Warning! Extreme and excessive rant ahead. Apologies in advance to any noders of the baby boom generation. I'm probably not talking about you!


<rant>

Whereas the so-called "Greatest Generation" that survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and built America into a superpower, their sons and daughters, the so-called "Baby Boomers" are the Worst Generation, and are destroying America.

Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomers are overwhelmingly white and have voted Republican in ever increasing percentages since they first swung Republican in the 1980 election that crowned Ronald Reagan their king. It was the Baby Boomers who gave us the cultural excesses of the late 1970s, the Baby Boomers who constituted the "Me Generation" in the 1980s when they started making real money, and the Baby Boomers who took the richest, most powerful nation since the Big Bang and drove it into the ground with their barely articulated ideology of all selfishness all the time, their massive borrow and spend proclivities, their refusal to provide any social services to brown people, and their hatred of ever paying any tax ever.

The main problem is that the baby boomers were born at the luckiest time and the luckiest place to be born in the history of mankind, and were handed all manner of opportunity and wealth on a silver platter, but here's the kicker - they think they earned it all. They think they worked hard, and in some cases they did, but for the most part they were given the most wealth for the least effort of any group of human beings before or since. So in response, they developed a bloated sense of entitlement that puts Marie Antoinette to shame.

This sense of entitlement was only further engorged by the refashioning of entire industries to suit each and every whim of this bulbous demographic excrescence; there was an explosion of products, TV shows, and advertising aimed at kids and teens in the 60s and 70s, advertisers raced to figure out how to market products to the middle-aged in the 90s, and in recent years sales of adult diapers have approached those of child diapers.

The result was an entire generation of spectacularly spoiled children, completely self-centered and utterly lacking in any sense of propriety or proportion. Just look at the current state of the US Congress, now that the last wizened yet wise elders of the Greatest Generation have finally bowed to time and fate and left the once august body in the hands of a generation of bombastic egomaniacs.

And now, in their twilight years, the Baby Boomers are driving America into permanent and unnecessary penury by preventing any and all reform of Social Security and Medicare at the very moment their massive numbers are clogging up the pipes and threatening to bring down the entire system, while they simultaneously vote for policies that will slash their own tax rates while cutting services for anyone who is young, poor, or non-white. It is no coincidence that the tax rates on investment income plunged in the 2000s, just as the Baby Boomers began to enter retirement and draw down their investments, and it is no surprise that in 2013, the US federal government spends only $1 on each citizen under 18 for every $8 it spends on each citizen over 65. We increasingly live in a gerontocracy.

Worst of all, whereas the Greatest Generation, forever haunted as they were by memories of the Great Depression, consistently voted for balanced budgets and raised taxes on themselves to pay for the wild military spending of the Cold War, the Baby Boom generation took the windfall of the end of the Cold War and the need for endless military outlays and squandered it on innumerable corporate welfare handouts and massive, unfunded tax cuts targeted narrowly upon themselves (tax cuts not offset by spending cuts simply being government spending by another name), all the while running up massive deficits whose burden will fall on their own children and grandchildren.

Sadly, the one admirable quality of the Baby Boom generation is their propensity to get themselves to the polls and vote, with voter participation in presidential elections among those over 65 topping 70 percent in recent years, whereas only 45 percent of those under 35 bother to make their voice heard. In other words, those of us younger than 45 or so will only recover control of our own future from the iron clutches of the Worst Generation when we pry America's purse strings from their cold, dead hands.

</rant>

I was born in 1953, so I guess I qualify as a Baby Boomer. Lest we forget, the Greatest Generation not only went through the Depression years, but lived and fought in World War II, many coming back from military service to marry and have children. Birth control in those days wasn't as sophisticated as it is today. Let's see, who do we have to thank for that?

I was also born "white", not much I could do to influence that. What did change with my generation was civil rights and the blending of America, in terms of inter-racial marriages as well as the increase in better opportunities for women. I was raised to respect all people irregardless of their skin color and I have passed that belief onto my children. I have also passed on the importance of getting an education, working hard for what you want, having a dream, and most importantly being respectful of the elderly or lending a hand to those down on their luck.

I am not disputing that some Baby Boomers may have less than stellar attitudes or that certain events happened on our watch, but to paint an entire generation with a broad, highly opinionated, and negative paintbrush does a disservice not only to our Greatest Generation parents who raised us, but to those of us who tried to maintain and pass along similar values in a changing society and world.

In other words, my generation did the best it could, given what we were handed down. It remains to be seen whether this next generation can say as much.

I don’t want to get into a pissing contest here and apologies in advance to any noders who are not members of what mauler calls “The Worst Generation” but since I qualify for that category I feel obligated to share my thoughts.

I was born in 1958 so that puts me in the category of Baby Boomer. I am a white male who was raised in a strict Republican household in a middle class neighborhood. As a matter of fact, I think my father was the role model for Archie Bunker. Both of my parents worked while I was growing up and since this was long before there were after school programs I learned how to take care of myself at an early age. I also was raised in a somewhat Catholic environment so the hypocrisy between what I was taught at school and what was practiced at home wasn’t lost on me.

To escape my upbringing from the “Greatest Generation” I joined the Marine Corps when I was seventeen. It was there that I got to see the world for what it really is. I met people (kids mostly my age or close to it) of different faiths, race and ethnicity and once I got out four years later have voted Democrat ever since.

Rather than let emotion or flowery rhetoric dictate my point of view, I’ll try and stick to some facts. I'll save the emotion and flowery rhetoric part until the end.

Let’s look at the mid to late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Let’s start by saying many members of the Baby Boomers were drafted into a war that they inherited from the so called Greatest Generation and that they did not want to fight. Those who avoided or fled the draft risked going to prison and believe me, they were plenty of them to go around.

They also rose up and took down a corrupt administration as well as ending that war that they did not want to fight.

I don’t what the “cultural excesses of the late 1970’s” are. That seems like a pretty nebulous term to me but I do remember what life was like under the Carter Administration. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is a good, decent human being who meant well but here’s a few facts about how the country was being run during those years. Let me state clearly, I’m no big fan of Mr. Reagan but if you look at these numbers, is it any wonder that the country “crowned him as their king”?

If you needed a job, good luck getting one. Unemployment rates averaged around 8 percent.

Stagflation which Wikipedia defines as “ a portmanteau of stagnation and inflation, is a term used in economics to describe a situation where the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows down, and unemployment remains steadily high." During the Carter years that number came in at 13.5 percent.

Wanna buy a house? Be prepared to fork over interest to the tune of 21.5 percent.

During the Carter years, the deficit more than doubled from 27 billion to almost 60 billion dollars.

If you drove a car, be prepared to pay record high prices, wait your turn in line and even if you managed to get to the pump, endure shortages and rationing.

That was just on the domestic side. America was also being embarrassed on a global scale. Remember the Iran Hostage Crisis? How about the disastrous rescue attempt? Let’s also not forget the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan also took place under his watch.

If that’s being called “handed opportunity on a silver platter” I’m more than a little confused.

Moving on, I had to break out my dictionary to figure out what the term “bulbous demographic excrescence” even meant and I’m still struggling with it. I do know that during “my time”, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella and the whooping cough have all but been eradicated if people were smart enough to vaccinate their children, which by the way, most of my generation did. Today, there seems to be some kind of uproar among younger parents vaccinating their kids, let me be blunt, those parents are idiots. While there still is no cure for many forms of cancer, the survival rate for those who were unfortunate enough to contract it, has greatly increased.

Moving on to Social Security. Currently, in order to get my full benefits I would have to work until the age of 66 years and 8 months. I just went to the SS website and used their calculator to come up with some ballpark numbers. Based off my current income if I “retired” at age 62 I’d get $1,267.00 dollars month. If I hold off another five years, I’d get $1,841.00 per month and if I stick it out to age 70 I’d pocket $2,426.00 per month. For me, and many others like me who have never taken a dime in the form of handouts or unemployment, that’s a startling low number for a system to which I will be contributing to for over 50 years. There's also been a lot of chatter recently about raising the retirement age to 70. Maybe I’ll do Gen X and Gen Y a favor and kick the bucket early and help "unclog the system."

I’d also like to point out that during my time tobacco use and advertising has been curtailed, a woman’s right to choose (although somewhat restricted) is still available, gay marriage is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality across the entire country and wages for working women are becoming closer to that for wages for working men doing the same jobs.

Here comes the flowery rhetoric part.

With regards to many of the younger generation who think they have it so bad, I’d like to quote a blog I read awhile back that stated the following:

"one of the great secrets of human nature is that the one thing people want more than love, security, sex, chocolate or big-screen TV's is to feel hard done by."

"Why? Because being hard done by is the shit. Feeling hard done by is the sweetest of drugs. If you're being persecuted -- it must mean you're doing the right thing, right? You get the mellow buzz of the moral high ground, but without arrogantly claiming it as your own. You get an instant, supportive community in a big dark scary world of such scope it may well literally be beyond rational human processing. When you are hard done by, you get purpose in a life where otherwise, you'd have to find your own. And when you ride that high, then no amount of logic, no pointing out that in actuality you and your beliefs are at a high point of popularity and influence for the last hundred years -- is going to pry that sweet crack-pipe of moral indignation from your hands."

To that, I say amen.

I’ll address one last thing and that’s the voting issue. Yes, we vote and do so in large numbers. Of course we (or at least I) were raised to consider it our civic duty and yes, many of us will vote for our self interests. It’s only natural to do so. For those of you who are younger, it’s much easier today to get to the polls than it was for the Baby Boomers so you must ask yourself “why” you’re not spending a couple of hours every few years to make your voice heard.

I have a suggestion on how to do just that. Quit playing your video games and staring in to your phone. Unplug your Ipad or Ipod or whatever you call it and take those damn ears plugs out of your ears. Maybe then you’ll see and hear something worthwhile in the form of content rather than just looking to be entertained.

And yeah, for those of you who might be wondering, I still vote Democrat.

The Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials all have one quality in common: decadence. We're spoiled. We're entitled. We're soft. It's almost not up for debate. We send men and women off to war, but debate vigorously about the safety of football. We eat meat from cruel factory farms, but are up in arms when someone is cruel to a pet.

It's sick. It's sad.

The current generational debate is, I believe, largely economic in nature. Baby Boomers want to lower their taxes and protect their Social Security benefits at all cost. Millenials want increased social services to subsidize their lifestyles, and they want to tax the big corporations and wealthy to pay for it. Generation X is caught in-between, the older members of the group praying they might ride off into the sunset with the last of the Baby Boombers, the younger ones more confused.

Truth is, there just isn't enough pie to go around to feed everyone the way they believed they deserved to be fed. That's the real problem.

American wages, adjusted for inflation, have essentially been stagnant for decades. Economic stratification is out of control. Again, in real terms, the top 0.1% haven't had this much wealth since the 1920s. Neither have the top 10%.

The rest of us are left to fight over what second helpings remain, and the developing nations aren't content with the crumbs that fall off the table anymore. They want some pie, too.

At the core of the American Dream is the belief that life gets better. We're an aspirational society that believes great wealth - our slice of pie - is only a little sweat and elbow grease away. That's what holds our system together.

But it just may be that we've reached "peak wealth". The middle class has maintained the illusion of forward progress over the decades by assimilating women into the workplace and assuming great debts. Think about it. In the 1950s, one man could support a large family. Now both spouses work and have less children, and yet it's hard to see much of an increase in the wellbeing of the average American. We've maintained parity. That's it.

Most of our gains are illusory: more TV channels, more artificial flavors of yogurt and soda, and the countless websites we browse and video games we play to escape the world outside.

There's a great exchange in George Orwell's 1984 that illustrates the insidious elusiveness of a slow rot. Our civilization has an immense degree of inertia. Decay tends to be so protracted that it's almost impossible to gain the proper perspective necessary to accurately measure it. It'd take at least three lifetimes to observe the decline of a great civilization in all of its nefarious stages. We observe only a few pieces of the grand puzzle, and then we die.

"You must have seen great changes since you were a young man," said Winston tentatively.

"The beer was better," he said finally. "And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer — wallop we used to call it — was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course."

(...)

"You are very much older than I am," said Winston. "You must have been a grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution. People of my age don't really know anything about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that."

A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man's memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day without getting any real information.

At this stage in America's history, if you hoard enough of the pie, you can continue the delusion. You can live like your parents did, like the wealthy did a generation before. That's the fight, and it's going on right outside your door.

mauler's writeup, though unapologetically opinionated as usual, illuminates some very intriguing aspects of our immediate history that are not often brought to light. After the Great Depression and WWII, a ton of babies were being born. It was only in the 90's that birth rates caught up to what they had been for that 20 year period. What is the effect on a society when one generation is so significantly larger than the ones preceding or following it?

Democracies are intended to be governed by majority rule. Obviously this gives members of the majority a bit of an advantage in terms of getting what they want. This is why we have policies meant to protect racial minorities, but it is harder to account for age. If one age group is larger than the rest then you might expect to see policies adopted over that groups lifespan favor whatever demographic they are currently a part of. This is what mauler was illustrating.

If I cared to make a few broader generalizations I might say that the Baby Boomers took advantage of their position in the 80's: Finding themselves leading a commercial revolution, they steered the business sector towards consolidation and outsourcing. Corporations merged and conglomerates formed. Manufacturing was handed off to developing countries with a more desperate workforce. Lobbyists guided Washington to enact policy that "encouraged business" by reducing corporate tax rates, and taxes on the upper class in general. The result was an economy which was more hostile to start-ups, accumulated debt, and helped to shape China and India into superpowers nearly big enough to rival the United States.

While mauler's WU holds nothing back in its Boomer bashing, mullakamakalaka seems to bring some added clarity to the argument. It is astonishing that our middle class has made so little progress. Smaller families, more family members working, but life stays the same. There is no American Dream here. And no, Millennials aren't perfect either, but we've not been given a chance to run anything yet. I'd recommend borgo and moeyz reserve their judgment until some evidence appears; lest they be accused of harboring the same attitude that sparked this clutter of rants.

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