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Works and Days

Eating Our Young

January 26th, 2014 - 4:36 pm

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It is popular now to talk of race, class, and gender oppression. But left out of this focus on supposed victim groups is the one truly targeted cohort — the young. Despite the Obama-era hype, we are not suffering new outbreaks of racism. Wendy Davis is not the poster girl for a resurgent misogyny. There is no epidemic of homophobia. Instead, if this administration’s policies are any guide, we are witnessing a pandemic of ephebiphobia — an utter disregard for young people.

The war against those under 30 — and the unborn — is multifaceted. No one believes that the present payroll deductions leveled on working youth will result in the same levels of support upon their retirements that is now extended to the retiring baby-boom generation. Instead, the probable solutions of raising the retirement age, cutting back the rate of payouts, hiking taxes on benefits, and raising payroll rates are discussed in an environment of après moi le déluge — to come into effect after the boomers are well pensioned off.

The baby-boomer/me generation demands what its “greatest generation” parents got — or, in fact, far more, given its increased rates of longevity. The solution of more taxes and less benefits will fall on young people and the unborn, apparently on the premise that those under 18 do not vote, and those between 18 and 30 either vote less frequently than their grandparents or less knowledgeably about their own self-interest.

The Social Security pyramidal scheme is merely the tip of the ephebiphobic iceberg. Currently student indebtedness exceeds $1 trillion. Many of these loans begin compounding before graduation and are pegged at interest rates far higher than parental mortgages. The cause of this tuition bubble is also not controversial. The prices colleges charge for annual tuition, room and board have for over two decades far exceeded the annual rate of inflation.

There were four causes of such price gouging of students. None of them had anything to do with offering better education for a more competitive price for job-hungry graduates. The first was automatic escalations in the amount of money students could borrow that would be backed by federal guarantees. If campuses hiked their wares at prices consistently twice the rate of inflation, they could assume that students — while in college — could qualify to borrow the needed sums. What happened afterwards was not all that much a concern of the campus, at least as long as it did not affect subsequent admissions.

Second, the size and compensation of the administrative class exploded. Again, the reason why was not difficult to understand. Awash in federally backed loan dollars, hoping to lure students with high-tech and social amenities, and to indoctrinate them with race, class, and gender ideology, campuses created new positions from diversity associate provosts to technology gurus — all to oversee everything from rock-climbing walls to on-campus lectures and paid workshops from fashionable cultural icons.

Third, there was a radical bifurcation among faculty, a sort of divide-and-conquer strategy that rewarded fossilized tenured professors with reduced teaching loads and support for research, while cutting back on new replacement tenure-track billets and upping the percentage of units taught by pastime adjunct teachers. The new younger Morlocks did the grunge 1A work for their more rarefied and contemplative elder Eloi, and the students who paid for it sat through their lectures on fairness and equality.

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Top Rated Comments   
Joseph, I was in the Army and serving overseas when word arrived that the first death of an American serviceman caused by the North Vietnamese was transmitted to us. From that point on things began to escalate in 'Nam. Believe me, I followed those events closely. Later I was released from my 4 year active military obligation when the war had fully commenced. Richard Nixon was fully five years away from assuming the presidency at that point. The entire enterprise was up until that point a product of JFK and LBJ, both Democrats. I am sorry to break that news to you as well as the revelation that Nixon ended the sad tragedy.

Try to come up with something better. Tell us that Ronald Reagan was the worst president ever ..... or some similar piece of uninformed crap.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The assault on the "lucky to have not been aborted", comes in stages.

1) In nursery school they learn that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is racist.

2) in second grade they learn that kissing a girl is sexual assault

3) in fourth grade they learn that a picture of a gun is an act of violence

4) in sixth grade they learn that a poem about Jesus and the meaning of Christmas violates other students' rights

5) in 8th grade they learn that America is to blame for all the hatred in the world

6) in high school they learn that bullying is wrong and tolerance is righteous, with the exception of those conservatives and Judeo-Christian oppressors of " not color"...against whom bullying and intolerance is funny

7) by college they learn that capitalism, free market Constitutional democracy is inferior to statist collectivism and that fear of totalitarian communism is mindless paranoia.

8) as loaned out to the max borrowers they then learn that Cloward-Piven can be developed to overwhelm the system so that it can collapse it and replace it.

9) they learn that they can be either the half that struggles to keep it from collapsing by working more and paying more or by gaming the system and simply being a taker.

10) they learn finally, that the game is rigged, the news is propaganda, the borders are an intentional sieve, and the government has both hands in their pockets. And principled dissent will get you investigated by the IRS, possibly jailed and handcuffed.

And it leaves us to wonder. Who are the real revolutionaries? And who are the lambs being lead to slaughter?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
With all those student loans that paid for Womens and Black Studies that will never fetch a job in the real world comparable to the cost of getting that degree you gotta wonder how many of those loans will be in default in the next few years. These are all but useless degrees - how many large corporations need diversity training 'experts' from womens' and black studies? Many young men are finding their way to technical colleges for educations that find real jobs in the real world. Can women and blacks be far behind? It'll leave those big colleges in a real lurch if that happens - and I think it will.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (125)
All Comments   (125)
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THE BIG KNOCK-OUT GAME is coming!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am closing in on 70. My parents joined Social Security in 1937 when it first became available to enroll. Both of my parents paid in far less than what they took out in benefits mainly because the worker to collector ratio was much higher then. I would love to have opted out of the system when I was working especially during my peak earning years but fat chance. The truth is, if Social Security had been treated as a genuine Trust Fund that could not be raided by politicians for spending
on other programs, there would have been ample monies to pay retirees. Instead the stupid term "lock box" was created by politicos who knew fully well that there was nothing but a pile of IOUs in place of the raided cash. Now we have a worker to collector ratio of about 3-1 instead of the 12-1 of 30 years ago and the long ago used funds spent
by both political parties is haunting us today.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow you are a Pollyanna complainer !!
Jonathan Swift already wrote "A Modest Proposal."
which is the republican way.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The commentary is accurate but could do with some distance. The writer is too close to the action, in Cali. We can do right for our kids, but with smarts, opting out of the system.
1. Plan on giving them your stuff sooner. This way the government cannot take it to pay for your last few years of life. Just do it! From parents to kids at like 70.
2. Parents need to stop competing with each other to send their kids to "the best" school. Starve the colleges!
Both my kids went to comm coll. One is now in NYU on a corporate scholarship, for tech and the other went to one of the colleges that gives free masters in education. Now a working teacher with NO student loan.
3. Quit complaining, and lead by example. All the kids related to my family are thriving, not because mom and dad are rich or connected, but because they went around the system. There is always a way.
4. Lead by example, not complaint. If the kids see you boycotting the broken system, and thriving, they'll learn from that. If they see you complaining and suffering, they'll just get bitter too.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
America used to be a country that stood up for those who couldn't stand on their own. Now, we kick them.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The young vote for Obama. The Jews vote for Obama. The Catholics vote for Obama. Go figure. There is much to be said for getting what you deserve.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Swift-Serling economy - "A Modest Proposal" meets "To Serve Man."
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I opened this page, planning to skim or read your article and then link to it from my Facebook page. The huge "movie poster" image dominates the page when it's loaded. The graphic preaches to the choir, it's "red meat" for those who already agree, but I don't imagine it's much good for outreach to young people who are unpersuaded as yet. In any case, the image focuses blame on three men who are going to be out of office in three years, no sooner, no later. Are you really satisfied to suggest visually that your aim is to persuade viewers that things will be all right when the three amigos are out of office? I know you don't think the rest of the Democrats are all right. I don't think you're satisfied with the clapped-out leaders of the Republican Party, either. But the image, its size, and its placement make you look like a mere partisan hack, which I know that you are not. Could you at least wrap your article around the image so the unacquainted viewer will see that you have something to say? "I'm surprised I have to explain these things," as I think Joe Bob Briggs would say.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am surprised that you are trying to find a way to trash the article without really discussing it.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
DouglasW obviously didn't read it Aleena. Lefties like him are generally not too bright. He obviously can't grasp Prof. Hanson's underlying theme here, which is that the problem is multi-layered, endemic and potentially fatal. Folks like DW are the fodder of history, the one's that sing songs of victory as they march blindly to their own doom.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment

Perceptive as always, Dr. Hanson, but I'd like to add a contrarian thought.

I am a vanguard boomer, born in that wonderful vintage year 1946. And I have noticed recently -- say the last five years or so -- that I get no interest on my savings. And I have noticed that my children pay precious little interest on their mortgages. Having a cheap mortgage is no small thing.

Now I am happy for them. My first mortgage was 8 7/8ths %. But I would trade away my Social Security pittance in a heartbeat for, say, 6% CDs again.

Fact is, ZIRP is another way of spelling theft. No interest effectively confiscates the principal over time. Some believe that ZIRP will end one day, but I'm not in that camp. The government would be overwhelmed if it had to pay market interest on its debt, and it would hasten the day of currency collapse. So they won't until they have to, and that will be some time from now.

Where I sit, a bunch of that intergenerational wealth transfer that is supposed to be raining down on me, isn't.

So not everything is negative for today's youth.


33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, ZIRP is theft, buy how long can it last? The Fed, through waffling to credulous journalists and open market operations, can affect short-term rates only until it doesn't -- not a tautology, since everyone gets to vote, and sooner or later the fed is pushing on the proverbial string. Some say we're there now. I believe QE operates only at the long end of the curve (not sure exactly where the cut-off is -- 5yrs?), but it won't last forever because it can't: the more fed/treasury gnomes add those electronic zeros, the more the currency degrades, so sooner or later bond buyers will demand to be paid to take on the risk. The problem, it is said, is that the scale of the operations and the unknown 'black swans' gathering in the global gloom mean that nobody can predict anything. Well, that's true of most things. You can make a pretty good guess though.

It won't end well, and it will end fairly soon. Next week or in three years? That's truly unknown without benefit of hindsight. But many are in denial and, in the case of clueless journalists and politicians (nearly all), afraid of career-ending punditry. As usual, the current mess affects everyone, all ages, places and backgrounds. Voters still find it easier to blame all the usual suspects. Somewhere -- you can be sure -- ignorance, stupidity and laziness will take their toll yet again.

Maybe best to go to cash, and sit and wait for a decent entry point, whenever and wherever that may be. That 6pc you want will be back and won't necessarily lead to runaway inflation. Sometimes doing nothing is best -- wish it felt better though. Damage control ain't fun.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Optimist. :)

I suspect it is worse than denial, it is the opposite of hallucination;
The mass of mankind simply cannot see catastrophe approaching.

Having money will not help; Having a job providing a necessary
product or service may help. The most secure jobs will be in the
system which replaces our current overloaded, worn-out, fragile
infrastructure, which will collapse, permanently, at the first major
shock to its system.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure. Better be a plumber or a carpenter than a joker or a king -- we've been down that road before. In the end it comes down to timing, at least for everyone still capable of paying attention.

Having money won't help at fan-hitting time (wheelbarrows full of cash to buy a loaf of bread, and all that). Problem is when to act: got a feeling all those 'preppers' may be too much too soon, in the wrong direction, though of course you can't know for sure.
That's why sitting on cash is a possibility: it gives you time to wait and see. Maybe.

Young and old alike are in a similar boat. The public sector is insulated to a degree, nobody else -- and they've got a bad case of 'fool's gold'.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The biggest problem facing the young is their youth - they lack the historical context to realize that what they see today has not always been, and like all generations of young folks before them, they are not terribly likely to turn to older people for guidance. Obama lied to them, and he keeps on lying to them. At some point, I lose sympathy.

The downside of entitlements is that for 30-50 years, people have had money taken from their paychecks by force for those programs. If you think "force" is hyperbolic, just try not paying FICA or Medicare taxes. Their money was taken in return for the promise of future benefits. There was no opt-out choice, there was just one-size-fits-all, so I can understand those people wanting at least some of their money back. The system has worked just as its creators envisioned it working.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment

And, though the bucks weren't big by today's standards. they amounted to more than a pittance over forty years of working life.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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