#13 in a Series Examining Every Item on the Beloit Mindset List

Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia. (Class of 2012, #38)

Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs. (Class of 2012, #52)

The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum. (Class of 2012, #53)

Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister. (Class of 2013, #5)

The KGB has never officially existed. (Class of 2013, #13)

The European Union has always existed. (Class 2013, #23)

McDonald’s has always been serving Happy Meals in China. (Class of 2013, #24)

Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations. (Class of 2013, #38)

Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television. (Class of 2013, #46)

Two Koreas have always been members of the UN. (Class of 2013, #67)

Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed. (Class of 2013, #68)

Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down. (Class of 2013, #71)

Czechoslovakia has never existed. (Class of 2014, #32)

American companies have always done business in Vietnam. (Class of 2014, #41)

They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S. (Class of 2014, #68)

Japan has always been importing rice. (Class of 2015, #17)

The Communist Party has never been the official political party in Russia. (Class of 2015, #23)

Russian courts have always had juries. (Class of 2015, #46)

Folks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have always been able to energize with Pepsi Cola. (Class of 2015, #67)

The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner. (Class of 2016, #75)

The Mindset List mavens do their research by looking at 18-year-old newspapers. Each year’s list consists mostly of confused references to things that happened 18 years earlier. Some of these things happened in other countries and most of these things are not going to be “cultural touchstones” for incoming college freshmen in the United States.

The 21 above items from the Classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 and (with one exception) are set entirely in foreign countries. Many of them are at least peripheral to the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Children growing up after the end of the Cold War had a different set of fears and understandings of the world than those of us who had to worry “about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.” (the item that gets to the point). This is a worthy point to make about the “mindset” of recent students, but it is obfuscated with references to such trivia as the availability of Big Macs, juries and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Russia.

The end of apartheid was another big deal; college students throughout the U.S. demonstrated against it. But what’s with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s daily ration of rum, one of the most obscure references on any of the Mindset lists?

Taken together, the above items demonstrate a failure of the Mindset crew to be able to synthesize things that happened 18 years ago into any useful information about the mindset of incoming college students.

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