Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


The question I didn’t get to ask

This morning I attended an event at UCLA called “Millennials in the Next Economy,” put together by The Atlantic Monthly and sponsored by Allstate.  The topic: “the economic prospects of the Millennial Generation (people born between 1981 and 2002) – how they are making their way through this job market, how they are coping with economic uncertainty, and what they can expect in the years to come.” (This link will take you to more information, including the results of a nationwide survey of Millennials.) After about fifteen minutes of the presentation, I texted my 19-year-old to say, “You’re screwed.”

A few key takeaways:

  • 24% of recent college graduates have been unable to find a job. For the last two graduating classes, their entry into the job market was “a rout.”
  • About a quarter of people aged 26-29 are living with their parents.
  • Nationwide unemployment of Millennials is about 16%. In some areas, it’s 28%.

The second speaker was a guy who did market research and polling for Bush/Cheney 2004. Shortly after his remarks — and after I didn’t applaud — I put my hand up. I never got called on, so in frustration I posed my question to the other people at my table:  “Do you think Millennials are really pissed at the cost of a trillion-dollar misadventure in Iraq, when that money could have been invested into our economy?”

Here were the responses at my table:

From a middle-aged Latino man to my right: “You are sitting next to the right guy.”

From two other people: smiles and nods.

From the young woman across from me:  “This Millennial is.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the subprime mortgage meltdown (some of it in our collective mirror). But blame for the Iraq war, as well as recognition of the enormous ongoing cost of it, needs to be delivered to a certain address in Texas.

4 Responses to “The question I didn’t get to ask”

  1. Dan Says:

    As a baby-boomer who came out of high school in ’68 and college in ’72, there was another Asian misadventure that shaped our economic backdrop. But in those days of the Draft it made career planning seem moot.

  2. Paul Crist Says:

    I’ve heard several commentators say that Bush/Cheney have driven the Millennials away from the Republican party.

  3. Jim Markley Says:

    I’m not sure what our foray into Iraq has profited us. But a) the war has profited the economy; ie, defense contractors & related industries and b) where and how would you like the billions that the war has cost put into the economy?

  4. Lee Wochner Says:

    Jim: The investment in the war would’ve been better spent on behalf of research and development, and associated infrastructure, i.e.: the space program; high tech; green solutions; higher education (student loans, fellowships, scholarships, and grants), and nationwide broadband and high-speed internet. All of these would have been an investment in the future and, ironically, much of it would have employed the very same people. But far more profitably for now and for the days to come.

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