• Willa Hahn

generation entitlement.

The popular opinion these days is that millennials are the generation of entitlement. But I’m here to propose a new opinion: It is baby boomers, and not millennials, that should be called the generation of entitlement. (Not to generalize and throw you all into one group or anything, but…)

I know how my generation can look sometimes. Our smart phones are practically another body part. We don’t know a world without texting or social media. We’re used to getting exactly what we want when we want it. We might be a little bit self-obsessed. But despite all of these faults, we are not the generation of entitlement.

While my generation has been lucky in many ways, we are definitely not #blessed. We’re maybe the generation of debt. The generation that won’t be able to own homes. The generation that won’t even be able to find jobs despite paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn a college degree.

You may have seen this map from Business Insider circulating in December:

When you consider that attending a 4-year private college like the one I attended costs around $200,000 total yet millennials are only making around $20,000 in most states, how are we really even supposed to survive? I was lucky enough to have parents who could pay for college, but even without that $200,000 expense looming over me I’m dreading entering the work force next year and having to somehow make ends meet with rent, bills, groceries, transportation, and all the other expenses I’ll be facing. Considering my rent and utilities now, it would literally be impossible to cover making $20,000, and we’re supposed to somehow be saving up money for the future too?

With all of that on top of the pressure of living in the social media world, is it really any surprise that we are also the most depressed generation?

While millennials are scrounging to get by and eating nothing but eggs because we’re too poor to buy anything else (or is that just me?), let’s take a look at our parents. The baby boomers. No offense to my parents who happen to be the exception here in that they are concerned for the future of our country and leaving it better for millennials and future generations to come, but baby boomers are the most entitled generation.

The baby boomers were born into a time of great economic growth. A time when the majority, even those that didn’t attend college, enjoyed a living wage. For those that did decide to attend college, costs for college then per year including tuition, room, and board were generally less than $3,000–even as low as a few hundred dollars in the 1960s. The average yearly income in 1970 was $7,701, which translates to $47,538 when adjusted to fit our economy in 2015–that’s more than twice as much as millennials are making now. The cost of living was also much lower. In 1970 the cost to buy a house was around $23,000. Now you can buy a new car for that much, but since you’re probably making less than that a year, I hope you’re prepared to live in it.

The baby boomers had it great. But because they had it so great and had never experienced suffering, they used up all that greatness and left the rest of us with nothing. Maybe that’s a little bit dramatic, but it’s not so far from the truth.

The baby boomers built up a sense of entitlement that caused them to continue spending even when they had run out of money to spend, and unrealistic expectations that blinded them to their clear ability and inevitability of failure. And while they did this, the government did it on a much bigger level, spending money we did not have that produced the deficit we see today and passing economic policies that hurt the middle class and made the rich even richer. They lived by the rule that they were too big to fail.

But they failed to think about the future or save some of those economic resources for later. And they failed to see that they were slowly but surely headed off the edge of an economic cliff - the economic collapse of 2008. (And they are again failing to see that we’re headed in the same direction now thanks to status quo economic policies and the trustworthiness in our government and politicians that comes with having it way too good for way too long.)

And even more than their economic failures, they’ve left us with an environment that threatens to collapse in on us at any moment.

But here’s an election where the baby boomers have the power to change things. They have the power to maybe even give my generation the kind of life that they had when they were in their 20s and 30s. And instead of voting for the one honest politician who could maybe give that to us, they’re voting for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

I’m not even going to get into the Donald Trump thing because there’s just no arguing with that kind of stupidity. But the Hillary Clinton thing? The status quo candidate? This is where the baby boomers are the most entitled. They’re actually so selfish to think that it is more important for them to have a woman in the White House than it is for them to pave the way for a better future. Because 40 years ago they fought a battle for women, and they think this will finally give them what they deserve. What they’re entitled to.

Well there’s a new battle to fight, and it’s much bigger than any women’s issue. This battle is about the future. It’s about my future and my generation’s future, and the future of generations after us. And if we don’t change things soon, if we don’t give up our entitlement and go against the status quo and really try to change things now, things are going to get a whole lot worse.

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Willa Pearl Hahn | Albany, NY | 

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