A recent NY Times op-ed has sparked an interesting debate about the current generation and our seemingly sedentary nature.
In their piece “The Go-Nowhere Generation,” Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz argue that Americans have always prided themselves on action, taking to the road, and seizing opportunities, especially when times are tough.
As evidence they point to Depression-era families who packed up their belongings and left the Dust Bowl to find work, the ”pilgrims leapt onto leaky boats to get here,” and “the ’60s kids joined the Peace Corps.”
Unfortunately, according to the Buchholzs in the last thirty years American teens have become increasingly sedentary and no longer chase their dreams by shipping off to new cities in search of adventure and gainful employment.
According to Census Bureau data, the likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s. In addition the number of new licenses has dropped as well. In the early 80s, 80 percent of 18 year olds had licenses, but now that number is 65 percent. Apparently, even bicycle sales are lower now than just a decade ago.
“Today’s generation is literally going nowhere,” the Buccholzs write provocatively. “This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.”
The Buccholzs wonder why young folks aren’t leaving areas with high unemployment like Nevada with a 13 percent jobless rate and heading to North Dkota which has a 3.3 unemployment rate. In response to their thought provoking op-ed, the NY Times was deluded with letters penned by young folks with a bevy of interesting responses.
Tom Toro of Berkeley, California writes:
“The return to Gilded Age levels of income disparity has laid bare the fact that very few people profit from the masses’ toil, and that hard work alone is not enough to survive. We are not a timid and unambitious generation; we are realistic and disillusioned.
Also, we are perhaps the first generation to truly understand the environmental costs of America’s unrelenting emphasis on independence. Driving across time zones destroys the atmosphere; setting up new households diminishes resources. Should our benchmark of success really be a car, a dishwasher, a TV, a computer, a microwave oven per person? So why decry a societal shift toward localism? What’s so bad about staying rooted in your hometown and riding a bicycle to work?”
Well said Toro, although according to the op-ed bicycles sales are down, so I guess young folks are either walking or taking public transportation to work.