The “screwed generation”

by Ryan Streeter on June 4, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Joel Kotkin writes:

[Spain’s] demographic implosion makes sense given the legacy left behind by the boomers, who have held on to generous jobs and benefits but left little opportunity for their children, not to mention a high tax burden on what opportunities they do find. For a generation academics have sold higher education—the more the better—as the cure for unemployment and the great guarantor of success.

He may be writing about Spain, but – as he goes on to say – America’s not trailing far behind in this regard:

The spiking number of people in their 30s working as unpaid interns reflects this erosion of opportunity. This has happened even as the price tag for college has shot up; 94 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree now owe money for their educations, compared to 45 percent two decades ago. Here’s a tribute to futility: today a majority of unemployed Americans age 25 and older attended college, something never before seen.

Governmental priorities here continue to favor boomers and seniors over the young. For a generation, transfer payments have favored the elderly, a trend likely to accelerate as the boomers continue retiring and demand their due. According to Brookings, America spends 2.4 times as much on the elderly as on children.

Because of their sorry state, Kotkin aptly names today’s young the “screwed generation.” This has been a recurring theme here at – namely, how it is that we continue to roll into the future too timid to make serious changes to our entitlements while piling up huge public debt on top of the college bubble debt that is already crippling a rising generation. Young people should be the object of our policymaking, yet we are nowhere close to taking their predicament seriously.