Whenever I’m telling a young person about how different things used to be — which is a topic that I’m sure all young people find endlessly compelling — I always mention the grocery store.
When I was a little kid in the late ‘80s, I vividly remember going with my mom to the Winn-Dixie in Stanleytown. Every shopping cart had a little plastic ashtray molded into the handle, and it was nothing to see someone inspecting the tomatoes with a Marlboro 100 dangling from their lip. In fact, I remember when Winn-Dixie banned people from smoking while they were checking out (you could still smoke literally anywhere else in the store) and people were FURIOUS.
Today, if you saw someone light a cigarette in the middle of the grocery store, you would assume that they were in the middle of a psychological breakdown. Back then, it was perfectly normal.
But there’s another thing I remember from the grocery store that is increasingly becoming a distant memory.
For whatever reason, I have a distinct memory of seeing my mom pushing a shopping cart absolutely overflowing with merchandise. There was no room to add a single grape. And after everything got rung up, I remember seeing the total on the little register display: $125.
This, of course, seemed like an absolutely outrageous sum of money to me at the time. I couldn’t even imagine possessing $125, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have wasted it on something boring like groceries when there were video games and Ghostbusters toys to be had.
Now, of course, the idea of spending $125 on two week’s worth of groceries seems like some kind of beautiful dream.
I don’t often see overloaded shopping carts anymore. Instead, most people seem to shop like I do, going to the grocery store a few times a week to grab just a handful of things. Even so, I can’t get out of the grocery store without spending at least $50, and that’s on a good day.
You don’t need me to tell you that the inflation we’re experiencing right now is unreal. The price of eggs has allegedly skyrocketed due to an avian flu outbreak that’s forced hatcheries to cull massive numbers of laying hens, but there are plenty of items skyrocketing simply because companies are using inflation as an excuse to gouge consumers. Sure, people on fixed incomes are struggling to survive, but at least the shareholders are happy!
Of course, the inflation doesn’t stop there. Restaurants are more expensive. The housing market has gone insane. Electric bills are rising. Cars have become so expensive that I’m planning to drive my Toyota until it collapses into a million pieces like the Bluesmobile when they arrive at the Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza.
I make a good living, but somehow, it doesn’t feel like I’m making any more money than when I first entered the workforce. I have no idea how folks making minimum wage are making ends meet.
I mention all this because I read a Financial Times article the other day titled “Millennials are shattering the oldest rule in politics.” For decades, progressive young people have been told, usually in condescending fashion, that they’ll become more conservative as they grow older.
My generation, the article argues, is bucking the trend. If anything, we’re becoming more progressive as we grow older.
This should not be a surprise.
The central premise of conservatism is that there is something you want to conserve. If I’m comfortable with the status quo, why would I want some moonbat politician with big progressive ideas to come in and upset the apple cart? What if I lose my Social Security or my retirement? Why would I want things to change when I’m perfectly happy with the way they are already?
But my generation, by and large, is far from happy with the way things are now. Who on Earth would want to preserve THIS status quo? Who would support billionaires lining their pockets while the poor get poorer everyday? Who would support a system where two people working two full time jobs still can’t afford even a modest home? Who would support being bankrupted by a medical emergency?
As far as Social Security goes, I have yet to meet a single person my age who actually believes they’ll receive a dime from it. Sure, millennials are paying into Social Security, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the piggybank will be long since shattered and spent by the time I’m old enough to receive any of it.
It shouldn’t be a shock that millennials are rejecting conservatism. What’s left to conserve?
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