Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead
You can also check out this review / article at SFGate.com:
"Deferred futures: Why Young Adults Can't Hang on to What They Earn"
I've already ordered the book from Amazon (hey, I had a Christmas gift card to use). I'll reserve final judgement until I've plowed through Draut's offering. But I can tell you now that with preview commentary like this (from the SFGate article above), I can just about hand Draut the Annual "Oh, Woe is Me" ("WoMee" for short) award right now.
Draut mainly blames government, and her solutions center on government offering the young a bigger piece of the pie. But her argument comes with a rallying cry: Young people should bang their spoons on the table until they are served. Half of Congress, she notes, went to college for free on the GI bill. Rescinding the latest Bush tax cut could raise the $30 billion needed to ease students' pain by providing more outright grants that would lighten post-college debts. She can't understand why young people seem to silently accept such crushing burdens. "It's hard to believe we haven't taken to the streets to protest the economic injustice," she says.
...She chides young adults for checking out of politics "while the politicians have all but stolen our future." In a chapter that grimly analyzes this political retreat, she makes a frustrated demand: "My challenge to all [young people] is this: read a major newspaper regularly for one month." The young expect too little from society, she says, and too much from themselves.
Like most touchy topics, I suspect there's a measure of truth in Draut's argument. But not a big measure. I mean, come on:
Young people expect too little from society, and too much from themselves?
They should take to the streets to protest the economic injustice?
Is she serious?
Anyway, you can read more of her work in the publishings of Demos.org. Most of them are pretty readable — if you're looking for anecdotes and statistics, at least.
As for sound policy ideas . . . well, not so much.
AlterNet: "Strapped for Adulthood" (w/reader comments)