The War Against Youth
Twenty-five years ago young Americans had a chance.
In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.
This bleeding up of the national wealth is no accounting glitch, no anomalous negative bounce from the recent unemployment and mortgage crises, but rather the predictable outcome of thirty years of economic and social policy that has been rigged to serve the comfort and largesse of the old at the expense of the young.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human potential has been consistently growing, generating greater material wealth, more education, wider opportunities — a vast and glorious liberation of human potential. In all that time, everyone, even followers of the most corrupt or most evil of ideologies, believed they were working for a better tomorrow. Not now. The angel of progress has suddenly vanished from the scene. Or rather, the angel of progress has been sent away.
This article lit my hair on fire, and maybe specifically because it is so rhetorically strong I wanted to talk about it a bit and make sure I wasn't simply swept along with its argument.
There are obvious problems with certain points. Two that jumped out were that the author never credits the private aid given by older family members as a generational investment, but is happy to talk about private business sector impoverishment in multiple contexts. Another is contrast of federal aid in pensions and medical care for the elderly with spending on the department of education - additional federal dollars are invested in youth through military benefits and food stamps and in the United States the bulk of our education spending is done at the local and state level - so looking only at the federal level and then only at certain corners of that is a little dodgy. On the other side, the author fails horrendously by not addressing the generational nature of the worldwide economic dislocation that global warming will increasingly cause through the rest of this century.
Still, the main thrust of the article seems valid, and I've passed it along to most of my cousins and classmates though facebook. Thoughts on the article and ways to address the problem? This is sort of a weak way to end an OP (discuss.) but it seems as though while the problem is unitary the manifestations and treatments for it are many.