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10 Reasons Millennials Are the Screwed Generation

Young people living in the United States have inherited a broken country.

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3. Crushing student loan debt.

Millennials are graduating from high school at a time when there is a serious shortage of both good, unionized blue-collar jobs and a shortage of good, white-collar jobs. The America of the 1950s, when a blue-collar male could have a mortgage and support a wife and two kids, is a world Millennials have never known. And if Millennials go the college route in 2013, they can look forward to tuition rates that are more unaffordable than ever. But an expensive college degree won’t necessarily result in a high-paying job. Plenty of Millennials with BAs and even masters degrees, are making minimum wage in dollar stores, and minimum wage is hardly conducive to paying back a huge student loan debt. Some Millennials, inevitably, will be late making their student loan payments, thus hurting their credit scores and placing them even more behind the eight ball.

4. The broken healthcare system.

Millennials certainly wasn't the first generation of Americans to be victimized by the U.S.’ dysfunctional health insurance system. But a system that was broken in the 1980s and 1990s has gone from bad to worse: premiums have skyrocketed, medical bankruptcies are common even among those who have insurance, and the number of uninsured Americans has continued to rise (according to a study that the Commonwealth Fund conducted in 2012, 55 million Americans were without health insurance at some point last year). To make matters worse, Millennials are likely to be in low-paying service jobs that don’t offer any benefits whatsoever. And while the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a small step in the direction of universal healthcare, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. (Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration, complains that Obamacare “still leaves 20 million Americans without coverage.”)

5. The post-9/11 surveillance state.

Millennials entered adulthood after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Between the use of torture on political detainees at Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, the National Defense Authorization Act, false positives on the Terrorist Screening Center’s No-Fly List, and intrusive TSA searches at airports, Millennials have spent their adult lives in an era in which constitutional liberties are under constant attack in the name of fighting terrorism. Many Millennials are too young to remember a time when U.S. citizens didn’t need a passport to visit Mexico or Canada. But then, a lot of Millennials don’t have much of a travel budget: they’re too poor.

6. Endless war.

Post-9/11, the U.S. has been in a constant state of war. The neocon-dominated George W. Bush administration gave us the disastrous invasion of Iraq, which was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in U.S. history—and although the U.S.’ post-9/11 intervention in Afghanistan seemed to make more sense (at least initially) given the Taliban’s connection to al-Qaeda, U.S. military involvement in that country become much too deep and went on much too long. Some neocons are even calling for an all-out invasion of Iran and have urged the Obama administration to attack Syria.

7. Painfully low interest rates.

Those who were adults in the 1980s and 1990s remember the days of higher interest rates, which were an excellent way to build one’s nest egg and plan for the future. Certificates of deposit were a blessing in the days of 10%, 11% or 12% interest; three-month or six-month CDs were a great short-term investment strategy, and for Boomers and Gen-Xers who had IRAs, long-term IRA CDs made perfect sense because that was money you couldn’t touch until retirement—so why not put retirement funds in an IRA CD at 10% or 11% interest? But many Millennials have reached adulthood during a time of pathetically low interest rates. Assuming they have some extra money to invest, interest rates of less than 1% for a CD or money market account do little to increase one’s nest egg. Thanks to a prolonged period of ultra-low interest rates, many Boomers and X-ers are going to have a hard time retiring; for Millennials, retirement prospects will be much worse.

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