There is an old adage that you should be nice to others on your way up, because you might see them on your way back down. This is a saying that should probably be taken to heart by America's political leaders if events continue to unfold the way they are now.
With America edging closer to a default and a downgrade in credit rating, some realizations are starting to hit America's youth about their future. The consequences of the partisan squabbling of their parents' generation may leave them with little to inherit and much to despise.
If the debt ceiling isn't raised before Aug. 2, or if America's prized AAA credit rating is downgraded, it will mean at least a decade of financial instability to clean up after. Already the youth entering the job market today are squeezed between high unemployment caused by the older generation's mismanagement of the economy and the largest student loan debt in U.S. history. The unemployment rate for Generation Y is at 17 percent, the highest in 30 years, according to the Labor Department. From a mathematical point of view, no income plus a mountain of debt never has a happy ending.
To add insult to injury, a jump in interest rates due to default or downgrade may almost paralyze their chances of obtaining any sort of financial stability in their lifetime.
The credit restrictions created by the stock market crash of 2008 have already made things difficult. However, higher interest rates could possibly put mortgages, more student loans for higher degrees, or even the ability to start a businesses with a loan out of their reach.
The generation following behind Generation Y is at an even larger disadvantage. They were born into a declining public school system (according to OECD Programme for International Student Assessment report), skyrocketing college tuition rates, and a shrinking chance of even being able to receive financial aid, especially with looming budget cuts.
The lack of educated skilled workers is eventually going to hit the U.S. hard. Already, companies that rely on skilled workers are starting to have a hard time finding qualified workers to fill open positions, especially in the technology and manufacturing industries. With 80 million baby boomers preparing to retire, there is a big gap to fill to maintain America's economic dominance in the world.
For a young person reading the news, there is reason for some resentment. Obama's election victory in 2008 is largely credited to the support of the disenfranchised youth that wanted to see change in the system.
Obama's presidency as a bust, many Democrats who expected the youth to support them are struggling to motivate their base in the under 30 crowd.
With the 2012 election fast approaching, many youths who voted for Obama in 2008 are not feeling the same magic the second time around. (Nearly three quarters surveyed by Generation Opportunity say the current administration fails to serve their generation. Less than a third also don't approve of Obama's approach to youth employment.)
They see Obama's presidency as not meeting their expectations when it comes to issues that matter, and when he does address important issues, it's never clear where Obama stands on them.
That's not to say that the youth will support the Republicans either. Already some two-thirds of Americans polled by a number of surveys think the Republicans will be to blame for any default that occurs.
It is safe to say that once Generation Y enters the political stream, things may start to shake up a bit. And hopefully for the better.