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Today's 20-somethings need to get their heads in game, fast

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

The origin of the assertion "There's a sucker born every minute" is disputed, but there's no disputing the fact that it applies to today's young adults. Call them Generation Y, Global Generation, or Net Gen, but know that they are the Sucker Generation. Government con men and Baby Boomers — who loudly profess to be looking out for their interests — are taking the kids to the cleaners.

By the time enough members of Generation Y start asking "Why us?" the con game will have run its course. The greatest inter-generational theft in history will have left them indentured servants to the past, with a future circumscribed by decisions made long before they had a vote. Ironically, surveys show this generation largely supports the progressive policies that will limit their lives. To avoid playing the part of patsy, New Hampshire's youth need to understand what's being done to them and by whom. They then need to start voting from enlightened self-interest, not youthful idealism.

Across the country governments at every level, in cahoots with public-sector unions, have amassed unfathomable debts in a vicious cycle of quid pro quo. In exchange for votes and financial support, they made promises to pay unionized workers wages, benefits, and retirement packages that far out-strip the ability of current taxpayers to manage. To avoid alienating those taxpayers in their bid for union support, elected representatives hid the true costs of their promises, chronically underfunding the debt obligations and pushing the day of reckoning beyond voters' attention spans. But the free-lunch mentality is finally giving way to reality as the bills come due. Witness Detroit to see the future for us all.

Detroit's financial woes have been long in coming and are now widely reported. The city owes more in public pension and bond obligations than it can ever hope to repay. Across decades city leaders failed to live up to their most basic municipal duties. Other cities — and some states — are not that far behind and soon their stories will make headlines. But why should the Granite State's 20-somethings care? Because inevitably, and underhandedly, those debts will be transferred to them.

In an egregious case of "taxation without representation," New Hampshire's young adults will pay for poor decisions made in places where they had no vote. Money that would otherwise fund their schools, their roads, their communities — or their own family's necessities — will instead bail out municipal pensioners who will make more in retirement than they will after decades in the workforce. Their earnings will be spent to rescue residents of Detroit, Oakland, Chicago, and a dozen other cities whose budgets have been built on unsustainable borrowing.

It gets worse: In addition to municipal insolvencies, costly and underfunded federal health care and entitlement programs will pull even more money from their future to fund obligations from the past. The generation that once rallied to "Don't trust anyone over 30" and railed against the power of "The Man" now acts the part. While holding most of the nation's political power and wealth they show little regard for Gen Y, except as a source of revenue. Gen Y will pay to maintain programs today that won't be there for them tomorrow.

It's not youthful innocence that enables the Boomers to run this scam, it is ignorance. For that, you can thank a public school system that infamously and inexcusably has been handing diplomas to functional illiterates who fail to achieve proficiency in math, history, and civics. Too many don't understand the fundamental truths of the governmental and economic systems in which they live. They don't know what's being done to them, and the people who should be passing on this knowledge have little incentive to do so — and a lot of self-interest in failing to do it.

If they're going to save their futures from a rapacious past, today's 20-somethings need to get their heads in the game and act fast. While adopting the slogan, "Don't trust anyone over 60!" might be extreme, the gap in generational priorities and perspectives is as great today as it was nearly 50 years ago.

Ken Gorrell