Friday, May 3, 2024

#124 / Advice From An "Old Guy" For Generation Z

On Saturday, March 16, 2024, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story with this headline: "How Gen Z Became America's Most Disillusioned Voters." That is the hardcopy version of the headline. Those who can penetrate The Journal's paywall (good luck) will find a different headline but the same analysis.

According to the article, written by Andrew Restuccia and Eliza Collins, "Young adults are more skeptical of government and pessimistic about the future than any living generation." As I read the article, two themes were predominant. First, those running the country don't focus on issues of real concern. Second (and maybe first in importance), the economy is freezing younger people out of the opportunities that earlier generations took for granted: 

Washington is moving closer to passing legislation that would ban or force the sale of TikTok, a platform beloved by millions of young people in the U.S. Several young people interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they spend hours each day on the app and use it as their main source of news.
“It’s funny how they quickly pass this bill about this TikTok situation. What about schools that are getting shot up? We’re not going to pass a bill about that?” Gaddie asked. “No, we’re going to worry about TikTok and that just shows you where their head is…. I feel like they don’t really care about what’s going on with humanity.”  ....
The pessimistic mood contrasts with what in many ways are relatively healthy economic circumstances. Many millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996—started careers around the 2007-09 recession. Gen Z workers are entering the labor market during a historically strong stretch.
For the last year, the unemployment rate for those in their late teens and early 20s has averaged near its lowest in at least a half-century, according to the Labor Department. Student debt has fallen as a share of income, with the Biden administration canceling $138 billion in federal student loans. More under-35-year-olds own homes than before the pandemic. Young people have been hit by inflation, but by some measures, less than other age groups, according to a survey of consumers by the University of Michigan.
Young people say there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Among adults under 30, credit card and auto loan delinquencies are increasing. Savings have dwindled since reaching pandemic highs. 
Rent has more than doubled since 2000, far outpacing the growth of incomes over the same period, according to Moody’s Analytics. More young people spend 30% or more of their income on rent than any other age group.

According to the article, many Gen Z voters have given up on "politics." Of course, they're not the only ones!

For what it's worth, as Generation Z moves towards political disengagement, I suggest that the opposite decision is the right one. If you're Gen Z, check out my blog posting from yesterday. You are "important," and you should be running the world, not letting the world run right over you, leaving you to stand around watching it happen on your social media feeds. 

My advice for those denominated "Gen Z" is pretty simple: Demand, insist upon, and enact a "New Deal," shuffling the deck of cards now stacked against you. 

Income inequality is not income "inevitability." Don't give up on engagement, and don't think some narcisistic, blowhard billionaire might be the solution. Self-government does work, but only when we get involved ourselves. 

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