'Strapped' for Adulthood

By Jodie Janella Horn, PopMatters

In the five years since I graduated from college, the same argument has arisen again and again. I insist that it's much harder to make a living now versus when she was my age in the mid-'70s. My mom disagrees, and continues to wonder why I haven't taken her advice and purchased a home. I inform her that a down payment on a condo in Los Angeles, where I live and work, would be greater than the sum total of all the money I've made this year. She again tells me the story of how she and my father saved the money for their first down payment while she was a drugstore clerk and he was an oft-unemployed electrical engineer. I tell her those days are over, at least in California, and she doesn't believe me. Repeat as necessary. As a result of this stress, I have developed a recurring fantasy of taking President Bush, grabbing him by the hair and slamming his face on his desk repeatedly while screaming, "Family values? I'll show you family values. I'm moving to Canada so I can afford to have a family." Hell hath no fury like a lioness without cubs.

Draut lays it out like a pro without indulging the whininess that so often creeps into my voice when I try to convey my generation's situation to my mother. The problems for us youngsters are as follows: College is expensive and induces debt, paychecks aren't rising with the cost of living, rent and home prices are prohibitively high, starting a family is costly, and finally, We Are All In Debt (sing it to the tune of Weezer's "We Are All on Drugs" if it'll make you feel better).