Young People and Poor People: Unite or Lose

If you have to be alive in America today, you really want to be a wealthy middle-aged white male ensconced in an exurban hideaway surrounded by high walls and mile upon mile of coiled razor. What you don't want to be is... anything other than that. Until the revolution comes, at least.

And you especially, particularly, do not want to be a young person, if you can at all avoid it. Perhaps look into some sort of Benjamin Button serum? Was that a documentary? Whatever you have to do, pull yourself up by your bootstraps an age—before it's too late.

Though workers of all ages face economic headwinds, teens and adults under the age of 24, especially those with little or no college education, are faring the worst, economists say. The 16.7% unemployment rate among Americans in that group is more than twice the rate for workers 25 and older.

It's worse for young men than for young women, and it's worse for the less educated than for the more educated, and it's always worse for black people and Latinos than for white people. But mostly it's just terrible for young people, in general.

Ah well, just sweat it out for a few rough years and then reap the benefits when you're older, right? Not at all! That paradigm has been replaced with a new one, in which the shutting-out of people while they're young financially hobbles them for life: "While people typically accumulate assets as they age, this wealth gap is now more than double what it was in 2005 and nearly five times the 10-to-1 disparity a quarter-century ago."

Here's the crux of the problem, young people: you don't have anything. You don't have money. You don't have power. And you don't have institutional knowledge. You are completely at the mercy of powerful institutions controlled by people older than you. Which works fine when resources are abundant, but when resources are scarce, well, the hoarding starts, and those who already have will keep having, and those hoping to have will have not.

All you young people have is your terrifying ability to exercise your will by coming together and taking to the streets to force the system to change. You have numbers on your side, for Chrissake. Get off your marijuana Playstation and Just Do It™!

[Photo: Paul Stein/Flickr]