The New York Times informs me that ok boomer is the latest meme from disaffected members of Generation Z. You can probably guess what this is generally about, but read the whole piece if you want the details. Clearly, Gen Z has not yet taken my advice that we should all gang up against the Silent Generation instead of attacking each other.

In any case, here’s the basic gripe:

“Gen Z is going to be the first generation to have a lower quality of life than the generation before them,” said Joshua Citarella, 32, a researcher who studies online communities. Teenagers today find themselves, he said, with “three major crises all coming to a head at the Gen Z moment.”

“Essentials are more expensive than ever before, we pay 50 percent of our income to rent, no one has health insurance,” said Mr. Citarella.

One of the great things about living in a modern country is that there are actual statistics about these things collected regularly by the federal government. Let’s see what those statistics have to say about these three claims:

  • “Essentials” is a slippery concept, but with rent taken as a separate item I figure this means food, clothing, and transportation. Here’s how those things pencil out over the past few decades:
  • Rent is easier. According to the most recent edition of the Consumer Expenditure Index, the average income of those under 25 is $32,009 and their average rent is $6,349. That’s 20 percent.
  • The CDC tracks health insurance for those aged 19-25. In 2017, 85 percent of this age group was insured.

In other words, none of these claims is true. There is certainly a particular group of highly vocal Gen Z folks who insist on living in very expensive urban areas and are forced to pay 50 percent of their income in rent. But it’s a small segment, even if it’s a loud one.

“Essentials,” by contrast, are easier. They’ve done nothing but get cheaper over the years. And Obamacare has cut the uninsured share of young people in half.

I suppose the answer to all this is ok boomer. Fair enough. But the fact remains that Gen Z-ers just aren’t as bad off as they like to think they are.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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