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Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out for Student Loans, Bad Jobs, NoBenefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers--And How to Fight Back Paperback – Bargain Price, December 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594482349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594482342
  • ASIN: B001QXC4AY
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,431,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Surveying the economic realities facing today's 20- and 30-somethings, 24-four-old Kamenetz decides, "It's not too dramatic to say that the nation is abandoning its children." Thanks to skyrocketing tuition and changes in federal funding, college students are graduating with an average of almost $20,000 in loans at the same time that jobs have become scarcer, real wages have dropped and the cost of health care has soared. Is it any wonder that kids are boomeranging home and racking up credit card debt? Kamenetz, who first wrote about these issues for the Village Voice, intertwines an analytical overview of the new economic obstacles with interviews of the financially strapped and descriptions of her own experience struggling to make ends meet as a freelance journalist. Her book is livelier than Tamara Draut's similarly themed Strapped, but lighter in its analysis of law and policy. Most interestingly, Kamenetz documents how our perception of the crisis is shaped by self-centered boomers who have lost touch with their children's plight. More of a white paper than a guidebook, this volume doesn't offer under-40s much personal financial advice (that job is taken up by Gener@tion Debt, see review below). It does, however, make clear how imperative it is that we find solutions to these problems as quickly as possible. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A new book tackles the 18-to-35-year-old generation's problems--those they face and those they create.Kamenetz believes the younger generation is hampered by the fact that salaries and job opportunities haven't kept up with drastically increasing costs of living. Because of the exorbitant cost of college, many young people can't afford to go, and those who do go graduate with huge debt. Graduates expect to pay off those loans once they get jobs, but entry-level jobs often come with low wages. The job prospects are even worse for those who don't finish or who don't go to college at all--some can't even afford living on their own, another drastically increased cost. The solution to these problems? Kamenetz makes a passionate argument for young people to take action, such as lobbying the government as a cohesive group and being practical and frugal about money matters.

Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

I am the demographic this book was written for.
Scott C. Locklin
While reading through this book I continually found myself thinking two things: she's probably correct, and she doesn't really know why.
Mateo Palos
One of her major themes is that rising student loan debt is a huge problem.
Robert Dagostino

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on May 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the age of 50, I have seen the deterioration of the job market over the past 25 years, to the point where there are very few jobs that can be obtained with a BA or BS degree that will not be outsourced. In addition, I have watched as companies sold out their employees for the bottom line and the almghty dollar. It has become nearly impossible to stay in a job for very long, which in turn makes it very hard to pay down student debt.

I currently have a child in high school and I watch with amazement as districts push more and more students into the college merry-go-round with little thought as to whether or not they will be able to handle the work, or even finish a degree. At the same time I have watched as programs that would be very useful to the majority of today's kids are cut because the world has become so focused on testing and keeping little "Johnny" up to speed when he should be held back.

An example is the auto shop programs from when I was in high school. You could leave high school and get a job working as an auto mechanic directly from school. The programs now don't have the financing to buy the computer technology needed for these kids to actualy work as mechanics, even though the vast majority of graduating students will never go to college and will need some type of vo-tech training before they can become employable.

As is pointed out in this book, maybe we should re-examine the needs and desires of todays students to see what classes will actually beneft them. Adding classes which will allow students to work directly from school would decrease their debt loading and it would free up college space, as well as help employers get emplyees with a good solid training in a field that they want to work in.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mateo Palos on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While reading through this book I continually found myself thinking two things: she's probably correct, and she doesn't really know why.

Generation Debt is at its best when it emphasizes statistics and constant dollar comparisons. This is where it's easiest to see that young face financial challenges largely unknown and unpredicted by earlier generations. (In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I'm 22 and a fairly recent graduate.) Even if one doesn't accept that recent graduates are worse off per se, it's difficult not to feel that they don't have nearly as many financial certainties as their predecessors.

Where it fails is the solutions. Kamenetz clearly isn't a historian or an economist; even more problematic is her apparent failure to understand that this can and should limit her ability to suggest fixes to the current situation. She clearly considers conservative economics a failure, but what she writes about them reveals that she hasn't studied them very hard, or at any rate not very deeply. It's possible that they are indeed in large part responsible for the current situation, but as her evaluation of them never rises above the superficial, it's difficult to know how correct she is. Similarly, it would have been nice if she'd anticipated some of the possible downsides to the largely socialistic solutions she suggests. Kamenetz is clearly intelligent, but she doesn't seem to understand how serious intellectual debate works.

Overall it's hard not to feel like she's out of her league when discussing these issues, and I can't help but think that her editor would have done better to assign her a coauthor. Then we might have had a book equal to its thesis.
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74 of 93 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Parsons on May 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Generation Debt is a depressing, gloom and doom "analysis" of the current financial state of the Generation X/Y kids. A variety of topics are covered: student loan debt, jobs, federal programs, and family relationships. I'm a fan of finance and sociology books but what made this a difficult read for me was the continuous negative and whining narrative. Kamenetz, a young Yalie liberal, interviews numerous financially strapped students to document their many (self-inflicted) misfortunes. There are numerous stories of students who borrowed huge sums of money to attend admittedly charming private universities only to graduate with degrees that afforded them nothing but poor job prospects. I didn't see many mentions of the plight of engineering graduates, but plenty of those who attained humanities degrees. I mean, really, is it any surprise to anyone that someone with an English/Women's Studies major will fare worse in terms of job prospects than a chemical engineering major?

Kamenetz does adequately convey just how she and her peers think, which is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the book. The kids she describes are financially illiterate, with not even the remotest understanding of the far-reaching impacts of their financial decisions. Naturally they embrace the material trappings of modern society (iPods anyone?) but are frustrated they can't meet their financial obligations. Has society really failed these kids? To a large extent, that's what Kamenetz is suggesting. To her, taxpayers are apparently unresponsive to the plight of these poor kids. Never mind that most of them should have chosen more viable majors, attended cheaper public universities or community colleges, worked the whole time they were attending, and avoided debt like the plague.
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