Monday, July 28, 2008

Millennial Suburbs & Walters on the Budget

1) The Millennial generation, those born between 1982-2003, are proving to be more like their grandparents than their parents, and considering the arguably generally disastrous result of the baby-boomer generation for society at large, that is very good news.

They have a different perspective on suburbs—which many baby boomers blame for most of the ills of society—as this article notes.

“The first initial indications of how this sense of community will impact the behavior of Millennials as they enter young adulthood are now becoming available. They contain good news for America’s suburbs and for those remaining in family-oriented neighborhoods in our nation’s cities.

“One thing seems clear: Millennials generally lack the animus against suburbs that have been a major element of Baby Boomer urbanist ideology over the past few decades. According to survey data from Frank N. Magid Associates, America’s leading entertainment and media research firm, young Millennials already reside in the suburbs to at least the same extent as members of older generations. The Magid data also suggest that this residential preference is not likely to change as the Millennial Generation matures and "settles down." Once Millennials marry their firm preference is to live in a single-family home, and not in a typical urban setting of lofts, condos or apartments. Almost half of “settled” Millennials (those who are married, many with children) own their home. Only about a quarter are renter.

“Virtually none of the "settled" Millennials still reside with their parents or other relatives. This represents a significant difference from the status of Millennials of about the same age (mid-twenties) who are working, but single. About half of this latter group rent their home, either alone or with others, while only 13percent are homeowners. About a quarter of the unmarried Millennials live with their parents, which often earns them disdainful comments from older generations. Early evidence seems to suggest that this “return to the nest” phenomenon has more to do with the economics of graduating from college with large student loans unpaid and entry level pay than it does to any lack of energy or unwillingness to accept adult responsibilities. It also has to do with one of the defining characteristics of Millennials: they get along better with their parents than either Boomers or Gen-Xers.

“This generational trait is especially important for the future of America’s suburbs. Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, Millennials tend to be friends with and enjoy staying connected to their parents, if not in person than on a constant basis on cell phones or the Internet. In contrast, during the 1960s and 1970s, Boomers moved as far away as they could from their parents' home in order to “find themselves” and express their own unique values. In the 1980s and 1990s, Gen-Xers often reacted to their relatively unloving upbringing (think “Married…with Children” vs. “Leave it to Beaver”) by rejecting every aspect of their childhood, including leafy lawns and spacious suburban housing. By contrast, Millennials actually like and respect their parents, and often prefer to live as their parents do, preferably in a place that's close to their parents.”

2) The complicated secrets of California budgeting is somewhat revealed and simplified in this excellent column.


“To Democrats, California has a "revenue problem" – a tax system that doesn't produce enough dollars to meet the state's legitimate needs – and should solve it by raising taxes by $8-plus billion a year, primarily income taxes on business and high-income families…

“But to Republicans, the deficit is the symptom of a "spending problem" and reducing spending should be the first step, although they are not being specific on what should be cut…

“Whether the state's fiscal problem is too much spending or too little revenue, of course, is much like beauty or art, largely dependent on the eye of the beholder. The only semi-objective way to approach the issue is to compare California with other states, even if such comparisons, either in the aggregate or in specific categories, cannot account for this state's unique factors, which are, because this is California, copious…

“In other words, Californians in the aggregate are now paying almost as much of their personal income in taxes now as they were before Proposition 13 was passed. And our relative ranking has also climbed upward to No. 12 in 2007, a half-percent higher than the national average.”