Why “Generation Why Bother” Doesn’t Care

I’ve been stewing all week about a logically sloppy op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times. Every Sunday morning, I leap out of bed and skipper down the stairs to snatch the paper off the stoop, but last week it betrayed me. Todd and Victoria Buchholz’s “The Go-Nowhere Generation” takes a disparate set of data-points and tries to make the case with them that young Americans aren’t “occupying” anything but their parents’ couches and are bringing economic ruination on themselves by being risk-averse Debbie Downers.

For instance, in one particularly odd leap of logic, they cite a decline in drivers’ licenses as a cause of concern, and then link that decline to increased Internet use. “That may mean safer roads,” they quip, “But it also means a bumpier, less vibrant economy.” Really? Would the economy be more vibrant if Mark Zuckerberg spent his time in college driving around delivering pizza instead of sitting in his room inventing Facebook? And do we really want to lament that a younger generation is finding fewer reasons to fire up the ol’ internal combustion engine, fewer excuses to pump more carbon into the atmosphere?

Now, it is true that Americans are known to produce especially spoiled children. And there are a lot of discouraging data points about younger Americans out there. But the Buchholzes are maddeningly glib about the economic realities behind them. At one point they suggest that young Nevadans should escape their state’s high unemployment rate by hopping on a bus headed for low-unemployment North Dakota. But, as fellow HBR editor Justin Fox pointed out when we chatted about it, North Dakota is the third-least-populated state in the Union. There are 175,000 people currently seeking jobs and not finding them in Nevada. Next door in California, there are 2 million. The total workforce in North Dakota is just 390,000.

The youngsters the Buchholzes disapprovingly describe are not wrong to be less-than-enthused about the opportunities the economy presents. They have grown up in an era that has seen Americans working harder and harder; making less money for that work


by Sarah Green | http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr

I’ve been stewing all week about a logically sloppy op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times. Every Sunday morning, I leap out of bed and skipper down the stairs to snatch the paper off the stoop, but last week it betrayed me. Todd and Victoria Buchholz’s “The Go-Nowhere Generation” takes a disparate set of data-points and tries to make the case with them that young Americans aren’t “occupying” anything but their parents’ couches and are bringing economic ruination on themselves by being risk-averse Debbie Downers.

For instance, in one particularly odd leap of logic, they cite a decline in drivers’ licenses as a cause of concern, and then link that decline to increased Internet use. “That may mean safer roads,” they quip, “But it also means a bumpier, less vibrant economy.” Really? Would the economy be more vibrant if Mark Zuckerberg spent his time in college driving around delivering pizza instead of sitting in his room inventing Facebook? And do we really want to lament that a younger generation is finding fewer reasons to fire up the ol’ internal combustion engine, fewer excuses to pump more carbon into the atmosphere? Leer más “Why “Generation Why Bother” Doesn’t Care”