The Millennial Dream

Newsweek just published an article referring to millennials as “the screwed generation.”  It talks about the perfect storm of baby boomers staying in the workforce, the recession, and plain old bad timing all descending upon the millennial generation and creating the notion that, for the first time in American history, we might not be able to build better lives than our parents did.  They have unpleasant statistics…

-The wealth gap between younger and older Americans is larger than ever before.

-Since 2008 the percentage of the workforce under 25 has dropped 13.2 percent.

-The unemployment rate for people between 18 and 29 is 12 percent in the U.S., nearly 50 percent above the national average.

This is all very sobering for a generation that was promised the American dream.  Our boomer parents instilled in us the very concepts that are now breaking our hearts. 

Newsweek, and the vast majority of the media, seems resigned to the fact that the American dream just isn’t a reality for the millennial generation. Well, as a member of that generation who myself is over educated, dealing with student loans, and *gasp* renting, I have the following message (eloquently provided by Bart Simpson): Eat my shorts.

James Truslow Adams wrote that the American dream is the "dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”  This was the homesteaders leaving for parts unknown.  This was immigrants coming to American with nothing but optimism and ambition. This was soldiers returning from a war and earning a college degree.  Somewhere in recent years the baby boomers decided that the American Dream meant a big house in the suburbs, two nice cars, and a plasma screen television, and now we are being told that we cannot hope to achieve that particular set of ideals.  The story on what millennials will or will not achieve is still unwritten.  No one really can say for sure what we will do or how we will put our unique stamp on the American Dream, but I sure would appreciate it if the very people who got us into this mess would stop trying to doom us to sad little lives.

Kim recently wrote a piece about how women can really have it all but it’s up to you to decide what “it all” actually is.  Well, I propose the same for millennials.  Maybe the economy has made it so I will never have a McMansion or home theater system, but you know what?  I don’t want those things and I think the sooner we realize that the dreams of our parents are not necessarily ours and stop listening to the media’s description of our sorry condition, the sooner we can build towards our own American Dream.   Newsweek’s feelings not withstanding.



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