Hey students! Youth voters! Are you up for Hope and Change 2012? Here’s the deal! In just four years President Obama ran your personal share of the US debt from $30,000 to $50,000!! …and still rocketing up!! Plus! You get to graduate from college with massive debt, and half of you will be underemployed or unemployed!! Plus! He character-assaults anyone who wants to reform entitlements to slow down the massive wealth transfer from poorer you to richer old geezers!! Plus! He promises you free stuff…then just puts it on your overcharged US credit card!! Plus! Some of us are closer to the end of our earning and tax-paying years than others. We aren’t gonna pay no stinking $50,000! Guess you’ll have to cover us!! Better get busy, suckers!! Hope and Change 2012…Tell a friend!!!”
Enthusiastic Facebookers know the angst of reconsidering impulsive rants. So, after reflection, I regret that my effort above—my “status” as the socially networked call it–from a few months back is so benign and understated.
Simply stated, few presidents in US history oversaw such total devastation of the prospects of young Americans. None gained office on a wave of youthful enthusiasm and adulation. None depended so desperately for reelection on reenergizing that same youth demographic to its historic former frenzy. None had a record as wretched as Barrack Obama from which to fashion a campaign pitch. Ominously, none faced a youth cohort so disengaged, deceived, superficial, and susceptible to cultural atmospherics that it just might work.
President Obama’s designs on a second term depend on energizing the very Americans his policies have hurt the worst: young workers, students, and others who will soon enter the workforce. His pitch seems to be: “I’m not the stiff, white businessman in a suit. I’m cool. I dig gay marriage (recently). I want to give you free stuff. Rock stars love me.”
The message tickles the hot spots of a generation raised on feelings, trophies for participation, and the preeminence of nice intentions. It is reinforced by a palace guard media that sees and reports no evil. But if more of those young voters would do something as boring and grown up as look realistically at a spreadsheet of their life’s challenges and opportunities, they might not willingly cast themselves as fodder for a conservative Thomas Franks to ponder: “What’s the Matter With Young Voters?”
The spreadsheet is grim, starting with prospects for the first job out of school. The official unemployment rate of 8.2% grossly understates the 15% or more who’ve been squeezed from employment. It’s reported half of graduates are failing to find work, or landing in low paying positions unrelated to their degree. The fiscal situation is further stressed by the record loans and debt weighing down about 60% of graduates—more than actually have good jobs.
Obama can declare “Mission Partially Accomplished” on a piece of his fundamental American transformation: Young adult living options are looking more European all the time, as scared fledglings flutter back to the security of the nest. That might account for Obamacare’s mandate that insurers cover children in family plans for several years longer: 26 is the new 18.
Of course, it’s only fair that mom and dad and their employer toss a little back to junior. He’s on the short end of the greatest, most perverse intergenerational wealth transfer in human history. Medicare and Social Security demonstrate government gets everything wrong. Those civically sacred entitlements play reverse Robin Hood, tapping deep into the earnings of the statistically poorest workers, the young, for the benefit of the statistically wealthiest Americans, households over 60.
Obama doesn’t just maintain this system. He blasts anyone who dares notice that bleeding fewer and fewer young workers to support more and more retirees is unsustainable. For proposing incremental entitlement reforms to restore fiscal stability and ease the surging burden on the young, Congressman Paul Ryan earned the presidential sobriquet “Social Darwinist.” It’s as if Ryan proposed something harsh like establishing utilization panels to decide which seniors deserve expensive treatment for serious health problems. But that would be extreme.