In The Atlantic, Jim Tankersley argues that the economic problems faced by today's generation is a result of the baby boomers who "took the economic equivalent of a king salmon from their parents and, before they passed it on, gobbled up everything but the bones."
The baby boomers built an economy where young people increasingly need a college education to move into the middle class, or even to simply hold on to the middle-class lifestyle they were born into. But the boomers who run state legislatures and private universities have collectively pushed the costs of that now-requisite education into the stratosphere. Tuition has risen at twice the rate of inflation: In today's dollars, tuition, room, and board at a four-year public college ran nearly $6,800 per year in 1967; it costs about $13,300 today. Private-college tabs have more than doubled in that time. The increase has saddled young workers with more than $1 trillion in student debt--the average college student today borrows six times more from the federal government to finance her education, per year, than the average student in 1970. The boomers keep their low taxes, and their alma maters gain prestige, but the next generation of workers starts with a debt boulder strapped to its back. All for no apparent gain. Today, Pew says, men who grew up in the middle class are just as likely to earn less than their fathers did (adjusting for inflation) as they are to earn more.
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