RUSH: Back on March the 7th, it was five days ago, as I was deep into show prep, I ran across — this stuff fascinates me, and I think a factor in explaining it is getting older. I’ve always wanted to be older. When I was a teenager I wanted to be 21. I never have wanted to be my age, because the way I looked at it, the older you got, the freer you got. The older you got, the more independent you became, and, obviously, the more self-reliant, but the more successful you became. It just seemed that life seemed to be more fun.
I’m not one of those people — I didn’t go to college, four years of screwing around and all that. I worked, and I worked every summer in high school. And so I’ve always been focused on work and oriented towards it. I rather do that than anything else, but at the same time the idea of having fun with something was always deferred to me, something that you did later on. Aside from liking the job, I’m talking about sybaritic pursuits, not professional career pursuits. In my case, that is my first love, and that is what is most fun for me, is doing this. But still, I’ve always wanted to get older. Now that I’m older, I’m 63, I have a different opinion of younger generations than I had when I was in the younger generation. Not negative or positive; just different.
I find it fascinating ’cause I care about the future of the country, and so I’m always interested in learning what the future of the country thinks. Like the people for whom I’m writing these books, they are the future of the country. And I don’t mean in a commencement address kind of sense. They really are. And like I told you yesterday, a friend of mine became a grandparent for the first time, sent a note, “This is why we care.” And that’s exactly why people care. Kids’ future, you want the circumstances to be the same or better for your kids and grandkids than you found ’em when you were their age and growing up.
So, since the future of the country is so dependent on the younger generation, their value base, their intelligence, their level of knowledge, all that, I find it fascinating now. It’s all part of growing, and it’s all part of continuing to expand my mind, even though half of it remains tied behind my back. The half that I use still has lots of room to be filled.
Now, for some reason, the Millennial generation is intriguing to me. I don’t know why they’re more intriguing to me than Gen X was. It’s maybe that I’m enough years older than Millennials, and the Millennials are also coming of age. They’re reaching adulthood at a truly unique time, unique era in the nation’s history, vis-a-vis citizens’ view of and relationship to government. And it is my hope that younger generations will decide on self-reliance and individuality and success and not turn to others for those things. And by that I mean not turning to government, not becoming a ward of the state. So that’s why it interests me.
So whenever I run across a story — and some people, “I don’t want to hear about damn Millennials, Rush. They’re just a bunch of kids and they’re gonna make all those kid mistakes. They’re gonna figure it out, don’t worry about it.” And some people said, “Don’t talk about ’em. You’re just gonna give ’em the big head, and you’re gonna make these 25-year-olds think they’re more important than they are.” And that’s not my intent is to assign to them the officious future of the country. I’m just trying to get a handle on things. Where we think younger generations are headed is where the country will end up, at least if we can get as close as we can to knowing it.
So I found this story at The Atlantic, and the headline hooked me immediately: “Millennials Are Deeply Confused About Everything.” Now, I will admit when I saw the headline, that buoyed me. That headline encouraged me. I would hope people are confused by what’s going on now. So then I said, okay, well, let me read it and find out what they’re confused by, or about.
“Millennials — or Generation Y, which, by varying definitions, includes you if you’re somewhere between 14-34.” That’s the lines of demarcation for Generation Y or the Millennials, if you’re between 14 to 34. And these Millennials “are the subject of constant obsession and worrying from the managers trying to hire them, the marketers trying to sell to them, and the parents and grandparents trying desperately to get them to call once in a while using the ‘phone’ feature on their smartphones. So what can we possibly learn that’s new from Pew’s massive survey,” that was released back on March 7th about the Millennials?
The author of this piece a man named Derek Thompson, and he says, “Many things, actually — and mostly contradictions. Which is about right when you’re trying to sum up 85+ million people in a handful of adjectives. This generation is getting totally screwed by the economy … but,” and this is as an illustration of the contradiction. The Millennial generation “is getting totally screwed by the economy … but we’re the most optimistic generation in the country.”
Now, that stands to reason. When you are in your twenties, just coming out of college and you’re all fired up and ready to go, you are naturally optimistic. Tradition has been that’s when you’re optimistic because now you’re finally on your own, you’ve moved out — those who have — and here comes adulthood. Here comes the things that everybody associates with adulthood. Most reasonably adjusted people are optimistic, because most people think they’re gonna make it. Not everybody. Most people think they’re gonna be a success.
Some in the Millennial generation expect it rather than think they have to work for it, but still there’s optimism. Yet they’re optimistic while they’re getting totally screwed by the economy. Try to make sense of this. And what does that mean? Well, there aren’t any jobs. No matter what their degrees are in, there aren’t any jobs. They are faced with mountainous student loan debt. They are faced with runaway costs for necessities. The odds are that they are not gonna be able to afford the things they want any time soon, which is standard operating procedure. But, remember, these people have expectations of getting what they want a lot sooner than you and I did.
I mean, even though I wanted to get older, even though I couldn’t wait ’til I was 21, I didn’t expect — this was just the way it was when I grew up — I didn’t expect to actually, quote, unquote, make it until I was 40, because the culture, the society just didn’t let you, outside of the exceptions to the rule, the inventors, the entrepreneurs, and what have you. But if you were salaried and working as employee climbing a ladder, you had to have enough time in to prove your worth, reliability, and all that, and that took you to age 40. This generation expects it much sooner than that, and we have an economy that’s not gonna be able to provide it for ’em.
“Another report that came out this morning, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that unemployment rate for young people is still elevated: 13.5 percent for people between 15 and 24 and 12 percent between ages 20 to 24. Just awful. So how come young people are so stubbornly optimistic? About their finances of all things?” And, of course, “One good explanation is that they’re young,” as I have explained.
“This is the most technologically connected generation in modern history … but also the least trusting.” Now, on the surface, “This just barely makes any sense. Here is a generation that trusts peers enough to meet random strangers in bars … ride in cars with strangers on Uber X and Lyft, visit strangers’ apartments through Craigslist, sleep on their beds,” do whatever you want, but you don’t trust ’em?
You still do it, but you don’t trust the people that you are opening up to? Again, a huge contradiction — which, to me, means that they are ripe for being reached, in a cultural and political sense. The Millennial “generation has record numbers of single parents,” according to the Pew research, “but it also has the most negative attitudes toward single parents.” That stands to reason. Maybe it’s not a contradiction.
This generation has a record number of single parents and doesn’t like it. That’s, on one handm a contradiction; on the other hand, it’s good. Single parenthood is an economic death sentence for the vast majority of people involved in it. It’s just a ticket to nowhere. So this is ultimately a potential positive. “About 43% of Millennials are non-white, higher than any American generation on record.
“But since the slim majority of newborns in America are non-white too, it’s much more fair to say that Millennials are the most diverse generation of adults.” They’re only the most diverse generation in the country if you decide not to consider people under 14 a generation. So there are all kinds of things happening for the first time to this generation, all kinds of consequences and facts that they are dealing with, that are happening to a Generation Y group of people for the first time.
“This is the most educated generation ever … and the deepest in student loan debt” because of it, and this education isn’t leading them anywhere because there aren’t any jobs. Go back to the unemployment rate for people in this age group. In fact, it’s not just there aren’t jobs; there aren’t any career openings. Yet they followed the rule: “Go to college. That’s the ticket. If you don’t do that, you don’t have a prayer!”
They’ve done it. They’ve gotten their parents in debt, they’re in debt, and they’ve invested all of these years in it. Now they come out, they’re highly educated, formally — we don’t know what kind of common sense they have yet, but they’re formally educated — and they’re in debt to the tune of being faced with a lifetime of paying it back. “The US economy has never been bigger … but it’s never been harder to live better than our parents did.”
This has been a concern every generation of parents has had. Every generation of parents wants their kids to live better, to do better, to have more, to be smarter, and it doesn’t matter what demographic group you’re talking about; this is a standard wish every parent has and grandparents, too. The Millennials think — and they’re right. We have to the point where it’s not possible. It’s harder than it’s ever been now to do better than your parents. So the confusion continues.
“Millennials are less likely to self-identify as Republicans or Democrats,” according to Pew, “but they also have the highest approval rating of Congress.” They rate Congress’ approval higher than any other group of people. Yet they don’t self-identify as Republicans or Democrats. That’s rooted, I am convinced, in the idea that being independent is somehow to be smarter and less closed-minded, more open-minded, and more malleable.
They probably are more one or the other, but they don’t want to admit it. They “oppose benefit cuts to Social Security,” but they don’t think there’s gonna be any for them. I’m not sure about that one, but that’s what it says. They “voted overwhelmingly for Obama, want universal health care, and are fine with a bigger government … but they oppose Obamacare just like everybody else.”
Now, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama; they want universal health care.
This is a product of their education. It’s exactly what they’ve been taught. I contend to you that when you strip all this away — the way they’ve been taught, the education they’ve got, the curricula they’ve faced — that’s why they are endlessly confused. And I’ll give you an example in a second. These people, the 14 to 34 demographic? “The Millennials don’t give a hoot about the environment.” They could not care less about it.
Global warming? How many of you believe that? Most people think these are the people leading the charge. Well, they don’t care about the environment as a political issue. “They’re less likely to consider themselves environmentalists than any other generation, including older senior citizens…” It’s just a typical story about education in America today that would lead you to conclude why so many of ’em are confused.
RUSH: Now, just one more thing on the Pew Center, People in the Press, on the Millennials. And don’t get all bent out of shape about this. The Pew report finds that this Millennial bunch are the only generation that prefers Big Government and more services to small government and fewer services. However, there’s a caveat, and it is that research has shown that Millennials don’t really think of Big Government the way older generation people do. The conclusion here is what is important. And that is that the Millennials — and I think this is common. I don’t think this is exclusive to them at all. It’s common to young people, they don’t like what they’re hearing from either side.
They’re smarter than everybody. They don’t like what they’re hearing from the Democrats, they don’t like what they’re hearing from the Republicans, which means that they are up for grabs and they can be persuaded. But Big Government, it equals charity, folks, it equals caring for people. And hearken back to the exit polls from the 2012 election, when I saw in that first wave, “cares about people like me,” 81% Obama, 19% Romney. I mean, that’s it, in a nutshell, when you talk about Republican brand and where it’s gone wrong. And then of course “still blame the economy on Bush” is a real political issue. But leadership, the first presidential election in exit polling history where best leader did not win; “Cares about people like me” did. It’s a challenge.