In Bill Pozzi’s column “Capitalism works better than socialism” on April 16, he stated that millennials “have the idea that the government should guarantee them goods and services so they can have a stress-free life.” He follows this by asking, “Is it possible to have other folks give you stuff and not have you responsible for your own economic welfare?”
In an argument based, it seems, on personal opinions, Pozzi makes sweeping generalizations about millennials, a group of Americans who currently make up the largest generation in the United States workforce.
As a generation, we as millennials have been fortunate to benefit from the progress and learn from the mistakes of the generations that came before us. Every new generation has the implicit responsibility of seeing that growth and improvement takes place during their time, lest the toil of our ancestors be in vain. Like any generation, millennials want to continue the great progress of our forefathers without repeating their mistakes. This is an ever difficult endeavor when we take on handling multiple national crises while having our resolve and diligence questioned.
Regarding Pozzi’s comments about millennials being responsible for our own economic welfare and the national debt: we have a major task ahead of us. We have the responsibility of trying to resolve two multi-trillion dollar wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and figuring out how to restore the infrastructure of the nation that the president recently referred to as “crumbling.” Our generation has additionally been tasked with the duty of paying off the national debt Pozzi mentioned. In 1980, the national public debt represented 30.9 percent of the national gross domestic product. By 2015, when many millennials were just entering the workforce, that number had ballooned to 101.01 percent. Millennials will be the ones solving that issue. So to question the work ethic and economic responsibility of the millennial generation –for a debt they did not create – is flawed logic and, frankly, blame-shifting. While baby boomers will have the opportunity to benefit from the social security system and retire at a healthy age, this is not a guarantee for us. The expense, however, will be our responsibility.
I’m not sure where Mr. Pozzi got the idea that our generation is busy looking for handouts. Pozzi stressed the ideas of enjoying work, projecting a “positive image” and being “very creative.” I would be happy to take him on a walk through my office building and introduce him to my millennial colleagues who are working through weekends and holidays in jobs many of us with advanced degrees earned through months of unpaid internships. These are the same colleagues who showed up to work beside me, in uncertain conditions, in the days after Hurricane Harvey, when much of the city was still flooded or destroyed. That’s hard work, positivity and creativity in the flesh.
Mr. Pozzi’s generation was unfairly labeled the “me” generation based on inaccurate generalizations about their alleged self-serving tendencies. I seriously doubt that he was thinking about serving himself when he bravely served our country in Vietnam and Iraq. Unfortunately, I cannot help but believe that his own beliefs are rooted in unfounded generalizations that come about every time a new generation takes the helm. Like his generation, we did not arrive expecting a participation trophy; we came to make a difference.
When it comes to the idea that our country is changing, millennials and Baby Boomers can agree. When our time is up, the country will certainly not look the same as it does now. Yes, we will probably have more kale and emojis. But we will also have more inclusivity of people who look, think and act differently from us. Innovation spanning a wide range of fields – from technology to education to the arts – will continue to launch forward. The Lockean ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will prevail and the republic will stand.
Rest easy; we’ll hold the fort down.