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Data and graphs showing millenials' bad economic odds (washingtonpost.com)
66 points by tekdude 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments



Reading this article as a millennial really hits home as I remember entering the workforce as a teenager mid 2001 as soon as I could drive (months before 9/11), re-entering the workforce as a young adult early 2008 as soon as I had a degree (months before the great recession), then building a company as an adult for two years and launching it January 2020 (months before the end of the world).

There have been no breaks. Nothing has been easy. I don't really know what true success looks like... I struggle and by the skin of my teeth (and now my family's teeth) and the hits just keep coming. We have a house, but I literally fought for it with every ounce of effort I had and got extremely lucky.

This is our version of success; we enjoy rays of sunshine from the eyes of hurricanes.


Look at it another way - you are building a company and actually launched! Most people will never get there.

You have a house, while in the past it was easier, overall home ownership is something only 32% of our age group accomplished. 65% of all US residents will ever accomplish.

More importantly - you have a family! So far, I’d say you are doing great!

Can it be easier? Sure. However, while my own path hasn’t been rosy, I wouldn’t trade it - it makes us who we are and will make us more resilient in the future. Keep up the good work and never despair!

Also, another perspective on the growth. If your starting point is lower, it’s easier to grow by a larger percentage point. US in the 1980s was a pretty great place to live and consumption was already high. It’s that much harder to beat that (or even maintain).


I've had a similar trajectory. Graduated college in 2008. Just decided to purchase my first home a few months ago, signed the contract literally a few weeks before covid.


We had friends conceive the week before covid blew up in the US (estimated, of course). They both lost their jobs in the fallout. No home ownership, no healthcare, and a new one on the way.

It's a bit challenging these days for a lot of people.


We must be the same age - this has been my experience exactly. You just have to find a way to laugh about it, don’t you.

Laugh, and sob quietly into your pillow at 3am.


Laughing helps sometimes. My response has been something along the lines of exponential mental hardening.

Looking back each year just thinking "You had no idea what was in store and weren't completely ready, do better".

At this point that timeline is now in months.


Is pillow some new brand of vodka I'm unaware of? ;P


Vodka works great too but just be aware that if you’ve got small kids you’ll have to be up in two hours to sing nursery rhymes ;)


Same age as you, I remember graduating and then the entire global economy collapsing. It has left a lasting impression on my psyche.

That being said, I do think our generation will start taking political power soon-ish (decade maybe?) and policy will shift toward larger safety nets being the norm(1). My hope is that because of what we’ve seen, our future politicians will write policy accordingly.

(1)Totally open-minded to the fact that this might be wishful thinking.


Fellow millennial here. If you put it that way, it does seem we got the short end of the stick.

But doesn't every generation have a once every decade recession?

Though ours is accompanied by two major expenses (housing education) rising way faster than inflation.


Fellow millennial at apparently the same age. I agree with your sentiment. I remind myself that what goes around comes around. Boomers and GenXers bid housing prices up to absurd levels and stayed working longer than past generations (mainly because they failed to save when they could have and have to service debt that is unheard of in past generations). Eventually these assets will be poured back into the market and it will be a buyer’s market. Eventually they will retire and upper ranks will be ours for the taking. They won’t live forever - that wealth will disperse. Our best times are ahead. Theirs are behind. Stay strong and don’t play their game by overleveraging.


Sadly, the owning class could just transfer their housing assets into a corporation which will rent it out in perpetuity and pay the profits to their heirs. As such, there's no guarantee that the housing market recovers when the current house owners die.


Partially true.

This did happen more or less during the great recession - private equity companies (ie colony capital, blackstone, etc) raised specific funds and created corps to buy foreclosed housing and rented them out.

However, typically they will want to realize a liquidity event (sale) which is why sometimes those homes were rent-to-own. Since the market picked back (thanks to the fed for buying trillions in mortgage backed securities), they were able to sell in a good market. So usually want to sell your investment at some point to realize some capital gains, not hold forever.

Two opposing forces (outside of supply / demand) will drive pricing:

> how much the fed buys in mortgage backed securities

> the economy being strong enough to raise real wages of home buyers so they can buy expensive homes

Given that the fed bought assets so aggressively in such a short period of time (raising its balance sheet from ~$4.5T to $7T in H1 of 2020) in response to covid [1], my bet is that housing prices will not come down as long as the fed is run by boomers (they can't afford to have their net worth go down bc they are also economically fragile).

[1] https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttren...


> wealth will disperse.

Wealth doesn't necessarily disperse. See simulation by Norvig:

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/url/norvig.com/ipython/Economic...


Part of the problem is that in the meantime millennials can't save anything and have to overleverage in order to get by. At some future Boomer Great Dying a lot of millennials wont have a lot of liquid cash to take advantage of the situation. Millennials (on average) had to take on massive student debt just to get entry level mail room positions where previous generations did not.

Millennials are entering their 40s. Their adult lives have been filled with Black Swan events which says those aren't Black Swans but the new normal much shittier swan.

So not only did Millennials have to start from behind they keep getting hit with externally imposed crises that make it extremely difficult to get ahead. Germane for a lot of HN Millennials, housing prices in areas with tech companies are insane and even a Boomer Great Dying isn't going to help get a toehold in real estate.


The only real models we have to base our “normal” on for the post-depression post-WWII, modern postindustrial society are the Greatest and Silent generations. It’s not like the Boomers broke with long-standing tradition. What they inherited was a world and economy unknown just a couple decades earlier.

They probably did fail to move us forward, socially and in terms of long-term large-scale planning and saving (on the scale of nation-states, I mean—welfare fund-building and other things that ought to have happened in the “good times”) but it’s not like there were 200 years of people dealing with a similar situation before them.


Recent History lesson: Gen X had the same concerns that Millennials had. No one in Gen X is at "normal" retirement age.

The people bidding up housing are millenial techies.

Mark "young people are just smarter" Zuckerberg is a millennial.


I graduated into the early 90s recession. It shaped my outlook in various ways. Took about 10 years to finally get into a respectable job, and then 9/11 killed that. Another half-decade of underperformance, another tenuous success, then 2008 killed that. Another 10 years to finally get out of debt and start to get a foothold, and now this. Still don't own a home, although that's partly by choice. So I sympathize on the one hand, and yet, for n recessions millennials have been through, I've been through n + 1, so the talk about how uniquely screwed they are rubs me the wrong way a little bit.


True - timing is more relevant than when you were born.

The more relevant discussion is wealth inequality in general across generations. Plenty of broke boomers too.


Debt and overleverage is stealing from the future. We got into 2020 with nearly every corporate in america deep into debt which used to finance buybacks.

The last 3 years of profit and growth were stolen from the future by the CEOs and past shareholders of these companies, and now the Fed is bailing them out by encouraging even more debt and leverage during coronavirus crisis.


The problem starts with government. No one in leadership among any of the parties has shown any real concern for debt and have been loading up one debt for decades. The only politically acceptable solution to that debt is to slowly inflate it away. Any other solution will be divisive. So the government loads up on debt and inflates it away, keeping interest rates lower for longer than they should. Then it filters down to corporations and individuals. Interest rates are low and debt requirements are lax, and if you aren’t willing to take on debt, you will be outbid by someone who is.

I expect deflation in the near term, and tremendous inflation in the long term.


Do you have any examples of a corporation that took on debt to buy back stock?


I am so nostalgic for the 1990s.

I am a young Xer, almost an old millennial, kind of on the cusp. I've wondered if this is a cognitive artifact of my age in the 90s, teens to 20, but I have asked older and even a few younger people and many have also expressed nostalgia for that decade. Boomers and much older Xers often agree.

My teens were rough anyway. It was not my personal best decade, but I would go back in a second... not necessarily literally but definitely to the zeitgeist.

I find myself unable to describe the optimism of that time to people who were not of age during it. The best I can do is encourage people to watch some old Star Trek TNG. You couldn't even write that today. Dark edgy music and culture was in, but that was an artifact of the optimism. Nobody wants a Nine Inch Nails or early Tool now because the world is darker than the music. Pretty Hate Machine would be journalism, not harmless cathartic emotional escape and fantasy.

For my money the optimism ended decisively on 9/11. The shift was incredibly deep and profound. We have never recovered, though a rally was attempted in the late oughts. That rally crashed into resentment driven identity politics; the alt-right and its fellow travelers or "cancel culture" on the other side. Superficial optimism doesn't stick and won't until we get past 9/11 and all it seemed to mean. The terrorists won.


Re: 9/11

You and I are in agreement - that day set the tone for America's future in:

* economics - on his way back to the fed reserve in NYC via helicopter in autumn 2001, Greenspan saw the rubble of WTC and decided to drop the fed funds rate, and it eventually hit 1% in 2004, which is why asset prices (real estate, stocks, bonds) are so high today and why we had a housing boom during that time (2004-2008)

* international policy - never ending war on "terror" (not that they decided on "terror" bc when you have a war on a country, you can define the end of the war; a war on "terror" can go on forever bc you can redefine "terror")

* culture / politics - democrat vs republican (and media fed into it bc it culture wars drive ratings)

Yeah...looks like al qaeda did more damage than we thought.


Non-American here. I think 9/11 has global significance that goes beyond its impact on the US. It destroyed the narrative that liberal democracy, free markets and technology had removed all obstacles that would keep us from converging towards a peaceful, secular and progressive global society.


I think it started the collapse of that narrative. The failure of the Arab Spring and the rise of Xi Jinpeng did the rest.


I am an 'old millenial' and have absolutely the same impression (and my personal life at that time was also a mixed bag, so it certainly is not personal nostalgia).

The time period of mid 90s until 9/11 should really receive far more attention. It feels like most of the world was on a much more optimistic and promising trajectory.

I think it was also the last time that we saw major, society-wide and significant technological progress happen in a short amount of time in developed countries: the early days of widespread adoption of the web and all of its implications.

At the same time, I sometimes wonder if many of the negative developments of the two decades afterwards might also be ascribed to the spreading adoption of the web and its unintended negative consequences to global sensemaking.


I think I am about the same age as you and agree completely. That optimistic world of the 90s (and 80s IMO) no longer exists. The country never did recover from 9/11 and has stumbled from one crisis to the next ever since - the War on Terror, Iraq War, Katrina, oil crisis, subprime mortgage meltdown, Occupy Wall St, college tuition debt crisis, and now the pandemic and current protests. Where it all ends I don't know.


The thing is nothing much actually changed, at least not physically. We lost a few thousand people and some buildings. More people die every year of the flu. Covid has killed over 50X 9/11 and yet 9/11 felt like a much more profound loss of... something.

It's all in our heads.

Digging out is going to be tough though because the shift was profound and deep. I don't think we can go back. That's not exactly what I'm saying. What I'm wondering is if we can go forward.

Going forward always involves a bit of going back. Some of the 90s optimism was resurrected 60s optimism. But it also involves invention of new things.


To me, 9/11 represented the loss of some key aspect of American Identity. For the first time in a very long time, America was vulnerable and that realization of vulnerability sparked so many enduring negative responses we see today - endless wars abroad, non-stop attacks on privacy, militarization of police forces, tribal identity politics, unhealthy nationalism instead of healthy patriotism, etc. It's hard to put into words for people who weren't there, but there's a distinct before and after 9/11 when looking back at America.


I think you would have to look for additional sources or markers of your experience to explain this memory of yours. It is not just the decade nor your age at the time. In my recollection, cultural products like grunge and industrial music, or even the overall Gen-X slacker stereotype, did not come from a place of great optimism. They weren't ironic masks hiding a playful wink, they were sardonic expressions of angst and disappointment over a world that did not meet ideals.

For many, there was a palpable sense of hangover. That we were living in the ruins/wasteland of an already failing civilization, with very little control over the outcome for society nor for oneself. Much of the saccharine, optimistic content on TV could be seen another way, as almost delusional or perhaps as clumsy propaganda. It could only be enjoyed with a big dose of irony or an escapist suspension of disbelief.

I can only guess at all the factors which influence these different, parallel experiences of the time. Different regional cultures, different socio-economic backgrounds, difference in parent generation, differences in sibling/cohort ages, etc.


It's definitely not possible to be scientific with this stuff, but I really don't agree. While the 90s were definitely not utopia, the dark edgy stuff was surface and there was a great deal of optimism underneath. Today I would say its backwards with fluffy happy pop culture masking a very deep malaise.


There were definitely other gen Xers who did not experience the same optimistic 90s you speak of. To many of us, the changes after 9/11 were merely the surfacing of a darkness we already knew within our world and our nation. There was already a malaise from the 80s and a sense of a disneyesque veneer covering shameful realities.

To be clear, I am not trying to invalidate your memory, but only address your opening aside about where it might come from. There was certainly more than one experience of gen X and more than one experience of the 90s...


Yeah, this stuff always comes with "your mileage may vary."

What I remember is a lot of very optimistic ideas being discussed openly without a lot of cynicism or irony. Go find some old Mondo 2000 or other early-mid 90s futurist material.

I also remember a wave of new technology people could touch and interact with: the PC and Internet revolutions. Shiny starships are awesome but I will probably never ride in one.

The 80s-90s was also the last era of musical innovation. If you include the 80s too there was: hip hop / rap, drum and bass, techno/rave and all its variant genres, grunge, shoegaze, dreampop, math rock, new wave, synth rock, I could keep going...

Since 2001: very little except slight variations on the above and reboots of older forms. For some reason music totally collapsed after 2001. I've toyed around with economic interpretations but ultimately it feels like there's some psychological wall there. We can't think of anything new.


This thread resonates a lot having graduated in 2013. I've worked for several years in three major European cities — London, Cambridge and Brussels — on above average salaries as a data scientist in the financial sector. I'm also a former Samsung employee; I received a good hand from life's lottery.

Yet, a modest family home is out of my reach once childcare and other bills are considered. This is in sharp contrast to my parents who school without degrees, bought a 3-bedroom house in their early 20s and who are now both retired.

What went wrong?


It's interesting the Lost generation, 100 years ago, fairs the next worse, and most similarly to millennials.

I re-read The Sun Also Rises[1] yesterday. You could change the names and it'd be the story of plenty of people I know today. History repeats itself.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_Also_Rises - if you haven't read it, it's the best book.


A Moveable Feast is another good one from Hemingway with themes that strike me as oddly similar the millennial generation.

Just hoping I can’t say the same thing about Steinbeck’s books in the next few years.


Well, it's hard to compete with the generation that grew up in post-war and full growth economy, fueled by huge technology gains and a country open to expansion. It was like all you had to do to have a good life was... be alive.

Things get less giddy and boundless (for people on the whole) when a country reaches middle age and there's not new jobs just for the asking. When people reminisce about "how resilient and capable we were back then", just remember that nothing hurts too bad when you've got a free ride on an elevator to the top floor.

And now consider southern Europe where it's our situation and wages are 1/2 what we have (though with more social services to take up the slack).


I actually don't think the data and graphs prove their point.

Millenials are young and so the appropriate comparison has to be to to other generations when they were the same age.

You can throw out half their graphs based in that point.

The remaining ones are cherry-picked to be misleading.

Growth in the overall economy, while good, does not indicate the absolute level of success. Would you have rather grown up in India where there's been much higher growth in the last few decades?

In general, real wages have only grown over time. Today, we benefit from all the growth of previous generations.

Median household income is not flat, but up steadily every decade. Yes, on the high end, it has grown even more (because a smart person can contribute more than in the past b/c less manual work, information tech).

But what no one says is that wages are up for lower incomes as well.

And, the safety net is bigger: government transfers for unemployment, food stamps, child tax credits, etc are WAY up compared to previous generations. Boomers barely got a dime.

Before the pandemic, the economy was absolutely the best it's ever been by a long shot. Why didn't they show an actual comparison of employment rates? Millennials would be dominating.

Millennials also dominate on education. Our lives are so much richer because we've more likely gone to college and can access so much information from our smart phones.

In the same way that news is mostly all the bad things happening around the world (another shooting, another disaster), journalism and politics is often about all things gone wrong in our society.

Consequently, nearly everything you read and hear about current times is exaggerated in a negative way. (Often for the good purpose of trying to improve it.)

This article is a perfect example.

Try to stay skeptical when everyone is saying our world is regressing to poverty and nastiness.

Because the truth is we have a vibrant and beautiful society that's damn near the best it's ever been. And the future holds even more promise.

-- A young millenial


This thread has quite a few people looking into rose tinted mirrors and forgetting that the US Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War and oil crisis and the computer/internet (!) revolution happened.

All the people saying riffs of "OK, Boomer" should go visit BLM protest and ask people there how envious they are of their grandparents.


I think many white people would say they are envious of the opportunities that their parents and grandparents had laid at their feet. I think many non-white people would say the opposite. I think this is the crux of the issues - they persist across generations.


I made this comment on a thread about people having fewer babies nowadays, and I think its relevant here:

Millenial here, born in mid-80s. Have seen or experienced: > dot-com boom / bust (junior high)

> 9/11 (high school)

> War on Terror (college)

> student loans (probably for the rest of my life)

> the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the lasting economic / career effects that never goes away when you go through that (right when I graduated college)

> the divisive culture wars between old / young, rich / poor, establishment / anti-establishment, etc

> Trump as president

> Covid-19

> narcissistic boomer parents

> narcissistic boomers in all levels and areas of institutional leadership whose baseline modus operandi is incompetence, corruption, and greed

> and a lot more that stresses me out

From my perspective, the world is back-sliding - everything feels like its getting worse, not better. Economic data backs this - real wages are level while cost of living is increasing.

And you wonder why we are putting have having children? It's because we do not know what economic optimism and financial security feel like.

Edit - the last 20 years notwithstanding, maybe there is still some things to be optimistic about:

> people are waking up (just look at the comments in this thread)

> mainstream media is finally talking about this

> if you are reading this, you have access to some kind of computing device, which means you're richer than most in the world

All in all, what really sucks is we our standard of living won't be as comfortable as when we were kids, and the same will probably be true for our kids.


I question whether these generational comparisons are using the right statistics. In the very least they don't seem to paint a complete picture.

Maybe I am biased because I'm a very successful millennial. I have the world at my hands. Access to written knowledge from any point in the history of time. Tens of thousands of video games and movies available for under $10 and/or a small subscription price. I can learn the arts, pick up any hobby, or even teach myself to code for free. I can fly around the world and stay in hostels in other countries at the same price (or cheaper than) I pay rent in the US. If I run out of tp it is delivered to my doorstep the next day.

Sure, I make a lot of money and still can hardly afford a house. I graduated with more student loan debt than both my parents combined. They had different experiences in those regards. But I wouldn't trade my life in this millennial generation, for a life in the boomer generation, for anything.


Interesting point. It's similar to how we consider inflation with regards to technological advancements. A cell phone still costs the same it did 10 years ago, but it's 5 times are fast now, so it actually got cheaper for that purpose.

The car you can buy today is many times better than any car you could've bought 50 years ago. Relatively, both you and your parents could buy a car, and they may have more money to spare than you would today. But they were definitely unable to buy a car that's anywhere near as good as what you can buy today.


It's one of the things that makes it hard to do meaningful standard of living comparisons over time. And it's especially easy to be dismissive of electronics etc. relative to the increase in prices of elite educations and homes in elite cities. And the cost of healthcare (although it's also much better in many respects).

However, I suspect a lot of people on the younger side would be pretty horrified at the level of communications, information access, ability to timeshift, and just the general friction of everything including payments, shopping, and more a few decades ago.

I've said it before only half-jokingly. If I were transported back to my late-eighties job as a product manager, I'd quit in shear frustration after a week or two because of the almost complete lack of information and communications tools.


Anyone transported to the past would be faced with the knowledge of what they have in this current era being compared to past situations. The main thing about people in the 80s is that they knew that what they had in the 80s was all there was. You likely can transport someone from 2100 into 2020 and they might be incredibly frustrated with the limitations of technology, communication, friction of social interactions, and so on.

As to the point of the person you're replying to, about cars and phones:

Those cars will also save many more people, which depending on the side you're on can mean that you're more likely to survive now or that there's much more "competition" likely to survive now.

Smartphones are better than the blackberries of a decade ago but they also shove social media down your throat in a way that had no equal before, which leads to significant impairments of mental health in younger generations.

There are many ways to look at the issue and we can almost endlessly zoom in and find discrepancies, but I wouldn't be surprised if a certain version of the central limit theorem ended up applying when comparing generations: the amount of seemingly random variables added up "even out" enough that the curves all end up looking like similar distributions, which can be compared.


You are biased due to that. There aren't that many high-paying jobs in the economy overall. Home ownership was usually the only tangible payoff for ordinary people.

https://danielmiessler.com/projects/reading/summary-the-war-...


Sure, but my high salary doesn't enable any of the things I mentioned. I'm still capable of making observations about the world around me; my friends, family, who have low salaries have access to these things and are seemingly able to achieve happiness through them.

I am NOT saying the article is wrong by any means, only that there are other considerations as well, which are always ignored in generational comparisons.


I think you have a strong disconnect with how impactful your high salary is on your quality of life. If someone has significant student loans and is driving for uber to make a living, I highly doubt they are traveling and staying in cheap hostels. And I highly doubt they have the time to indulge in the arts, work on hobbies, or teach themselves how to code because they are working 60+ hours a week to make ends meet.

And less extreme. I know plenty of professionals in the bay area who aren't in tech, making decent, but not great, salaries + benefits. For most of these folks, every expense needs to be scrutinized and home ownership is a pipe dream.


I think you're making incorrect assumptions about my "disconnect" and using that to validate your dismissal of my opinion that other variables are important when doing cross-generational comparisons.


Don't let the downvotes get you down. Your understanding of the opportunities in front of you coupled with a positive-can-do attitude is what the world needs right now.


There's ~0 reason for housing to get more expensive over time in countries where land is not scarce. It's an abject policy failure.


There's plenty of inexpensive housing out in the not scarce land. It's just that a lot of people (for various reasons) want to jam themselves onto islands and peninsulas where land is scarce.


Tokyo manages to have a huge population and low housing prices. It's not just the scarcity.

It's also the case that public policy can impact which areas are desirable, and whether more areas can be made desirable (for instance, by building usable mass transit).


Absolutely agreeable.


This is a fairly narrow view of the issue. For one, I think most people throughout history would refuse to trade places with previous generations, with maybe the main exception being those that were significantly impacted by war. And secondly, the article is focused on economic prospects of our generation, many of the ramifications of which will not play out for decades. Millennials are still relatively young. Being poor in your 20s is a lot different than being poor in your 60s.

A few other things to consider. The TP delivered to your house was done so by someone working a low paying gig work job. There is a good chance, that like you, they graduated with significant student load debt. How do you think they feel about their economic future? And in 30 years, what is social security and medicare going to look like? We are racking up major deficits to deal with the impact covid-19. Climate change is going to be an issue in our lifetime, and I strongly believe that if our generation does not tackle this issue, that it will significantly alter the course of humanity. And to add to all of this, we are already shifting towards populism in our politics. If that shift continues due to economic issues of subsequent generations, things will get weird.


>This is a fairly narrow view of the issue.

Actually, I'm taking a broader view of the issue.

>article is focused on economic prospects of our generation, many of the ramifications of which will not play out for decades

My response is not focused on the economic ($$) future of millennials. In fact, I am not even in disagreement that millennials are disadvantaged economically particularly when looking at CoL and debt.

I am pointing out that the article eschews the extreme compounding increases in technological advancements that my generation is fortunate to experience. Is that agreeable? Or would you say that when comparing generational success and/or happiness we should only consider variables where millennials lag?

> The TP delivered to your house was done so by someone working a low paying gig work job. There is a good chance, that like you, they graduated with significant student load debt. How do you think they feel about their economic future?

The same person who delivers my TP probably gets their tp delivered as well. Even though they are a blue collar worker, likely with debt. Isn't that value worth consideration when comparing generational wealth? How is that being accounted for in the article? If it isn't being accounted for, then why not?


I think you are greatly overestimating the impact of technology on peoples QOL. The HN crowd are likely to be heavy tech users, but your average person is not. The average person might get their video from Netflix instead of Cable TV now, and they might use social networking (which has its downsides) instead of phone lines, but they aren't playing MMOGs or taking MOOCs.

For example, in my own circle of hobbies. Fishing is getting worse[1]. Surfing is difficult because costal real estate is crazy expensive. Gardening is also difficult due to real estate, etc.. I can think of at least a dozen other activities that are now much harder to participate in due to rising real estate prices, climate change, or wealth inequality. For anyone who participates in these activities, there is a real loss in QOL.

Also, I think you are presenting a false dichotomy. Your suggestions is that millennials should be content because technological progress offsets the loss of economic opportunity. This is a false choice. We can have both with the right mix of policy. No one said to the boomers "You can have good economic opportunity, or you can have technological advancements, pick one". In their own lifetimes, they also saw huge advancements in medicine, infrastructure, communication, and tech.

[1] https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9058818-181/california-po...


>For example, in my own circle of hobbies. Fishing is getting worse[1]. Surfing is difficult because costal real estate is crazy expensive. Gardening is also difficult due to real estate, etc.. I can think of at least a dozen other activities that are now much harder to participate in due to rising real estate prices, climate change, or wealth inequality. For anyone who participates in these activities, there is a real loss in QOL.

You're using a ban on abalone fishing as an example of how hobbies are "becoming harder to participate in"? I'm sorry, but that's a massive generalization and a ridiculous stretch. The boom in technology over the past 30 years has undeniably enabled free learning, and while you can point at niche examples as outliers, you would be grasping at straws.

>Also, I think you are presenting a false dichotomy. Your suggestions is that millennials should be content because technological progress offsets the loss of economic opportunity. This is a false choice. We can have both with the right mix of policy. No one said to the boomers "You can have good economic opportunity, or you can have technological advancements, pick one". In their own lifetimes, they also saw huge advancements in medicine, infrastructure, communication, and tech.

Can you help me to understand how suggesting more variables be brought into the equation when comparing generational success is a false dichotomy? I think you're presenting a straw man. My comment was that I am content due to reasons not considered in the article, and that maybe those reasons should be considered when looking at the population as a whole and comparing them cross-generationally.


> My comment was that I am content due to reasons not considered in the article, and that maybe those reasons should be considered when looking at the population as a whole and comparing them cross-generationally.

You suggest adding more variables, and I recommended that we extend that beyond technology and then you summarily dismiss those concerns. Abalone is a very niche fishery, but my broader point was that our environment has been significantly degraded for a number of reasons, and for people who value the environment, whether it be for fishing, hiking, or whatever, they have experienced a loss relative to the generations before them. This also holds for anything that requires real estate. For example musicians are finding it much harder to make ends meet in cities due to loss of studio space and event venues. And even technology has not been a net win for everyone. Ask a journalist how they fell about the internet? How about your local bookstore?

I am glad you are content. Enjoy it. But recognize that you are literally one of the few winners in this economy. A highly paid tech worker has likely just experienced the best decade in history for their particular profession. But that is a very narrow segment of our society, and a large chunk of our generation has lost ground relative to their cross-generational peers.


>I am glad you are content. Enjoy it. But recognize that you are literally one of the few winners in this economy. A highly paid tech worker has likely just experienced the best decade in history for their particular profession. But that is a very narrow segment of our society, and a large chunk of our generation has lost ground relative to their cross-generational peers.

But I'm not the only winner. Society as a whole wins through advances in technology. That's my point, and that's what gives birth to the entrepreneurial spirit found here.

If you don't think so we can probably agree to disagree.


"I have the world at my hands. Access to written knowledge from any point in the history of time. Tens of thousands of video games and movies available for under $10 and/or a small subscription price. I can learn the arts, pick up any hobby, or even teach myself to code for free. I can fly around the world and stay in hostels in other countries at the same price (or cheaper than) I pay rent in the US. If I run out of tp it is delivered to my doorstep the next day."

Every other generation has all this now, too. But they also have houses and less debt.


>Every other generation has all this now, too. But they also have houses and less debt.

According to the graph, G.I.s had much higher economic output per population than boomers did, and experienced some of the same technological advancements towards the ends of their lives (fast cars, color television, even early PCs).

Would you rather have been born into the G.I. generation or the boomer generation?


Yes you are biased. The data shows it.


That's great you've been successful. However, since your story doesn't mirror the majority of your peers, consider yourself an outlier.

What can you do to help more people become as financially successful as you are?


The parent poster's point is that life has significantly improved in ways that aren't easily expressed through monetary value. If you lived in the 70s you could not have the convenience of a smartphone no matter how rich you were. People living in the 70s didn't have the ability to use a smartphone, use wikipedia, play video games, post on social media. You could've been the richest person that has ever lived and you wouldn't have been able to do what basically every teenager does in the US on a daily basis now.


My smartphone is in many ways a curse and a burden, but I need to carry it because I'm expected to answer phone calls within seconds no matter where I am, and text messages within minutes.

In the '90s, I could go out for a whole weekend and come home and check my answering machine and nobody would be offended, because that was the norm.

I could still opt to live like that now, but the repercussions would be much more severe, because the competitive landscape has shifted.


It's undoubtedly true that from an individual's perspective it can seem like a curse. However, what's important in discussions like this is the utility it provides to the population - how it makes people's lives and their economic activity more efficient. Better communication methods are obviously useful there.


I think you're missing his point. Although you can, of course, disagree with it in any case.

Even though people of relatively recent generations were more successful on average, that didn't give them access to many of the services and capabilities that people just take for granted today. Pick your year--1970, 1980, 1990. Plop many people down into those years and they would not be happy even if they had a good job and could buy a nice suburban house. (Middle class people were generally leaving the cities during that period.)


Yeah, this makes sense. I got it especially bad, since I joined startups that raised a huge amount of money on promises of riches, and then failed after burning through hundreds of millions of dollars. The founders cashed out before the companies imploded, but regular employees were left holding the bag. I have lots of illiquid startup stock that's now worthless, after about 10 years in Silicon Valley.

I do feel like the cards are stacked against everyone who isn't already rich. The system is designed to help keep the rich people rich, and make sure the poor stay poor.

I'm excited about the uprising, because we might finally be seeing a period of time that brings about real change. I'd love to see politicians abolished and replaced with real direct digital democracy. Politicians are a leftover from the colonial era when government representatives were necessary because it wasn't possible to have real democracy.


If you were fortunate enough to get multiple jobs in Silicon Valley - even if they didn’t go as well as they could have - it’s hard to honestly claim the cards are stacked against you. Most people drew a much weaker hand.


People have a hard time remembering that if you are in the 51st percentile you're "doing better than most".

I feel like we tend to think more in terms of school grading where even an 80% is "not very good".


That's fair, I am well aware of my luck in this case. I guess I just wish that someone had explained to me the real value of SV lottery tickets when I was younger.

FWIW I grew up poor, and am certainly not wealthy now (I'm still a wage slave), but at least I can afford to buy food and new clothes. Growing up I had to rely on charity.


Congratulations (seriously) on making it, then. I only called your comment out because I think many people in the HB bubble have very inflated standards about a “good” life.


I think about two friends of mine. Both got slammed by the 2001 recession. At one point they were sleeping on couches. They managed in the last ten years to get good paying jobs, 90/120k a year. And when they look at their budget taxes eat almost half.

And then there is a friend who managed to hop skip and keep a decent job and stuff money away tax protected. He's made more off capital gains than he's made from working.

The whole system is set up to allow wealth to accumulate no matter the state of the real economy. While preventing people with earned income from 'breaking out' and competing with the wealthy and their children.


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I'm also very concerned about climate change. I feel like boomers have robbed young people of their futures.




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