Megan McArdle, a columnist for Bloomberg View, recently wrote a piece titled “Hey Millennials: You Got a Raw Deal. Get Over it.” In it, she responds to some of the complaints from Generation Y by writing:
“In other words, while it’s true that there are fewer guarantees than there used to be, it’s not true that everyone in the good old days had an easy path to lifetime employment. Those people were always a lucky minority. They still are, if a somewhat smaller one. Most people in the generations before the millennials had to struggle. They were afraid they wouldn’t be able to make it. They, too, were woken up in the wee small hours by their own economic terror.”
Ms. McArdle backs up her beliefs with both anecdotal and empirical evidence, and reminds readers that because of persistent racism prior to the Civil Rights movement successful careers were often reserved for White males. While it is unquestionably true that previous generations had to struggle for employment and were often denied the American Dream because of the color of their skin, should millennials “get over” the raw deal they are receiving?
Let’s set the record straight here: millennials are not just growing up into a tough economy – they are growing up in an economy that is particularly tough on them. Unemployment for people aged 16-24 is estimated at 16.3% by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than double the national average. In 2011 a Pew Research study revealed that the wealth gap between those over 65 and those under 35 had doubled since 2005. Moreover, a family whose head of household was 65+ years old had a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by a 35-year-old.
The 2011 Pew Research study illustrates a disturbing trend: the old are getting richer and the young are getting poorer. Largely, this trend is the result of a bloated and dysfunctional entitlement system. Retirees have been promised far more money than they contributed to the system. Due to decades of government mismanagement, the money they contributed is essentially gone, which places the burden of payment on the present generation of young workers. Not only are millennials struggling with rising student loan debt and finding a job in a particularly tough economy, but they will also be expected to foot the bill for retiring seniors who by and large have far more money than they do. Because social security is not means-tested, even billionaires like Ken Langone are paid once a month. Generation Y is often labeled as narcissistic, but is it narcissistic to expect not be robbed as a generation?
Millennials should get worked up about their circumstances. This comparison may seem a bit over the top, but millennials should revolt against this taxation without representation like the Founders of our country. Before we were born or old enough to vote, our elders created a system where they received benefits - financed by deficit spending - which our generation will have to pay for. That sounds a lot like taxation without representation to me. Sorry Megan, but we are not going to get over it.
*Thomas Warns is a J.D Candidate at New York University School of Law, class of 2015, and Staff Editor of the Journal of Law & Liberty