“And that’s the problem with your generation.” … Heavy sigh. I’ve heard this particular phrase from countless sources over the years, and rarely does it induce the shame and introspection the speaker desires. A number of adults seem to believe the worst thing that can happen to this country is putting our generation in charge. Normally, I pay no mind to generalizations such as these because hey, I’m a college kid up to my neck in entitlement and insulated from the real world. However, it pains me to prove my aunts, uncles and parents right. As I get older and graduation looms, I see a lot of things wrong with the identity of our generation and where we may be headed.
I read a piece in The New York Times on Aug. 30 that absolutely stunned me. “Echoing a call by Warren E. Buffett, members of the European wealthy elite are urging their governments to raise their taxes or enact special levies to help reduce growing budget deficits.” The piece goes on to describe the number of French elites who signed a petition published in the French magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur, asking the French government to tax them more. Germany has had a similar movement in place since 2009. Even in Italy, the chairman of Ferrari backed the words Buffett wrote in an Aug. 14 op-ed piece urging the government to tax the wealthy — the ones who would be able to live on stricter austerity measures — instead of the poor who have no savings to live off of compared to these financial giants.
Regardless of the chances of the various governments taking this call seriously, or even if this is just good publicity for these corporations, the very idea that a billionaire would even say ‘tax me more’ is pretty much beyond my realm of believability. Our grandparents were the generation that banded together during the Great Depression and WWII. Our baby boomer parents may have slacked off somewhat compared to the work ethic of their parents, but moves like this prove that there are still people out there willing to look beyond themselves and their primary interests. Though you can certainly make the case that these businesses recognize they will function better in countries without grotesque amounts of national debt, I’m not interested in the talking points of economic liberalism right now. What struck me most was that I couldn’t imagine anyone of my age group, grown up and making serious bank, proposing something like this.
There is something about our tech-savvy, instant access, instant gratification lifestyle that shows little promise of evolving. As a microcosmic example, look no further than Twitter. Twitter is useful for news updates, but that’s not what it is really there for. It thrives because it gives people our age a chance to talk and talk and talk about themselves. The very idea that you assume other people actually care about the fact that you are plowing through a Chipotle burrito at a given time is narcissism, plain and simple. I don’t have an account, but I’ve been exposed to enough asinine tweeting to see how pointless it all is.
I can only hope that as a whole we can move towards more personal responsibility and a larger perspective. Yes, college students are focused on themselves first — myself included — but there is so much more out there to be worried about. Tweeting ‘fml’ over anything that doesn’t involve having your foot chopped off is stupid, selfish and self-centered. There are a whole lot of problems out there and it’s going to fall to us to fix it. My question is whether or not we’ll be strong enough to rise to the challenge.