Maybe We Should Start Diverting Social Security to Millennials

They need it more than retirees

Many of us are accustomed to thinking of seniors as the most vulnerable members of the society, the ones who need sympathy as well as reliable government assistance. Would it shock you if I told you we’ve got it backwards? According to a new piece in the Guardian full of choice stats and even choicer quotes, right now seniors are, on average, actually better off than Millennials.

In the US, under-30s are now poorer than retired people. …

For the first time in France, recent pensioners generated more disposable income than families headed by a person under 50. In Italy the average under-35 became poorer than average pensioners under 80. Using the most recent US data, in the midst of the downturn in 2013, average under-30s had less income than those aged 65–79. This is the first time that has happened as far back as the data goes. …

Did you get that back there in the cheap seats, which is incidentally the only place my generation can afford to sit? IN THE U.S., UNDER-30s ARE NOW POORER THAN RETIRED PEOPLE.

Retired people still get the good stuff, though. You know why? Because they vote, even in the “boring” midterm elections most of the rest of us sleep through. Samantha Bee reminded us of this recently on an episode of her new show “Full Frontal.”

Apparently in 2010 the youth turnout was only 12%. Other populations, however, more than made up for the kids’ lack of enthusiasm. As Bee puts it, “You know who didn’t sit 2010 out? People who were old and white and super cranky …” So their interests got, and continue to get, protected. I guess if we Millennials want anything from our government, we have to actually show up and vote in politicians who care about us?!?

Back to the Guardian piece, which is bleaker than the early part of a Dickens’ novel, reporting that “Prosperity has plummeted for young adults in the rich world” and referring to “the world of barren opportunities facing today’s young people” and declaring, “It is likely to be the first time in industrialised history, save for periods of war or natural disaster, that the incomes of young adults have fallen so far when compared with the rest of society.”


To some degree, we knew this, right? For one thing, Nicole Dieker just covered it for the site.

Millennials Should Be Highest Paid Adults In American History

But it wasn’t until I saw the situation of the Youngs laid out relative to that of the Olds that I really understood how dire things have gotten. Basically the only Millennials who are doing fine is the ones who can count on, and have been able to count on, support from parents:

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said he feared intergenerational inequality would fuel wider inequality in society because youngsters with rich parents would retain such an unfair advantage in the important years of early adulthood.

Johnson said: “I think the real unfairness issue comes in the sense that it’s become more and more important whether your parents happen to have a house.”

As we’ve learned, that means minority Millennials are even more disadvantaged relative to their white peers.

Is there a silver lining anywhere to this? Not really, although you can find hope in certain stories, like this one by Alana Bennett in Buzzfeed, about a Millennial whose mother is still struggling but who has managed to pull herself, at least, out of poverty:

I’ve spent my whole life chasing upward mobility, and in many ways I’ve started ascending the stairs. They’re made of sand, shifting under my feet, but up I go. I graduated from my fancy school and found a fancy job. As a professional writer, my life now is stuffed with privileges I’ve longed for since I found out they existed. I have my own health insurance and the beginnings of a 401(k). My voice is amplified; I have a platform. I haven’t slept in a car in 20 years. I haven’t lived in a motel in 10. With every new success or holiday, my family revels in where I am now, and where I’m working to go. It’s easy to feel at home in that — complacent in it. My dreams are closer to my grasp than ever before, just as she’d always worked for them to be.

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