(Newer readers may need to brush up on one of my favorite posts from back in the day, one that produced a wide range of responses)
Dear people between the ages of 20 and 40,
I hear things aren't going so well for you these days. The last time we talked – remember, when you asked if you could borrow $250 to get the alternator on your 1996 Nissan Pulsar fixed? – it was already clear that you are going through a rough patch. It looks like that "patch" might last for a long time, something like ten years. Five if we're lucky. Look, I know that some of this is our fault. Maybe a lot of it. That's why I gave you the $250 for your car, and why I keep offering to take you on vacation with me and Dad, and paid for you to get those two teeth fixed by Dr. Morimoto when you were in town over Christmas. I know it embarrasses you when I do things like that. Maybe "humiliates" is a better word. But here's the thing: we love you, and we know that you'd be financially independent now if the opportunities were available.
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They aren't, and it's sad to see. OK, maybe we have a little case of the guilts too.
All of that said, there are a few things we want to say. We're not trying to start a fight. Honest. Just hear your folks out for a minute or two.
Yes, we took advantage of a number of things that aren't available to you anymore. Strong economic growth. High wages. Taken-for-granted health benefits. Cheap higher education with cheap student loans (which in turn were almost wiped out by inflation over time). Pensions. Paid vacations. Cheap housing with subsidized mortgages. You get the point. We get the point too – we had it, you don't, and you're somewhat envious. That makes sense. Here's the thing, though: it wasn't all sunshine and roses. There were trade-offs.
Maybe it's something that happened in the schools or maybe it's TV or maybe it's my fault, but at some point your generation got the impression that work is supposed to be fun and rewarding. It isn't. It's just fucking work, if I may. You're jealous of the level of job security and benefits we had coming out of high school or college in the 60s, right? Your Uncle Joe retired at 60 with a nice pension. Do you know how he got it? He stood at a kick press for 8 hours per day, every day, for 40 years. Honey, if you had that job your head would explode from boredom and lack of stimulation in about a week. We'd never hear the end of how you feel unfulfilled and you'd probably quit to go "find yourself" or something before the pension vested.
Your Dad has one of those civil servant jobs that are disappearing these days. Twenty years at the Clerk's office and another 20 behind a desk at Streets and Sanitation. How long would you be happy if you switched places with him? My point, kids, is not that you're bad people or that you have no work ethic. My point is that we weren't just handed good money and a pension. In most cases we had to spend the great majority of our lives doing incredibly mundane, repetitive, mindless, soul-crushing crap to get it. We did it because that's where the money was. You know that silly show about the Office that you're always watching on Netflix? Picture yourself as Stanley or one of the old people who sells paper over the phone. Imagine yourself on a phone all day, every day asking people to buy paper. For years. Decades. Those jobs don't exist anymore. If they did, would you and your two Anthropology degrees do them?
Right now you'll say "Yes, I'd do any job" because you don't have one. That's understandable. I don't think you mean it, though. Maybe you should work on saying it until you believe it. I can imagine how annoying it is to be lectured on hard times by people who didn't have to live through a lot of them, at least in the economic sense. Think of it this way, though: we're right there with you for the most part. Yes, we're doing better now because we've been working for longer and we managed to get on the boat before it started sinking. But now? Now we spend most days trying not to get fired for being over 50, and most nights wondering how we're going to work until we're 70 or whenever the hell people are allowed to retire. You know those pension plans don't really guarantee anything, right?
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Ask my sister Nancy who worked for the airlines.
We know this is harder for you than for us – we're getting disillusioned and shafted at the tail end of our working lives while your working lives aren't even getting started. By the time the economy recovers in a decade or whatever you're going to be so old that…well, never mind. Let's not even talk about it.
50 thoughts on “AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE BOOMERS TO THEIR CHILDREN: PART II”
exactly me, right down to the dad with a civil servants job and staying up all night watching the office on netflix. and i thought i was such a special little snowflake.
Hopefully my dad know better than to even open his mouth. He retired from two jobs – yes, he gets two pensions…
& He is working at a third job – I have no idea why, but I enjoy the "family" perks, so I am not asking any hard questions.
Meanwhile, I have resigned to work for 30+ more years until I am 70 something and "allowed" to retire… We'll see if I make it & if I am adequately prepared once I get there. (On the upside, by then my student loans & mortgage should be paid off.)
Tim H. says:
Sometime, if you need to shop in the middle of the night, try a "24 hour Big Box Mart". Look around, notice the boomers stocking shelves, sweeping floors. For many of us, the economy has mostly been in recession since we graduated High School.
I've got a step father who gets a pension from the state land department, also draws disability, and is a raging Tea-Party Beckite.
Southern Beale says:
I have a Boomer friend in his 60s who's been squeezed out of his professional career and now hopes to get hired on at a big box store. He had one of those careers that didn't offer a pension, and his 401(k) … well, 'nuff said.
But America still rawks, right? We're #1, right?
Monkey Business says:
At least your mind numbing jobs paid a decent wage. And, you know, existed.
P.S. Get off our internets.
Elder Futhark says:
Why don't you shoot, dress, and eat your stepfather? OR are you saving him for the harder times ahead?
"P.S. Get off our internets." ?!
Shouldn't it be the boomers saying that to you since they created it in the 1960s?
Anthropology? What's that?
My degree is in Industrial Engineering, but unfortunately, as the Boomers were busy inventing instant gratification and casual divorces, the past 40 years industry has pretty much disappeared in a wake of a certain generation…
comrade x says:
Is the definition of Bommers expanding to include people born in the 1970s?
Dude, I was just a glint in my father's eye when Woodstock went down.
Southern Beale says:
I think your Letter To Boomers I from 2010 is right on the mark but it's also a tad unfair. Yes the Boomer generation enjoyed a wealth of opportunities that were not of their own making, and they are pulling the ladders up behind them. But at the same time that generation did completely remake the country's social fabric. Civil rights. Women's rights. Gay rights. Environmental rights. Animal rights. This is the legacy of the Boomer generation, and these social changes are what I despair at seeing unravel. Because with social change comes economic change. You know the old saying, if you want peace work for justice? That argument works economically, too.
Just my .02.
Born in '43, I missed boomerdom per se, but let's say for the sake of argument I qualify. After all I got a free elite education, enjoyed a career and made a remunerative single investment to sustain my old age, all of which would be completely, laughably impossible today.
What I don't recall is any complicity in saddling you guys with debt. Did any politicians ever present me with the option? Was any discussion about it on the table? I recall marching and demonstrating against the bloated Cold War budget, the m/i complex, which relates, but I think the choices presented at every election were the party of Borrowing and the party of More Borrowing. Keynesians were the persuasive intellectuals, no contest, and scoffed at any and all dubiousness.
Someone connect the dots for me, before I take the hemlock.
Southern Beale says:
I'm a '61 model, tail end of the Boomer generation I guess. You know what I don't remember? Any discussion of debt AT ALL. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Lessee, I marched for Vietnam Veterans in the 70s, marched against atomic power and nuclear bombs in the 80s, marched for the environment in the 90s, marched against the Iraq War in 2000's. Never once, in any of that time, did anyone say one thing about the damn national debt. Oh yeah we had the debt clock in Times Square in the 80s, Clinton had it turned off in the 90s, under Bush it started ticking away again, but no one really said much until a Democrat got into the White House and inherited a failed economy & some expensive wars passed by the previous Republican president.
Remember kids: when it comes to the modern political discourse, a) it's always Democrats' fault; b) IOKIYAR and c) It's always good news for Republicans.
I particularly appreciate the Office reference.
I just graduated from IU and got a job selling over the phone. It is painfully mundane, somewhat degrading, and is not something that I was hoping to do after attaining a college degree, but it does have one key benefit: I have a job.
It's not so much the debt as it is how it is allocated. Those Booming years were all spent with the highest marginal tax rate around 90%. The fat cats/elite paid their fair share of national expenditures and thus were encouraged to spend the country's money wisely.
Now the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest citizens in America is 15% (not a typo). The richest fuckers are paying 15% on their income – you're paying about 40% on your middle-class income. The overall weight of the burden (total government expenditures/taxes) is, perhaps, a problem (though almost every country worldwide spends a larger percent of GDP on their government, and somehow they're managing). But even more of a problem is that now the poor are carrying most of it on their backs.
Boomers, every time you vote someone into office that slashes taxes for the richest couple percent, you're part of the problem.
I'll get off topic a little here and talk about Boomer music: Isn't the colossal over-rating of the US music of the 60s and 70s a refracted image of its generation? Look, I still think "Surrealistic Pillow" is wonderful, but for goodness sake's, there just isn't a lot of honestly great American music from this era. Vienna in the 1820s it was not. And the English bands don't count, since they are — you know — English.
The unrealistic appraisal of the post-1960s pop music wave is part and parcel of the "Boomer delusion." Although a minor one.
Major Kong says:
I think part of it is selective nostalgia. People tend to only remember the good stuff.
For every Jefferson Airplane there were 5 Herman's Hermits or Strawberry Alarm Clocks.
I know that a lot of people here slag the Boomers ( I'll 'fess, I'm one). But just a couple of things:
1. For me as a Boomer it's been DEPRESSING to see the changes in my country. When I was young the country seemed at the zenith of its power, And yes, all the good things mentioned in the letter really did exist. It was a time when the future did seem to hold a promise of better things….
So it's been wrenching to watch as all those good things are taken away, the country goes slowly into decline, fighting useless wars, while most people's lives become harder, the infrastructure rots, our political system collapses into complete dysfunction, and America turns into a banana republic, with the super-rich "Forty Families" lording it over the rest of us, and running the country for their own benefit.
And I know who's to blame for that: the proponents of St. Ron of Reagan. If history ever picks the point at which America began it's real slide into decline, I think it will be Reagan's election in 1980.
Like Boehner, "I want my country back": the one FDR made for us. And for Boehner too, if he was smart enough to realize it.
2. I know many post-Boomers damn Boomers as the ones who elected Reagan and brought this mess down on us. Well, as have you probably heard, it's the unemployed Boomers who are having the hardest time finding a job in this recession. Considered too old, too expensive–"useless mouths," in other words.
So I guess you could say the Boomers are getting their just desserts for bringing Reaganomics down on us, if you want to take that view…
bb in GA says:
Rag on us as you will, but I am among the oldest of the boomer generation (b 1946)
I was 34 at the election of Mr Reagan in 1980 for whom I did not vote. The youngest boomer (b 1964) was 16. Check the voting demographics, but that group, 16 – 34 likely did not swing the big hammer in that election.
duck-billed placelot says:
Does anybody know any comparative figures for salaries for young Boomers vs. young Millennials? It does seem like the Boomers had standard benefits+salaries that allowed them to, you know, live decent lives. Now I see a lot of job offers that require one or two degrees and pay $9-12/hr, without any benefits or job security. Which makes paying student loans only ramen-possible, let alone saving for a house or to start a company or retire, ever. Also, wouldn't Uncle Joe's job have been a high school diploma job? Not many of those anymore, either.
I've worked in a warehouse. Not exactly stimulating, but not bad work. The difference between the Boomer warehouse jobs and my warehouse job was that mine was temporary and paid $9.50 an hour with no benefits whatsoever.
J. Dryden says:
I suspect our generation's (futile) desire to find 'fulfilling' work is rather strongly tied to the economic disincentives we face. To wit: If, a la the Boomer model, I'm being paid a decent wage for a crap job, I can suck it up and convince myself that at least the money is good, and will provide me with enough material means so that the rest of my life does not suck. If, on the other hand, I'm going to be paid a crap wage, minus the ability to acquire any material means to make my life not suck, no matter what job I do, crap or otherwise, I'm going to demand (futilely) to at least have a job that doesn't kill my soul. Which is just *adorable* of me, really.
A lot of boomers stuck it out in shit careers because they, like my folks, had kids in their mid-20s. Then they achieved success and security, became more conservative, supported Reagan, realized they were becoming their own parents (at whom they threw a ten-year temper tantrum back in the '60s), realized that they weren't really fulfilled and had never been to me, had affairs, got divorced…
Millennials are more likely to wait, partly because of (rash generalization ahead) what godawful parents a lot of the boomers were, partly because Reagonomics fucked them w/r/t pursuing a career with long-term prospects.
And around and around it goes.
Just a comment from a nineties baby with a couple boomer parents. It's pretty hard to locate rage against an entire generation. My dad worked 33 years as a teacher and has a decent (3/5 salary plus some health insurance) retirement package. My mom is still working as a hospice nurse, and she has to work 6 days a week so that she gets their meager benefits, because if she worked the amount she intended to work, she gets no benefits and we can't really afford purely private health insurance. I'm at a pretty good private college on almost a full-ride scholarship, but that doesn't take care of everything so I'm still pretty dependent on them. Both of them were involved pretty heavily in the 60s stuff that you love to mock, and neither of them were ever the entitled pricks you are describing. Instead, I think of my great-aunt and great-uncle, who were extremely wealthy (by their own efforts, admittedly) and had a small portrait of Ronald Reagan hanging by their bed. They were driven by the same fury at the boomers' "entitlement" that you are, and so they gladly went about opposing anything that reeked of hippiedom or The Left.
Anyway, as much as I love this blog, I think this one huge blind spot for you: a lot of that WWII/Depression generation that you love to put on a pedestal as conferring so many benefits to future generations got pretty greedy and spiteful at the end of their lives, and a lot of the people participating in the Reagan boom were post-boomer reactionaries. Just a thought.
Middle Seaman says:
Oh, fuck off. I was born in 1946 and I despise the inter-generational fights, insults and bad mouthing. We live now in screwed up country; an oligarchy that seems to be the natural evolution when starting from Eisenhower capitalism. (Israel, a country that is doing very well and has its share of oligarchs, had 10% of the population between 20 and 60 show to demonstrate against their system that is identical to ours.)
You cannot blame boomer for the screwiness more than you can blame the teen agers; it just not the way things happen. I didn't take your money and I didn't see you in the demonstration against what is going on in Wisconsin. I'll get $3000 from SS. If it were up to me, I'll increase this to $5000 for the next generation so people could age with ease. I even voted against Obama in my state's primary; so you cannot blame me for being a sucker; younger people did vote for him.
In our complex reality we need more civil servants, not less. Talk to you congress dude and senators. Don't blame me. We need about 25% of the military we have. I was to several wars; they are for crazies and fascists. We need Medicare for all. When I occasionally buy meds in Yurp with no insurance, I pay less than 10 euro. Don't blame me.
With the money saved on less military and non parasitic health care, we can make FDR look like small change. But all ages voted for the political system we have. I tried not to. So, instead of pointing fingers, let's elect guys that care about us.
Well said, Middle Seaman. Inter-genrational discussions are a distraction. "Hey, look over there!"
It is haves vs have nots and all age groups contain both those types.
Not ragging on your post, Ed. I enjoyed it. Or the comments. I enjoy them. Just my .02
Born in '61 here. My dad was a disabled WWII vet who worked at the Post Office his entire working life. I knew he hated it, but would have hated having his family starve more. I went to UC Berkeley back when middle-class kids could go, and the state picked up almost all of it. Got a job at the VA, and stuck to it like a limpet. Took medical retirement when my HIV got too bad. Now I'm on SSDI. It occurs to me that I've never held a full-time job in the private sector in my life; now that I'm fifty and disabled, it's probably never going to happen. One of my brothers is teaching college English in Southern California (city college) and another went from career USAF to career contract specialist for DoD. Public sector has been good to us.
Now I've got two sons, one born '97, the other '01. I freely admit that I have NO IDEA what the world looks like to them, much less what it will look like when they're grown. No idea at all. My own dad would not have predicted that his gay son would wind up legally married and a father of two, for that matter. I can only imagne what my kids will tell THEIR kids, assuming that even happens.
Not quite sure which "Boomers" you hang out with. The ones I know are self-employed (read: entirely responsible for their family health insurance, their retirement accounts – if any – and both halves of the SS/Medicare contributions), underemployed, recently laid-off – no joke when you're 50-something. Many are also supporting college-age children, and are in the ugly income group for which there is very little financial aid available, although tuition (even at state schools) is either a severe hardship or completely out of reach.
My husband and I are in the fortunate end of that bunch: parental demise (that's not the fortunate part) made it possible to make IRA contributions that would otherwise not have been possible.
In other words: Doug and Middle Seaman have it right.
Listen, I know you mean well, but people of my generation are working those mindless jobs. They have little expectation of anything better, but I don't think that's so new.
My first job was bates-labeling. Maybe you've done it too. It's when you have a bunch of pieces of paper that have no page numbers but need ordering, and so you print out a bunch of tiny little sticker labels with numbers on them–hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands–and then you put a label on every single page. I feel lucky to have labeled when I did; the generation before me had to use a stamp that jammed and smeared, and the generation after me saw the practice eliminated by a computer program.
I also did page-line summaries of various transcripts, filled out order forms, copied documents, filed other documents, and temporarily removed documents from files in order to copy them. I and everyone else in my situation wanted out, but it wasn't because the job was mind-numbing. The more lucrative jobs were also mind-numbing. (Most jobs are pretty mind-numbing.) It was because this job barely paid enough money to make the rent and was understood to be at will. My ambitions did include a job that was challenging and interesting–eventually–but my primary objective is and always has been to be less disposable.
And in this new cutthroat professional culture, I'm not sure you can separate a desire to be special with a desire to be safe. Kids these days aren't allowed to be cogs in the machine, because the nation's employers have decided that their machines run just fine on cheap disposable parts. We have to distinguish ourselves in order to make householding wages, or we won't last five years, let alone twenty, let alone forty.
@Boomers on G&T:
Your generation's history was, unfortunately, written by its "winners" (Gary Trudeau, Dennis Hopper, Thomas Friedman, the Clintons, GWB). And our satire is directed at them (not you).
Twenty years from now, when someone puts down my age cohort and is obviously thinking about Gavin McInnes, James Franco, and the rest of its worst, most visible specimens, I'll try not to take it personally.
If anything, Part II seems pretty sympathetic toward the folks. Regardless of what an asshole he became when he achieved "success," I wouldn't want to experience my dad's mid-20s.
I think this song accurately sums up both sides in this debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Sdn3O6aaMNc#at=53
negative 1 says:
@ piny –
Yeah, I'm in my 30's and have held nothing but mind-numbing jobs. Anyone think customer service is rewarding? The stats bear that out, too. As a nation we've been sliding towards the service industry. Just as 'mind-numbing' as the stereotypical manufacturing job, just without the pay.
Eric Titus says:
@PWL I think you could see the beginning of the end at the start of the Watergate era, when Ford pardonned Nixon. Nixonites have continued to play a dominant role in the Republican party, and that event just showed everyone that naked abuse of power would not be punished. Along with the oil-driven changes in the economy and horrendous Jimmy Carter presidency, it's hard to really pin the blame on Reagan entirely.
I think the point is that whether or not it was the boomers, the next generation is screwed. And the people who are in power right now, driven in part by angry old boomers, are willing to screw over the nation for the sake of principle. It was the boomer years where people became convinced that any taxes were bad, that worker rights were best left up to the free market, and that public schools deserved neither respect nor funding. But is it the boomers' fault that their choices of leaders (Carter, Humphrey, etc) were uninspiring or worse? Or that the ability of progressives to mobilize young people is practically nonexistant? Probably not.
I'm actually getting a new muffler installed on Monday. And it's a '98 Civic, thanks! :D
Hairless in Gaza says:
'57 model here… I work in IT, which is a line of work entirely union-less. Fixed-benefit pensions, which used to be standard in any full-time job, vanished as I was getting into the work force.
I get ahead (or "get ahead") by learning enough to move to another, different, more demanding job at higher pay, because staying in one place means (if you're lucky) an extra 4% a year, and naught else. I'm in my 50s and I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. A huge chunk of my (and Missus Hairless') 401ks evaporated a few years ago; health care insurance (or "insurance") is a bigger chunk of my paycheck than state taxes.
So, please, no "boomers have it so good"). Some of us get the worst of both worlds.
Waah Waah Waah, everything isn't handed to me anymore. I lived a spoiled childhood as a child of a boomer. I followed the straight line carved out for me. I did good in school and college and now there is no job for me! Life is so fucking unfair. I can't create anything because I have no fucking clue how to think for myself. Everything is everybody else's fault, nothing is my fault. Build things!? Build my own house!? Manual labor, that's for immigrants right? My life is so much harder then theirs. Sitting on the Internet complaining all the time and doing nothing about it.
I am a Generation Y. You are right. We are clueless, entitled, and lazy. But we're not blaming everyone for our problems. Just to be clear: We are blaming you and your generation. A lot of us have only voted in one or two elections. Boomers have voted in several elections, as far back as 1968. You took the country your parents gave you and destroyed it. The most my generation can claim is that its going down with the ship. But you ran the ship into the iceberg. When guillotines are being rolled up to the Capital Building, you'll have no one to blame but yourself. In short: Your parents were awesome, you suck, we get to pay the bill.
I'm not a boomer, I'm 27. I'm just tired of my generation's victim complex. Most of us have no fucking clue what its like to live a truly hard life. This generation is full of incompetent whiners that expect everything handed to them. Maybe if this country goes to shit people will learn to appreciate how good they have it. There won't be any guillotines at capital hill as long as American Idle is still on and facebook is accessible.
Your sanctimony has always been your most irritating quality. The entire world still revolves around you in some way or another. Your music is supposed to be the best. Your youth was supposed to be the most special. And the fact that you had to do everything every other generation had to do, but in the process managed to elect a bunch of conservative fucktards who promptly railroaded that opportunity to China, is supposed to have been some especially hard and difficult thing that we Xers and Millenials can't possibly comprehend much less actually do.
I'm going to be a nurse. So please do not lecture me about hard work and how I just don't have the stones to do it. Maybe if your generation hadn't sent all of the hard and profitable work to China, or feared for your own tax cuts and social insurance to the point that you eliminated those civil servant positions then maybe you'd get to see that we just as willing to suffer through drudgery as you are. You fucked up. You fucked us. You got fat by borrowing and liquidating our opportunity and now you don't have the good graces to stop electing the people who did this to you and to us.
Born in July 1980.
you're 31. what did you do with the past 13 years? whine?
i'm a boomer. i'm in IT. no pension, 401k has been sodomized repeatedly over the past few years but i'm not in debt. to anyone.
i didn't vote for debt.
i didn't vote for boy george's misbegotten wars.
i didn't vote for reagan or either of the bushies.
but i also didn't vote for clinton, gore, kerry or the current loser.
i will confess that my vote for the third party candidates has done me or the country any good but i am at least trying to change the status quo.
as to your life, you've fucked yourself. don't blame it on me.
that would be "my vote for the third party candidates has not done…"
It happens that I was born on the very day in history that makes me neither Gen x or a Boomer.
I hate you both.
Eric Titus: Fair enough–I know that Watergate was my first intimation that the civics-class model of the American government I was taught in school was a lie. And of course the Vietnam war didn't help either.
I guess some might even say the very beginning of the slide was when JFK was shot–or when LBJ lied us into Vietnam (Moral of the story: NEVER elect a President from Texas. Never).
I guess why I pick Reagan as the turning point is that Nixon went down to defeat and disgrace. But Reagan was the ELEVATION of a political right-wing freak practically to godhood status–and it was his smooth salesmanship the conned American into thinking that the socioeconomic policies which brought us disaster were a Great Idea….
Of course, the inter-generational blame game is counterproductive, and works in favor of the Reaganauts because it keeps us fighting each other rather than the real enemy: the wingnuts who have brought us to this point.
tybee- What did I do in the last 13 years? I finished a bachelor's degree in English from Vanderbilt University with intentions of going to law school. However, I decided to work for a few years to try and save some money. So I worked for Apple doing technical support for two years. It was around that time that I decided I would not be going into law. When I found out that Apple would not work with my schedule in order to attend school I took another job…which promptly laid me off six months later. I then spent about two months unemployed before taking another tech support job with Time Warner. I worked that job for four years, putting in about 150 – 200 hours of OT a year. I worked almost everything that was available to me, because despite what you believe, a strong work ethic isn't something special or unique to your oh-so-gifted-and-beautiful generation.
I finished a year of prereqs for nursing while working full time, and I finished a year of nursing school while working full time. Now I'm pulling 3 twelve hour shifts a week working as a patient care tech doing physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding work while I finish the last year of my nursing degree.
Oh- and I did all of this while battling and overcoming clinical depression.
I have worked consistently for the last 13 years except for the brief period after I was laid off. So- that's what I've done. I've busted my ass, and I'm really not that special for those in my cohort. Boomers have pissed away my future, and I'm just glad that the rate at which your generation has burned down this country has finally accelerated to fuck you over, too.
And perhaps you don't like people pointing out that it is your cohort that presided over the election of Reagan, Bush I, the 94 Conservative "Devolution" and Bush II. Perhaps it's as irritating as your generation's sanctimonious tutting about my generation being "whiners." The difference is that I have watched my friends fight and work their fingers to the bone to attain overpriced degrees that don't pay off, or to hold on to low paying jobs. I know you're wrong, and history shows that I'm right.
@vista: Internets created in early 80's, like me. It's a gen X thing. You're welcome. :)
I come from a relatively secure background. I'm doing okay, knock wood.
But eg's story is very, very familiar. So many people in my generation have taken on enormous debt and apprenticeship burdens with the promise of that steady job. Not necessarily a special job, just a job that offers more than paycheck-to-paycheck balancing. A job that would offer the possibility of paying down our debt, cashing in on the investment of time and training.
Those jobs are disappearing, and we are all left not with reduced circumstances and hard choices, but with untenable circumstances and nonexistent choices. For all the whining about whining, no one in this thread has explained how someone with a hundred thousand dollars of good-faith student debt–accumulated to complete a standard degree to get a dull job in a dull profession that would pay a living wage–is supposed to hold out for the next decade of high unemployment. How that person is supposed to do without a job. (Nor has anyone explained why that person is an idiot who deserves to suffer for their profligate scholarship.) People in debt don't have the option of lean years.
And I will tell you, it's maddening to see people blaming us for disuse. A thirty-five-year-old shelving books for seven dollars an hour is not doing so because he'd rather cut his own throat than teach high school or sell life insurance. A twenty-two-year-old in night school to add yet another moot degree to the glut is not acting out of perversity or laziness. Our country allowed work to become completely divorced from any notion of compensation. Now we have work–if we're lucky–but no jobs, and everyone believes that we simply aren't interested in any kind of dignified, contributing employment.
1- It's not about age, it's about class. Poor boomers and poor millenials have more in common with each other than they do with their wealthier counterparts of the same age. Don't let them divide us by generation, it's the socioeconomic divisions that are the problem.
2- Regardless of age, if you're working, join a union and if there's no union to join, start one. Call the AFL/CIO or the SEIU for help. That's how the parents of boomers won their pensions and health care. The corpos aren't going to give you anything…you have to wrest decent pay and benefits from them and keep up the fight to keep those things.
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