Generation Jobless: Infograph (re: Generation Screwed)


Recently, CBC released a documentary called Generation Jobless, which discusses the plight of Generation Y (Generation Screwed) and the challenges they face, including crappy jobs, skyrocketing costs and wondering if all the stress, debt, is worth it for the piece of paper three to four years later.

Just for your interest here an infograph (see below) that explains some of the problems Canadian Generation Yers are facing once they graduate University in terms of cost, compared to those who graduated in 1980.

Image Credit: CBC Doc Zone

Image Credit: CBC Doc Zone

Some food for thought stats based on the infograph:

– One way bus fare was $0.60 in 1980, compared to 2012 at $2.65

– Basic cable in 1980 was $20.00. In 2012, its more than doubled at $50.00

– Phone costs last year were $40.00 twice the price of a telephone in $20.00

– Stamp costs were $0.17 in 1980, compared to $0.61 in 2012.

– A home purchase in 1980 was on average $76,214. Practically affordable. Last year, the average Canadian home was $369, 677.

If you think that is challenging, back in 1980, a full-time teaching job was $15,000 with full-time benefits and regular increases. In 2012, for a supply teacher, someone would make $24,940, with NO pension, NO regular benefits and NO regular increases.

The path towards prosperity for my generation, may not be exactly traditional, but rather you could very well generation Y be the “Entrepreneurial Generation.”

So  what does everyone think? Drop me a line at adamjwpg@mymts.net. You can also reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

 

 

 

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Generation Y and the Changing Workforce


I have covered Generation Y (aka Generation Screwed) numerous times on this blog, often trying to show both sides of the coin on were my generation is headed.

On a boring Saturday night, on my computer, I pulled a fantastic infograph on some interesting Gen Y stats from Workshare.com (Below).

Gen-Y-infographic

Image Credit: Workforce.com

Workforce notes we are the most educated generation ever, along with being the most tech savy. Heck, 90% of generation Yers own an electronic device.

But here are some things that this infograph should make you think about, now, but in the future.

This generation, unlike others want meaning in their workplace. We want constant feedback from our bosses. We do not tolerate a lot of garbage. We want a high quality workplace. We want environmental sustainability. We are even wanting to accept lesser money for more challenges (which makes me wonder why the rise of interns. Read Intern Nation).

While it sucks now, and it may get worse, perhaps something to consider is by 2025, 75% of the world’s workforce (here is hoping) will consist of generation Yers.

If this is true, and as of 2012, only 45% of American information workforce in a corporate office, there could be a lot of potential to see a lot of game changing entrepreneurship, and a lot of startups. This may very well be the most entrepreneurial generation also.

Will this mean a new wealth boom in the future? I don’t know. It’s doubtful in the short-term. Macleans a few weeks ago noted millennials are the New Underclass citing the huge economic and financial challenges slapping them in the face:

Equally troubling, university-educated Canadians experienced a relative increase in unemployment between 1997 and 2005 and a corresponding dip in relative wages, according to a federal government study. By contrast, those with a college, or even a high school education, managed to improve (or at least maintain) their outlook, relative to other workers. In fact, the only group that experienced a similar relative increase in unemployment during the period were those Canadians without even a high school diploma.

………….. It wasn’t always so bleak for Canada’s youth. Wayne Lewchuk, a professor of labour studies at Hamilton’s McMaster University, grew up in Windsor, Ont., and recalls that many of his university buddies took assembly-plant jobs with Chrysler and Ford after graduating in the mid-1970s. The work wasn’t great, but it paid well and the benefits were good. “If you’re measuring life purely by your material standard of living, then they’ve had a much better life than I’ve had,” says Lewchuk, who instead went back to school to pursue two more degrees. “They started working 10 years before I even got my first paycheque.”

Of course, most of those automotive jobs are long gone. So are many other relatively high-paying factory jobs in Ontario and Quebec. They are casualties of globalization and Canada’s subsequent shift toward a “knowledge-based economy”—one that’s built on providing services instead of forging things out of plastic and steel. At the same time, the global commodity boom that began around 2003 refocused attention on Canada’s vast resources, particularly oil and gas. But despite the billions poured into Alberta’s oil sands, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that Canadian workers, collectively, are no better off. The CGA study, for example, suggested the proportion of workers employed in industries with above-average earnings declined between 1991 and 2011, despite strong overall growth in the economy.

Wages are only part of the picture. Unions, once the guarantor of a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, have shrivelled as employers cut back on pension and health care benefits in a bid to better compete in a globalized market. Indeed, the very concept of a gold-plated, defined-benefit corporate pension plan (which guarantees a certain level of retirement income) has all but disappeared. A recent study by the debt-rating agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service, found that as many as two-thirds of North American defined-benefit plans are underfunded. Many companies are pushing new employees over to less costly and less comprehensive defined-contribution plans.”

Will millennials/Generation Y have the same standard of living like Baby Boomers? Let me know what you think, hit me up by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

Let’s Have A Winnipeg Generation Screwed Forum


Image Credit Via Theburningpoint.com

Ok, folks, I think it’s time to actually have a serious Winnipeg Forum on Generation Screwed. After writing numerous posts on my blog in the past two and a half months, and having numerous social media and face to face discussions, there is not a better time than now to have a heart-felt debate with a Winnipeg forum.

When you have university graduates struggling to find work, or in jobs miss-matched with their skill set, you have a problem here.

When you have students with crushing debt, you have a problem here.

When you know that analysts prescription of just going to school and getting further education in order to combat manufacturing job that have gone to lower wage countries like China, thanks to globalization is not working at all, you know you have a problem.

When you start to think that higher unemployment in the mid 1980’s sounded pretty darn good now because the jobs back thirty years ago when adjusted for inflation paid much better, you have a problem here.

When you have a generation that is going to have to pay for the financial burden of the baby-boomers, you know you are going to have a problem here.

So, here is what I propose:

Have a two-hour forum at a venue (I don’t know, Winnipeg Free Press Café).

Take a policy analyst, a young entrepreneur, union leader, a politician, university professor, along with an average joe blow lunch pail Generation Screwed member as your panelists.

Have the panelists make five-minute speeches on what they think is wrong and where the trends are going.

Have question and answers with the crowd, along with any questions from various social media outlets.

There. Done. While a forum won’t solve all the problems, it would be a good starting point.

Now, let’s get to it.

Does Generation Screwed Need to be the “Entrepreneurial Society?”


 

On my blog, I have provided extensive coverage about “Generation Screwed,” and the challenges they face in order to stave off being one of the generation’s that is going to be worse off than their parents.

I had on my last post regarding this generation in September, provided some solutions, including reforming the education system and higher participation rates of labour unions, if necessary.

Recently, I had found some interesting analysis on the world of on-line freelance work.

A recent article from Website Magazine discussed the recent results from an Elance survey that interviewed 3,000 people about their freelance situation with some interesting statistics, showing a potential new future employment trend.

The survey found most online freelancers are either come from Generation Y (millennials) 48% or Generation X , 38%.

Elance also noted that 42% of survey participants have bachelor degrees, and 24% masters.

Meanwhile, 67% of freelance professionals said they expect more money to roll in from their work within the next year, exceeding the 57% of respondents who had seen their income grow in 2012.

The strongest demand from the Elance survey in the past year came from web design (574% increase), voice acting (295% increase) and content writing (256% growth). That’s astonishing numbers, and showing that on-line freelance work could be the real deal in finding work in a globalized economy.

Here are some other interesting facts that came from this survey, that people should pay attention to:

Elance noted that most freelancers are on the go, with 2-6 projects ongoing all the time, with 70% happier and 79% more productive than if they were working for someone.

All most half work as full-time freelancers, at 48%, while 25% do this as a part-time gig, as they slug at a full-time job.

Survey respondents in 2013 expect to see the biggest growth in the freelance market in various areas including: web and mobile programming, content writing, online marketing, graphic design, and the multi media market.

Men also dominate as the majority in freelancing, taking of 58% of the jobs, compared to 42% of females.

Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance, puts it nicely in perspective in the shift we are seeing in how work is done, thanks to freelancing:

“In just a few short years, freelancing has gone from a last resort option to a lucrative and fulfilling career,” said Fabio Rosati, president and CEO of Elance.  “As a ‘Business of One’, your potential is no longer constrained by where you live or the corporate hierarchy – the survey results clearly show that the online work opportunities are enormous.”

Does, this mean that freelancing will be the cure to all of the problems of this generation? I doubt it. If you look at a recent report by the Community Foundations of Canada. The report points to Canadians are some of the best educated in the world and more educated than ever, crippling debt, baby boomers not retiring fast enough and the lack of job opportunities are smashing the dreams of “Generation Screwed.”  We need to pay more attention to this as we are going to be paying for our parents health care and houses, which we can’t afford. How we get their, will take innovative ideas, and retooling a lot of the old institutions, and allowing boomers to retire faster than a Dodge Ram.

However, maybe, if the on-line freelance trend continues to advance, Generation Y and some of Generation X may have to change some of their thinking around. I know as a freelance writer, currently some of the work is very minimal. But while I work full-time, I am building contacts to advance my career, in what I want to do: either renewable energy/climate policy. Plus, if I continue to work at it more clients will come, thus hopefully creating a legitimate small business down the road.

Freelance work won’t solve all the problems. But for Generation Y, an “Entrepreneurial Society,” could alleviate some of the employment ills.

Generation Screwed And The Downward Spiral of Canadian Labour Unions: MMMMMMMM


University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Manitoba. University grads are having a difficult time keeping up with the Jonses, while Canadian labour unions are in decline

I don’t write about labour issues a lot. In fact, on this blog, I have not touched on the issue at all. However, since it’s Labour Day weekend, along within university and college students heading back to hit the books, I’d figure I would weigh in on the relationship between labour and Generation Y.

If you read today’s Winnipeg Free Press, lots of coverage was devoted to the topics of Generation Y (or Generation Screwed as they are often called), and the changing dynamics of labour relations 21st century Canada.

Mia Robson’s piece first talked about the rising debt levels, and stagnant income levels graduates face.

For example, the article points out that the average cost for a four-year university degree is $60,000! That is right folks, C$60,000. Now, to make it more insane, the average student debt for students is $27,000! That is almost the equivalent of a mortgage for a very modest house back in the 1980’s or 1990’s. I call this the mini-me of mortgages now.

Now add to this stagnated wages, as the income gap has grown between Generation Screwed and baby boomers, according to the article.

What is even more disheartening is youth unemployment is scary, as the recession hit youth workers harder than a ton of bricks. Consider this excerpt on how bad it is:

Jacques Marcil, a senior economist at TD Economics, said the economic downturn hit young Canadians the hardest. A TD Economics report earlier this year found workers between 15 and 24 were not only hurt the most by the recession, they have yet to see any recovery.

Since 2008, 250,000 jobs employing workers aged 15 to 19 have disappeared, including 70,000 since the economic recovery began.

The unemployment rate for Canadians under 25 in May 2008, before the recession hit, was 13.5. A year later, during the height of the recession, it was 17.3. In May 2012 it was 16.3.

That is more than twice the overall unemployment rate of 7.4.

“For youth, it’s always harder on the job market,” said Marcil. “They are the last in and the first out.”

Marcil said one of the issues hurting young graduates is that older workers are staying in their jobs longer.

He said the need for older people to work longer is driven by the low interest rates affecting their investments. Not only are jobs more difficult to find for graduates with specific skills, they are also hard to find for students trying to put themselves through school in the first place.

“Just think about retailers. It’s not a kid welcoming you at the door, it’s a senior,” he said. “There’s a more limited choice of jobs for youth.”

The TD report said jobs for the under 20 set have continued to disappear. While the 20 to 24 group has seem some improvement, “it hasn’t been at a break-neck pace.”

What economists are also noticing is the number of Canadians in those age groups who simply stop looking for work has increased, Marcil said.

With the increasing income gap, stagnant wages, and the upward trend in student debt, it’s no wonder this generation is becoming lost, drained and stuck in a pool of hopelessness . While some within Generation Y act like spoiled little brats at their undeserved posh jobs, I think most are having a difficult time, given the climate. Our generation just simply now will not have the living that our parents did. The only reason why maybe the living standard is artificially higher is because of cheap high-tech products coming out of emerging market countries (you know, the same jobs that were shipped out of North America and Europe because corporations are too cheap). Our parents were able to survive on often one income with four people in the household. Our parents had a high living standard, yet did not have the higher standard of education that our generation does. Take for example, this unnamed person who was interviewed in the same article:

One under-40 worker said it is frustrating that, even though he and his girlfriend have degrees and professional employment, they are still drowning in student loans and have to move back in with one of their parents in order to save enough money to buy a house.

“How is it that, for example, my father, the sole breadwinner in a family of five, who had no high school diploma, was able by my age to work and pay for a house, two cars and family expenses by my age and afford luxuries like vacations with his sole income,” the man wondered. “I keep asking myself this and finding no real satisfactory answer.”

Meanwhile, labour unions continue to face incredible downward pressure. In an op-ed in today’s Winnipeg Free Press, called Union Influence Waning (section J1;J6) executive vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia Jock Finlayson noted that the influence of Canadian labour unions is on the decline. He pointed out only 16% of Canadians hold union membership in the private sector, sharply down from nearly one-third in back in the 1980’s.

Finlayson also expects this trend to continue in the future as shift to service/knowledge based workers, cut-throat business environment, and the increased amount of small businesses as sources of employment will play a role.

He leaves this column with these ominous words:

“This trend spells continuing trouble for unions hoping to expand their clout in the business sector.” (J6).

On the flip side, hope may not be lost for unions. Labour analyst Morna Ballantyne’s op-ed in the same section called Unions Can Regain Lost Ground (J6) said there is some hope, particularly with younger workers. She pointed to her research that 53% of Canadians under 30 where willing to sign up for a labour union card, if asked.

What even may give further hope for unions, according to Ballantyne, was this was the highest amount willing to join a union amongst all demographics was within Generation Y.

While you may scoff at Ballantyne’s research as wonderful PR for labour unions, it should get you thinking about the relationship between the increasing wage disparity between Generation Screwed and older workers. Most workers with a higher education are working in service/knowledge type jobs, where unionization rates are lower.

Perhaps maybe unions could promote employee ownership in smaller based businesses, as a solution to labour’s woes and being more pro-active towards smaller business by promoting employee ownership, rather than signing up union members. Perhaps, maybe unions could further support university/college education, through increased scholarships, and working with business and government on forming future partnerships in order to survive.

Or perhaps, unions, as nutty as it sound given my background in business, could go back and try to unionize as many private sector businesses as much as possible to raise wages in order to combat the wage disparity. Not my first solution at all. In fact, this idea ranks on the lower end of ideas to close Generation Screwed’s ever increasing income gap.

However, it could happen that will break Generation Y’s back. Perhaps some are getting sick of going to school within our generation to increase their income potential for a long period of time, with little results. Maybe, someone is going to have to pay for the baby boomer’s houses when they retire. Someone is going to have to help pay for the healthcare for our parents when they get old. Baby boomers need to care.

Rob Carrick Globe and Mail Report on Business columnist put it very nicely recently:

Looking forward to grandchildren while you’re young enough to enjoy them? It might not happen if student debts delay your kids from getting married, buying a house, banking some money and otherwise settling into the child-rearing phase of life.

And there’s the broader issue of generational compassion. A baby boom generation that shrugs off the difficulties today’s young adults might not get the empathy it expects when it reaches old age.

There is a lot more than meet’s the eye when it comes to the downward trend of Canadian labour unions and the increasing wage gap among younger workers as clearly shown here.

What do you think needs to be done, to bridge this gap?

An Open Letter To Some Impatient Millenials


Millenials texting on their cell phones. Photo Source: http://genyu.net/2011/11/22/1-800-anxious/

Dear Impatient Millenials:

I am writing to you. Yes, I know who you are. I technically am one of them. I am one of you. I was born in the early 1980’s. I straddle between Generation X and Generation Y. I prefer to call myself apart of Generation Y. Generation X is so yesterday. After all, I prefer

I am writing to you all because, I am a little concerned of some off the behaviour you may be causing in the work place and give other Generation Yers like myself a bad name.

I don’t know if you read a recent Wall Street Journal Article about what companies in the US are bending over to some pretty wonky demands. Here are just some:

– Ocean Spray in Lakeville Massachusetts scrapping an 8 a.m. start time daily because many millenials working at the company live in nearby Boston.

– A company called Chegg Inc, eliminating some middle management jobs in order to allow younger workers to more management style project.

If that was not cheesy enough, according to the article, some gen Y workers at Chegg wanted to leave early to finish their work at Starbucks.

Yep, I have to cringe when I read this. It has been bad enough that many people within our age group are struggling to find jobs. Many within generation Y are struggling to pay bills. Many are stuck at dead-end jobs, anticipating furthering their education because they can’t get the job they want.

I truly believe that most within our generation do have a challenge and do not have it completely easy and are struggling to find their path. Those get my sympathy.

However, I have to address to you within my generation that complain about not having it your way all the time. I really have a problem with the outlandish demands some Generation Yers get from their employers besides the ones I just mention. I could list others. iPads, BlackBerry’s, lavish gifts and from sources, some employees going for manicures in the middle of a Friday afternoon. The list could be as long as the Red River. Heck, even major unions whose most of their membership baby boomers would want to slap some of you young punks.

Now I am not saying work should NOT be fun for you. It is vital for companies to keep talent like us if companies want to grow. I am all for using technology and all the vital tools of mass collaboration to boost a company’s bottom line. However, maybe some of you Generation Yers need a reality check, given the examples I have mentioned make us look like spoiled little children.

Perhaps I will refer you to some interesting stats the WSJ article mentions on what we value and what we could possibly learn from baby boomers:

A 2010 Pew Research study found that while baby boomers—generally born between 1946 and 1964—cited work ethic, respectfulness, and morals as their defining qualities, millennials chose technology, music and pop culture, and liberal leanings—followed by superior intelligence and clothing as their defining qualities. Millennials are also likely to prioritize lifestyle over salary, and to foresee changing careers.

Ok, now that you have read this, here is some advice, as a millennial/generationYer myself to you:

Respect Baby Boomers Work Ethic: I have a lot of respect for baby boomers. After all, this was the generation that fought in World War 2, and build a lot of prosperity in our society. They have built many of the companies that are top dog today. They believe in respect, which is a vital part in building a client base. Building trust amongst one another is very important. Most baby boomers know this. While I disagree with baby boomers sometimes, especially when it comes to cherishing technology, learning from their experience, and trust is something you all could learn.

Don’t Ask for Everything Now. BE PATIENT!!!! Please, please, please please. I understand you ambitious younglings want to climb the corporate ladder, want expensive clothing, iPads and leave early to go to Starbucks every Friday. However, some millienials like myself would just kill to have the basics, like a 9 to 5 job, dental and health care benefits at best. That is all. Some don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, but learn from others now, in the hopes that maybe, with further education, we can start our own businesses as consultants later in life like myself. Bottom Line: You just can’t get everything you want ASAP and will need to pay their dues.

Be Thankful For What You Have: A big one. Be thankful for what you have at your job. Because one day, it can be taken all away from you. Add to that, many millenials are struggling to find work. Keep that in mind.

I hope that helps you out. So check your ego at the door, and just enjoy what you have and don’t ask for those shiny iPads on the first day of your job.

Sincerely,

Your Generation Y friend

Adam

Generation Screwed, Well, Maybe…


Comic explains the current state of Generation Yers in the job market from a What am I missing.com article on Generation Screwed. Source: http://www.whatamimissinghere.com/archives/23111

Recently I had seen a feature article in Newsweek magazine entitled “Generation Screwed,”  (millennials) about those between the age of 18-36. Of course, this article was dealing with mainly the United States population in this age group, yet you could apply this template to pretty much most of us within this age range in the developed world. Canadian magazine MacLeans published a similar article in December, 2010. Here are some interesting facts pertaining to Generation Screwed from a infograph earlier this year in the US:

In case you are not familiar, many experts are predicting this generation is going to have a very difficult time reaching the echelon of our baby boomer, and even our generation counterparts in terms of prosperity. We will be worse off.  Increased demand on our health care system, demand on the Canadian Pension Plan system will definitely test the public system. It will increase the nation’s debt loads.  Add to that the Great Recession back in 2008 slammed baby boomer private pension plans back years,  is causing them to retire later than sooner.  Oh, don’t forget the mountains of consumer debt they have too and you have one part of the ticking time bomb.

Now, on the flip side,  generation Yers are facing, consumer debt along with mortgage sized student loan debt,  plus the lack of current good job opportunities as baby boomers are reluctant to retire.

Mix all of those and you have the potential for what could be a booby trap. Here are some reason’s why:

  1. Regardless, generation Yers are going to somehow and someway pay for baby boomers expenses, either direct or indirect. It is going to come directly via through higher taxes, and paying through our pocketbook to insure that there is money to cover health care and public pensions.  It will come indirectly as the lack of high quality jobs for post secondary grad will force those to take McJobs. Yep. That is right, Mc Jobs.
  2. As this generation continues to work in dingy, low paying jobs, ideas of owning a house will likely become a pipe dream. You can forget about owning that nice 4 bedroom house, so  might as well go for that modest apartment.  Owning property could become a foregone conclusion for our generation because we are broke!

Some baby boomers may not worry about this. Granted, heck, they think we are the spoiled generation. However, I argue that you should be worried for we need high paying jobs to pay for your retirement. We need high paying jobs to pay for your health care. We want a decent career.  We want some fun. Heck, maybe we even want to buy your houses as you will need someone to buy them.

I sit here thinking, perhaps are generation is screwed.  The jobs aren’t there. The houses are too expensive. Plus, the stress level is getting to us. I am not as rosy as I was a year or two ago. I could blame the Great Recession, with companies using it as an excuse not to hiring. I could blame it on the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in Manitoba. I could blame it on the rise of unpaid internships.  Might as well pack it in, right.

However, while we may be screwed, here are some suggestions that may help out.

One, its going to suck, but the days of tax cuts may need to come to an end. We may have to face the piper and accept that higher income people should take a tax increase. Yep, as much as I would love to have a tax cut, if it meant keeping our public health system and Canadian Pension Plan system at least sustainable in order for baby boomers to retire earlier, I would definitely take it.

Second,  large companies need to stop it with the “unpaid” internships. Seriously. While internships are a really wonderful idea in nature and allow for recent grads to get experience, the economy, as a whole loses as what would normally been paid out in wages, gets ciphered back to corporate profits. Please instead put these unpaid internships into wages, or at least offer employment within a company after a short period of time.

Third solution could either compliment number one, or in the very least be a substitute, promote creating small business and entrepreneurs. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, was the giant behemoths after bounced back. They continue to make astronomical profits. Allowing new and innovative small businesses would entice higher earning jobs. Maybe entrepreneurism is the best way to go here.

Fourth, ramp up private R&D in Canada.  More investments in private R&D would spur new products, innovation and new jobs for post-secondary grads. Canada ranks as near the middle to lower in the pack with regards to private R&D.  More attention should be paid to this.

Fifth, lastly, colleges and universities need better career councillors to provide current career advice. Without those connections in the real world, graduates will struggle and wonder why there $10,000+ investment in post secondary education was worth it.

Generation screwed still has some hope. I tend to like and am supportive of the potential of our generation. And who to say there is not. After all, this generation is one of the most educated, passionate, and well-trained generations, ever. We are pumping out college graduated out of the ying-yang. Author Don Tapscott, has written numerous times about our generation, including the best-selling books,  Grown Up Digital, and Macrowikinomics. Don’s energy is perhaps why, maybe I have not completely lost all hope, as he states below from his 2009 book Grown up Digital:

“If Growing Up Digital Got anything right, it was the assertion that this generation will change the world. They are already bringing and implementing radical views regarding the way business should be conducted and about the process of democratic governance. They are a generation that can learn together, as a unified generation, unlike any other. They are seeking to protect the planet and they find racism, sexism, and other vile remnants of bygone days to be both weird and unacceptable. They will seek to share in the wealth they create. They will want power in every domain of economic and political life.

The big remaining question for older generations is whether that power will be shared with gratitude-or whether we will stall until a new generation grabs it from us. Will we have the wisdom and courage to accept them, their culture, and their media? Will we be effective in offering our experience to help them manage the dark side? will we grant them the opportunity to fulfill their destiny? I think this will be a better place if we do?” (P. 310)

Don’s words echo so true today. However, that window is slowing closing faster than a speeding bullet, however.  This problem is going to take more than just protesting in the streets, or even some of the suggestions I have given. It may be a even deeper conversation that needs to go further. But the question overall is, will our political and business leaders answer before we as a generation are toast?