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The Plight of the Millennials

Over at Newsweek Joel Kotkin paints a gut-wrenching portrait of the plight of the millennials, who still dream the same dreams as their parents but lack the means to realize them. “Generation Screwed” is his term for the young adults facing unemployment, depreciated degrees and massive debt laid upon them by their boomer parents.

Read the whole thing. Of particular interest is Kotkin’s look at the millennials’ complex political makeup: a mix of dissatisfaction and a yearning for the blue model institutions of old. Growing up amid the Great Recession, the young are drawn to plans for higher taxes on the (boomer) rich and promises of income redistribution. On the other hand, much of the redistribution in our economy today is from younger people to the older folks, and no millennial can ignore the rickety state of programs like Medicare.

Can “Generation Screwed” make a stand in politics? Kotkin has some suggestions for them:

[M]illennials need to force the parties to cater to them and play hard to get. Being taken for granted, as African-Americans have been, does not always produce the best results for any demographic grouping. Politicians target “soccer moms,” “independents,” and suburban voters precisely because they are not predictable. Millennials should not want to be in anyone’s hip pocket.

There may be signs that this cohort is beginning to heed Kotkin’s advice. The millennials backed Obama and the Democratic Party in recent elections, but younger millennials seem less impressed and there are questions about how large the youth vote will be in 2012. The War on the Young is being waged to keep the blue model alive for older voters while leaving younger people to scramble for crumbs. As more young people recognize that many of our redistributive policies are stacked against them, it will be interesting to see how their politics shape up.

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  • thibaud

    Off target. It’s not a “war on the young”; it’s a screwy tax system that unduly favors capital gains at the expense of work.

    The marginal cost of hiring could be much lower – provided that we were willing to slash payroll taxes, start taxing gazillionaires appropriately and shut down offshore scams and tax havens for corporates.

    Pretty obvious that the Caymans Blocker candidate is not the one to achieve this.

  • TycheSD

    I don’t know how old you are, but as a Boomer I remember being told the same thing about my parents’ generation – the WWII or Greatest Generation.

  • Luke Lea

    thibaud – “Pretty obvious that the Caymans Blocker candidate is not the one to achieve this.”

    Which one is that? You don’t think Obama is going to do anything about it do you? The donor class bankrolls both political parties.

  • Susan

    “start taxing gazillionaires appropriately”

    They are taxed appropriately, the problem is gazillionaires such as Obama’s favorite gazillionaire Warren Buffet makes a sport out of cheating on paying his $1 billion in back tax.

    The other problem, of course, is that gazillionaires such as Clinton’s favorite gazillionaire socialite songstress Denise Rich (wife of Clinton convict Marc Rich) or another of Obam’s favorite gazillionaire Eduardo Saverin renounce their citizenship, flee the country and take with them the gazillions of dollars they earned via their capitalistically American actions.

    The irony here is that even though Obama has that fabulously elite Harvard education he has yet to understand even the most simplistic elements driving the nature of the human condition.

  • thibaud

    Equalize the capital gains tax rate and the marginal income tax rate, for starters. End the ludicrous giveaway to the hedgefunders and tax their carried interest as income.

  • Kris

    Susan@4: “The irony here is that even though [whoever] has that fabulously elite Harvard education he has yet to understand even the most simplistic elements driving the nature of the human condition”

    No irony, precisely the point. You’ve got to be carefully taught.

  • Jim.


    “start taxing gazillionaires appropriately”

    Like in Holland, Sweden, etc?

    Actually, the only way to cover things like Universal Coverage is a VAT that guarantees that the rich pay a smaller share of the nation’s finances than they do in America, and that the young are forced to put off marriage and children until demographics fall off a cliff.

    Hayek is on to something critical when he points out that having a redistributive government simply favors some classes at the expense of others. Right now our redistributive government heavily favors the Boomers over the Millenials, and the more government we have, the worse it gets.

    The only solution is the shrink the government.

  • silia

    They got ipads and cool stuff.

  • silia

    They are politically correct hedonistic trashy brats. Screw them.

  • silia

    What idiots

  • Tom Gates

    I think it is disappointing that this blog has made no comments as to the President’s comments in Virginia last weekend. If he truly believes what he said then the young have nothing to wonder about, they will be living in a third world country. Will those higher minds in higher education fail us again by promoting the “isms” in the past only to learn nothing from history.

  • Lorenz Gude

    If I were a Millennial I’d put Wall St.a and DC to the sack.

  • thibaud

    Poor Tom.

    I feel your pain.

    I mean, Obama makes a really dumb remark, and all anyone wants to talk about is Mitt Romney’s Caymans Island “blocker” accounts!

    It’s so unfair.

    Maybe Romney will have better luck if he starts fighting back. I mean, the way his predecessors did – for example:

    Bob Dole, 1996: “Stop lying about my record!”

    Mike Dukakis, 1988: “I resent it!”

    John Kerry, 2004: “Despicable! Dishonest! Unfair!”

    I really feel sorry for you and your side, stuck as you are with such a whiny loser like Romney.

    This is going to be an acutely painful three months for the GOP. Milquetoast Whiner Romney’s the worst candidate they could’ve nominated.

    Except for all the others.

  • Tom Gates

    Thibaud, I actutally agree with you, Obama will probably win with smears, avoiding discussing the issues, wagging the don on Iran in October, etc. But what will he have won? A dispirited, fractured nation where the half that supported him will demand more, and the half that didn’t hating anything the latter. It will be such a nice country for you.

  • An

    @Tom Gates

    Not worth your effort Tom. You are not debating the in the spirit of logic, reason, or facts. Progressive Hierograhy is a religion unto its own, and you are speaking blasphemy for attacking its scripture.

  • Kris

    thibaud@13: “Obama makes a really dumb remark”? Just a few posts back, our host requested that the President be treated respectfully. While I strongly disagree with the philosophy Obama expressed (“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. … If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.”), I respect him enough to take it seriously. This wasn’t just a boo-boo on his part, these were deliberate and lengthy remarks, and they came after the extensive coverage given to Elizabeth Warren’s similar remarks. And they deserve serious discussion, not the calls of “Socialist!!1!” that you regularly deplore. Or even calls of “Really dumb”.

    If, on the other hand, I were to grant, solely for the sake of argument, that Obama does not actually believe in this philosophy, then “really dumb” is a massive understatement. It makes Romney’s supposed personality flaws trivial.

  • thibaud

    Here’s what we will have won: the extremist Ryan/TP tendency will have been stopped dead in its tracks, and the GOP will have to try a different tack from scorched-earth obstructionist policies aimed mainly at buying time until they retake the White House.

    In other words, the GOP will have to work with Obama to forge some solutions to our mess.

    Cooperation, compromise, collaboration to get stuff done. Wouldn’t that be a nice change.

  • thibaud

    Kris – the campaign is on. All’s fair.

    Politics ain’t Bain-bag.

    Also, there is a good reason that Americans hate whiners: they make really bad presidents. As that reckless youth-turned-president once observed, quoting his rather nasty and very wealthy old man, “Life is not fair.”

    Interestingly enough, the US presidents who understood this intuitively, who (whatever their other flaws, never whined about “unfairness,” seem to have experienced the vagaries of war and/or serious illness or casualties, or else grew up poor.

    So you have, on one hand, the non-whiners Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy and John McCain (among the military/illness category) and Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton (among the impoverished category).

    And then we have the whiners, nearly every one of them a wealthy man or woman with no experience of either poverty, mass slaughter or severe personal illness: Ross Perot Junior, James Earl Carter Junior, Albert Gore Junior, Richard Nixon, John Kerry, Geraldine Ferraro, Michael Dukakis.

    Lots of “juniors” here. These scions or spouses of wealth or otherwise charmed beasts seemed to think their fortune – be it inherited or earned – conferred some kind of immunity from the Life is Unfair principle.

    To be sure, there’s an exception or two. For some reason, Bob Dole, despite his war wounds and heroism, fell into the whiner trap.

    Not sure why, but let’s just say that a former presidential candidate who became a pitchman for Viagra, Air France, salty snacks and recently, the city-state of Dubai has some “issues” he’s working out….

    In any case, Romney clearly belongs in the second camp.

    Romney combines Kerry’s obtuseness, Perot’s petulance and Nixon’s stubbornness and self-regard. A nightmare candidate.

    You’ll be glad when Obama’s re-elected. We can all bury the hatchet and start working together to actually solve problems.

    Because, as your conservative icon and GOP Circuit Court judge Laurence Silberman put it when defending the ACA, “national problems demand national solutions.”

  • thibaud

    change “presidents” above to “presidential candidates.” Talisker, long day, etc.

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