My wife and I have been fortunate that we were able to get married when we chose to and buy a home when we chose to. Most millennials are not so lucky, and here’s why:
Millenials (those born after 1981) have far less income and wealth than Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 – 1964) and Generation X (those born between 1961 and 1981). The grandparents of Baby Boomers (the “Greatest Generation” & “Silent Generation” – those born between 1910 and 1945) did everything they could to help future generations forward. Baby Boomers however have given themselves enormous pensions funded by younger generations. Boomers are not passing this money on to the younger generations either – they are stretching their lives as long as possible with very expensive medical care and ten thousand dollar a month nursing homes. As a result, Millennials earn 20% less than Boomers did at the same stage of life.
California suffers from the old taking from the young especially. The median taxpayer earns $56,000 per year here, but retiring police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers earn 90% of their pay for life… and many of them retire well before age 60. The AVERAGE retirement pay is $108,000 for retired police officers in California. The average pay for a millennial in California who is actually working is only $35,592. The average Boomer retiree who does zero work earns THREE TIMES AS MUCH as a millennial who actually works.
Boomers have told Millennials that we HAVE to go to college to be successful and we have trusted their advice. However, the Boomers were able to go to college in 1982 and pay an average tuition of $1,031 for public school and $4,639 for a private college. Today, that cost has ballooned 3,700 percent to nearly $10,000 for public tuition and an average of $34,740 for private colleges. The result is that average student loan debt in 1989 was less than $2,000 whereas in 2015 the average graduate had $28,400 in student debt. What makes this far worse is that millennials with a college degree and student debt now earn about the same as a boomer with no college degree in 1989. Ouch!
The NIMBYism (people who don’t want new housing built near them because they don’t like construction noise or multi-family housing to reduce their home value) of Baby Boomers and Generation X has also prevented enough new housing from being built, which has driven up the prices of homes owned by older generations enormously. Home prices are currently rising at twice the rate of growth in pay. Once again, California suffers especially from this – it costs TWO AND A HALF TIMES as much to buy a home in California as compared to other states.
The end result of this is that Millennials cannot AFFORD to get married or buy homes. Millennials have 8% lower home ownership than Boomers of the same age, and it is not because they don’t want a home. They don’t have the money for it because they are drowning in student debt from the terrible advice of their parents. Further, Millennials can’t even afford love… the marriage rate has dropped from 52% for young adults in 1990 to 39% in 2015. This isn’t because millennials somehow don’t want love… it’s because getting married requires a certain level of financial security that we just don’t have.
What can be done about this problem? Boomers need to recognize that they can’t steal the future from the youth. Millennials need to fight back. The following changes need to happen:
- City and state pensions need to be completely redone. These were negotiated without a counterparty… Millennials weren’t born yet and had no say in the massive giveaways that Boomers and Generation X took for themselves.
- Housing regulations need massive reform. It needs to be much easier for developers to build housing the market demands. Single family homeowners should not be able to prevent the building of condo towers where they are needed.
- Licensing regulations that prevents Millennials from competing in the marketplace need to be dropped.
- Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all need to receive drastically less funding. This is over 50% of the total government budget and it is once again all money being taken by the Boomers and Gen X from the millennials.
- Boomers need to pay down the national debt much more or Millennials will be stuck paying for the frivolous spending of the long dead.
- Ultimately, the elderly need to accept the fact that they will die. If you are over 50, I highly recommend “How We Die” by Sherwin Nuland, this will change your perspective on what actually will happen in your old age. Boomers need to stop spending millions of dollars to extend their lives by a couple of years. When you are 78 years old and cure your cancer, you might get a couple of more years of life before you die of a heart attack, but it’s not like you will be able to use those years to make love, travel the world, create a new invention, or contribute to the economy… you will be sick and in pain and still dying slowly. The “Greatest Generation” didn’t selfishly spend millions to try to artificially prolong their lives, the Boomers and Gen X need to stop doing it too and pass the wealth to their children.
“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit in.”