Saturday, October 8, 2011

Talking Bout My Generation

  I read an article today that made me think about my generation. People in their mid to late twenties, and sometimes even early thirties, have had to put their lives on hold because of the economy. Fifty years ago, people were getting married at my age, buying houses, having babies, and starting that grown-up life before they had even fully grown up. Now, people my age are prolonging their youth, not entirely by choice but by situation. We are largely unemployed, homeless (meaning, without our own homes or apartments), and we are often broke, or damn near. [Thanks, Pete Townshend for a good lyric to put in my blog title ;) ]
    While I am the exception--I have a job, and as you read recently, I just hit the one-year mark (*hooray again*); I have an apartment that I am paying for all by myself; and I am extremely frugal and meticulous about my money, so I am never really broke. I may not have any cash on me sometimes, but I always have some money somewhere. On the other hand, I know that many people in my generation are broke, don't have their own place, and can't find a job. This was all my life before I found my job. I was unemployed for nine months after graduating college, I had moved back in with my dad, and even after I found work, I was still living with my mom for a few months until I could find an apartment.
    Moving forward in life has become overly complicated for people my age. I personally feel like I've hit the peak of adulthood. I don't have those same goals as firm, set-in-stone goals. If my life moves in a certain direction, yes, I might eventually want to buy a house. If my life moved in another direction, I might consider getting married. And if my life moved in a really different direction, several years from now, mind you, I also might consider kids. But right now, all of those possibilities seem so distant, not only financially, but in terms of my own maturity. I can't even imagine having any of those things right now. Five years from now though, who knows?
    Still, I can't help wondering about the other people my age who are broke and want to take those next steps in their lives and just can't. It's not pity, but frustration I feel about this whole thing. Why are we the ones denied what many of us consider to be rights of passage and a natural progression of life when our forebears had full access? Why did these people in control of the economy and the economic future of this country not think about how their decisions would affect their children? (Make no mistake, we are at about the age that those people's children would be--just because their kids have trust funds doesn't mean we're not part of the same generation.) Why, if they did think of our futures, did they not care enough to stop what they were doing?
    The Almighty Dollar wins again. Greed was good twenty five years ago, but the "free market" economy has spiraled out of control in such a way that the rich cling desperately to their wealth, while the poor, or the working and middle classes, must cling desperately to their next paychecks, knowing they may still have to rely on credit to meet all their financial responsibilities.
    I am, by no means, an economist--in fact, I have no idea how I even passed my high school economics class with an A because I don't remember a thing--but some of these things seem so simple that I can't understand how how people could have screwed it up so badly as to leave my generation in the position to try to move forward and clean up their mess without the means to do it.
Greed sucks. Unemployment sucks worse.

Have you been unemployed? How did you deal with it? 
What do you think about the economy and its effect on Generation Y 
(i.e. people born between about 1985 and 1995, if that)?
Discuss it in the comments below.

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