Thursday, June 13, 2013

They don't say which generation

I know very few profligate spenders these days. Most are in some degree of debt, but it's over necessities such as medical care, child care and/or a decent roof over their heads. Living within your means is a sensible idea in principle — but the fact is, most people are in debt, sometimes cripplingly so. And humans haven't yet evolved to the point where vomiting and sweating replaces eating and drinking, so they still have to consume something to break even in a sentient sense. Some things you have to do regardless of fortune and financial acumen.

Even with a steady income and the most grounded spending habits, it can be tough to get by these days. Those people don't deserve to be judged as if they're Gordon Gekko on an Al Bundy budget. People my age (the "generation" under question here, I imagine) don't have the 1980s yuppie mentality. Even where we do go nuts over shiny things, we're humble enough to not equate bling with superiority.

I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and I've never been shy about saying so. This always embarrassed Mom and Dad, because they thought I was saying they were bad parents. But to me (and my peers), it was a badge of honor, proof that I wasn't a clueless and soft rich jerk. It was, in fact, a compliment to my parents' resolve — that they lived with what they had. For them that was perhaps less of a virtue, because their generation was about the supremacy of upward mobility. 

My grandparents, being Depression survivors, had a quirk — if I started a soda and didn't finish it, they'd finish it off. After all, the Depression. My parents, on the other hand, would just tell me to throw it away. Now, I definitely don't finish out anyone's drinks out of principle, but I do value the virtue of thrift. And I yearn for the stable economic times that allowed my parents, even with their struggles, to not worry about every last sip of Faygo Moon Mist. There's much to learn (both up and down) from our elders of all generations, and I think we're in a unique spot to make the most of it. Because if we've learned one thing in our short lives, it's how to make the most of things.

Electing some of our own to high office would help too.


KBliss said...

I think this statement doesn't necessarily apply just to our generation, but I think it does underline a truth of many today.

I think each person is different though. Here are a couple examples of people I know:

Married Couple A: They save just about everything they have. The wife doesn't ever buy clothes for herself except from Thrift stores. They have a few thousand dollars in savings and they always buy in bulk. They have food storage in case of bad weather. They don't make more than $30,000 a year. Yet, they have very little debt and are able to easily pay their bills.

Married Couple B: The wife spends about $350 a month on groceries/fast food for her and her husband. She has to throw out a lot of leftovers that they never eat which is more money down the drain. The husband loves electronics and every time he gets a little bonus money, he spends it on something he really can't afford since he has about $8,000 of debt. The most couple B has ever had in their savings account is $50.

Both couple A and B have the same dream of living in their own home with their future families. They both want that "American dream" of having a family, a nice home, a couple of cars and to be able to take about 1 vacation a year. Which couple will get there faster do you think?

Until couple B learns to save like couple A, or starts to make a lot more money, they will kind of be in their own personal recession or depression.

If everyone in our country lived that way (which a lot of people do), it would be hard for our country to ever get out of a recession.

Ian McGibboney said...

My interpretation of this graphic was that its creator was blaming our generation for the economic mess. Considering how so few of our lawmakers reflect our choices — and how young most of us were then and now — I call foul on that. But the statement could also be interpreted in a way that suggests a hypothetical savior generation. Taken that way, I think we're the collectively sensible generation they're looking for.

Public spending differs in many ways from individual spending. The government has large-scale obligations (such as defense) that don't and can't go away. At the same time, we've cut taxes to have less money to pay for these things. If peoples' wages plummeted, you can bet they'd be outraged if told to make do. But they expect the same thing of their infrastructure. But that's a different discussion entirely.