Op-Ed by Brandon Turbeville
Within the last ten years, it has become a trend of the older generations to make fun of millennials for being entitled, lazy, stupid, and generally annoying. Millennials are regarded as the opposite of the “greatest generation.” Where the “greatest generation” worked hard, fought through struggle and obstacles, and respected authority, millennials are regarded as people who feel entitled to certain levels of comfort from the start, avoid hardships and hard work, and have little regard for rules and responsibility. Where the older generation did not complain, millennials complain at the slightest obstacle they find in their path.
Of course, millennials haven’t made their situation better by being the generation of Social Justice Warriors who scream racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, or any and all other isms and phobias taught to them by cultural Marxist professors and media outlets at the slightest sign of disagreement or not being worshiped as the special snowflake they see themselves as being.
For the sake of this discussion, however, we will put aside the issue of cultural Marxism, the growing movement to make beautiful things ugly and ugly things beautiful at a cultural level, or the obsession with identity politics. This is by no means the generation with which such aberrations began. In fact, the millennial insistence on out-lefting each other is merely a manifestation of a social agenda that has been on the go for over one hundred years.
Instead, we should address the economic criticism of millennials which tends to revolve around work ethic, education, and overall level of “success.” Of course, “success” as defined by middle America is solely financial. Despite the generally more honorable values of past generations (community, family, etc.), Americans of all generations tend to measure a human being’s worth by the size of their wallet. In America, the bigger the purse, the bigger the person.
Out of all these generations, millennials have found themselves at the bottom of the barrel, having less financial worth as a group than any other generational category. Millennials are less likely to find good-paying jobs or to have stable or two-parent families. They have less upward mobility. So why is this the case? Those who wish to take part in generational warfare – another aspect of cultural warfare which has had profound negative effects on Western society – have a simple answer: millennials were born into a time of technology and were spoiled by their parents. Hence, millennials are lazy and simply do not want to work hard for a successful life because they were pampered from childhood.
But is this a rational approach or is it more of a lack of understanding on the part of the older generation? After all, however much love and affection given to them by their parents, millennials were born into an economy in the last stages of a terminal illness. Millennials were born into an America that had just sent many of its jobs overseas for cheaper labor and no environmental regulations and was fast signing more trade deals to do even more of the same. Millennials had no say in NAFTA. At their very oldest (depending on the generational classification), they were ten years old. Thus, while ten year olds and infants had no say in trade policy, their parents certainly did.
No sooner than millennials were born, America signed onto NAFTA and American jobs began rushing to Mexico. When these millennials were still too young to vote or even drive, trade agreements were signed with China that helped create the economic wasteland they eventually grew up in. Millennials had no say in those trade agreements but, again, their parents did.
So millennials were born into a world where the average job is a dead end, paying extremely low wages, longer hours, less respect for workers and workers’ rights, and less chance of upward mobility than at any time since before the Second World War. Still, they are blamed for a lack of success by the generations who allowed the creation of an economic system that eliminated virtually all of the opportunities they themselves enjoyed. While a college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in the 1970s may once have found himself working in an office, able to raise a family comfortably on his salary alone, a college graduate with a Master’s degree in 2017 may very well find himself in a restaurant kitchen or running a cash register. Indeed, these graduates should consider themselves the lucky ones that they even have a job since so many of lesser educational status are hardly able to find work at all.
Indeed, a country with around 25% unemployment (real unemployment numbers) is not exactly the land of plenty and “greatest economic engine” of the 1950s and 1960s when America was at its economic peak. Even more so, when the jobs that do exist are low wage, long hours, and often humiliating in terms of how employees are treated, exactly what should these workers be expected to do? Should they get four jobs and work themselves into an early grave simply to survive at poverty levels or lower working class existences?
How, exactly, can one blame an entire generation that had their legs kicked out from under them the moment they exited their mother’s womb? After all, they didn’t create this economic system. They were born into it. The truth is that many are keenly aware of the obstacles they will face as they grow older and simply do not have any hope for the future. They might not understand the causes (this much is obvious enough) but they understand the future, for them, is low wages and perpetual poverty. They understand that, no matter how hard they work, they will always be an inch away from homelessness.
As it is, they have accepted their lot and trying to squeeze whatever small pleasures they can from their situation. After all, squeezing pleasure out of their situation was exactly what their parents and grandparents did before them, only then the fruit they were squeezing actually had some juice. That juice was promptly drained by the greatest and baby boom generations, leaving millennials with a nothing but a rotting rind. Without even the slightest realization of hypocrisy, however, the older generations watch millennials scrape the sides of the peel and criticize the “kids today” for not saving the fruit.
This is not to say that previous generations were parasitical. On the contrary, each generation should have the opportunity to live well in a land of plenty. The “greatest generation” made no apologies for this. They mined, built, produced, and wasted like crazy. The Baby Boomers came along and turned it up a notch, putting on a show that no one in the Western world will ever forget. By the time millennials came along, however, they were left to clean up the trash for minimum wage. Sure, they have better resolution on their television screens, cellphones, and the Internet but mass-produced entertainment is not a measure of living standards and one generation should not complain that another wants to enjoy at least basic levels of human comfort. Remember, for all of American history, only a few short generations experienced anything resembling high living standards. Ironically, it tends to be those generations that so heavily criticize millennials today for demanding certain levels of comfort out of life.
Even college education, once a ticket to higher wages and upward mobility, has become a debt trap in the United States, with the College Industrial Complex consistently tricking young people (with the help of their parents’ generation still stuck in their own time) by virtue of advertising and social conventions into enrolling in the university for useless degrees that have little economic value but except to saddle them with unreasonable levels of debt they will never be able to pay off. They are rewarded for “following the rules” (i.e. being responsible and staying in school, going to college, and expecting to land a good job; otherwise being a good American) by catcalls of their parents’ generation blaming them for “poor decisions,” despite labeling anyone who fails to attend the university as lazy and who made a “poor decision” to forego an education. For millennials, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Millennials are now caught between the merging of two systems. First, the gradual shipping of jobs overseas has turned the American economy into an employer’s market. The Free Market has eviscerated wages and workers’ rights and turned America back into a sweatshop economy. On the other hand, millennials are also firmly ensconced in a communistic system that puts higher value on the collective, forcing them to pay fines for not being able to afford health insurance, constantly rising taxation, and collective punishment for even the slightest infraction. Both elements of the system make nearly impossible to work hard enough for them to succeed or to forego the “rules,” innovate, and start their own businesses.
The fact is that Millennials deserve high living standards every bit as much as Baby Boomers and the generations before them. The generations that allowed the gradual dismantling of the American economy need to realize that they have had decades with which to piss away the greatest engine of economic progress and living standards the world has ever known. It’s time they realize that their own generation also had a part to play in the disintegration of the United States and, likewise, millennials should stop looking at their parents’ generation as obsolete relics and their own as being devoid of any responsibility for the present and the future.
Generational warfare has been used with great effect to destroy the United States and it is high time that all generations realize they are inextricably linked and that the future of everyone is linked as well. It’s time to stop blaming one generation of Americans who came into a world that was arranged long before they were born. If Americans do not stop trying to drown one another to keep their head above water, the country will be lost with no hope of ever coming back. Instead of lowering the standards of living for other generations, races, or genders in order to feel better about their own, Americans had better start fighting for the higher living standards of all. If they don’t, everyone will find themselves standing on filthy, polluted ground. But at least it will be common.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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Image Credit: Banksy