The American Dream was once the aspiration of millions. The idea that anyone from any background can better themselves, and through hard work and perseverance become and/or do whatever they dream. Imagine having that stripped away from you. Imagine an America where the American Dream is no longer achievable for the majority of people. For the majority of my generation, this is the sad reality.
Millennial’s have been sold out. Because of the actions of previous generations, we have been handed an America that is arguably in its worse condition to date. We have been handed the largest national debt ($16.7 trillion) in the history of our country. We have been told that if we don’t go to college and rack up hundreds of thousands in federal student loans, that we won’t do well in life. We have been pushed to rely on the government rather than work hard to earn the things we need, rather than want. Millennials have been fed lie after lie our entire life.
The Con that is College
Millennials have bought (literally) one of the biggest, most fraudulent lies of all time: if you don’t go to college, thereby, racking up an average of $27,000 in federal student loans, you won’t amount to anything. We have been constantly told that without a college degree, we will not be able to find a good paying job.
The problem isn’t the education (in most cases), it’s the cost. For 1980-81, the average cost of tuition was $3,499. Ten years later, the average cost of tuition in 1990-91 was $7,602. By the 2000-01 academic year, the average cost of tuition was $12,922. And in 2010-11, the average cost of tuition was $22,092. In just 30 years, that is an increase of 531.38%. Sadly, those numbers don’t include room, board, fees, textbooks, and all of the other expenses that are tacked onto millions of students each year. From 2006 to 2012, Federal student loans more than doubled while outstanding student loan debt reached over $807 billion. Each year the cost of tuition increases. For the 2012-13 academic year, private colleges saw an average tuition increase of 4.5% and public colleges saw an average tuition increase of 8.3%.
When you think this problem couldn’t get any worse, it does. Millennials have constantly been told that a college degree is the key to success, but we weren’t told which degree. Therefore, millions of people are going to four-year colleges and universities, racking up abominable amounts of debt the second they get out of high school. Most of these people don’t find out until after graduation the bitter truth: odds are you aren’t going to find a job with a degree in psychology, communications, or art history. So we have millions of people graduating college, ready for life in the “real word” with thousands in debt for a degree they can’t even use.
The Obama Economy
Just as the depressing truth of the real world hits recent grads, they’re hit in the face with another road block: the economy. Believe it or not, the Great Recession which the Obama administration has very adamantly proclaimed ended in June of 2009 is actually not over. The July 2013 jobs report by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that the national unemployment level is still sitting at 7.4% which is equal to about 12 million people. What this percentage doesn’t include is the millions who have timed out of unemployment (2 years) and are still jobless. Likewise, this number doesn’t include the people not filing for unemployment either. So add a couple more million to that number. The same jobs report stated that 14.3% (22.2 million) of Americans are underemployed- i.e., they aren’t making enough money to survive.
Shortly before this report was released on August 2, 2013, President Obama went on a speaking tour to push his plan to jump start the economy. While at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, TN, Mr. Obama said the following:
“The economy would be much better off if only we had more government workers.”
I kid you not. He actually said that. Instead of encouraging companies like Amazon to keep up the good work in creating new jobs for Americans throughout the country, the President had the audacity to say that if the government was bigger, all of our problems would magically go away. Well, Mr. Obama, in the words of a much wiser POTUS, “The government isn’t the solution. It’s the problem.”
That brings us to the next big problem facing Millennials…
Enacted in March of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is President Obama’S attempt at giving America a fully nationalized healthcare system. Obama saw that some people couldn’t afford healthcare, so, being the genius he is, he provided a solution: force everyone to buy it. I’m not an economist by any means, and my understanding of health care isn’t equal with that of professionals, but I’m pretty sure this is purely idiotic.
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a report which hits the nail on the coffin of Obamacare. “Requirements that health insurers (1) accept everyone who applies (guaranteed issue), (2) cannot charge more based on serious medical conditions (modified community rating), and (3) include numerous coverage mandates that force insurance to pay for many often uncovered medical conditions.” Because of this, premiums are expected to soar even for the healthy under Obamacare. Many people are planning to opt out of Obamacare by paying a fine which in some cases will be cheaper than Obamacare itself- not so “affordable” is it?
As if the problem of forcing American’s to purchase a product simply because they breathe wasn’t bad enough, Obamacare does much more than this. Due to the employer mandate that forces all companies in the United States with 50 or more full time employees to provide health insurance, Obamacare has incentivized part-time jobs. This is obvious in the fact that 77% of the jobs created thus far in 2013 have been part-time. Employers don’t want and can’t afford to have full-time workers, so they’re preparing for Obamacare by cutting back hours, thereby, hurting the economy.
Is the switch from full-time to part-time really that big of a deal, though? Yes. Yes, it is. Part-time jobs not only typically pay less than full-time jobs, they also come with fewer benefits . Likewise, part-time jobs are restricted to 30 hours a week vs. 40 hours a week for full-time (not including overtime). This means that people will have to work 2-3 part-time jobs just to make ends meet. But when people are struggling to put food on the table, who can they always rely on? Why, the government of course!
Not to Fear, Big Brother is Here
Over the past few months, I began noticing an increasing amount of advertisements on the windows and doors of stores such as CVS, Dollar Tree, gas stations, and etc. promoting governmental assistance programs. It’s hard to go out for a day without seeing, “EBT accepted here!” Therefore, it came as no surprise when I found out that the federal government has spent millions in the last year to advertise welfare programs.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the government assisting people who are facing hard times. Following the Civil War, the government instituted assistance programs for those in deep need of help, but they were temporary. My problem with this programs come when people abuse them, when those programs become so large that more than 50 million people rely on them, and when our government feels the need to spend millions trying to recruit people to join them. We shouldn’t be begging people to depend on the federal government for things like food, housing, cell phones, etc. We should be helping when they are truly struggling and invest in rehabilitating those on welfare programs and helping them find jobs, not suck tax payers dry.
Being a Millennial Can be Depressing
As a child, your parents probably told you not to touch the stove because it was hot. Stubbornly, you didn’t listen and got a nasty burn. Millennials did the opposite. We listened to what we were told. We obeyed authority, and now we are the recipients of very painful burn. We believed those who told us college degrees were necessary. We have been shackled with hundreds of thousands in debt to acquire those degrees. We have entered a horrible economy where a decent job is nowhere in sight. And now, the same person who we idiotically listened to before is once again telling us they can offer us help via Obamacare and welfare programs.
When my dad was 18-years-old, he started working at a company in Richmond, Virginia By the time he was 24, he had a wife, three children, a house, a car, and provided a very comfortable living. He never went to college, but was able to achieve the American Dream. His generation was taught that with hard work and determination, you can achieve your wildest dreams. And he was taught right.
Millennials were taught that assistance from the Fed and a college education were the key to success. This isn’t true. Our generation is constantly bashed in the media. People on both sides of the isle push all the blame on Millennials, calling us “lazy,” “idiots,” etc. Technically, I guess we are idiots. We listened to their advice. We did as we were told, and now are reaping the rewards of bad advice.
Follow Julia Porterfield on Twitter @JK_Porterfield.