Almost all adults want to know more about Millennials and why they are like they are and why they turned out the way they did.
Millennials are those born roughly between 1980 and 1995 and possibly extending to 2000.
They face new obstacles the preceding generations did not. Most of these are man made obstacles, and could have been prevented, and could still be corrected for future generations:
Millennials were raised to believe that they were special and more special than everyone else. You've heard that in team sports, everyone got a trophy, not for excelling at the sport, but just for showing up. The real world is a bit more competitive than that.
For some reason, Millennials were raised to be narcissist-like. They were constantly told how special they were and that they could become anything they dreamed of. But no one told them how hard they would have to work to become great.
In her book "Generation Me" generational researcher and professor at San Diego State University, Jean Twenge PhD shows that "Self Esteem" became more important than actual achievements. Thinking you were great, but without having to prove it.
According to Twenge, it became common practice in our school systems to focus on building the self esteem of the students. She quotes surveys to prove this.
So when it comes time for these Millenials students to get into college they find they might not be good enough.
My explanation for this self esteem craze is that the "positive thinking" movement of the Boomers was taken to an extreme with the Millennials, but without considering the long term consequences.
Just telling a person they can become anything they want, without showing them how much work and effort it will take is not so smart. Its one thing for kids to believe they can become the next Michael Jordan (great basketball player) or the next Steve Jobs, or the next the next Bill Gates, but you have to show them what it will take and then encourage them to put in the effort and the practice.
Twenge points out that media helped reinforce this "You Too Can Be Anything." Witness reality TV stars who have little or no talent except for looking good and talking too much. I'm thinking Kardashians, or the mother who had 16 children.
When these super high self esteem young people get out into the real world, they might find their bosses are not handing out awards just for showing up. Bosses want results. Providing constant praise at the level Millennials need is a full time job.
The Millenials graduate and many of the good jobs are gone.
When I was growing up in Ohio in the 60's and 70's, those with only a high school education could get a job at the Ford factory. Their father probably worked there his whole life. But those jobs are gone.
Two things happened. First, the unions got greedy. Low skill jobs were paying $20 to over $40 per hour. That was unsustainable. So the factory owners sent these jobs to countries like Mexico and China, where the same job would pay $1 per hour. Who is to blame?
I've also seen the US Government allow foreign companies to come into the US and buy companies, and then transfer all that work back to their own country. and the foreign governments often subsidize these efforts to boost employment in their own country.
This can only be stopped by the US government. Otherwise greed will let the jobs be stolen from us and sent offshore.
NAFTA, which I am not a big fan of, allowed thousands of good paying, low skilled jobs to be stolen by Canada and Mexico.
I worked for a German company for a short while. The result of them buying an American company of almost 70 years. When I spent time in Germany I noticed a few things:
when I asked the Germans why they did some of these things better than say Americans, they said some of it was the result of the two wars and all the terrible things they did to people under the Hitler regime. They seem to have more of a social conscious than Americans which are still caught up in greed and consumerism.
Other countries are doing a much better job of managing things like jobs, education, prisons, public transportation, the environment etc. We could learn from them.
You never heard much of student loans back in the 60's and 70's.
But in the 90's and onward it has become the new normal. Not sure why? Higher tuition cost. Parents who can't earn and save enough to help. High cost of housing and health care sucking off the last few dollars parents might have.
In places that are managed more smartly than most of America is, with more social conscious, and with a longer term perspective, most education is free, provided by the government, paid for by taxes. The idea is that an educated population will be more productive, will create new products and new services thus increasing the number of jobs, thus generating more tax revenue, thus paying for itself.
But in America, this has been falling apart. In the 50's and 60's we had the GI Bill which paid for the education after you served in the military. This put a lot of people through college, and helped create our once great middle class. "Two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot."
But now something is wrong. I don't know what the root causes are. I'm not an expert. I can see a few of the causes, but I can't see the big picture yet. Perhaps its all the money we spend on war, guns and weapons? I don't know. Perhaps it's because of greed, where school administrators make over $200,000 per year. Maybe it's all the money going to pay for government pensions. Who Knows? All I know is that countries such as Germany have figured it out and America should learn from those that know.
When I was growing up in suburban Ohio, in the 1960's, it typically took one working parent to afford a nice house. A neighbor was a security guard. They had a very nice house. Another was a high school teacher. Again a nice house. A few families had two working parents. In some cases it was because they did not have the skills, or because they wanted extra money for nicer cars, swimming pools, vacations etc. But you could get by with one wage earner in the 1960's. You could also put at least one child through college.
Now I live in California, near Silicon Valley. Most of the neighbors are Boomers. Many own more than one home. Our kids are not able to afford homes in California. Unless they accept a 2 hour commute. One neighbor's son, who has a high paying high tech job in San Francisco, had to move out of his apartment and move further away because of the cost of rents in that city. A divorced friend on mine wanted to buy a home. He had to move 3 hours inland where you can still buy a tract home for $250,000.
Another friend of mine has his two sons living with him. They both graduated from college. They can't find jobs that pay well enough to buy a home.
Around Silicon Valley, homes are being bought by foreign investors paying cash. They buy a nice residential house and it stays vacant while the weeds over grow the place. This prevents people who work nearby from being able to live with less than a 1 hour drive.
One solution is for the government to prevent foreign ownership of homes. Other countries do this to protect their citizens.
This article is a work in progress. More to come...