13 Apr Millennial pessimism over capitalist system, job-killing AI, affects retirement saving
Mainstream views of the need to save for retirement aren’t cutting it with some millennials, who aren’t saving at all but instead living in the moment and looking to a collapse of the current economic system and/or a move to socialism to enable them to survive in retirement.
An Alternet report finds that millennials really harbor little hope for retirement, unless it’s through their own efforts and a transformation of the economy—including a basic or universal income.
And while many reports attribute that pessimistic outlook to high student debt, low pay and high unemployment, another factor in millennials’ worldview—and others’, as well—is the potential for automation and AI killing off jobs as we know them.
And it’s not as new an idea as one might think; back in 2016 Elon Musk said in a CNBC report that automation of low-skilled jobs would not only throw millions out of work, but would also drive the economy to providing a universal basic income.
And in a Vox report the same year, former union president Andy Stern also said that a universal basic income would be the best response to the social and economic disruption caused by technological change.
A gloomy future worldview that includes resource wars, a collapse of capitalism and even “an apocalyptic ‘total breakdown of industrial society’ or ‘capitalism morphing into a complete plutocracy’” is common among millennials, who look to what were once called communes but are now termed self-sustaining communities as a means of mutual support in old age, with the report saying that a “utopian hope, that we could theoretically end up in a sort of fully automated post-work social democracy à la ‘Star Trek,’” is a common thread in the millennial conversation about the future.
In fact, many believe that “that retirement savings plans are the domain of bourgeois millennials” who have advantages that most don’t—with small business owner Jon Good quoted in the report saying, “The economic realities of my generation make the expectations for my parents’ generation seem ludicrous to me—having a job with benefits and that pays enough that I can make rent, and save for retirement and also maybe for a down payment on property seems like a lottery. Maybe 15 percent of my peer group has this, and having it is a combination of luck and family connections rather than skill and work ethic.”
More millennials, according to a recent Pew Research poll, live in poverty than any other generation. The study noted that “5.3 million of the nearly 17 million U.S. households living in poverty were headed by a millennial.”
The report quotes political organizer Holly Wood saying, “I’m absolutely convinced over how quickly friends have lost their pensions, 401ks and IRAs to bubble crashes that there is no safe place to ‘save’ for retirement. And the best way to plan for retirement is by building tribes of like-minded peers who have committed themselves to group survival.”
Source: Satter M. (2 April 2018). “Millennial pessimism over capitalist system, job-killing AI, affects retirement saving” [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from Benefits Pro.