Millennials Have No Need for Pessimism

Much has been said about millennials and how they should view the world. A recent New York Times op-ed describes the “Go-Nowhere Generation” as “risk averse and sedentary.” Some have blamed the recession for whatever ails this generation. Here on PolicyMic, today’s youth have been described as unhappy, uninspired, and directionless. But if millennials really are a bunch of feckless pessimists, should they be?

The recession may have complicated the beginnings of many millennials’ careers, but the economy is improving. Consumer spending is up, and unemployment is down. The recovery is slow, and recoveries are never fast enough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Furthermore, there are good reasons to think the American economy is set for another boom fueled by natural gas production and biotechnology.

Millennials may feel let down by the nay saying finger-pointers in politics, but even in government there is reason for optimism. Democrats are finding it harder than ever to bribe voters with their own (or future generations’) tax money, and Republicans are finding more resistance than ever to their churlish appeals to the lowest common denominators of homophobia and misogyny. One should expect to never be satisfied with the current state of politics, but should recognize where progress is being made.

Truth is, the world is getting better. Humanity is wealthier and more peaceful than it was in centuries and even decades past. Hundreds of millions of people are being lifted out of poverty by rapid economic growth in the developing world. As a result, those people are gaining access to technology and education at rates unthinkable mere generations ago.

There are many who fret about America’s declining global preeminence. However, this explosion of prosperity and potential is nothing but good news for the U.S. Just as the rest of the world benefited from countless innovations developed in the U.S., so too will Americans benefit from a 21st century of unfathomable advances in every corner of the globe.

If adulthood has disappointed millennials, then they should rejoice in the knowledge that the world is theirs to change, and they have nothing to lose. There is no shortage of progress to be made, and millennials can be just the people to make it if they take the risks and put in the work.

Chin up, millennials. Your finest day is yet to come.

Photo Credit: Jack Newton

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Jason Orr

Jason is a student at Harvard Law School and writes on legal and policy issues. A 2009 graduate of the College of William and Mary, he worked at the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Virginia, before reentering academia. Jason's views have been published in a number of print and online news outlets, including the Washington Post and the Daily Caller.

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