Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Millennials Need to Wakeup to the Big Picture

By Rob Tenery, MD on December 20, 2017

For most of us who are labeled as part of the baby boomer generation, our parents grew up during the Great Depression. Then they faced the hardships of World War II that united this nation behind a common cause. Commentator, Tom Brokaw, labeled our parents as members of the ‘greatest generation’. A whole generation that appreciated the value of being an American they learned through the sacrifices this country made.  

The baby boomer generation flourished in the freedoms and opportunities our parents sacrificed to give us. Although there were the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the nation was not as embroiled in them as the two previous catastrophic events. Then on January 27, 1973, the draft ended. No longer was giving back to this country mandatory.

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  Baby boomers 1946-1964     Generation X 1965-1982

                       Millennial generation (Y) born after 1980

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Although those who were born between 1965-1982, labeled the X generation, carry over many of the priorities of the previous two generations, it is the millennials, born after 1980 that clearly demonstrate a change in their priorities.    

What appears to separate the millennials from their parents and grandparents is their growing acceptance of the liberal approach to politics and economics. Their common thinking is being entitled to success.  In some ways, it’s not their fault. The entitlement attitude didn’t just happen. It started with parents who couldn’t say no. With teachers who passed their students on to the next level just because they didn’t want to hurt their pupils’ self-esteem. Then it continued when they took six years to finish college, ran up debts on their credit cards that they never hoped to pay off, but still bought the big-screen television on time just because they wanted one. As adults, many purchase houses they can’t afford, while putting off funding their 401k plans.

Mostly their concerns are about them and their immediate needs. They seem to have forgotten the sacrifices their grandparents made.

Buying on credit is a perfect example of not planning for that ‘rainy day’. If the millennials want something, they often seek out a credit card or lending agency that will grant them their wishes. Then there is layaway. In either case, the commitment is made but the payback is put off into the future. Remembering the poverty of the Great Depression, their grandparents would have done without until they could afford it.

Another example is savings. In a May 2 article in Forbes, “at the rate millennials are currently saving, some won’t be able to retire until well into their 70s.” Dave Alison, CFP and founding partner of Prosperity Capital Advisors in Ohio, reports “millennials are burdened with too many monthly payments to be able to put aside money for retirement. Most are strapped with debt from student loans to credit cards and they are having a hard enough time covering their monthly repayment obligations and living expenses.”

On religion, the Pew Research Center reports, “Millennials are significantly more unaffiliated (with a church) than baby boomers were as young adults. Fewer young people say that religion is very important in their lives.”

According to AVVO Stories, only 26 percent of millennials are married while 48 percent of baby boomers are, but the baby boomers do have a higher divorce rate. A new study by Linkedin reported that millennials often jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college. That's nearly double the bouncing around than the baby boomer generation.

What these findings appear to demonstrate is less of a willingness to make long-term commitments by the millennial generation compared to the baby boomers. It also demonstrates a short-sided approach to addressing the bigger picture: The state of the state, their country and the world around them as to how these entities will affect their future.

The millennials express a great deal of concern about preserving the environment, but are less worried with coming up with the extra costs necessary to convert to cleaner energy. They often raise more concerns about limiting immigration, but less about the added funding obligations the new immigrants generate. This misplaced interest “is dangerous for making informed decisions to deal with our nation’s upcoming crises,” said The Daily Caller’s Natalie De Vincenzi.  

Millennials make up 31 percent of the voting population, which is about the same as the baby boomers. With Social Security predicted to be ‘tapped out’ of funds in 18 years, future entitlement program commitments virtually impossible to meet and a national debt larger than the economies of China, Japan, and Germany, combined, this generation seems to lack an appreciation of the importance their involvement must play in country’s future obligations.

A wakeup call seems in order before they take over the reins. 





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