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This report and its accompanying graphics have received a lot of well-deserved attention during the past two days. The non-partisan Urban Institute has confirmed what should really be obvious at this point--that an entire generation of Americans will be forced to cope with a drastically reduced standard of living as they enter middle age and into what were once referred to as their "retirement" years.   The picture of what younger workers are able to save and accumulate today compared to their counterparts prior to the 1980's is shockingly dismal:

Change in Avg Net Worth photo wealthinequality_zpsd4f41c53.jpg
Source: Urban Institute (Thanks to nomandates who copied the chart for me)

Despite the Great Recession and slow recovery, the American dream of working hard, saving more, and becoming wealthier than one's parents holds true for many. Unless you're under 40.
The Urban Institute report, titled "Lost Generations? Wealth Building Among Young Americans," examines trends in wealth accumulation between different age groups over a thirty-year time frame (a study examining the same trends between racial demographics will be forthcoming in the Spring).

The longstanding historical pattern of upward mobility, of course, is in keeping with the classic conception of the American Dream. For many Americans during the twentieth century that dream was very real, as past generations of American children generally grew up to be wealthier than their parents and each generation was typically wealthier than the one before it. For example:

[T]hose born in 1943-51 are wealthier than those born in 1934-41, who are wealthier than those those born in 1925-33.
The policies that have shaped and continue to shape American society--and particularly, our Government's response to the economic needs of its citizens--have, for better or for worse, relied on that basic assumption.  It's an assumption that informs the core of our identity as a nation.

But those days are gone.  Young workers are neither successively wealthier than their counterparts of 25 years ago, nor are they gaining over time.  They saw no benefit from the "doubling" of the U.S. Economy since the 1980's. And those directly in the heart of "Generation Y", age 29-37, have fared worst of all.

“In this country, the expectation is that every generation does better than the previous generation,” said Caroline Ratcliffe, an author of the study. “This is no longer the case. This generation might have less.” The authors said the situation facing young Americans might be unprecedented.

A broad range of economic factors has conspired to suppress wealth-building for younger American workers; the trend predates the Great Recession. Younger Americans are facing stagnant pay — the median income, when adjusted for inflation, has declined since its 1999 peak — as well as a housing collapse and soaring student loan debt.

Another author of the study, Gene Steuerle, attributes the decrease in wealth among young people to a number of factors (including, but not limited to societal wealth inequality) that have combined to create a "perfect storm" of financial insecurity for those under 40.  These factors include:


   - a lower rate of employment when in the workforce;
   - delayed entry into the workforce and into periods of accumulating saving;
   - reduced relative pay, partly due to their first-time-ever lack of any higher educational achievement relative to past generations;
   - delayed family formation, usually a harbinger and motivator of thrift and homebuilding;
   - lower relative minimum wages; and
   - higher shares of compensation taken out to pay for Social Security and health care, with less left over to save.
While the financial crisis tremendously aggravated the situation, the setbacks to younger workers did not start there. Older workers who had the good fortune to have purchased their homes prior to the housing "bubble" and did not flee the stock market when their 401k's crashed have seen their wealth levels gradually recover.  Not so those under 40.  Even assuming a robust economic recovery erases the economic reversals of the previous decade, for many of this generation it is simply too late--the compounding effect of time on accumulation of a "nest egg" of savings is unable to work its usual magic.  There is simply not enough time available.

Politicians of both parties are loathe to admit that America is in decline, even when the evidence is staring them in the face.  For that reason the public policy discussion (Social Security, Medicare) has invariably skewed toward preservation of the health, wealth and economic status of retirees and near retirees.  As the chart above demonstrates, these groups have already accumulated the lion's share of wealth during the past thirty years. There is no significant legislation addressing what is almost certain to be an economic calamity as millions watch their standards of living deteriorate.  Instead what we see is this:

Education has declined in importance in public budgets, post-recession policy has tended to discourage access to homeownership, and pensions and retirement plans still prove inadequate if not in decline for substantial portions of the population.
The Urban Institute offers a few, weak policy prescriptions, but what is ultimately needed is a resurgence in domestic investment and higher paying jobs:
With the wage and jobs picture bleak, and fixed pensions largely gone from the private sector, the answer to the conundrum of shoring up savings for younger workers might lie in new government policies, the Urban Institute scholars said. They suggested encouraging retirement accounts by making them automatic unless an employee opted out, or modifying the home mortgage interest deduction to push more money toward homeownership for lower-income workers.

For now, millions of younger workers are on their own.

Of course retirement accounts, automatic or not, are only as good as what young people can afford to put into them. If their wages are being outstripped by the cost of living, health care, child care, etc., "automatic" enrollment in accounts won't make up the difference in any appreciable way.  And a mortgage interest deduction for lower-income homeowners won't offset the skyrocketing costs of higher education.

Astonishingly, none of the media coverage of this report appears to allow for the possibility that this phenomenon may affect not only the current generation of twenty and thirty-somethings, but future ones as well. Each generation ultimately transfers what wealth it has (left) to the next, but as they live longer, the parents that these twenty and thirty-somethings will become are going to have little if anything left to pass on to their own children. That in turn will decrease their children's education and job prospects, and the vicious cycle of stagnation and downward mobility continues.  Those families that have accumulated substantial wealth over the course of their lives will become more and more isolated socially, culturally and economically from those that have not, and the enormous levels of wealth the country is capable of generating will continue to concentrate into a small segment of the population.  If that happens on a scale this large--and there is no reason to suspect that it won't (in fact it already is)--what we will likely see in twenty years is a nation that has become more and more impoverished, with a tiny segment clinging to huge amounts of wealth.

The implications of this trend are as obvious as they are alarming. A generation of aging Gen Y'rs without adequate means to sustain themselves through retirement will necessarily require a broader degree of governmental support, whatever the means. The current fixation of both political parties with curtailing "entitlement" programs in the name of deficit reduction --either by cutting benefits, raising the eligibility ages, or reducing cost-of living adjustments --is not only wrongheaded, but a recipe for societal suicide.  If we don't invest our resources and modify our policies in ways that benefit our young people, the American Experiment is going to come to a very bleak end.

Originally posted to Dartagnan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 01:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, In Support of Labor and Unions, Daily Kos Economics, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (143+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, phonegery, tardis10, Eric Stetson, nomandates, side pocket, Chi, Cofcos, Joy of Fishes, Crazycab214, One Pissed Off Liberal, Shippo1776, Mark Mywurtz, Lily O Lady, Bryce in Seattle, a2nite, NancyWH, antirove, Cassandra Waites, tonyahky, dharmafarmer, NoMoreLies, RiveroftheWest, YucatanMan, chimene, begone, Chaddiwicker, parse this, Bluesee, basquebob, shaharazade, Unitary Moonbat, Creosote, KJG52, bigjacbigjacbigjac, Nulwee, duhban, sabo33, eeff, DWG, Mother Mags, Miss Jones, ontheleftcoast, hwy70scientist, bluesheep, Eddie L, gulfgal98, WakeUpNeo, Carol in San Antonio, kurt, MKDAWUSS, dkmich, onionjim, flowerfarmer, stormicats, badscience, Superpole, JDWolverton, NBBooks, Pat K California, Debs2, DvCM, CayceP, rodentrancher, bibble, zerelda, Balachan, notrouble, asterkitty, Steven D, tommyfocus2003, qofdisks, Gowrie Gal, triv33, mconvente, northsylvania, SteelerGrrl, Mentatmark, puakev, Lady Libertine, psnyder, camlbacker, Wek, Hirodog, pat bunny, fisheye, One Opinion, Skennet Boch, petulans, flavor411, Ruh Roh, KibbutzAmiad, semioticjim, The Hindsight Times, dannyboy1, tofumagoo, Calamity Jean, rantsposition, Shockwave, BlueEyed In NC, marleycat, ladybug53, mofembot, blueoregon, greengemini, lcrp, LilithGardener, Simplify, CorinaR, eru, pimutant, TracieLynn, maggiejean, Jim R, too many people, WithHoney, Involuntary Exile, blueoasis, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, commonmass, NYmom, alice kleeman, Egalitare, MsGrin, semiot, gramofsam1, jbob, litoralis, oortdust, scott5js, Sun Tzu, MPociask, Militarytracy, Nebraskablue, AmericanAnt, hubcap, figbash, livingthedream, No Exit, melo, Aaa T Tudeattack, vahana, 2laneIA
  •  One major factor is missing from this analysis: (59+ / 0-)

    Student loans, which now total more than consumer credit. Years of underinvestment in higher education have resulted in tuition casts rising much faster than general inflation. Tompay these costs most students have had to take loans far in excess of what their parents did, the result being that they are saddled with high levels of debt even before they enter the (lousy) full-time job market. In turn, acquisition of homes, starting of families, and full participation in the economy is retarded. They are essentially starting their turn at bat with 2 strikes.

    •  The analysis is very weak. 80% of over age 47 (34+ / 0-)

      are utterly screwed because they don't have any wealth or savings for retirement. The highly skewed distribution of wealth has pounded the 30 somethings, but it has also pounded 80% of all other age groups. Only the top 20% has increased wealth and the big gains in wealth are concentrated in the top 1%.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:27:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree with your emphasis. (13+ / 0-)

        The crisis facing older Americans is not so much equity but medical.  It's unrealistic to expect people in their late 70s to early 80s to live on their own, for the generation as a whole, yet that's exactly what the level of planning is for this country. There is so little discussion of aging except for worry about SS and Medicare that I have to wonder if flat-out mass delusion needs to be suggested as the cause.

        We know because we don't have enough geriatricians, we don't have enough nurses, we don't have enough nursing homes, and we don't have enough assisted living homes. This is a national policy failure. Yes, equity comes into play for affording those things. But there's not enough supply. We knew this was coming a long time ago. It was unrealistic to rely on investments in land and 401ks to finance medical care and other living expenses for decades of elderhood for everybody. It's not just the historian's fallacy that real estate is speculative: this was well known from centuries of economic analysis but somehow forgotten in the 1990s.

        While senior poverty is shocking and will get worse, it's the eldercare crisis brewing that will outrage us the most. Expect abuse so rampant that current conditions will be preferable. Expect drug/medication abuse to skyrocket.

        Getting progressive states to hurry up on single payer is the best we can do. A lot of elders are going to die in conditions that will be horrifying.

        But none of that in any way eclipses the very real monstrosity of what has been done to younger Americans often with the most ageist excuses I have ever seen.

        Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

        by Nulwee on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:51:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, the analysis is insufficient. (11+ / 0-)

        The distortions caused by the 1% alone are significant. Like the observation that when Bill Gates walks into a crowded room the average net worth of everyone else goes way up. So it is with these numbers. The true story for 80% of us is worse through all age groups.

        And comparisons to our counterparts prior to the 1980's is muddled as well. In that period the mayority of our workforce had the expectation of some type of pension or work funded retirement. Not any more. Saving for their children's college was not remotely the obstacle it is today, likewise with the cost of health insurance and out of pocket health care costs. Changes in law have also made it harder for normal folks to discharge debt, things like medical costs and student loans. In this country, and only this country, the number and rate of medical bankruptcies alone has a deteriorating impact on multi-generations of a family.

        The truth for 80% of us is much worse that the statisitcs presented in the chart indicate. America, except for its wealthy, is in decline, and has been for more than a generation.

      •  Agree and disagree, both (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FishOutofWater, burlydee

        Yes, we over age 47 have little wealth or savings and sometimes big medical expenses, but at least some of our safety net is still in place.  The ones that come after us are/will be worse off because of several factors: student loans, jobs being out sourced or just plain disappearing and having dependent children ... not to mention that the safety net is being removed for them.

        I see it in my own children.  They do not have the expectations of a better life that I hac when I finished college.

        "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

        by CorinaR on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 01:17:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Respectfully, the entire national discussion since (0+ / 0-)

          the President came into office and appointed the Fiscal Commission has been about austerity, and cutting the social safety net for EVERYONE.

          How is it that you believe that Boomers will be exempt from cuts?   It's certainly not what I'm hearing.  ;-)


          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


          by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:06:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I did not say that ... (0+ / 0-)

            I said that we had some of our safety net in place but the others will have even less ... yes, they are cutting everyone's but cutting more from the younger ones than from the present Boomers.  The numbers are such that they are cutting more from the younger ones by raising the eligible age and by the Chanined CPI (which cuts more as it goes).

            But then, I really am not good with numbers

            "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

            by CorinaR on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:14:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Then maybe you're already retired. Obviously, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Aaa T Tudeattack

              that makes a major difference.  [Clearly, I don't know your status, or anyone else's here.  ;-)]

              But by far, MOST of the Boomer Generation cohort IS NOT yet retired, and if the Democrats [who are leading the charge to cut entitlements via 'the Grand Bargain'] have their way, folks 58, 60, etc., today, will also have their benefits severely cut.

              THAT IS, if they adopt the Bowles-Simpson proposal.

              Again, if you're a current retiree, you may not care about this.

              Your might want to read progressive economist Dean Baker's diaries over at FDL.  He dispels a lot of the misconceptions that I'm trying to address.  

              Here's the link to the Bowles-Simpson proposal The Moment Of Truth.

              Anyone who has not yet retired, really ought to read the chapter on Social Security Reform.  [Be sure and bring a 'crying towel with your, LOL!]

              It will be 'near' eviscerated for all but current retirees, IF all the Bowles-Simpson proposals which have been recommended are adopted and implemented.

              Even (IL) US Rep Jan Schakowsky agrees that the cuts will be deep, and very harmful to seniors.  

              Here's an excerpt and link to her Reuters Op-Ed entitled "The Sham Of Simpson-Bowles."

              . . . It has been nearly two years since the commission they chaired, which I served on, finished its work. The duo’s proposal has attained almost mythical status in Washington as the epitome of what a “grand bargain” should look like.

              But everyone look again. They will discover that it is far less than meets the eye.

              Have Simpson-Bowles’ champions read it? Given any real scrutiny, this plan falls far short of being a serious, workable or reasonable proposal – from either an economic or political analysis. . . .

              Under Simpson-Bowles, long-term solvency for Social Security is achieved mostly by cutting benefits. Seventy-five years out, the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases is 4 to 1.

              They propose raising the age of full Social Security benefits to 69 – claiming that everyone is living longer. But a sizable percentage of Americans, mostly lower-income workers, especially women, are actually living shorter lives, and a large chunk of other Americans just can’t work that long – even if they can find a job. Their plan cuts benefits for current and future retirees by reducing the cost-of-living adjustment.

              For future retirees, all these changes taken together would reduce the average annual benefit for middle-income workers – those with annual earnings of $43,000 to $69,000 – by up to 35 percent.

              Just food for thought.  ;-)


              "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


              by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:55:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm going to post a video on "raising the (0+ / 0-)

                retirement" age, and it's effects during the blogathon.

                You may be interested in watching it, since an expert explains the cut.  ;-)


                "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


                by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:59:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Of course it has. As I posted in another diary, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the majority of the wealth that was lost in the "crash," was the Boomer's, since naturally it was older folks who held most of the wealth.

        Dean Baker writes about this all the time at Fire Dog Lake.

        The President of the [Democratic] DLC testified before the Fiscal Commission that folks should be looking at working 'well into their eighth decade of life.'  

        That may be one reason that the Administration is getting ready to push through the Grand Bargain, and the Bowles-Simpson framework, which includes so many draconian cuts to the social safety net.

        Perhaps the PtB plan to do away with retirement.  Who knows?


        "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


        by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:01:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Meant to link to transcript of Democratic DLC (0+ / 0-)

          President Edward Gresser's testimony to the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission.

          Apparently, he thinks that Dems should back "rethinking retirement."

          Here's a brief excerpt and a link to his testimony.

          Rethink Retirement.

          If we reduce the number of physically and mentally fit people who choose to retire in their late 60s and early 70s, we reduce the government’s entitlement spending
          . The simplest approach is to raise the retirement age, at minimum for workers in less physically demanding jobs. Other options could include offering ways to mix part-time and on-line work with partial Social Security benefits after age 67 and into the eighth decade of life, with somewhat higher benefits for in exchange for later retirement. . . .

          For what it's worth:  My advice to young people today would be to get some actual liberal Dems elected, if you really want to do something about college costs and retirement benefits.  

          'Cause it seems to me, that electing corporatist Dems ain't gettin' it!  ;-)


          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


          by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 12:15:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Another major factor... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, lcrp, MPociask

      ..the illusion of education reform. Has anybody really looked at what the US DOE's prescription for education does to the human mind?

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:53:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a unexpected? I think not. (12+ / 0-)

    Gen X was told that it would likely be the 'first' generation to do worse than their parents.

    None of this is that shocking or surprising.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:22:54 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting this diary, Dartagnan. (22+ / 0-)

    As I had hoped, you've thoroughly addressed the findings conveyed in the Urban Institute's chart.

    If those in the 47+ age categories were surveyed, the results - whether of what they believe to be the reality or what they believe to be the ideal - would probably not resemble this chart.

    In general, many Americans either haven't been paying attention to this dynamic, or they've been deliberately misled into thinking that such a situation is the fault of Democrats and communists and socialists and such.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:31:18 PM PDT

  •  Americans better start (25+ / 0-)

    paying attention because it's beginning to look like not only the kids will be living with Mom and Dad but the grandkids, too.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:39:58 PM PDT

    •  Respectfully, it will be the opposite of that, if (9+ / 0-)

      the Fiscal Commission's recommendations go through anytime soon (draconian cuts to the social insurance programs).

      Bear in mind, the Boomer generation as a whole will not enjoy the prosperity that their parents had in retirement.

      Boomer's parents are the generation that had the low medical costs, strong housing values, a strong job market, and defined benefit pensions.
      Today, barely 1 in 5 retirees will have an equivalent of a DB pension.  It was commonplace for the parents' of Boomers (not sure what they were called, LOL).

      My own parents (I'm a Boomer, but not old enough to collect Social Security, much less be "on" Medicare) were members of 'the Greatest Generation,' but they were they age of some of my cohorts' grandparents.

      As Dr. Baker writes extensively, the 'financial condition' of the average Boomer is WAY overblown.  He writes extensively about this at FDL.

      And let's not forget--the literally trillions of dollars of housing wealth that were lost came primarily from those most established (wealth-wise) citizens at that time--the Boomers.  They took the greatest financial hit.  ;-)

      Millions were foreclosed upon or are in underwater mortgages, presently.  Much of their wealth, IOW, has evaporated.  [We were lucky to escape this, personally, this time.  But we took 'a lickin' on investments, just not as severe as many folks, for which we are most grateful.]

      Where the emphasis really should be for younger generations, IMHO, is getting a grip on education 'inflation.'  How it's gotten this bad with little pushback, is very puzzling to me.

      The key is not 'pitting one generation against another.'  It's working to improve conditions for everyone.

      If we don't, I imagine that there will be a return to the days when elderly parents moved in with their children, and the adult children, after working all day, came home faced with caring for elderly and infirm parents.

      I imagine that we all hope that those days don't come back anytime soon.  For the sake of seniors who cherish their dignity and independence, and for the sake of their children, who will clearly have a sizeable burden imposed on them for much of their lives, I hope that folks in the progressive community will work together to save our social insurance programs.

      That is where we're going, with all this talk of 'austerity' on the backs of seniors.  ;-)

      Thanks for this diary.  Hopefully it will be a clarion call that we must all advocate to 'save' Social Security and Medicare, for all generations of Americans.

      If we allow all the proposed cuts to go through, America will indeed be a much bleaker place to be.  

      For everyone.


      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:35:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have seen some of this amongst friends. (9+ / 0-)

      This will be a verrrry unpopular opinion with some here, but in some cases (not all, but some) I think the parents are a bit hypocritical

      I've seen thirty-somethings struggling to find and keep work and make a living wage still living at home with their boomer parents driving their BMWs and Mercedes living in large homes in very nice neighborhoods in which their thirtysomething kids maintain a bedroom when they're not at work.

      At least two of these sets of parents will complain out one side of their mouths about their loser children and how they still live at home and can't seem to become a success and will then rail against taxes and government spending out of the other sides of their mouths.

      Their kids took out student loans, got college degrees, and now work full-time, but struggle to afford rent sufficient to strike out on their own while also making their student loan payments. In both cases, the parents could hire their kids themselves, give them some training and a start in the firm, but instead don't—the kids are expected to become a succes on their own. In one case, the parents own multiple rental properties that they use to fund a very good lifestyle for themselves—but the kid can't afford the rent that his parents charge for their places. Hmmmm.

      That's fine, but it's a bit rich complaining that your kids still live at home when they went to college, got their grades, work full time, and in the meantime the parents don't want to support taxes funding reductions in the cost of education, jobs programs or stimulus spending to improve the economy, or giving their kids a launch in a more lucrative career using the resources available to them.

      I had a set of grandparents that sold their house to put my parent through college.  As a result, my parent was able to get a much better financial start and the investment allowed them to support my grandparents in their old age. That's how it used to work in many cases. Pass the wealth on to the kids as an investment in the future, knowing that the kids would then enhance and grow that investment and support the parents in their dotage. In my experience, that didn't happen for a lot of GenX and GenY kids—their parents would have thought that idea crazy. Take out student loans! Pay for it yourself! Keep your hands off my retirement and nestegg!

      Again, this will be very unpopular with some here, but there is a strain amongst some of the present older generation of "I've got mine!"-ism.

      -9.63, 0.00
      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

      by nobody at all on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:49:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those are obviously right wing parents (0+ / 0-)

        Who are part of the scam the Republicans have been running. They appear to have the selfish traits that make up the right wingers to the point they hurt even their own children.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 11:48:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My parents and their siblings, (0+ / 0-)

        part of the Greatest Generation, all benefited from the financial support of their parents.  Their parents paid for their college education ( of course, they could although they were far from rich, because it was affordable to middle/working class Americans then).  They provided down payments on the first home purchase and other forms of financial support.  Looks like the parents you know chose to give their support in the form of housing in their own homes.  Seems to me there's a somewhat unhealthy psychological element.  Hey if the kids want to be dependent on mom and dad for the rest of their lives, well, I feel kinda sorry for them.  Personally, I couldn't get out of the house fast enough and the desire not to return with my tail between my legs drove me forward in my quest for independence.

        The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

        by helfenburg on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:46:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Could not agree more (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nobody at all

        I see this with my friends and co-workers everyday. Both gen Y and fellow Xers. They did everything they were supposed to do and many of their parents are loaded or very well off. These parents range from late 60's to 80 in age. They are cruel! They belittle and demean their own children because they do not get why they are struggling. It is very sad to hear and see. I'm sure not all older folks are so disconnected from reality, but big money sadly allows these people to be. They can't or choose not to relate to their kids at all. Not one ounce of empathy.

        •  In well over thirty years, with mostly lower (0+ / 0-)

          income clients who were court-referred, in general, I observed a greater 'generosity of spirit and deed' in those with the least.  Which, of course, is only a VERY GENERAL observation.  There are many exceptions, and as a rule of thumb, generalizations are not the way to go.

          For instance, my own parents were well-off, yet did a great deal for my sibling and myself.  On the other hand, my best friend's folks were worth a quarter of a billion dollars (which I didn't realize until the Dad passed away several years ago--he owned newspapers and radio stations, so I knew they had a few bucks, ;-), but had no idea that they were that wealthy), and weren't by any means 'stingy,' but more often 'attached strings' or placed demands on their three children, when they did things for them.

          In the end, I believe that most parents do the best that they can do by, or for their children.

          Mine believed in 'leading by example,' which was one reason that they were extraordinarily generous.

          Others (especially the very, very wealthy) often believe that the lesson best learned is 'how to pick yourself up by the boot straps.'

          Maybe that is the mentality that you guys are running into.  It is also very common in conservative Southern states, among all classes.

          BTW, lived in Tampa years ago, floridablue.  It was very nice then.  But today, compared to what I'm accustomed to over the years, Florida is 'off-the-charts' conservative.  [No offense  intended.]  Believe me,  it wasn't always the hotbed of conservatism, that it is today.  

          Good luck!


          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


          by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 04:25:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for your friends with the greedy parents (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but that picture is an unusual one. For many now entering retirement, the parents got sick right about the time the children went to college. I think one of the most irritating aspects of being 66 is having zillions of people believing that we're all rich yuppies with bad attitudes.  Au contraire. We are exhausted, financially fragile, and very concerned about becoming burdens to our children.

        •  Hear, hear, FoO. Parents span a broad spectrum, (0+ / 0-)

          as does the entire American populace, when it comes to attitudes and conduct.

          And individuals' ideas of 'what is best for their children,' differ greatly as well.

          But most parents truly want the best (or what they perceive to be the best) for their children.

          Sometimes what the parent, and what the child consider 'the best,' are simply not the same. ;-)


          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


          by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 06:21:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well done Dartagnan. (16+ / 0-)

    Thank you brother. All these things are so shameful and socially destructive. How can we stand for it?

  •  The reverse mortgage means that financially (35+ / 0-)

    stressed seniors will have less to leave to their children. We are all being sucked dry by the 1%.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:06:47 PM PDT

  •  Looks like a perfect time for austerity. (8+ / 0-)

    Why even bother with this lost cause, centrists?

    This is why the entire generation should focus on leaving the grid, living self-sufficiently and sustainably. Forget about the conventional jobs, new cars and big homes. The sooner they slough the monkey of consumption off their backs, the better. The less they consume, the less they're exploited.

    They should just say FU to the generations who made all the catastrophically bad decisions that created this cultural tar pit and stop funding SS completely. And focus on building communities that can think beyond a few years and choose, change and live beyond the wardrobe of consumer identities Madison Ave is selling.

    Hell, I'll join 'em.

    One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

    by Words In Action on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:56:06 PM PDT

    •  That's easy for you to say. (7+ / 0-)

      Before I enrolled in a debt slavery program I was unemployed and constantly on the verge of homelessness.

      Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

      by Nulwee on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:59:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  while I agree in part... (8+ / 0-)

      I feel VERY strongly about strengthening social security for those who need it. As well as single payer.

      My personal plans involve continuing to live as sustainably as possible, and investing in my communities. But I have been questioning convention and going my own way since childhood.

      But I think most Americans have been sold a bill of goods. And though I believe in the collective responsibility for all of the evils that have come from the consumer mentality of past generations I don't believe that individuals of those generations should be told "FU".

      Looking back on the past century, I think it's unfair to judge the current elder generation (Pre-boomer) without considering the wars and the depression.

      I think the threat posed by Hitler's fascism and then Stalin's communism and the cold war (that fear was very real) created a situation where entire generations were so occupied with their existential fear and trying to ignore/repress it, that many didn't have the emotional, spiritual or intellectual resource available to question consumer culture.

      Obviously we need to do things differently.  Killing televisions would be my starting point.

      But we absolutely need to honor our moral, societal obligations to take care of those who can't take care of themselves.

      Definitely try to change paradigms and move away from isolation and consumerism. But if (when) we can't take everybody with into the "new society" for whatever reasons, we can't just tell them "you're on your own" or "FU". That makes us no better than a Republican.

      What about just taxing the rich and providing for the poor. The resources are there!

      Maybe just maybe our foremothers and our forefathers came to this land in different ships. But we're all in the same boat now. - John Lewis

      by bluesheep on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 02:38:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leaving the grid??? Most people under 35 I see (10+ / 0-)

      can't pass 10 minutes of time without grabbing their iPhone and spending the next 30 minutes peering intently and interacting with it, calmed, comforted and completely absorbed in the Soma-like glow of its small display.  

      If only they were waterproof...why, then you could shower with them, too.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 04:04:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tune in and drop out.... (10+ / 0-)

      What if they gave a war and nobody came?  

      It wasn't generations or one political party that made these decisions; it was the 1%.   How many poor ex-Presidents do you know? The banks own them, and by extension,  us.

      gay/straight, abortion/pro-life, christian/muslim, young/old - these are the shiny objects they use to keep us distracted while they clean out the vault.  

      What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

      by dkmich on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 05:10:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It isn't about generations, it is about greed. (11+ / 0-)

      The priorities in this nation are those that enrich the 1%.  Neither political party gives a flying leap about us, our kids, or our grand kids; all they care about is how they get the nex million to add to the 20 million they already have.   Did say million?  Maybe I should have said billion.

      Generational warfare is just another shiny object to distract us while they clean out the vault.

      What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

      by dkmich on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 05:16:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOL, What do you do for a living? (7+ / 0-)

      This isn't about consumption. Its about DEBT.  trust me, my life is ruled by my debts.  Mostly my education debts.  

      •  Exactly. (7+ / 0-)

        While I see the original poster's point, it's hard to leave the grid when you're forced to work at a job you hate-with no other real options-in order to service your student loan debt, which the banksters have assured there is NO WAY OUT OF aside from death (as you'll never be able to pay it off).  It takes money to leave the grid; money which I conveniently don't have thanks to my loan debt.  A bug in our current system, not a feature I'm sure (snark).

    •  So, basically you want women to be dependant (0+ / 0-)

      On men, right?

      That's pretty much what would happen, since women depend on SS to survive when they are older far more.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 11:50:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As I said (15+ / 0-)


    Recovery by some definitions notwithstanding, limited or non-recovery for most people likely will be permanent when you consider:

    1) After all the job "recovery" we are still about 7-8 million in the hole from where we should be based on population growth since the collapse. At the rate we are going, we won't be fully "recovering" until after a few more recessions, if ever.

    2) In the meantime, wages have fallen, so lots more people who might be full participants in the economy are below, at or around the poverty level.

    3) In the past, money from the recovery would go back into jobs and wages. Now, they fund the continued concentration of wealth. With that goes influence and power. So, 90% continue to lose influence over their future.

    4) Climate change impacts will increasingly disrupt markets and economic activity, potentially until growth is impossible.

    5) Policies are trending toward austerity, not recovery.

    For these reasons, it is realistic to anticipate that most of those who have suffered will not regain their former income status and trajectory. Ever.

    Among Millenials and Y's, there are tons of un- or under-employed young people, many with degrees, even lawyers and MBAs, people with hefty educational debt and slim prospects. Historically, generations entering the job market under these conditions are permanently economically disadvantaged.

    If there's a bright side, it may be that those  affected, especially the Millenials and Ys whose attitudes and expectations may be more plastic, are by circumstances being encouraged to reconsider and reject traditional measures of success, including the dubious relationship between consumption and happiness, which is good for civilization and the planet.

    The best thing that Baby Boomers and Xers could do for the Y's and the Millenials is deveoloping ways to get off-grid, not just for power, but for food, water and shelter. See this.

    And this.

    And this.

    One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

    by Words In Action on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:11:28 PM PDT

    •  Actually, the liberal Boomers have been doing (5+ / 0-)

      That for decades now. They are the ones that developed much of the organic farming, alternative energy production, and other ways to live that do not feed into the right wing set up.

      Of course, they have been ignored and belittled for their efforts for a very long time, while the wealthy right wingers have been steadily stealing everything from those that have been working for them.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:00:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Over 30 years of Reaganomics are coming home to (33+ / 0-)

    roost.  We are getting no relief because even our last two Democratic presidents, including the current one, were "free trade" and "neoliberal economics" in philosophy.

    Not only have tax cuts not trickled down, but the wealth is traveling in reverse, from poor to rich and all social programs are being cut / have been cut simultaneously.

    If you look at the current website, there is a PDF showing $1.4 trillion in cuts in discretionary spending, already made.  Precious little of that was in military spending, so that means the majority came out of social support.

    Corporations have captured the government and are funneling our wealth to the elite top few. And there is no end in sight.

    No wonder Occupy Wall Street received such strong support. If something doesn't change soon, the USA will wake up to discover we've fallen to third world status and Mexico has a stronger economy. (think I'm joking?)

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:01:09 PM PDT

    •  Here is the PDF: (19+ / 0-)

      Spending cuts to discretionary programs enacted over the past two years, (not counting war savings)  ...  $ 1,400 ($1.4 trillion)

      New revenue from wealthiest in fiscal cliff deal ...  More than $ 600 (billion)

      (bolding added)

      Notice that this president has agreed to and signed into law approx 2.3 times as much in program cuts (war savings is excluded in the above) as in tax increases.

      This president has already put the nation on an austerity program.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:18:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ^^^This is the crux of the matter^^^ (18+ / 0-)

      America has deindustrialized, and our manufacturing base, as well as much of our capital investment, has taken up residence abroad.

      Technology over the past 40 years has enabled a substantial amount of productivity gains in the workplace, reducing the need for more labor as well.  

      The third mega trend, with respect to aging and the conditions we may find ourselves in, is that compared to 50 years ago we are infinitely more mobile and transient today.  We move frequently, and often far away.  Friendships weaken, community is transitory and not defined by locale, families become separated.

      When we reach 75, chances are we will find ourselves surrounded by neighbors we do not know, with sibblings and children who live 100's of miles away if not farther, and a list of friends who are equally dispersed across the country.  If you can't afford assisted living, the first time you slip on an icy step and hurt yourself, you'll likely not even know whose name to call out within hearing range for help.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 04:21:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I keep trying to tell people here at this site (3+ / 0-)

        about this problem. I never have gotten a rec.
        Old families in the SW think you all are crazy.

      •  Mobility was the Trojan horse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        People went away to college, married people from other parts of the country/world, got into careers (business/academia/tech) that required frequent moves, and sent their kids off to do the same.  So nobody has a local extended family or network of friends any more.  Even the people who stayed in one place and married their high school sweethearts have been left stranded because their kids grew up and moved away.

        Industrialization brought so many communities together through the 1960s. Then the economy started to shift and those towns lost their base.  Now, cities are the economic engines, but with their high rents and surfeits of hungry talent, it's hard to get a foothold -- and everywhere else is falling apart.

    •  You may be right about Mexico (4+ / 0-)

      I've heard the flow of immigration has actually reversed.

      Poorer conditions in the US plus improvements in Mexico

      •  The middle class is growing in Mexico. In the USA, (3+ / 0-)

        it is falling farther behind.

        New cars proliferate in Mexico, tiny, yes, but new.  Older and older cars proliferate in the USA.  The average age of a car is now something over 11 years.

        After the economic collapse, Mexico had one year of declining growth.  Since then (2009, I believe), their economy has been growing over 4% per year.  

        Only in our dreams will the US see growth of 4% per year.

        Mexico has lots of problems, true. But so does the USA.  

        The difference is that most of Mexico expects the government to help.  In the USA, too many want the government to die, which would lead to the collapse of our nation.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 01:53:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You've nailed it, YM. ;-0 N/T (0+ / 0-)


      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:36:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Crucial: (22+ / 0-)
    Politicians of both parties are loathe to admit that America is in decline, even when the evidence is staring them in the face.
    If most politicians today even suggested that "Were Not Number 1," they'd be heckled off the stage, even though most indices make our decline very clear, whether it's economics, health care, or education. Shit, if you don't wear a flag pin today and brag up American exceptionalism you're toast in a lot of districts.

    Not only won't today's under-40 generation earn or enjoy as much as their parents, they won't have lawmakers corporate toadies who give a good goddamn about it. Sure, previous politicians sucked a lot, but at least some of them tried to do shit. I can't even imagine passing the GI Bill or starting the Peace Corp today, and that's a very sad reality.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 01:23:24 AM PDT

    •  America is on the road to its extinction - - - (11+ / 0-)

      the extiction of a nation many of us served to defend (its constitution) and loved for most of our lives.

      The US has gove over the edge.  That is a central theme in most of my posts here at Kos - since 2003.  I am supremely disheartened and sad about this.  No other way to describe it.  

      Our economy has been nearly destroyed by lack of consumer oriented regulations and by abuses at all levels of all corporations/companies/small businesses And the politicans who do their bidding.  Sad.

      I see no way out.  The Vulture Capitalists have too much power.  Americans do not believe in Solidarity and the power of Unions - as we once did, like France & other progressive social democracies.   Sad.

    •  Actually, they know, they don't want us to know. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother Mags

      It's also the reason that they're going to slash our social insurance programs.

      Heck, they say it every day.  They want the money for:  war, discretionary spending and so that they can finance the further lowering of the marginal tax rates of the wealthy and corporations, when they close mostly lower and middle class 'loopholes.'  [The third one, of course, is not one that they admit.]  

      But you can read it here, in Section II, beginning on Page 28, Tax Reform.

      Those negotiations should be concluded by this July.

      What's not to like about the direction of this country? /snark


      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:44:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ha.. " invest our resources"?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people

    Your final sentence assumes the existence of "resources".

    If we don't invest our resources and modify our policies in ways that benefit our young people, the American Experiment is going to come to a very bleak end.
    Investing, at this point, only exacerbates the problem!

    We have no resources to invest.  We are borrowing to pay for shit.. all kinds of shit.. military, yes.. but food stamps, Medicaid.. and also a lot of wasteful crap.

    But guess who gets to pay the bills on all this borrowing?  The younger generation!  

    Interest on all this debt is currently only a couple hundred billion per year - all of which could have gone for services.  But interest rates won't remain 1% forever.. and the debt keeps growing.  The younger generation will be saddled with paying interest of over half a trillion per year in the not-too-distant future.. and that's just the interest!

    It's a much worse picture than the diarist painted.. the younger generations are most definitely screwed.

    •  something is sadly ironic about your user name (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      One Opinion, greengemini

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 04:23:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And just what do you consider resources? (12+ / 0-)

      If we had an FDR in the White House and the Congress to back him, if we had the political will, we damn well DO have the resources to invest in.

      We have a country rich in energy sources we haven't even begun to tap. Wind, solar, bio.

      We have some -- not all, by a long shot -- but some of the best, most creative people in world within our borders.  But we'll never know if there's another Jobs or Hughes or Edison out there if the poor kid is over their head in debt and can't look farther than their minimum wage job.  We are not only dumbing down education in this country, we're beating innovation right out it.

      We have some of the most accessible beautiful country and natural wonders in the world, and we neither appreciate it nor properly promote it.

      Our resources are not things we can dig out of the ground -- that era is rapidly closing and good riddance to it.  Our resources are the things we can innovate, the people we can support who will bring us the next generation of brilliant American inventions, a country that is one of the biggest, most fertile, most diverse, most beautiful on the planet.  We are so busy looking for crap in the ground and worrying about protecting scraps from "outsiders" that we are missing the wealth around us.

      INVEST. YES!  Invest in our infrastructure, invest in technology, invest in our people, for dog's sake, and we will not have not worry about paying the bills.  Reward companies that bring jobs home, and punish those who outsource.  If they don't want to be American companies -- helping to support the country that gave them birth and a market, then they should be treated like the foreign visitors they are, all the market will bear.  

      We must invest in our resources.  We must invest in our brains, our people, our innovation, the very diversity of the country we live in.  No one else will do it for us.

      History should teach humility and prudence, but America doesn't seem to learn. I've never seen a virgin who loses her innocence so often. -- Gordon Wood

      by stormicats on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:30:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... you are correct.  But that damned f'd up thing about it is we don't even make our own underwear because they say "we're not competitive" which ... in a just country any politician that uttered those words would thrown out of office in short order and hated around the nation.  Its not a 'competitive' thing ... its an globalist exploitation thing.  Will somebody please find Milton Friedman's grave so we can deface it as it so richly deserves?

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 09:44:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need to make it UNcompetitive (6+ / 0-)

          That's what protectionism is all about.  I know it's a dirty word (right up there with "liberal") but the fact is, globalization is what has caused corporations to become uncoupled from -- and indifferent to -- the countries that birthed them and allowed them to thrive.

          That company making underwear in China (or Malaysia, or Vietnam, or whatever country's labor is the most exploited this week) can't SELL their product in China.  They need the American market.  In many cases, they need the American cotton, shipped over there to be turned into clothing.  It's ridiculous -- the 21st century version of sending your laundry from San Francisco to China to be washed.

          We need to make off-shoring as unpleasant for the corporations as it already is for the consumers.  Because right now, these companies are developing into oligarchic corporate-states like little cancerous patches, eating holes in healthy countries and economies until they either kill the host or die from over-extension.  

          Chemotherapy tells us we have to make the environment as toxic as we can for the cancer, even if in the short term, it also makes the host sick.

          But the newer method, the one we're just developing, is gene therapy.  It changes the game, and cancer's (and other chronic illness's) tried and true methods suddenly don't work any more.  We need economic gene therapy.  We need to change the game and stop playing by the cancerous corporations' rules.

          How?  I don't know.  But as long as we keep assuming the rules of the game are immutable, all we can do is hope that we can kill the cancer before it kills us.

          History should teach humility and prudence, but America doesn't seem to learn. I've never seen a virgin who loses her innocence so often. -- Gordon Wood

          by stormicats on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 11:27:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Investing... Exacerbates the problem? (0+ / 0-)

      Everything we know suggests exactly the opposite. American families usually are in deficit and spend to improve their chances of success.

      Even the affluent borrow for major capital expenses. Expenses like a house. Wouldn't you borrow money to fix the roof to protect your investment and future?

      Of course you would!

      End of argument.


  •  Retirement? That's for rich people! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, ladybug53, qofdisks
  •  It's not unprecedented (6+ / 0-)
    the situation facing young Americans might be unprecedented
     It's only unprecedented for America.
       If you want to see what it looks like in the long-term just look at England and France. (The difference being that they have a social safety net still.)

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:26:55 AM PDT

    •  The social safety nets allow dignity of some sort (6+ / 0-)

      for the ill & infirmed, disabled, the poor, children of poverty, abused & neglected children, and it includes universal health care in France (perhaps the best system widely known) and England (effective and long-respected, as the health care system in Canada -universal health care for all, is respected).  

      Those things make all the difference in the world.  Night & Day - to those in dire need, the elderly with no work, the diabled, and all the downtrodden lower 50% of US society whose homes and lives and family stability depend on jobs provided in a partly-to-greatly unregulated workplace and vulture/usory consumer world.

      The US is in need of major social and economic reforms to move us away from so called "trickle down" and "market based" definitions and parameters - toward a more just and equitable system as in other successful social democracies.


  •  May have missed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A dimension or three -- but no stats offered by me:
    The degree of unemployment among youth who are in poverty; the unemployment according to race; the unemployment of the 50 - 65 (and those older who would do something to improve their current state). Just sayin'...
    Since that younger set is weighing the consequences of no action vs. hmmm...
    But heard Howard Zinn emphasize that real organization does not have to be for violent resistance.
    Q.v. Ray Pensador...

  •  Save the Boomers, Screw the Kids! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, Ramoth, ladybug53

    "...public policy discussion (Social Security, Medicare) has invariably skewed toward preservation of the health, wealth and economic status of retirees and near retirees."

    And why not? They gotta pay off those MASSIVE student loans they took out in the Seventies, way back when tuition at UC Berkeley was... $700

    Flash forward 30 years and I paid $13,000 per annum, and that's the good news!

    The bad news was when my CA resident status disappeared and tuition increased to... $35,000 and isn't this getting to be a really long and boring comment from some whiny nachkömmling with not much to show for all that money except fluency in German and a very bad attitude about the poor old Boomers, who made our world what it is today.

    And now it's time to write the loan-weasels my monthly check which would have covered one whole year of tuition in 1975.

    (BTW $700 in 1975 would be $3,000 (not $13,000) today.

    •  Respectfully, reform to the social insurance (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, lostinamerica

      programs has traditionally spared those already in retirement or near retirement, for the obvious reasons.

      When you enact cuts years out, reasonably, younger cohorts are on notice and have 'time to prepare' for the cuts.

      I was a 'pup' when the Reagan Adminstration enacted 'reform,' which was to benefit my parents and grandparents.  But, at least I had years to figure out what I needed to do, in order to ameliorate the cuts to my benefit.

      How can an individual who's been working on the assumption that they would receive X amount of dollars in their Social Security monthly benefit check, even be ABLE to adjust or make necessary changes needed if they are already retired, or right on the cusp of it?

      That's called 'pulling the rug out beneath, folks,' LOL!

      Don't think that we need to go there as a nation.  ;-)


      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:49:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anecdotal, but (8+ / 0-)

    as a member of one of the mentioned underperforming groups, I want to say that there has been a cultural shift.

    I distinctly remember when I was a small boy that my parents, as a "young couple starting out with a family" got all kinds of help and breaks from lots of different quarters.

    People went out of their way to get them the loan, get them a better price, be flexible with arrangements, offer them jobs, etc. because they were "young people just starting out."

    I heard often about how generous and kind everyone was, and how this society understood how important it was to help people that are "just starting out." (I repeat the phrase so much because I heard my parents and others say it so often as a kid.)

    I've enjoyed no such breaks, nor have my siblings. Instead, to be in the position of needing a break, some flexibility, a "foot in the door" of a career, or so on now seems to mark you as "lesser" and "less deserving" for many in our culture more broadly.

    Instead of a helping hand, my experience from those a generation older (i.e the boomers) has been rent-seeking behavior and a general rent-seeking attitude.

    I don't mean to start a generational warfare thread, or to imply that all boomers are this way (lest we forget that the boomers gave us the culture wars in the first place and many of them have been on the front lines of the good fight for a very long time), but I do feel that what was once a universal attitude ("help the young to become established and prosperous; it's what a good person does") is now not so universal, with a big split between the liberal contingent of the mature generations and a now far more economically regressive contingent ("don't give those young losers any breaks; let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps or die trying").

    I feel like the virtual disappearance of on-the-job training or the notion of the "starter home" (or "starter home loan") as different in nature from the "subprime home" (or "subprime home loan") are evidence of this change.

    Ironically a generation that is historically regarded as being the instigator of a "young vs. old" faultline in society is home to a large contingent of people that no longer regard themselves as having any social responsibility toward the young (again, not everyone—but a decent portion).

    This change in attitudes works its way into policy at all levels in a democratic society, and the result is a young population with significant structural disadvantages and great difficulty in overcoming them.

    And so, in order to be competitive (get an education, have a car to get to work and a mobile phone that work can reach us on, etc.) we have largely relied on credit rather than informal breaks and assistance from society and our elders. And thus, even in cases when we've paid back what we borrowed, we're way behind the game vs. those in previous generations that were able to begin without borrowing and that were mentored and nurtured rather than being actively campaigned against in many cases.

    -9.63, 0.00
    "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

    by nobody at all on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:39:12 AM PDT

  •  Notice how it started about 40 years ago? (5+ / 0-)

    Which was when the Republicans started running their long con. This is the result of the wealthy right wingers setting things up to funnel all the wealth to the already wealthy.

    As an example of what they did, they increased taxes on the working people when the Boomers were at their prime working people, so the Boomers would cover themselves with SS, but then continued those higher taxes on those coming after.

    They lowered taxes on the wealthy, while raising them on the working people, then borrowed huge amounts to pay for thing, driving up the debt, then screamed about it every time the Democrats got power to try to force them to lower what the working people got from the pooled money they put in.

    They are doing it now, trying to take away Social Security, Medicare, and other programs where working people pool their money together to help each other.

    It's all been a scam, a long con, to take everything the workers produce from the workers. It's been working.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 11:42:58 AM PDT

  •  Forgive all student loan debt (9+ / 0-)

    and make state colleges and universities tuition-free.  This would solve a lot of the under-40 generation's cash flow issues and would cost little compared to how much we pour into the military-industrial complex.  It's such an obvious and simple solution, and yet, it's never considered as a "viable" solution by the Beltway talking heads.  In all of my MSM consumption, I don't think I've heard one-ONE-talking head discuss this issue, let alone suggest a student loan debt jubilee.  

    All I can say is, Gen X and Y are not stupid.  We know the score.  There is a huge undercurrent of anger, frustration, and resentment regarding our economic prospects and affordable educational opportunities (or lack thereof).  This will only grow as tuition (and consequently student loan debt) grows ever higher.   Where all this frustration will go, I'm not really sure, but I guarantee the elites have shot themselves in the foot over this. Us younger folks know the game is rigged, and increasingly, we're all just going to refuse to play (and will raise our kids that way, too). We may not be able to afford to opt out completely due to our student debt obligations, but I guarantee any children I have will not be so hamstrung.  

    •  Wish you luck, but can't imagine that a debt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      jubilee would be possible in the good ol' USA.  Any nation that is getting ready to slash the retirement benefits of folks in their nineties, including the poorest of the poor (or just above them at a little more than a $10,000 annual income) without so much as a wimper, would never enact that.

      But, you might have a real chance at working toward partially or fully subsidized tuition at state colleges and universities.

      Some commenters are confusing benefits broadly shared by the Greatest Generation, to be those enjoyed by the Boomer Generation.  I hope that they'll check into this a little closer.

      Which brings me to another point.  The folks that received such fabulous benefits, largely received them due to their 'military service.'

      For instance, my Father was older than the war hero former Kansas Senator Bob Dole, but didn't get "jack"--no free college education (he worked as a longshoreman to put himself through college), no VA home loans, etc.

      Almost sixteen million individuals served in the Army and Air Force during World War II.  But my Father never served because he was literally too young for WWI, and too old for WWII.

      So, rightfully, I suppose, he never received the  benefits that Bob Dole and his military cohorts received.

      The point being that there was a 'price to pay' for the excellent advantages or 'perks' that some members of the Greatest Generation enjoyed.

      BTW, the much vaunted 'GI Bill' was more or less a little savings account by time many folks my age [Boomer] went into the service.  [And I know that first hand, since Mr. Mollie was Air Force, many years ago.]  Even by the seventies, it had dwindled to almost nothing.  

      I believe that it has been bolstered again, since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (or that's what I've been led to believe from watching C-Span and congressional hearings).  But much like during WWII, if one wants to benefit from it, one would have to be willing to join one of the services.  And I certainly can see why many people take a pass on that.  ;-)

      Anyway, good luck with the cause of getting student loan relief.  Whereas I truly think that subsidized higher education would be easier to obtain, there's nothing to say one can't advocate for a student loan jubilee.

      Only the most conservative individuals could possibly be against subsidizing higher education, at this point.  



      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 07:46:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The self-righteous indignation. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm amazed by the reaction to student loan forgiveness I've seen from some boomers and older who are otherwise progressive. They go off on self-righteous rants about how they worked their way through college. They don't get that at today's tuition prices, their part time college job wouldn't have paid 1/10th of their costs. Even compared to 15 years ago, the costs have skyrocketd.

      •  Surely you're not addressing moi, ;-). (0+ / 0-)

        There was absolutely no self-righteous indignation on display.

        Here is one of my parting comments:

        Anyway, good luck with the cause of getting student loan relief.  Whereas I truly think that subsidized higher education would be easier to obtain, there's nothing to say one can't advocate for a student loan jubilee.
        I didn't pay my own way through college since my parents were in the position to do so (without loans).  So, you've never seen, nor will you see me with a 'self-righteous' story about working my way though college.

        That doesn't make me better or worse than anyone else.  That was just my reality.

        By the same token, I attempted to give some 'historical perspective' to some whom I perceive to be younger bloggers.

        Some seem to confuse the benefits of the Boomer Generation, with those broadly shared by the Greatest Generation.  (And again, military-service connected benefits, in some cases.)

        For instance, only 1 out of 5 folks retiring today (that would include Boomers, obviously) have defined-benefit pensions.

        Yet a very high percentage workers of the Greatest Generation, up and down the economic scale, had this type of retirement plan.  And literally did receive the proverbial "gold watch," and in many cases, excellent retiree health insurance benefits.  And that includes nonunion folks.

        Neither of my parents nor in-laws served in the military.  So they did not reap some of the much-vaunted and very excellent and helpful benefits that were accorded to many of the Greatest Generation cohort.  But from all the conversations that I ever had with any of them, there was no resentment that others who were willing to serve their nation, received these generous benefits.  

        Just trying to 'get the facts straight.'  That's all.  ;-)


        "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


        by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:33:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We've been sold a bill of goods. (5+ / 0-)

    From both parties. For Republicans, it was supply-side, trickle down economics, and union busting. For Democrats, it's been free-trade, globalization, and the extolling of education as a panacea to the lost jobs in manufacturing, skilled labor etc, the implication being that if you'd just go back to school or take some training, well, everything would just be great for everyone. People used to be able to make a decent living without advanced education. You busted your ass, the jobs weren't glamorous, but the pay and benefits meant a decent life. People even had these things called pensions.

    Now we have kids with six figure student debt, applying for jobs paying less than 40K a year, with shitty benefits, if any at all. Free-trade and globalization may be a net economic gain in the aggregate, but if the cash is mostly ending up in fewer and fewer hands, who really gives a shit? My generation will be the first to do worse than their parents in a long time. A few years ago, at a townhall, a woman said she was tired of defending Obama, and asked if this decline in the standard of living for the middle-class was a new normal? Everyone focused on the "tired of defending" part of her statement, and the question wasn't really addressed.

    This issue is at the very core of whether the Democratic party will continue to hold relevance as a party that the middle-class can count on. Lately, the answers haven't been very encouraging.

  •  It's a poor study (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kareylou, musiccitymollie

    It should have compared wealth building of each of the generations at a comparable point in their life cycle.  And it does not adjust for the fact that older people who have owned their homes will for that fact alone have accumulated wealth in the value of their home, whereas those younger folks lucky enough to own a home will have substantially less equity.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 03:49:42 PM PDT

  •  A very general description: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When our parents or grandparents started to work in 1960, they earned 5k per year and bought a house that cost 10k. By 2000, they earned 50k per year and sold their house for 400k. We took those same jobs for 35k per year, but the house still cost us 400k.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 08:30:55 PM PDT

  •  The fatal word in that graphic is "average" (3+ / 0-)

        One 54 year old investment banker bailed out by the taxpayers probably cancelled out a couple thousand of me. When I'm trying to figure out how to pay for food and medical expenses both, I'll just look at that graph and remind myself that I'm a boomer so I'm well off "on average".
         There are many older people who dedicated their lives to careers like teaching, social work, and the like. They have not accumulated the wealth. They have been trying to contribute something to society, not siphon what they can from it.
         In my case, I'm in the purple column. That doesn't mean I can go to the bank and request to withdraw some of "my wealth". We don't all have access to the wealth represented in that column. In fact it shouldn't be shaped like a column it should be shaped like a giant inverted pyramid.  
         The direction our country is going is indeed distressing, but let's not fall for the distraction of generational bickering. In fact, hating on particular people is not productive. We need to alter the system to ameliorate the accumulation of wealth at the tippy-top.  

    To keep our faces turned toward change, and behave as free spirits in the presence of fate--that is strength undefeatable. (Helen Keller)

    by kareylou on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:14:43 AM PDT

    •  Hear, hear, kareylou. We can thank both parties (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and Pete Peterson's Foundation for propagating the misinformation that we sometimes see.

      Thanks for your common sense suggestions.  ;-)


      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson


      by musiccitymollie on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:11:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want to see a different graph..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiccitymollie, Dartagnan

    ... first REMOVE the "top 5%" regardless of age, THEN graph the results for "average" net worth.

    I think you will see that the increases listed in the original graph for the older American's will be significantly reduced.

    Meaning for most people, across ALL age groups, the Republican plan to bankrupt everyone and turn us all into serf's, while enriching the wealthiest of the wealthy.... are going ahead according to plan, and they have been very effective in the effort to destroy the very concept of a middle class.

  •  And yet, Social Security is the sacred cow. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The younger generations will have bigger worries before retirement. We're regressively taxing them for Social Security, Medicare, and forcing them into Obamacare to cover the expense senior health care. They'll have to deal with the impacts of climate change, which is the result of older generations living on fossil fuels for decades. Programs that benefit students and new families are being cut left and right.

    Yet, no one bats an eye when the regressive Social Security tax is raised on low wage workers. Social Security is treated as the one sacred cow that can't be touched while programs for everyone else are deeply cut. Near retirees are the wealthiest generation per-capita but their benefits can't be slightly adjusted, even for those who are well of enough to not need it. Everyone else has to suffer so that middle-class boomers don't have to face the humiliation of admitting that Social Security is a welfare program.

    We have a one-sided generational safety net in America. The answer is to extend the safety net to programs young people will use BEFORE they reach retirement age.

  •  my experience (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The industry I work in was hit particularly hard and went through a period in 2009 where a third of the office of 170 was let go - and we were the ones that did well!  Other firms let go more staff or shut down entirely.

    Another perverse aspect was that the folks who were let go were generally younger ones since they weren't company shareholders.  The effect was a top-heavy group was the remainder.

    As a result, the folks in the middle were suppressed in their roles since all of the remaining higher level roles were given to the remaining folks who were already there.

    Wages were frozen for a couple of years - I'm not even sure how we'll catch up to the ones who were ahead to be honest.

    Well, at least I can rely on the fact that I'm a high skill, low pay worker for job security.

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