Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Failed GOP Policies Have Wrought for Generation Y

All three of my children fall within what is often referred to as "Generation ," namely young adults between the ages of 18 and 28. What this younger generation is experiencing as a result of the failings of my baby boomer generation and in particular the failed policies of the Bush/Cheney years is disheartening. Despite the harsh reality of what has been done to the nation's economy, the majority of the would be GOP presidential candidates want to implement even more of the same policies that have wrought the economic current debacle. A story in American Prospect looks at what this reality is meaning for Generation Y. Here are some highlights:

Young adults entering the workforce today think they'll be worse off than their parents—they're not wrong.

The recession officially ended nearly two and a half years ago, in June 2009, but for the generation of young adults who’ve been trying to take their first steps into adulthood, its effects could shape the future for decades to come.

Why is this recession different from other sharp downturns? The standard economic indicators fail to tell the whole story. Yes, unemployment rates for young people remain at the record-high levels they hit at the Great Recession’s peak in 2007, but this is typical for young workers, who tend to be the last group that recovers after a recession—and tend to feel its effects far after the economy has rebounded.

For youth entering the workforce today, not has the sour economy delayed their careers; they are entering a workforce that offers historically low wages and, unlike their parents, they're coming in with massive amounts of student-loan debt.

A poll we commissioned of young people ages 18 to 34 shows that 32 percent of employed college graduates—and a shocking 53 percent of young workers with only a high school diploma—are working jobs that do not advance their careers. Given that the Federal Reserve, in its most recent projection, predicts unemployment will remain at about 8 percent until the end of 2013, and 7 percent until the end of 2014, that means many young workers will not get their first career-track job for another two or three years.

Millennials’ soaring debt burden is largely due to crushing college tuition rates that have risen far faster than inflation. In 1968, when the first boomers entered college, a student could have paid for tuition and fees at a public university by working just 6.2 hours a week at minimum wage; today, they’d have to work full-time just to cover tuition costs.

ising debt, un- and underemployment, and dim job prospects have forced many Millennials to postpone the key decisions that historically marked entry into adulthood. Nearly half of the 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed said they’ve put off purchasing a home; 29 percent say they’ve delayed starting a family; and 26 percent still live with their parents. These decisions have long-lasting effects.

The lower wages, skimpy benefits, debt burdens, and persistent unemployment that young workers face today are not simply the result of random economic fluctuations or forces beyond our control: They're the direct consequence of decades of bad government policy and inaction. The assault on collective-bargaining rights, the loosening of corporate oversight, the deregulation of the financial sector, and the repeated reductions in taxes—particularly for corporations—have all combined to create a bleak economic landscape.

But there are many ways policymakers could help Millennials start their lives with a greater chance of economic security and prosperity. Increasing the minimum wage, for instance, would raise the wage floor and help combat a decades-long slump. . . . . policymakers need to take action right now to prevent a lost generation of youth whose parents simply did not pay forward the social benefits they inherited.

Do John Boehner, Eric Cantor or the Koch brothers give a damn about this dismal picture? Of course not. They are focused solely on aiding the wealthy and pushing the rest of us towards quasi-serfdom. Would that the idiots in the Tea Party would wake up to the fact that they are backing the very people and policies that have screwed them over.

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