OK Boomer, We’re Gonna Socialize You
The pandemic is turning Millennials into socialists. We must make them a better offer.
By: Andreas Kluth
Everything about SARS-CoV-2 seems unfair. It afflicts the poor worse than the rich, and Blacks more than Whites. It also disrupts — and potentially derails — the lives of people in some generations more than others. There’s social and political dynamite in this inequity. One likely effect is to make several developed countries swerve left politically, toward some bowdlerized form of “socialism.”
The generational effects of Covid-19 may seem counterintuitive. Medically, the virus is most life-threatening to the so-called “silent generation” of people in their late 70s, 80s or 90s. But economically, the coronavirus has left these lives relatively unscathed. Their careers have been had, their retirement savings — if they had any — had already been turned into annuities. The Silents as a group are not the pandemic’s biggest economic losers.
Nor is the generation just behind them, the infamous Baby Boomers now in their late 50s, 60s or early 70s. They’ve raised their children and don’t have the stress of home-schooling them during lockdowns. Most are still earning and saving or are just entering retirement with relatively generous pensions. Best of all, they’ve been politically in control for so long, they’ve molded entire welfare and tax systems to their advantage.
My own cohort, the Generation X of people in their 40s and early 50s, will also be fine overall. Yes, we’re currently traversing the nadir of the so-called U-curve of lifetime well-being, as we feel the midlife stress of caring simultaneously for elderly parents and vulnerable children — the same ones who nowadays share our home offices to Zoom with their teachers. But that aside, we Xers had a fair shot at building our careers in the booming 90s and — following the blip of the dotcom bust — the aughts. We’re less worried about ourselves than about the long-term effects of school closures on our children, called Generation Z.
So it’s really the folks in their 20s and 30s, the generation between X and Z, we should spare a thought for. Logically, they should be called Generation Y, but because they came of age near a round-number year they’re the Millennials. And boy, do they keep getting shafted.