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The Almighty Buck

Generation Wrecked 1667

Posted by michael
from the born-with-a-plastic-spoon-in-our-mouths dept.
Ryosen writes "Fortune magazine has an interesting article discussing how members of Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1975) have been damaged by the fall of the economy and the life-long ramifications of the dot.com boom-bust, stating 'No generation since the Depression has been set up for failure like this.' Particularly disturbing is the statement 'Worse yet, for some Gen Xers, their peak earning years are behind them. Buried in college and credit card debt, a lot of them won't be able to catch up as they approach their prime spending years.' Are the best years of our lives truly behind us?"
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Generation Wrecked

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:08AM (#4423932) Homepage Journal
    This has been pretty obvious for some time now to those of us in the middle of it all.
  • Woe is me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:09AM (#4423942)
    It's not my fault I'm a bum, it's all because I was born in a twenty year period of time.

    Does all this 'Generation whatever' crap annoy the hell out of anyone else? People do not care about their 'generation' in general.
  • by The Turd Report (527733) <the_turd_report@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:10AM (#4423948) Homepage Journal
    But, those of us who didn't blow every paycheck on toys and assorted junk are doing ok. I drive a modest car, live in a modest apartment and don't live beyond my means. I have 0 credit card debt and 8 months of salary saved away.
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:11AM (#4423960) Homepage Journal
    Baby boomers are all the people currently in very high positions (VPs, and other execs). The baby boomers are starting to retire, so in the next five to ten years, we'll see a drastic increase in jobs and promotions in attempt to fill the void left by the them.

    Also, we are seeing another 'baby boom' coming lately with the tradegy of 9/11. This past year there has been a drastic increase in weddings and births. Wish I had the doc to support it (has been in the news, but I can't find any articles or studies atm. Anyway, there is a rise in families and such, so the need for higher paying jobs, and spending on kids will help the economy get out of the rut (IMHO).
  • Real Life Intrudes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by q2k (67077) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:12AM (#4423964) Homepage
    Gen-X'ers, (including me) may have to admit that the lifestyle we got used to from 1996-2001 was a mirage, and we really can't afford a county club house and two BMW's in the garage. Here in Northern VA we are starting to see people selling their $500K McMansions and downsizing to a house more in keeping with their current income levels. For those of us that have been working in the dot com environment the last few years, I think its necessary to assume you will make less money the next couple of years, and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
  • One time thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Duds (100634) <dudley@NoSPaM.enterspace.org> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:12AM (#4423970) Homepage Journal
    What's becomming clear is that the inital tech boom was a 1-off. You're never going to get that kind of frenzy in the IT industry again. A lot of people were getting way over paid, or in this case of companies, way over funded.

    A few people were big winners, they were funded by the much larger number of people who were losers.

    It'll recover, of course it will, but never to quite the same excitement "next big thing" frenzy.

    The result will be a stronger long term industry but it is entirely possible people will struggle to earn as much in the future as they could during the boom.

    Especially as there are a lot of good graduates now that started degrees during the boom in the hope of getting a massive payig job. This over supply is going to restrict saleries for a few years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:12AM (#4423971)

    Sure, it's not a spectacular amount, but in my area you can get pretty nice house for $80,000, apartment rent is $400 a month, taxes aren't high....

    I'm 21 and I've gotten $1,000 raise each year. Sure, I'd like to make $50,000, but I'm in a pretty stable position in IT (basically, I'm the only person who touches it in a 50 year old, 150 person company) so I'll just tread water for a while.

    I think my first computer job was working as a PC Tech at Best Buy, making $9-$10 an hour, then I was a wiring goon/PC mover for $11 an hour at a 'consulting firm', then I got to where I am now.

    The days of reading an HTML/Java book and going to a $65,000/year job with a startup are behind us.
  • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:12AM (#4423974) Homepage
    There are a lot of people that have lost jobs in the IT industry that are now working in smaller outfits doing consulting, programming, etc. Some have moved into other careers, but the bottom line is that this might fuel future innovations, or at least diversify the market so that you have more computer-savvy people using computers in other careers where the introduction of technology has been previously opposed.

    I am not trivializing the loss of jobs, nor am I saying the economy is about to boom again. However, there are many people that used to punch a clock working harder than ever to start up new businesses or boost the technology base in old businesses. Both of these are good things!

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:14AM (#4423997)
    Gen X is the first instant gratification generation, much to their own dismay. Credit card and other short term debt is killing this generation, as well as an affliction for absurd consumption.

    Working in Silicon Valley I see an incredible entitlement mentality, particularly with cars. No one under forty wants to drive a modest car, and they'll rent an apartment if it means they can drive a BMW.

    The malls are still jam packed around here, with the under forty crowd engaging in the only ritual that makes them feel accepted: shopping.

    Most Gen Xers can forget retirement - with our spending habits, my generation will have three choices for post-retirement:

    1. Work at part time jobs until death.

    2. Move in with the kids.

    3. Jump off a bridge.

    One thing is for sure, my generation is allergic to saving and won't be able to look after itself in retirement.

  • Finally (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drhairston (611491) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:15AM (#4424007) Homepage
    It's about time someone documented the failure of the Savings ethic in the younger generations. America has lost its original ideals of only buying what one could afford and saving money for a rainy day. Why do my students have this compulsion to pay 27 percent interest rates to credit card companies in order to leverage their future against new clothes? How have the lessons of the Depression been lost so quickly? My advice to anyone entering the job market is to save one dollar for every four spent. If I had had the wonderful tax shelters available to youngsters today - 401(k) and Roth IRAs, my retirement would be far more comfortable and come quite a bit sooner.
  • Poor Us (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jjohn (2991) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:15AM (#4424010) Homepage Journal

    Yep. It's all over. I'm 30 years old and I guess I should pick out a headstone or something. There's no way to catch up. All those adolescent dreams are in the trash. It's impossible to have the Good Life now. No one will hire me to work 80 hour weeks for a company with no business plan. No more free soda.

    boo-hoo.

    Give me a break. This is simply another challenge to over come. It's not the end of the world. It's not the Great Depression. The only thing stopping us is ourselves. It's just a reminder that capitalist economies go through boom-bust cycles. I feel badly for those who believed the "New Economy" tripe.

    Just a friendly reminder -- kill your TV.

  • Some comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Katravax (21568) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4424026)
    Some quotes from the article:

    "Age 32 and piercing-free, Karen Doss . . . has just $5,000 in a 401(k) and $20,000 in home equity. Ideally, someone her age should have at least $100,000 stashed away." Fuck me, $100,000 by age 32? I'm about $100,000 behind, then.

    "Gen Xers managed to survive in that environment by denouncing long-held workplace tenets like corporate loyalty. " Did we eschew loyalty, or did they treat us like "human resources" and fire us and lay us off? I loved my first computer job , and would still be there if they weren't evil bastards.

    "The Campbells' luck dried up in April, when Alex was laid off, rehired as a contractor without benefits, then rehired yet again as a full-time employee but at a lower level. " Well, sounds like all he needed was company loyalty, huh? I've said for a year this shit was intentional, that the whole "tech downturn" was an intentional ploy to lower our salaries and benefits.

    "So is Karen prepared? On this subject, she does her best slacker impression. " They call people our age "slackers" several times throughout the article. Sorry, I thought we were working? The article says how we keep working jobs, the economy sucks, etc., but it also keeps calling us slackers. How are we different than our parents and grandparents? We work, pay the bills, try to do better, etc. The author of this piece is torn between wanting to tell how fucked up things have been for a lot of us, and wanting to insult us.

  • nope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by corporal_clegg (547755) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4424027) Homepage
    I was born in 67, graduated w/ a BSEE in 89 and have better than trippled my initial income. I have no debt (other than my house) and manage to get by very well w/o my wife having to work. I work for a (semi) successful internet company and most of the developers I know carry no credit card or other revolving debt. People my age remember the Carter recession, the Regan boom, the Bush bust, 'Al Gore inventing the internet economy' (and where that went) and now the current bust. We're still kicking and are hopeful about the future. Yes, I do know many that are in trouble, but most of it has to with the choices people made in college (MS in library science??? how the f*ck is that gonna pay off the $50k in student loans?) or in their 'gotta have it all now' spending habits right out of school. Will the generation make it as a whole? I don't know, but one predictor is to look at the generation that raised us. If you have a firm foundation and good advice, chances are you will be just fine.
  • Re:Woe is me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sparkyman (197836) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4424030)
    Yep, annoys me.

    Instead of recognizing that one has been living above their means and changing, lets blame it on when we were born!

    Get some responsibility.......or maybe we should blame the parents for raising them poorly?! yeah that's it!
  • by qurob (543434) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4424032) Homepage

    Everyone jumped ship to go 'design web pages' for 60k and now they don't have college degrees.

    The people who stuck it out, have graduated and now can make 60k, 'legitimately'
  • by Ctrl-Z (28806) <tim@timcoleman. c o m> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:18AM (#4424044) Homepage Journal
    Baby boomers are all the people currently in very high positions (VPs, and other execs). The baby boomers are starting to retire, so in the next five to ten years, we'll see a drastic increase in jobs and promotions in attempt to fill the void left by the them.

    I disagree. Those positions will simply be downsized in cost-cutting efforts, rather than filled with younger employees.
  • by Telastyn (206146) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:19AM (#4424063)
    I'm not exactly a Gen Xer, born in 1979 (generally considered to be the end of the era), and while my prime earnings oppertunities may be behind me, I'm not dumb enough to shackle myself with college, car or credit card debt (all payed off).

    The problem comes from the same stupidity that caused the .com overhype in the first place: bad spending habits.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:20AM (#4424070)
    I've never seen such whining about a "generation".

    Before the dotcom bubble, we saw these same exact articles on how jobs were tough to find, people with college degrees were bussing tables.

    Let me give you a hint: except for very narrow slices of american history, the economy has always been "tough".

    If GenX (and its a dumb label) has a failing its this:
    They're convinced debt is no big deal and is inevitable.

    I see kids in college with brand new cars!

    Then they whine that they graduated with debt and no job!

    Here's some myths that I wish the media would start pushing:
    1) Don't overpay for college. A 4-year degree from any accredited university is pretty much the same as any other. The idea of paying more is stupid except in about 2 or 3 "big name" schools. But boys, Penn State = Michigan = Duke = Virginia Tech = USC = Oregon = Cornell.

    So if you have a choice, go for the cheapest school! Use your fricking head!!!

    2) Debt matters - if you graduate from college with significant debt (and yes, $10K is significant debt) you're handicapped financially for the rest of your life.

    3) Students should not have credit cards - (see debt matters). This does 2 bad things, first it puts you in debt when you can't afford it second you never learn to put off your "wants" until you can afford it.

    4) Learn the difference between want and need - you may "need" a laptop computer (although I doubt it). But you "want" the latest $2500 wonder laptop. You can get by with a used $300 laptop.

    I could go on and on. The people whining are people who don't think ahead, put themselves in a bad financial position and then whine society isn't taking care of them.

    They're a bunch of spoiled rotten babies.
  • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:22AM (#4424087) Homepage Journal
    I mean come on this is like saying being overweight is bad, or shooting heroin can cause problems down the road.

    However, that being said my income has risen every year except one when I moved from Dallas TX to Norman OK and now I make more than I did in Dallas. I guess it all depends on the opportunities you create for yourself. I knew several people in college that dropped out because with their MCSE they could get a 50 to 75K job in Dallas overnight. I decided to stay the course and get a broad education in both business (both MIS and Finance degrees) and technical learning (I began working with linux in '95 as well as Windows based systems).

    Having a wide area of knowledge only helps. I've saved my company 10s of thousands of dollars by implementing Linux based solutions instead of MS solutions at my full time job and we are a MS shop only (not anymore).

    I guess it's all in how hard you worked toward tangible goals when things were going good as opposed to taking the easy way out.
  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jACL (75401) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:23AM (#4424113)
    Being labelled a "slacker" by the "me generation" is such a crock of shit. Their only concern seems to be that they're not screwing me enough by getting me to work 80 hours a week to fund their fat salaries and Lexus payments. The current generation always seeks to undo the excesses of the previous generation. Maybe we actually want to spend some time with friends and family and "live life like we mean it."

    Gen X has the highest contribution to their 401(k) of any generation -- why? Because instead of fixing social security, money is getting doled out in a tax cut to benefit the "me generation" so that we can fund 14 retired people when we're at 50. And we have the highest rate of vounteerism. Slacker, my ass.
  • Re:Some comments (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WetCat (558132) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:24AM (#4424119)
    Note that current 50 years old have had $100000 by age 33!( as adjusted for inflation)
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:24AM (#4424121)
    There is a change in the paradigm of life since the sixties. Up until the sixties, one working parent families were the norm. Now two working parents represent by far the largest majority of families. Why? because you need the incompe produced by two to even approach the style of living that took one (income) then. I think that everyone under fifty is doing worse then their parents did. Why? well first off, for the reason above. Second, most people don't have retirement funds set aside. As they reach retirement age, they won't be able to do so. Up until the early seventies, Social Security was sufficent for at least a reasonably comfortable retirement. Now it falls far short of even poverty levels..and the baby boomers haven't really begun to draw it yet! Once they do, we'll be lucky if it can even stay solvent. If history proves me wrong on this, it'll make me happy.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:25AM (#4424128) Homepage Journal
    throw BOO_HOO("Your own damn fault");

    I take exception to this statement - if you are up to your ass in credit card debt, you have no-one but yourself to blame.

    I was reading how the AVERAGE college student has over $5000 in credit card debt (and here am I obsessing over having a debt of about that when I have a high-paying job!) When I went to school, I didn't even HAVE a credit card! Why?

    BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE A FREAKING JOB!

    No income -> no way to pay -> no card!

    It's one thing to have a high student loan burden - but that's why you have TEN YEARS to pay it off!

    If people would stop going into debt for crap that will have no value when the debt is paid off, and ONLY go into debt for things of long-term value (i.e. don't go into debt buying a stereo, go into debt buying a HOUSE! Don't buy expensive cars that will be junk before you clear the debt, buy a car you can pay off in a couple of years or less) then they would be a lot less worried about the future.

    But because credit cards are easy to get, and kids in school are told "Go ahead, buy that stereo, buy that DVD player, go to Padre for Spring Break, you have a credit card", they end up with a lot of crap and a lot of debt!

    I was born in 1965, so I miss being a Gen-X'er by a year. I was fortunate to be born to parents that were children of the Depression, and who hadn't bought into the BS put out by Dr.'s Spock et. al. I was raised to take responsibility for my life.

    So BOO HOO HOO, cry me a river for the kids who screwed up by charging a bunch of crap on their credit cards. Maybe they will learn from their mistakes.

    But I doubt it.
  • Re:One time thing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:26AM (#4424142)
    Wealth is not a win/lose situation. Wealth can be created, or else we'd be sharing the horse-drawn buggies which our grandparents built.

    There are some situations where wealth is only from others, but real business creates new wealth from resources and/or labor.
  • CONSUME (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spoonyfork (23307) <spoonyfork.gmail@com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:27AM (#4424156) Journal

    ... prime spending years ...

    Gee, if life was all about money (spending it, making it) and I read this article, I would be rather depressed.

    Personal enrichment and the best years of your life have little to do with things you can buy. I don't expect the writers and editors over at Fortune to understand this.

  • by tinrobot (314936) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:27AM (#4424159)
    Not to get too political on either side of the fence, but perhaps now that the bubble has burst and the easy money has dried up, the Gen X'ers will get some civic responsibility and start voting...
  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:28AM (#4424172) Homepage Journal
    Like I have been saying what my age group needs is a good depression. Maybe their entire warped moral structure will change and they'll actually grow up. I can only hope.

    Perhaps instead of complaining they only have a 41 inch big screen TV instead of a 61 inch they'll actually be thankful they HAVE A TV.

    Perhaps instead of running out to a club hyped up on X and pot they might actually be forced to confront reality and THINK about important things instead of hiding from reality in superficial relationships.

    Perhaps the children will toughen up and not whine and cry when people don't like them as they desperately try to litigate a perfect world that will never exist. You FAT, YOUR UGLY, AND PEOPLE AREN'T ALWAYS GOING TO LIKE YOU FOR -WHO YOU ARE-, GET OVER IT. YOUR SHORT NOT VERTICALLY CHALLENGED. DEAL WITH IT.

    Perhaps trial lawyers won't be millionaires on average and people that love JUSTICE will be the only ones left practicing law.

    Perhaps pocket book doctors will vanish left only with doctors that are in it to help people.

    Perhaps when all those trial lawyers are gone insurance rates would drop and medical professionals can focus on saving lives and not red tape.

    Perhaps they'll develop some self-esteem and grow a unique and self-identifying personality instead of rebelling by looking exactly like ANOTHER group of people rebelling.

    Perhaps people will value each other on important things instead of the superficial things they can't afford anymore.

    Perhaps trite and watered down sitcoms will become readily seen as crap and perhaps they'll learn to read and write re-developing an interest in real literature. Maybe, just maybe when a teacher asks a class "Who is your favorite Author" Steven King won't come out of their mouths 19 out of 20 times (And I was a teacher btw and have asked this question). Maybe names like Milton or Ambrose Pierce might pop up. They might even start reading from he PG archives more!

    Perhaps people will once again gather in a park on a warm summer day and philosophize about life and all that is around them.

    Perhaps we can avoid "A Brave New World" and dodge the "Orwellian" society.

    Perhaps... perhaps not...

  • by flinxmeister (601654) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:29AM (#4424181) Homepage
    ..what life was like for them. My grandparents grew up on a farm doing manual labor, and worked their entire lives to improve their lives and those of their offspring. When they were my age, the didn't have air conditioning. Oh yeah, and there was this whole thing about my grandfather watching his friends get hosed off the inside of an airplane because there was a REAL threat of evil in the world. Oh...us poor gen X'ers. We wouldn't know prosperity if it sat on our faces...because it IS and we DON'T KNOW IT. We have more than anyone has ever had. I almost wish we'd have a real depression so we'd know what it's like.
  • by alephnull42 (202254) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:29AM (#4424188) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty much slap bang in the middle of the described bracket (1971).
    I graduated from school in 1988 and spent the next 11 years studying (without much enthousiasm), partying (with enthousiasm), generally having a good time.

    My peers had overtaken me by 1995, high-paying jobs, stock options, stomach ulcers, the lot.

    In 1999 I was kind of jealous coz i was approaching 30, not much to show for it, a classical "loser".

    I then joined the telco industry in 2000 and witnessed the crash from within, my stock options were never worth jack (thank god we didn't IPO)

    My Point? Due to my modest studenty lifestyle which I continue to this day, I never punched my expenses or debt up to an unmanageable level, the telco crash didn't affect me as much as my friends (almost all of which lost most of their paper millions through hanging on to their shares), and I am generally quite happy with my life.

    I have enjoyed watching the rest of my office tearing their hair out while staring at the Nasdaq plunge, comfortable in the knowledge that I have never owned a single share. If my present owner goes belly up, I know I can still get by flipping burgers or failing that digging potatoes in my garden.

    The 90s were a wasted decade for me economically, but boy did I have a good time. On the whole, I believe I came out on top or at least broke even. No ulcers, no debts, most of my hair and most important my self esteem are where they should be.
  • I'm just amazed... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eclectric (528520) <bounce@junk.abels.us> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:29AM (#4424194)
    that the writer was actually able to define generation X. I wonder where he got that from, since that terms is the most overused term in modern media in the last decade. It's good to know that I'm not in generation X... missed it by 2 years, I guess.
  • by lutzomania (139132) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:30AM (#4424202)
    Me, too. I never bought a Beemer or a Boxster, never took part those $200-per-person dinners at (usually) overrated restaurants, never bought a plasma-screen TV. I cashed in my options in 2000/2001 and dumped the proceeds directly into an undervalued house that needed some fixing up, which won me a tiny mortgage & even more control over my cash flow. I still drive my 1995 Honda Civic and have plenty of lovely mazuma piling up in the bank.

    However, before we congratulate ourselves too much for our prudence, we should remember that spending is a very important to our economy. We can't slam on the brakes on our spending altogether. If we do, we're looking at deflation. The Forbes article is full of FUD, but I'm surprised that the authors didn't mention the biggest threat facing GenX--deflation. Deflation was the biggest and longest-lasting effect of the great Depresssion. Banks & the government were unable to stop falling prices. Right now the Fed is similarly ill-equipped because they've cut interest rates so aggressively. They've very little left to cut.

    If prices start falling today, look out, things will get much, much worse....

  • Re:Woe is me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lurking Grue (3963) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:30AM (#4424207)
    Yep. Personal responsibility is not trendy. It requires integrity and effort. "Groupthink" is in.

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomaiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:31AM (#4424213) Homepage
    Please.

    Yes it's true: my career is getting chainsawed by the dot-com bust. I went from AI programming to mainframe programming (and took a $10,000 pay cut) and was told a little while ago that, barring a miaracle, my position is going to be eliminated in February. The good news is I have four months to find a new job before I start collecting unemployment; the bad news is that computer jobs are scarce and I may end up just packing groceries or something.

    Are the best years of my life behind me? No.

    For the first time in my life, I have more friends than I can count on both hands, a girlfriend who loves pizza and beer and horror movies, a positive reputation in the circles that matter to me, and all the comforts I've ever wanted. My biggest concern if I end up packing groceries is health insurance.

    As for computers: I can still do computers for fun. Well-documented, professionally-designed free software builds resumes. I can still take courses toward a Masters' degree in CS. If the field ever recovers, I can get a job. If it doesn't, I have a fun hobby.

    What about the future? I admit I didn't plan on being a security guard for the rest of my life. Ultimately, however, a career is two things: an opportunity to do what you love, and a tool for getting the things you want and need. I can do the one and I have the other. Let the career get chainsawed.

    The best years of my life are here, and are still to come.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:34AM (#4424237)
    The tail end of the baby boomers went through worse. There were no jobs to be had anywhere in the late 70's and early eighties. People were loosing their houses at an astonishing rate. Banks were closing.

    The economy now is much stronger than then. GenX are just a bunch of spoiled winers.
  • It only takes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:38AM (#4424286) Journal
    It only takes 4 to 6 years for a person that is well-rounded in the computer sciences to study another field, gain some experience in that field, and prosper. A common analogy is the professional middle-aged man or woman (we have all seen them in college hallways) that goes to back to school (usually a state college for 2 years), and slowly integrates themselves into a new field/trade. I wouldn't stick a fork in the techie crowd of generation X just yet.
  • Scaremongering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malc (1751) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:39AM (#4424294)
    In a recent paper Wolff notes that young households lay claim to a smaller percentage of total U.S. wealth than they did in 1989.

    I thought that we had an aging population with fewer and fewer young people. Of course they represent less wealth of the total economy! Statements like this seriously diminish the credibility of the article.
  • by mccalli (323026) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:39AM (#4424298) Homepage
    Very nice, but what about circumstances beyond your control? To whit, the property market?

    I'm in the UK, and live in a nice town just outside London. I commute to London daily, and go back to my average-sized three bedroomed house at the end of day where my wife-to-be is waiting, having come back from work and collected our baby daughter from nursery.

    All very charmingly middle-class, right?

    Well, the truth is slightly different. That 'average' house costs about £230k (err..approx. $350,000 I think). Nursery costs for our daughter are about £700 (approx. $1050) per month. Then there's the cost of getting in and out of London - high, as anyone who works there will tell you.

    People living in London will have scant sympathy - that house price I mentioned would barely buy you a one-bedroomed flat in some of the (vanishingly few) decent areas of London. Both themselves and I have to work all hours to pay mortgage and costs.

    Now, I'm not going to plead poverty here. I actually have a very comfortable lifestyle. But I'm in the top 5% of household incomes in Britain, and it gets me just what I've described. We couldn't get a great deal more without taking on some truly significant risk. And the savings rate is nowhere near what it should be (although my pension savings are good). So what do the other 95% do? What about those 'only' in the top 25%? How do they cope? There's serious concern in the capital about essential services such as hospitals and police suffereing badly because prices have risen sooo much that the workers in that industry simply can't afford to live in London anymore.

    So don't be too hard on people who don't seem to be doing as well as they could. Sometimes, they haven't blown all their cash and yet still aren't comfortable. People often have to cope with financial circumstances and responsibilities beyond their immediate control.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • by vaguelyamused (535377) <jsimons@rocketmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:42AM (#4424329)
    Yeah, you gotta keep buying new cars, new clothes, new toys, news gadgets. It's the American Dream!!! Buy, buy, buy, buy! Funnel that hard-earned money directly into the pocketbooks of corporate America and your credit card company. Rampant consumerism is what part of what got the people in the article in trouble in the first place. The idea that we all have to keep buying endless trinkets and baubles to keep the economy going is corporate propaganda.
  • Puh-leeze (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:45AM (#4424356)
    I was born in 1968. I almost flunked out of two colleges and worked in food service to scrape through school. I ran up a bunch of debt on my credit cards while in college and in the first few years afterward.

    I finally decided to grow up. I began spending less money than I was making. Reducing your standard of living is no fun, but it _is_ possible.

    I now have no debt. I own a modest house - with a ton of equity thanks to the current real-estate market and my accelerated payment schedule, I have two cars - both paid for, and I have a decent amount of short and long term savings.

    Don't give me that crap about it's because I'm white and I'm college educated.

    After all, the family from El Salvador living next door can do it. The husband has two jobs, the wife works, they have three kids, their parents live with them and they rent out the basement of their 1400 square foot house so make ends meet.

    This idea that the good life is over for GenXers is just FUD.

    Get real. Get responsible. Quit carping about how hard your life is. Ask your grandparents about living through WWII - rationing of food, metal, gasoline - no place to live, no furniture was being made, there were so many men involved in the war effort that the only way that that ware materiel could be manufactured was for the women to find child care and go to work building planes and bombs.

    We sit in our air-conditioned cars with CD changers, on our way to our air-condintioned homes with cable, DVDs, PCs and dishwashers and think that life is tough.

    We're rich. Life is EASY in the US.

    Don't believe me? Try living in India, China, Sudan or any other of dozens of poor nations.

    Quit complaining and just do the work necessary to be successful in this economy.
  • Precisely. As one who was born in 1967 (making me a Gen X'er, to my honest surprise) that our generation is wrecked is Bullcrap. Life is a series of choices. That some ditched classes and formal education for dot-bom (or even just DeVry) was a choice.

    I almost made the mistake of missing a broad education until my employer told me in 1992, after working for him for 2 years on hiatus from Univerity of North Texas, "If you had a degree I'd have to pay you twice what I pay you now." I enrolled that month in University of Texas at Arlington and graduated in 1994 with a BS-InfoSys. Now I'm married, two kids and am the CTO of a small pharmaceutical. I run on Linux where possible and Windows when it makes business sense. My salary has also gone up, steadily, every year since college--but I avoided the easy money and harsh lifestyle of dot-com startups. A series of choices.

    You wanna know about a real, bonifide wrecked generation that was born between 1966 and 1976? Try Cambodia. My wife was born in 1967 in Cambodia and her entire culture, livelyhood, and many of her family were lost to the Khmer Rouge communists and genicidal elitists. Awwww. . .our portfolios are wrecked. . .damn. What about the Killing Fields? Yet, instead of whinning like spoilt brats, my wife's family (a mother and 4 children; her father was killed) immigrated to the US out of a refugee camp in Thailand. Now all the children are successful professionals (the youngest is finishing college) and productive members of society.

    What a stupid generation I belong to. Thinking that the baby boomers wrecked it for us and we're worse off than all that have gone before us. Yet, I think not everyone in my generation whines and complains. It's just that we're too busy making good, or at least, careful choices to be noticed.

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:46AM (#4424379)
    The article says how we keep working jobs, the economy sucks, etc., but it also keeps calling us slackers. How are we different than our parents and grandparents? We work, pay the bills, try to do better, etc. The author of this piece is torn between wanting to tell how fucked up things have been for a lot of us, and wanting to insult us.

    Amen.

    The baby boomers were the most well educated, richest, most spoiled generation in the history (of the United States, at least). What did they do with all this wealth, all this privelege?

    They did some great things. They rebelled against the establishment and ended institutionalized racism (and the social acceptance of common racism in most circles, despite the nagging existence of a few ethnocentric throwbacks in populations of every ethnicity). They rebelled against the establishment and won the right for a woman to choose the fate of her own body. They rebelled against the establishment and won a large degree of gender equality and sexual freedom.

    And they engaged in excesses that proved to be a little less positive, such as excessive drug experimentation in the 60's, arguably excessive sexual experimentation in the 70's, excessive conservatism and reactionsim in the 80's, and excessive dishonesty in the 90's.

    They took all the freedoms they inherited and enjoyed, abused some of them, and then took those same freedoms away from us in the name of their 'knowing better', they systematically and deliberately inundated us with incessent marketing from the day we were born, tempted us with easy credit, pounded into our heads the compulsion to use that credit to buy their products and enrich them, then blamed us for our irresponsiblity when many of us succumbed to their repeated conditioning and actually did what they were telling us to do, an average of 10 minutes each hour (of television viewed or radio heard), and countless other times as we innocently walked or drove down the street to work.

    Do we bear some of the responsibility for our alleged lack of self control? Sure. Do the generation of our parents and grandparents, who have orchestrated the incessant advertising that conditions us into submissive little shoppers and consumers, often as unable to resist a shiny new object as we are unable to join a protest for a cause we are forbidden, by that very same conditioning, from feeling strongly about? You bet they do.

    There is enough blame for everyone to share, but no generation ever engaged in as much excess, or stripped their descendents of as much freedom and constitutional protection, not to mention financially mortgaging their children's future with unprecendented government deficits and ponzai retirement and real estate schemes than did the generation of our parents.

    So while they may condemn us of our weaknesses (and they are real, valid weaknesses we must address if we are to survive), they would be well advised to check out beam in their own eyes.

  • by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:47AM (#4424381) Homepage
    Depends on your local housing market... some are way overinflated, but not all are.

    As for the investment bit - houses are not a short term investment. Neither are stocks. If you're not going to be in either one for 5 years minimum then you might as well spend your money gambling.

    If you do happen to live in an area where the housing market has gone over the top then you probably will see some deals in the next year or so.

    As usual, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Don't overbuy on your house. Don't buy the best house in the neighborhood. Location, location, location.
  • by wd123 (209211) <wdNO@SPAMarpa.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:48AM (#4424403) Homepage

    So you blew all your money and aren't qualified to get a job as anything but a file clerk? So what? Or the "economy" is so bad that you can't make $100K a year because you know Front Page? And this is the fault of corporations? Cry me a fucking river.


    I'm afraid that is neither true nor fair. There are a lot of very talented people who can't get work because there is simply no work to get. Just because you happen to be working does not make those of us who aren't horrible ill-equipped jackasses who have no value in the marketplace. There simply aren't new jobs to be had, especially in IT.

    One of the biggest jokes these days is resumes, unless you know someone somewhere you just aren't going to get an IT job anymore, because they're so scarce. And a lot of people who might be able to take jobs in another geographic location can't because they're flat broke and can't afford to move. Saying that those without jobs are a bunch of losers is really quite unfair.

    Granted, I'm no Gen Xer, but things are shitty all over anyhow.
  • Re: Slackers!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theBraindonor (577245) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:51AM (#4424425) Homepage
    You are absolutely correct! The slacker nomenclature was applied time and time again without just cause.

    There are plenty of very hard working people in the workforce right now. Just look at the productivity numbers. Our productivity is so high, that we are only hurting ourselves.

    Higher worker productivity increases economic strength at a high price--no new jobs. We are working ourselves right into what analysts call a "Jobless Recovery". That basically means that the economy gets better for everyone but the working stiffs.

    Of course, we all know what the baby-boomer execs do. They take credit for the increased productivity as a result of their management skills, and caller us slackers for not increasing productivity more.

  • by neuroticia (557805) <neuroticiaNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:53AM (#4424454) Journal
    I'm in my 20's, and steadily employed with a job that is pretty much "guaranteed". I make a nice living, and don't PLAN on retiring. (The concept of it bores me.) But will be able to at a decent age, and expect to be able to live nicely after that.

    Don't include me in the 'generation', either. The 'generation' that is refered to, for the most part, is all the guys who thought they could learn HTML and have a porsche-mansion-gorgeoussupermodelwife by the time they were 25, and retire at 30 to travel the world.

    Yeah, some hard workers and brilliant minds got/are getting burned, but such is life... And for the most part, they realize "such is life". The ones doing the loudest complaining are those who wanted to retire after only working 5-10 years, and spent those 5-10 years buried in booze, women, and various electronic play-toys. I've got a few friends like that, and they spend all their time complaining and don't even look for a job now that they're unemployed. The world was "supposed" to do them a favor, and it didn't.

    I hate people who got into tech stuff just because they wanted to become rich. It's like the doctors who don't give a damn about anything but their wallet. I'm happy the market crashed, it weeded out a bunch of the people who were just trying to get rich quick off of vapor-skills.

    -Sara
  • Get clue. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by budalite (454527) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:53AM (#4424456)
    Halfway to pension age, she has just $5,000 in a 401(k) and $20,000 in home equity. Ideally, someone her age should have at least $100,000 stashed away.

    What rubbish. I would like to see the numbers of people who have over $100K saved by the ripe old age of 32.5. Probably about the same number of people who are still rich using the Forbes philosophy of "buy and hold". Ideally, we would all love to be millionaires by the time we are 40, no, 30! While I would, indeed, recommend saving at least 10% of your pay and not spend it on anything less than a true emergency (after a house is bought), most of the people I know (most of whom make near $100K/year) spend just about every other penny on their families, especially on getting their kids quality education and giving them a quality environment to grow up in. Most of them took over 20-25 years to get to that sort of salary. Few of them got to their age without one or two episodes of work or family related emergencies that required tapping that next egg once or twice. (Unemployment would qualify. It did for me.) All of them worked their collective fannie off. Few of them or their parents read Forbes or any other magazine by and for people with silver spoons in every orifice. Few of them will retire rich, but they might have enough to have some fun for 5-10 years of retirement.
    I predict that, since he/she is an uninformed idiot, the author of that article will soon join the unemployed, too. But not the magazine owner. Nosirree, bob. He's some kind of insulated from the economy. That Forbes boy is about a good at giving financial advice (much less political) as the Catholic Church is at giving advice on how to avoid pedaphiles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:54AM (#4424465)
    Oh boo hoo. I refuse to accept that just because of the years you were born you're more likely to fail. People are more likely to fail because they won't accept that they actually have to work for stuff sometimes.

    Buncha spoon-fed babies.
  • by dmoynihan (468668) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @10:59AM (#4424508) Homepage
    Article says for many Gen Xers peak earning years are over. Ok, for the 50 people who earned 200k as a DotCom CTO now tending bar in the Valley, maybe. However, the oldest Gen Xer (going from '66) would now be 36. My understanding of peak earning years was that they always began at age 40-ish, continuing on to retirement.

    It might be different in the go-go-go IT industry (where you hear about a lot of coders burning out by then), but nowhere else does this apply.

    I certainly do know a number of folks my age (just turned 30, ick) who are in hock with credit card debt, etc.--but our problems are nothing compared to the 50-somethings down the street who've refinanced their houses twice to cover debts and nice cars, etc. I'm guessing Fortune has an older readership, and they're trying to make those folks feel better about themselves.

    One neat thing about the article is it does at least admit there won't be Social Security. Would this be a good place to rant about how I'd like the opportunity to invest my quarterly Self-Employment tax payments in government-run, low-fee index funds instead of, you know, somebody in Florida on the premise that that the same will be done for me?

    (Disclaimer: own house in one of the last reasonably priced areas of DC metro--bubble's hitting this market as we speak--no debt besides mortgage, drive 1997 Nissan Sentra, run own business after three years of developing it part-time have 401k, ROTH IRA, and SEP IRA currently, just made another contribution to SEP, tend to hang out with Asian immigrants so my savings are comparatively paltry).
  • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:01AM (#4424528)
    The baby boomers are starting to retire, so in the next five to ten years...

    We can look forward to their joining the ranks of activist elders agitating for entitlements like social security and medicare to be improved? Guess which generation gets to foot the bill for their retirements, payroll-tax-wise?

    Okay, putting the bitch-and-moans down...

    This retirement is going to destablize the U.S. economy. Personally I think the generation politics stuff is crap, but there is a big population bubble. The effect in a capitalist society is sort of like the effect in a despotism when one of the great kings lives too long: You get chaos after the king dies, because the people who would have ordinarily succeeded him are longer in the tooth. The situations aren't quite analogous -- typical thing in a monarchy is for the king's elder sons to turn on the younger, named successor in a civil war. But economically, this is a huge burden for the so-far-suppressed generation to take up just when they could be out from under things.

    (What was that story maybe a decade ago comparing the Gen X generations to the depression years in terms of earning power, job prospects and so on? Must've been just before the internet bubble.)

    Oh, and:

    Also, we are seeing another 'baby boom' coming lately with the tradegy of 9/11. This past year there has been a drastic increase in weddings and births.

    Actually that seems to be a myth. Salon had an article debunking it, anyway, with the actual birth rate numbers. Ain't going up.

  • by bellings (137948) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:02AM (#4424539)
    If those wacko islamicists are targetting the economy like they say they are, then I know what I have to do. I have to save, save, save. I have to prepare for the day when the power goes out for good and there's no more water coming out of the tap.

    Cool. Good thing you're saving up. When the world goes to shit, and there's nothing available on the free market, you'll be able to trade all of that valuable green paper you have for all the useful stuff available on the ... uhh ... free market.

    Oh, never mind.

  • by ethanms (319039) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:02AM (#4424542)
    Ever hear the story of the grasshoppper and the ant?

    The majority of the reason that these people are in trouble is because they stretched themselves beyond their means.

    People who had used some forsight could make a killing during the tech boom we recently had, or during the real estate boom following the crash in the late 80s.

    There are too many people in their late 20s and early 30s who want to run into buying houses, while at the same time leasing two mid-priced cars and paying for their cell phones and cable modems.

    I know way too many people who were quick to move out of their folks' homes as soon as they got a job... then after a couple of years they realize that they've barely breaking even on living costs and have no savings. Anything not in the budget goes on the credit card and takes them years to pay off.

    Sorry guys, maybe it's worth a year or two living at home and not being able to have your girlfriend stay over or throw parties on the weekend... but at least you won't be fucked if you lose your job.
  • by lanolr (473324) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:03AM (#4424557)
    Adds Bruce Tulgan, a Gen Xer and founder of RainmakerThinking, a consultancy that studies labor trends: "I had a college president say to me, 'I don't know how much longer I can pull this off because people will start to ask, Is it worth this much money to be that much smarter?' "

    I would definitely dispute the implication that college makes people smarter, College provides Knowledge and teaches Skills if anything people are dumber after leaving college but they should have learned a few tricks to help them hide the Fact...
    As to the actual point of the Article, Economics is based on supply, demand and perception. Since the Eighties the perceived growth has been based on Wishful thinking. The IT bubble was based around companies that had and never could make a profit; IT is here to stay just take ANY office environment once the network goes down, ALL WORK STOPS. Once confidence and reason are restored it will be easier to predict the future but the future is ALWAYS uncertain and is not something someone should gamble with ever, People need to relearn how to plan for an uncertain future rather then depending on Pure Luck.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:06AM (#4424590) Homepage Journal
    This whole article was unmitigated garbage. Fortune headline: people with unrealistic expectations dissapointed by reality.


    32 is "halfway to pension age?" (Karen, the first example in the article). Yeah, maybe in Fortune world. Anybody my age who thinks the retirement age won't be seventy by the time we get there is dreaming. And personally I don't plan to stop working or earning money until my body stops working. What am I supposed to do, golf for 20 years?


    After 8 years as a copywriter she only has $5000 in her retirement fund? Hell, I'm doing almost that good after 3 years at a non-profit. And this is the LAST 3 years so the market hasn't exactly been creating that value.


    36 year olds' "peak earning years" are past? In what universe? If you accept that procouncement you deserve to end up broke at 65. Well, yes, maybe if you were earning some ridiculous paycheck you weren't earning because you happened to be a "web developer" back when everyone was acting stupid and the market was busy destroying capital in a massive greed-out... instead of now, when you actually have to contribute to some sort of income to get paid a normal salary...


    Ohh... yeah, it's starting to make sense now. This reminds me of this teacher I saw on some financial show on public teevee, whining about how he "lost $700,000" on the stock market (totally invested in all tech stocks) and how the goverment should have protected him better. Number one, the fact that your portfolio floated around 700K for a while doesn't mean you can claim to have lost 700K. If I drink five gallons of water, get on a scale, then piss and sweat it all out and get back on the scale, I did not just "lose" X pounds except in the most technical and meaningless way. If I EARN $700,000, and invest it, and lose it, then, yes, I lost that money.


    Two realities are represented in this article: one is people who got suckered along with the rest in the get-rich-quick madness of the 90s and are now all sour grapes because they found out that no matter what the dip analysts who are NEVER good predictors of the market say, stupid businesses with no sound profit model end up making people poor, not rich - except for the few gamblers that happen to opt out at the right time. Those of us who have been working normal jobs earning reasonable wages since college are not impressed. Point the second, ohw, pohw wittle babies, are you not going to have the $7 million you need to retire at 59? Cry me a fucking river.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:06AM (#4424591)
    The way the world is going it will most likely be Generation "D"ead.
  • by adamshamblin (524400) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:07AM (#4424597) Homepage
    I arrived here by working hard and not being lured by will-o-the-wisp nonsense. So, please do not include me in your "generation". Thank you.
    Fists up to that!

    I grow so tired of seeing others of my 'generation' so willing to accept the pessimism handed to us by the fear mongering media. Comparing our actions/experiences to those of previous generations is largely like comparing apples and oranges - so much changes, especially our illusions.

    I'm doing just fine in my own time.

  • Fortune magazine. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:08AM (#4424612) Homepage Journal
    Always remember who is talking...
  • by yog (19073) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:10AM (#4424625) Homepage Journal
    Dear Gen X'ers:
    Life is not fair; get over it.
    What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
    Millions of people survived World War II, Great Depression, etc., and went on to do great things; you can too.
    You're young, strong, healthy, and have the best prospects for maintaining your health in history of the human race; you might even be immortal, if someone happens to solve that one.
    You have the coolest tech tools in history for communicating, playing, and learning.
    The world is at relative peace aside from a few smoldering embers here and there; you probably won't have to march off to war even if a big eruption occurs; it's not going to be big armies fighting anymore.
    1998-2000 was an aberration that's unlikely to be repeated soon; it was an education worth more than your college degree; learn from it and grow from it.
    Good luck,
    Terry
  • by certron (57841) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:10AM (#4424629)
    " In order to reasonably support the people expected to make social security claims over the next thirty years, taxes would have to be doubled at a minimum. "

    The money is there. Taxes don't "need" to be doubled, but probably will, and probably before 30 years. There are lots of things that need to be fixed, at the very least get rid of corporate welfare for lots of companies, and try to eliminate government waste of money (most importantly in the defence industry).

    I agree, though, things ... won't be terribly pleasant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:11AM (#4424639)
    Fuck off and die.
    My parents couldn't afford to send me to college so I got massive student loans and worked my ass off full time at a meat packing plant while attending college full time. After I graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science I now find myself making only $28,000 a year as a SysAdmin. I cannot even afford a studio apartment, at the age of 27 I am living with my parents.
    I did everything right, I worked hard and remain working hard, I went to college and got the degree , but it has gotten me no where.
    If you are so ignorant, so blind and naive, so fucking braindead that you cannot see that the economy really is in the shitter and that corporate America really is raping its workforce then I cannot wait until you face the harsh reality of being laid off and looking for a job in 2002.
  • by NetFu (155538) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:12AM (#4424644) Homepage Journal
    First, NOTHING is guaranteed -- but you probably know that if you haven't been under a rock for the past 3 years.

    I agree with the rest of what you're saying. Reading this Fortune article, I feel sorry for these people that have tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt on top of $50k+ in college loan debt. But, I don't know what the hell is wrong with these people because I paid off my college loan debt years ago (I'm 32), and have never had more than $3-4k of credit card debt -- I'm ashamed when I have even that much, but I'm told by bankers that that is incredibly low. I also grabbed a home here in the Silicon Valley at a great price (current selling price is still more than double what I bought it at), and I've put another $20k into it out-of-pocket to improve my equity even more (about $300,000 today). AND, I have over $25k in retirement funds (IRA & 401k) TODAY -- including the losses of the past few years.

    I hope the article is too pessimistic because I can't believe how irresponsible you'd have to be to have so much debt and so few assets.

    And speaking of "vapor-skills", yes there were too many losers out there winning projects over me just because they could sell themselves better than I could. Where are they now? Broke and unemployed -- thank God sanity has returned...
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#4424656) Journal
    It might be a "recession" for *most* folks, but for techies it is an outright "depression". Techies are living in the same situation that our grandparents used to tell us long annoying stories about.

    Basic "service" jobs (drivers, cash register operaters) are all there is out there right now if one is job hunting. These activities keep a company afloat. Programmers don't, except for a few to fix occasional high-priority bugs. In the short run, you don't need techies. Most techies do things that are "change oriented". For example, upgrading the network, upgrading desktop OS's, making the ultimate Management Info System to track widgets, etc. When things slow, companies PULL THE PLUG on these expansion or "investment" endevours and keep things as-is. AS-IS == Slim_techy_jobs

    Intellectual-intensive jobs tend to be like this. It is the bone-head jobs of physically moving thing A to box B that stay afloat during slow times because those are the basal metabolism of a company. The brain shuts down most higher functions.

    Ironic how the bone-head jobs have the most job security these days.
  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:14AM (#4424667) Homepage Journal
    My parents were born in the early 20's. When the great depression started in '29, my father was 7, my grandfather was 41.

    Grandpa had a highschool education (I think ... maybe not.) and was in debt, running a small business. When the depression ended, his peak earning years were definitely behind him. I don't think it ever occurred to him that he'd been set up for failure, or that he had failed.

    This is pretty silly stuff, I think. Everyone has some rough patches, and for some of us they last pretty long. The big oil price bust in the early 80's was hard on the folks in Alaska and Texas. The generation which fought WWI was called ``the lost generation'' (This was the backgroung for Hemmingway's ``Big, something-hearted River''). If you ever find a generation which was NOT set up for failure in some way, let us know.

  • by cyranoVR (518628) <[cyranoVR] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:19AM (#4424712) Homepage Journal
    What's more disgusting is that they are judging us for not having the "free-spirit, live for today" worldview that they had when they were all hippies. They were "discovering themselves" and now can blow their own parents inheritance on more selfish "self-discovery." They take for granted everything they got from their parents, but don't think we are deserving of any such help at all.

    Maybe we're not, but my point is that the double standard is absurdly unjust.

    See, to them, we are "spoiled whiners...children." But when you look at the facts THEY are the ones who were spoiled by THEIR parents, and now we are the ones who are going to foot the bill.

    Some posters have said that the X'ers dug their own grave by "wasting money on electronic toys and cars." That's chump change. Most people I know have 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars in debt from Higher Education. The American Dream is long dead. Time for us to get together and take the system down.
  • Bunch of crock (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paranoic (126081) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:27AM (#4424771)
    Here's why
    <RANT>

    The article says something about the average college loan of a baby boomer at about $2000, now it's $17000. About the price of a small new car in the 70's and now. Big deal.

    The baby boomers didn't start off with the inflated salaries of the dot-com era. So salaries will finally get in line with what you can actually do. Big deal.

    The relatively high unemployement rate of 6% is nowhere near the rate of the 70's (closer to 8%).

    Finally for those of you who don't have a job. You already have one: it's called finding a new job. Treat it with the seriousness of a real job and you will find one. Maybe not in the geographic area of your choice or in the field of your choice, but to summarize Who Moved the Cheese, there are good jobs out there, you have to find them. Don't ask where, that's your job, remember?
    </RANT>

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:27AM (#4424775)
    The starting pay absolutely blows. If I were to have 100k "stashed-away" by the time I am 32, I would have to save 1/4 of my earnings for 10 years. Now, explain to me how you are supposed to: buy a house, pay for your car, keep out of debt, and still fucking have 100k saved by the time you are 30s?

    If only someone had sat down and explained to me how things work when I was in my twenties.

    You need to sit down and understand how compound interst works. Seriously. You need to run the numbers, until you understand exactly how modest savings over time, invested wisely, will compound into wealth by the time you hit retirement. Calculate the numbers for yourself over 10 years, over 20 years, over 30 years.

    One of the surprises you will find is that, if you start saving $100/month at 20, you will live better than someone who starts saving $1,000/month at 30. Time is the most important ingredient in saving, and if you are only 24, you still have a good amount of time on your side.

    Yes, your beginning salary sucks, and yes, you should probably be putting as much extra cash away now as you can reasonably afford. My first job paid only $20,000, so little that the minimum payment on my college debts exceeded my takehome pay. I obvously only worked that job for as long as I needed to find a much better one ... the norm for most entry-level jobs. Do not be loyal to an employer who pays you so little -- my initial mistake at the time -- but rather, get the experience you need, then find a proper paying job with someone willing to pay you appropriately).

    And this brings me to my second point: you will not be making such miserable wages for the next 6 years. Put away as much as you can afford now, because time will grow that money remarkably over the next decade, and time is the most potent ingredient in the mixture (assuming, of course, you are earning interest that exceeds inflation. Modest interest will do, you do not need to be making 10% annual returns, and as I pointed out, $100 put away today will do more for your retirement than $1,000 put away ten years from now).

    Compound interest is something everyone who participates in a capitalist economy should have an intimate understanding of. The only good debt 'interest' is real-estate interest, because of the tax savings it creates (which reduces the real interst to a very small amount) and the equity in your (likely) improving property value, plus the fact that if you weren't paying it you'd be paying rent and flushing your entire monthly payment down the drain with no benefit and no asset to show for it, and you have to live somewhere.

    Other than your morgage, you want to be on the positive side of the compound interest equation, and that means saving and investing, even modestly, while avoiding debt otherwise. If you are on the positive side of that equation and do nothing, you will eventually become wealthy. If you are on the negative side of that equation, there is a good chance you will become impoverished despite working your ass off.

    When I was in my twenties I thought I understood compound interest because I'd had a couple of business and economic classes, and because I knew what the words meant. It wasn't until I ran the numbers, and pondered what the results meant (like the surprising result I mention above) that I realized how little I understood the concept's implications in our everyday lives, much less its impact on our retirement. I wish to hell I'd known 10 years ago what I know now, and can only reiterate my advice: run the numbers, study and ponder the result. Understand what the implications are, and start saving and investing, even modestly, now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:31AM (#4424808)
    I am a member of Generation X. And no, most of us don't whine and yes boomer media likes to say that we do. I didn't buy a BMW during the boom, I didn't go to $200 dinners. I can't afford a home. I have $450 dollars saved and $10,000.00 dollars of debt that I pay against every month. I grit my teeth and do the work I can, for the pay that it pays. Right now that's about $24k a year with no benefits. It's not whining it's a fact. Do I want your help? NO! Did I ask for any help? NO! But it IS a fact that the world is this way. And it is a fact that we have to deal with it. So we do. Now if you decide to tell a story like mine , it isn't a story, it's whining. What I can't stand are people telling me how hard their stupid Beatles revolution was because the LSD was laced with poison. I can't stand people say I should go to college and get a degree when I can't even afford 10k of debt let alone 50k of debt. I can't stand when people say they're ashamed to be part of GenX. Hey the strongest MOST STOIC (despite media portrayal) OF ANY GENERATION in American history is Gen X.
  • by iguana (8083) <davep@extend[ ].com ['sys' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:31AM (#4424815) Homepage Journal
    Thank you for a very thoughtful posting! You've hit the nail in the head. Like you, programming is something I enjoy and I'm lucky enough to get paid (well!) for it.

    I was born in 1969. Generation X? WTF? I consider myself very lucky. When my employer went public during the dot-com hype, I sold enough stock during the hype to pay off my debts: credit cards, vehicle, student loans. Their stock has since dropped from $150 to $1.50 but I haven't dug myself back into the hole.

    Best years of my life? Har har har. The best years of your life are *right now* whenever right now might be.

  • by brennan73 (94035) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:32AM (#4424825)
    Hey I got laid off a few years ago too, but doesn anyone else notice a *slight* disconnect between "No generation since the Depression has been set up for failure like this," and one of their 28-year-old hard luck cases, who is "looking at jobs that pay around $50,000, 40% below the salary he was collecting at Claimshop."

    Oh, the humanity! $50,000 a year! However will he afford Gucci and Prada on such a pittance? $50,000 a year ain't filthy rich, but it sure as HELL ain't Depression-level poverty; I personally would be thrilled to get a raise that boosted me to $50,000 a year.

    Once they find college-educated 30-year-olds forced to nourish themselves Grapes-of-Wrath-style with breast milk from healthier women, then I'll pay attention to the whining. Why do these stupid stories keep popping up?

    -brennan
  • by LetterJ (3524) <j@wynia.org> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:33AM (#4424838) Homepage
    Repeat after me. There is more to the country and the world than California (or wherever you are that there's a huge bubble). There is no "national" or "worldwide" housing market. There's only a vast collection of local housing markets, all of them functioning individually.

    This conversation hits on 2 of my pet peeves. One is the idea that if it's true in some small segment of the world extrapolates to the rest of the country or world.

    The other is the comparison of house investment to stock, bond or other traditional investment. The thing is that for most people, getting a house is a switch from dumping $1000 a month into a landlord's bank account to paying it to a mortgage company. Since housing VERY rarely loses value, you're at least as good off as if you stayed renting, and most of the time much better off. Could you make more with $1000 a month than on a house? Probably. But tell me, when you shift the $1000 from the mortgage to rent, where's the $1000 in investment money going to come from. Buying a house turns a regular (virtually non-negotiable) expense into a modest investment instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:39AM (#4424891)
    I find it silly that ppl can say that their home is an investment and that they're not going to buy one since the value will only increase X amount in 10 years instead of Y. Sure not all houses will be worth $20000 more in five years, but they wont go down in price either, unless you live on some toxic waste dump.

    A house is your home. It's YOURS, not the landlords, it's where you wake up, go to bed, sleep, eat, relax-essentially you LIVE in a home. You can paint the walls purple, the ceiling green, and put in orange carpet if you want. You have a backyard to sit outside on a summer day.

    I grew up on a farm where all the land within 2 miles of our HOME (not investment) was ours. Maybe because I grew up there and we owned (not invested) in all that land I view a house==home and != investment instead of ppl that grew up in a 1400 sq feet home, err..sorry, investment.
  • by pizza_milkshake (580452) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:39AM (#4424893)
    I have to agree with you 100%. Every time I hear someone bitching and moaning about the job market; that they can't make $100k/year doing HTML and Javascript I can't help but snicker. Yes, some good people have fallen on hard times, but mostly I see alot of lazy/unmotivated people that expected everything to fall in their lap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:39AM (#4424895)
    I have applied to literally hundreds of jobs (including dozens that were posted on Monster) in the last year and I only got 3 interviews.
    I worked full time while putting myself through college part time, worked for a year as a software developer (while still going to college), and then the economy tanks.
    I am underqualified for IT jobs and overqaulified for every thing else.
    I worked extremely hard and I know it is not my fault.
  • Generation W (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nindalf (526257) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:51AM (#4424998)
    ...for "weird."

    For all the advances in science and technology, we're still basically living the same lifestyle of the 50's. Stuff works a little better, people live a little longer, we have nicer toys, some irrelevant fashions continued to evolve, that's it. We still drive cars at about the same speed, not many people live to 100 years old, hardly anybody goes to space, and most things are still mass-produced in big, expensive factories.

    When today's toddlers grow up, some seriously weird technologies are going to start kicking in ... technologies that may make our political system obsolete, just as mass-produced guns made feudalism obsolete.

    What happens when factories are no longer necessary to provide complex goods? ...when the full set of artificial organs are available? ...when anyone can afford the boost into orbit? ...when computers stop sucking and start working?
  • by nomadicGeek (453231) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:52AM (#4425001)
    I have to admit that things look pretty bad right now but I am still optimistic. Life is hard, no doubt about it. You have to work your ass off and every strategy that you try is not going to be successful but I'm not willing to give up just yet.

    The recession in '92 taught me some valuable lessons and this latest bust has reinforced those lessons and validated my strategies. I'm glad that these events happened while I am still relatively young.

    1. Work for a company that is making money (as an employee or a businessman). If the company is not making money, find one that is. Don't wait, it will only get worse.
    2. If the company isn't making money and your department isn't making the company money, your days are numbered. Get out.
    3. Live lean. Keep your fixed expenses as low as possible.
    4. Avoid debt at all cost for non-appreciating assets. If it is going to be worth less after you buy it, then pay cash. If you can't pay cash then do without it.
    5. Use credit cards for convenience only and always pay them off every month.
    6. Keep a war chest. You must have 1 year's expenses in cash if you are going to have any options in a pinch. There is nothing worse than having all of your options limited because you need a paycheck in 2 weeks to cover your rent.
    7. When times are good, save your money. It won't stay that way. It NEVER does. The business cycle isn't going anywhere.

    The biggest mistake that I saw people make during the last boom was planning as if everything would stay optimum forever. They took shortcuts, they loaded up on debt and expenses so when things took a downturn, the house of cards came falling down. If you can't be smart then you have to be tough.

    Things seemed simpler in the past. Most of our parents probably worked for the same company for 30 years and retired with a pension that can sustain them for the remainder of their lives. The price that they paid was fewer choices in life. They couldn't start their own company and work out of their house. They didn't have portable pension plans that allowed them to change jobs or even careers. Many of them didn't have the opportunity to get a college education because there were not as many grant and student load programs. Given the choice, I would rather have things the way that they are now. More choices and thus more opportunity.

    I still think that we will end up being better off than our parents in the long run.
  • by Gerry Gleason (609985) <gerry@IIIgeraldg ... inus threevowels> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:54AM (#4425035)
    The whole generation naming thing is a crock anyway. Technically, I'm a boomer, but being born in 1960, I was too young to really experience the 60s that are the subject of most boomer nostalga. My wife is two years older, and my sisters range from a year older to five younger, all technically before the range stated in the article. My wife's brothers are much older, so she had more contact with all of that than I, but we have long been aware of being in-between.

    I can relate because I'm financially in about the same boat. Little retirement funds, house but little equity (yet), and little confidence that those greedy boomers will leave anything for the rest of us. Don't get me started about our recent tax cuts (not to be US centric, or anything). I'm not whining (or a 'winger' to quote [slashdot.org] our friend from down under), but I am hopping mad about all the greed.

    Fortunately, I have about 20 years experience in the right technologies, and my earning potential is excellent even if it isn't as good recently. I'm well aware that the squeeze is a lot tighter for some, but it is also clear that the outlook is bleakest if you follow the conventional wisdom. Find a way to express your creativity and take care of yourself. Reduce your needs while you take the road less travelled. I'm constantly seeing people who did this, and have been richly rewarded. Not always in money, but they have what they need.

    If things keep going the way they have, I'll still be working at 70 to pay the bills and I won't be able to afford to retire, but that's fine with me as long as I can still do it, and I am doing something that interests me. I'm not that worried.

    A guy I worked with who is a bit older was trying to convince me that we are in for a long term downturn when the boomers start to retire in large numbers during the next 10-20 years. The argument is that there is a big loss of experience, and there just aren't enough coming up behind to take up the slack. I say hogwash, let them go. Sure, you are going to lose some very talented people, but I think the generations that are coming on are a lot more clueful [cluetrain.org] about the important shifts that technology and the new social networks made possible. If Gates retired now, we would all be a lot better off, and that goes for most of the leadership of large corperations.

    He may have a point about the other end of the size scale, and I think there will be tremendous opportinity in small to mid-sized businesses. IMHO, the way out is to start now to empower people working in these organization to use their vision to keep up with all the shifts. The best business people will do this no matter what generation they come from, and the ones that don't will mostly fail and be replaced by new businesses with vision long before they get a chance to retire.

    My claim is that the dotcom bust isn't what it first appears, a conventional bubble (although, it was that too). You have to look more closely at the survivors, and you have to be careful about what conclusions you draw. Sure, Gates and company are still making a fortune, but it is on a dead business model. IBM was making a fortune still when I was in school on the same dead business model and it didn't save them. If I'd learned Cobol (actually, I did, but I knew not to go that way) I'd have had a good year or two leading up to Y2K and I'd be desperately trying to catch up now.

    It is an open future, and those that understand the importance of creativity and its relationship to freedom are going to shape it.

    I've always liked this phrase, and I think it applies here: "When the going gets strange, the wierd turn pro". I think I've just found something to put in my sig.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:55AM (#4425047)
    Not everyone wants to drive some faggoty midget car. I drive a Taurus most of the time and my truck when I need it. What do you drive, a go-kart powered by your own sense of self satisfaction?
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:56AM (#4425055) Journal
    I work for in international company. roughtly 1/2 the people staffed here are from the company's 'mother land' in Europe.

    Working for this company, I have learned several things about the world, and reflexively, the US. See we (Americans) have a system where it pays to work hard and get ahead. In other countries, you work hard, get ahead, and make very little back. The 85% tax rate ensures you don't see much ROI. Now, what they do get is a workign social security system where your retirement is completely paid by the government.

    I have a friend here who is from that mother land, and he soo wants to be american so he can start his own company and experience the reward for his hard work. (AKA the American Dream) So I'm going to have to say: If you want to go to work, do the minimum as to not get fired, and have a good retirement, leave the US. If you want to work hard and get ahead, then stay. After listening to my friend, I have decided to start my own company. Ironically, this foreigner is helping me start it, pro-bono, because I don't know how.

  • Piss off (Score:4, Insightful)

    by floppy ears (470810) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:59AM (#4425079) Homepage
    -begin rant-

    I've never been so angry after reading Slashdot comments. I can't believe the number of people (both Generation Xers and people of other ages) who are sitting here and calling Generation Xers a bunch of whiners. Where the hell do you get off condemning an entire age group based on some stupid article written for people in the top 1% of income in the US.

    From various threads above:

    All I ever se when I read an article about them is a bunch of whiny bitches that think everything should be handed to them on a silver platter complaining about "corporate america" (whoever that is) conspiring to steal from them, take away their rights, and in general make their life miserable. Score 4: Interesting.

    What the fuck? You moderators find it interesting to stereotype an entire age group?

    I think they live in a perpetual state of 'recapturing their youth.' Score 5: Interesting.

    Yeah, we sure do, every one of us who was born between 1965 and 1975.

    Gen X is the first instant gratification generation, much to their own dismay. Credit card and other short term debt is killing this generation, as well as an affliction for absurd consumption. Score 5: Interesting.

    I don't know about the rest of the people from my generation, but the only times in my life when I had short term credit card debt was when I was unemployed. So fuckin sue me for needing to pay the rent.

    Unemployment in 1933 was 24.9. 24.9 percent!!! GNP dropped 8.5 percent in 1931 and 13.4 in 1932.

    Unemployment is 6-7% and our GDP rose by 1.2% last quarter. We are not in any sort of hardship by any means. Hardship is not being able to eat. Not being able to afford a new PS2 is not hardship.
    Score 5: Interesting.

    Right. So because fewer people are unemployed now than were in the Great Depression, that means that the people who nonetheless are unemployed right now are not really suffering. I guess the logic is that they have more ability to mooch off of their friends or something, because the friends are less likely to be unemployed.

    I could go on, but I have work to do. Please moderate this as flamebait, and go piss off.

    -end rant-

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:02PM (#4425102)
    You want to study engineering, go for it. Want to study something professional, great! Want to study things that are practical, great.

    The white collar world is still nice, and growth will resume, the economy is rebounding. After the election, everyone will stop "talking down the economy" and we'll probably avoid a double-dip recession. Sure things aren't as good now as they were 3 years ago, but they are better than they were 5, 8, or 10 years ago.

    The biggest problem in Gen. X was learning our parent's bullshit mistakes. The Babyboomers got everything.

    People saw that educated people have money, and confused cause and effect. Rich people sent kids to play in Ivy League schools before running the family business. Bullshit education is bullshit.

    Born rich? Go to Harvard to drink $8 cups of coffees and study the "classics." Sorry, but that's a luxury for the idle rich. Everyone else? Work hard, get an education to advance your career, and work harder. Invest money, and live within your means.

    Want to spend $100k studying garbage? If you parents have millions? Great. Otherwise, save enough money to do so on your own. Have at least 3 kids (the population aging, let's all do our part here to fix the situation, don't be selfish and hoard money with no offspring), and work hard. In "retirement" go to the local university and amuse yourself.

    Just make sure you save enough to provide your kids with the means to a better life.

    Sorry, those born with a silver spoon get the perks, such is life. Instead of whining that you don't get it, provide it to your kids. That SHOULD be the goal.

    Sorry, when I watched my father's friends (all doctors) keeping their $2 million homes and pulling their kids out of private school and making them go to state schools, I was ill. Your FIRST priority should be giving your kids EVERY opportunity possible. Your personal luxury is secondary.

    Sure, public schooling and state schools are PERFECTLY acceptable. However, if your choice is giving your children a "better" option or buying a new Lexus? Go get a Ford Taurus and deal.

    Work hard, better your life, give your kids whatever advantages you can.

    I have $10k in credit card debt from starting my business, it will be paid off by my wedding next summer. The fiancee racked up some in school. We're both working, paying off the debts, and trying to save money for a house AND start Roth IRAs (after the credit cards are paid off). We balance transfer our creditcards every 6 months to get 0%-3% interest.

    We'll get a nice home in 5 years, and hopefully have 4 kids. They'll all get great schooling, and we'll live nicely. If my business takes off, we'll have a life of luxury. If we don't? We'll have a reasonable home. Either way we'll be happy with our family and extended family.

    Alex
  • Manging my money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:06PM (#4425149) Homepage Journal
    You were able to manage your career and make an expectations of what you'll be earning and you were able to manage your credit.


    BZZT! WRONG.

    I was laid off from my first job after eight months. I was unemployed for some time thereafter. Don't give me this "it was harder for us" crap - it won't wash.

    I simply didn't spend money I didn't have. My first car was an old beater. My stereo was the same boombox I was given as a present when I entered college. I didn't buy things I couldn't write a check for. It was YEARS before I got my first credit card.

    I simply lived within my means - something YOU obviously cannot understand.
  • by SpaceTaxi (170395) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:06PM (#4425152) Homepage
    Generation X has already come to terms with a less than friendly socio-political environment. I think we all understood what we are up against before these "doomsday" articles came out in the early nineties. Many of us came out of college in the middle of a recession and faced economic challenges from the start. We know what we are up against, and I think we know that our success isn't going to be given to us on a silver plater.

    Of course, this article also gives us none of the credit and all of the blame for our participation in the recent Internet/technology boom and bust. The author of this article gives the impression that we were just swept up on the ride. I would argue that, for the most part, our generation made the ride.
  • This is a troll... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dirk Pitt (90561) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:07PM (#4425156) Homepage
    but I'll bite. Nobody has paid for the their SS money 'up front'. You pay into a program to help support the current welfare output--yes, SS is welfare. Most SS recipients draw all the money they put into SS, even taking into account a healthy amount of interest and inflation, in the first five years. In case you didn't know, you don't have to have work to draw. My grandmother never paid a dime into SS (housewife for a large extended family), yet drew income from SS from the day she was eligible to the day she died. Social Security is welfare. Don't live under the illusion that it's some sort of savings system. And it's not really the current gov't's fault, or the boomers, the system's just broken. You can't have a generation as big as the boomers supported by the income of a smaller generation.

    On a related note, I read somewhere back that if when the SS was initiated, if the gov't had saved the tax revenue for TWO YEARS and invested the money, the SS system would be in surplus right now...

  • by clintp (5169) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:13PM (#4425207)
    I agree completely. This notion that the GenX'ers are getting screwed from the outside and have no hope is just bullshit.

    My story in brief: At this point in my life (b. 1969), I'm doing very well and in a stable situation. I'm earning a very comfortable salary for this area, have a wife and child, live well within my means. My house is appropriately priced for the salary I earn, I have no credit debt to speak of other than my mortgage. My parents didn't give me a financial boost, as they were always middle class and lived in a poor city (Flint, MI).

    However, my job could evaporate and I'd be fine because of a diverse skillset which I'm always improving and savings. I'm well insured so if something happens to me my family will be fine. It's all a matter of having good survival skills. I have friends in the same age group that are doing just as well. As I look around those that are doing badly, they've almost always made poor choices. The themes are similar:

    • They overextended themselves. It doesn't matter if it's credit card debt or college loans. When you take on debt you have to realistically think about how you're going to pay it back.
    • Trusted their employer. The age of Corporate Loyalty has been over with for 30 years. Get over it. And the personal word of a company officer is wasted breath.
    • Trusted the government to rescue them. The best you can hope for is that the government will get out of your way and let you do your business.
    • Planned their careers poorly. The IT industry is cyclical, always has been. Over the long curve it's grown since the 50's, but it has downtimes. The only defense against cycles is diversification, and if you're a 1-trick pony (open source or proprietary) you're vulnerable.
    • Stayed in school too long. There is a point at which it's better to bail from school, get into an entry-level job, and start clawing your way up than to stay in school and hope for a better job later. Thinking that "the market is really good, but if I just take another 18 months to finish this 4-year degree I'll be all set with a better salary" is just stupid, especially if you're piling up debt to do it (see previous point).
    To the rest of my generation: take care of your own business and stop yer whining. Please. I'm sick of hearing about it.

    To be honest, the only thing I resent the Boomers for is eating up Social Security at an alarming rate. Every time I look at my paycheck stub I resent the elderly and their voting block -- and despise GenX's fake politics (all talk and slack, no votes). For now I pay the tax, expect no returns, and vote for anyone willing to change the system to my pesonal benefit.

  • by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:17PM (#4425237) Homepage
    Amen!

    I know a few of those, and it's just pathetic. A few years ago they thought they were so much better than me because they were making all this money and living in the Bay Area and having all this fun. Now their all moping around, living in their parents basements and begging them to pay for their return to school since they didn't bother to save any money.

    I spent the .boom years at a JC (I had to pay for it all myself, and I don't like the idea of debt). I took some tech classes so I would have some real skills with which to earn the money to finish up my degree (was EE, but I discovered programming along the way, which I love even more than hardware, and have changed to CS). I met my wife and we had a beautiful daughter.

    In the end I came out ahead, at least from my perpective. I have a wonderful family, 2 new cars, a job that I love, all my bills are paid, and I still can to go to school part time (taking only 1 or 2 classes a semester may be the slow road, but it does wonders for your GPA). I entered the job market just before the crash (or perhaps right at the beginning of it), but thanks to the real world skills I took the time to learn, I've never been out of work for more than a week, which is totally doable because my car payments and rent combined are half what my Bay Area friends were paying for just rent.

    On the whole, it seems like the crash has actually been to my advantage, all because, as I said, I took the time to learn some real skills.

  • by partingshot (156813) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:17PM (#4425244)
    The generation is not defined as guys that thought they could learn HTML and have it all by the time they were 25. Where did you get that from?
  • by Steveftoth (78419) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:20PM (#4425274) Homepage
    like any other product. it was like this ritual that you must go to in order to be considered to be part of the non-trailer trash society. People go to college not to learn, but to live like a child for a little bit longer. When magazines like PlayBoy and Maxim are regularly publishing articles about which schools are the biggest drinking school you've got to stop and wonder if maybe people don't really take school that seriously.

    The only thing about this is that it hurts lower education. A High school education should not be about preparing you for college, it should be about giving you an education that you can use in Real Life. To get a job that is crappy, but it should give you the skills to be able to get any crappy job you want. You can then work your way up from there, or go and get a higher education from college or from a trade school.

    You've right, college is not for everyone, but I feel that my generation was the first in which everyone was expected to goto college. No real reason other then to go. Oh, and pay huge amounts of money in order to do it.
  • by BitGeek (19506) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:26PM (#4425311) Homepage

    I think you laid it out quite well:

    Social security and education are both scams perpetrated on the public to take their tax money and return little or nothing of value.

    This is true here in the US, where the average family pays over %50 of their gross income in taxes and gets little or nothing in return. Where government meddling has ruined our health care system, our educational system, even our roads aren't getting the money they need- even though we pay far more than enough in taxes to cover them.

    We're getting taken by a vendor who demands our money at gunpoint in exchange for services-- and then fails to deliver the services.

    And the really amazing thing is whenever you point this out a lot of people scream bloody murder about who "evil" you ware! Obviously, these are people who are on the take for a cut of that tax money that people are being mugged for.

    But nature has her own forces, and just as you cannot defy gravity forever, you cannot demand a free lunch every day.

    Already people don't count on Social Security-- how long will they continue to pay it when they know its worthless? Furthermore, people are starting to move their money offshore. And the cost of doing so is getting lower-- even though the government is now trying to know everything about what you do. Combine that with the virtual contracting and telecommuting trends and soon the most valuable and profitable members of society will be living in the Caribbean in a tax haven, happily refusing to "Do their part" for the scam that is the US People's Wealth Redistribution Republic.

    Any society that makes the cost of living there exceed the value returned by the society itself will soon have to put up an iron curtain as the most productive (and therefore wealthy) members refuse to pay the burden and leave. The US has some nice advantages, but let me tell you, as soon as I Retire, I will become the citizen of another country (Belize has no income tax and charges about $20,000 to become a citizen).

    I will take my money elsewhere, and I'm doing absolutely everything legal I can to avoid taxes... fortunately, there are enough loopholes that it seems there is some justice: The financially ignorant, credit card debt having, stock market avoiding, liberal idiots who love this tax system so much are the ones who end up paying the most taxes- cause they can't be bothered (or think its "immoral") to legally avoid those taxes.

    Thats one of the things about the free market-- it is robust, and will fill whatever void. You cannot distort it forever because it is a force of nature. You make taxes higher, and you get LESS tax revenue, not more. You make taxes lower and you get more tax revenue, up to a point.

    Not all GenXers are stupid slacker idiots, just as not all Boomers are hippie idiots (in fact, most weren't.)
  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:27PM (#4425335)
    Flame suit on here, because this certainly isn't true of everyone, but people on /. tend to flame first and think later...

    There was a certain size population of well-off, well-paid tech workers in existance well before the dot-com explosion. Tech work at that point took a reasonable amount of experience and skill. Not necessarily formal education, but skill sets were generally acceptable, and people were well paid.

    I don't think the number of people in those positions is any lower now than it was pre-bubble. In fact, I think the number is quite a bit bigger. There are hundreds of thousands of tech workers right now who are not feeling the pinch of a "depression" or "recession".

    What you see, particularly on places like /., is an extremely vocal majority of the pool of tech workers who only had jobs because of the bubble. In the peak of the internet craze, the quality of your average tech worker was in the toilet. These coffee-slingers-come-Java-developers were still only really qualified for coffee slinging. Every joe-blow who sent out a resume because they read HTML For Dummies wasn't a qualified web developer. As we all saw, every tech visionary wasn't a qualified CTO. There were an order of magnitude more unqualified people in high paying positions than there were qualified people.

    When the bubble burst, there were a lot of people who thought that a position they once had was still owed to them because of their "experience" and "history". But, the fact is that when push comes to shove, they didn't have real marketable skills. Anyone who has hired anyone in the last year or two has seen that -- 100 B.S. resumes come over your desk for every qualified one, and for the most part those qualified people are not having any problem finding jobs.

    Now, again, before people start to flame like crazy, thats not true of everyone. People who were truely talented web developers, for example, are still having a hard time. Companies can't easily pick the gems out of the rest of the dirt, and some of the people who really are qualified aren't going a good job networking with people who know that, or selling themselves. But most of my friends who have lost their jobs in the last two years and haven't been able to find anything, honestly aren't as qualified as they think they are. One or two are, but they are in the vast minority.

    Thats the real shock that most people are having -- that they really aren't as good as they and others spent four years telling them. They don't understand that you 99% of people can't be a senior anything with just two years of experience... They still are shooting way too high in their job search, and aren't realizing that there are people out there who are looking (and finding with little trouble) who *are* qualified.

    Bone head jobs have the most job security because they aren't filled with people who think they are more important than they are.
  • by Gerry Gleason (609985) <gerry@IIIgeraldg ... inus threevowels> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:31PM (#4425370)
    Looks like there's a lot of agreement on /. about all the whining. I don't think all, or even most Xers (to use the stupid label) are lazy whiners. The people quoted for the article probably aren't that either, probably a boomer journalist trying to make everything a label or advertisement catch phrase.

    The subject is just my meta-comment about the idea that slashdotters are of one mind on most things. In this case, personal responsibility is the "groupthink" that is going on. Actually, I'm pretty impressed by it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:33PM (#4425388)
    I'm in my 20's, and steadily employed with a job that is pretty much "guaranteed". I make a nice living, and don't PLAN on retiring.

    If you're in your 20s, you should expect to live into your 90s. Easily. Do you really plan on doing your guaranteed job for the next 70 years? That's almost 4 times as long as you've been alive!

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:41PM (#4425472) Homepage
    "I hate people who got into tech stuff just because they wanted to become rich"

    Me too, that's why I'm jobless at 22 and don't know where to knock my head. All those "consultants" who put "I can double-click" on their resumes, I'd just pummel them into cat-chow because they pretty much ruined my career opportunities. I was writing code before I even knew how to tie my own shoe laces. How many 5 year olds do you know who'd ask for "an Assembler Editor cartridge" for christmas ? But today I'm just a rusted nerd looking for a new hobby.

    Just last week as I contemplated the last days of my work contract, I had the "pleasure" of meeting my replacement, a dreaded consultant who expected my mouse-wheel to be assigned to double-click, and was wondering why her apps weren't loading up. That's it, their puzzle is complete, the last brain has left the building.

    Some people do it for money, others do it by passion. The latter are always getting fscked by the former, in just about every field. It's hard to find someone that can appreciate the masochist genius of self-modifying multipass assembler code anymore. "Why bother with that ? Just get a faster computer/bigger hard drive!". Might as well be running 5 mpg engines in our case, why bother, just buy more gas.

    So it is very easy to get pissed at people who earn absurd salaries, because very few of them have any actual talent in the field they're working. They do have an outstanding talent for lying their way out of real work and into even higher paying jobs that were probably created from one manager's competition-class bullshit.

    The market crashed and threw out the dotcoms and other groundless businesses, but vapor-skills are still rampant in all industries and are the main reason why our taxes are so high and the things we buy are so crappy. It's not about designed obsolescence or "what we want the market to want", it's about incompetents running the show, unable to tell the difference between a brilliant interviewee with poor social skills, and a "Look at my suit" lying sack of shit. The sack of shit wins every time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:47PM (#4425539)
    the most productive (and therefore wealthy) members


    Wow, talk about fallacy.

    Generally speaking, in today's America, the most wealthy are the least productive.

    They're the ones whose forefathers claimed land from the native americans, and profited by default because they were 'first'. Or had a great grandfather that invented something, or filmed something, or wrote something.

    The wealthy of today continue to become more wealthy not through proportionate contribution to society, but by dangling carrots in front of people with something to actually offer (like the RIAA does) and making someone else work for pennies to survive, so that they can rake in profits from someone else's efforts.

    That's America.
  • by Gerry Gleason (609985) <gerry@IIIgeraldg ... inus threevowels> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:48PM (#4425556)
    I don't think this is really a troll, although it drifts off-topic pretty quickly. The 'pay as you go' system would be defendable if there wasn't such a huge inter-genrational transfer happening. I think it was a recent NPR piece that talked about the current generation of retirees spending instead of giving it to their children. The WWII generation saved and gave it to their children (boomers, mostly), and most of the boomers aren't giving much to their kids and grandkids. That, coupled with the recent tax cut is a huge inter-generational transfer. Taken together with all the wasteful stuff that consumes non-renewable resources and trashes the environment, it is shameful, and somebody is going to have to pay.

    We have to cut the crap about who is doing what to whom and start really being responsible. I won't be able to face my kids if we don't because there won't be much left for them. And they won't be whining about the stuff in the article, they will be facing environmental devistation.

  • Not true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mesocyclone (80188) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:50PM (#4425575) Homepage Journal
    'No generation since the Depression has been set up for failure like this.'

    The depression generation succeeded like none before it! This is the generation that enjoyed the boom of the '50s!

    The baby boom generation (of which I am an early member), OTOH, has been foisted with paying for the Social Security and Medicare of our elders. Contrary to one poster in this thread, SS and Medicare were set up before us boomers were out of college!

    The depression generation also had to fight in WW-II, and many boomers (myself included) went to Vietnam. The Gen-X'ers, with very few exceptions, didn't have a war to worry about!

    The biggest problem for the Gen-Xers will be paying for the retirement of us boomers. And this will indeed be a problem, since *we* have lots of votes. This is true in all of the first world countries that I am aware of - the government created retirement systems have always been a generational transfer tax (although not sold as such) and a bit of a scam. The ease of abortion, the later age of marriage and the greater percentage of working women have all lead to a dramatic reduction in birth rate, hence they extra load on the Xers.

    The worst thing the boomers have done to the Xers is a result of our generation's rejection of traditional morality, causing too many Xers to grow up in dysfunctional divorced families and without moral guidance.

    Boomers grew up when there was little crime, almost everyone had their natural fathers (main exception was those who lost their fathers in war), suicide was rare and drug abuse (with the exception of alcohol and tobacco) was unknown.
  • Oh really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:50PM (#4425582) Homepage Journal
    Funny, most of MY friends in the area are selling their townhouses and smaller houses and moving INTO much BIGGER homes - making a fortune at it too. What they don't seem to realize is that while their home has gone up in value so has everyone else's so moving up right now and staying in this area probably isn't that bright an idea but.....

    My home is over 10years old and MINE. If I want a nicer one I'll improve this one - the mortgage is low :-)

    Having said that - my 401K is decimated. I was up over $100K and am now looking at maybe $30K in that account. I have a second account with a more diverse portfolio that's doing pretty good compared to the other thanks to my employrer but nowhere near good enough to make up for the YEARS worth of losses in the other account. I have to laugh when people say it's not really gone until you sell but when companies go under it's REALLY gone! My girlfriend's 401K is even worse since she started out with more and she's much closer to "retirement age" than I :-( Those who say they will work till they drop can have at it, I want free time to explore all of my interests and hobbies - if you're working too hard to have outside interests you're an idiot. I have hobbies and I enjoy life, so should everyone else.

    What's saddest here is that I don't see things changing soon. We can no longer trust the numbers Wall Street puts out and companies that were supposedly doing well LIED. Who exactly feels like they shoudl be BUYING stocks right abotu now? Personally I favor the death penalty for those who have screwed over so many as they certainly don't have the money to pay us back nor do I feel like supporting their fat asses in some country club prison.

    Maybe someone will come up with a great way to use all of the zillions of computing cycles going to waste an people will buy more computers. As things sit now I have no need for a faster computer and I've not bought or upgraded one for over a year. Someone write something new and amazing that sucks cycles like crazy so we can all start moving forward again ;-)
  • by Chris Y Taylor (455585) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:54PM (#4425617) Homepage
    Why do you think they are called the "me generation"?
  • Gen What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BryanL (93656) <lowtherbf.gmail@com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:59PM (#4425666)
    I have seen a lot of comments critical of the article, but have not seen one critical of the basic presupposition: that each generation has a unique identity (maybe my lameness filter is set too high.)I think this is a major flaw in making these broad characterizations.

    I am technically a baby boomer but share most of the traits of a Gen Xer. What makes me a baby boomer? I was born after WWII. OK, riiight.

    My mother and I are both baby boomers how can two generations be part of the same generation(figure that one out.) Besides my mother and I have little in common when it comes to political ideas, financial status or educational background (which in my mind create ones identity more than the year they were born.)

    Finally, look at the 60's counter culture- Babyboomers. And the Counter-counter culture- also babyboomers. So what identifies the baby boomers, conservatism or change? The answer depends on whom you ask.

    We need to just drop the Gen *blank* titles and realise that they are all just gross over-generalizations.
  • by BitGeek (19506) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:04PM (#4425712) Homepage
    layed off and couldn't find another job for 6+ months

    In my lifetime there has never been a 6 months when McDonalds weren't hiring.

    I've got 15 years of software development experience, but before I blow my savings, I'll go to McDonalds and get a job.

    Its a calculated risk- if you think you'll get a job in a month by focusing on looking for it, go for it. But don't go six months without work and then blame the economy.

    The economy has not been so bad that McDonalds isn't hiring.

  • Make it stop! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:05PM (#4425714) Homepage
    I find it pathetic that middle age is being viewed as, "prime spending years", as if being able to buy a lot of shit is the sumation of my being. (I'm not middle age, but the ramafications on society are disgusting.)

    What about those of us that are younger - 20, for instance? Some of us have gotten into the work world early, having trained ourselves. In many cases, we're much more skilled and tallented at what we do that people 5, 10 years older than we are. Things look equally as bleak, with no resurfacing of the economy forseen, for those still in college, even. Especially with all the war and conflict going on.

    The people of my generation are an unseen, lost generation. Generation X is several years our senior, and Generation Y is approaching high school still. Sure, we have a lot of nice whiz-bang gizmos, lots of entertainment, and various other benefits. But to what end? There's a large degree of unemployment in most of the desireable job markets, and the markets that are open, are undesireable - a lot of low-end, dead-end jobs that nobody would enjoy doing in the first place.

    In the eyes of many people of my generation, there are very few exciting, challenging, new things in this world left to do. National Geographic has the whole 'exploration' thing down pat. Computers and technology are passe, nearing the point of being transparent - simply another entertainment device.

    Even in simple living, things don't look good - pay is distributed in a horrible arc curve, distributing most of the wealth to a small percentage of society. What little most people can earn is leeched from them from the upper crust through taxes, credit, lawyer and doctor fees - people that scratch each other's backs, further increasing the differential of wealth. Combine these factors with all of the social decay and unpleasantries going about (STDs, divorce, decay of the atomic family, etc), things are downright depressing.

    Even the decay of America's core is occuring. The DMCA and all the various laws like it, destroying our freedom, get overlooked by the populace, while commercials rage on TV telling us to "value our freedom as Americans". The strongarming of foreign countries isn't improving America's international status much, either. The economic benefits that were protecting the US from attack in the past are slowly being whittled away.

    It's times like this that even a patriotic American starts to wonder about the future of his country, and whether he should take drastic measures, such as make a new life as a Canadian.
  • by Boomer2 (515406) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:06PM (#4425732)
    But the most vocal complainers are people like *you* that want to shove all this off as not your problem. A *perfect* example of what the older folks have been saying about our generation.


    What a bunch of crap. She was right on.

    I have friends in several significant cities; and they (and I) know lots of places that are hiring at good salaries with good benefits. If someone isn't getting a job, it's probably because their skills are a bunch of fantasy or they are anti-social whiners.

    The people succeeding now are the ones with solid technical/analytical skills, a personality, and who didn't spend the last 5 years competing in the "I can accumulate the most debt" contest.

    Which "older folks" are you supposedly hearing from? The Boomers...aka the biggest whiners and freeloaders in history?

    Perhaps you should listen to the Boomers' parents, who made their living (in general) by making friends, working together, doing real work, and not wasting their resources on frivolous thrills. They made an amazing legacy that the Boomers squandered and the so-called Xers (my age bracket but definitely not my mindset) imitated their expectation that everything would be handed to them.

    Grow up.
  • by sniggly (216454) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:09PM (#4425760) Journal

    I've programmed computers since I got my first zx81 when I was 15 years old, that was all my family could afford, and since then I've worked hard and had a lot of fun working hard to learn to program better. There have only been opportunities. I've set up my own business before the .com bubble, I haven't profited from that but have seen steady growth in my business.

    With your talent you should be very capable of getting on with your life.

    Maybe it's very easy to get pissed off at people who seem to get everything for nothing, but it serves no purpose whatsoever.

    Take control of your talent.
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:15PM (#4425839)
    Every argument (in the article) seems to try to blame the dot-coms, the economy, and everything else under the sun, each argument always goes back the underlying problem....debt.

    Servicing debt is the least effecient way to use money, and the quickest way to make you broke. Most of the debt "Gen Xers" have is college, or related to college (i.e. the computer and books you bought on credit during school).

    The real culprit seems to be outrageously inflated college tuitions. Look at the past 10 years; college tuition increases have outstripped GDP growth, inflation, and wage rates. With 60% of american students going to college, is it any suprise that this generation is servicing record debts? My dad got a 4 yr. college degree for $8000.00. One year of college cost me more than that.

    America needs to get college tuitions in check, and we also need a national health care system. These are two of the biggest burdens on American consumers....if we accomplish both of these goals, we will be poised for long term growth.

    -ted
  • what a load... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:16PM (#4425851) Journal
    Ironically, this is one of the few articles I've read that don't lump GenX into "everyone under 40". In that sense, it's accurate - but that's where it stops. "Most productive earning years behind them"? What? I was born in 1967, I'm 35. I'm certainly HOPING that my best earning years are ahead of me.
    Generally, I find the tenor of most of the /. comments for this pretty funny because they reinforce what I'm saying. In my experience GenX'ers tend to be more characterized by a "leave me alone to live my life" philosophy (mischaracterized by older and younger generations as apathy).
    Living in the the demographic slump after the baby-boom has, for most of us, meant that we are not catered to in any way - by the media, by advertisers, by the markets, etc. Never have been, don't really want to be. Douglas Coupland nailed the ethos of the generation. (That and The Breakfast Club.)
    We were too young to be hippes or protesters in the late 60's and early 70's - we've merely been saddled with the rubble therefrom (drug abuse, AIDS, etc.).
    We grew up post-Watergate, so government has NEVER been something trustworthy. We matured under the shadow of Reagan and Brezhnev/Andropov/Chernyenko/Gorbachev. When I walked into senior high the day of the Challenger disaster, I was RELIEVED to find out it was "only" that the shuttle blew up. The pale faces and utter silence of the commons made me fear the balloon had gone up (remember that quaint phrase?).
    In the 80's, we watched all of our older borthers, sisters, and cousins who had railed against "The Man" and "Corporate America" put on their suits to go rape the economy in corporate takeovers. So all these 'paragons' of idealism are as totally corruptible as anyone else.
    Now in the 90's, we saw all these tainted idealists who made a giant pile of money in the 90's, settle down in their cozy 5000 sqft homes, have their one child name Zoe, drive gigantic vehicles in some pursuit of safety-through-egotism and become the "family" that they also said was hopeless back in the 60's.
    Finally, now that they are staring old age in the face, now they're all joining churches like mad. HA HA HA. Still looking for God that you couldn't find in drugs/sex/money/domesticity?
    As Generation X'ers, THAT'S what we've witnessed, that's what's formed our views of the world. Every decade since we were tots the generation ahead of us has said "we know the true way to happiness!" and been wrong EVERY TIME. We're not "Generation Wrecked". But we're forced to step over their wreckage to live our lives.
  • by ncc74656 (45571) <scott@alfter.us> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:22PM (#4425906) Homepage Journal
    Ahh yes, privatize Social Security "...and invest it in the Shtock Market, with its hishtorically high rate of returnss."

    Look at any 15- or 30-year period as far back as you care to go (even those spans that include the Great Depression). Since 1926, no 30-year span has returned less than 2.6% [reason.com]. The average annual return for stocks (from 1871 to the present) has been 7.2%. By comparison, Social Security will likely return only 1-2% per year for someone born in 1960. The money you would've kicked into Social Security would've grown much more rapidly in an S&P 500 index fund than it would in Social Security. Don't believe the Democrats' lies and scare tactics...they have nothing to offer but fear itself.

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:22PM (#4425908) Homepage
    The people succeeding now are the ones with solid technical/analytical skills, a personality, and who didn't spend the last 5 years competing in the "I can accumulate the most debt" contest

    Tell that to a friend of mine who has been out of work since December last year. The best project manager, analytical thinker, business planner I know. He's charming and personable and treats people right. He also looks for the bottom line in what he's doing, and has a passion for it. He turned a $2MM budget into $30MM of revenue for two years. And what did he get?

    Laid off.

    And right now, he can't get his foot in the door because in Seattle, everyone's networks are down (everyone who knew someone has suddenly found that the person they knew is out of work too), and resumes are clogging the channels so great people don't get seen over the sea of thousands who apply for EVERY job they see, whether they're qualified or not.

    He can't move out of the area, because he has an ex-wife and joint custody of the children. So he's screwed.

    "If someone isn't getting a job, it's probably because their skills are a bunch of fantasy or they are anti-social whiners" is just complete and utter BULLSHIT -- at least in Seattle.

    The reason people aren't getting jobs is quite simple: there's not enough jobs to go around, and everyone's stampeding after every job that comes up.
  • by Ctrl-Z (28806) <tim@timcoleman. c o m> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:24PM (#4425919) Homepage Journal

    Nobody will layoff the VPs. It's called attrition [m-w.com]. Why would corporations need to layoff upper management when they will retire anyway? And when they do retire, you don't necessarily need to replace them; just divide their work amongst the remaining members of management.

    Of course, this will not mean the complete wholesale elimination of these positions, but it will result in a significant reduction. You can't tell me that you honestly believe that there aren't any seriously bloated corporations that could do with a few/lot less managers.

  • by metachimp (456723) <tadish.durbin@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:31PM (#4425991) Homepage
    Hey, Art Therapy does wonders for abused children and children with disabilities like autism and such. Art Therapy is a form of treatment, like Physical Therapy. An Art Therapist is not a 'painter'. Just because something isn't totally technical doesn't mean it's worthless. Becoming an Art Therapist is something you have to go to school for (unlike programming).


    If you had a child that could benefit from Art Therapy, you'd change your tune awful fast. Until then, try not bash something as worthless just because it has the word 'Art' in the name.


    I'm sure the harpist for the New York Philharmonic makes enough to live comfortably. Are you saying that becoming a musician is worthless as well?

  • by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:33PM (#4426007) Homepage
    If you read my comment again, you might notive that my real skills were picked up in tech classes at a Junior College. One of the things I noticed working as a tech is that electronic engineers come out of school knowing dick about electronics. They know tons of theory, sure, and they can calculate charge capacitance in their sleep, and they have a much better understanding of circuit design as a whole than I do, but when their circuit doesn't work they come to me to find out why. That's what I mean by "real" skills.

    However, I wasn't talking about people who went to school and actually got an education. I was talking about web-monkeys who dropped out their freshman year to capitalize on their investment in "Learn Web Design in 24 Hours" and spent their $75k on partying.

    But hey, getting buried in debt is just plain dumb anyway, college education or not. Whenever you gamble, eventually you lose. Merely having an education doesn't somehow magically make you not a "lamer" or "loser", especially when so many schools will let you make up degrees that are essentially meaningless (like the guy who started Sub Pop records who has a degree in "Punk Rock"). If you've buried yourself in debt, you are a loser, I don't care if you're the next Einstein (who, btw, wasn't buried in debt only because he married women who were as practical as he was not).

  • by shumacher (199043) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:41PM (#4426092) Homepage
    Keep in mind, Gen-X hates being labeled Gen-X. If you want to be Gen-X, you can't be, because you want it, thus excluding you from the group.

    Try this:
    Pretend you never used a PET.
    Start a Blog.
    Pretend you bought Milli Vanilli.
    Now, act as if you hadn't. Deny that you might have owned it, but from the standpoint of someone who actually did.
    Rebel against Wal-Mart, things that are "New and Improved" or "Lemony Fresh." Buy good coffee.

    Remember that big business is bad, but Starbucks is good. Nike is bad, except when it's good.

    Read Wired. Try to use at least one of the new buzzwords every day.

    Read Uber [uber.nu]. Don't be offended. Know better than to email a link to your parents.

    Do you feel shallow, and feel guilty about it? Do you lust for your younger days, eating pizza and watching bad audio-animationic mice sing? A little uncomfortable in your skin?

    Good. Welcome.
  • by technomom (444378) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:48PM (#4426175)
    Wasted? I think not.

    You learned about real life. In real life, the well-rounded survive.

    You say you learned to program when you were 5 (you win, I was 11). Turn that around. You have a skill that even a 5 (or 11) year old can learn. Why on earth would it be valuable by itself by age 40?

    Learn about communication, negotiation, and salesmanship. You don't have to learn golf, but you should learn how to engineer a deal. Those are skills that tend to be marketable even the roughest of times.

    Learn, and be passionate about ANOTHER skill. Do you ride a bike? knit? travel? take pictures? like to teach? Turn one of those into a job. The world IS bigger than the latest release of Debian, no matter what Slashdot says!

    JoAnn
  • by Boomer2 (515406) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:52PM (#4426209)
    First, try raising your own kids. They'll enjoy it; and it will help you financially.

    Second, if living near London is too expensive, leave. I 'only' make $80K+ in Phoenix; but it's like making over $100K in many large US cities. I do not like Phoenix; but we are literally a few blocks from her entire family, which makes us all very happy. Someday when I get my way and we move to a quiet corner of rural Michigan, the cash we've saved by staying away from expensive places will allow us to live like kings!

    And that without any financial contribution from my wife. She and I agreed from the beginning that we would only have kids if we put them in their proper importance by having a parent home with them. If having a career or making more money or buying more things is more important than raising your own kids (aka not shifting them off on a daycare/nursery), don't have kids.

    Occasionally I wonder if I missed out on potential gains not buying a house in San Jose; but then reality hits and I realize that the gamble on finding a bigger sucker to buy it is not worth it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:28PM (#4426544)
    I was born in 1957 and got exactly one job with a resume. The rest were through networking and reputation. In the last twelve years this has led to five positions, three cities and a quadrupling in pay, all in the tech sector. For the historically impaired, I graduated University in the deep recession of the early eighties and spent the first two years unemployed.

    Gen X's biggest misfortune was having parents who gave them everything: designer sunglasses and clothes, electronic goodies and anything else the neighbourhood kids had. I saw this in the eighties and was astounded how cottled and materialistic (urban) kids were becoming. Welcome to reality.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:36PM (#4426615)
    You cannot even *BEGIN* to compare this to the Great Depression.

    We have only begun our stock market crash. This is not 1933, it is more like 1929.

    In '29, the DOW dropped 32% in two months. Our DOW is "only" down about 38% and dropping fast. Our markets are still hugely over-valued. They are still a huge bubble. Nothing justifies that over-valuation (except the trillions in deficit spending).

    Expect the Dow to drop to below 4000. Closer to 2000 seems more likely. In the first great crash, the Dow dropped 87% from the high.

    Looked at the Nikkei lately? It touch 8197 last night. When (not if) it falls below 8000, Japanese banks can no longer do business with global banks because their capitalization levels will be below requisite benchmark levels. The Japanese market is dumping huge sums to buy private stock and prop up the market.

    For a detailed comparison of '29 to today read this brilliant analysis from 1999:

    http://www.siliconinvestor.com/stocktalk/msg.gsp ?m sgid=18094673

    I'm stashing my IRA into BEARX. A nice fund that goes up when the markets go down.

    Good luck!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:43PM (#4426682)
    Liberals?

    Yea, it was that leftist icon Ronald Reagan who hijacked Social Security by adding it into the General Fund to mask the massive debts his warmongering produced. And with SS in the General Fund it is called an entitlement so as to make the ballooning defense budget look legitimate.

    And don't forget that commie Dick Nixon and his pumping up of oil prices and then backing the bonds to secure future oil supplies - at great benifit to some rich Texans by the name of Bush amongst others - with Social Security.

    Damn lefties!

    Conservatives are just fascists. Oh wait, no, they are lieing fucking scumbag crooks too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:22PM (#4427077)
    Wow, what a great (small) list.

    I'm retiscent to actually declare that any of those people have actually produced any *real* work. Especially the Gates, Balmer, Allen section. (they didn't even write dos. Being able to swindle people doesn't make you hard working by a long shot) Jobs made his fortune stealing Xerox's graphical interface. Anyway, point is, for everyone on this short list, another name of a 'hard working' wealthy person can be provided that made their money by cheating everyone around them. (and most of the names on your list fall into that categorie too)

    Wealth is rarely something that comes fairly earned in this country... Well, depending on your definition of the word 'fair' that is...
  • *ROFL* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Johnson (580) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:40PM (#4427254) Homepage Journal
    "Ideally, someone her age (32) should have at least $100,000 stashed away"

    Ye gods! Why? How? Where?

    I'm 34 and I don't think I know _anybody_ my age with '$100,000 stashed away'. Hell, I'm not at all sure it's a good thing to have that kind of money 'stashed away'. I make stuff- I have made a bunch of CDs (at ampcast.com, above), I make guitar DI boxes, I even make costume tails [airwindows.com]. That in spite of the fact that I live on a little more than $5000 a year- it's about budgeting, handling money responsibly, doing without and working hard on things (depression-era values?)

    Money doesn't come from the money fairy, people- though I can understand 'Fortune' magazine not understanding this. It's exchange value for goods and services- it's to do things with, not to 'stash away'. From my perspective, as someone who tries to do and build things rather than 'stash away', these mythical people with '$100,000 stashed away' (a HUNDRED thou? not even ten thou, a freaking hundred?) are the PROBLEM.

    Where does that money go? Typically not gold, or bank notes in a mattress. No, that money was expected to go straight to Enron- woops, I mean WorldCom- woops, I mean Microsoft. Do we see the problem?

    These people are crazy. I can't even feel inferior to their expectations because they seem to have no clue that what they expect is what will RUIN this country. For how many years have people 'stashed away' in this way, and see where it's got us? The answer is not to make it safe to stash away investment in Wall Street and multinational corporations again.

    Get out there and do stuff. Build, create, do- within your means, but I'm talking ALL your means, no 'stashing away'. If you get hit by a truck next week you'll have been happier to have been engaged with a real life- you'll be building abilities that are better than any corporate-wall-street-speculation-policy as insurance for your future- and the money you spend in pursuing your plans and interests is money that CIRCULATES, rather than getting 'stashed away'.

    Honestly, what IS this shit? I think some people still believe in the money fairy, and it isn't Slashdotters or Gen Xers, it's Fortune Magazine. You'd think one Enron, one dotcom implosion, would've taught them.

  • by noxavior (581294) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:55PM (#4427413) Homepage Journal
    People gets side tracked so easily. Some blame the generation, some blame people who have made bad decisions. But the article, in the very last paragraphs, points to the real cause.

    And of the wealth the boom created, the richest households gobbled up a disproportionate amount.

    And I agree completly with that statement, after reading some facts about the distribution of wealth in North America, and in the World. It's not all our fault, as Enron and WOlrdCom's greed pointed out.
  • by Miguelito (13307) <mm-slashdot@migu ... to.org minus bsd> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:58PM (#4428353) Homepage
    Reading this Fortune article, I feel sorry for these people that have tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt on top of $50k+ in college loan debt.

    Why? I don't feel sorry for anyone that gets into that situation unless it was due to something like an illness or family emergency. People that get that far into debt with credit cards, especially when they already have other debts, are just stupid! My response to people that whine about CC debt is, "Stop spending money you don't have, moron, and you won't get in trouble!"

    Personally, I only use my credit card for things I already have the money for, but either don't want to write a check, or just want to hang onto the cash for a while longer in case something unexpected comes up. Don't carry a balance, and there aren't interest fees.

    BTW, when I went to school, we were taught about basic finances by having a mock checking account and checkbook, and had to balance fake bills and such against our income. Did they stop doing that? People growing up today seem to have no concept at all about money.. hence CC companies are pushing the "learn about credit and money management" stuff.
  • by catsidhe (454589) <catsidhe.gmail@com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:26PM (#4428510) Homepage
    Will all people who actually believe that generationalist crap please go stick their head in a bucket and go away!

    Everything which is said about the so-called 'Gen-X' is said by the media -- first advertising slime, then editorial slime, followed by stereotyping lazy journalist slime -- not by the members of this nebulous and meaningless 'group'.

    What is this article saying? That it looks like younger people are going to have a really crappy time for the forseeable future, probably the rest of their lives. And that despite the crapulous stereotype fostered upon a generation by fiat, "This time they have reason to whine." (think about that byline. It means that according to them 1: all Gen-Xers whine and complain, and 2: at all times except for this one, any complaints are trivial and meaningless and can be ignored safely. Who decides?)

    Why is this bullshit continuing? Why are 'Gen-Xers' going to do so badly? (A question which is not even asked on the Fortune article, and is answered by "because they are all whining shits" here on /. by people who should know better). Let's try to answer it, shall we?

    For a start, lets use the term 'Gen-X' merely as a reference to the people who happened to be born in that time period, and not say anything about their personal habits, merely the opportunities they (...'we', I should say) have).

    Gen-Xers have been around to take up and ride the greatest explosion in technology since the Industrial Revolution. A few have even managed to become senior programmers and sysadmins. Where to from there? The people who run the companies are still from generation older -- lets label them 'Baby Boomers'. As generations, we -- Gen-X -- have watched them -- Baby Boomers -- profit from wealth and progressive social policies from the sixties to the late seventies -- and then systematically dismantle those things behind them. Here in Australia we used to have free (government-funded) Universities. Student fees were introduced in the early eighties. They have been increasing steadily since, and it now costs between tens- and hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for a degree. And the people who are most shrilly declaiming that fees are still too low and students don't know how good they have it are precisely those who recieved most benefit from free education.

    And then there is the Reagan/Thatcher economic model, which says that selling off your country and renting it back from whoever could afford to buy it somehow makes good economic sense. Gee, that does work! Just ask anyone with a privatised Electricity Company! or Water. or Prison System.
    Governments now have the same or higher debt than they used to have, but there is nothing left to sell off. Except maybe the citizenry as slave labour.

    The Baby Boomers, as a group, are statistically the greediest and most selfish for a hundred years prior, and certainly since. They (that is, those members of that group who have had unfettered access to the pension funds) have squandered the pension money, but do you think there will be any willingness to forego the best care in their dotage? And what will be left after the largest retired population -- by proportion, and absolutely -- in the history of mankind has gone? SFA is my bet. It will be up to us to fund our own retirements, if we get any.

    But wait! There's more... those of Gen-X who have managed to find $100,000 pa jobs are statistical freaks. Most have been dumped on the streets after the bubble burst. There used to be a path of promotion to a point where you could set company policy. How many of you are in that position? How many are under 35? How many of your peers are over 40-45? What about superiors?

    Or the media -- where are the Gen-X journalists? Don't include MTV, or anyone whose only task seems to be reporting on skateboards and rap music. Where are the Gen-Xers interviewing Rumsfeld or Rice? Where are the Gen-Xers reporting in Afghanistan? Or hosting a talking-head show? (Conan O'Brien Doesn't Count).

    When you think about it, this comes down to the powerful members of one generation saying to their children "We will tell you what you are. You are dissapointments to Us. You will never live up to what We were and what We did. We therefore will not give up the world until We cannot hold on with Our palsied hands one moment longer, and We will then expect you to take the best possible care of Us no matter what the cost to your own future."

    And you wonder why those children are pissed!

    P.S. I am not saying that all Boomers are consciously subduing all Gen-Xers, but I am saying that the social structures dismantled by one generation has amounted to pulling up the ladders set up by their parents before the next generation can make its own way up. Any who have climbed the wall on their own, or slipped into the fortress through a fortuotous (sp?) crack, more power to you. But don't forget the increasing crowd still locked outside the gates.

  • by droh (78402) <droh@NOsPAM.rohs.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:26PM (#4428517)
    I get really tired of the "I learned from the school of hard knocks", crap! Yes there is alot of things you can't learn in college, but the idea of college is to educate people beyond their cultural and intellectual bounds. You learn art and history to broaden your human perspective and those who say it's useless are people who believe specialization is the only yardstick in life. Specialization is for insects. It's friggin embarassing how little history peoply know. How the hell do you expect people to understand politics and world issues without the perspective of history? Maybe that's why things are so phooked up, because ignorant clowns can't see cultural patterns and human behaviors from any kind of perspective. Also, give up the spoon fed rich kid crap about college people, I worked in college and my wife put herself through with grants and hard work also. Anyone can go to college if they make the effort to work with the system. Not having a college degree is fine, but having one is proof that yes, you actually can accomplish long term goals,and yes you actually understand differential equations. You took a test to prove it!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:48PM (#4428614)
    Speaking as a 29 year old who was born in 73, I couldn't care a rat's ass what the hippie media says no matter how many times they say it. I do not belong to a "generation". I don't watch MTV, didn't listen to that Kurt Cobain puke. I am not a number! I am a free man! Fortune is for Keynsian twats. Forbes rules.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @07:20PM (#4428766)
    We've had a front row seat to the excesses and extremes of the Baby Boomers and feel jaded as a group. But we're not slackers or cry-babies. Sure there were excesses during the dot-com era, but from what I could see it was the salespeople and their ilk doing most of the excessing; the coders, sysadmins, designers, and project managers worked 80 hour weeks. Hardly a bunch of spoiled children living in a fantasy land.

    Yet expectations were generally unrealistic and this patch we're going through now, though rough, will in the long run turn out to be a very positive time of soul-searching and learning what is truly important in life. Family, good friends, and helping your fellow human beings are the truest source of happiness. It makes me happy to know that a much greater share of my peers will realize that than otherwise would have, and it makes me quite optimistic that our descendants will recognize us as the most compassionate generation. Our finest years are just ahead of us, and no other generation will be as able to clean up the god-awful mess the boomers mean to bequeath to us.

    That said, from many of the posts here I actually hope that the tech slump deepens so all of you calling the unemployed among us losers can share in the experience of having your professional world crumble around you despite being a brilliant programmer/sysadmin/designer/whatever and busting your butt 90 hours a week to make someone else money. You did not make the right choices, you did not out-code anybody, you did not brilliantly and with prescient foresight save while your silly peers played the day away, and you sure as shootin' don't enjoy a greater share of common sense than anyone else. You are not superior in any way to any of the /.'ers here without jobs. You're just lucky. Luck is the only reason you're not suffering right now, and I hope you get the chance to learn that before the economy picks up again and preserves you in your delusions.

    So to you all, I say can it until you reach retirement age without ever once having been laid off because you're so brilliant. Chances are astronomically good you'll never make it.

    To the rest of my downtrodden brothers and sisters, lay low, husband your resources, and wait for the day this turns around because we're gonna take the world by storm.

  • by Maul (83993) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @07:22PM (#4428774) Journal
    Why is it that Generation X is being called a bunch of slackers? I know GenX-ers (older than me) who work longer hours than my parents ever did. Meanwhile, the company they work for allows executives (members of the Boomers) to do things like spend $500 on "dinner with a client" or take a day off of work to play a round at an exclusive country club AND EXPENSE IT.

    It is members of the Boomers who get to fly around in the company jet, get to stay in fancy hotels in business trips (which the company pays for), and so forth.

    Then the GenX-ers at the company are asked to work more than 8 hours a day, plus weekends... and are called slackers for wanting to do things like "spend time with their families."

    To top it off, it is members of the Boomers who are "cooking the books" to give themselves fat paychecks. Who suffers when the company goes bankrupt? The GenX-ers who were working at the company.

    And it isn't looking very great for people who are graduating from college now. Not only do we have to compete with LAID OFF Generation X members with Masters Degrees and PHDs who are being forced down into what would normally be entry level positions, but some of us face even greater debt from school.
    (I'm luck that I don't have any debt from school, but plenty of my friends have tons...)

    The government is _encouraging_ the GenX-ers to go into debt by "going shopping" to fight terrorism at the same time. Great idea!!

    I talked with someone from the DEPRESSION generation a few months ago at a picnic.
    The economy entered the discussion.

    They said that they don't understand how younger people can even survive today with the damage that the _Baby Boomers_ are doing.

    The .com thing was a scam, yes... but the Generation X CEOs who were part of the scam were being strung along by venture capitilists... who were mostly (surprise)... Baby Boomers.

    I'm not trying to bash all Boomers here. I know plenty of Baby Boomers who are having just as much trouble as the Generation X people are. But it is just really kinda messed up when Generation X is being called a generation of "slackers," when most of the damage is being done by people from the Boomer Generation who are purposefully doing things that are hurting the economy and hurting the Generation X people so that they can get more money that they don't even need.
  • Buying a house (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eric Green (627) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @07:43PM (#4428883) Homepage
    In my city, mortgage payments on a 1500 square foot house are cheaper than rent payments on an 850 square foot apartment. You're saying that I should have continued to send my money down a rathole for rent?
  • by ellem (147712) <ellem52@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:05PM (#4429728) Homepage Journal
    Now, will I be better off than my parents? Yep. Wanna know how I know that? Because I know-not guess, not think-but know that I will. I werk my ass off and I am rewarded for it.

    Dear Jerk Off--

    I was working my ass off and had been for 4 hours when some assholes flew a couple of planes into some buidings down the block from where I was working my ass off. The company I happened to be working my ass off for was a Travel Company... guess what... people stopped travelling and all my fucking hard work meant shit when the economy went to Hell.

    Then my company that I had been working my ass off for went belly up. Been tough to get a job lately.

    Don't tell me about how hard work means anything. Anything can happen and does. Count yourself lucky.

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