Clarifying My Perspective

Reader mangeek left this curious comment last week:

A lot of my progressive friends are pretty easy to find during the days and nights: Coffee shops and bars, respectively. I still haven’t figured out how to live without an income, so I schlep it to work fifty hours a week.
I’ll bet Justin has a lot to say about a generation of twenty-somethings who seem to be more interested in having fun than generating and accumulating wealth and stability, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Let me state bluntly that I’m a big proponent of fun, and look for it in every task that I undertake. It’s probable that some scorn would rise up unbidden at the particular activities that many modern twenty-somethings consider to be appropriate fun for their age, but that’s an individual judgment, rather than a collective one. I’m also not inclined to see the accumulation of wealth to be more than an incidental factor in a well-lived life, and as for stability, well, my religious faith leads me to regard that in spiritual, rather than material, terms.
The aspect that irks me about the generational distinction, if it is real, is the overlap of a free-living, fun-having extended adolescence with the ideological belief that others should believe it to be their duty to support the drag on our society. Exhaust your young life at the local coffee shop, if that’s your choice, but don’t then expect everybody else’s healthcare premiums to go up so that you can remain on your parents’ insurance until it suits you to find a real job. Don’t advocate government giveaways and subsidized pastimes as a means of giving your life meaning and extending your capacity for idleness.

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10 years ago

Thanks for the shot-out!
I couldn’t agree with you more. The biggest concern I have with the ‘extended adolescence’ is the long-term financial impact. We already know that there are biological clocks running up against the new social norms, with average ages of first children and marriage both moving dangerously close to the age where it’s tough to conceive and bear healthy children. What happens to a generation of youth who have been well provided-for, but don’t buy-in to getting settled with mortgages before they are 35? What happens when 95% of a generation doesn’t have a pension to lean on -or- adequate savings?
I’ve been trying to spread the word that if you don’t have a regular mortgage by the time you’re 35, and a well-funded 401k your whole working life, you might be on the fast-track to living in one of those ‘towers’ that are spread throughout the land; you’ll be retiring while still servicing housing debt, and with little or no savings.
We’re already (hopefully) hitting the wall when it comes to what the government can extract from the productive population (read: Tea Party movement). Somewhere between ‘parents’ and ‘social security’, there’s going to have to be a -lot- of personal fiscal responsibility happening if this is going to work. Unfortunately, I don’t see that responsibility being taught in schools anymore. Perhaps teachers who have guaranteed lifetime benefits and pensions aren’t able to strongly convey the need for fiscal discipline and retirement savings to their charges.

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