It is to be expected that different generations have different values and view each other as either too old or self-absorbed. I have been thinking lately about the Millennials, those born in the 1980s and 1990s. Like my parent’s generation, born at the beginning of the last century, they are coming of age in the midst of the worst economic times since the Great Depression.
Unlike my parent’s generation, mine, and theirs, they have grown up in a very different era, defined I think by all the technology that allows them to be constantly connected to family and friends, but those who study them find them to be more narcissistic, more materialistic, and more subject to anxiety, depression and, loneliness. They well may be the most medicated generation, often starting in school and leaving them dependent on pharmaceuticals that short-circuit their ability to learn how to cope with the normal stresses of life.
My generation is called the Traditionalists, born pre-1945. We are 8% of the workforce and were succeeded by the Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964. They are 30% of the workforce and more than 70% of them are working passed the age of retirement.
Generation X was born 1965 to 1980. They represent 17% of the U.S. population and were followed by Generation Y, born 1981 to 1995. They are 25% of the population. Technology has had a huge impact on this group.
The Millennials overlap with Generation Y. Neither group can even imagine what it must have been like to have been born before the advent of television, let alone computers and cell phones. They, like Generation X, have passed through heavy liberal indoctrination in the nation’s schools unless they grew up in families and communities where the values of an earlier generation were absorbed.
A recently released study, “Personality Processes and Individual Differences: Generational Differences in Young Adults’ Life Goals, Concern for Others, and Civic Orientation, 1966-2009", paints a less than flattering picture of the Millennials.
Let me say that I do not personally know anyone of the Millennial generation of Americans. I observe them from afar, often wondering if we share the same planet. I feel sorry that they are growing up in a vulgar era and one in which the sexual rules that defined male-female relationships have greatly diminished.
No doubt my grandparents regarded the 1920s Prohibition-era boys and girls who were breaking a lot of the rules of society in the same fashion. The Traditionalists, however, hued close to most of the rules; getting married, raising families, pursuing careers.
Most demographers who study population trends identify the 1960s as a demarcation point so far as shifts in attitudes between the generations can be identified. It was the era of the Civil Rights movement followed by the Vietnam War in the 1970s, and the rise of environmentalism. It was an era of increasing drug use, hippies, protests, and Watergate.
I think the Millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, are going to be seen as being especially harmed as the result of the 2008 financial crisis that left them with an anemic economy and generally unable to move on with their lives. The Traditionalists had Pearl Harbor. The Millennials have 9/11.
In the study, the Millennials are seen as spendthrifts, especially with regard to new technologies that they regard as essential rather than just gadgets. They are “addicted to instant gratification” and, not surprisingly, are “the fastest growing demographic of those who purchase luxury goods.”
Millennials are broke. Not only are they encumbered by student debt but many are unemployed or under-employed in terms of their degrees. The official unemployment rate for those 18 to 29 years of age is 12.1%, but their declining labor force participation includes 1.7 million who are not counted as “unemployed” because they are not in the labor force, often giving up looking because of the lack of jobs. Some may be wondering why none of the billions in bail-out and stimulus money benefited them?
The bad news is that polls show that 49% of Millennials “view socialism in a favorable light” compared with 43% who view it unfavorably. For some, capitalism has failed. Many of the Traditionalists who had lived through the Great Depression felt the same way and they often raised children that shared liberal notions about the economy, supporting entitlement programs that are not only with us today, but are being expanded by the current administration.
The Millennials played a significant role in electing Barack Obama even if they (and a lot of others) did not grasp that he is a Communist. I suspect that a large cohort of Millennials, nearly four years later, feel less enthusiastic about him. The study cited above found that Millennials have less interest in government and are less likely than the Boomers and Generation X to vote.
An organization, Generation Opportunity, with 3.4 million Facebook fans, ages 18 to 29, invited them to “Sign the Declaration” by way of celebrating Independence Day, reaffirming its principles. By July 4th, 1.5 million did so, demonstrating their patriotism and a strong belief in American Exceptionalism, so clearly there is hope for these Millennials!
The odds are, however, that not as many Millennials will vote in November or, if they do, they may decide the problems they are encountering are Obama’s fault and swing toward Romney. He still needs to fashion a message that connects with their deepest concern, themselves!
© Alan Caruba, 2012
"For some, capitalism has failed."
People tell me that Capitalism doesn’t work. I ask how they would know? We haven’t practiced it for over 50 years. (I could argue since 1932.)
At a financial seminar that I recently attended I said that we were practicing crony capitalism and before I could continue the speaker said, “That’s Fascism.” I said, “That’s right.”
Natural law says if you do right and succeed you benefit, if you do wrong and fail, you lose. Under crony capitalism if you support the government they keep you from failing with subsidies and bailouts and if you don’t support the government they penalize you with restrictive regulations and the denial of permits.
Here’s the problem: Conventional wisdom says that we are a Capitalist nation when in fact we are already deeply immersed in Fascism. (Definitions: Communism: Government ownership of the means of production. Fascism: Government control of the means of production. Nazism: Fascism with a genetic component.) This means that whenever anything goes wrong with the economy Capitalism is blamed even if brought about by government interference like the housing boom and bust. The solutions proposed are more government control (read Fascism). This creates more economic turmoil for which, once again, Capitalism is blamed. And the vicious cycle continues. No wonder "Millennials 'view socialism in a favorable light'.”
I do not mean to suggest that if we had true capitalism that there would not be economic disruptions, the business cycle has not been repealed, but the business cycle is just that, a cycle, it has ups and downs. Without government interference market forces, driven by self interest, will reverse downward trends just as they reverse an overheated economy. It also imposes self discipline, businesses and people prepare for a “rainy day”. This worked for 150 years before the 1929 depression. The depression of 1920, with no government interference, was over in 18 months.
Captitalism has been confused with "Dollarocracy" ( Everthing depends on bribery and monetary influence). Very little difference in the result (like Communism which depends on intimidation and force olf government).
The reason capitalism is blamed is the result of a BIASED AND CORRUPT MEDIA which is 95% liberal, Democrats. If the recent housing debacle was accurately and repeatedly reported (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC) that it was caused by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in Congress with the help of George Bush, Alan Greenspan, Frank Raines, James Johnson and the banking collapse was caused by greedy Wall Street bankers, (Goldman Sachs, Roy Blankfein) the Federal Reserve (Alan Greenspan), Congress (Chris Dodd, Barney Frank) , Secretary of Treasury, Henry Paulson and a complicit Congress buying off Washington politicians and self dealing the American public would have put a stop to such illegality! If some of these people were sent to jail it would put a big chill on their activities. For the past several decades as the Federal government grew in size and complexity it has become totally lawless. The worst that can happen is a crook can pay a fine but, not go to jail! This must change!!
You are so right! The "Forgotten Depression" of the early 20ties needs to be publicized to clearly demonstrate the folly of government trying to correct natural events. Calvin Coolidge and Treasury Secretary Mellon did a spectacular job of ending the post World War I depression. See File: Capitalism succeeded wildly which was called the "Roaring Twenties". Obama, the communist/Marxist, has done just the opposite and we will pay dearly for the rest of our US economic history. The "Petrodollar" is ending!
America’s Forgotten Depression... and Roaring Recovery!
February 24, 2010 - 12:31 ET
Ever hear of the Great Depression of 1920? No, me either. Do you know why? Because the recession that began shortly after World War I ended never deepened and never became “great” (as though any depression is great). There is a history lesson in that story that our leadership in Washington should keep in mind today.
As the United States, and the world, came out of World War I, the economies of the warring powers had been cranked up to full production to meet wartime demands. Suddenly, in 1918, the Armistice was announced, and within a year, troops began returning to civilian life. The influx of millions of soldiers worldwide introduced sudden unemployment, and thousands of farmers came back to farms that were already at or near full capacity, causing farm prices to fall. In the United States, Woodrow Wilson’s hand-picked successor, James Cox, the newspaper magnate from Dayton, Ohio, ran on a platform of reducing America’s wartime debt through a policy of maintaining Wilson’s outrageously high wartime tax rates.
The Progressive President Wilson had been in office when the Income Tax Amendment was passed—a story in itself. While the goal of the Progressives who favored an income tax was first and foremost wealth redistribution (not raising money to run the government), the income tax itself was largely sold to the American people on two major positive features. First, its rates were (by current standards) ridiculously low. Most people paid no income taxes at all, the bottom bracket paid only about 1%, and the very richest Americans paid only 6% (today, many states have higher income tax rates than that!). As a Vegas comedian would say, “What’s not to like?”
But it only took Wilson a couple of years of war to jack up the top rates to an astounding 73% (near confiscation) and hike the bottom rate to 25%.
Now for a little sidebar: how often have you heard that “World War II got us out of the Great Depression?” Probably more times than you can count. What is often forgotten is that when your very survival is at stake, as it was from 1941 to 1945, people will submit to most anything—rationing, confiscatory tax rates, muzzling of civil liberties. This is laudable and natural. But it is wholly unnatural and oppressive for a government to seek to maintain wartime tax levels and intrusions on civil liberties in peacetime. Hence, to return to our story, Wilson “got away” with the outrageously high tax rates during the war because . . . it was a war! Once the threat was over, however, Americans expected their country back.
Cox’s opponent, Warren Harding, also of Ohio, ran on a platform of returning the country to its pre-war “normal” economy and freedoms. While he didn’t explicitly endorse a tax cut, voters rightly inferred that’s what he meant, and sent him to the White House instead of Cox. In perhaps his shrewdest move, Harding asked Pittsburgh millionaire Andrew Mellon to be the Secretary of the Treasury. When Mellon told him he “didn’t want the job,” Harding knew he had the right guy. Mellon finally gave in, and immediately studied the recession, which was severe.
Various estimates of the 1920-1921 recession suggest that Gross National Product fell anywhere from 2.4% to a whopping 6.9%. Estimates of unemployment put the rate at between 7% and 8%. Interestingly, while most economists correctly identify the issue of returning troops as a “shock,” few note that the extremely high tax rates dragged the economy down faster than “Bernie” behind the boat (reference to “Weekend at Bernies,” if you haven’t seen it).
Mellon performed a review of another phenomenon: even though Wilson’s boys consistently pushed up tax rates, the relative return from those rates fell steadily. Without knowing it, Mellon had come up with an early version of the “Laffer Curve,” which says that at a certain point, raising taxes will result in less revenue to government, because people will silently revolt and either cease work or go into the black market. Mellon convinced Harding to ask Congress for a radical tax cut. Of course, many in government opposed. In a stunner, the New York Times of 1909 had actually warned that “when men get in the habit of keeping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it.” Harding died in office, but his successor, the great Calvin Coolidge, remained committed to steeply reducing tax rates. Mellon, Harding, and Coolidge succeeded in reducing the top rate from 73% to 25%, and the bottom rate from 25% to 5%. There are two observations one can make: a) that’s an astounding drop, and all three men are to be commended, and b) it was still many times higher than the pre-war rates!
Nevertheless, the economy quickly recovered. Unemployment rates fell, down to 5%, then 4%, then finally, in 1926, to 1.6% according to one study. Even more shocking, the share of taxes paid by the rich . . . skyrocketed. Those earning over $50,000 (a “supermillionaire” back then) had only paid 45% of the total taxes when the rates were sky-high, but after the Mellon cuts paid 62%. Those in the “Bill Gates” category of “so-rich-they-wouldn’t-pick-up-a-$100-bill-on-the-sidewalk” rich ($100,000 at the time), saw their share of taxes paid almost double, from 28% to 51%.
We call what happened next the “Roaring ‘20s,” because the economy absolutely went nuts. Average Americans came to own cars, radio, have appliances and the electricity to power them (electricity use rose by almost 300% between 1899 and 1929), telephones, and a myriad of other products once considered luxuries. Ford’s Model T, once considered revolutionary for its low cost and simplicity, now was out; General Motors, with its different car line for every income class was in. And they say tax cuts don’t work? Tell that to the Americans of the Roaring ‘20s.”
Professor of History, University of Dayton
co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States
. Quoted in Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter J. Tanous, The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy—If We Let It Happen (New York: Threshold, 2008), 49.
. See Larry Schweikart and Lynne Pierson Doti, American Entrepreneur (New York: Amacom, 2009), ch. 9.
Great post, thanks! :)
Unlike you Alan, I have a millennial within my household... my granddaughter. She is 14 and already has the attitude that anything old cannot be fixed. But her dad (my son) is the same way. They say that children learn by watching their parents but I don't see it. Hubby and I have always been self-sufficient. We fix everything, cars, plumbing, renovating, sew, knit, bake... the list goes on... In fact we've often shopped at dumps as we drop off our garbage and see what people dump, we've always reused, renewed and fixed things. Hubby took me shopping for a car years ago at a junk yard. We always did what we had to in order to make our way through life. In fact my granddaughter would always say.... grandma, you can do anything!!! Yet, here she is now putting up her nose to anything used or old. It's truly upsetting sometimes. I've always pushed to make sure my kids knew how to be independent, self-sufficient and successful. Yet, it hasn't seemed to rub off. I fear for their future if they will need to be.
But they love Junior!!!
They need a chart to show them just what his reign of failure costs them.
I am a "Baby Boomer" and I am the parent of a "millennial/Generation Y" and in no way is he "narcissistic, more materialistic, and more subject to anxiety, depression and, loneliness. They well may be the most medicated generation, often starting in school and leaving them dependent on pharmaceuticals that short-circuit their ability to learn how to cope with the normal stresses of life." He is not a "spendthrift" always in dire need of the latest techno gadget; he is not "addicted to instant gratification"! He does not "view socialism in a favorable light"; he did not vote for Barack Hussein Obama in the last election (his first election to vote in); he is interested in what his government is doing and has voted in every election since he was first able to vote.
And why you ask does he not fall into the stereo-type you have outlined in this discussion--I'd like to think that it's because of his father and myself and our extended family; our values and morals and our religion that have influenced him to be the hard working, conscientious, thrifty, involved young man that he is today. IMO--too many young folks have not had the benefit of having parents--they've had "buddies" or "friends" instead of parents who are suppose to teach them right from wrong!
I feel that you have misjudged and lumped together this generation based on the actions of a few (you know the old saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease, in other words, the outlandish behavior of a few have obviously gotten your attention). Just as we are always stating here on TPN that there are "more of us" then there are of them (Libs/Progressives), I truly believe that there are many more young adults out there who do not fit into the generalization you have posted and the reason that you/we don't know about them is that just like those of us from our generation(s), they are busy being productive, well adjusted, upstanding citizens and don't have the time to go and "occupy" and encampment for months on end! JMHO :)
. . .and if you'd be so kind as to indulge me, I came across this "story" the other day and I feel it goes to my point of parents need to be parents and not their child's "buddy" (which IMO means that we can't completely blame these young folks for how they may/may not behave/act if they've never been taught by their parents):
Does She Have To Be So Tough? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
Shortly after midterm exams a student stopped me as I was walking across campus. I asked her how her tests had gone and she said they were not too tough, except for one professor’s. "Her tests are impossible to pass," she said. "I have to study so much harder for her tests just to keep up my grades."
"But," I asked, "do you learn more from all that studying for her tests, or from the teachers that are not so difficult?"
"Well, yes, I do seem to understand her course better," she explained. "But does she have to be so tough?"
So I asked her if she had ever sharpened a knife.
"Yes," she said, "my Daddy taught my how to sharpen a knife when we went on a family camping trip."
"Did you use a stone or a towel?" I asked.
"What," she questioned, "you can’t sharpen a knife on a towel!"
"Exactly!" I answered. "You can’t sharpen a knife on a towel. A knife can only be sharpened on a hard surface so that it will be sharp enough to fulfill its purpose and cut what needs cutting." I continued, "Students, and children, too, cannot be sharpened on soft surfaces. They are sharpened on the hard surfaces of teachers and parents, so that they will be sharp enough to cut it in life and fulfill their life purpose."
Final word, I promise. . .Let's encourage these young folks; let's lead by example; communicate with them and not at them and maybe even stop talking for a few minutes and "listen" to what they have to say and how they feel. Yes, we have the benefit of hindsight and years of experience and IMO it is our responsibility to share that with anyone younger than us--but I believe that these young folks have something to bring to the table as well and shouldn't be discounted.
I agree with what you say, Nancy. It is such good common sense and I believe there is so much reward that comes from raising kids with good values and establishing boundaries. I did not have boundaries in my own life growing up and I pushed and rebelled so much to get my parents to "take charge". Thank God, my aunt, who was a great Christian women raised me in my early years up until age 6 and I came to my senses and realized that she was right. I tried to give boundaries to my daughter, but my husband tried to be the "buddy" and inconsistence doesn't work. I wound up being the bad guy and I am still in that slot. Now my daughter is teaching classes with young children and is finding out that the parenting makes the difference. She is always shocked at what parents allow their kids to do, so maybe one day she will wake up and realize that I tried to set the parameters out of love. It is the hardest job in the world to parent and, if you slack off for fear they won't like you, you are probably going to reap the fruit of your non-labor. Thanks for that insight. I hope you wake up some people.