Young people these days

by John Quiggin on May 5, 2013

Apparently, a new survey shows that Millennials (more precisely, US high school students interviewed between 2005 and 2007, and therefore born in the early 1990s) are lazy and entitled. More precisely, as textbook worker-consumers are supposed to, they would like nice stuff, but not if they have to work long hours to get it. I’m too bored to link to it, but you can easily find it.

The best that can be said for this kind of thing is that it relieves the monotony of boomer-bashing. Apart from that it is a repeat of the formulaic denunciation of adolescents that has been applied (in my memory) to Gen Y (insofar as this group differs from the Millennials) Gen X (Slackers), Boomers (hippies) and the Silent Generation (the original teenagers). Then there were the Lost Generation and so on back to the (apocryphal, I think) rant often attributed to Socrates. Only those who have the good fortune (?) to come of age in a time of full-scale war miss out on this ritual denunciation.

On a brighter note, Jocelyn Auer restates the reasons why treating generations as coherent groups is silly. As she says, the situation of the wealthies 20 per cent of boomers is much different from that of the bottom 20 per cent, looking forward to retirement with little or no super, and worse if they don’t own their home. A neat point, true of almost any attack on people based on their age, is that the attackers can’t lose. Boomers who retire early are a burden, while those who work past 65 are keeping younger people out of a job. Similarly, young people are coddled if they are full-time students, dropouts if they start work early and neglecting their studies if they combine schoo//uni with a part time job.