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A Generation’s Changing American Dream

Young Americans still hitting economic and career headwinds, and how that’s changing their American Dream.

Two young people at a tea house in New York City. (j-No/Flickr)

Two young people at a tea house in New York City. (j-No/Flickr)


Everybody knows how tough it’s been for a generation of young Americans just hitting the workforce – or trying to – in the last half dozen years.  American twenty-somethings have walked straight into a wall of recession.  Been knocked back into parents’ homes and recalculations of what life will bring.

My guest today Jennifer Silva says that recalculation is deeper than you may understand – especially for low-income Americans.  Back on their heels and feeling betrayed, she says, they are redefining the American dream sharply downward.

This hour, On Point:  young Americans’ new dreams.

- Tom Ashbrook



Jennifer Silva, author of “Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty” and sociologist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Justin St. Germain, author of “Son of a Gun: A Memoir” and professor of creative non-fiction at the University of New Mexico. (@jstgerma)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Globe: Jennifer Silva: Working-Class Youth Are ‘Privatizing happiness’ – “Silva, who is now at Harvard University on a postdoctoral fellowship, set out to talk with some of these young people about how they were managing the transition to adulthood in the post-industrial economy. In 100 in-depth, in-person interviews, she found a new working-class adult ‘bewildered in the labor market, betrayed by institutions, distrustful of love, disconnected from others, and committed to emotional growth.’”

The New York Times: Crumbling American Dreams – “My hometown — Port Clinton, Ohio, population 6,050 — was in the 1950s a passable embodiment of the American dream, a place that offered decent opportunity for the children of bankers and factory workers alike. But a half-century later, wealthy kids park BMW convertibles in the Port Clinton High School lot next to decrepit “junkers” in which homeless classmates live. The American dream has morphed into a split-screen American nightmare. And the story of this small town, and the divergent destinies of its children, turns out to be sadly representative of America.”

WBUR: Generation Stuck — “For the average twenty-something, it means feeling overqualified, underemployed, and overwhelmed. Stuck. Kat and Sam are two young people for whom the economic and psychological challenges of a generation have taken a very personal toll.”

Excerpt: “Coming Up Short” By Jennifer Silva

Excerpt: “Son Of A Gun” By Justin St. Germain

Excerpted from SON OF A GUN by Justin St. Germain.  Copyright © 2013 by Justin St. Germain. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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  • Dillard

    The twenty-somethings and their 50-something parents both have to adjust their definitions of success- cars, jobs, condos, 401k’s are part of an illusion that absolutely died with reagonomics. Trying to hold on to the dream reminds me of Jurassic Park’s grandpa’s trying to save his grandkids from the raptors that he still wants to save. We made this mess, it’s eating the kids, and wow! look at the new i-thing in the new hybrid!

    • henry_twentytwo

      Yeah, moron, like the Jimmy Carter years were golden. This shift would have happened with or without Reagan as president. I’m still waiting of Obama to make it better…..

      • sickofthechit

        At least Carter understood the value of putting Solar Panels on the Whitehouse! The research done by the Department of Energy in his era was laying the groundwork for an exceedingly bright future for our country and the world. Shame on the Regans for taking the panels off as soon as they moved in. Of all the short-sighted residents in the WH Regan was one of the worst! charles a. bowsher

        • thequietkid10

          Unfortunately, Regan or not, it’s 40 years later and we still don’t have commercially viable solar panels.

          You really think Carter putting panels on the white house was some great event, it was a PR move at best.

          • jefe68

            If you’re going to use Ronald Reagan in your comment at least spell his name right.

    • Brutus Lincoln Paine

      The US was on the New World Order quid pro quo path since before WWII. Sanctions on Japan, Pearl Harbor, tensions in SE Asia, and otherwise merely postponed what was already in the works, slowly picked back up, and regained steam by the time Reagan, GHWBush, and Clinton were pushing NAFTA and otherwise on the nation; “free trade” with absolutely no safeguards, no accountability, no standards, and no “free market”.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    The “American Dream” was ending decades ago and it continues its downward
    slide. We’ve bankrupted ourselves on overseas adventures and financial mismanagement (both governmental and individual), among others. The biggest decision we are making now concerns our standard of living. Some people will retain their level, a relative few will increase, but most will see a decline. The race is on to see who, in an era of declining resources, gets what.

  • HonestDebate1

    The American Dream has been fundamentally transformed, welcome to the new normal.

  • adks12020

    The new American Dream is as follows:
    1.) to spend a huge amount of money on education in the hopes it will result in a good job; 2.) spend years in a low paying job, living paycheck to paycheck while you send out hundreds of resumes for each single response in the hopes that someone will hire you for that job.3.) become disillusioned and frustrated while thinking there is no way you’ll ever retire or be able to afford kids.
    31 year old male paralegal (with a master’s degree and several years of experience in the above)

  • nj_v2

    It’s debatable whether the construct has any real, common meaning any more, but if we’re going to use it at all, it would be useful to actually define “The American Dream,” (as if there were just one), preferably at the beginning of the program, just so everyone is talking about the same thing.

    In my opinion the “American Dream” used to be (up until a few decades ago) that anyone willing to put in a fair day’s work was entitled to a wage that enabled them to feed, clothe, and house themselves, maybe even buy a house; generally, provide for themselves and their family at least at a modest, but comfortable level. Government programs, especially those instituted in the FDR era, were designed to facilitate this.

    Now, since the Reagan revolution, it has come to mean that anyone, if they claw and scratch enough, or if they are born into a privileged position, can game the system to possibly become ridiculously rich some day. People are deluded into thinking they can “make it big” by just working hard enough, and/or getting a lucky break. And if they aren’t making it, it’s somehow their fault.

    Never mind that tax and trade policy, and the ever-growing political influence of monied, corporate interests have stacked the deck against the middle and lower classes for the last 30 years or so.

    Now, people just “dream” that they don’t become homeless if they need to be admitted to the hospital for something, or that they can find a second or third lousy-paying job so they don’t lose their house.

    • HonestDebate1

      The American Dream is not entitlement.

  • John Cedar

    Revisionist liberals keep raising the bar for the American dream to something that never existed…what the dream used to be, is now what most people get for free.

    America’s impoverished; the fattest laziest, most entertained, least disciplined, with the most “stuff” and most leisure time…in the world.

    • jefe68

      The regressive right memes on ‘free stuff’ ala Bill O’Reilly.
      I bet you think Robert Reich is a communist as well.

      • Illuminati50

        Reich Is your typical dwarf, smart-a$$ Jew who appears to be congenitally Marxist as do about 90 percent of his fellow travelers.

        • jefe68

          I guess you’re a typical smart a$$ right wing bigot who’s intolerance is only dwarfed by his lack of intelligence.

          Here’s a good quote from another ’smart a$$ Jew’ who is also a Marxist, of sorts:
          He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.
          — Groucho Marx

      • John Cedar

        Reich isn’t a communist
        he is simply a simpleton.

    • PeterBoyle

      Check your koolaide, we are not even the fattest. After 30 years of ‘Supply Side’ losses we need to change back to Keynesian economics, but the obstructionists on the right can’t read the writing on the wall. Looking forward to the collapse of the Republican party due to terminal ignorance in the next few elections. Maybe then Republicans can get back to being Republicans instead of fanatics who know no compromise. Reagan introduced ‘Supply Side’ economics and courted the Religious Right. Both have ruined the party and the Country. As a Conservative I am looking forward to the death of what became the American Taliban and the rise of the new Republican party after purging the religious fanatics, the NeoCons and the terminally ignorant.

      • John Cedar

        “As a Conservative…”?

        You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • StilllHere

      I’ve always been perplexed by the astronomic growth of storage facilities. They are everywhere!

      • John Cedar

        There are a lot of malls, Applebee’s, McMansions and Boston bombers driving Mercedes too.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Just because people have stuff does not mean they are happy. Believe it or not John rich people kill themselves too. We may have material wealth but we are impoverished. It is a profound poverty of ideas, values, morality, and compassion. If you think any political party, any religion, or university promotes any of these ideals then you are deluded. We produce greedy, selfish, unenlightened Americans because the institutions from whence they came are greedy, selfish, and unenlightened.

      • John Cedar

        When rich people kill themselves it is because they were not rich enough.

  • Prairie_W

    American dream? There’s something very hollywood about that phrase. Reality tells us that we have fallen way behind (for example) European democracies in too many ways. You’ve seen the stats.

    We’re awfully self-righteous about that dream even though so many Americans — jobless and futureless –are living an economic and social nightmare. How much could it hurt us to get real about who we have become? And then relearn the benefits of acting on behalf of “us,” and not just “me.” And finally recover the ability for all to “dream”?

  • Yar

    I dream of a time when our society is just, The person who picks our vegetables is a citizen of our nation and has a living wage. Where access to justice is not a function of of economic status, race, creed or nationality of birth. I dream of a nation that educates its youth and has two years of public service between graduating high school and college or vocational school. I have a dream of a nation that cares for its elderly and sick with compassion and love. I dream of a nation that allows everyone equal access to the levers of power. One with a true democracy, not polarized or exploitative, where a person can do an honest days work for a fair wage. Is that too much to dream for? Is that worth working toward? We have to dream to have hope.

  • HonestDebate1

    The American dream is the ability for each person to define their own lives and make their own destinies. It is not to demand to be paid more than they are worth. It is not to demand others pay for their food or health care. It is not to be judged by the color of their skin.

  • Coastghost

    “Nostalgia” is intrinsically “rigid”? So says Ms. Silva. What manner of methodology has Harvard wrought THIS time? (Harvard is its own fantasy land, thank you.)

  • skelly74

    The American dream is as easy as pie: go to a reputable college in a bohemian city…study the classics of liberal intellectualism…indulge the sexual smorgasbord of your taste…alter the mind with traditional psychedelics…work in trendy nightspots or social habitats for humanity. Learn exactly what you need to prosper and achieve happiness by repetition.

    Graduate from college…travel overseas…spread civility to impoverished nations…meet a sophisticated soul mate… Accept the job that pays you handsomely for your insightful perceptions and judgment…purchase a fuel-efficient foreign car…purchase a beautiful new home with solar power and a great school system…have three to five children because your genes need to sow the earth…feed them spirulina and flax seeds while listening to Yo Yo Ma…

    Along the way you meet amazingly interesting people who share your values and interests…you become a pillar of your community…heads turn when you walk in a room…people want your input…your health is optimum because you are aware of your environment…your option are endless because you charted your coarse perfectly..

    ‘Sandman said unto thee..” I will load your dice for a fee…if you wake and wants not there…surely find that life’s not fair”

    • StilllHere

      Where do I sign up?

    • Ray in VT

      I guess I screwed up. I went to a reputable college in a rural area and decided not to sleep around or do drugs. Finally an answer to what has befallen me in life.

  • Jeff

    Hold on a minute, this is very much a problem with the education system…kids are told to go to college and they will get a good job but that’s not reality. Certain types of majors and certain types of skills will get you a job, you cannot simply expect to get any degree and then assume you will get a good job.

    The key is to reform the education system to give all people (young college aged people all the way up to a late-career professional) new skills to compete in today’s job market…and be able to do that within 6 months to a year. Far less money will be spent on school and the learning will be very focused on the area of study (i.e. Computer programming will focus on learn 3 or 4 of the most popular programming languages and some basic math/science concepts rather than lib ed requirements).

    • adks12020

      You are right. One problem is that a lot of guidance counselors in high school are of the Baby Boomer generation where just getting a degree meant getting a decent job but they are giving that kind of advice to students.

      • Bluejay2fly

        The sad truth is we are tens of millions of jobs short in this country and that is why we cram the young into prisons, the military, college, or welfare. It is simply a means of getting them out of economy before they become violent and riot. What people point to as jobs are nothing more than demeaning, dehumanizing, low pay jobs oriented towards very destructive mindless consumerism. All we do in this country is eat and shop and to service those needs is aiding and abetting our own decline.

  • Coastghost

    Or, Tom Ashbrook, “self-sufficiency” can be construed as Emersonian. What do you have against Transcendentalism?

  • Government_Banking_Serf


    “Is this part of the attraction of young people to libertarianism — that it seems to stand outside partisanship, in a pure, consistent way?

    ‘I think that’s true. I think having a consistent principle that organizes all these issues was very helpful for Marxism, and I think it’s also an attraction of libertarianism. It may also be that on a gut level, there are a lot of people who like not being a Democrat or a Republican. Millions of Americans — 59 percent, according to one poll — would tell you they are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and that’s a real loose definition of libertarian. We consider those people to be a large constituency that libertarians should be able to access. Especially for young people, saying, “Nobody tells me what to say, I’m not a partisan Democrat or Republican,” is attractive. To see Ron Paul, in the Republican primary debates, clearly challenging the things the rest of the Republicans were saying, but also clearly not a Democrat.’

    “You mention Marxism. Some would extend the parallel and say libertarianism is another ideology that works in theory but not in practice.”

    ‘I’ll tell you the difference. We’ve tried stunted and cramped versions of libertarianism in the world, and we’ve tried versions of Marxism that were less stunted and cramped because they had all the levers of power. I am willing to match England, the United States, Canada, and Hong Kong, which are all approximately libertarian societies, against the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba any day.

    In my view, the farther you go toward actual, existing libertarianism, the closer you get to a society with prosperity, economic growth, social dynamism, and social harmony. More and more countries in the world are moving toward broadly libertarian principles. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of travel, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation. Sometimes we forget how different these things are than what went before. Economic and personal freedom, and the extension of the promise of the Declaration of Independence to more and more people — to black people, to women, to gay people — all of those things are trying libertarianism in real life, and I think it works pretty well.’

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Aversion to commitment in marriage? Independence + isolation = an anxiety riddled dog-eat-dog world. Talk about a dystopia in the making.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The “American dream” is being/has been destroyed by raging class warfare. When will young Americans wake up and fight back against voodoo economics?

  • Coastghost

    So let a platoon of enlightened Harvard sociologists “guide” this generation out of their benighted and rigid nostalgia into a paradise of social solidarity? Poor POOR Emerson!

  • Jim

    I am going to be very blunt. and especially to people who criticized today’s youths and their woes.

    Yes, you had a difficult time getting a job and living in the 60s or 70s.. but YOU have not experienced TODAY’s economy. the job markets in the 60s and 70s are nothing compare with today. You can always get a job at Woolworth’s or Kresge’s and get by paying 50-100 bucks for rent and still have a lot of money leftover to get a 69 mustang and get laid…

    Due to our government and many corruptions involved, I believe we cannot get through with taking short cuts. one solution is VOTE. and to the red state voters… ask your politicians why they are attempting to end entitlement and welfare programs, when you constantly apply for them and you constantly vote for these crooks.

    • pete18

      Better to ask the blue state voters why they continued the Obama into a second term given his abysmal economic record. They didn’t need to to make him feel better by giving him a trophy even though he failed miserably.

      • Swashbucklr

        I can tell you why this blue state voter went for Obama. He’s actually done some good, and whatever bad Obama’s done, Romney would have been much, much worse.

        • pete18

          What is the good that you think he has done? His record on the economy is abysmal.

          • Swashbucklr

            Things that happened from 2008, despite Republican obstruction, in no particular order:

            Passed ACA
            Ended Iraq War
            Ended bin Laden
            Stopped the economy from tanking (it’s not great, but it was far worse in 2008 – the bleeding stopped)
            Passed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform
            Started to fix student loans (needs more work)
            Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
            Repealed DOMA
            Saved Ford Motors

            Need more?

          • pete18

            Outside of satisfying liberal voters symbolically, I’m not sure how passing ACA could be considered one Obama’s accomplishments, it is hindering the economic recovery, causing premiums to rise and hasn’t fulfilled any of the promises it was sold on.

            Senator Obama voted against the one action (the surge) that allowed President Obama to bring the Iraq war to a conclusion.

            I agree with you about Bin Laden, it was the one thing positive that has been accomplished under his watch.

            When Obama came into office the unemployment rate was 7.8%. For most of the five years he’s been in office it has either been higher than that or remained the same. Right now it’s at 7.4%. Obama has added somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.7 Trillion dollars to the

            debt. It is laughable to call a .4% drop in unemployment and over 4 trillion dollars added to the debt as a successful economic performance.

            Although he promised to repeal DOMA,
            he never took any action to do so. DOMA was repealed by the Supreme Court, not President Obama.

            Obama has done nothing about student loans. This is the problem with Obama supporters they confuse his talk about doing something with actually doing something.

            I take your blaming of Republicans as a tacit admission of Obama’s poor record. Given that Obama had full control of the House and Senate his first two years in office and was able to pass most of his
            policy initiatives it’s hard to see how you can lay the current dismal economy in the laps of the Republicans. What specifically do you think he could have passed with Republican support that would have made things better?

          • Swashbucklr

            If you are trying to convince me of your point, a list of your opinion isn’t going to help, especially since I have sourced, factual evidence to support mine.

            And as I work in the medical field, I can tell you that some real medical, economic, and humane good is coming out of the ACA. So far, it hasn’t hindered anything or caused any premiums to rise, especially since most of the requirements for insurers haven’t even been put into place yet, but states like Vermont that have started to create their insurance markets show no noticeable increase in cost.

            And as for jobs, look up “Obama job loses graph”. Bush was hemorrhaging jobs, and Obama turned it around. The recession may not be over, but just rating Obama on unemployment is fallacious. Oh, and Wall Street is showing record gains. So, some tanked economy, eh?

            Finally, imagine what we could have gotten done if the Republicans actually came to the table with ideas and compromises, instead of voting against everything Obama tries to do? Oh, and I can lay the current dismal economy at the laps of the Republicans because it started during a Republican presidency following years of Republican policies. Of which ending some of them began the turnaround.

            So yeah, I’m not trying to convince you. I doubt you’ll even believe what I’m saying. But yes, I believe it, and I have the facts to back it up, which is good enough for me.

          • pete18

            I’m thinking my list of un-sourced opinions is a perfect match for
            your list of un-sourced opinions. However, anytime you want to match sources I’d be happy to provide mine.

            Yes, jobs were hemorrhaging during the last year of Bush’s administration and he was a Republican but the crash that led to that downturn was not due to any of his policies. It was created by the government run mortgage operation known as Fanny and Freddy Mac, which was supported and pushed by both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, however, were much more in
            denial about its crumbling status in the years leading up to the crash. If you
            want to toss in deregulation as a culprit (as many democrats do) you mustn’t forget that the repeal of Glass Steagall was promoted and signed into law by Bill Clinton.

            I know all democrats have to cling to is that Obama “stopped the hemorrhaging” since none of his predictions and promises for the stimulus ever came true, try as you might it’s a very thin coat of lipstick for a very fat pig. If you think a .4% decrease in unemployment at the huge cost of the extra debt we now have is policy worth continuing, more power to ya. Seems to me to be a
            miserable record by any objective measure.

            Since most Republicans view the majority of Obama’s economic
            policies as destructive, I think blocking them was the most constructive thing
            they could of done. But once again I ask, specifically, after Obama lost the
            house, what policies did he present that the Republican’s blocked that would
            have been helpful to the economy?

          • Swashbucklr

            Please. Republican economic policy these days is disingenious at best. Supply-side, for one, has not been shown to have any positive effects for anyone other than the already wealthy.
            And as to what policies that the Republicans blocked? How about raising the debt ceiling, a thing that literally no one blinked an eye at, but when right-wing obstructionism threatened to kill it, ALL the rating agencies downgraded American ratings. How’s that for an example? One that Republicans are still threatening.
            Also, I’m Keynesian. What policies would work? Almost anything. Just pick one. Blocking policy isn’t leadership – it’s just a way of taking your ball and going home, crying about being mistreated. Republicans don’t lead, they just react and complain.
            If you haven’t yet figured out that I have immeasuable disdain for the current Republicans, I don’t know what else I can say. I dream of Goldwater…

          • pete18

            “Also, I’m Keynesian.

            No surprise there. How’s that approach working out?

            As to supply side, that it only helps the wealthy is certainly the talking point mantra of the left, but that certainly hasn’t been the factual history of it.

            “What policies would work? Almost anything. Just pick one.”

            Sure, how about the Keystone pipeline?

            “Blocking policy isn’t leadership – it’s just a way of taking your ball and going home, crying about being mistreated.”

            Blocking BAD policy is great leadership, there should be more of it.

          • Swashbucklr

            Well, Keynes got me through grad school for an economics degree, so I’d say it’s doing pretty good. But I’m not a macroeconomic state, so Keynesian policy doesn’t affect me directly.

            And I think it’s cute that you think “voodoo economics” worked. First off, go read the Wikipedia page on it. It’s well-sourced. Then read this Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/briandomitrovic/2012/06/12/supply-side-economics-takes-two-to-tango/

            (Spoiler alert – supply-side has never had the advertised effect. The wealthy have taxes cut, but they don’t reinvest like we were promised they would.)

          • pete18

            That’s a riot. They obviously didn’t teach you much about reading or research at your grad school, which would explain a lot about why you think Obama is doing a good job with the economy. Take a look at that Forbes article again. It is critiquing not praising Howard Gold’s article about “burying supply side economics,” particularly his argument that the 1900s-2000s were a perfect “controlled experiment” for measuring how well supply side economics works.

            However, since you seem to like that economist who writes for Forbes so much, you should read his article about Obama’s Keynesian approach:


          • Swashbucklr

            I admit, I skimmed it, as I was looking for an article with Gold’s quote. Here it is, for the curious:

            “Supply-side economics held that reducing marginal tax rates would spur
            economic growth, create jobs and even generate tax revenue for the
            government….But [its advocates] rarely mention the 1990s or the 2000s.
            Maybe that’s because those two decades were almost a perfect controlled experiment that shattered their pet theories: President Bill Clinton
            raised marginal tax rates and the economy boomed and jobs were
            plentiful. President George W. Bush cut them and we got only modest job

            The article also states that there were 20 million new jobs under the Clinton tax increase and 8 million under the W. tax cut. Which, since unemployment is your main metric, does mean something. I was looking for Gold’s quote because I think he’s right.

            But you are right, the article is a critique of Gold. It’s an interesting article about Obama, too. We can both find articles and papers supporting our positions, because people much smarter than we write about it a lot. So I’ll leave you with two critiques I liked a lot. Post some of your support, and I’ll be happy to read it (I love this stuff).

            CNBC writes about how the rich are saving, not reinvesting. Supply-side suggests that they would reinvest their money in the economy, and that’s not happening.

            And a bit on American Progress that has some cool graphs. Enjoy.


            And I’d rather have leadership that actually accomplishes something, even if they have to compromise, and not leadership that just blocks their ideological enemies from doing anything without really doing anything themselves.

            But your entire point was that his economic record was abysmal, and asked why people would vote for him. I pointed out the things I supported, and still think that Romney would be horrible – if for no other reason than he is a completely different person than the governor I once knew.

            More importantly, we aren’t going to convince each other. I’m sure you are a smart, articulate person who thinks critically. I assure you that I am as well. So I’m going to call it a day – I don’t like the Republicans for well-thought out reasons, you don’t like Obama for well-thought out reasons. Post some sources, I’ll enjoy them, and that’s that.

          • Swashbucklr

            Do I need to remind you which party is threatening to shut down the government unless they get what they want?

  • AC

    hmmmm. why DO people continue to shop at Walmarts…

    • DeJay79

      EXACTLY, If we want america to be great we need to “self-isolate” when it comes to our shopping habits. We know that corporations are not going to bring jobs back on their own and the government is not encouraged to create high tariffs so it is up to us, the citizens of this country to Buy American anywhere and everywhere we can.

    • StilllHere

      Price and selection, best of both.

    • sickofthechit

      Targeted, time-limited boycotts are where we need to start. charles a. bowsher

  • noncompliant privateuser

    i am a phd scientist and i run a small company. here is the situation in my view:
    1) the american dream was stolen, systematically, in a series of actions dating back to the 70. it started with certain people who saw the value that had been build up in american industry, and used LBO’s to cash them out into their own pockets. its like smashing a window to steal a quarter.
    2) young people saw mba’s getting rich and scientists getting fired. so they majored in business, or communications, or now they watch cops on tv and they major in criminal justice. we don’t need those skills in the work force. we need to grow crops and build tangible products.
    3) alongside the above, bankruptcy reform and defunding of public colleges, has systematically removed the possibility of professional education for any but the children of the wealthy, and they rarely want to be a scientist or engineer. but then there is not longer a lot of places for that kind of talent anyway.
    4) after systematically destroying our ability to compete on real value, our society has morphed into a collection of parasites, our chief industry is selling and collecting recurring income obligations

    some concluding comments

    i can tell you that i do not wake up in the morning thinking “gee i need to hire another business major”.

    it takes about 20 years to raise a generation of scientists and engineers. they have to be motivated as children, and it has to be possible for them to be educated at that level. the talent of young people is a resource of a society, we are wasting it.

    no society in all of history, has ever recovered from this level of economic inequality and loss of mobility.

    we are done.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Good Post As far as I am concerned I consider most politicians, lobbyists, defense contractors, and business men worse criminals than many people in prison.

    • sickofthechit

      Taking over those companies and robbing their Defined Benefit Pension Plans was one of RoMoney’s modus operandi. Thankfully we dodged the missle of a romney presidency! charles a. bowsher

    • Jim

      Thank you Thank you for your post. i want add our government is raping this nation along with the rich business “entrepreneurs” and established executives.

    • ExcellentNews

      Someone gets it… Meanwhile, in much of the rest of the world, government and industry work in concert, and are ran by people with rational, scientific training. Furthermore, these people are the cream crop of an educational system that selects for academic excellence based on an aggressive standard curriculum in math and science.

  • adks12020

    Excellent point by Mr. St. Germain. I’m a person that would like to start my own business. I have a plan, one that I am pretty sure will make money (obviously I can’t be totally sure). I don’t, however, have the capital. I might be able to take out loans but it’s very difficult to take on such a risk when I have nothing to fall back on for assistance if it fails and I don’t earn enough now to have substantial savings as a safety net. The question is, keep a job that lets me barely pay the bills (student loans, mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc.) or take a risk, start the business, and possibly lose everything, default on my debts and ruin the ok life I have.

    • fun bobby

      if you have a really good idea you should be able to convince a partner its a good idea and distribute the risk

  • thequietkid10

    Blaming yourself for your failures (check)

    self sufficient tinge (check)

    blaming others for your failures/feelings of betrayal (kind of) (check),

    lower expectations for financial future (check),

    financial situation negatively affecting dating life (check),

    holy cow, they didn’t interview me, but they might as well have. Only difference is that I’m working class white, with 2 four year degrees (first one didn’t really pan out) and not minority.

  • Kate Eskew

    I am a professor at a small, liberal arts college. I wish to address the comment made by the young woman who could not afford her “dream college”. My advice to you is to reshape your dream. If you really want to be an engineer, the look into the community college system, get a 2 year degree (have excellent grades) and then see what transfer agreements they may have with state colleges and universities. You may be eligible for academic as well as need based aid, if you have the higher grades. Let’s be real, everyone takes English 101, why not take it at a community college and save some money and then finish up your degree at a higher priced university.

    • DeJay79

      I got a four year degree and spent the first two years at a Community College. when I graduated (using only one scholarship for a grand per year) I had only $9000 in college loans and have since paid that off. I took the full ten years to pay it off but it is gone now and I am so glad.

    • sickofthechit

      She needs to look into the transferability of Community College credits BEFORE she pursues that path and get it in writing from the target University.

      • Kate Eskew

        Absolutely. Many community colleges have articulation agreements with 4-year colleges that facilitate transfers. But not all do, so it is a very good idea to check it out before you comit.

  • Coastghost

    This hour sounds like a marketing spot for good ol’ Harvard: “our graduates and staff are plenty privileged themselves (just look at your President if you entertain doubts) but they all care desperately about the plight of non-Harvard attendees and are SO insightful into both the dimensions of the problems they diagnose and in the cures they offer: HARVARD CARES”.
    How touching.

  • Paul

    I think something that is important to talk about is the long term effects of this situation… Jobs no longer have pensions and its hard to find extra money to put into 401K’s etc. I am 29 and have been fortunate enough to know how important this kind of saving is for my future, but many my age are not aware of the importance of this or do not have the opportunity

    • ExcellentNews

      But think of the upside! With all the tax cuts and bailouts, global bankers and corporate barons are running out of private islands and French chateaux to buy…

  • Andrew

    Since graduating with a degree in English I’ve worked as a line cook, farm hand, bookkeeper, painter, financial aid counselor, pizza deliverer, and I’ve spent time collecting unemployment. Today I’m in Graduate school and my wife of five years is a kindergarten teacher. We are in the process of buying our first house and starting our family. I look around and realize that I am a lucky, lucky freak because many of my peers have similar stories to my own without nearly as much to show for it.

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    I’ve been overeducated in this workforce for many years as a GenX. I see American capitalism working against college-educated professionals. We are expensive so we have a target on our backs from the corporate overlords. They want to hammer labor into the ground, freeze wages, and outsource everything possible to increase profit. It’s not impossible to make a living, but you’re swimming upstream in unbridled capitalism.

    • fun bobby

      philosophy degree not paying off?

      • jefe68

        Inane comment.

        • fun bobby

          is that some sort of a placeholder you are using now? are you going to fill in the actual inane comment later?

  • Davesix6

    Free Enterprise, capitalism and the opportunities they provide are the answer,as Bono and others have recently pointed out!

    (Bono) said it had been “a humbling thing for me” to realize the importance of capitalism and entrepreneurialism in philanthropy, particularly as someone who “got into this as a righteous anger activist with all the cliches.”

    “Job creators and innovators are just the key, and aid is just a bridge,” he told an audience of 200 leading technology entrepreneurs and investors at the F.ounders tech conference in Dublin. “We see it as start-up money, investment in new countries. A humbling thing was to learn the role of commerce.”


    • sickofthechit

      But much to much of the “investment” is simply to exploit the poor countries natural resources for the profit of the few and powerful. Bono has just traded in one set of cliches for another more insidious and deceptive set of cliches. charles a. bowsher

  • Coastghost

    –and according to contemporary US sociology, it’s absolutely CRIMINAL that Americans should repair to the care of their extended families instead of relying on dependable government largesse? How can we promote “social solidarity” if families begin to edge out government philanthropy and government-sponsored notions of fraternity?

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    Cut the attacks on kids “wanting it handed to them”. Many college grads are more than williing to work very hard, but every crisis hurts the educated and pushes them into bad jobs with huge debt.

  • M K

    I think your guest is completely wrong about the quest for self-understanding, the inner life, fulfillment within the self, whatever being something new produced by contemporary circumstances in America. Pretty sure it is actually a very long and rich philosophical tradition (or, category of such) in the West (and the East). I also disagree that is it somehow a “consolation” in lieu of worldly success. That Jennifer wants people in church, as it were, does not mean everyone wants to go *even if they are able*. Freedom should mean the freedom to ignore the “American Dream” if one wants to without being criticized as having “given up and turned inward”. Boo.

  • lei_shanming

    As a member of the generation being discussed, I find it frustrating when people like Darren (who called in to the show) express their “lack of sympathy” for our situation or suggest that we’re all just inert whiners awash in self-pity. We weren’t the ones who allowed George W. Bush to wage two costly and unnecessary wars, caused a global financial crisis, and jacked up the price of a year of college to $50,000.

    • OnPointComments

      I find it frustrating when people like lei_shanming, awash in self-pity, think that their generation is the first to endure hardships. They forget that their parents’ generation lived through the draft, the Viet Nam war, wage freezes, “Whip Inflation Now,” the national malaise of President Jimmy Carter, government control of thermostats, gas lines, and on and on.

      • lei_shanming

        Of course previous generations suffered economically and in other ways. And inevitably, people like you saw that suffering as evidence of young people’s weakness, rather than as the product of historical forces that the people most affected had little power to control. Which is more likely–that each generation is simply inferior in character to the previous one, or that each generation has to contend with its parents’ poor choices?

    • fun bobby

      would you like some cheese with that whine?

  • PithHelmut

    We the People willingly agree to enslavement. We talk about hard work like it will provide everything but does it? Does it end debt? Does it more times than not, get people where they want to go? I’m not referring to the minuscule percentage of those who one can use as an example. They really are a very small percentage. It is not our fault (ask who runs the economy and who has failed in this duty). People adhere to laws, even when laws are made by bribed lawmakers. The system is rigged. Don’t think “the powers” haven’t worked it out long ago. They access the most up-to-the-minute psychological research and they are ten steps ahead of the rest of us. They know how to use auto-suggestion just like in hypnosis, and this can be applied to a crowd (look at those who gave the heil Hitler gesture even if they didn’t want to). Why do people still believe that industrial hemp is psychoactive? It was a campaign set out 70 years ago to implant (pun intended) that belief into the minds of “the masses”. We as a people abdicate our sovereignty and act according to laws whether they make sense or not and we continue to install the same gangs that make them. Laws are deliberately made to create impediments and inflict stress to keep people from thinking and reflecting on the many ways we are being corralled in doing the bidding of the elite and to distract from learning our immense capabilities. Billionosis is a disease of malcontents never satiated even when they have more than can be imagined. They want total dominance now that they have everything else, total control of people, (that’s us). Notice that the laws coming out of Congress these days are more and more imposing, not like America was when we stood for human rights. We can be that again and more. But only if we break free and reclaim our human-hood, our inalienable right to live a life of happiness and love rather than the hampster-hood we’ve agreed to.

  • thequietkid10

    I don’t get the Regan hate, Ronald Regan stopped being President 25 years ago. Why are you blaming him for our current situation? Why does Regan get the blame for the economic malaise of the past 6 years and no credit for the booms times during the late 90s and mid 2000s? which were closer in time to his Presidency. Why was everything so good when Clinton, a democrat with a Republican house, governing in the “Age of Regan?” And now it is so bad? Why have the last 30 years been bad, and Keynesian economics is the solution, when for the last 30 years we have been spending like crazy, and stimulus is a key component of Keynesian economics?

    and the biggest question of all, when President Rand Paul :), does in 2 years, what President Barack Obama couldn’t in 8, what say you then?

    • sickofthechit

      Because I was alive and lived through it.

      • pete18

        Obviously, you weren’t alive during the Carter administration.

    • brettearle

      If you support Senator Paul, are you suggesting that Smaller Government guarantees a decrease in the Unemployment Rate; a slowing or a decrease in Inflation; and a cap on Cost-of-Living increases?

      Can you explain why you would be confident about that?

    • jefe68

      Rand Paul will never even get the GOP nomination let alone a chance to run. But even in the off chance he did win the GOP nomination he wont win the White House.

      Reagan is more of a symbol of the beginning of the period when wages for 90% of AMericans pretty much remained flat or went down. Growth in the 90′s is also a transitional event. NAFTA was a disaster for Mexican farmers and American workers. Then there was the dismantling of the financial regulations that was brought to fore by the likes of ex Sen. Phil Gramm and Robert Rubin. In some ways it was a perfect storm of union busting by Reagan followed by banking and Wall street deregulation in the Clinton years. Which were started during the Reagan administration. Interesting to note that I doubt Ronald Reagan would have a hard time dealing with the tea party and legislators like Rand Paul. People forget he rose the the debt celling 18 times in his tenure. As well as taxes.

    • StilllHere

      Haters gotta hate.

      • jefe68

        Trolls gotta post BS.

    • ExcellentNews

      Who bother to wait 2 years for Rand Paul to fix the economy, when we can simply elect Houdini, and he will have the country fixed with one swipe of his magic wand ?!?

      Reagan was one of our greatest Presidents, but somehow the intellectual dwarfs and corporate shills in today’s Republican party have decided to make him into their mascot. I don’t get it either, because by their standards, Reagan qualifies as socialist…

      • nj_v2

        [[ Reagan was one of our greatest Presidents ]]

        It sounds like you’re serious.

      • pete18

        “by their standards, Reagan qualifies as socialist…”

        This I gotta hear! Do tell.

      • Jim

        Reagan also believes in deficits, not surplus. He said deficits are OK as long as the stock market keeps going up. Err October 1987 Ronald.

    • Jim

      Reagan is one the biggest fan of Keynesian Economics… Deficit keeps growing with Ronald around.

    • TELew

      This is a joke, right?

      • thequietkid10

        If by joke, you mean questioning the liberal orthodoxy, then yes, it is a “joke”

        If your talking about my Paul remark, no I’m serious. I fully expect if we see capitalist reforms we will see an economic boom sometime between 2016 and 2020. Then we get to compare that boom after the Obama years against the Reagan boom after stagflation.

        If not I’m expecting the status quo to continue for quite some time.

        Here’s a crazy idea, instead of hurling high school level insults at me, maybe you explain why I’m wrong. I consider myself educated and enlighten, I’m not too stupid to debate.

        • TELew

          Why are you wrong? Because Paul is a nutcase, plain and simple. He will never win a presidential race. Hence, if he never wins the race, then he will never be president.

          Now, explain to me just how, if Paul were to be elected (this is entirely hypothetical), he is going to accomplish this grand miracle of economic reform?

  • http://www.PsychicServices-FrankMichel.com/ Psychic Services Frank Michel

    America right now is definitely not “on point.” The American dream has become a nightmare as the middle class has been stripped of accumulated wealth, widespread opportunities, and rising expectations. Who has done this to us the last thirty years?

    Could it be the top one-percent of Americans who control the corporations that influence our dysfunctional Congress? Wall Street and banksters? Or is it the revamped tax structure that was put into place with the marginal tax rate reduction in the early 1980s? Is it just corporate greed, government bureaucracy, unnecessary wars being launched, or voter apathy? Should we really be blaming the poor, the sick, the elderly, minorities, immigrants, gays, and youths for our current sad state of affairs? I think not!

    Get involved, speak out, and work to make our country a desirable place to live with a strong safety net for everyone. Our priorities need to be adjusted so that ethics and compassion strengthen our society. We need to be proud to be Americans rather than just trying to survive financially.

  • sickofthechit

    My student loans from the 70′s and 80′s were at 7% interest. It took 12 years to pay them off so I only drove clunkers. Come to think of it I still only drive clunkers…charles a. bowsher

  • ExcellentNews

    You people are such anti-Americans (and probably socialist muslims too). The American Dream is alive and well – it’s just that there are TWO American dreams that have adjusted with the times. FIRST and foremost, there is the dream of bankers, CEOs and trust fund heirs:

    - in the 1960s: own a mansion
    - in the 1990s: own an island
    - in the 2020s: own a country

    SECOND and last, there is the dream of moochers, workers, teachers and similar low-born riffraff:

    - in the 1960s: work to own a house
    - in the 1990s: work to pay the loans
    - in the 2020s: find a tasty scrap in the dump

    Now, you might be shocked to learn that many countries have ALREADY ACHIEVED THAT THIRD STAGE of the American dream. In fact, they are the favorite job creation countries for our corporate barons. It must be because they have no taxes. Quick, lets race them to the bottom !!!

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Well put. We’re simply seeing the effects of 33 years of class warfare. We’re well on our way to 3′rd world oligarchy. Amazingly, a lot of the victims don’t even realize they’re in a war. According to the corporate media, class warfare = mentioning that class warfare is going on.

      We can’t fight back with either party. The GoP is hopeless. The Dems talk the talk but they are righty conservadems on the whole, totally in thrall to wall st. Just look at the candidates for all the financially-related administration positions. Summers? Give me a break.

      We need a new party and a counter-revolution.

  • Johannes

    I listened to the show shouting at the radio…no one has said a word about incompetent parents & the role they play. Parenting is the key to successful children. It’s not rocket science. No one has said a word about the population either. There are no jobs because there are too many people. In fact ‘too many people’ is the answer to so many questions.

    • Sy2502

      I am glad to hear someone else shares this view. When parents raise self entitled, spoiled brats used to always having it easy, having it their way, being told how special they are, no wonder that when they finally hit the real world with its troubled economy, they are going to be bewildered and lost. They are also going to be resentful, pouting because their “specialness” isn’t being recognized. They are now dismayed that their Facebook posting and text messaging skills aren’t what makes the work place go around. But who’s responsible for raising these young people with no resilience whatsoever? Who’s responsible for raising young people with the personality depth of a birdbath?

    • fun bobby

      yup humans are becoming obsolete at a rapid rate

  • jefe68

    Are you a teacher?

  • tas

    The fact that corporations are sitting on a stock pile of record profits that they refuse to invest — thus creating new jobs — wasn’t discussed. Why? That’s a big piece of the puzzle. There is all of this complaining from older generations that Millennials are the “Me Me Me Generation” and “a bunch of whiners”, but corporations are not reinvesting profits in into this economy to create opportunities. All of us cannot become successful entrepreneurs if demand for goods doesn’t exist. This isn’t whining, it’s reality — and the discussion should have mentioned this reality.

    • fun bobby

      yeah its their fault that human labor is becoming obsolete

      • jefe68

        Kind of repetitive.

        • fun bobby

          sorry jefe I should not have been so curt since you actually made a thoughtful topical post which is much better than your usual fare like the above reprobation. what would you like to see done to reign in the power of corporations?

    • jefe68

      Corporations wont create jobs unless there is a demand for the goods and services. One of the main reasons for profits is they laid off a lot of people and the one left work harder. Add to that the influx of robot machines that do a lot more of the manufacturing work than a decade ago.

      Add to that that a lot of the corporate sector likes higher unemployment for the short term as it keeps labor costs lower. here’s a stat: The median wage of American workers is now 4 percent lower than it was at the start of the recovery.The bottom line on the bottom is that low wages, in turn, are boosting corporate profits. Corporations are doing well not because sales are up but because costs are down.

    • StilllHere

      Much of corporations’ cash is off-shore where they earned it.
      Corporations feel they need more cash just to fund working capital especially if debt markets crash again.
      Corporations are not charities.
      People shouldn’t demand things they cannot afford.

      • jimino

        A human person’s income, if they’re a US citizen, is subject to federal income taxation, regardless of where they reside. Why shouldn’t a corporation’s (they’re people too my friend) income be similarly taxed?

    • Sy2502

      Companies have every right to do whatever they please with their money. They have no obligation to please you when they make their decisions.

  • OnPointComments

    One person’s opinion, with which I agree.



    Excerpt (emphasis added):

    Some people make good choices, some make poor choices. If a meritocracy if what we want, we will have to accept some inequality, because not everybody is going to merit the same outcomes.

    Here’s a simple truth: The government cannot create equality of outcome. The government can, and should, protect equality of opportunity, but policies aimed at equality of outcome do not create equality. They redistribute inequality.

    Unless the government restricts our ability to make choices for ourselves – and believe you me, there are people pushing for this approach all the time – we’re going to have to accept that some people will make bad choices, and those bad choices will result in inequality.

    The best we can do is allow free people to make free choices, and ensure that those making the choices feel the consequences both good and bad.

    • sickofthechit

      How do you propose to correct the inequalities that the wealthy have created by their undue influence in our political system?

      • nj_v2

        What are you talking about? It’s a “free market” doncha know…

      • OnPointComments

        I do not propose to create equality of outcome, because creating equality of outcome is not one of the few and defined powers given to the federal government under the Constitution, nor is it desirable. As someone else once opined, you cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. “The best we can do is allow free people to make free choices, and ensure that those making the choices feel the consequences both good and bad.”

  • fun bobby

    tell those kids to drop the photo thing and get an bio engineering degree

  • fun bobby

    yes they should have been more specific. a good college degree is what you need.

  • fun bobby

    that sounds like a downgrade

  • fun bobby

    well that has been growing steadily

  • Michele

    Fast food generation – wants everything served on a platter. Won’t go to school because you have to borrow money? Can’t get an apartment because it requires a second job or room mates? Really??? That’s what your 20′s are all about – struggling and trying to figure out who you are with your friends. Cramped in a small apartment, making little money but having some get up and go…Stop watching fake, fabulously wealthy people on TV expecting that your lives will be like that. Start living your own lives! Create your own stories and stop whining!

    I’ve interviewed some 20-somethings just out of school expecting to make $100K with no applicable work experience in architecture! Because they want to afford a nice apartment in NYC. Get your college degree and your life will be delivered unto you….

    Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… T.Roosevelt


    • Phil McCoy

      oh the irony of quoting a man born into extreme privilege about struggling to get by…

      • pete18

        Does that mean you disagree with what Michelle said (which was much more significant than the Roosevelt quote)?

      • Sy2502

        And this invalidates the concept how?

    • Sy2502

      Agreed, young people entering the workplace have no concept of rising through the ranks, they come in expecting top money and the corner office. But who gave them that sense of entitlement, one wonders?

  • Asuka

    Wages in America are low, and opportunity is not great. But on the other hand, cost of living is low relative to other developed nations.
    It’s a toss-up.

    • fun bobby

      thank god for walmart

    • Sy2502

      I would disagree on cost of living being lower than other countries. It depends what you are comparing here, which part of the US with which other country. Much variance out there.

  • Lucida113

    Many of the comments below were logged when the show was broadcast. Q: are these commenters 60-something retirees w/the luxury of listening to OnPoint over breakfast? Arrogant b/c the Great American Dream Machine worked for them when they graduated college 40 years ago? I’m 60+.too. My kids graduated 10 years ago and have stable jobs. But my nephews, who graduated 5 years ago are struggling. They’re not whining; they’re struggling. With debt…as are their parents who took out loans to “buy” their kids’ education.

    • fun bobby

      that was poor financial planning. what are their degrees in?

  • Johannes


  • Asuka

    There is certainly a lack of STEM workers willing to work for low wages (thanks to their student debt, for starters).
    But wouldn’t encouraging more young Americans to do STEM degrees add to the existing STEM glut?

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    America is a nation of high expectations with a bad case of appetite – and now that the glow of empire is fading, it’s a shock isn’t it, to discover the party is over.

    It is very hard to watch the country stumble about with seemingly no idea of how to rediscover and ignite those values of thrift, generosity, sacrifice, community, justice, and good government that at one time, made your nation great.

  • pete18

    Excellent advice. The big shift in thinking, which separates successful and mature people from the rest of the crowd is the realization that one has choices in most of life’s circumstances. It’s easy to be a victim and cast blame outward, then defeat becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy . When people learn that they have a huge role in the direction of their lives and the “good luck” they receive, which is not always dependent on circumstances but on their attitudes, work ethic and determination, they enter a whole new arena where success becomes much more likely. This is true even when external circumstances are rightfully to blame for things that have gone wrong.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Good luck youth, let alone the rest of us….


  • jefe68

    So you’ve been a mechanic since you were 13?
    Something not quite right with the math here.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    $35,000 a year? Wise choice? You should be very upset with the University tuition inflators, just as we should have been at the housing bubble inflators. They said they were helping people get a home, they said they are helping people get an education.

    They help bankers get interest payments, traders to securitize debt, and Academic administrators to increase their salaries and grow the bureaucracy instead of teaching.

    When, o When will we learn.

    No such thing as a free lunch.

    Power corrupts.

    The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Hilary

      I’m an advocate for education. I would never ever tell someone not to go to school because of what happened to me. This is where empathy plays an important role.

  • fun bobby

    are you saying I am a “boomer”?

  • Alison Dalton Smith

    I am not scared or fearful of what this trend means for our nation. It reflects a generation of realists basing our decisions on what we and our peers have witnessed and are experiencing.

    For myself, I am a 30 year old female, unmarried, with a graduate and undergraduate degree, speak three languages, $60,000 in education debt, and since graduating in January 2013 have been picking up jobs in different fields. I explain what dropping out of the old American Dream means to me:

    Unmarried: The cost is outrageous. My parents are worried about their retirement savings, having just made it through the crisis, they are in too much shock to even think of spending money on anything that doesn’t lead to security.

    My partner and I are committed and happy and don’t see a wedding anything more as a very expensive party. So we are opting out for now.

    The Economy: We are seeing pensions get slashed as oil & gas companies, agribusiness, and Fortune 500 companies maintain their billion dollar tax breaks. The baby boomers are experiencing a collective legislative & regulatory “mid-life crisis” where regular people are being battered and corporate wealth reins supreme. Additionally, the government continues to indirectly subsidize carbon emissions which is leaving us with a very unpredictable and unstable climate, both economic and environmental.

    House: We just watched our parents generation lose tens, if not hundreds of thousands of their savings on their “House with a white picket fence” why would we ever think that it’s a wise investment to take the little savings we have and put it into a “stable investment” that is actually highly unstable. Appears to be just another way to enslave us with debt.

    Membership in a Community: We are ethnically diverse, have various sexual identities, and we witness the moral battle against acceptance and equality play out in this paralyzed Congress. Our community is global and are hyper connected not to escape, but to connect with others.

    Sense of Pride in a Career: This is another joke. What career? Each time the economy dips employees are dropped like hot potatoes and as the youngest with the least protections we’re the first to go. How can we follow a traditional career path when the market discourages it? We’ve watched older generations get laid off en masse starting with the first dot.com bust it seems like suicide to commit to any company or organization. Additionally, conservatives are rallying across the nation to reverse hard fought worker protections, claiming they’re the blame for economic downturns. We are just cogs in the machine.

    This is why we choose to find value and pride in our mental states and the battles we have waged to succeed, overcoming abuse, neglect, addictions, economic hardship, racism, etc. The old hedonic treadmill of keeping up with the Jonses is for the birds. We see even with the “American Dream” there are a lot of fat, unhealthy, miserable, Americans.

    That’s nothing worthy to aspire towards so we are feeling our way into a new American Dream, one that actually leads to satisfaction, not more stuff, more debt, more war, more destruction.

    We’re the conscious generation.

  • jimino

    Where did you pick up the skills needed to work “in accounting”?

  • pete18

    Ah, the commune solution. Are you suggesting it as a mandate, because I don’t think there are too many people interested in living that way?

  • Sy2502

    Sorry but you can add me to the list of people who don’t give you sympathy. When I finished high school I couldn’t go to college, so I worked 5 years until I saved enough money to pay my way through college, supplemented by a part time job. College is like everything else, if you can’t afford it you can either make debt (but then don’t come complaining) or wait until you can afford it. If I bought a house way out of my means would you have any sympathy for me if I came here complaining of how big my mortgage was?

  • Swashbucklr

    America likes to shout about “personal responsibility”, but that narriative puts no blame on the institutions and systems that had been in place to support and guide our parents and grandparents, but have been slowly dismantled or changed so that the current generations see none of it. Nor is there any blame put on the people and organizations dismantling these systems.
    It’s ironic that the people who benefited so much from American propserity and government, corporate, and social support are so angry when young people complain that these things don’t exist anymore. The Boomers and even Gen X didn’t go it alone – they had the world on your side. And now, they suffer from the dark side of the personal responsiblity narriative – I’ve Got Mine.
    Young people today are demonstrating personal responsibility – they are doing the best they can do get by. But that in no way means that they cannot or should not stand up against a system that promised everything their parents had, and failed to deliver.

    • ctwilly

      Oh come on, Swash. I’d love to know what “institutions and systems” were supporting and guiding my parents and grandparents. My grandparents were working class and my father just finished up his career as white collar after spending most of his time fixing typewriters and time clocks. Yeah I worked my way through school, i also picked my major based on what i could do with it and what it could do for me. There are people out there borrowing money with no plans how they’re going to pay it back. I worked my ass off for 40 years but I missed the golden years of defined benefit pensions and lifetime medical insurance. I got no promises going in, other than social security and that’s a joke, and i know it’s all on me. Just as it’s always been. Check out some nursing home prices Bub, they make college look like a bargain.

      • Swashbucklr

        How about those “golden years of defined benefit pensions and lifetime medical insurance” for as an example of those “institutions and systems” I was talking about? And the lifetime jobs that provided those benefits? And good entry-level jobs with promise of advancement? And social security, which actually worked for previous generations? And inexpensive, government supported college education?

        Seems to me like you answered your own question. Maybe not everyone back then went to college, but not everyone had to.

        • ctwilly

          You REALLY think there were lifetime jobs? And that everyone HAS to go to college? My nephew is an HVAC tech and he bought his house before his college educated older brother. You’re living in a dream world, I thought you had to be an old fart to be thinking of the “good old days”.

          • Swashbucklr

            “Dream world?” This is more like a vaguely threatening nightmare world.

            Tech schools and colleges are great. My brother went to one after not enjoying working for his BA. He owns a condo, I’m paying off graduate loans.

            But yes, back in the 1950s, there was an expectation that you would find a job with a company or agency and stay there for life, loyal to the end. And that loyalty was paid off by pensions and health care. These days, lay-offs are considered common practice, and it’s the rare, exceptional corporation that shows that kind of loyalty to their employees. This is pretty much common knowledge.

            Here’s a good article about workplace loyalty and it’s influencing factors. My money quote: ‘Employee behavior, Cobb says, has been influenced by the dramatic
            organizational restructuring that began 30 years ago. “Firms have always
            laid off workers, but in the 1980s, you started to see healthy firms laying off workers, mainly for shareholder value.”‘


            And as for the necessity of college degrees, I’ll let this NY Times article do the speaking, because yes, this is a very common concern:


          • ctwilly

            Sorry, I’m not buying it. The 50s and 60s were anomalies. The US was the dominant economy because much of the rest of the world was in ruins. It’s easy to look back and say what happened was what was expected but I think it’s unlikely that the average worker in the 50s thought he was making a lifetime commitment when he took a job. What exactly would that be based on? Certainly not the 30s and 40s or any other time.

  • Swashbucklr

    Nice bootstaps. I see they have “Property of the US Government” written on them. Shame they don’t give those out anymore.
    You didn’t “go it alone.” You had help from a series of systems and government programs designed to help people even in adverse times like 1979. But wages haven’t gone up since then, and those systems have been slowly dismantled by the folks in charge, often because someone who graduated in 1979 thinks it’s too expensive to keep doing them. Vote to lower taxes lately?

  • Tom Moore

    I’m one of those “whiney millennials”.

    There is a lot of blame going on in this thread. There is both sympathy and antipathy. Whatever the case, it doesn’t change the fact that America’s younger generation is experiencing adversity on some scale.

    For many of these “millennials”, this wave of hardship is the first big trouble spot in their lives. They are not used to dealing with adversity at this scale and thus are not sure how to cope.

    Our whole lives we have been told to go to schoool, get good grades, go to college, work hard, follow your dreams, and you’ll be fine. It’s so engrained in a youth’s experience that you really cannot avoid it unless you had some alternative education.

    So, when kids end up at the end of the meat grinder with few opportunities, why are we surprised that they aren’t happy?

    But the lesson is learned, in this case in a very hard way. Now what are we going to do with this experience?

    In the words of the Hogarth Hughes… “You are who you choose to be”.

  • rogger2

    I know fist hand that large student loans can seem overwhelming at first but there is no reason why you cannot own a house, have children and get married. It will take some time but if you make a plan and stick to it I know you can tackle your loans.

    I would recommend the book “No more Harvard Debt”. It’s free if you have Amazon prime, $2.99 if not: http://www.amazon.com/No-More-Harvard-Debt-ebook/dp/B008L5LZS2

    It helped me to change my mindset around my spending habits and gave me new ideas to help me to make a realistic plan to eliminate my student debt.

  • Regular_Listener

    When is it going to be possible to download OP broadcasts again? Some of us prefer to do that rather than stream it from the website. I called about this several weeks ago and spoke to a young man with an English accent. He assured me that the problem was being given top priority and was being assiduously worked on as we spoke.

  • Regular_Listener

    Hey, it is not just the 20-something kids of working class parents that are having these problems. I know people with graduate degrees who can’t find decent-paying jobs. I know very talented people with degrees from good institutions working low-level, low-paying jobs or not working at all. I know people with years of experience in publishing and the arts and marketing who are now up the creek without a paddle.

    Opportunities are not good wherever you look. This is the logical result of a growing workforce and population coupled with a stagnant economy.

Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

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