Why young people are poor

America's youth is the victim of dirty dealing, says Bill Bonner.

Those poor young'uns. Run of bad luck, right?

Incomes going down. Jobs scarce. Growth at half the rate of the '50s and '60s or less. No more go-go in the housing market. No stock market gains in the aggregate... in at least 12 years. Households are poorer than they were 20 years ago... except, of course, households of the old and the rich.

All that college debt (more than $1trn). And the official national debt (a little over $16trn). And the unofficial, but very real national debt, which we've seen calibrated by Professor Lawrence Kotlikoff at $222trn and by Professor Niall Ferguson at $238trn.

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Yes, it is too bad, but some people just are unlucky. Black cats cross their paths. They break mirrors. Every day is Friday the 13th for them. Guess America's young people are like that.

Yes, young people have gotten a bad hand. But wait. Is it just bad luck or dirty dealing? Is this the luck of the draw or the old false shuffle?

Where did all this student debt come from? Wasn't it a good thing that the feds were willing to take money from parents and lend it back to their children? Or was it just another zombie flim-flam?

First, the feds realised that people who go to school don't show up on the unemployment rolls until they get out. So they wanted to keep people in school as long as possible.

And it wasn't as if the young people got to keep the student loan money. They had to pass it on to older people in the education industry. And then, after enduring years of brain-numbing schooling, they have to pay the money back... again, to older people.

And how are they going to do that? An article we mentioned recently focused on law school grads who couldn't get work. How about all the sociology majors? What about the history majors, the literature majors, the politics majors and all the other university graduates who are completely unprepared for the real world of work? Not only are they unprepared, the longer they stay in school the less able they are to work in the real economy. Because the more 'educated' they are with the ideas, information and habits of the school world the less well adapted they are to the real world.

What can they do? Go to work for the government!


People with a lot of schooling usually come to believe that schooling rather than actually being able to do something should determine what rank people hold in society. A person with a master's degree, for example, believes that he deserves a higher station in life than one with no degree at all.

Ultimately, this way of looking at things favouring credentials over performance tips the whole society towards zombiedom. Zombies (and the feds) never really produce anything of value. So, they can't get their status (to say nothing of their income) based on what they actually do and what other people think it is worth. They prefer substitutes. Degrees! Certificates! Licences!

People in the government earn more and work less than people in the private enterprise economy. When this is brought to the attention of the government workers they reply, "but we're better educated!"

We're beginning to explore the whole education scam... stay tuned...

In the meantime, let's look at dirty dealing in healthcare. Our parents had no 'healthcare' to speak of. When we were ill, they took us to the doctor and paid the bill. There were a lot of very poor people where we grew up. Our local doctor never turned any of them away. She (one of the first women doctors in the country) did what she could with what she had to work with.

Then, 'healthcare' costs rose. Doctors began to get sued. Old people wanted more treatments and more pills. People became more aware of the many things that could go wrong. Discomforts that would have been stoically accepted as "part of growing old" needed attention. New tests and devices were put into service.

The cost of family health insurance is now about $15,000 a year. Overall, spending per person on 'health' has reached over $7,000 annually.

Who does the spending? Old people. Who pays the costs?

Well, there's the dirty dealing. Instead of allowing people to spend as much of their own money as they want (which would put the burden of health care on those who needed or wanted it), the feds set up a system that basically takes money from younger people and redistributes it (in the form or almost unlimited consumption of 'healthcare') to older people.

Only one in ten dollars spent on healthcare comes directly out of the pocket of the person doing the spending. The other nine come from others... usually younger others.

More to come...

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