Why Millennials Want To Be Rich

We've heard the message loud and clear: If you don't want to be poor, you have to be rich.

In our weekly Hustlin' series, we go beyond the pitying articles about recession-era youth and illuminate ways our generation is coping. The last few years may have been a rude awakening, but we're surviving. Here's how.

A new study on different generations' priorities does not make Millenials look good. The report from the American Psychological Association [PDF] claims we are selfish, fame-seeking, politically disengaged, and don't give a shit about the environment. We also want to be rich. A stunning 75 percent of Millennials said that being wealthy was very important to them, compared to 45 percent of baby boomers and 70 percent of Generation X.

Contrary to middle-aged pundits' rants, Millennials are not inherently more selfish or materialistic than previous generations. It's just that we are seeing the middle class vanish before our eyes. Even before the recession, we heard the message loud and clear: If you don't want to be poor, you have to be rich.

I'm a progressive journalist with a strong belief in equality instilled by leftist middle-class parents, and even I find myself hoping I'll be rich one day. It's not because I care about mansions and baller outfits and luxury vacations (although having a personal masseuse and a lifetime supply of plane tickets would be nice). In the last decade, I've watched the cost of rent and food and health care skyrocket while wages stagnate and social safety nets erode. There are fewer and fewer middle-class role models—either you're wealthy or you're struggling with your bills. Especially in major cities, it seems that making six figures is the only way to ensure a comfortable existence. Of course we want to be rich; in the absence of stable middle-class jobs, what's the alternative?

True, not every Millennial's aspirations are shaped by the scope of income inequality and the rise of privatization—some young people are certainly blinded by the wealth of Snooki or Mark Zuckerberg. But reality TV stars and wunderkind success stories are alluring precisely because of our pervading economic reality. Even those of us who aren't activists and know nothing about economics have been picking up clues everywhere—from our pension-free parents, our ballooning student loan statements, the foreclosure signs on our block. Half of us predict that Social Security and other safety nets will be gone by the time we need them. We've been told by hip-hop songs and conservative politicians alike that nobody is going to help us succeed but ourselves. It makes total sense that our generation is entrepreneurial and individualistic. Our culture has taught us that "hitting it big" is the only guaranteed way to have a satisfying life.

These are the kinds of messages that discouraged youth activism in the Bush era and caused us to turn inward—until the recession made things even worse. The silver lining of the past few years is that tough times have accelerated people's sense of outrage, especially young people's. In the past year, we've gotten angry about the status quo both in the streets and on the internet; because the APA report only includes research conducted through 2009, the Millennials surveyed were free of Occupy Wall Street influence. The dysfunction of the same system that makes us wish for wealth motivated us to flood the streets and camp in parks for the duration of last fall.

When it comes to our desire for riches, the study's findings are already somewhat outdated. The Great Recession has and will continue to profoundly shape the course of our lives professionally, personally, and philosophically. It will force us to entertain the flip-side of fortune—the very real possibility that we won't ever have a chance to get rich. The fantasy is still out there, but we're slowly bringing ourselves down to earth.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.


Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.