What defines the millennial generation? We are told that Millennials are lazy and believe they are entitled, but as with any stereotype the premise fails with even a cursory examination.
Who are the millennial generation? They are defined as those who were born between 1982 and 2004. How that definition was derived is a mystery to me, but it doesn’t matter. We are looking at trends that affect those born in the last two decades of the 20th Century.
Their parents lived in a time when you got a good education, a good job and built a lifetime career with one employer.
Millennials were blind sited by economic changes that in many cases have devastated there lives.
Corporate raiders bought good companies. Sold the company assets for big profits and left the investors with a skeleton of the company they invested in. Investors moved from a buy and hold philosophy to being swing traders. In the 60s investors held their stocks for an average of 8 years. They had a long-term growth outlook and companies planned for the future. Now investors are swing traders with a 4-month investment horizon. Companies are forced to perform on a quarterly basis and long-term growth planning suffers. Instead of valuing employees companies looked at employees as liabilities. Corporations hire temporary employees from third party employers who rent people to a business to do a specific job. When the job is completed the employee is gone.
The risk of an economic recession has shifted from a business to the individual.
Your risk of falling into poverty is not an event but a process. You have an accident and cannot work. You get laid off. You live on credit cards till you can no longer pay all your bills. You got caught in the Great Recession and were not able to get a job. Because you graduated five years ago and were not able to get a job in your field your degree is worthless. Employers are hiring recent college graduates. You are thirty years old with a worthless degree that left you $30 to $100 thousand dollars in debt. You cannot pay off your student debt because you are working at a minimum wage job just to survive.
Because jobs are temporary, on-the-job training is no longer provided by employers. The cost of maintaining one’s skills has shifted from the employer to the employee. Employers have shifted from hiring workers to contracting the work. Contractors are responsible for there own benefits and retirement and contractors often get paid up to 40% less than an employee doing similar work.
Millennial are scared. They look at there future and see nothing but struggle. They fear getting old because they know they will have to work the rest of there lives and what will happen when they can no longer get a job.
You can see it in the fear that put Donald Trump in office. Voters will support anyone they think can help them, even a demigod.
What is the solution? First, we need strong unions that can negotiate favorable contracts and we need mobile benefits only unions can provide. Statistics show that anyone living in poverty has a much harder time to improve their lives than someone with more resources. President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” Introduced the Job Corps and Head Start both programs that helped lift young people out of poverty. We need more programs that can help people who cannot help themselves.
I believe each of us much take responsibility for our own lives. People need a side gig that can provide them an adequate income to fall back on when they can no longer work. The internet provides a way for most people to create that income, but with net-neutrality gone internet business start-ups may become much more expensive to accomplish.
With the current Federal Government situation which strongly favors Corporations, we cannot expect help from the Federal level. However many State and local governments are attempting to address millennial problems. It is up to us to elect progressive candidates who will work for us and not the big Corporations.
Ask the people you vote for if they::
- support a universal basic income
- support increasing the minimum wage
- will roll back anti-union legislation
- Tilt the tax code away from the wealthy and give the rest of us a break.
- Support a program for portable benefits.
- support free job training
- repeal voter suppression laws and oppose gerrymandering.
- support public education and oppose charter schools that drain funds from the public school system.
We have a lot of work to do to educate the public that there is a better way than letting our democracy slide into a totalitarian government. A free and respectful discussion of ideas is essential to any democracy. Efforts to demean, degrade and control the free press is the first step totalitarian leaders take in furthering their objectives. Subverting the judicial system by undermining its credibility and appointing judges that will support a totalitarian agenda is part of the slippery road to a totalitarian government. When a leader demands loyalty to himself instead of loyalty to our country, you have a leader who wants to be a dictator.
I believe in taking individual responsibility for my life. Having a business of our own is an important step in establishing our personal freedom and resilience. But, it is not always possible to overcome the circumstances we find ourselves in. Becoming poor is a process, not an event. It can be a simple as losing a job, getting sick or getting loaded with credit card debt. Once poor, getting back to a quality lifestyle becomes increasingly difficult. Government programs are needed that help people in poverty improve their lives.