As much as I find it a little corny when the Globe and Mail has their writers pseudo-spar in their articles, this weekend’s conversation between Bascaramurty and Wente caught my attention with their unsettled disputes about higher education.
Bascaramurty ‘s first justification for the millennials’ sense of entitlement is the fact that we are the most educated generation in the history of Canada’s labour force. She gives examples of her friends who have graduate degrees but are working unpaid internships and contract jobs as they try to enter the workforce and pay off their student debt. Her following argument, however, seems to imply that it is the privileged status of the boomers that is leading to the uncertain work/income of the millennials, not to mention eroding the social welfare state generally.
I would have liked her to go a bit further in her critique. She briefly mentions the unmet expectation that we’ll all own homes, but she says nothing of the ideology that claims higher education will solve all. Clearly it is not the solution for her peers, yet they keep heading for graduate degrees as the solution to unemployment. Her stories are illuminating a serious contraction (dare I say illusion?) of higher education – it is still seen as the solution, even when the debt is crippling and no one is getting jobs. When will this belief finally be shattered?
In terms of the overall point that millennials will pay for the boomers, Wente’s response is pretty limited. She essentially says, “yes, our privilege is screwing you out of a future.” Her admission that some boomers won’t be able to afford retirement lacks conviction since she doesn’t seem to have any personal stories like Bascaramurty’s account.
The reality is that this so-called generational war only applies to the upper middle class of which these writers’ are a part. It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that these generations are completely separate things. For us millennials, the boomers are our parents. The link between the generations will ensure that we pay, not just for our own future, but for our aging parents and the expenses that go with them. Unless, of course you are privileged to have parents that write for the Globe – in which case they may be able to take care of themselves.