The Lost Generation

2014.10.21.DailyTake.main(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout )Libertarian economic policies are fueling the United States’ lost generation.

In the last century, there have been two generations that have seen first-hand the devastating effects of libertarian economics.

The first was the generation that came to age in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Living through the presidencies of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, that generation saw massive tax cuts, deregulation and privatization, which helped the wealthy elite prosper, but screwed over everyone else.

The second generation to suffer through libertarian economic policies is the one that came to age under the Bush administration, an administration that doubled-down on Reaganomics and libertarian economics so that the wealthy elite could prosper even more.

That generation is the millennial generation, and thanks to our nation’s addictions to 34 years of failed Reaganomics, and to devastating libertarian extremist economic policies, it’s also the United States’ lost generation.

The millennial generation has seen up-close and personal how libertarian economics and unregulated capitalism have brought our nation’s economy to its knees.

Take the student loan debt crisis for example.

Right now, the United States’ outstanding student loan debt stands at more than $1.18 trillion. More than 40 million Americans hold student loan debt, a number “greater than the entire population of Canada, Poland, North Korea, Australia and more than 200 other countries.”

The average debt for a 25-year-old American has risen a staggering 91 percent during the past decade, and most of that is student loan debt.

Student loan debt exceeds both credit card and auto loan debt in the US, and the average college debt per person is over $23,000.

That debt is also hurting the overall economy.

Last year, the New York Federal Reserve showed that there’s been an actual drag on our economy, just because of the growing levels of student loan debt.

Americans with piles of student loan debt have less money to spend on anything from consumer products to homes.

First-time home buyers are, or at least used to be, “the bedrock of the housing market.”

But, since millions of college graduates are drowning in debt, they can’t afford to buy a home, which is killing the United States’ housing recovery.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the One Wisconsin Institute, the devastating effects of student loan debt “may reduce new vehicle spending by as much as an estimated $6.4 billion annually in the US.”

And, the chief economist for General Motors has even said that student loan debt is one of, if not THE major reason why millennials aren’t buying cars.

But the mountains of student loan debt that millenials find themselves buried under today is a relatively new phenomenon.

Before lawmakers in Washington got hooked on Reaganomics and libertarian economics, our country never had a student loan debt crisis.

To compound their problem, while millenials are struggling to pay off their student loan debt, they’re also struggling to find employment, another consequence of libertarian economics.

According to Generation Opportunity, as of this past August, the unemployment rate for millenials, aged 18-29, stood at 15 percent, more than double the national unemployment rate.

And that’s even more amazing considering millenials make up over a third of the American workforce.

The US has historically had fairly tight job markets, but thanks to libertarian economics and the “free trade” mantra that comes with it, unemployment is through the roof, jobs are being shipped overseas on a daily basis, and millenials are bearing the brunt of it.

Meanwhile, millenials have also seen their parents struggle under devastating libertarian economic policies.

Thanks to massive deregulation of the stock market, millenials saw their parent’s 401Ks and retirement plans wiped out when the stock market crashed.

As result, they’ve become aware of just how dangerous an idea it is to privatize social security and retirement.

From finding themselves buried under mountains of student loan debt, to being unemployed and watching their parent’s life savings disappear, the United States’ millenials have seen first-hand the dangers of libertarianism, and the devastation that it leaves in its wake.

Fortunately, there’s a way to protect future generations from having to go through what the millennial generation has.

The United States’ 34-year-long experiment with Reaganomics has been a complete failure and libertarian economic policies, while they might sound great, have done unprecedented damage to our economy and way of life.

Let’s not lose the next generation of Americans to the insanity that is libertarianism and Reaganomics.