What the meltdown means to me, a Gen-Yer

While watching the financial world basically go to all hell, I feel like a zebra running from a lion in the hopes that he'll snatch someone else in the herd. I've only been in the workforce for a couple years, and like me, most people my age probably dodged a few major bullets recently. I didn't buy property coming out of school, I didn't make risky investments, and most of my retirement is in my 401(k). While my 401(k) took a hit, I wasn't going to touch it until retirement anyway. Thankfully, my friends and I aren't affected as directly as the over-30 crowd, but we still face a shaky economy, credit isn't as readily available, discretionary income is diminished, and jobs are harder to find.

One of my friends started working for Freddie Mac about a year ago, and they gave him a $10,000 stake as a signing bonus. Needless to say, that bonus has all but disappeared while Freddie Mac's CEO walked away with millions. As a side note, my friend is in the process of recruiting for the company at college campuses; I can't imagine how tough that has to be right now.

Some of my friends work freelance and feel lucky to even get work at all now. One of my friends had to move back in with his parents, and nearly all my friends live with several roommates, myself included. Only one friend of mine owns her own place. The American Dream seems farther out of reach than ever.

As odd as this may sound to some, one safe bet I've made during these times is going against the word of Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Basically if he recommends something now, I'll rush to do the exact opposite. For example: a few months ago, he was telling people to sell their gold. Naturally upon hearing this, I bought a good amount of it as a hedge against inflation and-God forbid-a recession or depression. Literally the next week, the value of gold shot up in the double digits. My only regret is that I didn't buy more when I had the chance; now it's tougher to come by.

When Bernanke pushed this bailout, people were saying we may avoid recession and it would help Main Street USA. Based on my previous observations of Bernanke's judgment recently, and other factors, I was against it, no matter what flowery promises may come with it. Now that it has passed, recession is almost certain and the Dow sank by 800 points on Monday. If the bailout hadn't passed the House and Senate, the market definitely would have taken a hit, but for a shorter time, and people would have blamed the "Nay" voters for getting us into a big mess. Now we're in a much deeper hole and it's going to take longer to get out now. I'd much rather bite the bullet and get it over with than try to make more mistakes in the hopes that we'll come out better on the other side.

There is no reasoned debate anymore, only rushed fear-based decision making. I've never seen such biased news coverage about anything in my life. Even AOL, my employer, ran a poll last week (after the House rejected the first version of the bailout bill) that didn't say something neutral like "What do you think of Congress' decision to refuse the bailout?" Instead, it read "Who do you blame more for the bailout bill's failure to pass in the House?" Unbelievable. This problem is the shame of the American media just as much as those who gave out risky loans. With an uninformed public, our democratic republic cannot work.

I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant, but I'm pissed off that my generation has to pay for the foolhardy mistakes of my elders. People are getting hurt, and I don't want us to repeat the 1930's. My generation has enough on our hands that we need to fix.

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