In the late 80s and early 90s, there was a mini-baby boom, as the original Baby Boomer generation reached their peak reproducing years. This has been called the “Echo Boom”. The Oct 1995 issue of American Demographics identified 1989-1993 as the peak birth years of the Echo Boom. We know them today as Millennials.
Aproximately 18 years later, in 2008, the Baby Boomers tanked the world economy in an orgy of greed and stupidity that we now call the ’08 Financial Crisis, leading to the Great Recession, which we are still climbing out of. Right about the time that the peak-years Millennials were graduating high school.
I was born in 1980, which puts me on the cusp of Gen X and Millennial. I’ve been grouped into both, and I don’t fully feel a part of either one. But I do have close ties with many Millennials, and I’ll say this – they are the hardest working group of people I’ve ever met. They are passionate, they pursue their dreams, and they don’t expect any financial reward. They’ve come to accept that you generally don’t get paid to be creative or innovative. You struggle to get by, and spend your spare energy on bettering yourself, and hope that maybe someday in the future it’ll pay off. I admire the hell out of them.
But what do they get from the Boomer generation? Even from the older Gen X generation? Nothing but derision. They’ve been called entitled, self-absorbed, and sissies. Their fashion-choices, many driven by an actual lack of money, are sneered at as “hipster” and “poor-envy.” Their lack of opportunity is portrayed as a lack of ambition.
This demographic swell has inherited the worst economy in decades. They are coming out of higher education with crippling debt-loads that earlier generations don’t seem to comprehend. They are expected to work for years with no pay for the “experience” or “exposure”, since they can’t get jobs without those, despite their degrees. And then they’re called lazy and entitled by the very people who put them in this shitty situation. They are playing extremely well, considering the hand they were dealt.
And now the older generation is surprised that a crazy-eyed firebrand speaking to the young people is surging in popularity? That a man promising to end their student debt, and disrupt the wealth disparity that forces them to work for nothing while the old guard who sneer at them rake in millions, is evoking such passionate support? Face it old folks – you done fucked up. Bernie Sanders is the voice of the surging tide you created. And while I personally have doubts he’ll crest this year, the tide is only going to keep getting stronger. Expect the game to change, and learn to swim.