I invite you to read the entire essay of Tim Donovan on Salon’s website. The title will give you a flavor for its tone: “Boomers are humiliating themselves: Why their pandering to millennials is so sad.”
I spend a fair amount of time with Millennials, yet I don’t claim to speak for them or to understand fully their perspectives. Naturally, there are differences in values and perspectives within their generation. Yet there is much in common with respect to their experiences, values and perspectives. It behooves the rest of us to listen.
For those disinclined to follow the Salon link, here are some excerpts from Mr. Donovan’s post:
[T]he truth is that young people in America are struggling mightily: We face a massive, persistent unemployment and underemployment crisis, particularly for the 70 percent of millennials who either won’t attend or finish college, and now face the largest wage gap (compared to their college-graduate peers) in modern history. Meanwhile, those young people lucky enough to hold degrees face higher rates of student loan debt and greater risk of default than ever before. Home and car ownership has subsequently plummeted, and demographers have seen significant delays in the age when we’re getting married and having kids. Real solutions, large enough to meaningfully address these problems, can only come from the federal government, and yet we’re completely held hostage by a political system that’s so dysfunctional it’s essentially impossible to pass any measures that will adequately address these problems.
Corporate America consistently ignores these fundamental, practical challenges to succeeding in the world today, which probably goes a long way to explaining why millennials, as a generation, are so unmoved by the vision of America that they’re trying to sell. Who can blame young people for not relating to a mainstream media that constantly proclaims — with little evidence — that this is a uniquely great country, in which anyone who’s willing to work hard and follow the rules can find success? (Particularly considering there’s so much evidence to the contrary.) Even when a congressperson or the president announces triumphantly that this is still the greatest nation in the world, do those bromides ring true to ears of a generation who’ve lived their entire lives under the long shadows of political dysfunction, economic malaise and fast-expanding inequality? While polls often show millennials to be the most optimistic age demographic in America, we’re also deeply disengaged with politics and fairly pessimistic about the direction this country is heading.
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The world we’ve inherited, this plutocratic “free-market” horror show, is crushing millions of young people desperate for work — any work. This is the most obvious reason that millennials seem so prone to “whining.” It’s also why these accusations must stop. This brand of criticism is enormously ignorant and offensive — it trivializes the massive, systemic problems facing this country and this generation. Due to the profligacy and waste of older Americans, the economic problems that young people will face — massive federal debt payments, shrinking research and education budgets, crumbling infrastructure, a fast-changing climate — are crises that have no easy remedy. They’re also essentially ticking time bombs that, if not soon addressed, will wreak enormous destruction on our economy and our ecology for the decades, centuries, perhaps millennia to come.