The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Millennials Are Experiencing American Prosperity

(Dreamstime image: Ian Allenden)

Making the click-through worthwhile: an amazingly solipsistic and inaccurate assessment of the American economy, coming from a Millennial with a big platform; a report that Robert Mueller might be finished with all of his indictments; and a look at one of the youngest Democratic presidential candidate.

Wait, Who’s ‘Never Experienced American Prosperity’?

This is as easy dunk, but sometimes you have to take it, just to dispel bad arguments from the public sphere. Charlotte Alter of Time magazine, who just wrote a lengthy and positive profile of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, declares, “AOC and I were born the same year. She was a Dunkaroos kid—I liked fruit roll-ups. People our age have never experienced American prosperity in our adult lives— which is why so many millennials are embracing Democratic socialism.”

Charlotte Alter’s father is Jonathan Alter, the longtime columnist and former senior editor of Newsweek, producer of television series and documentaries and author of several books. Her mother is Emily Jane Lazar, who was the executive producer of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Charlotte Alter graduated from Harvard University in 2012 and before coming to Time in 2013 she worked for HBO’s TV show Girls. Her brother is a producer for HBO sports, and her other sister is a venture capitalist.

Not a lot of journalism students are working for Time magazine within two years of graduation. Not many folks get to work on a critically-acclaimed premium cable series as their stepping-stone job. Maybe Alter was paid poorly on those jobs; if she lives in the New York City area, she’s undoubtedly coping with a high cost of living. But to claim she’s “never experienced American prosperity” is, no pun intended, rich. (UPDATE: This morning, Alter tweeted that she was “not talking about my personal experience.” Whether her original tweet can be read as excluding herself is… debatable.)

But let’s move beyond Alter. The two women were born in 1989; let’s assume 2009 as the starting date for their adulthood. No doubt, the depths of the Great Recession were the hardest time in two generations.

But the U.S. economy has added jobs for 100 consecutive months, and there are seven million unfilled jobs in the country. The housing market either quickly or gradually recovered depending upon your region, and auto production recovered, both at companies that received government bailouts and those that did not. There’s not too much inflation or deflation. Energy prices declined as U.S. domestic production boomed. Wage growth has been slow, but some research indicates this reflects companies hiring more young workers, who generally earn less than older, more experienced workers. Scott Lincicome lays out how more Americans households can afford more products. The stock market hit new highs last year. In late 2018, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States the world’s most competitive economy for the first time in a decade. Even the more pessimistic economists concede that the U.S. economy’s problems are smaller and less severe than anyone else’s.

Maybe you think “prosperity” returned around Obama’s reelection, or in his second term, or upon Trump taking office. But it’s asinine to argue that this doesn’t qualify as a time of prosperity, and it’s a little frightening to see someone who’s writing cover pieces for Time magazine making an assessment so wide of the mark. This isn’t to say America doesn’t have problems, but the general state of the economy and rate of job creation are not among those problems. If the current state of the economy – unemployment at 3.8 percent, 3.1 percent annual GDP growth, high business confidence, high consumer confidence — does not meet your definition of “prosperity,” what does?

The Time profile also refers to Ocasio-Cortez as “a freshman legislator trying to get the hang of her first big full-time job.”

One possibility is that this Alter is exaggerating; Ocasio-Cortez’s resume lists jobs like “lead educational strategist at GAGEis, Inc.,” “founder of Brook Avenue Press” and “educational director for the 2017 Northeast Collegiate World Series.” Or perhaps all of those were part-time jobs — or, as is often found at start-ups and nonprofits, full-time jobs that paid like part-time ones.

But if Alter’s assessment of Ocasio-Cortez’s working history is correct . . . should “member of Congress” be your first full-time job?

No More Indictments Coming from Mueller?

Buried deep in an ABC News story about the state of special counsel Robert Mueller:

In the letter, [Deputy Attorney General] Rosenstein makes it clear he believes the Department of Justice will not – and cannot without violating long-standing Department of Justice policy – include disparaging or incriminating information about anybody who has not been charged with a crime.

“Punishing wrongdoers through judicial proceedings is only one part of the Department’s mission,” Rosenstein wrote. “We also have a duty to prevent the disclosure of information that would unfairly tarnish people who are not charged with crimes.”

 Sources familiar with the investigation believe there are no more indictments coming from the special counsel. If Mueller follows the guidance of the man who appointed him and supervised his investigation, he cannot publicly disparage those who have not been charged with a crime.

How many vehement foes of the administration hoped that Mueller would indict Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon, or other prominent figures from the 2016 campaign?

What You Need to Know About Pete Buttigieg, That Young Mayor Guy Running in 2020

The nicest things I can say about Pete Buttigieg, the latest subject in the “Twenty Things” series: Starting at a very early age — and some might argue that at 37, he’s still at a very early age — he set out to do everything the right way and steadily and methodically did so — Harvard, Oxford, consulting at McKinsey. He chose to wear his country’s uniform when he had plenty of other options. With his accomplishments and glowing resume, he could have gone anywhere and worked just about any place, but he chose to return to his hometown, determined he could bring better days for his community. His constituents seem to adore him.

The least-nice things I can say about Buttigieg: He is the insufferably perfect valedictorian class president that your parents kept telling you to emulate. He’s the kid who started thinking about being elected to high office in high school and started making preparations then. His ambition was so transparent that it stood out at Harvard’s Institute for Politics, basically the Hogwarts for bright young people who want to be president someday. South Bend is the 299th-largest city in America and based upon five years of running that, Buttigieg thinks he’s ready to be president of the United States. Some presidential candidates falter because they don’t have “the fire in the belly.” Buttigieg’s got the Hindenberg in his intestines.

He’s indisputably bright, but not quite bright enough to understand why Americans don’t usually elect state treasurers in their late 20s, mayors in their early 30s, and presidents in their late 30s. In his autobiography, Shortest Way Home, Buttigieg describes how he kept running into people who thought he was too young to run for office, too young to be a mayor; no doubt today he’s running into a lot of people who think he’s too young to be the next president. Maybe it’s straight-up age discrimination. Or maybe Americans in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond remember how they were at those younger ages — how they thought they had it all figured out, and how life taught them otherwise. Maybe they’ve encountered someone with a glowing resume who turned out to be lousy in a job, or whose sterling academic record didn’t translate into good judgment.

ADDENDUM: The great Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina marks World Down Syndrome Day and showcases socks sent to him by two of his constituents. I concur, senator, they are indeed the best.

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