Where will the thugs be in 20 years...40 years?

You’ve seen them. Males in baggy pants, no shirts, and an apparent total disinterest in learning the skills to succeed in our society. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seems to be more of them than ever. Living the “thug life”. (This lifestyle cuts across racial lines, so please no wailing about veiled racism.)

It’s all about the short term for them. Whether their particular vice is violence or illegal drugs or avoiding employment, they are out there. Many of them are taxing the social service and justice system because of their unwillingness to play by the rules.

So where will they be in 20 years? Will they still be standing on streetcorners in their 40’s? Their 60’s? At what point will they become self-sufficient? And how can they do that if they turn their backs on the education system in their youth?

Will they perpetuate their lifestyle by fathering children who will emulate them? If so, will that create a permenant underclass?

Some will accuse me of elitism, I’m sure…but I’m simply calling a thug a thug.

Oh, man, who knows where any of us will be in 20 years? When I was 28, I didn’t expect to today have a good job, decent life, etc. when I am 48. (Though I was not a thug, I was a drifter.)

Some of them will buy into the system; some will be in jail; some will be accountants; some will be accomplished criminals; some will be computer programmers; one will be the ticket-taker at the Ivar Theater on Saturday night; some will be dead; some will be landscapers; some will still be thugs.

Not all who are working their way through college, or living off a trust fund will wind up as solid members of society either. Who knows?

Forty years ago you’d have called them hippies. Where are those guys now?

Pretty much what Frank said. I actually did run with a gang in South Tucson when I was a wild youth. And I toyed around with some of the hispanic gangs in LA as well for a time before I joined the military. I’d say most will buy into the system to one degree or the other. The rest? They will be dead or in jail for the most part. You don’t see too many ‘thugs’ in their 40’s or older (though there are a few).


Good point. They are all over the map, like Frank said.

I realize on the surface that the answer to the question is easy…but I think there are more people on the fringes of society now than the hippies were forty years ago. They ones today are much more likely to engage in negative and destructive behavior than free love.

Today, the hippies are in PETA and protesting nuclear power. Will tomorrows thugs still be shooting each other and sucking from the government sow?

The Economist once observed that most criminals give up the wild life some time after age 30. Sentencing officials take note.

But criminality is just part of it. They choose through their actions not to be self-sufficient. They do not participate in law-abiding society. How will they support themselves after they calm down? Will teenager be competing with 50 year olds with grey hair growing out of thier tattoos for jobs?

You’re still trying to predict that all of those you see have only one path to follow.

Hippies were perceived at the time as engaging in negative and destructive behavior. Not all of them, or even a sizable percentage, are today in PETA or protesting nuclear power. (Neither of those choices, by the way, are negative or destructive, they are simply beliefs. How many old hippies are still blowing up ROTC buildings?) Do you truly believe that the only interests the “Males in baggy pants, no shirts, and an apparent total disinterest in learning the skills to succeed in our society” have is “shooting each other and sucking from the government sow”?

Isn’t it more likely that they simply are young? That they will learn about life, and from life, and will change as they grow? Yes, sadly, some will not. Some will choose a destructive path. But not all, Evil One, not even most.

I grew up surrounded by various ‘outlaw’ types. Bikers, mostly. Today, most of them have settled down somewhat, although their lack of education and job experience has hurt them. Some work as laborers, others managed to learn a trade and make a good living. A few are making their living on the fringes of society by doing labor under the table, growing small amounts of pot and selling it, etc. Some of them married up and their wives straightened them out.

They’re also still a community, and they help each other out. If there’s work to be done, they’ll offer it to friends. If someone’s between jobs and has no place to stay, they’ll crash with a buddy for a few weeks. A lot of these people live out in the country in ramshackle houses, or in trailer parks on the outskirts of town, and get by on tiny incomes. Some of them live better than you’d think because they buy the things they own on the black market (Big screen TVs that ‘fell off a truck’, etc). So some are still technically petty criminals, although not ‘active’ in the sense that they’re selling drugs on the street or breaking into houses. They’re too old for that stuff, but they’re not above benefiting from the results.

A handful of them moved well up the ladder, going back to school and getting good educations and then building careers.

And there are some who just become pathetic cases. They’re the old guys with long hair and rotten teeth you see sitting on a barstool at the end of the bar night after night. They live off of disability or welfare, live in one room apartments in those crumbly tenement hotels you see in the poor districts, and mark time until they die from the ravages of time, alcohol, and bodily abuse. My dad was one of those.

Might I suggest reading A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess? Do be sure to get the British version, which contains an extra chapter (particularly important, in this context) that is not in the American version.

I’ll not accuse you of elitism, just a limited point of view.

How do you know this? Around here, there are plenty of “thug kids” on the bus wearing uniforms belonging to the various retail outlets along the route. And I have no doubt that plenty of people on the bus in suits will go home and change in to some baggy jeans.

Those kids on the corner? Some of them are hardened criminals. A lot of them are hanger-oners, hanging out after work with their family and neighbors. Plenty of them are perfectly normal young men who get lumped in as a “thug” because they are wearing the normal clothing of their social group and hanging out in their “bad” neighborhood homes.

As for the future- I imagine it will be like every other group that older folks have devoted a lot of hand-wringing too in the past. From Plato on, each generation has been convinced the next one is uniquely bad.

I imagine a lot of them will be moaning about the bad habits of the kids of that day, kinda like you’re doing now. :slight_smile:

I’ve gotta say I have no earthly idea whether any of the stereotyped thugs you are talking about are actually “sucking at the government sow” or not, and from the general tone of your posts so far I kinda doubt you do either. I likewise don’t know what sort of answers to your questions you are really looking for. If there was an easy answer to these questions , maybe there wouldn’t be so many of these ‘thugs’ for you to look at with such obvious distaste.

I don’t know, maybe I’m jaded, but it seems to me crime-ridden inner cities littered with disaffected yoots have been a feature of American life for a hell of a lot longer than the past couple of years. I wish it was otherwise but it’s something of a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Assuming your superficial assessment of the current lost generation is correct, I suppose some will die badly, some will end up doing long stretches upriver, but most will probably wise up at some point and find putting some distance between themselves and the chaos and violence surrounding them is a better option than the others. They will have hurt themselves badly by not having smartened up sooner, but that’s the way it goes.

Maybe you’ve got some suggestions yourself. I’m gonna presume that you don’t think the people you mention are so utterly irredeemable that we should just get rid of them somehow, right?

Well there are longitudinal surveys in the US.

We could take a sample of those who were 18-26 in 1980 and compare the year 2000 outcomes of those with and without criminal records (at age 18-26). Or something like that.

But first, methinks that the Evil One would have to sharpen his question or hypothesis.


There is no direct public assistance (cash or medical care) outside of foodstamps available to able-bodied adults without children. It’s pretty hard to suck the government’s teat as a single young man. Even a small bit of savings or an asset like a used care will disqualify you for food stamps.

Just an aside, the chapter has been restored to the US edition, along with a foreword by Burgess explaining what took so long. I’d love to see an edition including that AND the early US edition’s afterword and Nadsat dictionary.

The stage play also has the complete version.

You don’t need a Nadsat glossary. Just learn a little Russky. Most of it is just pidgen Russian. :slight_smile:

over here.

what, everybody on this board squared up except ME?

At the risk of hijacking this thread, the original US edition has an unauthorized by Burgess glossary of Nadsat as well as a literary critic’s afterword. Both are now omitted in the new US edition, with the new foreword and original last chapter added.

Turn on MTV. That’s the style kids wear these days. 20 years ago when I was in jr high, the “thug” style was long hair and Iron Maiden T-shirts like Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club.