It’s no wonder that young Americans have become increasingly disenchanted with the political system: very few leaders are demonstrating any concern for their futures. Here are four reasons that millennials have every right to feel alienated from their government:
1. Student Loan Interest Rates
If it seems kind of the government to offer student loans to millennials so that they can obtain a college degree, just look at the profits they’re making off America’s young people. In the next decade, the Department of Education anticipates making $127 billion in interest from student loans. Who is getting the better deal here: students who earn an overpriced degree in a tanked economy along with decades of debt (currently 38 million Americans owe $1.1 trillion in student loan debt) or the government that pockets the profits?
Collecting interest in itself isn’t necessarily unconscionable, but the way the federal government has chosen to lend money is. Currently, the government loans money to large banks and for-profit companies at a small fraction of the interest rate that it does to students. Why are politicians doing their corporate friends a solid while screwing over young Americans trying to get a leg up in life? Enabling Americans to attend college should be an investment in the future, not a financial windfall.
2. Ignoring Pressing Environmental Problems
Let’s get real here: were scientists to say that worst of global warming would occur two years from now, the apathy toward fixing the problems (if not denying that the problems exist altogether) would vanish pretty quickly. Instead, the understanding that the climate will change drastically decades from now has politicians dragging their feet and focusing on more immediate issues.
Unfortunately, it’s the environmental policy decisions of today that will matter most in preventing catastrophe. Given that Congress is comprised mainly of older people who don’t see themselves as living long enough to be severely inconvenienced by climate change, they simply don’t care about it at the level of young Americans. Perhaps if it were their own hides on the line rather than future generations, you’d see a lot less “We should do this for the environment” and a lot more “We are doing this for the environment.”
3. Falling Educational Standards
The American educational system used to be considered one of the world’s best, but as of late, our students’ are continually dropping in international rankings of reading, math and science skills. With overcrowded and underfunded schools, it’s no wonder that school performance has taken a dive.
Improving education is one of those political issues that few leaders will publicly oppose, but when it comes to committing to fix the looming issues, few stand up to do anything about it. There’s no bigger way to demonstrate a lack of concern about the future than to let educational standards lag behind. By not providing the American youth with a solid education, we leave them unprepared to face the challenges of the world.
4. A Ruined Economy
People love to tell America’s youth to get a job, as if there are still plenty of jobs available. As rough as the unemployment rate has been, it has affected young Americans hardest of all. Even as official polls show unemployment rates subsiding, much of this can be attributed to the fact that Americans are dropping out of the labor force altogether.
On top of that, wealth inequality is at an all-time high. It’s not that America doesn’t have money, it’s that fewer and fewer individuals are hoarding the available money. It’s near impossible for young Americans to grab a slice of that metaphorical pie when the 1% is doing its darndest not to serve pie anymore.
All the while, millennials have been labeled as “lazy” for not fitting into an economy that was not designed to include them. It takes corruption for politicians to ignore corporate lawlessness and then financially bail out the same companies that caused the recession. It takes gall to then blame the youth who have been victimized by this rigged system for their supposed failures.