When I was really young, like when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, there was a movie called The Bubble Boy, starring or featuring John Travolta, much younger, much more handsome.
John Travolta in the movie played a kid who had a deficient immune system, a problem with his immune system, and he had to live in a bubble so as not to get infected with bacteria, life-threatening bacteria.
And today I thought to myself that Bubble Boy in the movie is a great metaphor for what's happening to us today, because this virus forced us to retreat into bubbles.
It threatens our lives in a very real way, so in this sense we are all exposed, we all have immune deficiency, but it also threatens our lives in other ways.
We'll talk a bit later about the tsunami of mental health problems that is sweeping the globe.
But I think even more fundamentally, this virus is exposing the fault lines, the fractures, the areas of friction that our institutions failed to heal, to amend, to cope with, even to manage.
So now blacks and whites, Muslims and Hindus in India, other minorities in the United States and elsewhere, and of course Jews everywhere, it's bubbling, it's seething.
This is a collective immune response to the pandemic, an auto-immune response.
Our societal and cultural immune system is attacking the body politic, is attacking our societies, is attacking our living arrangements, our communal institutions, our unspoken agreements, the social compact itself.
This virus will have long-lasting effects, not because it's an especially big pandemic, as pandemics go, it's actually tiny, but because it exposed and hit upon every possible raw nerve, everything that's been cooking and baking and waiting to erupt, every vein of magma, every eruption of lava, every volcano, every dormant or active, this virus is a narcissistic virus in the sense that it had put a mirror, it forces us to gaze into our own reflection.
And not the smallest of these conflicts is between generations.
The COVID-19 pandemic largely affects the boomer generation, yet the cost is borne mostly by millennials and zoomers, the latest, the youngest generations. All people are affected, the younger paying the price.
Same happened with global warming and climate change. Our unbridled consumption as the older generations handed down a bill, a bill to be paid by the younger generations. We left them a polluted dying planet.
So this is not the first time that all people are affected, but the young are footing the bill. The buck stops true, but it stops with the young people.
And this is today's topic, main topic.
And just as a disclaimer, I know that I look like in my early twenties, but I'm actually a boomer. I'm 59 years old and I feel every year of it, the weight on my shoulders.
So it's not that I'm a young guy railing against my elders. I'm an old guy railing against what we had done to the younger generations. We've dealt them blow after blow, narcissistic blow after irresponsible blow. And they're going to pay the price for the rest of their natural lives and possibly their children as well.
So today we are beginning to see travel bubbles or travel corridors. These are arrangements between countries to allow access to their citizens across otherwise sealed international borders.
And similarly, we have a phenomenon called current teams, teams like T-E-A-M-S. Current teams are social bubbles, a limited group of people who meet regularly and exclude all other people as health risks, bubbles upon bubbles, travel bubbles, social bubbles, digital bubbles. Our lives are fragmented.
This pandemic is a fracking pandemic. It's like it had injected high pressure gas or liquid and burst open all the seams of society and modern civilization. We were not resilient. We failed to develop resilience because we reverted to narcissism, to egotism, to malignant individualism, to unbridled Sikh capitalism.
The pandemic forces us to retreat into isolation, atomization, self-sufficiency, and solipsism.
Whether narcissistic solipsism, you know, the world is I, I'm a whole universe. There's a giant awaiting to wake up inside me, you know, life coach, narcissistic trash, guru, mystic trash, trash in general.
So narcissistic solipsism or increasingly more, increasingly more depressive solipsism. It's all over. The new normal is not worth living for or living in.
And this is especially so in the countries of the plague, the epicenters of this viral agent of change.
And this regression or progress depends on your point of view. If you happen to own Amazon or Google or Facebook, it's progress, of course, because entire populations now will be hostages.
So this regression or progress is bound to result in two revolutionary paradigmatic shifts.
First of all, what used to be mental health pathologies, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, sickness, something to be healed and cured and fought against and managed. So mental health pathologies are going to be normalized. The normalization of mental health pathologies. Everyone is going to be clinically depressed. Everyone is going to be dysfunctionally anxious or something or other.
A recent study published a few days ago came up with the most mind boggling, astounding figure. Thirty four percent of the other population of the United States, thirty four percent, that's one third, have clinical depression and clinical anxiety. And the vast majority of them, about two thirds, have both combined.
Take into account that the rates of anxiety, depression, quantupled or tripled in the younger population up to age twenty five, according to the studies by Twenge and Campbell.
And you see a true pandemic which dwarfs in size the Covid-19 pandemic. So that's the first development. Everyone is going to be mentally ill. So to be mentally ill would be the new normal.
And the second development is that common goods which rely on cooperation and on social conventions will lose their value. The commons will fragment and many social institutions will be rendered obsolete.
For example, money. Money is going to lose its value. The family, public goods such as education already disrupted beyond reconstruction and the nation state. As the banking system collapses, and of course it's only a matter of time before the banking system is eradicated, we will devolve to a barter economy with agricultural land as the most prized possession.
And this leads me to the core conflict of this pandemic, which is an intergenerational conflict between the old and the young.
You see, throughout history, the elders, older people, my age, we were the repositories of wisdom. We were the guides, we were the gurus, we were the mentors, we helped the young.
We shortcut, we provided shortcuts, we ameliorated the tuition fee of life, the learning curve, we flattened the learning curve. That was our job. That's what elders did. That's why in the Bible there are elders councils. That's why in every African village there was the Council of Elders, which served also as a court.
Old people, they were the treasure of humanity. And then of course in the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, the elders, old people were cast into the trash heap of history.
There was a revolution of the young, aided and abetted by young-oriented, young-created youth, youth-consumed technologies. And elder people suddenly found themselves deskilled, they had no skills, transferable or otherwise. They found themselves in the margins and disenfranchised sometimes. And this marginalization led to an estrangement, an alienation between the generations. Elder people felt bitter and spiteful. The young felt triumphant and grandiose, narcissism, reared its ugly head, as was first documented by Christopher Lash in 1974.
And now all the chickens, old and young, came home to roost.
Let's go through the numbers to create this gernacle of the pandemic, this horror, painting of horror of what's happening and what's going to happen.
Economically and otherwise to young people.
The average millennial, first of all, millennials are people who were born between 1981 and 1996. So these were bad years, seriously bad years. I mean, after 1996, there was a collapse of the tech bubble, then there was 9-11, then there was a great recession, now there's a pandemic. These are not good years to live in. Very bad years to be young in. I would compare them to only one other period or two other periods in history, the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the Black Death in the 14th century.
So average millennials have experienced slower economic growth. They have entered the workforce and they couldn't find jobs. And when they did find jobs, economic growth was so slow, so sluggish that these jobs didn't pay good wages or disappeared overnight.
And millennials are economically scarred. And these scars, as we will discuss a bit later, are not transient scars.
Economic scarring is for life. There is an expectancy of savings, of earnings, based upon which people make decisions. I don't know, get married, buy a house, have children.
So lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed, for example, home ownership, therefore life. And they retard not only individual decision making, but the societal fabric. They fray the fabric of society.
So, millennials have entered the workforce and in the first 15 years of their involvement in the workforce, GDP grew by 16%, 1.6%.
The generation which was born at the beginning of the 20th century enjoyed a growth of 60% in the first 15 years. And the boomers, my generation, we've enjoyed a growth of 38% in the first 15 years of being involved in the workforce.
The number of jobs today is exactly like the number of jobs in January 2000. That's 20 years ago. In March and April alone, employment among millennials dropped by 16%, 1.6%.
At the same time, employment among Generation X, which preceded them, dropped by only 12% and among baby boomers by 13%.
The young are being fired, being fired and being excluded from the workforce much more than their elders.
And there's an even younger generation, zoomers. And among zoomers, one third of the jobs vaporized in March and April 2020.
Luckily for the zoomers, they're just entering the workforce. They're in their early 20s. So there's still some prospect, some horizon that maybe in five years time or three years time, God knows, two years time, they may find a job, finally.
But right now, older people, more older people, a greater number of older people is employed than millennials.
People born between the years 1965 and 1980 are more likely to have a job, to hold a job than millennials, who are younger to them by 20 years.
The past two decades was the slowest economic growth in history and the pandemic only made it irrevocably so.
So what happened is when the Great Recession started, I don't know why they call it the Great Recession, by many parameters, it was worse than the Great Depression, by many parameters, for example, sovereign debt.
But never mind. When the Great Recession happened, it pushed young, the young workers, wages, for example, collapsed.
And the thing is that whatever has happened during this period, there's not been a recovery. The figures are very misleading.