There is a war looming on the horizon. No, it’s not going to be between Democrats and Republicans, or the far left Antifa against the alt-right. They are really arguing over who will control the culture of the U.S. and the direction where we are heading. It isn’t going to be World War III with Russia or North Korea, as no one is really interested in blowing up the world, especially rich guys like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Donald Trump– who all have pretty awesome lives that they wouldn’t want to give up to a nuclear holocaust.
The war I am referring to will be between millennials and baby boomers (with the Generation X involved at a later date), fighting over the scraps of diminishing jobs and shrinking government assistance according to a new report by the fancy-schmancy pants Management Consulting firm, Bain (Yes, I’ve been to their offices and it does say, “Fancy Schmancy Pants on all their business cards). According to Bain, “Demographics, automation and inequality have the potential to dramatically reshape our world in the 2020’s and beyond. Our analysis shows that the collision of these forces could trigger economic disruption far greater than we have experienced over the past 60 years.”
Here’s why the battle lines are being drawn. According to fancy-schmancy Bain, over the next few decades, automation and demographics will become a new dimension to the economic and social pressures already roiling the U.S. and societies around the world. Millennial workers, displaced by machines, will resent aging baby boomers (and Gen Xers after them) living on Social Security and Medicare.
Bain paints a dire apocalyptic future. The U.S. population is aging fast and many older workers are holding onto their jobs and remaining in the workplace far longer than in the past, due to their lack of savings-enhanced life span. Companies will continue to automate jobs with technology with breakneck speed. It is reported that 20%-25% of current jobs will be wiped out by technology. This means 40 million people won’t have jobs, many of whom will be millennials.
Millennials will fight aging baby boomers for the scarce jobs and for differing government assistance. Millennials will require job retraining and, perhaps, a basic income to compensate for low or no wages. Older Americans will demand the Social Security and health care, as they live long and suffer the maladies that affect senior citizens. All this will happen against the backdrop of a government strapped by trillions of dollars in deficits.
Baby boomers will be angry that rising costs, whipsawing stock markets, and the death of pensions, are forcing them to work longer than they want to, since they can’t afford not to. To make matters worse, their skills may not be all that relevant anymore. Their jobs are also being sent to cheaper-costing states and other countries. The boomers will be forced to take lesser jobs for meager earnings compared to what they used to earn. They will look to the government for more social security and medical care assistance.
The millennials are pissed off at the baby boomers. They were the ones who ran the government, banks and universities for decades, that put them into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, holding worthless college degrees that can’t obtain good well-paying jobs, drove up real estate prices so they can’t buy homes, and started the advancement of technology into the workforce that is taking their jobs. They don’t want to keep paying high taxes to fund the medical expenses and social security for the boomers, and debt that they ran –up that they are now burdened with. They may demand a basic living income from the government to help them keep their heads above water.
The government needs to do something to deal with our out-of-control debt, which the millennials and Gen Z will have to pay through higher taxes and less services – medical care, bridges, tunnels, trains, highways. With respect to technology, we need to question – just because we can do something, should we do it? Is deploying technology- to the extent that millions of people are pushed out of the workforce, so some Silicon Valley venture capitalists can become billionaires- a worthwhile pursuit for our country? Simply because jobs could be sent to other countries to save money, is it fair to our citizens?
If we don’t take a hard look at our ballooning problems now, we may end up with a civil war in the future.