On Facebook, Linked-in, Friendster, MySpace, and a dozen other social-networking sites, you’ll find millions of members of the “millennial generation” putting their best foot forward – or at least a foot forward. Kudos for the crazy dance move, climbing K2, and totally digging vampires. Hats off to the superstars and the hearty-partyers. Here’s wishing you success in meeting up, networking, and job hunting.
Now that we know who you are, how about telling us your plan for the next 25 years?
I ask because economists and business people are concerned that the recession that just blew through may have broken something fundamental. The University of Michigan tracks consumer sentiment. Consumers make up 70 percent of economic activity. It has been 25 years since consumers were as pessimistic as they are now. Some think the business cycle won’t work the way it used to because of the pounding we took last year – especially us baby boomers, who were supposed to be moving into prime spending years before the crisis of ’08 but instead will be working and saving just to restore what we lost.
It’s up to you, millennials.
Let’s set the wayback machine to visit the last recession. The headlines were grim. Banks were failing, real estate was in a tailspin, businesses cratering. Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union the “focus of evil in the modern world.” A scary made-for-TV movie called “The Day After” portrayed the horrible consequences of nuclear war. Suicide bombers devastated the US Embassy in Beirut and a Marine barracks, killing hundreds. A Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet. AIDS was spreading unchecked. Crack was the new menace. A report titled “A Nation at Risk” described rampant mediocrity in American schools.