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Generation screwed

from David Ruccio


Millennials—those born between 1980 and the end of 1994—regularly take a beating in the media. They’re accused of being lazy, self-absorbed, politically apathetic narcissists, who aren’t able to function without a smartphone and who live in a state of perpetual adolescence, incapable of commitment.

The members of Generation Y also hold a much more favorable view of socialism than any other generation (according to this YouGov [pdf] poll).*

What’s going on?

According to a new study by the Guardian, it’s clear that economically Millennials are falling further and further behind previous generations.


For example, in the United States, a person age 20 to 24 is much poorer than the national average (by over 30 percent) compared to people of that age in the past (10 percent in 1979). So, are those 25-29 (7 percent less than the average, compared to the same as the average in 1979), while the difference for those 30-34 are basically the same as in the past (more or less equal to the average).


There’s also a growing gap between their incomes and those of older generations. For example, the incomes of the 60-64 age group are now almost 30 percent higher than the national average (compared to only 15 percent higher in 1979), while those of Millennials are 32 percent lower than the national average.


As you can see, Millennials are worse off than all other age groups, except for those over 70—and even their incomes have improved in recent years compared to those of Generation Y.


And this is not just a problem in the United States. Generation Y is falling further and further behind in lots of other countries—the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada—except Australia.

To be clear, this is not some matter of generational warfare. Generation Y is not being left behind and preyed upon by other generations. Those who are currently retiring deserve their Social Security and Medicare programs. No, Millennials are being left behind by the current economic system that has saddled it with high debt and low-paying jobs and is cancelling their dreams.

As pseudonym76 recent explained,**

Generation Screwed has been getting screwed over by the American plutocracy all of our lives. We have not had a five year stretch in adulthood without an economic catastrophe, at least not if we lived outside of certain boom cities, and Generation Screwed is completely fucking feed up. Generation Screwed is going to vote for Bernie because what he is proposing is the only thing that might, just might put this country back on track to give the next generation a chance at a life better than the one we have all had. Of course what he is proposing is just a starting point to setting things right. We all know that. We know it in our marrow.  What Bernie is proposing doesn’t go nearly far enough! Yeah, that’s right, I said it, what he is proposing doesn’t go nearly far enough. Bernie is our half-measure, our opening salvo at fixing the fucking mess that the Boomer’s post-Watergate apathy, post-Kennedy and King assassination apathy gave us. That’s right, I get it, I know why you folks didn’t continue the struggle, your leaders were slaughtered. Guess what, it happens, you pick up where they left off and you keep pushing. You have to pick up where they left off and keep pushing. Bernie did that, and its why we respect him. The man kept up the fight. While you fuckers gave up and went home, he kept up the fight.


*The survey, taken at the end of January, found that 43 percent of Americans under 30 had a favorable view of socialism. Less than a third of millennials had a favorable view of capitalism. No other age or ethnic demographic preferred socialism over capitalism.

It’s also interesting that even younger people seem to be following the Millennials’ lead. First-year college students are more politically engaged than they’ve been in decades. And, at the University of Kentucky, no hot bed of radical thinking or activity, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic support in a landslide (85.2 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 14.8 percent).

**Technically, pseudonym76 is not a Millennial: “I am part of Generation Screwed, its the much larger generation of Americans whose future was stolen away from them by Boomers who didn’t get involved and didn’t prevent the dismantling of the American middle class. Generation Screwed includes Generation Kevin Arnold. It includes Generation X. To a degree it includes President Obama’s micro generation of Jonesers. It definitely includes the Millennials, and it even includes Generation 9/11, some of whom are going to be eligible to vote this year—you know those kids born at the tail end of the Clinton Administration and the beginning of the second Bush Administration.”

  1. March 8, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    What happens to principle, facts and the future in profit maximization?
    1) Profit-making is different than profit-maximizing (cf. Ulrich Thielemann).
    2) John Kenneth Galbraith decried the public squalor alongside private opulence
    3) All personal and corporate achievement depends on public investment in roads, schools, hospitals, food safety, water quality, airwaves etc.
    4) The corporate share in federal revenue fell from 40% in the 1960s to 9% in 2013 (cf. http://www.foreffectivegov.org).
    5) Corporations that avoid taxes have rights without responsibilities and escape local, state and national responsibility by deceptively claiming they are benefactors or job creators.
    6) Do we live under Humpty Dumpty, “words mean what I say they mean”? Have ethics and checks and balances become new nonsense words?

  2. Frede Vestergaard
    March 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I think I recently saw some statistics which showed the income of Latinos to be somewhat lower than the income of “whites” (but higher than that of Afro-Americans). Since there are relatively more Latinos today than in 1979, could that explain the increased difference – or part of it – between the national average and the average of the millennials???

  3. March 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    In the 90s I discovered a report from a meeting of the Trilateralists in 1973. They concluded that people’s expectations were too high and started a plan to reduce expectations. Clearly it worked! What were the elements of that plan? One was to increase resentment towards government (politicians, civil servants, teachers, gov’t scientists, etc). How to do that? Set up so-called think tanks to report bogus economic data, control the media, deregulate and privatize thereby reducing the civil commons, etc. Find scapegoats — unions are a good start. Control the central banks and get governments to go into debt so that a public outcry would make austerity acceptable. So now in the USA opinions matter more than data or facts, and thus religious values seem to dominate the discourse. Now the people are where we want them. Low expectations, little hope, little or no understanding of how we got here, etc. Let the classes go to war with each other. As long as we are blaming there will be no need to actually solve the problems.

  4. Rhonda Kovac
    March 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    My father lived through the Great Depression as a young man. He lived in twenty or thirty different places in several states growing up because his family was always one step ahead of the landlord. He and his brother couldn’t go to college because they had to work to help keep the family afloat. They once lived for a week on just potato soup.

    In the late 1990’s he said to me, “You know, young people today have it harder than we did.”

  5. March 8, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    This is what comes sometimes from social experiments. Economic and social theorists propose ways the world “ought” to work. And if they are economists or social elites or influential politicians or rich they actually can make these theories into not just laws but also poplar media icons, forms of entertainment, business management axioms, policies on employment and taxation, religious mantras, etc. But social experiments are unpredictable (in operation and in results) and unlike the kind done in laboratories they are not immediately reversible and in some cases are not reversible at all. After the “New Deal” opponents of this social experiment worked hard not only to reverse it and its impacts but to ensure nothing like it ever happened again in the US. That social experiment has been ongoing for about 40 years now. This post shows some of the results. They are mixed, as it was with the “New Deal.” What is response of the US constituency? Is the experiment a success or a failure. Based on interviews and polling it seems the answer to that question is also mixed. With Americans under the age of 40 leaning toward failure, and those over 40 learning toward success. I feel another social experiment coming on.

    • blocke
      March 9, 2016 at 7:08 am

      Those over forty would be satisfied if they retained realities of abundant and cheap higher education, social security, and a health system that was good and affordable, the New Deal, the problem for those under 40 is that the postNew Dealers did and are doing these in.

      • March 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

        Many of those over 40 have become complacent and lost touch with what was required to create the world that made them prosperous and comfortable after WWII. They came to accept changes that undermined the basis of that world. But they did it for the best of reasons — to protect us from the government. Which of course in a democracy is just us. In simple terms they surrendered. Gave up building the arrangements that can ensure democracy and economic equality. They believed they were doing the right thing for their children. I don’t think the children agree.

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