It's alluded to in the article but not really explored well enough - basically the idea that you don't need to be always busy, you need to pick your battles, recognise when you're in a rut, and get out of it.
Looking at generalities like "the average X does X" is just not interesting. It's not a goal to aim for. The average person has never had a good life, and probably never will unless we have a massive reduction in population or something.
Given that the regard of ones life as "good" is a highly subjective and personalized appraisal, this seems like it's heavily in the realm of unprovable yet interesting philosophy. I tend to believe that the average person can have a good life if they can find something that gives them meaning. It can be as simple as yoga and stoicism, or really anything.
I do find it interesting tho to look at how much better even the lower classes have it now than 50, or 100, or more years ago. Even simple things like indoor plumbing (it sure is nice to not have to go outside in sub-zero temperatures and snow to take a schnitz), heating and cooling systems, and electricity are amazing, and virtually everyone has them. Then we look at truly modern things like smart phones, which are also becoming ubiquitous. Royalty of a few centuries ago could have never dreamed of such a rich life. So, while I don't think "good life" and modern conveniences are anywhere near synonymous, I do think it's clear that the "average" person's life is getting much better (tho rising inequality is a problem, but that's incidental to this IMHO).
The article is about an individual's struggles; but they constantly make comparison to "millenials" as a group.
>the average person has never had a good life, and probably never will
Because our society doesn't care about people, only capital. There's nothing wrong with the average person, its that the average person is born into an environment where everything is working against them.
And I think it's pretty clear that as we reach unprecedented levels of income inequality - especially with climate change being a thing - that the inherent contradictions of the system are becoming more and more obvious. The yellow vest protests are a clear example of this. If we're lucky it'll end well, but whether or not the ruling class will take control of the situation and steer us towards fascism remains to be seen.
A person (singular) can grab as much as they can (and wish to) hold. An individual in good health in a country like the USA has a hell of a lot of agency.
But the people (plural) cannot. The economy relies on it, sure, but so too does the health of the environment, the physical amount of space available, energy limitations, and the hierarchical nature of status.
What works against them is the fact that we simply cannot have 300 million wealthy folk in big houses with cars (in the US) as a physical impossibility. Add on to that the societal aspect of the fact no-one is the binman/waiter/whatever in this scenario and it becomes even more obviously nonsense, yes, but it's not the largest problem by a long shot.
Oh, and then there's the other 6.5+ billion.
If you wish to work in charitable endeavours; there is nothing wrong with that, at all. Admirable, in fact.
But it must be recognised; and I don't think a lot of article writers, or indeed people in general, realise that this is what they are doing when they obsess over 'averages'. They are tying their success to that of society as a whole, which does indeed reduce their agency; because they are powerless to affect society as a whole in more than a trivial sense unless they rise to a position of great power.
Support those around you. Be a good citizen. But focus on yourself first.
1) "it's physics"
- Texas alone receives more solar energy than our daily planet-wide power consumption, like hundreds of times more. Given a plant-based building material, basic needs for all humans, including "large" homes, could be reduced to just an energy supply problem. There's enough resources for all people be live well, if we would work together to use them effectively.
2) "focus on yourself first"
- I believe this is what got us into this mess of global inequality (not just USA, consider difference between average American and average African) and global warming. We need not to focus on ourselves, but work together to elect leaders that will align economic incentives with the good of all humans, not just the owners of capital.
The problem is, the entire system we have is pretty much the opposite of this right now. I get that what I'm saying amounts to little more than saying "let's have a wand and pray," but I believe there is a path out of the next 100 years that leaves us all better off than where we are now. I just haven't figured out exactly what that path is yet.
But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about how an individual improves their own situation.
Double the median salary in the UK, and any individual would still be way better off just ignoring the advice of "what an average person should do" and doing well for themselves.
Trivially provable - the median income is ~3x the minimum, incomes of 10x the minimum are eminently achievable, and obviously billionaires exist (of course, any individual has a low likelihood of making that happen even with extreme effort).
Again, you're always better off trying to improve your own situation _even if_ you have charitable goals. Especially if you have charitable goals... it's generally easier to make an impact if you're not poor.
Society does not work in this sort of averaged collective way because individuals exist. It's pretty much that simple. Things aren't equally distributed. If you produce a model for society that is based on equal distribution of resources - you've created a wonderful work of art, but it's abstract, not real.
What will potentially steer us that way is the frustration felt by everyone else, and the folks waiting in the wings to take advantage of a bad situation to push various extremist philosophies and ideas. That may be fascism (which in turn may or may not be Nazi like), it may be communism, it may be religious theocracy esque beliefs or something else. Whatever it is, crazy extremists are usually outside of the system, and thrive in chaos.
It's a natural consequence of the death spiral capitalism has put us into, of uncontrolled consumerism and an insane instence on ever-increasibg growth and "productivity".
We need to slow down.
Granted, it was written by someone who went through graduate school (a PhD program, specifically), so our experience might not be representative of the entire generation - but it resonated with me.
Moreover, thanks to automation and globalization, good paying jobs in many disciplines can be harder to come by -- perhaps greatest in the working class.
They feel they have to work harder than older generations to keep up and that is because they do.
The reasons for the higher cost of housing and of education has to do with the older generations using politics to take created wealth for themselves and not to help younger generations has been done in the past.
For example, in NYC, DC, Boston, Seattle, SF, LA, London, there are zoning laws that restrict zoning density creating an artificial scarcity in housing while benefiting primarily wealthy landlords.
States are paying smaller and smaller proportions of public university budgets with the remainder having to be made up of student loans.
Special interests stopped a bill in committee in the Senate of California that would have allowed construction of 5 stories buildings near mass transit stops.
Japan realizes the harm of zoning density restrictions and thus has federal laws overriding any local laws. The result: in 2014, there were 140,000 housing units were built in Tokyo vs. less than 90,000 for all of California.
Ultimately, Millennials need to focus and prioritize these issues in order to have a future -- becoming politically involved to help lower housing costs and university education.
Specifically, both Democrats and Republicans are focused on so many issues instead of focusing on what is important: Fixing local zoning laws so that there is affordable housing for Millennials and taxpayer money contributing proportions of public university education that had been spent in the past.