We f*cked the world with Capitalism ... so hair of the dog and let's fix it with Capitalism.
Oh, and it's all the fault of the Millennials (those formerly known as Gen Y), because if those selfish buggers didn't keep demanding mocha soy latte coffees the world would be a better place. If they didn't keep demanding that we reduce our carbon emissions, the world would be a better place. If they didn't keep demanding that we underemploy them, the world would be a better place. If they didn't demand university educations worth tens of thousands of dollars, the world would be a better place.
If they weren't so damn demanding!
After all, the Millennials are responsible for:
* casualisation of the workforce
* expensive university degrees
* 'academic inflation' which drives the demand for higher and higher educational requirements in jobs
* escalating house prices
* plateauing pay rates
* lack of respect for others
Oops. That last dot point is an error ... isn't it? I mean, capitalism is good? Capitalism is the panacea of all the world's issues. So what if greed is the driving force of capitalism. Greed is good.
Actually ... it sure isn't the fault of the millennials that they entered a world that had been exploited and raped (economically and environmentally) by previous generations' pre-occupation with greed and wealth accumulation.
For years, human resource gurus have been saying that Gen Y is a mobile generation, that they only want temporary jobs so they can hop from one place to the next. Garbage. The reason Gen Y was chopping and changing between jobs was because of the greed of companies who decided it was cheaper and easier to put people on as temps or casuals. This meant that they could also be released without businesses having to be concerned with pesky industrial relations obligations, such as giving a minimum period of notice, paying out leave and so on. Gen Y did not cause that. They are the victims of that. Additionally, it isn't just this generation who move around for work. Remember, throughout the 20th century, people travelling the country for seasonal jobs, such as fruit picking, or moving to the 'big smoke' in search of work. People travelling from one job to the next is nothing new.
Millennials are not the lazy bums that older generations portray them as. If those older generations stopped pursuing the almighty dollar for their own benefit, if they stopped reducing or casualising their workforces, then the jobs would be there. But you can't reduce jobs and then blame young people for not being able to find these non-existent jobs.
Academic inflation is also being driven by large organisations who have this idea that the higher educated one is, the better their contribution to the company. So back in the day, when the parents and grand-parents of the Millennials wanted a job, say to work in an office, all they needed was maybe a year 7 education. Then it was a year 10 education. Then year 12. Then some places asked for a Certificate III, IV or a Diploma. And then entry level administrative jobs required Bachelor's degrees. Now, the push is for Honours degrees or even Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diplomas for entry level jobs. For promotion? Masters. All to do jobs that back in the day required nothing more than basic literacy skills.
While a higher education is good, does it make people any more productive than years gone by? Probably not.
People argue that Millennials come out of university expecting to step into managerial jobs. Maybe some do, however, it is clear that for many, a uni education is only qualifying them for an entry level position if they're lucky.
The only ones who benefit from academic inflation are the universities and the businesses that run them. It's basic supply and demand. As the demand grows for higher education, the more upward pressure will be placed on the cost of degrees.
The problem with academic inflation is that people who can't afford the exorbitant costs of university, will struggle to either enter the workforce, or to remain relevant in the workforce. Employment is becoming a privilege for the rich.
Years ago, teachers only needed a diploma. Now the demand is that they must have a Bachelor's degree on entry, and if they are to remain in the education system they must upgrade to Masters ... all so they can teach a high school curriculum.
Some organisations, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ernst and Young, and Penguin Random House have either ditched or relaxed degree requirements to counter this and to assist people in entering the workforce(1).
The biggest threat out of all this is that unemployment will rise for the ranks of those who have a secondary education, but not a tertiary one. An example of this is the Philippines, where even a job in McDonald's requires a bachelor's degree in hospitality or communication, all while there is massive unemployment and poverty among the unskilled. In Australia, the same job is often undertaken by teenagers who've been put through a management traineeship. A barista job in the Philippines requires a Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management. Is this where Australia is headed?(2)
But it's all the fault of the Millennials. So is the fact that they live at home with their parents well into their 20s or even 30s.
Why don't they just go out and buy a house, live on two minute noodles for a couple of years like their parents did and enjoy the thrill of owning their own house. Forget this crap about housing affordability, they are just being too picky ... but wait ...
Short of buying a house in a country town 150km away (where there are no jobs), they are likely to either face an exorbitant price for an existing house, or stare down the barrel of an over-size house in a new estate. The idea that Millennials want the biggest houses ignores the fact that many housing developments have covenants on them that demand large houses. This is not the fault of the Millennials.
Neither is it the fault of Millennials that their parents and grand-parents invested up big in order to make a huge capital return, driving up house prices so that those young 'uns coming through can't possibly earn enough to afford one ... particularly when they have graduated university while carrying a large debt for their education.
So what's the answer? Capitalism? Rampant consumerism? If people spend more money on unnecessary items it will improve the economy and magically, all of society's ills will be gone. Let's forget that it was unfettered capitalism that got us into this mess. Capitalism is often thought of as a system where people are rewarded by keeping the fruits of their labours. But explain that to people who are on minimum wage, working for companies whose excessive profits are earned from those labours but who don't share in those profits other than through their pittance of a wage.
Capitalism is a cleverly deceptive system that transfers wealth from the many to the rich few. This transfer is achieved by paying pitiful wages, not sharing profits, and getting people to part with their hard earned through clever consumer advertising, or through government tax cuts to the wealthy and big business. Capitalists have taken this and run with it, building in obsolescence and perceived obsolescence, so that consumers are either forced to replace items and feel they need to every time a new version comes out(3). (Apple I'm looking squarely at you).
The theory is that if we continue transferring wealth from the general population upwards to the most wealthy, then it will somehow trickle back down and make us all rich. Trickle down economics didn't work for Thatcher, Reagan, or George W. Bush, and it doesn't work in Australia.
Since the election of the Liberal and National Party coalition in Australia, the government has been attacking students and the poor as a means for fiscal repair. Those who earn the big bucks, and the big businesses who have clever tax minimisation strategies, are not contributing their fair share towards the budget bottom line because the government is living in a trickle-down fantasy land.
Here's a thought. What say we took the Robin Hood approach and share the wealth from the rich with the rest of society.
Instead, the government and business distract from their failures by blaming Labor, the Greens, the left-wing, the poor, the needy, students, Muslims, refugees, global terrorism, the CSIRO, scientists, Millennials.
Yet, ALL of the issues in society are caused by capitalism. It is capitalist greed that has been responsible for:
* unrestrained pillaging of natural resources in order to access fossil fuels for consumption and power, causing war and climate change
* unnecessary but perpetual and profitable wars and funding of 'insurgents' to fight whoever the 'evil' enemy is at the time, and which has resulted in global terrorism (that's right, Islam is not the cause of terrorism; it was caused by the US funding of the Mujaheddin gave rise to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the 2003 invasion of Iraq gave rise to ISIS, not to mention western nations' exploitation and theft of land and resources in what are now developing countries going back centuries)
* unrestrained accumulation of wealth and assets, driving down housing affordability
* craving for larger and larger profits that has driven workforce reduction and casualisation.
But it's all the fault of Millennials.
Let's forget economics for a moment.
How about respect?
Time to unleash some old chestnuts?
Kids of today have no respect for their elders.
When I was a kid we'd have had our mouths washed out with soap if we spoke like that.
Often heard by people who've forgotten what little shits they were when they were younger.
Firstly, accusing the young of disrespect is nothing new. Two of my favourite quotes from waaayyy back in the day that show this is a generational whinging going back centuries for older people:
'We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control' - Inscription on 6,000 year old Egyptian tomb
'Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world is evidently approaching' - Assyrian stone tablet, circa 2000-2800BC
And of course, in this day of instant gratification, it's the fault of Millennials. Not to mention the older generation's constant bemoaning of what the future holds in the hands of Millennials. But wait, waaayyy back in the day, young 'uns were impatient and the oldies feared the future as well:
'I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependant on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words ... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint' - Hesiod, 8th century BC
Maybe what we need is some sympathy for older people, after all, it is in their constitution to blame young people:
'The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood'. Logan Pearsall Smith 1865-1946
But I digress.
It is a sad reality that older people have taught the younger people how to behave. The older generations demand respect from people who they are constantly abusing and blaming. They speak horribly about migrants, refugees, Muslims, the left-wing, students, the poor. They demonise and disrespect most of society and then expect Millennials to treat them with respect.
When Millennials treat them the way they treat others, they get upset and bust out a, 'in my day ...'.
Come on oldies: pot / kettle.
We can't fix the economy by driving people into more debt, we can't increase employment by making it harder to find work or through job rationalisation, we can't address climate change and pollution by continuing to burn fossil fuels while continuing with massive rates of deforestation and land clearing, we can't address housing affordability by continuing to allow the accumulation of vast property portfolios, we can't stop terrorism while we continue to fund it and wage wars, we can't end hatred and intolerance by continuing to hate and attack others, and we can't blame Millennials for the things that previous generations caused.
People need to remember that they were once young and to remember what things were like for them. Was it easier to find work, buy a house, get an education (was there even a requirement for an education)?
Yes, Millennials do need to think of the future and respect others - as we all do. But to blame Millennials and not take responsibility for our own actions is disingenuous.
"He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should when young, consider that he may one day become old, and when he is old, that he has once been young". Joseph Addison, 1672-1719.
What the world needs is a sharing economy, not an accumulation economy. Rather than focusing on personal greed and circumstance as has been the wont of Gen X and Baby Boomers, we should be more outward focused and consider the circumstances of others, consider what is good for society as a whole and not just what is good for the individual.
In relation to the environment, land clearing has continued at unprecedented rates as the demand (consumerism) increases for housing estates, farming and wood products, such as paper and furniture. There are alternatives of course, like hemp and bamboo. Hemp is a natural product which does not leach the soil, is fast growing and easily replenished which means that it requires a fraction of the land that traditional farming produce does, such as cotton.
The government has been cutting budgets for education, health and employment. One of the reasons is that they claim that the debt incurred by spending on these essential factors is 'intergenerational theft', because it requires future generations to pay it back. Instead, it is the under-funding of these programs by the government that is going to rob current and future generations of opportunities for employment, training and health.
The real intergenerational theft has been from the greed and rampant consumerism of Gen X and Baby Boomers, the cost of which is now being borne by Millennials.
F*cked the world with capitalism? Hair of the dog is not the answer.
1. The Conversation, Joshua Krook, Degrees of separation: companies shed degree requirements to promote merit over qualifications, 18 April 2017, http://theconversation.com/degrees-of-separation-companies-shed-degree-requirements-to-promote-merit-over-qualifications-76150. Accessed 6 May 2017.
2. Refer to the below screen-grabs from the websites listed, taken on 8 May 2017.
3. Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard, Louis Fox, Jonah Sachs, The Story of Stuff, December 2007, http://storyofstuff.org/.