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View Diary: How America Is Eating Its Young (98 comments)

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  •  Anecdotal, but (8+ / 0-)

    as a member of one of the mentioned underperforming groups, I want to say that there has been a cultural shift.

    I distinctly remember when I was a small boy that my parents, as a "young couple starting out with a family" got all kinds of help and breaks from lots of different quarters.

    People went out of their way to get them the loan, get them a better price, be flexible with arrangements, offer them jobs, etc. because they were "young people just starting out."

    I heard often about how generous and kind everyone was, and how this society understood how important it was to help people that are "just starting out." (I repeat the phrase so much because I heard my parents and others say it so often as a kid.)

    I've enjoyed no such breaks, nor have my siblings. Instead, to be in the position of needing a break, some flexibility, a "foot in the door" of a career, or so on now seems to mark you as "lesser" and "less deserving" for many in our culture more broadly.

    Instead of a helping hand, my experience from those a generation older (i.e the boomers) has been rent-seeking behavior and a general rent-seeking attitude.

    I don't mean to start a generational warfare thread, or to imply that all boomers are this way (lest we forget that the boomers gave us the culture wars in the first place and many of them have been on the front lines of the good fight for a very long time), but I do feel that what was once a universal attitude ("help the young to become established and prosperous; it's what a good person does") is now not so universal, with a big split between the liberal contingent of the mature generations and a now far more economically regressive contingent ("don't give those young losers any breaks; let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps or die trying").

    I feel like the virtual disappearance of on-the-job training or the notion of the "starter home" (or "starter home loan") as different in nature from the "subprime home" (or "subprime home loan") are evidence of this change.

    Ironically a generation that is historically regarded as being the instigator of a "young vs. old" faultline in society is home to a large contingent of people that no longer regard themselves as having any social responsibility toward the young (again, not everyone—but a decent portion).

    This change in attitudes works its way into policy at all levels in a democratic society, and the result is a young population with significant structural disadvantages and great difficulty in overcoming them.

    And so, in order to be competitive (get an education, have a car to get to work and a mobile phone that work can reach us on, etc.) we have largely relied on credit rather than informal breaks and assistance from society and our elders. And thus, even in cases when we've paid back what we borrowed, we're way behind the game vs. those in previous generations that were able to begin without borrowing and that were mentored and nurtured rather than being actively campaigned against in many cases.

    -9.63, 0.00
    "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

    by nobody at all on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:39:12 AM PDT

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