By Kimberly Durment Locke
When I recently came across an article titled, “Millennials, The Mystery Generation, How the Boomers Screwed an Entire Generation,” posted last October and written by Michael T. Robinson, founder of CareerPlanner.com, I have to admit I felt a combination of disbelief and uneasiness. Was it true that as a person born within the bandwidth of the Baby Boomer generation and as the mother of a son born at the tail end of the Millennial generation, I was actually partially responsible for some of the complexities facing the Millennials?
To fairly assess this possibility, I needed to step back and try and make as an impartial review of the points made by the article’s author. Before we begin, though, let’s define the time period of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. According to the Pew Research Center, Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964, and Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. Now, let’s begin the review.
Point number one: Intentionally raised by Boomers and GenXers to believe they were very special and much more special than everyone else, and that they alone deserved to become everything they want to become.
True, as a Boomer mom, yes, I did emphasize to my son that he is special and could accomplish anything he set his mind to achieve. What’s wrong with that? I was told the same thing by my parents but I never expected to achieve that “anything” without first earning a college degree, starting out as an apprentice so I could “learn” the business, and then putting in several years in my chosen field, that being journalism, before moving incrementally up the career ladder.
Looking at it from a Millennial’s perspective, could there be non-traditional pathways to success? Yes, there could be. I have to reflect on the many dot-com entrepreneurs, even a cousin of mine who never attended college yet became a millionaire in his 20s. He turned his knack for developing computer applications into a resounding success. I guess the bottom line is there will always be those who follow the beat of a different drummer and, in doing so, succeed. That’s okay too, more power to them. If their parent(s) told then they could be anything and everything they wanted to become, apparently it worked.
Point number two: Having trouble finding good paying jobs because so many jobs were offshored or eliminated as Boomer managers and Boomer company owners tried to increase profits by moving jobs to other countries like India, China, Canada, Mexico etc. Also, our government does nothing to prevent job reducing mergers and acquisitions.
Again, let’s try and give this sweeping generalization a fair and impartial review. At the time this article was written, the national unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth is setting impressive records as well with 313,000 jobs added nationwide in February, according to a New York Times article dated March 9, 2018. The same article states that this was the largest job growth since July 2016 with gains across low-, middle-, and high-wage industries.
In several states the minimum wage is on the rise. True, thousands of jobs were outsourced during the past few decades by giants in the U.S. automotive, computer, and other sectors in the pursuit of cheap labor and looser environmental regulations. Still, can the Baby Boomer generation actually be held fully responsible for this economic trend adopted by those from multiple generations and more importantly, benefitting consumes of all ages as they bask in the glow of lower prices on these same consumables.
Government regulators have weighed in on major acquisitions and mergers for decades but how this has anything to do with an entire generation of Boomers remains unsubstantiated.
Point number three: Unable to buy their own home, or even rent an affordable apartment because housing and rent prices were pushed out of reach by greedy investors, real estate speculators, Boomers trying to make a profit, and greed in general.
Okay, on this point I have to ask right out the gate, are Boomers really in control of the entire rental and real estate market and how they reached their current market levels?
Sure, America is a capitalistic society and has been since at least the Industrial Revolution. That was, I’m afraid, long before the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, and all of the other generations that followed. Apparently, the article’s author lost sight of the Law of Supply and Demand. This theory explains the interaction between the supply of a resource and the demand for that resource. Generally speaking, low supply and high demand result in increased price. In contrast, the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the price tends to fall.
In major metropolitan areas, rental and home prices are up. In line with the high prices is high demand, proof of the Law of Supply and Demand in action. If you live in Cleveland, Ohio, where there’s less demand than there is, say in Los Angeles, you’ll pay approximately $881 for a one-bedroom apartment. That same apartment in L.A. will run about $2,037, according to the rental website RENTCafé. A thriving job market as well as great climate play into ensuring that demand for housing in L.A. remains strong.
Point number four: Education costs driving huge student loan debts as Boomers failed to take the right steps in education that other countries such as Germany have taken.
True, Germany has adopted a socialized approach to such areas as health care and education. This begs the question, though, are these the “right steps” for the U.S. to take? While Germany offers tuition-free education at its public universities, which makes earning a college degree simply a matter of meeting the academic requirements without having to worry about being able to finance college, is this a win-win strategy?
Not having to pay for college at a public university translates to more crowded schools and puts the burden of higher education on the backs of all German citizens, through higher taxes, instead of only on those who choose to attend college. Either way, whether higher education is free through taxing all citizens or up to the individual to pay for, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to having a well-educated society.
About the Author
Kimberly Durment Locke is a freelance writer living in the Los Angeles area who enjoys writing about a variety of topics and issues. Her articles have appeared in the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, Winds of Change magazine, and Pasadena Magazine. She is a registered Cherokee Nation citizen, and also is of Hispanic and European ethnicities.