Robert De Niro lays it on the line to NYU grads: “You’re f**ked.”

Robert De Niro recently delivered the commencement address to grads of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and he didn’t try to sugarcoat their future. “You’re fucked,” he said, telling them they  can expect a constant struggle and frequent unemployment. “A new door is opening to you,” he said. “A door to a lifetime of rejection. It’s inevitable.”

You  can get more details and view the video here.

His solution? “I hear that Valium and Vicodin work.”

Luckily, he was born in 1943. So he is too old (just barely) to be considered another one of those obnoxious Baby Boomers who delivers unsympathetic advice to Millennials while refusing to get off the stage and die, already (see below).

A Millennial gives my generation some heartfelt advice: “Hurry up and die, you old faggots”

On November 2, 2013, I posted a video to my YouTube channel – an edited version of my appearance on The Zoomer, ZoomerMedia’s public affairs show hosted by Conrad Black, in which I engaged in a spirited dialogue with other panelists who were Millennials. The discussion was lively, but in the main, respectful, and I posted it to YouTube because I thought some folks might appreciate the give-and-take.

You can see for yourself right here. 

I’m gratified to report it has garnered over 46,000 views to date. I’m less thrilled to report a high percentage of mindless insults. Even making allowance for the Wild West nature of the Internet, I was surprised at seeing so much visceral antagonism toward the Baby Boomer generation. Here’s just a small sampling (with typos left in place):

  • From Ross Otto — “Hurry up and die, you old faggots”
  • From Nuff — “starting life at 30 is unacceptable. we dont life long enough to pend 30 fucking years not doing shit. thats longer than most thing live period, we don’t need that much education to work. we need old people to die off, we need less people period..”
  • From Noah Namey – “Someone down below stated that there’s a “special place in hell for baby boomers”. And I certainly hope not. I want a mundane place in hell for them. Haven’t they had enough unwarranted notoriety?”
  • From Alejandro Ilizaliturri – “The Baby Boomer complaining about paying for education… Younger generations pay for Boomer’s pensions and healthcare, along with other benefits.”
  • From Ty Davis – “As lazy and entitled goes, no one can top the boomers. They were handed a red hot economy, the cost of a home, vehicle and raising a family was proportionately much less onerous than now and let’s not forget that they INVENTED being a hippy.”
  • From fizicsmcmanus – “Do not forget about The Silent Generation, they are to Baby Boomers what Generation X is to Y. They had a huge hand in shipping jobs overseas, it’s not all the Boomers fault though they both suck tremendously. Being from Generation X, we have had to serve Boomers all our lives in menial roles, bowing and scraping and being grateful for any scraps. Then they discovered outsourcing and you Millennials didn’t stand a chance after that, we X’ers are in the same boat only we had more time to prepare. I always knew they were going to pull the rug out from underneath us.”

It’s even worse in another video I posted to YouTube. I responded to the popular Millennial video, “We suck and we’re sorry,” by doing a mini-rant against what I thought was that video’s faux-ironic embrace of loser-hood. You can see the original video here. And my rant here.

This one has racked up 30,000 views so far, and an even greater number of insults, such as these beauties (again, with typos left in place):

  • From Sage Atallah — “You boomers are the worst and most selfish generation in all of history. George Carlin was completely right about your kind.”
  • From Miyamoto Musashi — “Most of you boomers contributed nothing, you just took. Baby boomers deflect, ignore and sanctiomious.”
  • And from Miyamoto Musashi again — “You boomers sound like war criminals.”
  • From Phoenix Rising — “SO typical of ‘boomer’ hypocrisy. Your generation took consumption to a whole new level and yet you point your boney old fingers down from your gold plated thrones and cattily insult and deride ‘millenials’.”
  • From TonyKingOfTheOzone — “Typical baby boomer, We need cash. That’s all I had to hear. die slowly.”
  • From fizicsmcmanus, who doesn’t like me any better on this video than on the other one — “The most self-absorbed generation alive and worse by far than the Millenials. What’s left of America will breathe a collective sigh of relief when your worthless generation’s fingernails are pried loose from this mortal coil.”

What’s striking about these comments, aside from the extremes of emotion, is that  they’re all trying to win and argument I wasn’t making. I was describing a situation — the Boomers still control the marketplace, and are not retiring “on schedule” at 65 — and from that description, suggesting that the Millennials might want to consider an alternative strategy to the wry celebration of their own helplessness. Can any reasonable person think this isn’t so? Does  anyone suggest that the Boomers do not, in fact, have the purchasing power they do? Or that they are retiring in droves instead of continuing to work long past 65? Or that they aren’t living longer than previous generations? Does anyone think that the “We suck and we’re sorry” video — as humorous as it is and as well done as it is (you can’t argue with 3 million views) represents an approach that will actually accomplish anything?

To be fair, there is evidence that many in the Millennial generation are indeed rising to what is undoubtedly a challenging environment. More are seeking out job-relevant training, and the surge of interest in community colleges continues, at the expense of the squishy liberal arts. New and better marketing research also reveals considerable segmentation among the Millennials, with large blocs of hard-nosed realists, money savers, and Type A workaholics who could give lessons to the Boomers.

It’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds. My bet is that the Millennials will (eventually) be just fine.

And as for all the venom, I suppose if you have nothing you  say, you might as well say it extravagantly. Bring on the insults! Make me smile!

Is college still worth it? Forbes reports the ROI is shrinking…and hiring managers don’t think grads are prepared.

Is a college education worth the cost? In a provocative opinion piece on Forbes.com, Micha Kaufman argues that the answer may be No.

“For most people,” he acknowledges, “common wisdom says that a college degree is practically a requirement for a good career. But with rising tuition costs and an entire generation of graduates burdened by crushing debt, the ROI on college is shrinking.”

Last year’s graduating class was the most indebted ever, Kaufman points out: the average grad with a student loan will owe about $33,000 — double what the average was 20 years ago. But more disturbing, to me, was another stat in the article. Less than 40% of hiring managers think recent grads are prepared for jobs in their field of study. So what was the point of those four years (or longer) and all that debt?

This is a  topic of vital interest to Boomers, of course, because the Boomer generation is back-stopping a substantial portion of that student debt — not to mention providing housing and other financial help to adult kids who still can’t get untracked. Anything that challenges the costly, hidebound and unproductive higher education system is a good thing.

You can read the entire article here.

Is age just a mind-set? Research suggests if you think you’re younger, your body may think so, too.

If your mind says you’re younger, your body may go along for the ride. Could this actually be true?

What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set? – NYTimes.com.

The research is fascinating — and intuitively, it feels right. It may be that the “reinvention of aging” by the Baby Boomers isn’t just a social expression of a certain generation’s boundless ego, but a biologically effective way to keep the music going (which takes, I suppose, back to that ego again…but oh, well.)

I can’t make today’s posts too long because I’m due at the gym. I’m feeling 20 years younger, and glad to know it isn’t all in my mind.

What if they gave a degree for proficiency rather than time spent studying? It may be starting.

Could universities ever award a degree based solely on proficiency, rather than on credit hours?

It makes a lot of sense — and it would certainly be the key to much-needed reform of higher education. According to an article on The American Interest website, The University of Michigan is apparently developing a competency-based Masters of Health Professions Education.

The article cites an NPR report that notes, correctly, that the current system measures “not how much you’ve learned, but how long you’ve spent trying to learn it”:

The conventions of the credit hour, the semester and the academic year were formalized in the early 1900s. Time forms the template for designing college programs, accrediting them and — crucially — funding them using federal student aid.

But in 2013, for the first time, the Department of Education took steps to loosen the rules.

The new idea: Allow institutions to get student-aid funding by creating programs that directly measure learning, not time. Students can move at their own pace. The school certifies — measures — what they know and are able to do.

If this is really happening, then it’s a revolutionary — and absolutely necessary — development. It will drive costs down by reducing or eliminating unnecessary courses, and bring higher education into closer alignment with the realities of the job marketplace. Too late, unfortunately, to benefit the Millennials who have racked up enormous student loan debts while wasting untold credit hours on meaningless courses that equip them for very little in the real world. But that’s another story.

You can read the entire article here.

Could getting older be the key to happiness?

It doesn’t seem likely, does it? “Old age” is supposed to equate with bad stuff — failing health, failing brain power, increased isolation and dependency…you know the list. So how come the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that almost 40% of Americans aged 65-plus considered themselves to be “very happy” compared to only 33% of those in the 35-49 age bracket?

Researchers appear to have identified a “happiness U-curve” — satisfaction with life actually drops for the first few decades of adulthood, bottoming out in the late 40s or early 50s, and then reversing and increasing with age.

And it isn’t just an American thing. In one survey, this U-curve was found in 55 countries out of 80; in another survey, in 80 countries out of 149.

Robert J. Samuelson has an excellent and thought-provoking article about this in the Washington Post. He quotes the late write Donald Richie: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.”

You can read the article here. It’s well worth it.

The incredible shrinking incomes of young Americans

Not that it comes as a shock, but The Atlantic reports that real wages for young people have fallen by more than 10% over the past five years. The only sector that’s seen a boost is health care; all the others – manufacturing, professions and business, retail and wholesale, leisure and hospitality — are down.

This is going to make it even harder for the Millennials to get untracked, relative to where the Boomers and Gen X’ers were at the same age. And it must be said (coming from someone who has sometimes been critical of the Millennials), it really isn’t their fault. The 2008 recession, the exporting of high-tech jobs, and the disconnect of so much of the educational system from the real world, have constituted a kind of “perfect storm” that the Millennials really can’t be expected to have coped with.

These charts tell the tale:


Young People’s Wages Have Fallen Across Industries Between 2007 and 2013


Census: Current Population Survey

 


The Wages of the Youngest Workers (Ages 18-24) Have Fallen, Too


Census: Current Population Survey

 


Savings Rates Since 2004, by Age


WSJ

The only surprising thing in all this is that the advertising industry still hasn’t caught on. It continues to overspend against younger consumers and underspend against the people who have all the money — the Boomers and seniors. (Not that many of them aren’t struggling, either.)

Read the article. The only good news — maybe — is that at least the Millennials have a very long life-span ahead of them, and they will eventually recover.

The Incredible Shrinking Incomes of Young Americans – The Atlantic.