I’m annoyed. I was browsing Reddit this morning when I woke up and I came across this video by Texas TV host, Alexis Bloomer where she states that millenials (those born in the late 80s – mid-late 90s) are essentially ungrateful, stupid and lack manners. We are a disgrace to the Earth, in essence, according to Bloomer.
Now, I take serious offence to this (I don’t, but pretend I do so this sounds like a rant and not a fantastic piece of economic writing) for a multitude of reasons, not just because some of what she said is baseless (see where she says we don’t even say ‘ma’am’ any more as evidence for our ignorance and laziness) but because she totally ignores the context of the world in which the baby boomers lived (those born between 1945 and 1965) and, and the world that we live in now.
Let’s stay with a common theme for now. In my last economic piece, I spoke of the debt burden that students of today are under, where 70% of students will graduate with an average of $35,000 in student loan debt, double that of two decades ago. Compare this to the baby boomer generation – the cost of education in the 60s – 80s was extremely low (in fact it was free to go to university, but we must bear in mind opportunity costs of education vs entering the labour market). There was a massive gap in the job market that required filling post war which allowed for ease of labour market access. Nowadays, if you want that grad job in finance, you need to know how to price an interest rate derivative, know Bloomberg inside out and be able to recommend constrictive monetary policy to a small nation, all before you finish your A2 economics exam. There was a lot more scope for economic and social mobility during the baby boomer era compared to now is what I am getting at.
So while the boomers have enjoyed this prosperity 50 years ago, let’s examine what their legacy has left. We have great gifts such as global warming & climate change, 8 year cycles of boom and bust, with the biggest global economic recession of all time only 8 year’s ago (uh oh) 100% caused by the heads of financial institutions and their creation of complex debt products for profit.
Baby boomers have created the system that we function in today, and when you create a system, you generally do so with your best interests at heart. For example, who is now reaping the benefits of their final salary pension payouts? The baby boomers. Now who is having to pay back the costs of this? The millennials.
Who benefited from dirt cheap housing? The baby boomers. Who is now having to pay the baby boomer rentiers many times over just to get onto the housing ladder? The millennials.
Who owns £500bn of the UK’s assets? The baby boomers. Where did most of the effects of quantitative easing go post financial crisis? Into propping up the FTSE and house prices… baby boomer assets.
So Ms Bloomer, millennials aren’t lazy, we have more economic obstacles to overcome than any of our parents. I mean, you only need to look at far as a certain Republican candidate to see the epitome of a caricature of a baby boomer… except he is running for president. Christ.