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What future will millenials have after COVID-19? | Culture Clash

Virus Outbreak Colorado
Virus Outbreak Colorado Copyright David Zalubowski/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright David Zalubowski/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Alexander Morgan
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With most of Europe locked down and the global economy in free fall, millennials are being hit hard by the crisis. But are their futures being sacrificed to contain the virus?


Lockdowns have become the last line of defence, but they're disproportionately hitting young workers.

In the UK alone younger people were more than twice as likely to work in a sector completely shutdown, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found.

Many of these jobs have simply disappeared.

For millennials this will be their second global financial crisis in just 12 years, striking many as they attempt to make their first steps on the career and property ladders.

It's reignited debate about whether our economic system itself is a major part of the problem.

"Our generation has been promised a lot, because the generation before us rode this massive wave of this big financial and housing boom, and became very, very rich off the back of it," 26-year-old economist Grace Blakely told me.

"There was just this assumption that would happen for everyone. That you would have a constant increase in wages. The economy would carry on growing. You'd be able to get a mortgage, you'd be able to buy a house and you'd be better off than your parent's generation.

"And that's basically been completely cut off by the crisis," she said.

"That represents something of a breaking of the social contract that really underpins capitalism. If you can't promise people that their lives will get better, then why should they carry on supporting the system?"

Author and journalist Paul Mason agrees.

"The coronavirus itself is not on its own a game-changing crisis. The problem is it comes on top of the global financial crisis and ahead of the real game-changing crisis for the whole of humanity, which is the climate chaos," Paul told me.

"Coming on top of 12 years where we didn't really address the fundamental problems that caused the last recession, I think it's cumulative. And I think the young generation does have a right to demand of political leaders, 'what's the alternative?'"

"The bigger question is, what is the economic model that we can build that can survive these apparently external crises?

"They look like an asteroid hitting the earth, but they're not. They're not really external," Paul said.

While there might be broad agreement that this virus has highlighted deep-running issues in our current system, there are plenty of voices who argue we must save and reform it - and not ditch it altogether.

"So I mean, capitalism has been declared dead so many times," research fellow Niclas Poitiers tells me.

"I see no appetite whatsoever for revolution...For me this clash, [between] capitalism and doesn't work.

"I come from Germany, we had a socialist part in the east. It was a disaster," Niclas said.


"I think we need right now, we just need the firefighters to come in and save what we have."

John Caudwell, billionaire and philanthropist, is on much the same page.

"Yes the economy is taking a colossal, a colossal hit, but it will still be capitalism that gets us back out of this, and that causes people to work and to try and generate jobs," John said.

"But that said I would really like to temper that statement, with the fact that it is at this time that I absolutely call on all businesses and all wealthy people to make certain that they pay their appropriate taxes, and not try and be the smartest that they can to reduce their taxes to nothing like a lot of them," he told me.

"We don't need to go to tax havens and take the money away from the poorest members of our society."


The extent of the damage COVID-19 will not become apparent for months, perhaps years, to come. But one thing is clear. No matter which side of the ideological divide people find themselves on, no one is suggesting we will return to "business as usual".

Quite what that means for millenials is far from certain.

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