Doing Millennials No Favors in California
If you were born between 1977 and 1995, you are commonly referred to as the Millennial Generation and have many causes for concern. If you are the parent of a millennial, or any generation after, you should be very concerned.
While millennials have their own problems brought about by a severe case of generational entitlement reinforced by safe spaces and failed social science, this column is not about that oft abused, while true problem. This will instead focus on what California has done and is doing, too them.
The State of California, more than most other states, is making life very difficult for younger generations.
We Californians, through our policies and laws, have made your lives far more challenging than they need to be.
Millennials are now paying, if they are working, higher tax rates than previous generations across the board. California energy policy, once the most dynamic in the United States, is now the most expensive and less reliable today then every before. Everything from filling up your gas tank to buying a soda are now more expensive here than in any other state in the country, save for perhaps New York.
California’s k-12 public education system, once one of the best in the country and absorbing half of the state general fund, is now foundering among the bottom 10 states.
Our once vaunted Higher Education system, anchored by the Universities of California and the California State University system that once provided quality, inexpensive four year educations has bloated into a massive bureaucratic and expensive 5-8 year system leaving students broke with often dead end degrees. The community colleges long ago abandoned their dedication to trades and blue collar job training.
Bad roads, congested highways, and a failing water system with little maintenance for 50 years add to the list.
It is millennials that are bearing most of the brunt of these policies. They are the ones who were stuck in our mediocre at best education system. They are the ones who have had to pay drastically more for college educations if they can manage to get the classes they need to finish. They are the ones who are paying historically more for the basics of life, while prior generations had the advantage of surviving with far lower costs for everything.
Now, California’s regressive housing and building policies are coming home to roost for millennials too. California’s housing prices have largely recovered from the crash last decade. If a millennial didn’t get in on the post-crash affordability opportunity, they are now again stuck with prices that even exceed those of 2007-08, and are likely shut out.
Here, again, millennials are the victims of slow and no growth policies at the state, regional and local levels. Market economics has been thrown asunder in favor of NIMBY’s who already have their homes and are intent to see that no one else can move in. Across the state environmentalists and policy wonks insist that infill, high density, and small residential units, mostly apartments, be built along nonexistent rail hubs. Is it any surprise that people from ages 18-34 living with parents is at a 75 year high? In California, it’s even worse.
So while Governor Brown and legislators pat themselves on the back for passing the largest budget in California history along with the largest gas tax in American history, and ignore a trillion dollar pension problem, the burden on the younger generation keeps piling on.
Property owning Californians are exuberant watching equity build in property they have owned for decades. Millennials are wondering if they will ever get that chance. Probably not in California.