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The Most Entitled Generation Isn’t Millennials

The Most Entitled Generation Isn’t Millennials

“For the first time in America’s history, an entire generation of her citizens are poorer, more indebted, and less employed than the preceding generations.

That generation is the millennials – our generation.

The culprit, say some social commenters, are millennials themselves. In this telling, we are a lazy cohort of entitled and narcissistic brats — the proverbial Generation Me. But this is a classic case of blaming the victim.

The true cause of this unfortunate situation is clear: It’s the economy. The Great Recession stymied economic growth, halted job creation, kept older Americans in the workforce longer, and encouraged younger Americans to continue debt-financed schooling.

Moreover, the Great Recession was not merely a one-off calamity — it was a symptom of economic ills long perpetuated and ignored. And the criticism and labels that have been heaped upon millennials bear much more resemblance to the type of intergenerational stereotyping that has always existed (“darn kids these days”) than to any measurable reality.

The truth: The economic tragedy of the Millennial generation was written before many of us had even learned to read — Baby Boomer parents and grandparents who, at once, genuinely love and care for us, but have also created or perpetuated institutions, policies, and economic realities that have now hobbled us.

Our generation has been called “entitled.” We beg to differ. If any generation is entitled, it’s our parents’ and grandparents’ generation: the baby boomers.

True entitlement is tripling the national debt since the 1980s and using the proceeds to spend lavishly on tax cuts and government programs that primarily provided short-term economic boosts, while refusing to raise the Social Security age of retirement or to reduce benefits, even as the gluttonous program careens toward unsustainability.

australia2AAP Image/NEWZULU/ZOEA protester at recent Australia climate-change rallies in the lead up to the UN climate summit in New York.

True entitlement is allowing the reasonable minimum wage that Baby Boomers enjoyed when they were our age to deteriorate while opting to cut taxes on the gains from stocks and bonds that they accrued during periods of debt-driven economic and stock-market surges — creating an economy where wage earners at all income levels, as of 2012, receive a smaller portion of economic output at any time since 1929.

True entitlement is, for decades, enjoying the benefits of the lowest energy costs in the world while refusing to price-in the external costs of carbon emissions, exacerbating the real changes to our planet that pose profound risks to the environment and economy for which millennials will soon be the primary stewards.

These grave consequences were entirely foreseeable — but they happened. Young Americans have been fleeced in order to fund the transient excesses of the old — and yet millennials are labeled “entitled” because we were given “participation trophies” and “personal tutors” before we were old enough to vote … ?

Give us a break. Millennials are not entitled. But we are frustrated.

We’re frustrated, because the same baby-boomer bloc that created or tacitly perpetuated the policies that have hamstrung millennials now makes up almost a third of the American voting-aged population and holds nearly two-thirds of the seats of the US House of Representatives and Senate. This, during a decade-long span when incumbent House and Senate members are richly rewarded for being the most unproductive legislators in US history, respectively winning reelection 94% and 87% of the time.

millennials, workplaceITU/Rowan Farrell

Granted, many members of our generation need to learn how to vote every two years, not just every four. And we need to begin to fulfill the civic-minded label — “The Next Great Generation” — which social scientists have bestowed upon us. When we do begin to regularly share our opinions in the voting booth, not just on Twitter, you can be assured that we’ll act to keep this country great. We’ll make the “hard” choices the baby boomers have refused to make.

Already, we’ve learned how to be fiscally responsible — with the most student debt of any generation in history, we’ve had to. More than any other generation, we eschew expensive possessions like cars and large houses, opting instead for bikes and shared living spaces. Sure, we would like to own all that fancy stuff someday, but we realize that we can’t have everything we want.

We know that our government would be better off spending more of our tax dollars on jobs and education, and not just on Social Security and defense. We overwhelmingly recognize that the war on drugs has been an embarrassing waste of money and lives, and that anyone should be able to marry whomever they love.

Perhaps we millennials are entitled: We seemed to think that baby-boomer politicians would enact much-needed changes while we fiddled with our smartphones. We were definitely wrong on that one.”

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A Theory on Long-Term Economic Trends and a Sudden Crash

A Theory on Long-Term Economic Trends and a Sudden Crash

AUG. 22, 2014

 

“Employment losses during the Great Recession may have had more to do with factors like the rise of Walmart than with the recession itself, two economists say in a new academic paper.

The paper, presented Friday morning at the annual gathering of economists and central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyo., argues that the share of Americans with jobs has declined because the labor market has stagnated in recent decades — fewer people losing or leaving jobs, fewer people landing new ones. This dearth of creative destruction, the authors argue, is the result of long-term trends including a slowdown in small business creation and the rise of occupational licensing.

“These results,” wrote the economists Stephen J. Davis, of the University of Chicago, and John Haltiwanger, of the University of Maryland, “suggest the U.S. economy faced serious impediments to high employment rates well before the Great Recession, and that sustained high employment is unlikely to return without restoring labor market fluidity.”

Photo

 
A Walmart employee in Pico Rivera, Calif., last year. Walmart offers relatively stable employment, contributing to reduced labor market churn. CreditKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Their findings contribute to the growing genre of papers that purport to show that the weakness of the American economy is caused largely by problems that predate the recession — and that the Federal Reserve can’t remedy them with low interest rates.

One of the clearest measures of the economic malaise is that the share of American adults with jobs fell from 62.7 percent at the end of 2007 to 58.3 percent at the end of 2009, and that it has since rebounded only slightly to 59 percent as of July.

At the same time, those who do have jobs are more likely to stay put. The high-profile change in the number of jobs that the government reports each month is a tally of the larger numbers of jobs created and eliminated. In recent decades, that churn has steadily declined. So has movement by workers among existing positions. The net effect is that the share of workers either leaving a job or taking a new one has steadily declined from about a third of the total number of workers in the 1990s to about a quarter of workers last year.

The basic idea at the heart of the paper is that the lack of churn in the labor market is making it harder for younger people to find jobs, and those who don’t are more likely to remain outside the labor force

“Those who seek work are likely to find a suitable job in a fluid labor market,” the authors write. “They then travel a path that involves human capital accumulation, strengthening their attachment to employment. In contrast, some marginal workers fail to find suitable employment quickly in a labor market characterized by reduced fluidity. So their market-relevant human capital depreciates, and their attachment to work weakens. These effects are likely to operate with particular force for younger worker, for whom labor market experience or its absence can powerfully influence whether they follow a path characterized by ‘specialization’ in market work or alternative nonmarket uses of time.”

Or more pithily, “Joblessness today begets joblessness in the future.”

The paper says that a 1 percentage point decline in the churning of the labor market lowers the employment rate by 0.77 of a percentage point, a huge effect. For the most vulnerable workers — young men who don’t complete high school — the employment rate drops by 1.44 points.

Mr. Davis and Mr. Haltiwanger attribute some of this decline to the aging of the work force; as people get older, they tend to change jobs less frequently. The decline in the creation of new companies is also playing a role. In effect, companies are getting older, too. This has been particularly pronounced in the retail sector, where giants like Walmart and McDonald’s offer relatively stable employment.

The paper argues that economic policy also plays an important role. The cost of training workers has increased, partly because the share of all workers who require government licenses has grown by one estimate from about 5 percent in the 1950s to 29 percent in 2008. This discourages hiring. So do legal changes that have made it more difficult to fire employees, the paper says. It also mentions health insurance as a reason that employees may stay put.

In the view of Mr. Davis and Mr. Haltiwanger, the recession just made a bad situation worse.

The economy clearly had problems before the crisis. Indeed, those problems contributed to the crisis.

But economists and policy makers will have to reconcile the assertion that these trends were the dominant factors with the reality that the employment rate rose in the years before the recession, then dropped sharply during the recession.

The new paper, like others of its genre, basically requires belief in a big coincidence: that a short-term catastrophe happened to coincide with the intensification of long-term trends — that the economy crashed at the moment that it was already beginning a gradual descent.”

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Bukowski’s Letter of Gratitude to the Man Who Helped Him Quit His Soul-Sucking Job and Become a Full-Time Writer

Bukowski’s Letter of Gratitude to the Man Who Helped Him Quit His Soul-Sucking Job and Become a Full-Time Writer

“…They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s overtime and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”

They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.

Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:

“I put in 35 years…”

“It ain’t right…”

“I don’t know what to do…”

They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?

I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.

I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life…”

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25% of American Workers Are Getting Screwed Out of an Important Benefit

25% of American Workers Are Getting Screwed Out of an Important Benefit

“…In the 1990s, 82% of private sector workers had some form of paid vacation, compared to just 77% now. Counting state and local government workers (at a dismal 59% rate), the total percentage of civilians who receive at least one paid vacation day is just 74%. Under half of the lowest quarter of earners get paid time off…”

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Why Are Men Leaving The American Workforce?

Why Are Men Leaving The American Workforce?

“…As might be expected, economists don’t agree on why so many men have left the workforce. Some possible factors they cite: There’s less of a stigma today if a man doesn’t work. Union clout has declined. More men are in early retirement receiving disability benefits. New technology has eliminated manufacturing jobs. And competition from abroad moved others overseas.

Autor says many service sector jobs that remain — in restaurants and retail, for example — don’t pay as well as the factory jobs that disappeared.

And with so many men in the prime of life missing from the workforce it can’t help but take a toll on the economy, Eberstadt says.

“The country is going to be less rich. They’re going to be less rich. Growth is going to be slower. It’s going to have really bad effects on wealth differences in the United States,” he says.

So what can be done? Certainly more education and better education would make a difference. But that’s a profound, long-term challenge. David Autor says there’s one smaller fix that would help — expand the earned income tax credit. It’s a subsidy that supports low-income workers when they find jobs and keep them. Right now, it primarily benefits women and children rather than single men.”

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How to Pitch Yourself: A Lesson from Young Eudora Welty’s Impossibly Charming Job Application to The New Yorker

How to Pitch Yourself: A Lesson from Young Eudora Welty’s Impossibly Charming Job Application to The New Yorker

“March 15, 1933

 

Gentlemen,

 

I suppose you’d be more interested in even a sleight-o’-hand trick than you’d be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can’t have the thing you want most.

 

I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930–31 while attending advertising classes in Columbia’s School of Business. Actually I am a southerner, from Mississippi, the nation’s most backward state. Ramifications include Walter H. Page, who, unluckily for me, is no longer connected with Doubleday-Page, which is no longer Doubleday-Page, even. I have a B.A.(’29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world. For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up.

 

As to what I might do for you — I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment, I think; in fact, I recently coined a general word for Matisse’s pictures after seeing his latest at the Marie Harriman: concubineapple. That shows you how my mind works — quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

 

Since I have bought an India print, and a large number of phonograph records from a Mr. Nussbaum who picks them up, and a Cezanne Bathers one inch long (that shows you I read e. e. cummings I hope), I am anxious to have an apartment, not to mention a small portable phonograph. How I would like to work for you! A little paragraph each morning — a little paragraph each night, if you can’t hire me from daylight to dark, although I would work like a slave. I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end. I have studied flower painting.

 

There is no telling where I may apply, if you turn me down; I realize this will not phase you, but consider my other alternative: the U of N.C. offers for $12.00 to let me dance in Vachel Lindsay’s Congo. I congo on. I rest my case, repeating that I am a hard worker.

 

Truly yours,

Eudora Welty”

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“Since 1988, members of Congress have had their pay…”

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