On the heels of my previous post on social democracy, I thought I’d supplement that post with some personal words of wisdom to my millennial readers and I hope my words resonate with them.
The main takeaway from my previous post is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but I feel that salient point does not go far enough. Far too many millennials (those born from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s) seem to think that they have it worse than their parents did, economically speaking. On the surface, they appear to be right.
The cost of a college education is far more expensive than it was for previous generations. The cost of living is much higher as well. One is hard-pressed to argue that millennials are wrong about having it worse than previous generations.
On the surface anyway…
I posit that millennials actually have advantages in this country and in the western world that previous generations can only be envious of.
Unlike previous generations, millennials grew up with many of the technological advances that we have today. The Information Age was in full swing by the time millennials came of age. Because millennials grew up with the Internet, learned to be computer savvy in grade school, and grew up in a more connected world, they were able to become entrepreneurs in greater numbers than previous generations.
Millennials are more aware of the bigger issues that face the world than previous generations were. Despite college being more expensive, millennials are better educated than previous generations. Student loan debt is more of a problem for millennials as a whole because just like every generation before them, they also have their fair share of people who choose the path of least resistance. Many millennials choose the shorter, more expedient route to what they think will lead to success vs the slow, methodical route that is actually needed to find real success.
Millennials often place too much emphasis on “making an impact” immediately rather than delay gratification. Many of them don’t build the networks they need to succeed because that would require building personal relationships in person.
For all of the virtues that millennials possess, such as acceptance of minorities and LBGTQ relationships and other things that previous generations refused to fully understand or choose to accept, millennials are also far more susceptible to accepting the path of least resistance than other generations, leading to self-imposed impediments to their own individual success.
Many are eschewing marriage and starting families because relationships are hard work. Many are renting homes instead of buying because they don’t want the responsibility of being homeowners.
They want free college and free healthcare because many of them would prefer that government give them these things as opposed to actually earning them.
And therein lies the problem…
Millennials, as a group, are looking to government, their employers, and their elder parents and grandparents to treat them like children. Many of them look for their employers to coach them or they settle for minimum wage jobs because the stress is too high to qualify and work in a job with opportunities for growth.
Outside pursuits and “conformist individuality” (e.g. tattoos, piercings, colorful hair, grunge, etc.) take away from having a work ethic or having standards that lead to success in the workplace.
Politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders are (ironically) appealing to millennials because his message is one of comfort without sacrifice. Security without real, active participation on their part.
I don’t sell all millennials short. As I mentioned before, many have the entrepreneurial spirit and exercise it to great success. There are many older folks who are looking for comfort without effort as well, so this phenomenon is hardly unique to millennials. However, millennials now have the power of their large numbers on their side and their actions are impacting how this country operates on many levels, not all of it good.
One lesson that millennials need to learn is that no one gives you power. Real power is something you take…
-The Rational Ram