90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are We In The Midst Of A ‘War Against Youth?’

Martina Ryberg, right, of Plymouth State University talks with Tara Rossetti of On Call International during a job fair for college students. (AP)

What’s the great divide in America? Republican/Democrat? Male/female? Black/white? Writer Stephen Marche says it’s older versus younger Americans.

Marche argues in a provocative essay in the latest edition of Esquire magazine that the last 30 years of economic and social policy has been rigged to serve the comfort and largesse of the old at the expense of the young, and baby boomers are gutting the prospects of America’s young people. He writes:

In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.

He contiues to say the “gerontocracy” begins at the top of the food chain, with Congress:

The gerontocracy begins at the top. The 111th Congress was the oldest since the end of the Second World War, and the average age of its members has been rising steadily since 1981. The graying of Congress has obvious political ramifications, although generalizations can be deceiving. The Republican representatives tend to be younger than the Democrats, but that doesn’t mean they represent the interests of the young. The youngest senators are Tea Party members, Mike Lee from Utah and Marco Rubio from Florida (both forty). Here’s Rubio: “Americans chose a free-enterprise system designed to provide a quality of opportunity, not compel a quality of results. And that is why this is the only place in the world where you can open up a business in the spare bedroom of your home.” He is speaking to people who own homes that have empty spare bedrooms. He will not or cannot understand that the spare bedrooms of America are filling up with returning adult children, like the estimated 85 percent of college graduates who returned to their childhood beds in 2010, toting along $25,250 of debt.

Marche  says that one example of the war is the ubiquity of unpaid internships, which save businesses around $2 billion a year.

“Disney has 7,000 interns. Does it really not have any money to pay young people to do the kind of starter jobs that people used to have all the time?” he said to Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

20,000 people on Facebook have “liked” the essay entitled “The War Against Youth,” but at least one critic says the essay distracts young readers from the real threats to their economic security and it’s fighting the wrong army.

***Update 5/3/2012 – After we aired this story, we heard from listeners who said Disney did pay their interns. We contacted Disney and a spokesperson told us they paid all of their interns anywhere from entry level to prevailing market wages depending on their level of experience and educational background.

Guest:

  • Stephen Marche, columnist for Esquire magazine

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Thinkin15

    Public assistance programs can be cut when the “private sector” economy lives up to it’s hype. There’s a big gap in the reality of what capitalism actually delivers and what it’s promise is.

  • J__o__h__n

    Perhaps if they voted they would have more clout. 

    • ChrisFerrera

      Historically that statement might be accurate. But we came out en masse to vote in Obama in the last election. That decision has been met with the most extreme hostility I have ever seen in that context and its at its worst from older republicans. Just my two cents though.

      • J__o__h__n

        They didn’t vote in 2010 when the Teabaggers took over Congress.  Voting only in presidential elections isn’t enough. 

  • http://www.ohioken.com Ken Palosi

    There seems to be an underlying tone of discrimination against older Americans that is growing louder and louder. There is no war against youth. The current situation has evolved because of the misguided economic policies of our political leaders most notably the republicans. I am not technically a baby boomer being 67, but I feel that I am their point man in that I am experiencing and have experienced things that the boomers will be facing as they come of age. People of my age and economic status are afraid. We see political and social forces that are bent upon taking away the limited security that I workded a lifetime for. I am at a point in life where it is vertually impossible for me to go back to work in any meaningful manner. This article only serves to add fuel to the fire of trying to take back what I worked a lifetime for.  What I see is a very real war on the aging.

    • Thinkin15

       Amazingly, Republicans are now re-defining Soc. Sec. as an “undeserved entitlement.” They need to get the over 60 yrs. old votes desperately so they draw the line on those below 60 yrs. Where in the world are people who don’t inherit great wealth supposed to save safely and grow their money for retirement?! The volatility of Wall Street is frightening. Savings accts. give next to nothing. Wages and benefits are going down and frozen.
      I’d love to see some rightwing politicians write out a savings plan for the low/middle income worker that gives them a retirement fund that they actually could live on.

      • Mimosa22

        Your question of where do those under age 60 who do not inherit great wealth grow money for retirement is very germane to this discussion. I live in a city of about 150,000, with a very high percentage of poverty, and the younger the age range, the higher the poverty percentage. Our mayor constantly lectures on the need to change the face of the community from one of poverty, which continues to bring it down, to one of prosperity.  However, he has been in office for seven years now, and the demographics have gotten worse, not better. He, however, comes from a family that is well off, and which provided him with an excellent education, and he was a lawyer before becoming mayor. He did not take on a family until his 40′s, and he has been able to invest in and trade up in his housing, due to family and friends with property, and good timing in the housing market. Had he come from a different background, and particularly had he been an African American in our city, it is highly unlikely he would be where he is today. And yet even he was moaning recently about the projected cost of sending the four young children he currently has to college. The majority of the young people without the benefits he was born with, and without the ability to figure out how to change their lives, are facing very difficult futures.   

    • ChrisFerrera

      You can blame the politicians all you want. But who voted for those politicians? Who stood by and allowed their misdeads? Who failed to demand better of them. You are complicit.

      • Calvin

        So how exactly are those youth who cannot vote, or only just got the power to vote complicit with decades of older generations voting for terrible politicians.  Your argument is invalid.

        • ChrisFerrera

          I think you misunderstood my comment. It was a direct response to Ken. I suggest you re-read them both.

        • ChrisFerrera

          It was a direct response to Ken’s post, particularly this part :
          “…There is no war against youth. The current situation has evolved because of the misguided economic policies of our political leaders most notably the republicans. I am not technically a baby boomer being 67…”

    • Mimosa22

      I think the discrimination is more of the haves versus the have-nots. Regardless of age, it seems that the well-off find new ways to threaten the middle and lower classes on an almost daily basis. I worked for several years in a program that helped homeless families, and I can telll you that the fastest growing segment of the homeless for the past ten years has been familes with young children, with the average of people who are homeless, being around 6 years old.  

    • Elizabethd1

      I totally agree with Ken Palosi.  In addition, “unpaid internship” is not a new phenomenon… I saw it as a common practice in “corporate” America as far back as the early 80′s - just about the time that we also saw corporations importing  more and more foreign workers who would accept lower wages than US citizens and exporting various other jobs abroad for the same reason.  I never liked “unpaid internships” !  From a broad economic standpoint, Stephen Marche article is catchy but superficial - it does not take into consideration the total economic policies of the past 30+ years.  If the top 1% had not taken such a big piece of the pie, there would be more to go around…. if corporations truly appreciated the contribution of all individuals who make it successful, there would be more to go around … if a Republican President didn’t blow over a trillion dollars on two wars and decrease revenues at the same time, there would be more to go around … and every one would have a better chance at the future.   Let’s remember that a Clinton Administration left the US with a balanced budget and projected surplus.   We all have to make sacrifices now…. we all have to become involved for that chance at the future of the 99% by getting rid of the greedy bastards who hold the 99% hostage and the politicians in their pockets.    
      Elizabeth N.

  • Heaviest Cat

    Of course it couldn’t be a class issue. That’s way too taboo to talk about ,by elite standards. Now Why did Robin Young have to ask Mr. marche a good question in a stupid way? “Boomer vs young”?  I expect better from a public radio host than the use of loaded and trite  terms like “baby boomer”. (Yes ,I was born in 1950).

  • J__o__h__n

    The internship problem also adds to the income gap.  Students who have to work during the summer to pay the bills can’t do an unpaid internship.  Who has the better resume, someone who was a cashier or someone who made copies at an interesting nonprofit? 

  • Sdiegobri

    Disney pays! 

  • Sdiegobri

    Your caller makes it sound as if Disney doesn’t pay and they do plus provide free classes. Very misleading to your listeners. Thank you.

  • maryser

    i work for a nonprofit and we pay our students. if we can afford to pay them, disney can pay them.

    • Sdiegobri

       They do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NomadicFrog Mark Dawson

    Not all internships are unpaid, or unrewarded in some way (college credit). The guest seems to be saying all internships are unpaid and bad, which seems oversimplified.

    But as for unpaid internships, yes, they are rampant and take terrible advantage of students and people just starting out who feel they must take an internship. Ask any photographer, the field I know best. I was offered an internship by one of the biggest names in my industry – it was an incredible opportunity and honor – then I found out he had no intention of paying me. My solution to unpaid internships? Refuse to do them.

    Unfortunately there will always be students affluent enough to swallow their pride and work for free.

    • Darrenissa

       Yet another built-in advantage for the rich!

    • Em Hooper

      Looks like an opportunity for a competent college/uni graduate…..to start a movement to stop or seriously cut back on unpaid internships. Too bad the young people didn’t refuse to go into debt for their educations. Some people bought houses far fancier than they could afford. Others bought schooling far more expensive than they could afford. Also too bad that the news had all sorts of stories on tv, etc, in the last decade  about how the job market was booming and there were plenty of jobs, but the colleges didn’t teach students about economic cycles and that what goes up eventually comes down. Basic stuff, they apparently didn’t get. 

      Oh, yes, why didn’t they and their parents pay attention when the draconian student loan legislation was being discussed? If they understood that politics is another word for power– and is all about power– maybe they could have torn themselves away from Facebook long enough to pay attention to how power is exerted in and by Congress.  Maybe next time, they will vote, and vote for Democrats and learn to tell a Blue Dog Dem from a real one. We need real dems in congress, not the faux kind. 
      And where are the entrepreneurs starting their own businesses? Finding a need and filling it? Looking outwards instead of into their own navels? Creativity gets short shrift too, in today’s colleges, apparently. 

  • Darrenissa

    The exploiters of unpaid labor are sitting pretty now, but they will be begging for our mercy soon enough! If you are a current slavedriver, you should consider your future relationship with the people & reconsider your actions.

  • Polinsbe

     Boomers are working longer  – well into our 60′s – to help our young adult children who cannot find jobs.  If we were able to retire, there would be more jobs for younger people.
    What a mess.

  • Matt, Engineer, 34

    Wait for old people to ‘move on’?  Wow, thats not only appalling, its a doomed strategy.   The answer is not to pay young people more for fetching coffee.  The answer, for each one of us young or old, is to find a way to be valuable to society, and then its fairly straightforward to get paid what you are worth.  

    • http://alogon.myopenid.com/ Alogon

      It probably is a doomed strategy, but what’s appalling about it?  “You can’t take it with you.”  Their riches will go elsewhere, probably for the most part before death.   And that won’t require twenty years, but start the moment they retire.

      While young people are having a particularly hard time, and we ought to pass the misery around better, I agree with Airwreck M. that globalization and “trickle-down” economics (which could be better termed suck-up and soak-up economics) are the real threats, compared to which generational tensions are a mere distraction and symption.

    • Jessica

      Your answer sounds really simple. But I’m not finding it “fairly straightforward” at all to get paid what I’m worth. I’m a skilled veterinary technician, and have worked my way up in veterinary clinics for 13 years. I also took a nine month course in veterinary assisting. At this point I’ve educated countless pet owners. I’ve been bitten, scratched, pooped on, peed on, puked on, bled on, but ultimately have helped to save many little lives. I worked for VCA for almost five years. When I finally walked out, I was making $10.20/hr (I started at $9.50/hr). I searched for a new job for two years before quitting to start school. So here I am, almost 30 years old with what I consider to be a really valuable skill set, and I am in the process of getting myself into some serious debt so that I can get a job that will hopefully be able to support me (and my debt). And it’s all because even though I did find a way to be valuable to society, I couldn’t afford to live on what that provided for me.  

    • JeanBruce

      People should pick up their hods, get out there, and show that they are ready.

  • Thinkasaurus

    The whole system is derived on power.  with the larger population and more votes, the boomer generation can control the public agenda.   That is where power comes from !
    It is not until votes are driven by an agenda of spurring on innovation and freedom that the climate will change.   the boomer generation has hijacked the system so that their hard work produces amplified results by borrowing from future generations.  no a hard working younger generation is seeing diminished results !    Maybe those born in 2025 will see progress equal to their efforts within their lifetime.

    • ChrisFerrera

      Here here.

  • ChrisFerrera

    There is absolutely a war on youth. It is plain to see in the political arena. Our contemporary political discourse is largely directed by those that have made the decisions that have led us to the point at which we are now. I just turned 27 and this concept first dawned on me during the last Presidential election. Social and political progress is constantly being stymied by by the anachronistic opinions and attitudes of the old…especially the 65+ crowd. It is unconscionable to me that the Boomers, concidering all the progress the made in thier youth, refuse to allow their children and grandchildren to create a world in our vision. Instead of looking to us for solutions or engaging the issues that directly affect us, they concern themselves only with their shortsighted goals. Instead of ensuring that we have the foundation to continue and expand on this American experiment they call us “entitled”, they call us “lazy” they call us arrogant, they call us “whiners.”

    • Mimosa22

      I agree, and I am over 60.

  • Brian

    Regarding “internships” – in his last term of college, my son took an internship at a cable TV stationwith no pay.  In addition, I still had to pay for his tuition (and room and board since it was out of town), as it was considered his class.  No only did the station get the work for free, but the college had no expense associated with the class and got the full tuition.   I am limiting my comments to those of the guests regarding internships, but he makes MANY other valid points regarding the unfairness and future state of affairs our youth will face.  As long as people feel “entitled” to anything they want and idiots continue to elect the small minded, incompetent idiots in our government who hurtle us down this path via many ways, I doubt many of us will have a secure future – no matter how well we play the cards we hold. 

  • Mary Wynne

    Luckily many of these youth may have (older or will some day be older) parents that own homes to which they are welcomed back into when things get rough. Not your usual WAR. Is more divisiveness really what we need in this country? I think this is a superficial and less-than-helpful response to some valid concerns.

    • ChrisFerrera

      What you’re describing here is a level of analysis problem. Sure, on an individual basis parents may not be sacrificing their children but when you look at top down policy, whose interests are really being made a priority? Sure as hell not mine. Look at the healthcare fiasco, its a great example. I have been lucky to be able to maneuver the job market failry successfully in these five years following my college graduation. Most I know have been far less lucky. The majority of my peers (early to late 20′s) work in the service industry and have no health insurance. The majority of us also support a single payer system; a decision with which WE will have to deal with the consequences of. Yet all attempts at such a reality have been castrated to the point of little to no efficacy. Young people have to realize that energy is not enough. Force must be directed and concerted. This is where Occupy, though well intentioned, has failed.

  • radamarinka

    Some Boomers may be working longer if they have a job but what of the younger generation with unemployed or dislocated parents?  These government ‘safety nets’ are not catching people and putting them back on their feet, but making it more comfortable to stay off them.  We need to focus on education and job training if we want to see real progress.  I am 25 and left college for financial reasons hoping to return, I’m still paying off my debt from the first go-round and it doesn’t seem I’ll be able to get a job that will enable me to climb out of debt, keep up with living expenses and get ahead.  It’s not that there isn’t money anywhere, it’s just all in the wrong places.   It’ll get messier before we clean it up, but the first thing we need to do is throw open the blinds and expose this all for what it really is: a hedonistic, capitalist society obsessed with instant self-satisfaction.  People are distracting themselves from addressing the bigger issues by numbing themselves with purchases and impersonal transactions, simulating a feeling of personal power and control, ignorant to the effect on those with less, ignorant to the fact that the lower class are the legs they stand on and the younger generation the legs that will move them forward.

  • Airwreck M.

    We are not merely in a Generational War (really a skirmish) but in a general decline due to the globalizing economy.  As the world’s economies merge the 3rd world benefits  and the 1st world declines until equilibrium, of a sort, is achieved.  I’ve watched this go on since I was young.  My Dad made 54K in the early 80s with 1 yr of post HS ed.  I make twice that today with an MBA and Graduate Cert. in Sys. Eng. plus some professional tech. certs.  By COLA standards to be making what my Dad made I probably should be making twice what I’m am now.

    This is being caused as 1st world economies decline putting pressure on business/govt. to lower costs to compete against the up and coming 3rd world economies and businesses.  As with any declining social situation the people begin to jockey for position to survive and that translate to every area that we use to arrange social and economic relationships.  The Republican resort to “Trickle-down” theories, the unionized organizations strive to negotiate two tiered pay schedules or to union busting, graduates resort to volunteering, two jobs, entrepreneurism, and internships to build a resume.  I’m struggling to maintain my life style while watching the pressure to get more professional certifications (what value is my 18 yrs of ed.?) and constant training just to hold onto my job.  I saw this an encouraged my kids to join the military in order to get the vocational training and GI Ed. benefits and socio-economic pressures pushed them to do so.

    Now I wonder if their earning potential will be 2/3′s of mine due to the global economy?

  • notelevision

    Great Story Robin.  In 1966 my father’s college tuition per quarter was a few weeks of his mother’s secretary wage.  Now, at a state school, a year’s tuition and books are a year’s secretary  wage.  Not counting food or housing.  We gen x and y pay into Social Security, but won’t get it.  

    The older generation wraps everything in plastic, and throws it away.  Recycling is a pain, and composting is dirty.  Car is king.  They won’t believe global warming till they see it – they will be dead and we will be thirsty.At 40, I finished paying my student loans from an unfinished science degree 3 years ago.  Bought my house at the height of the market with luck.  Hubby and I work every hour that god sends.  We waited for financial security before having babies.  Now its too late.Wish we had been born into a world where a high school diploma qualified one for a living wage, or a college degree was affordable.   Who is supposed to take care of the old  if the young are ignorant??  Life is a circle, not a line.And for you oldsters?  I have worked 7 days per week since turning 18.  I always vote, volunteer, clean my own house, mend my socks and jeans, grow my own veggies, and own a small business.Don’t even get me started on Med Plan D – take care of your body like us younger folks do, and you likely won’t need 4K per month in meds.  Unless of course you are unlucky.GO STEPHEN!  Thank you.

  • Gotermite

    The government will start you at GS-7 and promote yearly to journeyman level. Liberal arts majors are needed to interpret for geeks. 

  • VS

    Disney’s 7000 interns are in fact compensated.  Do your research, Mr. Marche: I’m sure you could have found examples which actually illustrate your point.  Poor journalism.

  • Mimosa22

    This is an issue which worries me greatly, even though I am not among the young. I am just about to begin drawing on my own Social Security, and I am torn between worrying about my 92 year old mother-in-law with dementia, for whom I am fulltime caregiver, my three sons all under age 40 without adequate income to support a family, and myself and my husband. I wasn’t expecting to start taking SS at age 62, but have to now due to giving up the income I was earning when we took on the care of my husband’s mother. My husband has had insulin dependent diabetes for more than thirty years, and  really needs to get out of the workforce, but cannot afford until he can qualify for Medicare so we can to continue to get the medical care and medication that sustains his life. I try to remain hopeful, but the future (frankly, even the present) looks very bleak! 

  • Vidhardt

    Important to note about internships: They’re flourishing ONLY because the government isn’t enforcing laws against them. Many, if not most–and perhaps even Here & Now’s!–are illegal. Internships MUST grant college credit, and not replace a wage-paying job. Sounds like most of those 7000 Disney internships might fail to meet that test. 

    • Vidhardt

      Now reading an earlier post saying Disney’s internships are paid. Regardless, an enormous portion of the myriad unpaid internships today do not pass legal muster, with affluent interns who have no incentive to see the law enforced: it’s their head start on their peers to professional advancement. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/NomadicFrog Mark Dawson

      I think they must either provide credit or (fair) payment, one or the other or both, but yes, there must be some compensation and from what I can tell you’re correct – the laws just aren’t being enforced.

      Yes, internships shouldn’t replace a wage-paying job, per se, but then from an employer’s perspective there is a difference between having constant turnover in relatively-low-skilled interns and having the continuity of an experienced employees. If the system worked correctly – as you described – I don’t see internships as replacing long-term employees, right?

  • Kelly

    In my town, 95% of the jobs are taken up by undocumented workers. Those jobs used to be available to teenagers. So that creates a huge employment problem.

    • Kelnewall

       I meant the lower paying jobs, such as restaurants, yard work, fast food.

  • Beccibrewster

    My husband and I have around $90,000 combined in student loans from attending and graduating from a private 4 year college in Michigan. We both work full time and make less than $80,000 a year together. We managed to buy a house and a car – but only if we could prove that he could defer his loans for at least a year. Now we cannot get approved for anything – our credit scores are terribly low because of our ‘debt to income ratio.’ We pay about $1000 a month in student loan payments… it’s hard to see any sort of advancement in the next 15 years, since that is how long we will be paying off these loans.
    We both wish we would have realized how terrible it would be to have so much to pay back – or would have had parents willing to shell out $23K a year for higher education.
    Every day we wish for a do-gooder to hand us $100K to get us out of debt – debt that we racked up attempting to make our future brighter. It’s pretty dark right now.

    • Rachael Levasseur

      I am in the same boat. My father doesn’t exist and my mother couldn’t afford to help me pay for school. I paid for my education myself and since I was working part time for most of it, I didn’t qualify for Pell grants. Since I had dropped out of high school, I started behind the average student and had to take a lot of prerequisites, AND had no chance at merit scholarships. I also had health problems that I had to pay myself (using my education loans) since my college health care sucked and I didn’t have additional health insurance elsewhere. So, I am $80,000 in debt for my BA. I worked my butt off in school, had numerous paid and unpaid internships all through college, heck, I even had an internship at the Department of Environmental Quality! None of my internships resulted in a good paying job so when I graduated I was qualified for jobs that paid $13 – $15/hr. That’s less than I made before going to college. My education was a HUGE waste of time, money and effort, and I deeply and sincerely regret doing it. If I could get a refund and give up rights to claim that I have this degree, I would. My husband and I will never have kids, never own a home, and will be paying for this probably until I die, which means we are not able to contribute to the American economy by buying things like, you know, underwear, pants and eyeglasses. 
      I’d be really interested in research that investigated the amount of student debt and the economic background of the student. I’d bet that those people who’s mothers were on food stamps when they were kids owe at least double what those from middle class backgrounds owe.

  • boomer54

    I am a boomer,  born 1954 -  The “rich” are older than most boomers retiring with pensions and house gains and savings to live on – the 65 and under majority of boomers are not this lucky. 
    Secondly, the US has chosen to let tuition go through the roof – Europe and Canada still have affordable college and support for students by legislation, however recession caused unemployment is high for them just like here

  • Em Hooper

    For those who feel there is a war on them, just a few notes. 
    Unpaid internships? Older people put in unpaid time as VOLUNTEERS. They work hard for nothing because they saved and invested and counted pennies when young. 
    College tuition? If the demand wasn’t there, the colleges wouldn’t be taking advantage of the students. If the students were to do what I did, colleges would be more responsive to the economics of the students. It took me TEN  YEARS, to finish college, working to earn the money to live on and to pay tuition. Sure, I didn’t step into a 50,000 a year job, but I had an EDUCATION, which is what i paid for. If you want to trade an education for a cushy job, go to it. 
    Do you chat with the old people who work for Wal-Mart, the only big employer in many small counties? There are 80+ yr. olds working there because they, too, are having a hard time in this economy.
    When  I was young, only the wealthy went to college. I’m glad it changed, but sad that so many think a college education is a right, instead of a benefit they might or might not be able to enjoy.
    Who did you vote for–did you vote at all?–since you grew into voting age? Do you know how YOUR Congresspeople vote? Do you know who the tv and radio propagandists work for? Do you know which political party votes for the welfare of all the people in the country? Which one votes as the richest of the rich demand in exchange for their campaign contributions? 
    Do you talk to anyone in the older generations? Do you know anything about the wars that earlier americans had to fight at home in order to unionize work places so that more people could share in the American Dream? Do  the young really think they are the only people who have had tough times? Do they take any history classes to learn about the strikes in the mines, the march on Washington by veterans to get their pensions? Dwight Eisenhower, as young army officer, followed orders to break up the veterans march on DC. Pinkerton Detectives were hired by colorado mine owners to beat back Colorado miners. These wars caused deaths and injuries, but the people kept fighting. Learn some history and stop acting like the rest of America is against you. You are all in this together. 

    • Guest

       It’s this kind of retroactive thinking that makes it so important for youth to have voice. Just because things were a certain way for previous generations doesn’t mean it should be that way for future generations. The topic is not how people used to live, but about how people live NOW and precarious state of the future if we continue on the same path. I agree that history is important, but your questions about what youth know about history and such don’t really address or negate the issues discussed in the article.

      Volunteering when you’re older and set for life is way different than
      coming out of college with huge debt and being forced to do an unpaid
      internship because there are no other options for you.  It’s especially
      ridiculous when some of those unpaid internships are for companies like
      Disney that can certainly afford to pay for them. How can people
      carefully save their pennies if they’re not even given one penny while they use up their time and resources to work for free?

      It’s frustrating to hear talk about the entitlement of younger generations without older generations taking responsibility for their own entitlement and for passing that down to future generations. When it comes to the lifestyles and entitlement of many rich older Americans and the way younger generations have been bombarded with images of this and of what we “need” and suckered into not getting our lives started while the people at the top thrive, there is a ton  of irresponsibility and greed on the part of older Americans. While not ALL are responsible, it is the truth.

      If we really are all in this together, please take the time to understand and HEAR the issues that are specific to this generation.

    • Theodore Hoppe

      One of the reason SOME elderly can volunteer is because they receive what we allowed to become a “Guaranteed National Income.”  This term is no longer the catch phrase it was when it was debated back in the 60′s and 70′s, but that is what Social Security has become. By dollars paid, the U.S. Social Security program is the largest government program in the world and the single greatest expenditure in the federal budget, and it is rapidly increasing. 
       Entitlements programs, such as SS, were never designed to be a source of income that lasted to 20 or 25 years. But people are living much longer and adjustments t0 never kept pace.
        Add to this the fact that Medicare coverage only provides a part of the actually costs medical care, and that the last years of life are when seniors run up incredibly high medical costs, that eventually makes hospitals costs higher for everyone else.  It was mentioned in the interview that an additional benefit that was recently added is prescription drugs.
       The fact that the Baby Boomers are now starting to collect Social Security has exposed the weakness in the system.  In 1950, there were 16 workers paying taxes into the system for every retiree who was taking benefits out of it. Today, there are a little more than three. By the time the baby boomers retire, there will be just two workers who will have to pay all the taxes to support every one retiree.
      Fewer workers for more retirees mean each worker, and we can read this as “each young person earning wages”  bears an increasing financial burden to pay the benefits that Social Security has promised.    
      But we are handing them a country with fewer job or low paying ones.  Who will pay into Social Security then?

  • Cliff

    I Interned at a studio for 7 months in Charlotte and wasn’t hired. I graduated with 3 awards and a BA in Recording Arts. I would come in around 10am and leave at around 9pm or later for 5-6 days a week. I organized our clients files, cleaned bathrooms and dishes, ran errands, helped with gear/console recall, mic set up, I even found a door handle online that matched the exact specifications required to avoid buying a whole new sound-proof door, and much more. I was told by some of the engineers and assistants that I was one of the best interns they have ever had. They also told me they go through interns all the time and that I shouldn’t be expecting to be hired by the management because they basically use interns for free labor. So I eventually left and even with 7 months of unpaid experience I can’t find a decent job doing what I went to school for.

  • http://alogon.myopenid.com/ Alogon

    I entirely sympathize with youth and their problems as described in this espisode.  However, to the extent that he blames demographics, something in Mr. Marche’s analysis doesn’t add up.  He rather off-handedly notes that we now have one retiree for every three workers, as though this unprecedented fact were part of the problem.    One would think from this that there would be more than enough work for working people to do.  Result: full employment, a labor shortage, high wages, and inflation.  Yes, the workers should have to work especially hard for awhile, but a great deal of money will be changing hands and the rewards of working hard should be particularly great.   Does the above describe today’s situation?  Unfortunately it does not.  Why doesn’t it? 

  • Jmalsbary

    There’s an utter banality to the so called WoY. Naming it feels melodramatic and petty. It’s hard to imagine fighting ones elders. But imagining #ows as a response to a war on youth makes the whole thing more coherent.

  • http://twitter.com/cdevers Chris Devers

    ““In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.””

    The problem with this statistic is that the timeframe in question also coincides with the general widening of the gap between the ultra-rich and the rest of the population — the whole “99%” thing — with more & more of the nation’s wealth concentrated in a smaller group of people.

    And how many of those people are under 35? 

    Not many, at a guess. 

    It would might be more constructive to see a version of the above statistic that ‘trimmed’ the bottom & top 5% of the income distribution spread, for example, and see what the numbers look like then. My hunch would be that the trend would be similar, but less sharply pronounced.

  • bwestfall

    Listening to Mr. Marche, I really wish I could have been discussing this with him.  For every point/statistic he gave, I know of several to refute his claims.  I am 53 years old, born to a poor family.  I literally worked 3 part-time jobs to get my BA and MLS, and I was 33 when I finished school.  The way I was raised and people around me, we hardly ever got what we wanted.  We did without a lot of the time.  I didn’t have money to spend on electronic devices/games/AV equipment, clothes, manicures, eating out, entertainment events.  I almost laughed at his idea that young people have so little.  I have worked as a college librarian for 20 years and all jobs in service sector.  Many people, especially, young people seem to think that they should be able to have everything they want–IPads, cell phones (high end ones), nice cars (I never had a new car until I was in my 40s); they seem  to think everything is owed to them, that they are entitled.  As for young people having a hard time getting a job, the same can be said for older workers who have lost their job during recession.  People don’t generally like hiring people over 50.  I have worked very hard, and even though I can pay my bills, I don’t have alot of extra money laying around.  The stock crash put my retirement fund into the red, so now I have to save as much as I can before I retire.  And whether I retire from my full time job at 67 or probably 70, I will need to work part-time until I physically can’t anymore.

    I do feel bad about college tuition and the interest rate on college loans, but folks, taking into account for the rate of inflation, my tuition would go up almost every semester and our textbooks got more & more expensive and many Professors required multiple books.

    I agree with the person who said that this isn’t about young versus old but more about the haves versus the have-nots.

  • Berylre1

    RE: “War on Youth”
    Are you kidding me?  Every generation probably feels this way and it is a  good  thing to make people look at problems of all sectors.  I just think it is too much of what are you doing for me.  Who do you think is holding things together?  The people that can not afford to retire.  The people that are using thier small incomes to share and support their families- including the adult children that are unemployed along side their parents and grand parents that are unemployed.  I am worried about my 20 year old neice in higher education and my 11 year old grand daughter cleaning houses and babysiting to help fill in the holes.  My entire family and friends have never had to struggle more than now in the last 60 years that I know of.  But look at the Viet Nam era “youth”, Depression era, on back to forever.  Each generation has their problems that “they did not cause”.  Are you going to cry and complain about it or are you going to rise up and fix the problems once and for all?  Define your generation and help the next one do even better.  Oh yea can you get rid of Wars and deficits and corruption at the same time?

  • Foxbrook3

    Rather than a war between Millennials and Baby Boomers, Stephen Marche himself seems to represent what I have always perceived as an undisguised resentment of Gen Xers towards Baby Boomers.  They rejected everything we liked:  public service, public awareness, culture, political involvement, and liberal politics; they embraced the fantasies of Reaganism and marched off to business school lock step like so many automatons.  And now they (or at least Marche) complain about what their love affair with business and absenteeism from the public square hath wrought.  Millennials themselves, many of whose parents are Boomers, seem much more aware that the real culprit is the very rich and those who have rigged the system in their favor and much less given to the inter-generational conflict that Marche, who, typical of his cohort, is short on political interest or awareness, seems determined to finger as the culprit in what I agree is a national policy  weighted against the young.  If Boomers come out better in what is an all-out war on all of us, it’s because the old have enough experience to defend their interests and the young, like the poor, are more helpless and the easiest to victimize.  The Right has equal contempt for Social Security and public education, but whereas Social Security maintains its status as the 3rd rail of politics, public education, including public universities, takes the hit over and over again, all in the name of preserving the privileges of the wealthy.    

  • Berylre1

    RE: “War on Youth”Are you kidding me? Every generation probably feels this way and it is a good thing to make people look at problems of all sectors. I just think it is too much of what are you doing for me. Who do you think is holding things together? The people that can not afford to retire. The people that are using their small incomes to share and support their families- including the adult children that are unemployed along side their parents and grand parents that are unemployed. I am worried about my 20 year old niece in higher education and my 11 year old grand daughter cleaning houses and babysitting to help fill in the holes. My entire family and friends have never had to struggle more than now in the last 60 years that I know of. But look at the Viet Nam era “youth”, Depression era, on back to forever. Each generation has their problems that “they did not cause”. Are you going to cry and complain about it or are you going to rise up and fix the problems once and for all? Define your generation and help the next one do even better. Oh yea can you get rid of Wars and deficits and corruption at the same time?

  • Rapidjoy

    Are you kidding? I am 58 and still live paycheck to paycheck–and I have 10 jobs–I lost a “real” one in 2008–who are these people with all the money-I got two kids to still get through college (one almost done-one yet to begin)-and a husband who has struggled with job security all his life–all of this keeps me young–there is a lot of “gray” area not being represented here-my kids would never think there was a war between our generations..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MDYK65ZOYHM3WZJERTIHDBGPDA Jacques Cousteau

    These older people say they are having such a hard time finding work, and then post with atrocious grammar, third-grade misspellings, and hasty over-generalizations. Maybe that’s why they’re having a hard time finding work. It’s not age, it’s E D U C A T I O N.

    But no one wants to hear that. Easier to cry and moan than look inward.

  • Barbie

    Unpaid interns are being USED by companies who can easily afford to pay them at least minimum wage. It is different from VOLUNTEER work where older people who don’t need money desperately choose to help out. Many smaller co’s USE employees this way for FREE LABOR. Wake up.

  • Cheryl

    Thank you, Robin, for your tribute to your Perry NY friend
    and bicyclist who lost his life while cycling. 
    Bicycling is such a worthwhile activity – in an era in which we are
    encouraged to get plenty of exercise AND to save on fuel!  It is tragic when lives are lost in this
    pursuit.

     

    In San Diego’s North County, biking and walking groups are
    joining forces to create more interest in developing safe walking paths to
    school as well as dedicated bike lanes in which cyclists can ride to work and
    pedal for pleasure.  The picture, below, illustrates children in Solana Beach CA learning good bicycling rules.
     

    Wish you could join us at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon for a
    meeting of BikeWalkSolana Committee at which we hope to alert our city
    government and our citizenry on the importance of cycling and walking!

  • Jsmythee

    This older vs younger argument forgets that the past thirty years has not been a picnic for anyone as companies have literally evaporated from communities leaving few jobs for anyone.  Many baby-boomers like me graduated into a job market where there were no jobs at that time either and its been a continual struggle to remain employed.  After 2 years of unemployment, I am back at school at age 50 trying to get back into the game.  Big surprise was that academia discriminates based on age just as bad as corporate America.  America is very age conscious country which is why a whole market exists to help people face the fear of getting old.  So, why feed into that unproductive insanity by pitting young versus old?  The argument is a distractor and does little to improve the fact that there has been no real job growth in this country for over 30 years and now over two generations.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.

September 12 9 Comments

Senator: Arab Countries ‘Need To Step To The Plate’ In Fight Against ISIS

Mark Begich (D-AK) is one of the few members of Congress speaking out against a key part of President Obama's plan for fighting the Islamic State.

September 12 Comment

Ecuadorian Drilling Damage Inspires Documentary

An American and an Ecuadorian are inspired to help Ecuador heal from decades of drilling and oil spills.