came back to us and accepted our offer. Later, I received calls from a couple other CEOs in our market asking me about her. It seems she took our offer and was using it as leverage to extract better packages from them. Those CEOs didn’t like that, so as promising as she was, none of them would bite. She didn’t get any offers from them , so she accepted ours.”

Before the CEO finished the story, his desk phone rang. Jill told him to get the call and he hit the speaker button. It was Ann, going around Jill to the CEO to complain about her raise. Ann told him she needed more than Jill was offering her and she just didn’t think she was appreciated enough for what she was doing for the company.

Not being Paul Harvey, I don’t have the rest of the story – but I told my wife that this is a story I have heard more than once from contacts of mine who have recently hired young people, allegedly adults, straight out of college. This seems not that uncommon, especially within the local software industry where competition for talent is high – which has already driven entry level salaries to absurd levels.

The outsized expectations and irrational self-evaluations of worth are interesting, but not uncommon.

In past career iteration, I spent a lot of time in China and witnessed the rise of the “Suns” or the “Little Emperors”.

China’s one-child policy led to a generation of children who were waited on hand and foot as sole focus of their parents’ hopes and dreams. They were a new breed of plump, pampered, entitled creatures who had never learned to share – because there was no need. Chinese parents who suffered through Mao inspired repression saw education as the way for their kids to take advantage of China’s new prosperity and focused their children on studying to the point of the parents doing everything else for the children. Thanks to their own rising prosperity, and with limited outlets for the relative wealth they were accumulating, parents showered the children with gifts and largesse.

I was thinking about the Little Emperor phenomenon as the Felicia Sonmetz/Washington Post psychodrama played out.

Even though Sonmetz left the Post with no viable options as she continued her public woke witch hunt, I was mildly surprised the Post management found the stones to fire her. Ms. Sonmetz’s history indicate she was an entitled nightmare long before working for the post, having destroyed the career of a male colleague, Jonathan Kaiman, during the fever pitch of the #MeToo hysteria for a drunken consensual sexual encounter that she decided, after months to “fully process what happened that night”, was sexual abuse. Sonmetz also sued her employer for not allowing her to cover the Kavanaugh hearings, something she thought she deserved to do as a sexual abuse “survivor”. She claimed the Post harmed her career by not assigning her to the Kavanaugh beat (the suit was dismissed for lack of evidence).

Take the case of Chesa Boudin, the son of actual domestic terrorists who was raised by two of the most prominent domestic terrorists of the 1960’s Weather Underground, Obama’s mentor and college professor Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, herself a terrorist turned law professor at Northwestern.

Inexplicably, Boudin was elected to the DA post in San Francisco and immediately set about not enforcing the law. His soft on crime position – that the presence of a justice system created crime, not that crime necessitates a justice system – lead to such a disaster in leftist San Francisco that even the lefties got tired of human feces on the sidewalks, homeless camps in their yards, and rampant crime everywhere.

Chesa was just recalled.

And who was to blame?

Certainly not Chesa. It was “right wing billionaires” and the “extreme right wing” in San Francisco.

Yeah. That’s what I thought. Less than 7% of people in the City of Pelosi are registered Republicans, but whatevs.

Neither Sonmetz nor Boudin thought anyone could touch them. I don’t know if it was arrogance or ignorance that produces such entitled complacency, but the actions of both clearly were disastrous to them and those around them, but they appeared clueless to that fact.

These two are not exceptions to the rule, merely the most current examples. There has been an entire class of individuals (and in many cases, companies) that believe they are untouchable and their purpose in life is to righteously destroy everything.

At Twitchy, they reported that after Boudin getting sacked, “…we’re starting to see a bunch of articles calling out rich liberals for actually giving a crap about crime and homelessness and open-air drug use in their communities.” They pointed to a Slate article on “how much rich people in LA let pure hatred for homeless people shape their politics. It’s disgusting, depressing, and worrying” and one at SF Chronicle about how, after the Boudin recall, “the messy work of meaningful prison reform, and the dispositive role white liberal homeowners are playing in the growing rightwing backlash to the George Floyd protests and the BLM movement.”

When we lived in the UK, a friend related to me a story of a young Chinese student, a member of the Little Emperor generation, who had come to Edinburgh for graduate school. His parents had done literally everything for him. He had never packed his own bags – didn’t even know how to open the luggage, never learned to cook, had never shopped for food or even ordered for himself in restaurants before leaving China, so independent living and everyday life was a major challenge. The friend told me he had said, “I hate my parents. They raised me as a pet for 23 years and now I can’t live like a normal human being.”

Little Emperors.

The Ann of my story, Felicia Sonmetz, and Chesa Boudin represent an entire class of the most privileged people who have no idea how the world works or that they really aren’t untouchable.

The actions of the Washington Post and the voters of San Francisco give me hope that America is about to start saying “no” to these entitled brats.

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