September 4, 2012
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Terrifying New Normal.
I’ve witnessed two of the most radical developments in my lifetime the last four years — changes far greater than those brought on by the massive new increases in the national debt, the soaring gas costs, the radical decrease in average family income, the insolvent Medicare and Social Security trajectories, or the flat housing market.
One is the fact of less than 1% interest rates on most savings (well below the rate of inflation), and the other is an epidemic of 20-something unemployment. All that is the new normal. . . .
These new realities fall heavily on the young male. Traditionally, he was in charge of taking charge — working two jobs to acquire enough to seed a marriage and family or buy a house, striving to be the protector of the household, and accruing experience in his late twenties that would translate into needed promotions in his thirties that would later on pay for braces, kids’ camp, and college tuitions.
No more. We have become emasculated Italians . . . The new model for the next generation is to cobble part-time work together, intern, occasionally draw on unemployment, send out resumes hourly, and hope for something to turn up (preferably in government, state or federal). We all witness the reality behind these statistics firsthand. When we travel we see more and more older people at work, often well into their 70s. I know 50 or so young offspring of friends, relatives, and associates who are desperately trying to find work.
Some other symptoms: There is a new backlash at colleges, which habitually lie to students about the value of their degrees and care more that their offices of diversity are staffed well and their vice provosts for external relations are hitting all the necessary conferences — at least far more than they worry that their tuition increases have yearly soared well beyond the rates of inflation. The federal government, of course, has masked such excess with subsidized loan-sharking. I asked some young people recently what their various (and all had confusing loan “packages”) “subsidized” student loan interest rates were. Most said between 6 and 9% (as their parents get .25% of their own savings).
I don’t know where this all leads. The aging baby boomers are not going to have the retirements that they envisioned, and their children are not going to have the good jobs their baby-boomer parents enjoyed. The more I talk to those my age (58), the more I hear that they are madly trying to save money, buy an extra house, get a good used car — all for their children who may not otherwise ever have a savings account, a home, or reliable transportation.
Read the whole thing. How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
UPDATE: Related: McJobs: Low-wage positions dominate new job market.