A Very Different Generation
By Alan Caruba
They are called “Millennials” and, with the election of Barack Obama, have been dubbed “Generation O.” Born from 1980 to 2000, they are as different from their parents as previous generations were different from theirs.
It is common that older generations frequently look at the new one as creatures from another planet. Every new generation develops its own slang, has its own cultural heroes, and most importantly has been imprinted by the events of their early years as well as the kind of care they received from their parents.
What distinguishes the Millennials is the way, not just events, but technology has transformed how they interact with each other and the world. Not only are they computer literate, but the Internet has allowed them to have friends from around the world who are available at the touch of a keystroke.
Events, of course, are important. My generation grew up during and after World War II. It was a time of enormous economic growth, of the U.S. ascendancy to being a superpower among nations. We lived through the Korean conflict that followed WWII in the 1950s, the birth of rock’n roll and, by the time the 1960s arrived, and I was beginning my 20s the Civil Rights movement erupted.
Assassinations marked that decade and the beginning of a long war in Vietnam that ended the lives of more than 50,000 young men born barely a generation after my own. Together we witnessed the first and only resignation of a President as the result of a criminal enterprise in the White House.
The Millennials had not yet been born. For them, the Soviet Union with its missiles pointed at American cities would be ancient history by the time they turned ten years of age. Red China would be a nation with which we did an enormous amount of trade. Europe would become the European Union. The Middle East would be a place that exported oil and terrorism
For the Millennials, the great trial their generation would face would be terrorism. For them and older generations, September 11, 2001 would change the entire dynamic of world affairs. The wars they know are the two invasions of Iraq; the latter of which has become their Vietnam. Two other events imprinted themselves, the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City and the murders at Columbine High School.
While growing up, the Millennials led a busy, structured life in the 90s and this first decade of a new century. Their parents were devoted to them and the feeling was returned. They were told they were smart and to be inclusive and tolerant of all races, religions and sexual orientations. They were accustomed to being team players and they took being connected 24/7 for granted via cell phones and the Internet. This was a generation that was thoroughly nurtured.
It was and is a generation that was deep-fried in every environmental notion, no matter that its science was lacking or deliberately false. Surrounded by the benefits of technology, they have been told that much of it threatens the future of the planet.
In a nation where two percent of the population feeds the rest of us with plenty left over for export, they have no real connection with the Earth they worship, knowing nothing about how crops are grown or livestock is maintained and brought to the marketplace. Instead, they worry about “endangered” species and are fearful of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, all of which help generate an abundant food supply. Foolishly they worry that the poles are melting and the seas are rapidly rising, neither of which is happening.
As their parents came of age in the Reagan era of the 1980s, they grew up during the feckless years of the Clinton administration, questioning their parents about the sexual dalliance of the President while deluged with cultural messages that casual sex called “hooking up” was acceptable.
When George W. Bush became President, they would witness, not only 9/11, but the governmental debacle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the torment of a strange “war against terror” being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. At home, there was no terror, but few would or could make any connection between those active conflicts and the steady degrading of the threat al Qaeda represents.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the Millennials were entranced by the message of “change” offered by President-elect Obama, excited by the prospect of electing the first Afro-American President, and expecting, as my New Orleans friends like to say, to let the good times roll on.
There is, therefore, considerable irony that the Millennials are a generation looking at the same disintegrating economy their great-grandparents lived through in the 1930s and 40s, until a world war provided full employment and the post-war years were an explosion of innovation and growth.
It is presumed that the lessons of the past have been learned and monetary institutions will address the current problems, but underwriting the entire economy is public trust and confidence. If that disappears, so does the economy.
Slowly, the Millennials are discovering that the politicians their parents sent to Congress were so profligate, so stupid, and so intent on their own acquisition of wealth and power that they created the current financial crisis.
And now they are learning that those same people are returning to power! The President-elect is surrounding himself by the Clintonians who failed to comprehend the changing global dynamics, focusing instead on Green fairytales of “energy independence”, “global warming”, and the ill-founded belief that global institutions like the United Nations would or could solve international conflicts.
The Millennials, now in their twenties and thirties, are saddled with debt, watching jobs disappear, and so utterly devoid of any knowledge of their nation’s history that they know the names of the judges of American Idol, but cannot name the three branches of the American government, nor grasp that real enemies do exist and must be defeated if America is to endure. (The exception, of course, are those serving in our military.)
Their grandparents, the “Boomers”, are beginning to retire and will add to those who benefit from the many “entitlement” programs that have been enacted since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and succeeding presidents. Their parent’s primary asset, their homes, are losing value. A university education now leaves them emerging into the workplace with debt.
The “change” that will be thrust upon them is a cornucopia of “sacrifices” they will be required to accept in the name of environmentalism and globalism. Sufficient energy will become scarce within a decade and a government that is rapidly socializing banks, investment and insurance firms, may be forced to let a major industry, the Detroit auto manufacturers, go bankrupt before it can be reformed.
Norman Thomas, a former U.S. Socialist Party candidate for President in the 1940s, predicted that, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism’, they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
That day has arrived. Barack Obama is its standard-bearer.
© Alan Caruba, December 2008
Taxes By The Mile?
By J. D. Longstreet
Here in North Carolina, something called the 21st Century Transportation Committee is recommending the state adopt a “taxes by the mile” plan. As I understand the proposal, the state would carefully record the miles each Tar Heel Driver drives, over the preceding twelve months, and the vehicle owner would be charged the appropriate amount in taxes for each mile the driven. As North Carolinians take their cars in each year for the mandated annual state inspection (which by itself is a gigantic tax scheme!) the mileage on the odometer is recorded. This will be the source of the mileage figures used to tax NC drivers. Transportation experts say that later the state could switch to GPS tracking of NC Drivers.
You can read the piece by Steve Harrison at the Charlotte Observer’s site by
So. Why the taxes by the mile? Well, you see, it’s like this: Tar Heel drivers, being the frugal people that we are, understood, when gasoline prices went sky high, that if we reduced our driving, we would spend less on gasoline. Makes sense, what? Of course, it does. But, you see, NC has one of the highest state taxes on gasoline in the United States and the state has been losing it’s proverbial behind ever since Tar Heel drivers parked their cars and trucks.
So what to do? Hot dang! Raise taxes! But the state needed a new scheme to do it, because NC drivers learned, while those cars and trucks were parked, that they really didn’t NEED to drive as much. Now that gas prices are substantially lower, we still have the family jalopy parked. My truck is driven a couple of times a week. The family sedan now gets the yeoman’s job the truck used to perform because it gets better gas mileage. And the sedan is not on the road nearly as much as before the rise in gas prices. Hey, just because we speak slowly in NC, doesn’t mean we think slowly.
Enter the proposed “Road Use Tax.”
Now, as if the Road Use Tax isn’t insult enough, the 21st Century Transportation Committee proposes charging NC drivers a quarter cent a mile for every mile driven each year… with the first 2000 miles a year free. How generous, don’t you think?
As I noted above NC has one of the highest motor fuel taxes in the nation at 29.9 cents per gallon. But, the state expects to lose 580 million dollars in tax revenue over three years because Tar Heel drivers are buying less gasoline. As a result the state of North Carolina is desperate for tax money.
Now, we are not blessed with a legislature noted for it’s deep thinking. We are not even noted for a state legislature noted for frugality. Every time we get a surplus, they manage to spend the money. Then they poormouth to the NC taxpayers about how the state is going broke and then they roll out the old threat to cut back on essential services because of the monetary short fall. It happens time and time again. So being short on money in the state treasury of North Carolina is nothing new.
Has it not occurred to the boys and girls in the NC General Assembly that maybe we ought to consider tightening our state belt, cut back on state spending, you know, get choosy about where and when and how they spend the state’s money? If so, I haven’t heard about it.
North Carolina is a great state. I’ve called it home for nigh on to 45 years now. I have seen this sort of thing come and go many times over that near half century I have lived in this state and I’m sure it will continue as long as there is a Tar Heel state. But our state legislature has got to learn that just as their taxpayers parked their vehicles when the price of gasoline became just too darned high, the state is going to have to learn to park some of it’s money soaking programs until state coffers become much more robust.
As democrats control NC, I fully expect the state legislature to not only consider this proposal; I expect them to pass some form of it into law within the next two to three years. I am convinced they’d do it now, if they thought they could get away with it. But with the recession, and all, the gang with the pitchforks and torches would be running toward the state capital building by dawn! Oh, yes, yours truly would be amongst them replete with a pitchfork and a torch!
J. D. Longstreet