Tuesday, 09 May 2017 14:10

Angry America, on course to lose young adults, middle class

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mid tombby Ron Chapman

During this past election a significant shift in political alliances arose as invading “outsiders” sought to breach the hallowed halls of the established political parties.

Republicans experienced the overthrow of their ancient regime when Donald Trump brought in the disenfranchised masses of older blue collar and white collar workers. They had experienced the destruction of their American Dream with rising unemployment as government regulations, computers, robots, hedge fund managers, and foreign nations took away their jobs.

Democrats successfully fended of the Bernie Sanders’ revolution by employing corrupt methods and inside deals to prevent his “masses” from doing to them what had happened to Republicans. Like Trump supporters, the Sanders’ army was composed of similarly disenfranchised people. Only in his case, young people formed his movement who have little hope of benefiting from the American Dream.

Both groups, although different in significant ways, found common ground with anger at their situation and blaming the problem on incompetency in government, wealthy donors controlling elections, and a playing field slanted to the profit advantage of globalist major corporations and mega-rich insiders. Both movements sought to overthrow the status quo. One partially succeeded.

So why are the young so angry?

Those of us from the “baby-boomer” generation should look back at our lives and contrast our experience to that of the youth living in today’s world. Consider:

In 1976 Margaret and I married. We had both completed college and I had finished graduate school. UNO was practically free when I started in 1967 and by the time I completed graduate school in 1976 the cost was minimal. Neither of us were burdened with oppressive student loans.

In 1977 we purchased a home that needed moving and remodeling. We did the work ourselves with her father’s tremendous help. Our house note, at 7 ¼ % interest, was $181.97 per month. Utilities were under $40 and house insurance was a mere few hundred a year. The same applied to auto insurance. We will calculate insurance at about $1,000 for auto and house per year. Television was free, but you only had about five channels, and the telephone was around $12 per month… granted it was not smart, but it worked. A used car could be purchased for a few hundred bucks. Health insurance was minimal…under $50/month. Likely cheaper. Total about $400.00 per month for everything.

Now look at young people today in 2017. Consider the difference: Most finishing graduates have student loans in excess of 30,000 dollars. That means they must pay about $300/month in student loans, they have a smart phone at a cost of over $100 per month, an internet and cable package costs about $150.00 month (still few worthwhile channels). Auto insurance is about $167/month, car note about $150/month, gas about $75/month. Health insurance can add about $350 more per month with such a high deductible that they basically have insurance in name only…no real coverage. They must generate over $1,292/month without a house.

A house note is about $1095/month ($200,000 house 4.5% interest 30 years fixed) utilities are about $100 total for electrical, gas, water, and sewerage. Home insurance is $350/month and property taxes are about $150/month. That makes a total of $1,695 just for a home.

Today’s youth must pay nearly $2,977/month just for basic living expenses without food or clothing. They don’t make that much because payroll taxes take a large portion of their gross income. The monthly total of $2,977 amounts to $35,844.00 per year BEFORE taxes! This does not include food, clothing, or other expenses.

Compare $35,844.00 to the $4,800.00 per year in the 1970s for basically the same services and expenses. ( $,4800 in 1976 equates to $20,698 in 2017 money.)

Millennials don’t make that much in today’s world. Those with specialty degrees perhaps will achieve this level, but most college graduates are not payed a gross income in excess of $40,000+ per year…before taxes!

They, therefore, must either live home, become partially dependent on parents to help out with expenses, or move in with a multitude of friends to split expenses. This scenario generates justifiable tension and anger. They did their part, got the education, played by the rules, but no brass ring…nothing but bills and hopelessness.

Their life is a constant financial struggle with no savings to protect them. For many, the idea of settling down with a family is beyond their economic capability. They have a right to be angry.

America has a problem. Our nation is not only losing its existing middle class, we have savaged the prospects of the younger generation’s ability to even attain what we have. The cost of living is high with accompanying low wages.

This is a recipe for disaster. There appears to be little on the horizon to indicate that the situation will improve while the number of our youth increases. Meanwhile governments on all levels are focused wholly on their own political sport with little attention payed to the underlying problems that plague our society.

This is the plight for the young educated class…what are the prospects for those lacking any educational advantage and living in poverty?

Idleness, anger, and hopelessness are dangerous. They provide a fertile foundation for social disruption.

 Ron Chapman is an award winning columnist, a business man and college professor



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