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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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  • not sure i agree.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:12AM (#4423967)
    I'm not sure I agree totally with this article.. I mean it was because of this boom that I got thwarted into the IT market before I could even graduate from college. I was making nearly $40K at 23yrs of age. (im 26 now.) I was able to buy a house at 24 and become a *responsible* person. i.e. not living with momma. So it shot me up to a higher point in my life faster than the average bear and now i consider myself *ahead* of the game even though all those huge salary increases are gone. oh well..my two cents.
  • by Didion Sprague (615213) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#4423977)
    My sister -- Sister Reba -- might be considered Generation X.

    She doesn't have a dime saved. Everything she spends comes from Riley the boyfriend (a Gen-X'r who dropped out several liberal arts colleges, got a short story published when he was hosteling around Europe, and now has such a severe case of Writer's Block (a fear that he can't reproduce his single success) that he and Sister Reba spend all their money just 'trying to have fun.'

    I think they live in a perpetual state of 'recapturing their youth.'

    It's sad. I've saved nearly everything, and not long ago loaned Sister Reba a thousand bucks to pay off the last of her college debts. But her credit rating is ruined.

    Yet the two of them -- Sister Reba and Riley -- continually talk about the 1970's like they were the best thing in the world. Riley tells me about the movies that changed his life -- Saturday Night Fever, Apocalypse Now, the Deer Hunter -- and swears that at even at age 33 he's still got a good novel inside of him -- somewhere.

    Not long ago Riley was reading Jonathon Franzen's _Corrections_ and was so enraged that Franzen had written *his* novel, that he pitched it at one of the plate glass windows in their townhouse. The window shattered, the super won't foot the bill, and now their even deeper in debt.

    Me, I know what's what. Or at least I think I do.

    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.

    It scares me, and I'm only 16.

    But Sister Reba and Riley? Fuck it. They could care less. They work at their dumb jobs all days just to pay off their credit cards.

  • by sql*kitten (1359) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#4423987)
    (article originally posted on E2 [everything2.com])

    Andrea Tinker, professor of Social Gerontology at King's College, London recently published the results of research into the way that the changing age distribution of the population is affecting different generations. Her conclusion is that today's under 30s are the first generation who can expect lower living standards than their parents. In this writeup, I will present some British demographic statistics, and my own hypothesis as to the underlying reason for Professor Tinker's conclusion.
    • In 1999, about 20% of Britain's population was over 60. This is predicted to rise to 34% by 2050, with half that number over 80.
      Fewer children are being born: 91 live births per 1000 women in 1961, dropping to only 55 in 2000. In the 25-29 age group, the drop is even more dramatic, from 178/1000 in 1961 to 95/1000 in 2000.
    • Between 1993 and 2000 the number of under-25s owning their own property has fallen from 21% to 19%. The number of 25-29 year olds living with parents rose from 18% in 1978 to 23% in 1998.
    • The number of 25-35 year olds living alone rose from 2% in 1973 to 12% in 2000. The average age of a first time house buyer is now 35. The average household income is GBP 24,000/year - the average mortgage exceeds GBP 140,000.
    • Tax relief on mortgages and grants for university education have been slashed. Professor Tinker believes that people born within the last 30-40 years face paying 1/3 of their lifetime's earnings in taxes just to support pensioners born before them.
    • In 1997, Gordon Brown started taxing pension funds. It is estimated that GBP 100 billion has already been siphoned off - money that belonged to current contributors. The principle of compound interest means that the people who suffer the most will be the most recent joiners. Meanwhile, MPs recently voted themselves a 20% boost in the pensions - funded by the taxpayer.

    It is clear that the trend is towards fewer taxpayers supporting more pensioners. I believe that this is no coincidence, rather that the generation(s) born since 1970 were systematically and deliberately set up by the policy makers of the so-called "baby boomer" generation.

    They set up a system for healthcare and pensions under which taxation is immediately paid out to recipients, rather than being invested for growth and the purchase of an annuity in a real pension system. They did this at a time when they knew that their own contributions would be minimal, given the population's age distribution at the time. Quite cynically, they decided that it would be easier to levy punitive taxation on their own children and grandchildren than invest for their own futures.

    The money they saved by doing so, they poured into the housing market, driving up prices and placing mortgages out of the reach of many first time buyers. This created massive inflation in property prices - almost 20%/year at present - which they benefitted immensely from, already being owners of at least one property.

    The state education system has been systematically wrecked. Grammar schools and the Assisted Places Scheme which sponsored children to attend fee-paying schools have been abolished, as the baby boomers further try to pull the ladder up after themselves. These same baby boomers, who once swore never to trust anyone over 30, are now in positions of responsibility and have carefully structured corporations to ensure that today's under 30s cannot enjoy privileges such as a job-for-life that the baby boomers enjoyed. They are scrapping defined-benefits pension schemes, after making sure that they got them for themselves, at the expense of those currently paying into employer's pension funds - us.

    We are also paying the price for their disasterous social experiments. Soaring crime rates and falling literacy rates originate in the pseudo-liberal ideals of the baby boomers, who knew that they would escape scot free while their children and grandchildren would pick up the pieces for them. Rather than being the unfortunate result of a well-intentioned experiment than didn't work out, it is indicative of the baby boomer's defining attitudes: firstly, that nothing matters to them more than instant gratification, and secondly that they will never have to face any consequences for their actions.

    What can we do? It may be too late; huge damage has already been done to the economic and social fabric of our country. The only hope is that when those of us born since 1970 are in power, that we use that power wisely: to ensure that not a penny of our our generation's money is wasted on or by those that came before us. Let them live on the pensions that they knowingly intended for us, with the standards of healthcare and accomodation that they intended for us, and let us invest our own money in our own future and our own children.

  • by georgeha (43752) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#4423988) Homepage
    who knew how to use Frontpage and dropped out of college to make 75k a year at a dotcom selling petfood over the internet, their best years are behind them.


    For people with a bachelor's who are willing to continually learn, and stick with companies with a sound business plan, things will be a little tight, but they will get through.


    Of course, my version isn't as dramatic, and makes people take responsibility for their careers.

  • by Farmer Jimbo (515393) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:16AM (#4424022)
    Plus all those turd reports are invested in municiapls bonds so you're set!

    Anyway, yeah. Tried to play it smart, no debt, ok job, used car, couple months of salary saved up just in case. 15% going into the 403(b) pre-tax. I'm getting stocks at a bargain right now. I've got 25 years min before retirment. As long as my paycheck keeps clearing, a low stock market is a good thing for me.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:16AM (#4424023)
    I also fall in to this category. I have less than $100.00 on credit card debt, modest car and an ok job. I don't have anywhere 8 months of salary saved up, becuase our family just had some major remodeling done; but this begs the question.

    What the heck are you doing in an appartment? You are pissing away your rent every month. If you owned a home, then you would get a tax break (one of the few left). If you have the means to save 8 months of salary, then you should be able to afford a home. My God the interest rates are rock bottom now. What are you waiting for?

    At least consider a condo. I would still get a house though...

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#4424040)
    Don't lose your resolve. In thirty years your friends will say you were the only one to get it right.

    But also don't rent for too long - its a suckers racket. Buying and owning a house is the best way to protect yourself in the very long run.

  • Employer Greed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 00Monkey (264977) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:21AM (#4424081) Homepage
    One of the things that I've noticed is that many employers are charging alot more for their products and services but are paying their employees alot less then they are worth. It's been an employer's dream always to have this happen but it's no longer a dream.

    For instance, I just got done working at this computer service based business in where I was making 36k/year. I'm worth 55k/year and when hired was told that "it would be no problem" if I were motivated, etc. I quit when I found out that the max anyone makes there at the company was 36k, heh. I was there for 2 years.

    Well, the charges that we were giving customers was insane. If it was after hours and on a weekend, they were being charged like $400 an hour for computer service. Granted it was pry to fix one or two of their servers or something but still, that's some serious income for the company and yet I get to see none.

    No tech jobs I find want to start anyone much above what I was making and most are lying to me about what I could potentially make at the company. There's a whole slew of $8/hour jobs around me, especially if I want to go into the food service field. /me commits suicide!
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:21AM (#4424083)
    I'm 35 right now and pull in $125,000 a year. I'll be retired by age 50 despite the current market gloom (or *because* of it, actually). 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.
  • Failing skill set (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cirrius (304487) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:21AM (#4424084)
    I joined the internet rise in 1995 straigh out of college, and my entire skill set was based on the following years of experience. I worked through a lot of successful start-up companies, building up enough seed money to start one of my own. Enter the dot com failure due to the choking number of net companies. Not only did I lose my company, I lost all my money, and gained some hefty debt trying to keep things afloat.

    At that point not only was my skill set the same as the other 50,000 people out there applying to every small position that cropped up for half the pay it used to be, I had a failed company on my resume. An emergency change of my skillset from web to video games is all that kept me from going back to salaries I was making in 1997-8.
  • by gabec (538140) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:25AM (#4424133)
    So.. I've always considered myself part of the "Generation X" generation, but... according to this I'm not. So.. what comes after Generation X? I remember pepsi promoting their 'generation next' but that was just a marketing campaign... hm... maybe the 'MTV Generation'? I've heard that one, since we grew up with such short attention spans and so on purportedly due to such things as MTV, but really.. what comes after Generation X?
  • $100,000 by 32???? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by futuresheep (531366) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:26AM (#4424141) Journal
    After going to culinary school, my starting income was $18,600. This was for a sous chef position at a large, expensive hotel. This was 9 years ago. Over the next 5 years, my income in the culinary industry, rose to a whopping $26,000 per year. I'm at a loss on how I should have saved $100,000 during that time, purchased a house, and had more than $20,000 in equity in it. I wasn't exactly driving a BMW during that time. 4 years ago, I changed careers, ( I wanted to have a regular family life), and my income has changed becuase of it, so it's easier to save now, but I think the expectations in the article are a bit higher than what the average person is capable of.
  • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:26AM (#4424145)
    if you bought a house in the last 2 years, you're going to look worse than this guy after the bubble bursts in the housing market.

    houses arent that great of investments, and unless you are sure you are going to be in it for 5-10 years, you will get screwed.

    and this housing market is as nuts as the 2000 stock market.

    me, i'm a gunna wait until all those foreclosure sales start happening next spring.
  • by Phronesis (175966) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:28AM (#4424169)
    The baby boomers, having lost much of their retirement savings in the bursting of the bubble, we can expect them to put off retirement for quite some time. A few at the top will retire, but most will continue to work well into their seventies.

    If the average baby-boomer works until age 75, the retirement will start at 1946 + 75 = 2020 and will hit its peak ten years later as the mode of the baby boom hits retirement age. If you feel like waiting until 2030, more power to you.

  • Here in Canada (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 2000 Britneys (549923) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:29AM (#4424195)
    in the next 2 to 5 years all the Baby boomers will start retiring from their "life long" government jobs. If you have good education (and I mean Grad school degree or professional designation like I do) the future is bright.

    As a matter of fact I am looking forward to the Baby Boomers retiring because I will be able to secure a government (Municipal, Provincial or Federal) job position that will last me till the retirement and will pay above average wage for the next 25-30 years. Plus the pension benefits are insane. I don't need to contribute to my pension plan for the rest of my life once I get me one of those jobs.
  • fall of the economy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:35AM (#4424259)
    Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1975) have been damaged by the fall of the economy

    The economy right now is far stronger than it was 10 years ago. That was 1992. The economy right now is far stronger than it was 20 years ago. That was 1982. From the perspective of someone born in 1966-1975, how has the economy fallen?
  • bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iocat (572367) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:37AM (#4424274) Homepage Journal
    Anytime I see shit like this, I have to laugh. I was born right in the middle (1971), and me -- and most of my same-age friends -- are all doing fine. Houses, cars, kids, *jobs* (usually interesting, tech related ones), upward salary progressions, etc. I don't know any Gordon Gekkos, but I don't have any friends who are homeless either.

    And if you think you are doomed by your age to a lifetime of finanical failure, just look at Colonel Sanders: he was basically broke until he started KFC when he was 65 years old!

    I don't want to be a polyanna or say I've never had or seen setbacks -- my gf was un/under-employed for a year -- but to just write off a whole generation in Fortune just seems like a sack of Baby Boomer sour grapes bullshit.

  • by Qwest94 (512718) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:37AM (#4424277)
    The article, like most stories in the media (gotta have an angle and stick to it to make a story interesting) is one sided. There are a number of good things going demographically/marketwise on for Gen Xers. For example, the market crash, has allowed younger folks to start buying stocks at lower valuations. For a buy and hold investor with a 30 year time horizon, the crash is the best thing that could have happened. They can continue to buy stock as the market slowly builds value over the long term. On the other hand the market crash was horrible for a baby boomer who was planning to use that money in five years to retire. Second, by following the boomers demographically, we will get the benefit of the large supply of housing that was built to house all of those boomers and their families. As that housing comes on the market as empty-nesters sell out to retire, there will be a lot of housing supply and less relative demand (as there are less Xers than boomers). As one poster noted, all the boomers leaving their VP jobs will also open up areas for promotions for Xers. Finally all those boomers in retirement are going to be spending big bucks to buy products and services from Xers.

    These are just a few examples of how things aren't as bad as they seem for Xers (I was born in 72).
  • Short-sighted media (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lute3 (72400) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:37AM (#4424279) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall in 1997 how the media was praising the entrepeneuring Gen Xers. We had all of these millionaire twentysomethings popping up.

    ...
    The media seems to have vision problems beyond myopia...it also seems hindsight-impaired. In all of the press, I don't see the dot-com bust blaming the Y2K budget bubble at all. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe I've a perspective unique to Tech Support.

    The IT and Software Development industries were overbudgeted by 300-500% in many companies from 1998 to 2000. A company I worked for in 1999 had perhaps 1000 employees, but had around 100 developers and IT staff working full-time on Y2K and Y2K+1 calendar-related issues. Once the Y2K problems were gone, many COBOL, Foxpro, and other programmers were out of work. The bloated IT budgets in companies saw *lots* of contractors and regular employees alike seeking other jobs in the summer of 2000.

    Many companies were created just to handle Y2K issues. Others were started to try to soak up some of the money being thrown around that was left over after Y2K didn't soak up all of the budget.

    And let's face it, the United States was getting excited about technology. The first wave of real computer consumerism happened when Windows 95 was released and coincided with Intel working the bugs out of its Pentium chips.. This wave lasted about 1.5 years. The second wave was around 1998-1999 and it came down in the year 2000 when people were sick and tired of hearing about Y2K and how all of the computers were going to blow up. After the computers didn't end up blowing up and consumers realized they had computers fast enough for solitaire and email, the consumer frenzy stopped. Now you can except computer consumerism to coincide with Christmas and back-to-school shopping like many other industries.

    Eventhough computer consumerism is not rampant and technology is no longer the big news in the U.S., the economy still seems doing alright in some industries:

    Aetna, the number-two U.S. health insurer, said its quarterly earnings will be twice analysts' estimates. Shares of Aetna leapt 19 percent.
  • US stats even worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:37AM (#4424280)
    Many people have done the math on social security - its frightening. Here it is in its shortest, most brutal form:

    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.

    In other words, it is only a matter of time before social security breaks. The only things that can save are an incredible development in the economy that drastically increases real wealth in a short period of time, or massive immigration to increase the number of paying (but not deducting) parties by a huge amount. Its just turned into a pyramid scheme at this point, and that really is what drive most immigration policy.

  • generation W, not X (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DABANSHEE (154661) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:41AM (#4424312)
    W for Wingers [ozemail.com.au].

    The simple fact is that Generation X have had it better than any past generation in history, except for the baby boomer generation - the generation of negative unemployment, antibiotics without antibiotic resistence, reasonable housing prices, free Unis (well in Oz anyway), welfare without scrutiny, lifelong employement with long service leave & gold watches, etc, etc.

    So what if the baby boomers had it so good, Xers should get some perpective & realise they are still better off than all the other previous generations.

    & what's this with complaining about the fact that Xers were able to rort billions out of the community with the Y2K scare campaign & the dot.bomb pyramid schemes? So what that the party's over, they still made billions at the time, doing sweet FA of consequence.
  • by Vrallis (33290) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:43AM (#4424339) Homepage
    I went through the same bit. After high school, I went to a Uni for a couple years before the money crunch got me. Grants, loans, and a student job barely paid for tuition and on-campus living. No meal plans there, and I was left a bunch of months with around $25 for a month of groceries and spending money. My only other choice was to get an off-campus job, and without a car, that wasn't an option around there.

    I moved back home with my parents, who weren't in great financial shape either. I ended up as a computer operator ($7/hour), and within a week I was a junior programmer @ $22k. Four years later I'm now making over $40k, which in my city, is well above average. The company is over 120 years old and I'm one of about 10 IT staff here--i.e., I have one of the most stable possible jobs in today's economy. I own a home now (parents/bro/sis live with me, not vice-versa). I'll be out of all debt (minus mortgage) by the end of spring. All I'm in debt now anyway are student loans (2 months to pay them off), and I'm about to put down a few thousand to do some major work with my home.

    I personally have never wanted anything at ALL to do with my generation (I'm a '78'er). I've seen even friends end up as a wasted drain on society. They have no ambition, and their education sucks. The few who do try to make something of themselves are getting screwed lately. I got OUT of college at just the right time. A friend of mine stayed 2 more years and finished his CS degree. He went back home, and even two years later could still only find work as a help desk operator! This is in a major US city with a supposedly large tech job market. He's making a tiny bit over minimum wage.

    Bfah.
  • Re:Employer Greed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Izeickl (529058) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @11:46AM (#4424371) Homepage
    "I was making 36k/year. I'm worth 55k/year "
    Not to sound cold hearted, but, your only worth what people are willing to pay you. If a company can fill the job you want by paying 36k a year instead of your 55k a year, why pay more? Perhaps you have more skills/knowledge/experience, but if the company feel the extra money is worth what you can bring, then thats it.
  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:00PM (#4424522)
    You cannot even *BEGIN* to compare this to the Great Depression.

    See http://www.korpios.org/resurgent/Timeline.htm

    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.

    For example, look at the quote "Salesclerks became programmers; coffee slingers morphed into experts in Java (computerese, that is)" So basically the dot-com bubble burst and things are getting back into reality.

    And I love this one: "Jessica, an art therapist and professional harpist, has $50,000 in student loans". Hmm, maybe racking up $50,000 in student loans for an unmarketable degree was not a good idea. Who would have thought?
  • by analog_line (465182) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:08PM (#4424601)
    As with every generalization, they tend to be grossy overexagerated, but have some grains of truth tucked in there. Most GenXers I know have some things in common with this gestalt picture that the article provides. On the grand scale, I do believe the article is pretty insightful. No one knows what exactly is going to be happening, but they give good reasons and examples and it seems to hold together. What they don't have any opinion on is where this will lead the national economy, and I personally can only think it will be a pretty grim thing...close to the Great Depression if not as bad, though I would love to be proven wrong. =) Though I don't believe all is lost. The article stops short at offering any kind of ideas as to where we go from here, and that's not very constructive in the least. Alot depends on how the GenXer in question sees their situation.

    Me? I'm a dot bomb casualty. I went from ISP tech support, to roving infosec software installer/trainer, to high-end VPN design in the space of three years, then was summarily kicked to the curb with about enough money to keep myself around comfortably through 6 months of unemployment. I've got zero credit card debt (mostly because I've never liked borrowing money in the first place) and no student loan debt (thankfully, my mother works for a school). I look at it as if I got taken on a 3 year ride with people who paid for my crap, and the ride came to an end, time to find something else to do. =)

    I don't save alot, because I don't make alot. I do consulting work with my father, because he's too busy to do it all himself. I live in the nice apartment that's attatched to my father's office (he used to live here until he got remarried, and the rent is VERY inexpensive), and the rent and utilities get paid with a few hundred bucks every couple-few weeks depending on the vagaries of the small-scale consulting biz. I don't live large because I've never really lived large. My one real vice, video games, gets some money, with plenty left over for food and the like. My gf is a grad student finishing up her doctorate, so she's got more than a few loans, and that's made us consider any wedding plans alot more carefully, but it isn't going to be overwhelming. No, it certainly won't be a walk in the park, but I've got plenty of reason to believe that things are going to be better. =)
  • my experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSync (5291) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:21PM (#4424723) Journal
    Got my MSEE, went into Internet company, several friends became millionaires, started my own company, company (and industry) tanked, $30K cc debt, paid it off on tail end of dot-bomb employment, now work for company that has been around as long as I have making median for my education.

    Well, during that time I made videos seen by millions, got my picture in hundreds of newspapers and magazines, got to work with the ultra-cool Slashdot guys and a Net superstar who was on David Letteman, videos were in NY MOMA exhibit, flew around the country on crazy business deals that mainly never happened, friend of mine purchased warship, acquired stomach acid problem from crazy business deals, multicasted video over satellites (twice now), and got married in castle.

    Now I just need to chill out at my 9-5 job... whew! At least I have something to tell my (future) children about.
  • by wazzzup (172351) <astromac@fastma i l . fm> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:27PM (#4424774)
    The article mentioned that we should have all been set for life by the dot.com era. What kind of blinded logic is that? I guess all of the GenX social workers, construction laborers, accountants, bank tellers, etc. dropped everything and became programmers? I suppose the boomers temporarily filled in those positions until they came back? Newsflash. The majority of jobs are not tech jobs. The dot.com boom and bust had no direct affect to most of us.

    However, many of us did go to college because it was a basic requirement to get a decent job. The Boomers got the same jobs without going to college. Here's the difference - we have to pay $50,000 up front to enter the job market where the Boomers got in for free. As a result, we can't save early enough for interest to compound and work in our favor. It used to be that parents paid for their child's college education but the Boomers have figured out that divorce works for them at the cost of their children's future irrevocably damaged. I am not knocking divorce. Some people genuinely need it. It is, however, a symptom of some sort of selfishness (i.e. adultery, substance abuse, gambling, spousal abuse, etc.) by making yourself feel good - however temporary - at the expense of others.

    I'm a 33 year old GenXer with two kids. I have no credit card debt. My wife drives a '93 Lumina and I an '89 Civic. We have massive payments on student loans. We have a mortgage on a $60,000 condo. There was no freakin' way we could have saved $100,000 by now. She's a teacher and I'm a CAD technician. I am sick of people on this site telling us it's our fault we won't have enough for retirement. It's not. The rules have changed and we're trying to adapt to them the best we can.

    Meanwhile the Boomers are threatening to break into the Social Security "lockbox". Our money, not theirs. Theirs is already guaranteed. Boomers aren't called the "Me" Generation for nothing.

    Ach, I'm rambling and venting and none of it matters.
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ncc74656 (45571) <scott@alfter.us> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:31PM (#4424807) Homepage Journal
    Really Gold Age was not for us. People who are forty, fifty and twenty in 1999 were more successful that we are...

    Are you sure about that? I'm 30, but doing better than ever. After several years of pulling in maybe ~$20k per year, I finally finished college and got a better-paying job. It doesn't pay what your average dot-com job did, but it's fairly secure, it's easy 8-to-5 work, and it's plenty to live reasonably well in this market. I have no student loans to pay back, and I'm paying down credit cards at a faster rate than before. Once those debts are gone, I should be able to squirrel some of it away for the future. I'd also like to sell the one-bedroom condo and buy a house...a garage would be nice for working on my '77 Olds (no longer my primary transportation, since the new job is paying for a new truck). If you don't have unrealistic expectations for your future (a big house, a 6-car garage full of sports cars, and a vacation home in the Caribbean by 25 would be considered by most to be unrealistic), there's no reason to be pessimistic about the long term.

    The only dark cloud I see is if Social Security continues on its present course. I'd recommend not counting on it being there 30-40 years from now, as the current crop of old farts will bleed it dry. The country's only legal Ponzi scheme is collapsing. Start saving for your retirement, and keep bugging your congressman and senators for Social Security reform. (Privatization would be a Good Thing. The AARP will fight against it denture-and-nail, but staying on the present course will end in bankruptcy in a decade or two.)

    One more thing: the "Generation X" label sucks. I've never cared much for it...the media has tied the image of pot-smoking skateboarding slackers to it, but I doubt that that applies to any but a small group of people in their late-20s-to-mid-30s.

  • by Gruneun (261463) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:37PM (#4424876)
    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.

    This sounds more like an excuse. Running up credit card debit is careless and stupid in any economy. If the NASDAQ and Dow are way up, you're still capable of screwing yourself.
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by madfgurtbn (321041) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:47PM (#4424966)
    32 is "halfway to pension age?"

    Even if you accept the idea of age 64 as retirement, this statement is bogus, because if you consider that someone is done with college at age 22 they have worked 10 years at age 32 and have 32 working years before retirement at age 64, so they are only about 1/4 of the way through their working years.
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jdbear (607709) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @12:52PM (#4425012)

    Poor, poor Gen Xer's. They have just now entered into the best investment period of their lives, and they are whining about it. I was born just a few years too early to be called Gen X, but since I totally wasted 8 years after high school, I guess I still qualify finanically as a Gen Xer.

    I started making an real income (over 16k) just 8 years ago, and I already have $40K saved for retirement, between stocks, 401K, and a ROTH account. Every year I increase my income by 5 to 8% and expect to continue to do so for the forseeable future. I truely can't say when my "best earning years" will be, but it sure wasn't the last few. More likely it will be the last few before I retire.

    I have a feeling this year and maybe 2003 will be the years that I make my best investments, though. As they say, buy low and sell high. Since I'm not planning to retire for the next 20 years or so, I want to be able to buy stocks for as little as possible. Thank God for the market crash! The market is a Bargin right now.

    I hope that it stays low for 10 years or so, then we have a repeat of the '90's beginning, oh say around 2012. I'll be filthy, stinking rich by the time I retire.

    Oh, yeah. By the way, all those folks who live in nice apartments in the city, lease a new sports car every three years, and spent thier 20's and 30's in the clubs every Friday and Saturday night, I hope you enjoy your memories, because that's where your retirement money went.

    - jdbear

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:00PM (#4425090) Homepage
    A New York Life Investment Management survey of high-net-worth Gen Xers found that the respondents thought they needed $2 million to retire. Not even close, says Beverly Moore, who conducted the study. A Gen Xer who makes $100,000 and wants to retire at 59 needs $7.3 million net of taxes to sustain that lifestyle. (That means saving $2,600 a month and assumes an 8% return.)

    Someone help me understand why those numbers don't seem to work. If someone has $2mil saved with an 8% return, they're pulling $160,000 per year pre-taxes or about $105,000 net. $7.3 mil should give you over $380,000 after tax income. Even if we correct for 5% inflation, it only takes $5 mil in savings to keep an income of $100k.

    It just seems that these figures, like every other number in the article, were set artificially high.
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cwhicks (62623) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:47PM (#4425540)
    Ah, the sympathy for other people I'm seeing here is so heart warming.
    It is fun and easy to make judgements about people you have never met.
    Yes, everyon that has lost ther jobs in the IT sector in the past several years is one of those people that learned html, etc whatever. All 400,000 of them make me sick!
    Plus, we've got ours, right? I make 150K a year so leave me out of any thoughts of bad things. Fuck everyone below me.
    Wait this sounds more like baby boomers than Gen-X's. Show me your birth certificate! I think you shall be removed from our generation.
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @01:58PM (#4425658)
    See, you misunderstand the housing market in the SF Bay Area. You can get an apartment for $650 in your area? In SF, you cannot get ANY apartment, of ANY size or condition, fo that amount of money. You could perhaps rent a studio for $1000, but people won't let a couple rent a studio, so you are looking at a noe bedroom place. $1400 and up, generally speaking. Oh, you have a family? $2500 and up for two bedroom places. A house? Two bedroom? $4500/month on a 30-year for a place that probably needs a new foundation.
  • Re:This ticks me off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrMaurer (64120) <danlowlite@gmai3.1415926l.com minus pi> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:26PM (#4425945) Homepage
    Monster.com is a joke.

    Companies use it to accumulate mass quantities of resumes, which they keyword search. This is common, from my understanding. There are jobs, right, but it's literally a snowball/hell chance level.

    I just graduated from college, oh, about 18 months ago. Been looking for a stable job since; the few seasonal jobs I've gotten since have paid bills and past-due notices on student loans and extortion-level car-insurance rates, but savings has been tough to accumulate.

    Finding a job is a networking thing now. You got to find someone who knows someone. Which is how . . .

    The job I did get was taken away because they forgot to look at their budget before hiring someone. It was replacing someone who was promoted into a vacated position. So the total number of additional personel: -1 in an office of about 20. Times are tough 'round here.

    The mayor said when the country has an economic cold, Rockford gets pnumonia. Cheesy, but seems to be true.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:30PM (#4425981) Homepage
    NO one will probably read this since there are already a million posts on this story but anyway...
    several people have summarized this story as being about gen-x'ers whining. but it isn't. it is about a baby boomer who wrote a story and tried their best to make gen-x seem worse than their genreation. really, how many gen-xers read fortune in comparison to their other readers? their target demo is not gen-x but baby boomers. this is an article to make the baby boomers feel better, "Look how great we are compared to these damn kids." does anyone REALLY think that our best earning years are over? no. not a chance.
    it's not gne-xers whining, its baby boomers looking for a story.
  • by Boomer2 (515406) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:44PM (#4426120)
    However, before we congratulate ourselves too much for our prudence, we should remember that spending is a very important to our economy.
    Umm, that's the point. We don't need to change our spending habits because we've been wise enough not to OVERSPEND. Our spending habits aren't changing. It's the stupid morons who borrowed like there was on tomorrow that are causing any problems that exist in the economy.

    1929 stock market crash and ensuing depression are perfect examples why so-called 'high fliers' suck. The economy (and the market) crashed because people -- mainly (paper) rich people -- overborrowed on stock market margin buys, overpriced equities, etc. When the bubble burst, they defaulted on their debts and caused the banks to fall apart. (Of course, the banks were hugely at fault for loaning them unsecured credit in the first place.)

    Sound familiar? Same thing that's happening from the .bombs and the fools who were the darlings during the period. We may not end up as badly off; but the causes are pretty much the same.

    I'm actually pretty happy to hear 'Dow 6000' predictions. I'll make out like a bandit on the way back up. And if my parents take some hits from it, I'll support them, because I love them.

    The fool Boomers who went after 'things' instead of caring for their kids will probably end up poor and alone; but they earned it through their own choices and actions. They better hope those religious charities they disparaged for so long keep doing well so they have free soup at least!
  • by CommandNotFound (571326) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:44PM (#4426126)
    if you bought a house in the last 2 years, you're going to look worse than this guy after the bubble bursts in the housing market.

    Depends on your region, and even then, housing bubbles don't really exist unless you bought a $10 million dollar mansion with tacky customized features that nobody wants, much less can afford. If an average house in SF costs $400K, it's not going to drop by very much even if a bubble bursts. Maybe down as far as $375K briefly, but in the end you still have the sticks and bricks of the house and the scarce land it's on, so the value will tend to remain. Stocks don't have a fixed scarcity, so they can evaporate. In short, if you stay around the middle of the road, you won't lose on a house even if you sell within a few years.

    houses arent that great of investments, and unless you are sure you are going to be in it for 5-10 years, you will get screwed.

    Let's say I buy a house for $200K in 2000 and sell it for the same $200K in 3 years. Assuming 6% in realtor costs ($12K) plus 2% misc costs ($4k), I've gotten "screwed" by 16K in closing costs which they will deduct from the selling price, so the bank will only get $184K, of which I've only paid down to $190K, so I owe them 6K (total, $22K). For a 30 year note at 6.75% plus some taxes and insurance my payments would be around $1600/mth. For the first three years, about $1000/mth of this would be interest, which can be deducted from fed taxes at probably the 27% bracket = $270/mth * 36mths = $9720. So, our $22K loss is now $22000 - 9720 = $12280. This averages a net outlay of $341 over the 36 months to live in a home of your own. If that is getting screwed, sign me up... :-) If you want to nitpick, we'll add in the buying closing costs of about 2% ($4K), which adds $111 /mth to the "rent".

    Now, to compare, let's rent a modest house or large apartment, which would cost around $1500/mth * 36mths = $54,000. None of this is deductable, and you get nothing back when you move out.

    True, renting is nice when you are unsure of where you'll be next year and don't want to risk holding two house notes at a time, but according to a book I read (Home Buying for Dummies, I think. Don't laugh, it's a really good book!) homeowners on average have 20-40 times the net worth of lifetime renters.
  • by CTD (615278) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:45PM (#4426141) Homepage
    I'm 30. I worked through the dot com explosion at a conservative finance company. I hear all the old fart executives laugh at the failure of the computer age. Daily I hear this. Usually because I am the one hooking up their laptop to the presentation system. I am the one showing them how to load that power point presentation that their secretary designed. I am the one who helps them sync their PDA with their laptop. I am the one who is suggesting what computer they should buy their daughter now that she's going away to school. I'm the one showing them how to use Nextel direct connect. Yeah, the computer age is over. My job is in jeopardy and my pay is getting smaller all the time... hardly. The Chicken Little's can complain all they want. I have my geriatric providers right where I need them: Hooked on my technology and convinced that it does not rule them.
  • Re:Sad truth is that (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:50PM (#4426197)
    I'm with you. I am 36 now, worked my ass of for 10 years, and 'retired last year at 35, and moved to Bolivia to stretch the dollar.

    Never fell into the .com, though some people tried to get me there. I just never saw the logic in spending money to build something you give away for free. If your company doesn't make money, it is only a matter of time.

    I also never went in debt, thinking that it is a bad way to live live - owing somebody else money. I bought the toys I wanted to buy, bought the books I wanted to buy, and rented the house I wanted to rent.

    What finally got to me is realizing that I was a slave to government. Not having any debt or wife(s) or children, I was their money cow. Every paycheck I would get pissed off, seeing how much I was not getting. I saw a great quote somewhere that said: "the only way not to pay an income tax is to have no income". So, I quit, and have no income. (And don't bother with the anti-patriotic malarchy - look at every bill you pay and everything you buy and find out the taxes you are paying outside of income, and tell me they don't have enough).

    Well, that was fun.
  • by Fatal Darkness (18549) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:06PM (#4426356)

    I'm reading alot of whining from those with college-degrees complaining about how those who didn't go to college were able to be as successful as those who did. Now these so-called "educated" types are expressing satisfaction that those who didn't have this education are getting what they deserve. Let me tell you why this is the wrong attitude.

    First off, "higher-education" is just another business out to make money. Colleges market by convincing us that we'll never amount to anything unless we shell $40k for an "education."

    Second of all, college-degrees are simply how our society enforces an unofficial cast-system. Yes, its true. The only degrees of any measurable worth are from universities oriented for people who come from wealthy families and can put 100% of their life into school. To rest of us, people who aren't supported 100% from mommy and daddy and actually have to work for a living, this so called education is out of reach for us. As long as companies continue to discriminate based on degrees, this ensures the wealthy stay wealthy, and the lower classes stay were they are.

    As for student loans, this is a very risky gamble. There is no guarantee that after taking out such a loan that one will magically find a high-paying job to justify the time and money spent on the education. Also, student aid and loans usually don't provide enough to pay for school, books *and* that person's cost of living expenses. Usually, people who take this path still have to work at least part time to support themselves at an extremely modest (i.e. poor) life style. It is not possible to complete a degree in only four years this way. It could take as long as 8-10 years for a bacheler's degree in many fields. Who wants to live the life style of a starving-student for that long if there are better ways?

    Is it fair that someone with a degree is paid more than someone without one given all other circumstances are equal? I don't think so. People should pay a person because of their ability do a task at hand, not because of so-called past accomplishments that are irrelevent to the job. Its no different than paying a man more than a woman because of gender, or paying a white man more than a black man because of race. How long is our society going to tolerate this kind of discrimination?

    Most degrees are just stupid anyway. Degrees in art? History? Foreign language majors? Come on people! The only people who *need* college degrees are doctors, lawyers and other fields where that rigorous training is justified. Everyone else jumping on the college-bandwagon only depreciates the value of degrees by saturation.

    Finally, don't be bitter towards someone because they found a better to get where you are without sacrificing 4-8 years of their life and getting themselves $20-40k in debt. If anything, they should be rewarded more than you because they were smart enough to find a better way.
  • an OG X'r (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:15PM (#4426433)
    not really, but as a 66'r I am one of those people that can't find a job...

    Before anyone says my expectations are too high - i have lowered my salary demands from 80 to 40... still too much? You might not say so if you knew what I have done for a living.

    I am begining to see the age discrimination that everyone talks about... of course it won't bother you if your in your 20's...

    Every job apply to as terminology designed to screen out people that could do the work. Keyword screening is more of a problem than some people here will admit.

    So you might say... why don't you apply for jobs in your field? I do, but I am one of a thousand applicants for a job. Should I forgo engineering work for janitorial work? I certainly can't get an interview in a related tech field due to the keyword screening going on.

    Some people here appear to think that there is never a problem that can't be directly blamed on an individual. Sometimes it is the individuals fault... sometimes not... and sometimes its a combination.

    Try to keep in mind that there are plenty of people that love technology(didn't get in it for the money) and are getting screwed by the economy and circumstance beyond thier control...
  • by axjms (167179) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:39PM (#4426627) Homepage
    First off this post is so rosy I just want to puke. I know the spreadsheet you have your life entered into adds everything perfectly but sometimes a little thing called life rounds your numbers off in unexpected ways.

    Anywho what I really wanted to respond to was about the whole population thing. Declining populations suck for social security but it is an inherently flawed system anyway. You advocate propping it up by having more children? The fact of the matter is the world IS overpopulated. Granted, much of the excess is in the areas least prepared to deal with it whereas europe and the US are seeing population declines or stasis.

    What I am trying to say is economic growth is not the meaning of life. Which I suppose is a typical view of many of my peers as we have not made the sacrifices the author of the fortune article advocate. Quality of life in the now seems to be more important than wealth or security.

  • I was born in 1968 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ahfoo (223186) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:00PM (#4426880) Journal
    When my parents graduated from college with BAs in the 70s they were actually sent invitations for jobs through the post. Neither one of them really interviewed. They just chose the job they wanted and went to work. In time they went on to other careers where their experience served as all the credential they needed. They got started with an invitation and they never looked back. I looked forward to the day when I would enter the work force like my parents.
    When I got my BA in '91 the career counselor told me and my buddy that there were two alternatives, go to grad school or leave the country. There were no jobs including her own. She was being dismissed as part of budget cuts at the time. My buddy went to Japan and I went to grad school.
    A few years later with a Master's degree there were still no jobs so I left the country as well. I'm still outside the country almost ten years later and I only go back for Christmas vacation.
    Of the friends that stayed in the States, a surprising number are already dead. My brother born in '74 finally landed a teaching job a few years ago, but it's not clear how stable it is and he's got two kids.
    Out of all my cousins only a few made big bucks and the only way they made it was hustling in the worst way. I'm talking backstabbing salespeople types. There is a total lack of people who just had normal career lives among family members in my generation. It has been either balls out money or jack shit. Education seems to be meaningless. The price of your school means everything, but the degree is nothing except perhaps a shot at a part time teaching gig at best.
    I do think people in my generation were trapped by circumstances. Those who made it didn't make it simply by being good citizens and playing by the rules and most of the people I know don't have shit and have little chance of ever making it work out.
    I think the part that surprises me the most is that there isn't more outright hostility than there already is. Probably now that we're riding down the back side of the distraction of the IP bubble we'll start to see some more active participation --cough-- in social affairs by members of this generation.
  • by swv3752 (187722) <swv3752@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:06PM (#4426942) Homepage Journal
    From What I have seen, Those born from 1974 through 1980 are there own small subset. They are not quite GenX, and not quite GenY. My own sister is born in 1975 and needs many cultural injokes explained to her. Her classmates are the same way. I was born in 1972, and catch things that she just doesn't. In many cases I have something more in common with someone 6 years my senior than my sister who is only 3 years my junior.
  • by coldtone (98189) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:09PM (#4426971)
    University exists to create experts in targeted fields. It's for people who wish to specialize in a specific area (Doctors, Scientists, or really anything else). So that when you are done University you are valuable in your target field. So when a company needs to do something in a specialized target field they use these experts.

    Back before the Baby boomers went to University, a Degree just about guaranteed you a good job. Experts where few and Business needed them.

    But then more and more people started to go to university, and the number of experts increased and increased, but businesses didn't need more experts.

    At first governments, and other public institutions took the extra in. (Including the Universities themselves) but the number of Graduates continued to increases.

    This is all fueled by the myth that higher education is the only or best way to get ahead in life. And that is simply not the case.

    The educational path to success is very appealing to some, it is a relatively straightforward and clear path. Grade school, High School, University, Great career. As opposed to the alternative. Grade school, High School, Bust your ass working hard, continue to try new things, fail, learn from failure, (repeat), great career (eventually).

    It doesn't help that all though grade school and high school, your told that the only way to succeed is to graduate with great grades for am good University. (And also being told that the people that make it without all the education are just lucky, and or that it just doesn't work that way any more.)

    The fact is that with so many going to University there are not enough expert positions, and that only the Top students in the Top schools are getting the good jobs. The rest end up and an equal playing field with the people who didn't go (But worked hard and smart).

    This whole thing will turn around once people start to realize that there is no guaranteed path to success and that you need to make your own way in life.

  • This article is crap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by egriebel (177065) <edgriebel@gmai3.14159l.com minus pi> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:31PM (#4427154) Journal
    Sorry if it's offends, but I think the article is a load of crap. Yeah, the job market really sucks big d**k, but IMHO most of the people quoted have brought the problem on themselves.

    My translation of most of the people quoted in the story:
    "Um, yeah, like I've been working for like ten years ya know and went clubbing every nite, bought every cool high-tech piece of shit I could find on credit, instead of ya know paying down my school loans and like buying a house. Now like I've got like ya know tons of credit card bills and I have ya know big school loans. I like can't understand how it happened dude."

    And this classic:
    "Dude, I'm so clever because I'm deferring my huge undergrad loan while I rack up more debt for my hot-shit MBA..."

  • Re:Generation W (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dalassa (204012) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:12PM (#4427564) Journal
    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.


    This is assuming that you are white, male, middle class, straight, and professional.
    But for those of us without that priviliege life and society is far better than the 50s. Things like civil rights, women's lib, the G.I. bill, and advances medical knowledge have led to an increase in quality of life. Perhaps not much has changed technological, which I doubt, but the changes in society and attitude are staggering and take an incredible narrow mindset to overlook. Also factories today bear very little resemblance to factories of the 50s, for one far less people are needed to staff them.

    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.


    Actually changes in the economics and population of medival Europe brought down feudalism, and pikes and bows were the revolutionary weapon of the time, not guns. With a pike formation you can easily break a cavalry charge and a properly trained user of the English long bow could kill a knight in plate armor.

    I as a member of the so called Generation Y am not living the life of my mother or father. I have grown up with different social norms and expectations. Don't discount the progress of the last 50 years because you are convinced that the next 50 years will bring neat sci-fi toys.

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