Millennials and Prosperity

Bill Neinast

The hand wringer currently in vogue is the plight of the current generation.  The millennials are supposedly the first generation since WWII that may not rise to the affluence of their parents.

Anyone considering this observation or conclusion has to ask, how can this be?  

The U.S. economy is exploding in growth. The GDP is higher than it has been in years, unemployment is the lowest in decades, jobs are being created in the hundreds of thousands every month, Apple and Amazon just broke the record by exceeding one trillion dollars in value on the NY Stock Exchange, individual tax rates have been lowered, and the list goes on and on.

So why can’t Junior catch up with Dad?  Could it be because of mom and dad themselves?

Take as an example, Ethan Anthony Couch and his parents.

Ethan was born on April 11, 1997, so he is a young millennial.   He is best known as the Texas Affluenza Kid who was found guilty of killing four people while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. 

His lawyers argued that he suffered from “affluenza,” which means that his wealthy parents pretty much let him get away with everything.

This argument was buttressed by a psychologist who testified in Couch’s defense that, “He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way….He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”

This argument saved Couch from at least 20 years in prison.  His original sentence was just 10 years of probation.  Currently, however, both he and his mother are in prison for various violations.

Very few, if any, other millennials will have been reared like Couch.  There are indications, however, that many of that generation had “helicopter parents” hovering over them at all times.

One of those is thirty year old Michael Rotondo. His parents had to go to court in upstate New York to have him evicted from their home where he had been freeloading for eight years.

Couch and Rotondo may not be typical of the average millennial, but they highlight a primary cause of why the members of that generation are anticipating a lower economic status than their parents.

Permitting this freeloading is typical of helicoptering.  The children are encouraged not to get too far from home and that mommie and daddy will always be here for you.  If you need some money, just come ask as our purse is yours too. When you get a job or finish college but cannot afford a big house like ours, just come on back and live in your old room.

Keeping the financial reigns on like that keeps some of those youngsters from going where the job and advancement opportunities are best.

Just look at what is out there for these young men and women, if they can cut the apron strings and go where the jobs are.

Consider this item from Sunday’s edition of the Midland Reporter-Telegram.  “Expand that [tractor-trailer driver shortage] to the entire Class 8 truck market, which includes other heavy trucks and the shortage was more than 270,000 in the second quarter of 2018….”

My son, Mark, who is a Senior  Manager at a division of Halliburton in the Permian Basin nods his head in agreement and says anyone with a commercial driver's license can come to Midland and earn $150,000.00 a year or more.

Earning that much, of course, will require a work week of 72 hours or so, but it gets the Couchs and Rotondos away from Mommie and Daddy and teaches them a work habit.  

Another benefit would be to allow them to pay off any crushing student loan debt that so many claim is holding them back from reaching their parents’ level.  Once that debt is satisfied, they can turn to some other easier field, if desired.

So here's the perspective.

Truck driving in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico is just one of the myriad opportunities available for millennials to rise to the level, and maybe exceed, of their parents.

They just might have to say “Bye” to old Mom and Dad and go where those jobs are.

Under those conditions, any young man or woman who cannot rise to at least the same economic level of their parents in a decade or so has no one to blame but themselves.

They will have to cut the purse strings to their parents, go where the jobs are, and work like they want to get ahead.

That is really easier than it sounds. 



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