My own generation faced the Vietnam War. We were at risk of getting drafted, and then maimed or killed in an unwinnable battle against imagined evils.
Today’s young people are being drafted into an economic war that they don’t understand. It’s a slowly waged, diabolical war that substitutes debt and underemployment for missing limbs and psychological disorders. The soldiers are college-age men and women who can’t find jobs or pay tuition, and who are seduced into submission by the promise of eventual rewards. The Vietnamese jungle has turned into Wall Street.
For those of us who weren’t particularly good activists in the 60s, age has widened our perspective, and the lack of opportunities for our children has given us a second chance to protest, to help make it clear how the leaders of my generation have abandoned the people they no longer need.
Young America, here’s why you should be angry:
1. The Great WEALTH Transfer
– 18- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.
– The Richest 1%: They tripled their share of income between 1980 and 2006, then took 93% of all the new income in the first year after the 2008 recession. Their median net worth is now over $5,000,000.
2. The Lack of JOBS: No one’s hiring, so you have to “create your own job.”
This from Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner: “The good news is that information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and interests…creating your own career will produce a stronger sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just grab youriPhone, open up Facebook, and create your own job. Become an entrepreneur, just like the richest Americans. Except that the richest Americans aren’t entrepreneurs. Based on U.S. tax return data, only 3% of the wealthiest 130,000 Americans are entrepreneurs. Most are in management or finance.
As your parents and mentors, we told you to stay in school and work hard and everything would be fine. But you don’t have jobs. Over half of college graduates were jobless or underemployed in 2011. More than 350,000 Americans with advanced degrees were receiving food stamps or some other form of public assistance.
If you do have a job, it’s probably not paying much. Salaries for new graduates dropped 10% just in the last year. Worse yet, most of you are dealing with college loan debt, which averages $24,000, and with the reality of zero net worth for over a third of you.