The Left’s Lost Generation

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On August 28th, President Obama told a group of college students in Iowa that Mitt Romney considers young Americans a “lost generation.” It was a classic case of projection. A Pew Research Center report released in February–in other words, during our ostensible recovery–reveals the grim reality of the current administration’s economic policies: only 54.3 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have a job. That represents the lowest rate of youth employment since the government started keeping records in 1948.

It is telling that the president would make that statement at a college campus. Perhaps nothing has debilitated millions of younger Americans more than the cost of a higher education. College tuition has skyrocketed, increasing more than sixfold since 1981. Moreover, the student loan debt bubble, most of it backed by taxpayer guarantees, has soared to over $1 trillion. Taxpayers are on the hook for about $870 billion because part of the Affordable Healthcare Act passed in 2010,  aka, Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, made the federal government the sole originator of student loans. Unsurprisingly, government-owned loans have spiked since 2009.

Taxpayer guarantees have produced other unsurprising results as well. Colleges have come to resemble luxury resorts more than institutions of higher learning. Lavish recreational centers were built, dorms were radically upgraded, and administration staffs became top-heavy with unnecessary paper-pushers and diversity specialists. Salaries were substantially increased for professors, even as workloads remain far less than comparably-paid people in other fields. Ironically, the consulting firm Bain & Company identified $112 million in annual savings just within the business operations at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.

Such unjustified largesse has equally predictable consequences. Student loan debt has also skyrocketed, with each student borrower under the age of 30 owing a record-setting average of $20,835, according to data released in July by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Couple this reality with a Rutgers study showing the average starting salary for a college student has gone down 10 percent to $27,000 per year and the result is stark: FinAid loan calculator reveals it would take 11 years at that salary to pay off one’s loans.

Yet even if paying off one’s loans is burdensome, it has been commonly assumed for several years that a college diploma was worth it. Sadly, that has become an erroneous assumption. Data examined by the Associated Press last April revealed that college graduates have fared even worse than younger Americans overall. 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 in 2011 were either jobless or underemployed, representing the highest total since 2000. And many of these college graduates are employed in jobs that require a high school diploma or less. Young graduates employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers outnumber those employed as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined, while cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives substantially outnumber engineers.

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  • Bob

    serves the bastards right for being stupid enough to vote for him in the first place. i hope they've learned their lesson. i sincerely doubt it.

    • Jim_C

      Serves who right? College students? College costs weren't high under Bush?

  • Rifleman

    Anything the government becomes involved with, like health car and, education, soon becomes prohibitively expensive and then politicians use the problems they caused as an excuse to take over that sector of the economy.

    • dmw

      Remember when Congresswoman Maxine Waters let slip her desire to (eventually) "socialize", whoops, "nationalize" the oil companies. A lot of people forget that the vast majority of the world's oil reserves (I believe 90%) are owned by sovereign governments; therefore, only one tenth by those evil corporations making their exorbitant profits of perhaps 10 cents on the dollar at best ($10B on $100B of sales revenue. That's why it's called "Big Business" with its economies of scale). For instance: Exxon Mobil net profit for 2011 = 8.79%, 2010 = 8.23%. Compare that to Coca-Cola net profit in 2011 of 18.42% and in 2010 of 33.63%.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, I lived with my parents to a later age but I agree particulary for young males living with parents past 25 years old will not only delay married but will sometimes lead to guys having affairs and not wanting to marry. This has happen in Italy where guys stay home almost all of their lives to have mother's good cooking.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, in some states college grads can't even flip burgers since those jobs go to immigrants and many illegal.

  • cynthia curran

    What I don't like about victor hansen is he makes generalities. He stated that Fresno doesn't support Obama while Orange County did because it was on the coast. In fact Fresno voted for Obama and Orange County voted for McCain.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, Obama's bad economy isn't the only blame for the increase of entitlements. Both Clinton and Bush increase legal and illegal immigration that lead to people on the dole since Immigrants in the US have a higher poverty rate and Center for immigration studies found that after 20 years immigrants still are poor and use welfare..

  • cynthia curran

    This generation by nature tends to be more into envy, hence why Obama does well with the younger voters even if they have job problems.

  • Schlomotion

    Isn't it amazing that the entire college education system has degenerated in just four years? College wasn't expensive before Obama took office. Jobs weren't moving overseas until Obama chased them away. Baby Boomers' retirement funds weren't in jeopardy before Obama was elected. (snicker)

  • quark1912

    Perhaps so many university graduates are unemployed or under employed is that they graduated with useless degrees. I doubt a graduate with a degee in petroleum or mining engineering is waiting tables or tending a bar. Holding a degree in queer & transgendered studies or perhaps puppetry may be suitable to be a barresta at Starbucks.

  • J. Clark

    Barry Hussein Soetoro, the Marxist/Muslim, wants everyone poor, except the elite who will rule the fed. government. Then we will all be like his native Kenya. This perfumed potentate will be gone soon.

  • richy fan

    The long term answer is to reduce college costs, including a radical re-vamp of the college experience. People should go to college part time. It should never have been a full time gig. That way they can gain work experience and make college more relevant.

    Having said that, we are burying our head in the sand about the current problem, which can only be resolved realistically through Chapter 7, and by changing the law to let the current crop of students go bankrupt. There are too many people who paid way too much for college and most of them did it with good intentions. Only a very small minority went to get a degree to waste money.