About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

#54: Generation Debt

Generation Debt: Why Now Is A Terrible Time to Be Young 
by Anya Kamenetz
(New York: Riverhead Books/ Penguin, 2008)

"In this thoroughly researched and rousing manifesto, Anya Kamenetz chronicles and questions the plight of the new 'youth class': 18 — to 29-year-olds who are drowning in debt and therefore seemingly unable to 'grow up.' Many older adults perceive today's youth as immature slackers, 'twixters,' or 'boomerang kids,' who simply cannot get their act together, but Kamenetz argues that this perception is a misinformed stereotype.

"Numerous economic factors have combined to create a perfect storm for the financial and personal lives of America's youth: a college degree is essential for employment yet financially crippling to many, government grants for education are at an all-time low, Social Security and Medicare are on their deathbeds, and our parents and grandparents are retiring earlier and living longer. How will we get ourselves out of this mess? By analyzing and explaining the causes of this phenomenon, Kamenetz demonstrates the urgent need for people to begin investing in our nation's youth. Generation Debt will get you thinking in new ways about American values — and America's future."

Table of Contents:
  1. Why Generation Debt?
  2. College on Credit
  3. Low Wage Jobs
  4. Temp Gigs ...
  5. ... Without Benefits
  6. Federal Rip-Offs: Deficits, Social Security, Medicare
  7. Family Troubles: Love and Independence
  8. Waking Up and Taking Charge
My Take:
As usual, I'm going to find a cop-out:  The Frugal Law Student's blog says it better than I can (especially as it's been about a month since I read it). In a nutshell, makes some interesting points but is a bit on the whiny side in places, especially when making a crisis out of problems faced chiefly by the privileged. (The whole book isn't like this, but it gets there in places and they're the ones where I found the whining particularly grating.)

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