As much as I don’t want to throw blame on the generation before me, I feel there is a genuine lack of understanding of how things have shifted since they entered the job market, went through school etc. Job uncertainty, soul crushing student debt and wages that do not in anyway pace with the cost of living even a very bare bones existence are a reality for generation x which I just barely fit into to and millennials who I have much more in common with.
At thirty five I’ve been through two layoffs worked entry level jobs over and over and after 7 years have only just now gotten back to the wage I was making in 2009. When you have to choose between defaulting on student loans and paying your mortgage and car payment, vacations are completely out of sight. Things you once considered necessities become luxuries until your only thoughts are food and shelter. Dr.’s visits, dental care new glasses clothes you actually like these are costs you weigh against saving money for Christmas presents. How do you prioritize your own needs over your family’s joy?
Having one child is so financially taxing that a lot of people my age aren’t even having children. Others want more than one but literally cannot afford it. Some are working but their wages are so low that they qualify for support. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. Wages are so low in Maine that even working full time with the requirements for state aid as stringent as they are, people STILL QUALIFY for state help.
We live the effects of ruthless capitalism and the now almost non-existent middle class every day. Millennials aren’t living with their parents because they want to but because THEY HAVE TO in order to eat. Talented and educated people aren’t leaving the state because they don’t like it here but because if they want any kind of a future they need a better job that you cannot find here.
We see no end in sight. Social security is already failing those who need it now. We don’t anticipate that there will be any left for us and we’re lucky of our budget balances. We can’t afford a retirement plan of our own. That’s not an excuse it’s a reality. We know we’re going to work until we die.
Millennials are making choices our grandparents and great grandparents had to make during the depression, stay and be dirt poor or go and possibly not be.
Pinterest is full of upcycle ideas because everything we do is on a shoestring not because it’s trendy. It’s popular because it’s necessary for the appearance of not being impoverished.
Gone are the days when you could get a degree and then find a job that will train you. Everyone wants experience up front. Or if they will train you it’s because they’ve conveniently layed off people who were making a fair wage for the work in order to hire desperate kids straight of college who don’t know what the job used to and should pay.
Wages aren’t going up. They’re going down because after the economic downturn companies weren’t going to eat the loss of profits. They passed it straight on to the consumer and the workers to keep their margins the same.
Don’t tell me it isn’t so. I’ve lived it! As the great poet Eugene Hutz sings, “It’s more than true. It actually happened.”
Many of us are working jobs in retail jobs at minimum wage or just above with a four year degree behind us. This isn’t a livable wage before you count in student debt.
For most of the people I consider to be in my wage class a vacation is a long weekend getaway to the white mountains or some other destination we can drive to. Did I mention you will have saved for this for months ahead of time?
No one should be blaming this generation for the mess we are in. We didn’t orchestrate the housing collapse, We’re too young to have benefited from the .com boom. We’re joining the armed forces and dying in staggering numbers because of lack of viable job options. We are literally stuck in the after effects of everyone who benefited before us.
I put forward the idea and I firmly believe that the numbers support it, that not since the great depression has there been such a need for a re-evaluation of the unlivable wages in this country.
This is why we wanted Bernie Sanders as a president because he was the only candidate that understood what we’re up against. The only one who demonstrated that he cared whether we have any kind of quality of life, ie being able to eat healthy foods and clothe our children without living in constant fear and worry over our financial state.
And you know what? There are plenty of members of previous generations that are right there with us because they fell through the cracks as well. The truth is none of us at the bottom have financial futures.