Saturday, February 16, 2019

Weekend ramblings - Milennials and Boomers

I've been meaning to talk about this "Millennial Millions" skit from SNL last month.

Lots to unpack here- starting with one of the 20-sonething contestants, who is a contractor without health insurance.

Host: "What's the name of the start-up?"

Milennial: "Google."

And then someone comes out singing a song that sets the tone for the milennials' adversaries

"Well…their parents came home from World War II
And they had a lotta sex
And they had a lotta kids
And the kids grew up
In a prosperous time
Where America was the only superpower left.

Then...they played all the music
And they did all the drugs
And they had all the sex
And they all went to college
And they got all the jobs
And they made all the money
And bought all the houses


The goal of the game is for the Milennials not to yell at well-off Boomers who,complain about their situations.

Parrothead Boomer: "She worked as a banker for 30 stable years, and then she got a $8 million severance and moved to Key West."

Boomer: "I had to work. $8 million dollars is not what it used to be so of course I'm taking the Social Security."

Milennial: "You're taking the Social Security? Bitch you are rich!" (Milennial loses)

Milennial: "It feels so funfair"
Host: "Well, maybe you can tweet about it, that'll solve everything. (laughs) I'm just playing. I'm Gen X, I just sit on the sideline and watch the world burn."

Host" "This prize could pay off your college loans up to $100,000."

Milennial with Master's who works at Burger King: "Oh awesome, that'll cover like half."

Collector Boomer: "He spends his latter years acquiring everything he wanted as a youth. He owns 6 vintage cars and a wall of guitars. But somehow, he's only an orthodontist."

Boomer: "I'd love to retire and free up a job for a younger person, but we got the house in Jersey, the house out on the Cape which is a tax nightmare, and the Scottsdale place. It's too much! What am I supposed to do?"


Now, it's time for the final round.

Host: "Carrie, it's your lucky day. That means you get to play for the Boomer Birthright Bonanza...That's a full-time job, a starter home, no student debt, and we'll throw in the Social Security. In other words, you get everything the Boomers got, just for being born at the right time."

Except that Carrie has to withstand a lecture about student debt from her Dad. Which basically will fall along the lines of this "Old Economy Steven" meme.

If it wasn't an evil thing to do, and would lead to righties trying to wreck the program, I'd support lowering Social Security benefits through 2030. Not only would it save a ton of money and make Social Security solvent for the next 40 years afterwards, but it would also mean the "Me Generation" can finally start to pay the rest of the country back for the things they have taken. But I'm a big-picture guy and I wont do that.

Of course, making rich people pay the same percentage into Social Security as the rest of us would also solve this issue, and a 70% income tax and/or wealth tax on the ultra rich might stop the problem of the Collector Boomer who can't retire due to having too many homes and stocks to worry about.

CEO Howard Schultz is the manifestation of this Boomer "I took mine and I'm keeping it no matter what happens to you" mentality.

As someone in his mid-40s that never made enough money to benefit from the '90s bubbles and resulting income increases, I'm just shaking my head at the whole thing. We're off to the side as part of the Middle Children of history. At least we'll hold down the benefit costs in our golden years, since there aren't as many of us.

But you wonder why younger people don't have a lot of trust in capitalism and especially corporate America? When your parents have sold you a lie about how the working world REALLY acts, why should you buy into the rest of the "pay your dues and build wealth" social contract?

It also doesn't help that Boomers have voted really poorly for most of our lives, which left the country and many of the states in the mess we are in today. You can see why so many of us want to see them get off the stage that they've been allowed to command for so long.


  1. Wanted to add another note to this. A friend of mine is on the management side of contract negotiations with a group of workers that serve people for 24 hours. There's a shortage of newer, younger workers entering the field, and management wants to give incentives to encourage more of them to work there. But it requires the older (Boomer) workers to take some limits on pay raises and other benefits.

    The old workers don't want to give up a thing, even if it helps the business run and lessens the chances of their workplace being short-staffed. They want to get theirs, the heck with the other brothers and sisters.

    That's a bad way to approach things, whether it's as a group of workers, or as government policy in general.

  2. Maybe the boomers know what the profits for the company are and feel that profits should be less rather than their take home pay. Just a thought.

    1. Possible, and maybe everyone should be able to do better given the company's finances (I don't have the numbers at the ready). But the priorities of the older reps seem telling.

  3. Me again. Your friend is on the management side, not the union's so I can see where they would want to limit payroll. Is it fair to limit payroll because you want a certain profit? Especially given that production, in general is going up and wages have been pretty stagnant?

    I think boomers, older employees understand more than you are giving them credit for here. They likely get that management is is going to get bonuses based on profits. Maybe management should be the ones to sacrifice as there are fewer of them and they get paid higher salaries.

    Also, in general, retirement is based on highest pay for a certain number of years. Those close to retirement have a lot to lose in future pension income if raises are less. And if pension income is fixed, they will need that money.

    1. You are correct that my friend is in management, but I'd also add that she's quite left-wing and pro-union in general (if that matters).

      I get the whole "highest income for pension reasons" thing (I'm a state employee, after all). And I definitely think workers should get paid over CEOs. I'm just relaying what she's noticing in what the older union leadership wants, which doesnt seem to encourage younger workers to stick with the gig.

      It's not even necessarily a bad thing that the difference of opinion exists, but it goes with the main theme of that skit. One generation doesn't seem to understand that personal finances and jobs are very different in the 2019 work world vs the one they entered and are established in.

  4. It seems to me the skit is not the same as your example. Your example, from your friend who represents management presents a false choice between everyone getting a little bit of a raise or some workers getting more. It pits those with seniority against the newer employees. There are other choices. The company could choose to charge more for product. They could decrease bonuses for owners..etc. The real solution for workers of all ages is not to let themselves be divided, and to fight for fair wages for everyone.

    The skit does show the difference between my life and my children's lives. As a parent, I see it. It is painful and we of course do what we can to help. We also see how the divisiveness hurts us all.

  5. An important side note on this topic is to admit that the US in general hasn't fared well since joining free trade from when China entered the world trade organization in 2001. I learned the hard way when I overpayed for a home in 2004 only to be forced to foreclose when housing prices collapsed likely as a result of bad trade deals.

    American companies can't compete well with chinese state owned companies that have no owners or shareholders and investors. The US doesn't do government owned companies, but China has had many unfair trade practices against US products and when Americans finally got fed up about the rigged trade system, their economy started to collapse. But China also has good reasons to be frustrated with the US over extreme wealth inequality because it has caused their customers to be unable to afford buying anything.

    Unions aren't designed to deal with global trade issues. Unions worked properly in a national economy that was regulated fairly but can't do much when the whole game is completely rigged and our country goes decades without dealing with the real issues no matter the party in charge. Does our country appear to be working correctly when violence is happening all over, more people are dying from drug overdoses vs car accidents and 3/4 of the population is considered the working poor? Take note of the life expectancy falling 3 years in a row in the US...why do these things appear to be exclusive to the US? Our workers put in more hours than every other country, and even Canada has been paying middle workers higher wages. Permanent jobs are giving way to non benefit contractors who get no health care, sick days, holidays or retirement.

    The US has become overly expensive for low paying jobs. Rent, housing, public debt, and utulity/services costs are getting too costly. I often wonder if the benefits of staying are worth it. Is the US really better than other countries? Are roads, healthcare, and drug costs better (if you aren't rich)? Are cell phones and Internet better or cheaper? Is the food quality better?According to writer Umair Haque, the answers to these questions are increasingly "no" from his unique view of living in both Europe and the US. His articles may not be fully perfect but he brings up many important points. People in the US constantly complain about what he writes but is it true??

    So what are us younger generations expected to think about staying. The US is a great deal for the top 25% out there but it definitely doesn't seem like a good place to live if you are the working poor. Another writer moved to Norway to compare life there with the US. They noted the laid back lifestyle where people were more content and enjoyed life without all the uncertainty and were better covered for health emergencies and got paid fairly no matter their job level as workers there are protected. Umair wrote about a first hand experience where someone had collapsed in the street in Europe and a medical team quickly savesld his life in the street pointing out he likely would have died in the US from standard response times partly due to undersized or crumbling roads and poorer remote care. My point with this is that a country needs to be able to prove that it is the best, not simply claim to be without proof if younger generations are expected to stay and pay into a system that doesn't appear to be working all that well. Also take note of the 'quality of life' index for the US falling to the level of 3rd world countries. Ask yourself how many people you know who have moved to the US from European countries since 1990 or 2000 who want to stay. I don't know of any. Do any of you? Could it be they don't want to give up all the extras they get that we don't?? My sincere apologies in how negative this sounds but the main point is, we need to start fixing these issues quickly or we will fall behind permanently without any chance to recover.