Being Fair to Millennials

I give Millennials a hard time, no doubt. A certain segment of that generation absolutely wastes too much time and too many opportunities playing video games, trolling social media and surfing the internet for useless ephemera. Money burns a hole in their debit cards and they are often the antithesis of “savers.” In the end, however, as a recent reader very bluntly pointed out to me, us old folks have set them up to fail. Yes, needing a ‘safe place’, having extreme ‘micro aggression’ angst and playing Pókemon Go have put a royal bullseye on their arses, but that is simply a matter of immaturity. Like we all did, Millennials will eventually grow up.

The real issue is how previous generations have screwed Millennials out of their inheritance. From education and housing costs to the crippling national debt, their future is really grim. Whether you want to blame capitalist greed, or the big spending and insane policies of progressive, libtard politicians, our current Ponzi economic scheme has screwed our children. A former Millennial coworker of mine, who made the classic Millennial mistake of getting a college degree in “Useless Studies” found herself working for my company for barely above minimum wage. Setting aside her poor judgement at age 18 (mine was no better), she was quite eloquent about her generation’s hopes for the future, and they were quite without hope at all.

In our lives, the average person in industrial, first-world countries, will make four major purchases.
1. Education:
I attended Oregon State University from 1984 to 1990. The sum total of my six years, including summer lodgings was $36,000, or $78,000 in 2018 dollars. I graduated with $2,000 in loans. I paid that off real quick.
The 2018 cost for six years at OSU is about $180,000, or $82,000 in 1987 dollars. Had I paid today’s prices (time and inflation adjusted, of course), I would have graduated with a stifling $46,000 in loans. $600/month!
2. Automobiles:
In order to be flexible enough to get a good job, get married, and have a family, you need reliable transportation. In 1990 a base Ford Explorer cost about $20,000, or $38,000 in 2018 dollars. Today, a base Ford Explorer will run you about $34,000. Whew! At least cars still cost about the same.
3. Housing:
We bought our first house, a little 1100 square-foot ranch, for $67,000 in 1991. For now set aside the fact that, had I been paying student debt to the tune of $600/month, we could not have afforded a $700/month house payment. Today, that same little ranch house, according to Zillow, sells for about $360,000, or $180,000 in 1991 dollars. $180,000 would have bought us a mansion in 1991! Today it buys a cracker box. Interest rates were high back then, 9.5%, so the payment on $180,000 would have been $1,400/month. Even at today’s rates, the payment would be $800/month in 1991 dollars. That is simply not affordable.
4. Retirement:
Even my generation, GenX, cannot rely on Social Security and Medicare to provide more than token support in retirement. Millennials are going to have to foot their entire bill. They already owe a $60,000 piece of a growing national debt, inherited from their parents, so their ability to save for retirement is ham-strung from the time they graduate high school. If a married couple cannot manage to save one million or more dollars, adjusted for inflation, by age 65, their retirements will be quite spartan.

Lets do a simple Millennial vs GenX life cost comparison adjusted to 2018 dollars.
-Six years at Oregon State University, with student loans at 8% over 10 years.
-First car a base Ford Explorer with GenX loan 8% and Millennial loan 4% over 5 years.
-First house 1100 square foot ranch, Beaverton, Oregon, with GenX initial mortgage 9% and Millennial initial mortgage 4.5% over 30 years.
-Everything 100% financed.

Expense…………………….Millennial(2014-2021)….GenX (1984-1991)
OSU 6 years………………………….$180,000…………………..$78,000
Ford Explorer………………………….$35,000…………………..$35,000
Starter House……………………….$360,000………………..$122,000
Student loan/month…………………$2,184/month……………$946/month
Automobile/month………………………$645/month……………$710/month
Mortgage/month………………………$1,824/month……………$982/month
Total debt/month……………………..$4,653/month……….$2,638/month
Annual debt payment…………….$55,836………………….$31,656
Average College Grad Wage….$50,000………………….$48,800
Difference …………………………….(-$5,836)………………..$17,144

This means, for every year of our adult lives, age 24 to 64, GenXers get the equivalent of an extra $23,000 to spend or save. Unfortunately for you Millennials, the majority of us spent it. Today, 64 year-old married couples average about $170,000 saved for retirement. Take out the handful of super-savers who raised the curve, and the 64 year-old median retirement savings drops to $17,000. Most GenXers will be mostly broke when they retire. Sure, you can jiggle the numbers a bit to change the outcome a little, but the underlying issue remains. Millennials, young adults in their 20’s and early 30’s, will have to overcome unprecedented financial obstacles if they are to achieve the American dream. Their parents are broke and the Millennials are submerged in debt. It will be as great an American trial as the Great Depression was a century ago. While today we see Millennials as hypersensitive, wasteful slackers, I bet their grandchildren will see them as hard-nosed misers. Unfortunately, the Millennial road from slacker to miser will be a rough and lean path. The sooner Millennials stop whining and adopt a more ascetic lifestyle, the better.

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Baby Boomers and Generation X owe the Millennials an Apology

Not long ago I was talking to a Millennial friend of mine who was bemoaning his inability to get to work on time.

“I need to get you a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanack,” I laughed. All I got was a puzzled look from my friend.

“You, know, ‘Early to bed and early to rise…?” I asked, hopefully.

“Huh?” he replied.

“Ben Franklin?”

He shook his head.

“Electricity? Spectacles? The pot-bellied stove? Ben Franklin? The guy on the one hundred-dollar bill.”

“Oh yeah, he is the only non-president, right?”

“That’s the guy,” I said, “He wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack. It had lots of useful information and sayings, like ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,’ You should have learned about it in grade school.”

My friend shook his head. He did not know anything about the life and times of Ben Franklin.

There were several other Millennials in our group. Young adults educated in schools all around America. None of them had heard of Poor Richard’s Almanack, and Franklin was just the face on the $100. Why he was there, they knew not. I groaned and said something about the sad state of education in America.

When I was a kid, we learned fun facts about Ben Franklin the writer, inventor and scientist in class. When I was in high school we learned about his political life and how he was an integral part of American Revolution and the early survival of our nation. My teachers had survived the Great Depression, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. An elderly Auschwitz survivor came to my school and showed us her tattooed serial number. My teachers made sure, as poor a student as I was, that I knew my origins. Not so much, today.

Today, we live with an educational system where it is no longer politically correct to teach that our Founding Fathers were great men who wrote, and fought and died for, the Constitution of the United States of America, the greatest document of its kind ever to exist. Now that Common Core is the rule of the land, our children are no longer being taught to read and write cursive, so it is only a matter of time before Americans cannot even read the Constitution in its original form. Today’s teachers, made up primarily of Baby Boomers and GenXers, have absolutely failed to teach the Millennial generation what they need to know to survive, starting with the wisdom found in Poor Richard’s Almanack. For that, we owe them an apology.

“Sell not virtue to purchase wealth nor liberty to purchase power.”

“Meanness is the parent of insolence.”

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.”

“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.”

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

“Have something to do tomorrow? Do it today.”

“There are no gains without pains.”