This book seemed like a very interesting read and Chris gave us his perspective on it. This one was called Confessions of an Old Man: How Millennials are Being Robbed by Munir Moon.
Confessions of an Old Man is about how the next generation is being robbed of their future and what can they do about it. The goal of the book is to get Millennials angry enough to actively engage with the American political system and take control of their destiny instead of their future being decided by rich old white men. It is a statement of collective guilt that places the responsibility on my generation, the baby boomers, for dealing a bad card to their children and grandchildren. My generation controls the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidency, so we cannot shirk from the responsibility.
Millennials and the iGeneration combined are called the MI generation in this book. They are defined as those who were born between 1980 and 2018, and they represent about 150 million Americans or 32% of eligible voters.
I enjoyed this book, and found many of his arguments familiar (his reference section shows we have read the same material).
Munir Moon is a boomer who doesn’t use lazy stereotypes about the MI generation. He doesn’t blame them for not buying houses because they’ve spent too much money on things like “avocado toast” (That was an actual argument).
Moon knows his generation drove up the cost of education so that it has outstripped inflation and wages. He knows young professionals today are saddled with student debt decades longer than the boomer generation. He knows house prices have sky-rocketed and many Millennials can’t afford to buy houses because of school debt, stagnating wages, and vanishing permanent jobs in favor of free-lance non-benefit jobs. He knows that the system his generation built is being used to siphon money from lower and middle classes to the very rich because of the magical belief that money from the rich will trickle down to everyone else.
He has some good suggestions for fixing this. For example, if student loans are forgiven it could potentially pump trillions of dollars into the economy as 44 million graduating students would now have more income to use in the economy, to buy houses, to raise families earlier. He says there should be a third party that represents the silent majority aka the Independents. A third party makes good sense and is already working in multiple countries (this means the US probably won’t try it—and I’m only half-joking). And he tells the MI’s to go into politics to change the system.
In his book, he tries not to assign blame to one particular party. He uses generic both-sides-at-fault comments. However, nearly all his specifics of why the system is rigged point at Republicans. He lists their bills, their legislation, their tax cuts that favored the top 1%, and their resistance to enacting legislation that recognizes equality for everyone. Women are about half the population but are only 20% of House/Senate and only 5% of them are Republicans. That 5% is now lower because after the 2018 election the number of women in the Republican party went from 23 (in Moon’s book) to a record low of 13.
His generic both-sides-at-fault often fall into the “false equivalence” category. For example, he equates the Republican tax cut where 82% of the benefits go to the top 1% with Obama’s automaker bailout in 2008. But, the automakers repaid their obligations ahead of schedule, and even the conservative Forbes magazine later praised Obama as his initiative added 640,000 auto industry jobs, resulted in 1.55 million workers paying taxes on good jobs, and fueled economic growth of their communities. By contrast, an investigation into the top Fortune 500 companies showed 80% of the increased revenue from the Trump tax cut going to investors through buybacks and dividends rather than to their employees.
An amusing example is when he says elements in both parties are moving to the extremes in their respective parties. We already know what extreme right looks like, but what does extreme left look like? Turns out “extreme” left is pretty much what all other developed countries have. Since all those countries rank far above the US in every quality of life index perhaps the US should adopt those “extreme” policies? And no, those extreme policies are not “socialism”. Politicians bring up that Cold War boogeyman to fight against progressive policies that provide safety nets. Ironically, even Canadian politicians use the socialism scare tactic unaware that the policies we already have are what the US calls socialism when Bernie Sanders suggests them for the US.
A third example of trying “both-sides” was even more amusing. He calls Hilary Clinton’s election a colossal failure and that she won’t go away. Clinton received 2.9 million more votes than Trump. That’s 48.2% of the vote to Trump’s 46.1%. Not a colossal failure by any definition. Also, the only reason she kept appearing in the news was because Fox and Trump were “but her emails” despite several investigations and exonerations.
I think there are a few flaws in Moon’s section on US healthcare system reform (caveat: I’m Canadian so I’m not fully informed on how the US system actually works—thank God—so I could be wrong about flaws). His suggestion on fixing US healthcare is to take the existing free-market approach and try a different type of free-market approach.
It is the free-market approach that makes the US system a disaster. A different free-market system just means a different type of disaster. It’s rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Why not adopt one of the many successful models other countries use?
I also thought his logic defending his new market system was flawed.
We procrastinate in getting regular health checkups, wait until a medical incident occurs, and then end up in the emergency room
It’s not procrastination if you’re making the difficult decision between medical care and food or rent, something no other developed country worries about.
However, Americans are incentivized to procrastinate in maintaining a healthy lifestyle because they know that they can always go to the emergency room and be taken care of.
There are many documented reasons why people don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is not one of them. If they can’t afford a trip to the doctor, they know they can’t afford an exorbitant trip to the emergency room.
Another flaw in his new free-market approach is when he says each person should shop to find the best price for the best procedure. He needed an MRI for his back. He was in too much pain to wait two weeks so he phoned around, found a place in suburb of LA, and got in the next day for $350 instead of $450.
Many people can’t afford even the “cheap” payment of $350. Many do not have cars. Public transport can be an hours long affair with numerous connections so you may need babysitters or take time off work (more expense; also imagine doing public transport while in constant pain).
Many people wouldn’t have an idea of where to start to get a good deal. People have enough difficulty finding decent car insurance rates, and decent healthcare insurance. And, many people may not even have the internet so they’d have to do a trip to a local library or café (again, while in pain or not feeling well) so they can work out all the necessary steps required. Stress and anxiety also make it harder to cope with complex interactions. People who are on the spectrum may also have difficulty doing any of the above.
In short, the people who need healthcare the most (the poor, those with mental health issues, the vulnerable, the neurodiverse) are the ones who will again fall through the free-market system cracks just as they do the old system.
Regardless, Moon’s book is refreshing as it shows even the older generations see things need to change, and that the MI generation is already changing society (Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Climate, Equality, LGBTQ, Women marches). His book could be seen as a depressing litany of things that are wrong in the US system, but instead leaves you feeling optimistic about the future.
Book Rating: 4.5/5
Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in an ebook format by the author to read and give our honest review.
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I am all settled in to the new house and am getting back into the swing of things. Here is my TBR for the Bookemon Readathon! Check out the video below: