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The Fleecing of Millennials (nytimes.com)
96 points by SolaceQuantum 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

The fleecing affects millennials in that they cannot save and invest their income. Once they've paid their health care and education [1] payments, they have nothing left to save.

Per capita, in 2017 dollars, 1970 Americans spent $1,797 on health care. In 2017, $10,739 [0]. In return on that $9,000 annual investment: Life expectancy rose from 74.7 to 78.6, adding 3.9 years.

In 1993, the annual cost for tuition & fees to attending a UC as an in-state was $5,000. Today, it's $15,000 [2]. That's a 3x increase during a period when inflation was 1.7x. A Gen Y-er would have paid $20,000 in tuition for a 4-year degree. A millenial, $60,000. That $40,000 is money that could otherwise have been saved.

Since those costs were lower as a percentage of income for boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, those prior generations had a better chance to save. Today, they also have highest incomes, and again, can save if that's how they prioritize their finances.

Millennials, not so much. For sure, health care and education affects earlier generations, but they were better able to save in 401(k) plans because the portion of their income that went to health and education was substantially less than for millennials.

[0] https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-spe...

[1] https://www.savingforcollege.com/article/growth-in-student-l...

[2] https://www.kqed.org/news/70585/csu-and-uc-tuition-hikes-ove...

I think it's worth pointing out here that the terms Gen Y and Millenial both refer to the same generation (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials)

This was really odd for me to learn only a couple weeks ago. I had always assumed I was a Gen Yer and that Millenials were just getting out of college now.

You're correct. None of the parent's argument makes any sense in light of this error. I don't understand why the post is being upvoted--the data is outright wrong!

I sense that people may blindly upvote posts reporting figures, especially if they come with sources.

Generation X and Millennial isn't really a sharp transition. No generation is, but it is even more diffuse this time since there wasn't necessarily one or multiple "big events" at a fixed date. I don't know if parent's argument is correct, but what is being said is essentially early Millennial, ~1985 and late Millennial, ~1995. Huge difference in many e.g. housing markets. Once people born around the actual millennial gets old enough we might start talking about Generation Z instead.

Most people born in 1985 had their income affected too much by the Great Recession to really take advantage of the lower housing prices then.

Could be the case for many people. I think the commonality between generations might even be declining in favor of other divides. It is in some ways assumed that many people are starting at the bottom and mostly share paths based on development. But I am not sure that is the case anymore, if it ever really were.

I made the cutoff for Gen-X by a year, but still benefitted from the generally referenced figures in the comment. It's staggering how much more it costs now. My wife is a mere 5 years younger than I and her tuition cost her 3x my own.

Housing and childcare are also outpacing inflation and wages. It’s crazy how much more things cost as a percentage of income than in the ‘90s. We’re going to have an inevitable retirement crisis when most millennials are forced to work until they die since they won’t have anything left to put into savings. 70% of Americans can’t even put together $400 in an emergency. I see things getting even worse unless something significant changes.

The likelihood of a crisis isn't just propagating out current trends. Once enough boomers die off, how will policy change? In 5-15 years, universal single-payer healthcare and tuition debt forgiveness are conceivable.

Part of that is the structure of the economy, like you say. A significant proportion of it, as a millennial myself, is people having a terrible understanding of personal finance.

If you spend all your money on things to impress people or because "you deserve them", then you end up with an empty pot.

There have always been people with bad personal finance. The difference is that the necessities that you cannot avoid all cost orders of magnitude more—-healthcare, housing, college, childcare. This means people how a smaller margin for mistakes and even one hospital trip can put them in debt for years/decades or bankruptcy.

The rules have changed and people are still trying to live like their parents did.

Healthcare is expensive. If you are on Obamacare, it is subsidized.

Housing is expensive if you want to live in a "good" neighborhood. There are a lot of "okay" neighborhoods that people can afford just fine.

College is expensive, but it really depends on which university you go to. As much as anything, the college issue is intentional misdirection by the people who are steering parents and kids into those choices. There are very economical options, but the price tags and ramifications of those choices are usually not spelled out very well to the people making those decisions.

Edit: Childcare is absolutely expensive, to the point that I really expect having a parent stay at home to swing back around to being more normal. We have three kids and if my wife worked, it would cost more to have them in daycare than she would make while they were there.

One parent not working has massive negative externalities for everyone. For society the labour force shrinks and the economy follows. Your wife's career is effectively over after 5-10 years off for childcare. If you lose your job your family will be in trouble. If you get divorced you will not enjoy the results.

Two parents working has negative externalities as well. Costs adjust to what families can bear. Double incomes means increased prices and reduced purchasing power for everyone.

My wife's career never started. Her degree was worthless so she was working as a barista before we had kids. She does some work on the side, but she was never going to generate the kind of income I do solely based on our respective career choices.

If I lose my job, we can live off savings for several years. If I am unable to find work, the economy has bigger problems that are independent of my wife working or not. If I die or become disabled, that's what insurance is for.

No one enjoys divorce. In some cases it is a necessary evil, but I don't think anyone would ever characterize it as pleasant.

Instead of just going "welp, this is how things are now", there is always the option to change the rules back. How about we go back to 90% taxes on the top brackets and see how millennials fare then?

Replying to you again because I addressed your latter point, but not the first.

I absolutely agree there are things that could be changed to make life better for many people.

However, you live in the present, under the rules as they are. And from there you gain leverage to change the future.

Living as if the rules were different when they aren't just sets you up for failure.

It's the whole idea of "be so good they can't ignore you".

The rich don't make their money off of taxable income. They make their money off of appreciating assets. You can tax them all you want and it won't change a thing. You could try to create a wealth tax, but basically anyone with any assets would fight it tooth and nail and it would never go through without something akin to a communist revolution.

>basically anyone with any assets would fight it tooth and nail and it would never go through without something akin to a communist revolution.

Now you're getting it.

Also, the "wealth tax" exists, it's called the capital gains tax, and it only goes up to 20%. It should be 100%.

Even a 100% capital gains tax would be regressive relative to a true wealth tax, since it never touches the starting asset base. Also, a wealth tax incentivizes productive investments, while a capital gains tax disincentivizes them.

The majority of my net worth is tied up in appreciating assets. I would be on the side of those fighting to keep that from happening.

But how does the level of that appreciation compare to your income? What level of wealth tax would you accept if it meant that you no longer have to pay income tax?

Obviously I don't expect an answer to that - just something to consider.

Thanks to current tax policies, and how my family fits into them, I pay very little in income tax.

Asset appreciation is exponential. Income is linear. The only way to get ahead financially is to use leftover income to build a portfolio of appreciating assets.

Boomer's may have accumulated a large amount of wealth, but that wealth is going to be hit hard by Baumol's cost disease.

Right now the US has ~4 workers per retiree. That's going to be dropping to about 2 in the next few decades. And despite frantic efforts from the Japanese, the services that the elderly need are hard to automate. These services generally suffer from Baumol's cost disease: nursing et al are very 1:1 jobs with or without the help of technology.

It's weird though - my girlfriend studies nursing and Geriatric Nursing is still one of the lowest paid specialisations with poor conditions and respect (compared to say working in the ICU).

It seems residential homes charge the 'guests' loads and pay the staff (carers, nurses, cleaners etc.) very, very little.

Hopefully not offending anyone, but it is one of the most manual labor intensive and has some of the lowest educational requirements and cognitive overhead of the various nursing specialties. It also carries lower requisite insurance costs.

Also one of the best examples of what you lose in this changing society though. The decline of the middle class in general is of course problematic, but at least some of these jobs weren't worth saving as activities (though probably as careers). However that you can't have sustainable career as a common nurse, teacher or construction worker is a huge problem. Because these professions can't necessarily be paid a lot and also serve the public.

Geriatric may be one of the worst paid of the nursing professions, but nursing itself has seen its salaries increase dramatically. Partially due to demand, partially due to increasing responsibilities, and partially due to the equal pay for equal work movement. I know nurses who make well into 6 figures. That's because they work way more than 40 hours / week, with much of that night shift, but even without it's not the horrible pay it used to to. Nursing is definitely a "sustainable career".

I hope you are correct. Point still stands that professions like nursing to some extent have an inverse relationship between utility and cost. Everyone can't be a nurses with specialist education, a teachers at private school or a construction worker building luxury apartment buildings. If people do not want to pay more, and probably also lose more in transit, I think it is crucial that you can live a good life at low costs in those professions. Otherwise no one is going be left to care for the weak, tech the poor or build housing for the middle class. At least not with good results.

But nursing salaries in general have increased dramatically over the decades. From wages suitable for "unskilled girls" to something that is almost appropriate for the highly skilled professionals that they are.

> Right now the US has ~4 workers per retiree. That's going to be dropping to about 2 in the next few decades.

I think it's more like a 1/3 drop will take 45 years:


not that it changes your overall point by much.

I sure hope they put their retirement investments into companies that pay their workers enough that society still functions. My bet would be on complaints about how milk is five times as expensive as it was back in the 80s instead.

> nursing et al are very 1:1 jobs with or without the help of technology

How's that? I'm not familiar with the industry at all, but every place I've seen has far fewer nurses than patients. Is there a source on this information? Or some inside information I am unaware of? Or are you just exaggerating by using the term 'very'?

By 1:1 I meant that nurses spend time hands on with patients one at a time.

I see. And so you're saying productivity of the profession is fixed or somewhat limited. Got it, thanks.

Are the services really very hard to automate? It seems a lot of the staff time is spent administering medication, helping patients move around and monitoring. All of these sound amenable to automation within today's state of the art.

> Are the services really very hard to automate?

Absolutely yes. Patients may be frail and suffering cognitive decline that demands compassionate expertise if one is to provide humane care.

It's cute that they call it a fleecing, as if millenials could really have done anything about this.

Sadly (I guess...) I suspect the generation responsible for all of this is going to end up paying some unexpected prices when the time comes as they age out of power and have to look to millenials for care.

> I suspect the generation responsible for all of this is going to end up paying some unexpected prices when the time comes as they age out of power and have to look to millenials for care.

Are they going to age out? It seems as though politicians are staying politicians as long as possible - I feel like they last dying gasps of that generation will be clinging to power with shaky palms all the way into the grave. There's new blood, absolutely, but look who is still running the houses. "Cold dead hands" comes to mind.

I don't just mean political power, physical power counts too.

No, the millenials will be paying for the older generation's retirement and healthcare via Social Security and Medicare.

> millenials will be paying for the older generation's retirement and healthcare via Social Security and Medicare

My guess is younger generations, once better politically ensconced, will flip the script on boomers by funding broad social benefits out of social security and Medicare. (For example, by reducing Medicare benefits while making them available to all age groups.)

This won’t happen until the boomers numbers are much smaller then the milliennials.

The boomers will be a unified block all voting for social security and health care for the elderly.

Everyone else will be split around various special interests.

So maybe in 20 years?

> Everyone else will be split around various special interests

I think you’re overestimating the probability of this factor. Twenty years isn’t a bad estimate, but I’d guess closer to 10.

I think you're underestimating the fact that the boomers will be a bunch of sick old people literally relying on millenials to take care of them in nursing homes.

Not unless the GOP gets its way and privatizes both.

Then we'll just be paying it out of pocket.

Eh. If that happened, then at least I'd only be paying for myself out of pocket and not also the older generation that saw fit to have their cake, eat it, and leave the bill for the next generation.

(Not that I actually believe there should be a privatised healthcare system.)

That's a good point.

However, the narrative of "blame the boomers" is a con.

Blow this off if you want, but just realize that unless you're a russian bot or an ally of the American oligarchs you're working against your own self interests.

The con is blame the problems of one group on another group to separate them and get them fighting each other. This distracts everyone from the real causes of the problems. It's the same as blaming the brown people, which is pretty popular right now too. (Not a coincidence: in both cases the groups have a hard time understanding each other and it's very easy to identify the other group.) Another big one is getting people to identify as Ds and Rs and letting them blame and fight each other. (They are somewhat harder to identify, but the red hats help.)

It's important for millennials to understand this because without addressing the actual problem you are not going to end up with an actual working solution.

You'll go after boomers and still see no improvements. No doubt the people benefitting from the con will say you simply need to go after them harder. Guess what? That other group of people aren't actually demons and anyone demonizing them is bs'ing you, whether wittingly or not.

That's not to say boomers haven't benefited from the current system -- they have (generally). But their main advantage there is that they vote. (I don't know the full solution to that, but one thing is we have to make voting easier.)

I think the main problem is the massive money in politics. The people with money have always used it to influence politics in order to get more money. But they seem to have basically won outright at this point, with firm control of congress and the supreme court. The executive is mostly under control. The guy at the top is a wild-card but can be managed and is incompetent in any case.

Anyway, I wish I had a lot of answers but I don't. Just keep your eyes open and don't fall for the con. That's probably not enough to ensure a good outcome, but if you don't it's enough to ensure a bad outcome.

> I don't know the full solution to that, but one thing is we have to make voting easier.

I wholeheartedly agree. We need absolutely zero friction to onboard younger generations.

What does this look like to you? Do we provide an app where people can input their social security, driver's license, or other ID number? How do we keep it from being abused if this information was stolen by a third party?

Ideally we could have something as simple as download -> vote -> submit. And also provide a website version that doesn't even need to be downloaded.

How do we get something like this approved? What states would be the most likely to go for this?

> What does this look like to you?

I don't know, really.

An app & web site are great for convenience, but large-scale hacking needs to be very difficult to do and easy to detect and verify... vs. highly motivated & well-funded state-level actors. That's not easy. On a related note, people generally also have to have a level of trust and comfort with the system.

While those "details" are worked out, maybe some enhancements to the existing mechanisms will help...

* pre-paid postage on mail-in ballots? I've heard that the post office will deliver mail-in ballots even without postage, but when the envelope clearly says "postage required" not a lot of people are going to attempt that route.

* Same day voter registration? There's some increased potential for fraud. But it's also the day where all the political officials & volunteers of all parties from big to small are mobilized and watching. It should be possible to have a system for this that is very difficult to perpetrate fraud against it at any scale.

* Make voting day a Saturday or Sunday? (A national holiday is tricky. A lot of people don't get paid when they don't work, it doesn't matter if it's a national holiday or not. And I expect a new national holiday will be largely used for purposes other than the intended one.)

* 6am to 9pm polling hours? This is tough. There are real people working the polls all day, from before they open until after they close, sometimes a long time after. IDK, maybe 6am to 8pm?

* Give people a sandwich or a pizza when they vote? I guess more generally, get food trucks to come out and work the polling places which accept vouchers from the polling place?

IDK. There are surely people who've worked on this for years so my off-the-top-of-my-head ideas are surely hopelessly naive, aside from the ones I've gotten from those people.

These are fantastic ideas (many I hadn't thought of), and I'll definitely advocate for them! Thanks for sharing.

You're acting as if all of this is deliberate and planned. I'll give you a hint, it isn't. Everything is not going to be ok. The responsibility of these problems is societal ignorance. I'll give you another hint, that isn't going to get any better.

This isn't going to end well...

> It's cute that they call it a fleecing

Not sure it's cute but it's definitely odd. Fleecing implies that something was taken from millennials.

> have to look to millenials for care

Are you implying that millenials are more selfish than previous generations? Do you have a basis for that assertion?

A major contributor to millennials' expenses is housing. NIMBYism will continue to be a contraint to having sufficiently more living units in existing major cities for the foreseeable future.

We should push for building new cities or upgrading existing small ones. We can create them to fit with lifestyles of the young: walkable, bike- and pedestrian-friendly, well-served by public transportation, etc.

Having good jobs nearby would be important. I believe developing new cities close to major universities (in smaller towns) and possibly adjacent to existing job centers would help garner critical mass to kickstart their momentum relatively quickly.

It’s not just NIMBYism, but also down right selfishness. My parents are retired and live in a house that backs on to an elementary school. What the hell are retired childless couples doing living next to schools?

I’m in the process of looking for my first house and my mother said to me the other day, “why don’t you try something out in the country”. I have 40 years left to work, why don’t YOU move out to the country!

At some point, we’re going to have a bunch of vacant schools because all these old farts won’t leave.

This so much. I don't think most Americans realize how much poorly designed build-environment/cities costs them. Both in terms of maintaining the infrastructure of the vast suburbs and the cost of personal vehicle ownership.

Does anyone know / remember if there were similar pieces written in the late 90s about people in their 20s and 30s then? Ie is this a trend that has always happened or something new?

They were a lost generation for different reasons. A little earlier than late 90s:

The Thatcher/Reagan de-industrialisation through the 80s meant a huge number of children deprived of opportunity as whole regions and cities lost their major employers. In the UK it was effectively the start of our drug problem. Criminalisation had only arrived in the late 60s. Then we got the big recession of the early 90s.

Most of those de-industrialised areas had huge crime and drug problems, lost opportunities and parents who were broke, jobless and without hope. London and the South East was turbo-charging banking so we got Harry Enfield's comedy "Loadsa Money" character on tv, and plenty of market traders becoming stock traders. If you were early into IT you avoided it too.

So London and the South East was mostly OK, the rest, not so much. For those coming onto the job market it was a time of very high youth unemployment and limited chances. By the late 90s it had settled and most were busy spending it.

Some of those hardest hit areas are still not fully recovered. The cities have, mostly.

My father's generation were lost in the Great Depression, then got to go to WW2.

His father's in WW1.

We can learn from history that we don't treat the unlucky at all well, or try and prevent damage to the next generation. Oh, and that we mostly don't learn from history.

I am not sure it is the same thing, but maybe in the UK it was. As you say there have always been turmoil. But most of the time the young were seen as getting a better deal. Factories closed and older generations suffered, but the young got other jobs and at least to some extent benefited from the transition. Today we are talking about how young people get it almost universally worse from an economic standpoint and it is people in their ~forties that are winning in e.g. the housing market.

That's exactly what I saw then too.

In the 90s recession youth unemployment was over 20% nationally. Can't find any decent regional or city figures now, and the tories changed the way unemployment was measured during that recession, so anything earlier is incomparable. In Scotland, the NW and NE, and probably the Midlands it was well over that.

Apprenticeships had recently disappeared (my generation was probably the last where some got a chance to leave school at 16 and go into a 3 or 4 year apprenticeship, as a few of my school friends did). Instead of going into work with prospects they ended up on long term unemployment benefit, maybe crime or drugs for some. Those who came out of college with engineering or manufacturing related skills find there's loads more chasing the industrial and engineering jobs that remained with poor chances.

Or simply take a dead end job unrelated to their qualifications, because money - the Deliveroo and Uber of their day, and many tried to move, failed, and got the dead end job somewhere expensive (SE). A CV with 5 or 10 years of all the wrong experience for a chosen career. Sure, some made it through unaffected too.

Kids coming onto the job market late 90s were fine, the economy was booming. Still far more so in the SE though. Those in the early and mid 80s mostly were too, unless they got unlucky with employer in the 90s recession, or bet on the about to die skills.

That generation had few chances of being paid as much as mum or dad, buying house or getting a mortgage until late or even the lifetime career prospects they might. Looking at them now, many got to OK. Though much later, on less money, in a smaller house, probably with more career and job switches and a far harder journey. Not a better deal at all.

Sheffield, Scotland and Liverpool probably still haven't forgiven the Tories for those years. Scotland certainly hasn;t looking at election results. Manchester and Leeds are pretty vibrant now, after many years repair and struggle. I don't know, but would imagine the story in the US rust belt would be frighteningly close.

Ah, I get what you are saying. Certainly not a good situation either. I guess the UK is a bit ahead of its time on this front. I still think there is a bit of difference though. In earlier recessions there at least seemed to be some recourse. Certainly harder to e.g. study in the UK I would imagine. But when the market turned you could get a chance.

In Sweden we had had high youth unemployment for 15 years (it's "low" now at 16%), but as people study or get a bit older they get work. Today though, it almost doesn't matter what you do. You either have to take a 100 year mortgage, or pay some significant rent, to live in e.g. Stockholm. And if you don't you are looking at declining job markets. It just seems like getting screwed has become ingrained in the system. Heads they win, tails you lose. Things are going well, you pay a lot. Things go bad, you are paid nothing. Maybe that was always the case and it is just easier to be informed now.

It was partly because it was policy. De-industrialising kept on throughout the 80s, not while in the recession as would have been the case in the past. Even as recession ends industrials were still being kicked. Kids in sharp 80s shiny suits would turn up on TV news telling us we shouldn't do yesterday's car making, tool making or $niche any more and all go into services or banking. Germany was far more pragmatic about it.

The biggest difference I see is housing. They keep getting more and more absurdly expensive with no signs of stopping. Even in countries far less attached to the idea of ownership than the UK. Which is more neoliberal policy again - public housing is right out of fashion everywhere it seems, even places that once did public housing really well.

>> Most of those de-industrialised areas had huge crime and drug problems, lost opportunities and parents who were broke, jobless and without hope. London and the South East was turbo-charging banking so we got Harry Enfield's comedy "Loadsa Money" character on tv, and plenty of market traders becoming stock traders. If you were early into IT you avoided it too.

The Loadsamoney character was a plasterer. Even manual trades were doing well in the South East.

Of course he was. I can't believe I forgot that! :)

It’s been going on for awhile but there are a number of factors which have become worse since the 90s: health insurance, tuition, housing, etc. all cost significantly more and we’re a generation further on the hollowing out of middle class jobs due to automation, offshoring, replacing employees with contractors, etc. I think the net effect is that it’s well over a key threshold for many people where a generation earlier someone might have complained about one of those costs but still been able to make it work whereas now it’s just not possible fora growing number of people.

As an example, I know someone with type 1 diabetes. The inflation-adjusted cost of insulin has gone up something like 700% over the last 20 years and the number of jobs offering health insurance has declined while the employee’s cost percentage has risen, so the percentage of people who can just absorb it is shrinking.

it's actually a cover to for an endorsement of Buttigieg's run for president.

Yeah, that was a pretty transparent plug.

And to answer the OP's question, yes, in the nineties the "generational robbery" was a topic: Real estate was booming, making existing (old) homeowners rich and pricing out first-time buyers.

I don't generally think so. I'd be interested in an opposite opinion though. The end of the 90s was all about being twenty/thirty-something. Just look at popular shows like Friends, Seinfeld and Sex and the City. They are essentially shows about staying young, or at least not growing up. And also the change of things like MTV.

Most of these shows more or less ended with the characters getting married, having kids or otherwise ending that period in their lives. In Sex and the City, Miranda moving to Brooklyn because Manhattan is too expensive is a major event in the last season.

Probably not as glaring since interest rates are much much lower now than they were then, and the crash of 07/08 hadn't happened yet

It’s nothing new. I remember (barely) talk of baby boomers worried about retirement after Black Monday.

Guess they recovered nicely.

Read Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, the original book that coined the term. It’s all about 20-somethings in the ‘90’s dropping out because the rewards seem so impossibly far out of reach that it’s not even worth trying. Also held the Boomers to blame.

From the back of my copy:

"""Andy, Dag and Claire have been handed a society priced beyone their means. twentysomethings, brought up with divorce, Watergate and Three Mile Island, and scarred by the 80s fall-out of yuppies, recession, crack and Ronald Reagan, they represent the new generation - Generation X. Fiercely suspicious of being lumped together as an advertiser's target market, they have quit dreary careers and cut themselves adrift in the California desert. Unsure of their futures, they immerse themselves in a regime of heavy drinking and working at no-future McJobs in the service industry."""

That was a good read. Before Gen X we were called the 13th gen but that didn't get traction. Someone else wrote a book on it, reviewed here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CLASS/OBJECTS/III/reviews/13thge...

> Medicare and Social Security have been spared from cuts. Programs that benefit younger workers and families have not.

This is a political incentive problem. Retired people tend to have free time to engage in politics (or at least watch TV all day and get fed "news") and they turn out to votes in droves (as they don't have to e.g. take a day off to vote!), while young people mainly have the power to pull off a shitstorm in social media and that's it, they don't vote enough for politicians to prioritize them over retirees (how can they, when they have to work two jobs to survive and are threatened with losing their job for missing work to vote - no matter if it's illegal, someone depending on the job will NOT complain).

In addition, retirees are way better organized and actually have the free time on their hands to do stuff like mass phone calling of representatives.

While I agree that older people tend to vote in greater numbers, the excuse that they do so because they have more free time is just that, an excuse. Early voting and absentee ballots render that excuse irrelevant, regardless of the number of jobs worked.

EDIT: Thanks for educating me regarding some states not offering those options. Although, in those states, I would think most employers would make it easier for their employees to vote on voting day. I mean, I realize that some may not, but that would be the exception not the rule.

While his point about having more time is questionable, I think its fair to point out that in some states early voting isn't an option and absentee voting is reserved for military, disabled people, and poll watchers: like Alabama.

> Early voting and absentee ballots render that excuse irrelevant, regardless of the number of jobs worked.

Except if you don't have those. Or they exist but are deliberately too hard to get right (e.g. Georgia's Exact match laws where they discard your ballot if it doesn't exactly match your known information, or Ohio's practice of purging voter rolls etc.)

Early voting/absentee ballots are highly restricted in several states. For example, in NY (the state I live) I was unable to vote because absentee voting requires registration over a month in advance and whose deadline isn't widely advertised.

> While I agree that older people tend to vote in greater numbers, the excuse that they do so because they have more free time is just that, an excuse.

I didn't pin just voting on "less free time" but also political engagement aside from consuming social media posts. Meaningful engagement with politics takes a lot of time and energy.

Don't underestimate the shitstorms. Look at the candidates who flipped districts in the 2018 elections.

Also, Social Security benefits young families who aren't earning money.

The student loan mess is terrible, but it's not a case of missing government funds but too many -- community colleges are in pretty good shape, but people borrow too much for useless private colleges thanks to modern marketing techniques and modern cultural nonsense about 4yr college degrees for all.

Also, a little perspective is in order. Millennials in USA don't have a WWII or Vietnam war or Jim Crow laws or a big government supported KKK. They have the Internet and the rest of modern technology and high efficiency/productivity goods and services. Quality of life is pretty darn good compared to ancestors. It mostly feels bad due to wealth inequality, not absolute poverty. We've got a lot of problems to solve, but this pearl clutching hand wringing for millennials is just MAGA without the red hats, ignoring the reality of how the 99% lived in the past.

> Millennials in USA don't have a WWII or Vietnam war or Jim Crow laws or a big government supported KKK.

Millennials in the USA and many other allied nations have the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, with additionally European youth dealing with the refugees caused by said wars and the right wing that has risen by piggybacking on said refugees.

We don't have Jim-Crow-Laws but still disproportionate amounts of PoC and immigrants being targeted by police and systematically discriminated against by wider society.

We don#t have government-supported KKK, at least not openly, but at least Germans have groups of Nazis outright murdering people ("NSU" if you're interested) and presumably aided or at least protected by secret services. Most of Islamist terrorists across Europe turned out to be known to police, most notoriously Anis A. (the Berlin murderer).

> It mostly feels bad due to wealth inequality, not absolute poverty.

That's the core point. We see the ultra rich flaunt their riches to the point of obscenity while spreading "you can get rich too" while knowing we can't ever realistically rise to that level of richdoms (and we know it, too, which makes it even more obscene). Corporate exec make way over 100x, some probably over 1000x, the money as the cleaning maid wiping their toilets. This disconnect is it what riles up young generations.

> Quality of life is pretty darn good compared to ancestors.

If you go back far enough, sure. For most Americans economic conditions have been downhill since the 1970s, though.

This is interesting to consider. While we have Netflix and iPhones, it's not clear to me that these actually improve QoL over the middle class life my parents enjoyed in the 70's/80's (spacious home, 2 cars in the garage, time for leisure, etc...)

This is an honest question I have that's tangentially related to this article (everyone on this forum is a lot smarter than I am so apologies if this is a stupid question):

What is the catalyst for any action/change in regards to reversing these trends? I feel like I've been reading versions of the same article for the last 10 years with negligible change.

The people in power have to start representing the interests of the millennials. This will only happen when people of that generation are in power, or people in power are being influenced by them.


One of the reasons I suspect AOC gets so much attention (apart from her very unabashed personality) is because she represents the Millenial generation, always ridiculed as being "lazy" and "coddled". Finally someone in Power who:

* is a millenial and

* understands millenial priorities

Ironically, the policy proposals that the most outspoken Millenials embrace would actually strengthen programs that help the older generation.

Millennials don’t seem to have a clue what’s in their best interest so I’m going to disagree with you. If there were any solid ideas coming from anybody in terms of helping millennials those ideas would have political traction. To think that only millennials can represent millennial interests is stupid.

We'll have to agree to disagree. Millennial lives and issues are far removed from the current establishment to be completely alien to people in power at present. To be disingenuous enough to believe millennials don't have a clue what's in their best interest is stupid.

Considering a majority of millennials support socialism, but also cannot provide a meaningful definition of the term...

I don't think most have a serious position worth considering. I say this as someone lumped in this demographic whipping boy.

There is plenty to be legitimately angry about too. I just don't trust this generation to come up with solutions that aren't literally "let's try real communism. This time it will work!"

> There is plenty to be legitimately angry about too. I just don't trust this generation to come up with solutions that aren't literally "let's try real communism. This time it will work!"

What makes you feel this generation would go that far? I haven't seen anything that's led me to believe they think this way, in my understanding, they are more aware of and accepting of fundamentally "socialist" concepts such as government assistance and high-taxation. That's a far cry from communism.

What's wrong with that? We're trying 'real capitalism' and that's not working.

Also, there are large and loud political movements pushing for Scandinavian-style democratic socialism which has been successful, it's simply dismissive to act like all millennials don't understand politics and are just trying to be edgy.

> If there were any solid ideas coming from anybody in terms of helping millennials those ideas would have political traction.

The United States government is coming out of a month-long shutdown because the idea with political traction (the big, beautiful wall) was completely unworkable.

Let's not underestimate what flies and doesn't fly in the arena of American political thought.

The rising popularity of socialism and distrust/hatred of capitalism among young people would indicate that they have a very clear idea of what is in their best interest.

That's pretty straightforward in principle. What they need to do is the same as older folk i.e. vote in large numbers for their own financial interest.

Politicians are fairly simple people at heart. If pandering to you will get them (re-)elected then they'll pander to you.

In all seriousness, probably something that baby boomers can't escape - death.

And then the children of the dead, wealthy baby boomers will pick up where they left off.

...which is why we need to fix the estate tax. Large inheritances benefit only a few, often to the detriment of others. One could even argue that it doesn't benefit the few much either, because unearned wealth tends to bring its own psychological problems. I know all of the arguments against a robust estate tax, I've heard them literally hundreds of times, but I find them unconvincing. If we want to keep claiming we live in a meritocracy, the effects of an estate tax on ensuring (restoring) equal opportunity are not optional.

You'll forgive my skepticism in thinking that the folks who would be affected by confiscatory estate taxes will simply resort to more complex structures to avoid it--trusts, corporations onshore or off-, etc. Moreover, it isn't a settled matter that high estate taxes are per se "fair." The deceased already paid taxes on all that income, why should the government again get to help itself to what's left over?

I've seen this "double taxation" canard a hundred times already. It's lazy, perhaps even dishonest to the extent that it ignores obvious reality. Fact is, money is generally taxed whenever it moves. Income tax and sales tax are obvious examples. Why should inheritance, which is an essentially similar transfer, be exempt?

> If we want to keep claiming we live in a meritocracy, the effects of an estate tax on ensuring (restoring) equal opportunity are not optional.

As of 2018 a couple can leave >$22 Million without paying any tax on it. That's enough for your children, their children and their children's children (and potentially on and on) to never have to work. Generational wealth like this is how we get and perpetuate "classes".

> What is the catalyst for any action/change in regards to reversing these trends?

My unscientific opinion on this is that these articles will continue to appear as living standards in rich countries continues to fall due to living costs outstripping wage growth, and the outsourcing of more and more work to other countries.

The wealth enjoyed by the rich world in the post-WW2 order has been built up by international cooperative agreements done to maintain peace but also generate income and build markets (Highway Bill, GI Bill, Marshall Plan, EEA trading bloc, GATT/WTO etc).

These days, it feels like we are experiencing the last trickle of dividends from those days. The structure of the economy has been predominantly service-oriented economy for decades now, but now it's about doing more with fewer people.

Realistically, I don't know what kinds of jobs will continue to provide middle-class salaries in the volumes that were available before. If you worked as a customer support rep, you've been offshored. If you worked as a trucker, automation is coming; you won't be fired, but you won't be driving as much and you won't get paid as much.

Thousands of trucker and miners looking to 'retrain' as front-end developers is a pipe dream pushed by politicians since time immemorial. There simply aren't enough jobs in those roles.

Revolution or some other structural change like lack of resources (including labor) that shake up the power dynamics.

The extended government shutdown had me wary for this exact reason. I wonder how many more weeks it could have gone before some very serious change could have happened very quickly.

Federal debt and surface temperature charts are telling because they include 20+ year projections periods--and of course those projections are dire (and bullshit). It's clear the story this "opinion columnist" (bullshit artist) is trying to craft.

To me, net worth by age group is the troubling chart. If I read this correctly, median net worth for all age groups under 44 years old is significantly negative. The scale isn't clear since the chart is indexed. What do you think is the source of so much debt? My guess: student loans and home mortgages.

Note that a mortgage should not lead to negative net worth in the general case. Because you own a house, a mortgage with 0% down payment should have no immediate effect on your net worth. There are people who are upside-down on their mortgages, but that isn't the common case.

That's true. I misread the chart anyway, so it isn't necessarily saying anything about debt levels.

I believe the chart is cumulative change in net worth for people in those age groups. The median net worth for someone under 50 isn't negative, but it's a lot lower than it was 30 years ago. On the other hand, older Americans seem to keep on earning and not retiring which boosts their relative net worth relative to the generation(s) before them.

Yes, I see that now. Not nearly so dire--but still bad.

> If I read this correctly, median net worth for all age groups under 44 years old is significantly negative

That's not what that graph shows. It's the cumulative change in net worth. For example, it's saying that the net worth (infl adj) of 55-64s hasn't changed since 1989. Not that it's zero.

>Given these trends, you’d think the government would be trying to help the young. But it’s not. If anything, federal and state policy is going in the other direction

guess which age group is not represented in congress

I filed my taxes with Turbo Tax the other day and they compared my salary to other people my age (27) in my state (Oregon), I didn't double check the numbers but Turbo Tax reported that I made about 5 times the average 27 year old in Oregon.

What I've noticed is that there is a huge inequality gap among millennials as well, a lot of millennials have crushing debt and poor job prospects yes -- but others get a job at FAANG at 21. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as millennials age.

What will happen is those that have better options will have kids. Similar to why there are so many people with last names of miller or smith. Both trades were protected to a point by not going to war and having the means to have kids. If we still went with our father's trades as last names, the next generation would probably be full (relatively) of Jane and Joe Engineer.

This is related to the topic of this interesting book about how baby boomers stole resources from their own children (although obviously the supposed cause is quite different from the article):


Larry Littlefield writes a lot of interesting blog posts on generational equity, mainly with a focus on the US, and New York in particular:


The first chart shows the trends started around 1978. Someone who was 25 then would be 65 now. And the worst time to be 25ish was the mid 1980s. That cohort is in their late 50s now. So I bet the 65+ line will fall as those who were less than 25 in 1978 start to join that group.

The income and wealth plots seem misleading... No one has been aged 25-34 for nearly 30 years. And 65+ life expectancy has gone up.

There is an income gap that continues to grow. I think that is the real culprit. Those at the top continue taking more slices of the pie. Bad capitalism is amazingly resilient. After decades of being pushed back on things like unionization, pensions, monopolies and taxes. Capitalism has begun pushing back and winning.

The problem with this beyond the wealth gap is you're going to see an over correction with hard left policies. This is going to be yet another interesting election cycle. I just hope enough moderates remain to create reasonable solutions to these problems.

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