Home > Uncategorized > Millennials’ retirement plan: socialism?

Millennials’ retirement plan: socialism?

from David Ruccio


Millennials may be the largest, best educated, and most diverse generation in U.S. history. But they’re also generation screwed. As a result, they’re more likely than their elders to think of themselves as working-class and less likely to identify as middle-class.  

The large downshift in class identity among young adults is explained by the fact that they are being left behind—with lower earnings, fewer jobs, more part-time employment, and a higher unemployment rate than any other generation in the postwar period.


And while it is true that recent college graduates make more than young workers with a high-school diploma, the annual real wages of both groups have declined since 2009.

So, it should come as no shock that most Millennials have nothing saved for retirement, and those who are saving can’t save nearly enough.

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, in research that was recently reported by CNN, two-thirds of working Millennials have not been able to save anything for their retirement. That’s true even though two-thirds of Millennials work for an employer that offers an employer-sponsored retirement plan. But they’re often not eligible, because they work part-time or have too little time in their current job—and, if they are eligible, their low pay and high indebtedness make it impossible to set aside anything for retirement savings.


The fact that Millennials aren’t following the recommendations of financial and retirement experts has a lot of people worried. But Keith Spencer [ht: ja] presents a much more hopeful perspective: many millennials honestly don’t see a future for capitalism.

The idea that we millennials’ only hope for retirement is the end of capitalism or the end of the world is actually quite common sentiment among the millennial left. . .

Older generations, and even millennials who are better off and who have managed to achieve a sort of petit-bourgeois freedom, might find this sentiment unimaginable, even abhorrent. And yet, in studying the reaction to the CNN piece and reaching out to millennials who had responded to it, I was astounded not only at how many young people shared [Holly] Wood’s feelings, but how frequently our expectations for the future aligned. Many millennials expressed to me their interest in creating self-sustaining communities as their only hope for survival in old age; a lack of faith that capitalism as we know it would exist by retirement age; and that alternating climate crises, concentrations of wealth, and privatization of social welfare programs would doom their chance at survival.

Creating a world in which individual retirement savings are made irrelevant is a kind of real talk from Millennials that makes a helluva lot more sense than the constant barrage of so-called expert advice to educate “Millennials about the value of retirement savings and how employer-sponsored retirement plans and employer matches work.”

In fact, socialism may be the best way “to improve the retirement preparedness of America’s largest generation.”

  1. March 28, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Its working pretty well in China!

  2. March 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Honest struggle is a worthy part of life. Young people intuitively feel less secure in that prospect. The modifier – democratic – needs to be attached to socialism though. More than anything Sen. Sanders presidential run inspired a younger generation that American Democracy has a profound history to shed light on the folly of extreme income inequality and hyper-nationalism. The post war period is the best example of a shared purpose living in a diverse culture. We were very lucky to have parents and grandparents who fought for those freedoms — a renewed struggle in these times.

  3. Craig
    March 28, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Both socialism and Finance capitalism are largely uneconomic. Integrate their dwindling truths and delete their burgeoning untruths and you’ll have competitive and innovative profit making direct monetary distributism. Follow the logic and good common sense of the Hegelian dialectic by ending the obsessive contentiousness of the above two forms….so you get to the actually progressive point of their synthesis/integration….and we may avoid the dis-integrative state that results from such obsession gone on too long.

  4. March 29, 2018 at 6:51 am

    To quote the poet Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes well you might find You get what you need.” Millennials’ expectations for the future seem much more realistic than their elders. And certainly, more workable, and sustainable. The crises facing us are much more than economic. They include, as well climate change impacts, greed and savagery driving huge social and economic inequality, the destruction of democratic government, and the abandonment of people in any sort of need (e.g., hunger, security, respect). The capitalism at the root of these is doomed. Why would the best educated and happiest generation in US history not recognize this and prepare themselves for it? As capitalism collapses in the next 25 years in the US, and the rich and politically connected run to their private islands and gated secure havens, millennials will move on with socialism. The biggest unknown is how the millennials will deal with all those fat cats hiding in all those “safe” places.

  5. March 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    “Creating a world in which individual retirement savings are made irrelevant is a kind of real talk from Millennials that makes a helluva lot more sense than the constant barrage of so-called expert advice to educate “Millennials about the value of retirement savings and how employer-sponsored retirement plans and employer matches work.”

    So a ‘credit card’ system rationed by credit limits, in which we are responsible for repaying our own debts by earning our keep insofar as we can, would make individual retirement savings irrelevant, and likewise “profit-seeking” capitalist financiers, state treasuries and corporations.

    Craig’s ‘distributism’ is near the mark, but even he doesn’t seem to see profit in terms of making the world a better rather than a worse place. His objection to financial capitalism needs balancing by objection to state socialism, whether of the Marxist or Fabian variety: perhaps by using the term “democratic socialism”.

    Bankers and Treasurers will govern for themselves (as capitalists profiting from their riches) or for the people (as not always kindly socialists), reducing “distributism” to mere “redistribution” of money rather than property. For “democratic” socialism, a people using their own credit will have to govern themselves, with bankers and governments merely advising them. Distributism would be the outcome of “redistribution”, as the rich earned their keep by sharing what they have and giving back to their neighbours what they don’t need. Retirement would become what in practice it usually is: relative retirement, filling in by volunteering as and when needed.

    Curiously, there was an echo from the distributist past in our Malvern Gazette of March 23rd, 2018. “In the freezing winter of 1941 …[socialist] William Temple, Archbishop of York, eminent clergy, T S Eliot, [distributist] Dorothy L Sayers and other intellectuals met at Malvern College. Their vision was of a post-war society based on social justice and the unification of Europe as a co-operative commonwealth. Subsequently, this had an important influence on the founding of the welfare state, including the National Health Service, and formal links with Europe. … One beacon of light is the success of the British Commonwealth, where members enjoy maximum collaboration and benefit, while retaining individual control. Political lack of foresight and common sense, together with egotistical game playing and buffoonery, has brought us to the present situation, as we [England] isolate ourselves from Europe.”

    As I see it, the political challenge is to restructure not only finance but local and regional government on the Commonwealth rather than Great Powers pattern.

    • Craig
      March 30, 2018 at 8:32 pm


      We ARE so very close to being in agreement in most things. Finance capitalism and even democratic socialism are really just the flip sides of the same coin…..when you realize that what’s missing in both is basis in the NATURAL philosophical concept of grace one of whose aspects is Gifting, and policies aligned with it whose effects are individual and commercial freedom and systemic free flowingness. Another aspect of this natural philosophical concept just happens to be the utter integration of duality into a thirdness greater oneness in other words the fulfillment of the Hegelian dialectic known as synthesis.

      A new paradigm of Monetary Gifting and its aligned policies derived from a new zeitgeist of grace-graciousness is logically thus what is required. A new paradigm is a new way of thinking, looking and knowing. Hence here is the bald assed truth about macro-economics:

      Macro-economics, which has only been with us since shortly after the Great Depression, is really just an ideology looking for justification of the uneconomic, de-stabilizing and dominating nature of Finance’s monopoly paradigm of Debt Only.

      The new paradigm of Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Gifting and its policies, regulations and structural changes is the resolution of both the problems of the current paradigm and those of macro-economics as well.

      • Craig
        March 30, 2018 at 9:44 pm

        In other words it is a discipline that is neither capable of, nor equipped to resolve the real problem….because it resides entirely within the present problematic and illegitimate paradigm. 


    • March 31, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Craig, our both finding uses for the same words does not necessarily mean we agree on their nature, meaning and the significance of their ordering.

      By nature I mean that words, though things, are primarily references to other things, so that the meaning is the effect that awareness of these other things has on us. Here I can agree that ‘grace’ is a philosophical concept, but in Christian talk it is an attempt to draw our attention to God’s “spirit” (wind or breath) being a loving one: God being the “macro” concept (the whole greater than the sum of its parts) embracing us as its children or “micro” images. This being Easter weekend, it is right to imagine God the Father dying in a Big Bang so that water-like forms of solid and gas might come together in the liquid form which is its Hegelian synthesis, and so flow on surfaces like the earth’s surface and in channels like our veins rather than three-dimensionally. It is right to imagine Christ as a living Word re-enacting his Father’s “dying that we might live” to make us aware that this happened, and that despite our ungraciousness, he is still prepared to treat us as “family”. The significance of this is that the Gift of life came first. We perceive its gracefulness only if we accept it gratefully; imitation is the sincerest form of gratitude.

      The effect your phrase “Monetary Gifting” has on me is almost one of despair. If money is merely symbolic, giving it gives nothing but the wrong impression that it is worth something. I know people don’t read much these days, and have been taught to pooh-pooh the Bible, but surely the phrase “money is the root of all evil” has been around long enough for it to at least ring alarm bells as soon as money is mentioned? No, Craig, this can’t be the new paradigm. What needs to be the new (or better, renewed) paradigm is the family one, of children needing and being worthy of credit until they can earn a living, and needing the support of the wider family in bad times and as they come to raise children of their own. The phrase “Universal Credit” has been given bad vibes by its association with monetary gifting to the “undeserving” and monetary loans [to still dependent students] repayable with interest, but the idea is right, though our understanding of it is far too timid. What is still wrong is our ignoring its flip side, which is not repaying worthless money but earning our keep by doing what is needed of us: e.g. providing homes, care and education for our families, studing diligently if we are students, and working with others to help make the world a greener and a better place. How much is actually needed of us depends on how much we have already done or mechanised.

      Again, Craig, you write off the concept of macro-economics as if it were what anti-Keynesians have made of it. For Keynes it was a new concept: trying to form a synthesis from the solid assets of the rich and the dependence on liquid assets of the poor. So he didn’t reveal the synthesis as “credit” manufactured our of thin air, but in his concluding remarks (particularly those on Gesell’s time-devalued money) he showed he understood the need to prevent the credit solidifying into savings, which his policy recommendation of progressive taxation was at the time pragmatically the most likely way of being able to achieve. This need for liquidity suggests a continuous flow: not just the appearance of one as in a river but its regeneration as in the hydraulic cycle, or as in a simple electric circuit in which from time to time the battery needs recharging. This is not of course what Keynes said, but the use of underused resources for infrastructure renewal suggests the same kind of thinking. In any case, the circuit forms the macro model within which the effects of motions of such things as electrons, molecules and people are the stuff of micro modelling. My own point is that physical electrons carry both power and information (minimally their direction of flow) so that there are two macro alternatives to the equal-exchange paradigm of current pseudo-economics that are not being explored: the economy as a power controller, or as an internet-type communication system. This is talking about what the economy IS, not about the buying, selling and renting of power and information. It is about learning from the understanding of navigation (PID control systems) and mailing (the prioritising and sequencing of addressed packets of information).

      • Craig
        April 1, 2018 at 2:13 am

        15-20 tangents can be resolved with the pinnacle and discerning natural concept of wisdom known as grace which includes scientific rigor. Just find the aspect of grace that is the integrated resolution of any personal or systemic conflict/problem and you’ll know what to do within yourself or how to align policy.

        The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Money is an excellent and effective tool, and the economy being monetary as opposed to barter part of its solution is a workable, resolving and wise distribution of it.

        Debt creation is currently post retail sale, which is the terminal ending point of the legitimate economic/productive process. This exposes privately created debt creation as parasitical and problematic as even at 0% interest debt deflation occurs with the continual build up of debt. Trying to tweak/reform debt creation in the face of its 5000 year old problematic nature is the equivalent to doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, i.e. insanity. Thus it is necessary to integrate a new monetary paradigm of Gifting into the economy so as to invert the cost inflationary nature of the paradigm of Debt Only and its debt deflationary economic effects. The best way to this would be to adopt the several (4-5) policies I have mentioned here numerous times before while making both debt and Gifting creation purely a publicly administered utility and also make it an extension of retail sale so the discount/rebate policy can be applied to it.

        Another of the natural concepts of grace is that it is a dynamically interacting, balanced and flowing one, and macro-economics will stumble around in the dark until it awakens to and adopts the paradigm changing concept of monetary gifting and its aligned policies.

    • April 1, 2018 at 8:43 am

      As in the Christian year the sadness of God having “died that we might live” gives way to the joyous realisation that his spirit and truth lives on, I have an inspiring story of my own to share. We are just back from a guided tour to Paris, our family’s 80th birthday gift to my wife, where we stayed at the foot of Mont Martre and went to Mass in the tiny chapel of St Rita, patroness “of impossible causes and hopeless circumstances”, set amid the row of sex shops opposite the dancing girls in the Moulin Rouge (the red windmill theatre). At the top of the Mont stands the cathedral of the Sacré Coeur, glorious not only inside but from many viewpoints across the city. In Catholic art the sacred heart of Jesus is usually shown bleeding. Here it is portrayed as glorious: in gold. What I found extraordinary is that this cathedral was built as recently as 1870. It was apparently built as a reparation for all the horrors of the French Revolution. Seeing the extent to which sleeping rough in the streets is still “the millenial’s retirement plan” (how may years after Orwell’s “Down and Out in London and Paris”?), perhaps the moral support of St Rita is needed if “Christ has no hands but ours”.

      Craig, I want to find common ground with you but it is not obvious where you are coming from. I’ve been a scientist, Edward a farmer, Ken an advocate etc. What have you been?

      Where you insist it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil, I ask you Why? Why do some people love it? My answer is because they have been taken in by a lie. You say “Money is an excellent and effective tool”, I say it is misleading because it gives honest people the impression it is valuable. What I say AS A SCiENTIST is that the “excellent and effective tool” is actually the mathematical concept of a variable, which can be applied both to the giving of credit and to the selling/renting out of credit masquerading as valuable money. “Honest money” is simply credit, and working an economy on that basis will simplify it and explain the confusions of current economic theory in much the same way as cosmology was simplified by seeing the earth going round the sun, despite the sun appearing to go round the earth. There are such answers to St Rita’s “impossible causes and hopeless circumstances”.

      Seeing the resurrection, then, represented in that glorious man-made cathedral raised high on its hill, let us have a joyful and more hopeful Easter.

      • Craig
        April 1, 2018 at 10:20 pm

        The single difference between your and my perspective is yours is apparently still dualistically caught up in the current paradigm of fragmentary science as a means of inquiry, and mine is utterly integrative/integrating.

        When you realize that the philosophical concept of grace is defined as and denotes the dynamic interaction/integration of everything including opposites to the point of thirdness greater oneness is when “the scales fall from one’s eyes” because for all of the interesting reality and randomness of life and living the actual reality of the cosmos including potentially oneself IS that thirdness greater oneness.

        Vis economics the dynamically integrative nature of the complexity of such modern systems (as opposed to errant static equilibrium) exactly aligns with the above description of the concept of grace. As an aspect of grace is Gifting/freeness and that is an oppositional concept to the current monetary paradigm of Debt/burden Only (conceptual opposition is the primary signature of paradigm change) its integration into economic theory is, or logically ought to be the leading candidate. But such is the fragmentary paradigm of science and the hypnotically unconscious nature of any current paradigm.

      • Craig
        April 2, 2018 at 5:27 am

        “Craig, I want to find common ground with you but it is not obvious where you are coming from. I’ve been a scientist, Edward a farmer, Ken an advocate etc. What have you been?”

        One of my monikers on the internet is The Window Cleaner. That is both literally and metaphorically true as in Huxley’s “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

      • April 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm

        Craig, I asked you to give us some idea of your background so I could understand WHOSE “philosophical concept of grace” and what language might use such non-English constructions as “thirdness greater oneness”. I’m guessing you are struggling with Hegel.

        You are right: we differ about the value of fragmentary science, yet my understanding of scientific method is also “utterly integrative/integrating”. What I have found by reversing its direction – using the logic of retroduction rather than deduction – is the universe before it had evolved from a Big Bang – which makes most sense when understood as created by the Christian’s Trinitarian God. But where does the term Trinity come from? (I assume this what you mean by your “threeness greater oneness”)? To be “utterly integrative/integrating we have to account for the origins of language as well as energy, and Euclid showed how three points are necessary and sufficient to define a circle, this having the interpretation given in the ice-gas-liquid forms occuring in the water cycle. The Creation event can be understood as the breaking of the “divine” energy cycle, so that with nothing to constrain it, its energy bursts forth in all directions. At this stage, all we have is energy and non-energy, so where does Hegel’s dialectic come from?

        Hegel is of course trying to express what he is seeing in language, which so far doesn’t exist. We cannot make one up out of transcriptions of sounds; in fact probably the only proper distinction that can be made is the geometrical one of a right angle. The all-embracing reality being an expanding spherical bubble of energy, adding Cartesian coordinates divides the reality up into four regions, which can be used to represent the energy and its representation, plus the non-energy and its representation. At the surface of the sphere the degrees of freedom of motion of the energy are reduced from three to two, so the bubble model can be reduced to a clock face round which a circuit is completed when four, not three, quarters have passed: i.e. the degrees of freedom have decreased from 4 to 0. The point being there are now two types of reality: free energy and circulating energy, i.e. matter. The same pattern repeats for each succeeding “hour”, adding types of increasing significance which themselves evolve in a pattern illustrated by adding arabic numbers, which shift left on reaching 10.

        Hegel’s synthesis thus needs to be understood as both integral with AND independent of its thesis and antithesis, as when animals became human by evolving linguistic thinking, but remain [energetic, material] animals even where their language enables them to evolve social and technological capabilities.

        The deductive paradigm of this fundamental science produces only a framework within which normal science has to operate. But it is a framework of method and ordering as well as structure, for it offers the clue of decreasing freedom or – what amounts to the same thing – internal control. So you see I am not “still dualistically caught up in the current paradigm of fragmentary science as a means of inquiry”. I am seeing the “normal” paradigm as a process of interpolation in the space between the measures logically established in the framework, as in using consensus and inventing microscopes to help us decide measurements of length to the nearest millimetre.

      • April 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

        Sorry, Craig, your Huxley comment crossed. So we agree also on Huxley’s ““If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” I’ve used retroduction to cleanse them. But here’s the problem with Huxley’s position, as indeed with process and mathematical theory generally. If all we can see is the infinite, how can we talk meaningfully about anything else? We need to reverse Huxley’s picture of looking through chinks in a wall, this producing a window frame in lieu of chinks and panels of window in lieu of wall. The frame then offers an indication of which bits of infinity we are seeing and/or talking about. The difficulty lies in seeing what is going on within the frame itself, and what effect this has on what we see (e.g. electric currents producing magnetic fields or conveying information), hence Bacon’s telling us to take things to bits to see how they work.

      • Craig
        April 2, 2018 at 11:48 pm

        We resolve that by utilizing Wisdom which includes science, which is the very process of Wisdom itself for discerning truths especially in opposing perspectives while deleting their respective untruths, and integrate it all with the pinnacle concept of Wisdom….which is grace….one of whose aspects is CONTINUAL integration of all relevant factors under examination. As R. Buckminster Fuller said: I Seem To Be a Verb. We are all verbs of varying levels of self awareness, and the state of grace is love and knowledge at every epistemological level from data to self knowledge…in action, in process.

      • April 5, 2018 at 7:07 am

        This discussion seems to have moved by 4 April to “Privatisation of Public Education”, where Craig goes some way to spelling out what he is talking about, but which Calgagus (at 7.24 pm) says would by “spectacularly inflationary”. My concern is that if Craig were right we would be spending more rather than less, at a time when it is becoming obvious the world’s ecology can’t take any more; and in any case I can’t see the point of is giving with one hand only to take back with the other: allowing sellers to overcharge and then funding buyers with a 50% value added tax.

        In a nutshell, my own propositions are that economics can never work so long as it isn’t honest (it now claiming paradoxically that credit is not given but owed); and that people will buy no more than is necessary only if they are constantly reminded (e.g. by their credit card account) that they need to earn their keep by recycling what they consume.

      • Craig
        April 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm

        Sellers do not overcharge as the 10% “pass on” discount/rebate from one business model to the next in the progression toward the end of the economic/productive process at retail sale prevents garden variety inflation, and then the 50% retail sale discount/rebate integrates price deflation “almost miraculously” into profit making systems. Such miraculous-ness by the way is another of the signatures of paradigm change.

        As for the ecology its true we need to be sane in our economic policies regarding it, but I don’t think throughput has reached anywhere near its peak, and factors that are truly critical and need to be reduced via innovation and AI like green house gasses etc. would be completely financially accomplished in a new paradigm that ended the saturation and domination of the economy with debt.

        Debt Only is the current problematic paradigm. First rate intellects like Steve Keen stand looking at that fact when they point out that whenever the rate of increase in private debt falls it signals the beginning of a recession…unless of course we borrow even more which just leaves us between a rock and a hard place, but he gives no remedy for it except one-off and fragmentary policy.

        Having recognized the significances of the point of retail sale and the fact that the money, pricing and accounting system’s nature are all digital I’m attempting to alert economists to the policies that being direct and reciprocal monetary gifting are the very expression of the new paradigm and that will enable us all to thrive and the economy to attain freeflowingness-free fall. Then obtaining Maslow’s bodily and mental security we can move on up to more rational thinking regarding the ecology.

  6. March 31, 2018 at 10:32 am

    For 200,000 years humans lived in hunter-gatherer communities that had minimal hierarchy, no economics, no formal government, and no agriculture or heavy industry, but still provided security and well-being for its members. It’s my view we’ve gone too far away from this life. And we need to move back towards it, now. The life that allowed humans their greatest success as a species. Biologically, humans are still the same species that lived through that 200,000 years. Two factors lead to our current situation. One is cultural adaptation. The second is uneven results of biological evolution. So, our two tasks are. Change our cultural path to return to this simpler way of life, which I choose to label socialist. Second, we must monitor biological evolution to filter out or control evolutionary results that threaten societal peace and welfare. This may sound frightening, but it’s really no different than the admonition from US’ own founding “fathers” to monitor and control factions. The factions that worried the fathers the most were plutocrats and democrats (populists). It’s past time to end the potential for plutocracy anywhere in world. We also need to consider ways to keep democracy responsive to national and local institutions, rather than populist emotions.

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