Your answer may depend on your age, your income, your race, your education level and your politics. But for many young people, from what they see and hear, the system is definitely rigged against them.
If you are of my generation and have lived through the end of the Great Depression, a world war and significant ups and downs in the economy, you know the system has always been rigged in the sense that who you know is more important than what you know but overall we have confidence that things will eventually turn around. At least they have in the past.
The recent mismanagement of the loans to help small business is a case in point. For some reason, the federal government decided to give the job to the banks and the first loans went to big banks and their favorite customers. A second attempt to get the funds into the hands of small businesses so they could keep workers on the payroll for eight weeks (then loans would be forgiven) stalled because there were too many applicants to process online. And too many small companies were left out in the cold. Then came the headlines about those who had received loans, the Los Angeles Lakers, major restaurant chains, etc., some of whom have returned the millions they received but most have not Why did this happen? Because in the rush to get the money out requirements were loose and in truth because the Small Business Administration and the Treasury did not know how to handle it. But for young people, there’s only one explanation. The system is rigged.
And for the generation of high school and college students, there’s only one answer to the following — why is the buffoon, who is advising people to inject bleach or Lysol into their bodies to kill the corona virus, the commander in chief when he was not elected by the vast majority of American people. The system is rigged.
And for this generation whose hopes were pinned on college and/or career, the future is bleak. It’s not their fault that the greatest nation in the world is unable to handle a pandemic in a systematic way and is painfully slow in mitigating the resulting death toll and the economic turmoil and return to normal. It’s not their fault they will have to pay for the enormous debt enhanced by the buffoon’s tax cuts for the wealthy and favored projects like a wall and beyond requested military equipment. And now the required spending to patch things up adds even more to the outrageous debt they will have to pay.
These kids have seen what happens when kindergarten children are murdered at Sandy Hook, when dozens of their classmates lose their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where young people like themselves are killed at movie theaters and concerts. Nothing. Nothing happens at all because a powerful lobby which represents gun manufacturers has enough power to frighten lawmakers into not doing anything even though a majority of Americans believe we need controls. Obviously for these kids, the system is rigged.
We used to be taught it was bad to lie. Our first president, George Washington, was on a pedestal because he never lied. But today, the buffoon and his allies lie multiple times a day and we have become immune to the lies. We expect them. We’ve given up fighting them or reading about them. We blame others. No one takes responsibility for their actions starting with the commander in chief. Obviously the system is rigged.
We will eventually find a way out of the pandemic but we are still a long way from protecting the planet from warming temperatures and devastating weather impacts. Young people have been in the forefront of supporting efforts to combat global warming but they see their country under the current leadership pushing coal manufacturing, withdrawing from the Paris agreements, loosening regulations to protect the environment and people’s health. Why have so many elected officials and their supporters made a Faustian bargain to surrender what’s good for mankind in return for money. Obviously for our youth, the answer — the system is rigged. That’s why so many supported Bernie Sanders. And his agenda may win in the long run as young people become adults and call the shots for the system to be unrigged.
Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at email@example.com.