So, all the latchkey kids are refusing the return the key. Today’s edition of THE NEW YORK TIMES (“For Insurance, Adult Children Ride Piggyback”) focuses on the New Jersey policy that allows kids to coast on the momentum of their parents’ policies until they are 30. From where I sit it maybe newsworthy that there’s a new developmental stage — adultescence — but it’s not surprising and it’s not just health insurance perks that require a parental piggyback ride. There’s food, shelter, a modest stipend involved in the bargain, as well. Rather than simply note the phenomenon, it’s perhaps about time to ask why? Why now?
My hunch is that today’s news is just the logical consequence of a spiral that began to spin decades ago: A systemic cultural addiction to cheap (at any price) with no understanding that we as consumers are in large part responsible for carving the costs out of our economic system that allow for job creation, as well as sustainability and with it the opportunity to achieve the essential promise of the country: We’ll have a life better than our parents.
What is happening is that these “children” are losing the hope of having a better life and so they’re obliged to try to live with their parents in order to even get to parity. The psychic and economic tolls of a country living on the cheap are only beginning to be seen, in declining consumer confidence numbers, more and more frequent rounds of lay-offs from the manufacturing sector and a profound desire to escape into IpodNation, where all the music is mine, all the parental voices unhearable and all my friends just a little more than cynical.