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Generation ‘rents

July 13, 2011

Like an increasing number of my peers, I live with my parents.

This would be less surprising if I graduated college less than a year ago, I graduated in 2008. It would be less depressing if I wasn’t happily married, I am. It is much more understandable when you learn that I am an Air Force wife with deployed husband and a six-month old.

Like many of my peers, my living situation is a result of numerous life choices. I have student loan debt, so living overseas with my husband is not an option unless it coincides with well-paying career options. Two years ago, when he went to Germany, I stayed behind and soon after took a job in the family business. I can only credit God with this decision, because only He could have known at the time that Delta would spend less than two of the next 18 months at his PDS. Only He could have known that I was six weeks pregnant with Baby Girl when I moved home. My family classified this situation as temporary, but still longer in duration than initially expected – like most TDYs.

But for most of my peers, our roommates are the only things we have in common.

Like some of them, I am what you could call “dependent on the government.” I admit it, I am. Conservative politicians use this term to describe the unemployed who rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare programs. It’s the PC term for “lazy,” “free-rider,” “someone who takes more than he/she contributes.”

We are not on welfare, we both work full time, but the description still fits. My husband’s paycheck and our health care is paid for by the government. Because I work in the Military/Aerospace industry, at least 75% of my paycheck is indirectly from the government.

It’s a matter of personal opinion whether reliance on the government or reliance on one’s parents is worse. Parents are stepping up and offering financial assistance. Yes, some of these are the self-fulfilling prophesy of helicopter parenting. But most of Generation ‘Rents are educated and are working, at least part-time.

Income inequality has exponentially exploded. And with it, the American dream has gone up in smoke.

This inequality epidemic has all but erased decades of progress between the 1950s and 1990s, when education and hard work were the keys to success. Recent graduates, single parents and part-time workers take a punch in the gut. The Middle Class has become the Working Poor.

average household income before taxes

average income by family, distributed by income group
Both graphs from It’s the Inequality, Stupid

This ruse was advertised under many names – “Fiscal Conservatism,” “Supply-Side Economics,” “Reaganomics,” – and despite its unintended consequences is still heralded as our economic savior. Even this week, as Congress debates the conditions under which they will raise the debt ceiling, we still hear Republicans fighting for the “Job Creators.”

What we’ve learned over the past ten years is that tax breaks do not create jobs. This argument has been disproven by economists, policy analysts, historians and journalists. It is obvious to anyone who watches the news. It is the same flawed argument that went into George W. Bush’s failed 2008 tax refund stimulus. The idea was that every taxpayer would take their $300 check and spend it. It didn’t matter whether it was on groceries or home repairs or daycare, the money would go right back into the economy. As a student at the time, I made a payment to my credit card; which is exactly what most people did with it. Instead of a quick cash infusion to the most needy segments of the economy, the banks got a nice bonus. Ironically, this didn’t seem to help Bank of America.

We’ve also learned that deregulation invariably leads to corporate abuse and bursting bubbles. Closing loopholes and holding corporations accountable for tax cheating would raise almost $100 billion every year. If we make it harder to dodge taxes, we could lower corporate rates and still see an increase in revenue.

Yet Republicans continue their rhetoric as if Democrats are proposing major tax increases when, in fact, Democrats have offered greater cuts and smaller revenue increases than any deficit measure since 1982. Alan Greenspan once famously called President Clinton “the best Republican President we’ve had in a while,” and President Obama seems eager to take this title.

Like an increasing number of my peers, I am becoming more cynical by the day.

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