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by Grace Liao, ‘06

 

Kamenetz discusses many problems facing young people, including the trend towards jobs without pensions or health care coverage, the use of temps and freelancers over full-time employees, rising government deficits, and the potential for future cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

Kamenetz is most convincing when she outlines the problems unique to young people. One of their biggest problems is paying for college. When a college degree is almost a requirement for substantial career prospects, skyrocketing tuitions are pricing potential students out of the market. Financial supports that have helped students in the past are less often available.

As a result, more students work their way through college, with sizable loans to pay off afterward. Others start college but can’t afford to finish. Either way, many come out of their college experience to an unstable job market with a mountain of debt.

Kamenetz interviewed dozens of young people from a variety of backgrounds for Generation Debt, and she includes these personal experiences throughout the book to accentuate her points. It’s an effective tool, with interviewees ranging from “how-could-you-be-so-stupid money-wasters,” to highly responsible people who’ve been hindered in their attempts to get ahead, due to lack of job opportunities, inescapable debt, or inability to pay for an education.

With any book that painstakingly details a problem, a reader inevitably gets weary and says, “OK, so what do we do about it?” One solution—at least a partial solution—Kamenetz offers young people, is to live within their means. Resist easy credit and societal pressures toward material comforts.

A second solution is to fight the power—whether it means on a political level, within a university setting, or on the job.

 

 

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