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Prepping the next generation to be up to their eyeballs in debt... hey at least you look good, right?

Posted Sep 13 2008 11:53pm
Today, I had a follow-up appointment at my Optometrist's office. As I waited for my name to be called, I perused the usual selection of magazines and came accross a real hum dinger that about sent me to the restroom to puke my guts out. Time Magazine is putting out a series of editions call Style and Design, needless today, it perpetuated a very narrow, narscissisitic viewpoint that quite frankly encapsulated what has driven our society to spend, spend, spend, with no regard to financial reality for the sake of the latest fashion, the newest electronic gadget or a whole other list of items deemed to help you fit in, at least for a few months.

What got me was an article in the magazine talking about the Millenial Generation (aka Generation Y, Internet Generation, "iGen", those born as early as 1981 and late as 2000). Stereotypes prevail of course - this generation has a sense of entitlement, without a sense of "working for it." Nothing pisses me off more than the psychobabble that was used to describe my generation, Gen X'ers. All a bunch of BS in my book, I along with many, agree to refuse to buy into it, nor do I think other generations should be subject to this same form of stereotyping. Not claiming my or any other generation is perfect, but each person should stand on their own and be judged acccordingly, not as a group.

So here is what set me off in this article in Time's Style and Design mag - I paraphrase - Millenials expect to have luxury items (gleefully described by the author as things such as a vacation home, the latest electronic gizmo and get this, a yacht) and don't feel they have to work for it. Great expectations set by Time. Give me a break! Yes its true in some cases, only because it has been drilled into the heads of generation after generation by ill-informed and disconnected reporters, writers and other members of the media. A self reinforcing cycle.

So, after I got home, I looked up Time's Style and Design Magazine on the internet, and found more gems, in an article titled " Downsizing Style" the author covers the fashion industry and how they are targeting little kids and babies to sell the concept of high (and overpriced) fashion as the new norm. Here are some gems from the article:

".....many boomer parents are not only richer but also ready to spend lavishly on their little darlings. The same people who casually shell out $800 for a Bugaboo stroller don't flinch at a $300 Little Marc cashmere sweater. As a result, sales of infant and toddler clothing have soared."

"....High-end department stores like Barneys and specialty shops like Fred Segal sell $150 Antik Denim, 7 for All Mankind and Rock & Republic jeans for toddlers, who will presumably outgrow them in a matter of months."

What!? What bubble are these people and Time Magazine living in, the magazine writes as if they have some moral authority, that this is somehow normal and we should all be striving to outfit our toddlers in $150 jeans?

OK, here is my beef, these elitist fashion types and magazines set the stage for not only the people that can afford their overpriced threads, but for the expectations, hopes and dreams of children, teens and young adults that have modest means. The parents that of course buy into this and enable participation in this narcissistic folly are equally culpable.

Here is the problem. Julie Sturgeon of Bankrate.com set the stage for why this "popular culture" propaganda is leading to the finacial demise of Gen X'ers and alot of other generations, in an article she wrote in 2005:

-Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 now boast the second-highest rate of bankruptcy followed by the 35 -44 group.

-The average credit card debt for those 25 to 34 increased by 55 percent between 1992 and 2001, with 24 percent of its income devoted to debt payments.

-Adults between the ages of 18 and 24 saw their credit card debt from 1992 to 2001 increase by 104 percent.

Time's perpetuation of the push to "spend at all costs so you can fit in" is just part of a larger societal problem (parents and young people share the blame) that has gotten, in my opinion, out of control, with personal debt rising year after year, expecially among young people, a respected publication like Time should have better sense than to continue writing this garbage.

Cheers!

Sean
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