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The Pew research people have a book out, “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials”, and it has me thinking. I never really thought about it, but labeling the demise of a society as being associated with a single labeled generation is one way of looking at it, I suppose. Although, it is a bit unfair and simplistic.
It is easy to blame these poor jobless hipster Millennials, but that would be wrong. They did not cause the financial collapse that led to their unemployment. The Baby Boomer bankers destroyed the world (and not a single one of the Wall Street people who led the world over the cliff has been prosecuted). They did not pervert the universities in the country, bloating them with redundant middle managers, causing tuition to become untenable, burdening students with hundreds in thousands of debt.
The Pew book tries to tag certain traits to the Millennials, such as being jobless, living at home, etc. Others have piled on in snarky ways, calling them names, such as “man-child living at home” or “hipster”. Of course, they are pretty much describing modern Brooklyn.
The one trait that I have not yet seen linked to Millennials is the use of ADHD drugs. In the New York Times today, an article states that more than 600,000 young adults are hooked on stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin. Prescription opioid pain pills are the other epidemic of abuse. And let’s not forget energy drinks and coffee which are hugely popular with young adults and teens. Oh yeah, pot is big with this unemployed underclass as well.
I worry too much about big issues that do not directly affect me, I know, but this lost generation of Millennials could seriously change America in a negative way. It is not their fault, but they have missed out on the crucial time of their lives when they learn job skills. Many of them could not afford college. A good portion of them will be living off of Social Security disability soon.
Employers don’t want these bearded hipster Millennials. They can cherry pick the best students coming out of college.
The concern I have is that this Millennial generation will go on to elect leaders in favor of lowering standards. Standards of excellence will be attacked, such as the new watered down SAT tests that no longer use “fancy words“. Colleges, in order to survive, will be forced to admit people who are not ready for college. Excellence will be smeared as an elitist thing.
Silicon Valley is seeing this now. Another NYT article points out that the young tech people are designing low-brow dumb “apps”, but not really creating smart technology. If that continues, then Europe or South Korea will take over the tech sector.
The Millennial generation is not too old to help, but the changes required will not come. Colleges will not lower tuition. Corporations will not be forced to hire people. Therefore, we all had better be prepared for a dramatically different United States.