RUSH: I had a story that arrived in the third hour of the program yesterday, and I decided to save it until today because we were well into other things yesterday. But this, too, will help you understand. And a lot of other people understand what’s happening with the economy. It’s from Business Insider.
Let me set this up with something. You steady listeners, those of you who have been around for the duration or at least 20 years might remember that over the course of this program I occasionally have asked, and I did go out and find out the answer to this, by the way: How is it every generation has people in it who think that times have never been worse than they are when they are alive? Every generation has a group of people that think that, no matter how good or bad things are, there’s always a percentage of every generation that thinks it’s never been worse and it’s never gonna get better.
You have an even smaller percentage of people in every generation, some of whom think that these are the last days. But they’ve all been wrong. Everybody in every generation who thought it was never gonna get better, they’ve all been wrong. We’ve always rebounded. The country has always rebounded. And those rebounds have always held my curiosity. How did they happen? Be they cultural, be they economic, the country has always rebounded.
I’ve been asking myself this question, you know, I’m a Baby Boomer, and my perception is that we’ve had cycles throughout my life. But I’m one of the people who think that the country is in as precarious a position domestically and culturally as it’s ever been. And I’ve tried to fight that. Because it was obviously bad during the Civil War. It was obviously bad during the Great Depression. I mean, there have been horrible times in this country, from which we’ve always rebounded. But hubris is a strange thing, and most people’s historical perspective begins with the day they were born.
And by that, I mean, most people think the most important things that have happened in the world happen when they were alive, because they’re much more aware of those things than they are things that happened before they were born. Stands to reason, psychologically. So I’ve fought this. I’ve fought the temptation to be one of those people who think that it’s never been worse. I’ve intellectually tried to fight it. And I’ve tried to remain upbeat. I still am an optimistic.
But at the same time I don’t think that we’ve bottomed out here in this current cycle of decline. But the country always has. It’s these rebounds that have always fascinated me. What caused them? Was it simple societal evolution? Or were there specific reasons? So I began to research it, and I found some demographers who have actually studied this. And their answer, it was somewhat complex, but what I do is make the complex understandable, so let me just reduce all their complexity to the very essence of their point.
They claim you go back through American history, and you will find — and it’s usually, if I recall what they said, every third or fourth generation, there comes a time when young people growing up simply refuse to live the way their parents and grandparents lived. They refuse to accept the politics. They refuse to accept the culture. They refuse to accept the economic do’s and don’ts, the conventional wisdom, and they just chuck it all.
He said a great example of this was the Victorians. The Victorians were a generation that grew up amongst debauchery, and they wanted no part of it. And they went so far the other way that, you know, prim, proper, perfect, total morality at all times. At least that’s the perception of the Victorian age, along with architecture and some other things. So I’m thinking, okay, where are we in this generation?
Are the Millennials a generation that is gonna grow up refusing to accept what they have been bequeathed, and are they going to embark on new ways of doing things? And is it gonna be economics, economics only, is it gonna be cultural, is it gonna be political? We don’t have enough information to know. But we do have a new bit of information to add to everything we know.
RUSH: Here’s the headline, Business Insider: “Millennials Don’t Care About Owning Anything, and it’s Destroying Traditional Retail.” And, you know, folks, until I saw the headline, ’til I read the story, this is something I knew in a associative way. You know, pick up an observation reading a story, such as Millennials don’t want to buy cars. They’re the first generation that couldn’t care less about cars. All they care about is mass transit. Okay, you read that, chuck it away, think this is a bunch of creeps, idiots, small pocket of the Millennials, doesn’t represent anything. And then you find out they don’t want to own homes. They don’t have the money. So it turns out there’s much more to this than just random examples.
RUSH: Now, look, before I get into this, folks, do not mistake something here. I’m not falling prey to any media manipulation. I understand that there’s all kinds of reporting about the Millennials out there. And I know why. I know why there’s all kinds of reporting about the Millennials. The Millennials happen to be fitting the mold that the Drive-Bys and the Democrats want. They’re depressed, they’re down in the dumps, they’re losing faith in the country but not Obama.
That’s exactly the profile of voter Democrats seek. People unhappy, hopeless, helpless, no positive things in the future in their minds, and those people are ripe, it is felt, to be able to turn to government for solutions to problems they have, economic benefits, what have you. So I understand that, and I understand that the Millennials are coming up on becoming as self-absorbed as my generation is, the Baby Boomers. But you can’t blame ’em ’cause everybody’s talking about ’em and everybody’s focused on ’em and everybody’s either criticizing ’em or praising ’em or what have you. And they’ve been told they’re very important, they’ve been told they’re the future of the country, so I get all that.
But nevertheless to me it’s worth the study because there are some things about this generation that are new, and they are pushing things that heretofore have always been things in the minority that have not been thought of as crucial or important or what have you. And I think in the Millennials we have maybe — I could be wrong about this, too — we have maybe the first thoroughly corrupted, in terms of education generation in the country’s history.
I mean, this generation has been exposed from kindergarten, preschool, to full-fledged liberalism, from the time they’ve been able to talk. They have seen it on Saturday morning cartoon shows and absorbed it. They’ve been taught about climate change, all this crap, gay rights, since kindergarten. Their entire lives they have been propagandized, they have been indoctrinated. And so tracking their movements and their attitudes is interesting.
So when you have a story: “Millennials Don’t Care About Owning Anything, and it’s Destroying Traditional Retail,” here are the details. It is a Business Insider report, but they get much of the news from Reuters.
“The tendency of Millennials to rent instead of buy is turning the retail industry upside down. Jilian Mincer of Reuters reports. ‘These behaviors have propelled businesses such as car rental service Zipcar, taxi service Uber and home rental site Airbnb.’ And the trend is extending into clothing. Renting has also spread to the music and hospitality industries with companies like Spotify and Airbnb, Ehlers writes. ‘Never mind buying a second home when you can rent a chateau in France on Airbnb for $200. Why hire a chauffeur when they don?’t come with an app that tracks their relative location to yours, like Uber?’ she says. ‘Even owning the latest album of your favorite band feels a lot less appealing when you can stream it immediately on and offline with a Spotify pro membership, without taking up any space on your hard drive.'”
It goes on to talk about how the current generation of Millennials simply doesn’t want to own anything. They’re transient. They don’t want to put down roots anywhere. They don’t want to be tied to anything. Now, part and parcel of this is, and of course this story does not go into it in great detail, the vast majority of the kind of Millennials this story is talking about are college grads, and they don’t have any money. They don’t have any money to own anything anyway. I think that’s a hugely relevant factor here that does not get mentioned. Obviously you’re not gonna own anything if you already have a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt. You come out of college, and you can’t find a job, much less a career, the best you can do is 25 hours a week or an internship.
We’ve had the numbers out this week about the number of Millennials who expect after college to go back home and live with their parents. It’s over half of them. And I think it’s all rooted in the fact they don’t have any money. And their attitude about that is — this is the frustrating thing for me is that they’re blaming the country. They think that they have come of age at that moment in time when America has seen its best days.
For some reason they do not tie their economic circumstances or plight with any particular policies that have been implemented in Washington or in their states in the last six and a half years. Instead, they just say, “We’re it, we’re the first generation that’s not gonna do as well as our parents.” If you have that attitude going in, that means you’re obsessed or consumed with negativism and pessimism. And when you are negative and pessimistic about economic matters, you’re not gonna sink a lot of money that you don’t have, i.e., you aren’t gonna borrow a lot of money to buy things when you don’t have any idea where you’re gonna be next year and when there’s so much uncertainty.
I think Millennials don’t care about owning anything is not because there has been some massive generational, mental, emotional shift in their brains as it is a result of practical economic reality. If they had the had the money to buy a home, they would. If they had a career future, if they were able to plant roots someplace, start a career, start a job, they’d be doing things that people normally do. But it’s the economics here that are dictating everything, and it’s the economics left out of the story.
But the bottom line of it is, it is affecting the rest of the economy. It is affecting retail. Don’t know how much yet. So the question goes back to, all right, is this the generation that is going to size things up as they mature and reject it all? And it’s way too soon to say, but it doesn’t appear they’re prepared to reject the Democrat Party, which is the primary reason they are in these dire economic straits. But that never occurs to them. I mean, it does to some. They’re not monolithic. No group of people or generation is. But the ones making news, the ones being written about, they don’t see the Democrat Party as the problem.
They see the Republican Party as the problem but not in the sense you do. They think the Republican Party is just a bunch of idiots, just a bunch of jerks. It starts and ends there. And they think the Democrat Party is filled with people trying so hard to make everybody happy and everybody equal and, that’s another thing, this push for equality. That is something that I guess in the sixties, you know, my generation, there was a basic service of that concept, service to it, equality, but it wasn’t a dominant thing in the sense that it has become today, where equality equals sameness.
So I do think, folks, it’s a different generation. And I think the Millennials of today are gonna be eclipsed by their own kids faster than they know what hit them. (interruption) You disagree with me on that in there is? I do. If things don’t change, if they continue to feel sorry for themselves and if they continue to think that the best days of the country are behind ’em, if they continue to stay deeply loyal to the Democrat Party and the absolutely destructive policies coming out of that organization, their kids are gonna eclipse them faster than they know what happened.
“The younger generation is increasingly ‘looking for less expensive alternatives to ownership,’ Doug Stephens, author of the blog Retail Prophet, writes. ‘Why do retail brands depend so heavily on dispersed outlet locations to unload this season?’s collections when they could rent them?’ Millennials, defined as 18- to 34-year-olds, are increasingly living in small, urban apartments rather than sprawling suburban houses. As a result, they don’t have room for as many goods. On top of that, younger people have discriminating taste as a result of exposure to online reviews.” And so there’s a lot of sharing going on and not much ownership, which is a problem for people who sell things.
RUSH: Oh, yeah, well, I tell you, it was just a few months ago that all the news was about how Millennials want to buy houses in the suburbs. US News and World Report back in April: “Millennials Still Want to Own a Home in the Suburbs — A common misconception in the wake of the Great Recession is that Americans, particularly millennials, hold different preferences regarding homeownership and a desire to live in the suburbs.
“This stylized argument claims that the declining homeownership rates of recent years is a reflection of an increased desire to rent, particularly in more urban locations. However, this assertion is at odds with recent survey data that indicate that preferences for homeownership and suburban living remain strong.”
And yet we got the story yesterday that they don’t want to own anything and it’s creaming retail. Anyway, it’s a very much written about generation, and they’re aware of it, and they’re very, very self-focused, rivaling my generation, the Baby Booms. The Baby Boomers still think everything’s about them. But their kids and grandkids — (laughing) — are gonna give them a run for the money.
RUSH: Jeffrey in New Orleans, great to have you with us, sir, hello, and welcome to Open Line Friday.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, I just want to let you know, I’ve been listening to you 20 years and I’ve enjoyed every show you’ve ever put on and I’ll continue to listen to you as long as you’re on the radio.
RUSH: I appreciate that. I really do. Thank you very much.
CALLER: I just wanted to bring up the point, I’m not a Millennial, I’m kind of just on the edge of that, but I recognize the fact that a lot of (unintelligible) that I buy after six months or a year they’re already outdated. So I started down the road of renting things just because I get tired of buying something and then a year later something so much better comes out that I’ve got, you know, essentially four or five iPhones laying around my house that I never use.
RUSH: Well, now, wait a minute. An iPhone, that’s not a — let’s talk about a house, or let’s talk about your clothes, or let’s talk about a car. I mean, cars change every year, too. Sometimes dramatically, sometimes just intermittent upgrads, but it’s never been a reason people haven’t bought cars. I mean, homes get new tech all the time and they get new architecture and people get more money, get a bigger home, it’s never stopped people from wanting their starter home.
CALLER: Well, I’ve actually owned a home but I had to get rid of it because I move quite frequently with my job. I never make any money on ’em. As a matter of fact, I usually lose money because of —
RUSH: Well, you need to talk to Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren is an expert in making money flipping homes.
CALLER: I didn’t know that.
RUSH: Oh-ho-ho, she’s made like a quarter of a million dollars flipping homes in Oklahoma. Her voters don’t know this about her, either. She’s out publicly condemning the act saying it’s not a good way to go, it’s more problems than not, don’t try it, but she has flipped homes. She’s bought homes in depressed areas after storms and so forth or foreclosed homes and spent a little bit of money remodeling them and then flipping them, and she’s earned a total of a quarter million dollars.
She’s not like that short little Vietnamese guy on the TV spots 20 years ago driving around in a Bentley after his first flip. What was his name, Tom Wu? Remember those ads? The infomercial guys, they lived in a giant palatial estate in Boca Raton, but you found out it was just a picture of a house in front of a green screen and he’s driving around in a rented Bentley with champagne and all kinds of naked women after he just flipped his first house, and he’s giving away his secrets.
Well, Elizabeth Warren, that’s what she’s doing, quarter of a million dollars. You are studying from the wrong people out there, Jeffrey.
CALLER: Possibly so.
RUSH: Now, look, home ownership, there are a lot of people, by the way, not just Millennials, who are looking at home ownership as not worth the trouble. But it’s not because of technological advance or the rapid rate of change in things. Some people just look at it as a bad deal and something that limits their mobility. There’s all kinds of reasons people are choosing not to buy houses today, but the largest part of it, the biggest part of all of this is the Millennials don’t have any money, neither does much of anybody else.
So the whole concept of ownership is a strange concept. For a lot of young people, ownership of a home particularly, but anything else, it’s not even a practical consideration simply because there isn’t sufficient income or job opportunities and then you couple that with all the student loan debt that they’ve got, and it isn’t a pretty picture. But look, Jeffrey, I’m glad you called, I appreciate it. Thank you. You’ve got a great point about certain things that advance so fast technologically that they’re obsolete in six months, like gizmos. No question that’s true, but people still own those. They’re not renting those yet.