OK Boomer, OK Computer, (Not) OK Millennials
April 8, 2020
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
“Good fortune will elevate even petty minds, and gives them the appearance of a certain greatness and stateliness, as from their high place they look down upon the world; but the truly noble and resolved spirit raises itself, and becomes more conspicuous in times of disaster and ill fortune…”
OK Boomer, OK Computer, (Not) OK Millennials
The coronavirus pandemic not only causes health crises and upheavals in daily life, it’s also exposing generational divisions of the economic kind. For most of the youngest American adults, this is the first serious economic crisis of their working lives. And by most measures, they are woefully unprepared.
The last few years have been largely good ones for the American economy. But for Millennials in general — overburdened with credit card debt and student loans, underrepresented in the housing and stock markets — those years did little to help them set up solid financial foundations. The pandemic means that they are entering this uncertain time with significant obligations and few resources.
Young adults from 24 to 35 are in a more precarious position now than older generations were when they were the same age. Going into the 2008 financial crisis, Generation X was roughly the same age as Millennials today. But one analysis tells us Gen Xers had twice the total assets on average than Millennials have now, when all bank accounts, stocks, and loans are added together.
Some Millennials are forced to take desperate measures, tapping into 401(k) retirement accounts and selling items on eBay to raise money for rent and car payments. Inequity among Millennials becomes more evident when considering race. In measures like household wealth and homeownership, young black families at all educational levels have fallen behind their white peers in the last two decades. Economists say it is becoming more difficult for young families to accumulate wealth. Millennials are feeling “let down and hanging around.” Additional song: Let Down by Radiohead & The Choir: Let Down (Radiohead cover)
- The No. 1 personal finance lesson to take away from the coronavirus (CNBC)
- Covid-19 is disproportionately taking black lives: Hundreds of years of racism has delivered poor health and economic outcomes for black people, making them more vulnerable in the pandemic. (Vox)
- Twitter chief to donate quarter of his fortune to coronavirus fight: American Jack Dorsey putting $1bn into the funding of ‘global Covid-19 relief’ (Guardian)
- These are the trade-offs we make when we depend on billionaires to save us: Now more than ever, the coronavirus crisis has Americans living in tech billionaires’ world. (Vox)
- Former Fed chief Bernanke sees bad year, no quick recovery (Reuters)
Pyrrhic Victories: Big Corporations Are (Warfighting) People Who Are Waging a War Of Arbitration Attrition
- Supreme Court rulings over the past two decades have enshrined arbitration as the primary way companies resolve disputes with customers, a system consumer advocates and labor rights groups say is heavily tilted toward the companies.
- Many companies have arbitration clauses that bar employees from joining together to mount class-action lawsuits. And a huge obstacle for consumers and workers is that payouts on individual arbitration judgments don’t justify the costs of bringing a complex case against a big company.
- But some enterprising lawyers have figured out a way to try beating companies at their own game — by filing massive numbers of individual lawsuits all at the same time. Chicago-based Travis Lenkner and his law partners hit DoorDash with 6,000 claims last summer — 2,250 on one day — completely overwhelming the company.
- Now companies are trying new strategies to thwart the very process they created and upheld as the optimal way to resolve disputes. Lenkner [the legal insurgent] is undeterred. “The conventional wisdom might say that arbitration is a bad development for plaintiffs and an automatic win for companies,” Lenkner opined. “We don’t see it that way.” (NYT)
Mutey The Horribly Mutated Bear Says, “Only You Can Stay Out Of This Radiated City”
- In April 1986 the No.4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, melted down and exploded, sending radiation through the atmosphere as far as Sweden. At the time the area was part of the USSR; its officials initially tried covering up the accident.
- Eventually, the Soviet Union had to evacuate 335,000 people and establish a 19-mile wide “exclusion zone” around the reactor. It was the worst nuclear disaster in history, and scientists estimate the zone will not be habitable for another 20,000 years.
- In the interim, the forests and wildlife have returned; so have tourists, thanks in part to a 2019 HBO miniseries. Radiation dust still covers everything however, and the plethora of trees, along with human negligence, means forest fires can spring up.
- On Saturday the first of two fires likely caused by humans broke out near the village of Vladimirovka in the uninhabited exclusion zone. On Sunday radiation levels in the center of the larger fire spiked seventeen times above normal. Ukraine’s ecology inspection chief called for tougher penalties and fines for sparking forest fires. “This can’t continue,” he said. (CNN)
- Impossible dilemma? World watches Italy as businesses plead to return to work (Reuters)
- China Ends Wuhan Lockdown, but Normal Life Is a Distant Dream (NYT)
- The Asian Countries That Beat Covid-19 Have to Do It Again (Wired, $)
- How COVID-19 Will Hit India (New Yorker)
- Opinion | Lockdown Can’t Last Forever. Here’s How to Lift It. (NYT)
- Coronavirus: US records highest death toll in single day (BBC)
- Coronavirus State-By-State Projections: When Will Each State Peak? (NPR)
- ‘A reality check on the math’: What’s ahead for California and Covid-19 (Guardian)
- Republican congressional candidate touts AR-15s to fight ‘looting hordes from Atlanta’ (Guardian)
- Donald Trump ‘lost $1bn in a month’ from coronavirus lockdown: Stock market crash strips billionaire status from 267 of world’s richest people in the annual list (Guardian)
- Trump threatens to hold WHO funding, then backtracks, amid search for scapegoat (Guardian)
- This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures. (Atlantic
- Consider the Possibility That Trump Is Right About China (Atlantic)
- Defying Trump, Talk Radio Keeps Downplaying COVID-19 (Atlantic)
- Inside the epic White House blowup over “game-changer” hydroxychloroquine (Axios)
- Vector in Chief | by Fintan O’Toole (NY Books)
- How federal snafus slowed testing at a top U.S. hospital (Reuters)
- US ‘wasted’ months before preparing for coronavirus pandemic (AP News)
- https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52209105 An ugly ending to a horrible situation. None of this is good for the US military.
- Flushing out the true cause of the global toilet paper shortage amid coronavirus pandemic (WaPo, $)
Scott Olson via Getty Images
It’s Vote OR Die, Not Vote AND Die…
- Wisconsin’s Democratic governor Tony Evers imposed a stay-at-home order on March 25 in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. Because the Republican-controlled legislature refused to postpone the election scheduled for April 7, Evers acted on his own authority to delay it. The legislature next voted to rescind Evers’ delay order, and to reject his proposal to automatically mail ballots to every voter in the state.
- Lawsuits followed, and the supreme courts of both Wisconsin and the US voted along partisan lines to let the election go forward Tuesday. So many poll workers refused to work that polling locations had to be drastically cut back, meaning voters across the state waited hours in long lines to cast a vote in crowded and understaffed voting stations.
- Republicans have so completely gerrymandered the state that they’ve won almost two-thirds of the Assembly races; a driving force this time is to hang onto a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where the GOP incumbent has a Democratic challenger. All this legal and legislative maneuvering could have a far more consequential effect in November.
- Wisconsin could be a pivotal swing state that decides who wins the 2020 presidential election, depending on whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden gets the state’s electoral votes. And as the president said in March, if it was easier to vote, Republicans would never be elected again. (Vox, Guardian)
Skills That Pay The Bills: The Talented Mr. Reinvention
- Georgetown University professor Cal Newport became interested in career development ideas about a decade ago, while doing research for his fourth book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. He discovered the standard career thinking embraced by many college-educated young people in America is as follows:
- Jobs are like a contract — you do the work assigned, you get to keep the position
- Career satisfaction results from finding the right job for your natural pre-existing interests.
- This mindset can be summed up by the “follow your passion” advice. The corollary to that is if you don’t like your job, it’s because you chose the wrong field. However, the deep life philosophy offers an alternative vision which is centered on valuable skills. It believes:
- Security comes from being able to do things that are valuable, and being comfortable picking up new valuable skills quickly when circumstances require;
- Satisfaction comes from some combination of autonomy, impact and/or a sense of mastery, which (as he argues in So Good) require valuable skills as a necessary precondition.
- In other words, if you’re a standard career thinking person, you focus on work ethic, believing somehow that if you tell people enough times that you’re “busy” when they ask how you’re doing, this must mean you’re indispensable. But if you’re a deep career thinking person, you focus intensely on training high-value skills, like an athlete looking to maintain an edge.
- At Daily Pnut we are of the mindset that there should be a balance between passion (vision) and skills (transaction).
- Additional quote: “Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. Very soon this traditional model will become utterly obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives, and to reinvent themselves repeatedly. Many if not most humans may be unable to do so.” ― Yuval Noah Harari
- Invisibilia: What We Can Learn About Longevity From Animals (NPR)
- Why overcoming racism is essential for humanity’s survival (BBC)
- The Truth About Isaac Newton’s Productive Plague (New Yorker)
- Are Weird People More Creative? (Atlantic, $) (Yes, weird and creative are synonymous.)
- Why are we losing the wayfinding skills of our ancestors? (Aeon) “OK Google/Computer, take me home.”
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