"Passing the buck." Image Source: Blasphemes.
It is well known that Baby Boomers and their successors, especially Generation Xers, do not see eye to eye. One commentator suggests that popular elections of the new Millennium's mid-teens will reflect a battle of generational interests. Boomers would have benefited from reaching out to their predecessors and their successors; but the media picture of them is one of a cohort who defined themselves by setting themselves apart from other age groups. Those age boundaries may ironically come back to haunt them.
We have far to go before we see the full implications of today's generation wars. Some Boomers have only in the past few months discovered that their generation is widely and increasingly despised. They react to vitriolic attacks with hostility, puzzlement and surprise. If today's online comments are anything to go by, Boomers face harsh retributions and social vulnerability once they head into their 80s. Even their power to sway elections may not mean much in the face of the coming generational backlash.
The backlash is mostly sparked by fears of downward mobility. This critique of Boomers, including a rigid and one-dimensional view of their youthful history, is gaining momentum.
Boomers are not alone in failures and shortcomings. To pick a not-so-stellar Gen X example, consider Mireille Silcoff, a writer for Canada's conservative paper, The National Post. Her column on 10 November 2012 (p. wp12), was spent vaguely puzzling over the fact that she employs Gen Y workers in an constant stream of unpaid internships. And when one of her journalist interns was actually paid on a recent job, she was paid 20 cents per word, which "is less than I made per word 20 years ago." And publishers wonder why print media are dying?
I don't mean to pick on Silcoff specifically. But her acquiescence in, and bland ponderings about, a plainly toxic system of training and employment typifies individual choices made on a day-to-day basis; and these choices generate many greater ills. Mid-late 20th century and early Millennial work cultures have taken professions, occupations and trades back to pre-1830 levels. At least in the 18th and 19th centuries, apprentices were supposedly (but not always) given enough to keep themselves alive. If you can't pay your interns, your recommendation is not worth the paper on which it is printed, because you are exploiting and reinforcing attitudes that are part of a vast systemic malaise. Any employer could rethink their model rather than slide passively into quasi-benevolent exploitation. And if you can pay your interns, but don't bother because, 'that is the score, 'that is how the system is now,' 'that is how they learn the ropes, by starting at the bottom, etc. etc.,' how do you sleep at night?
This is the complacency of those who can and do pass the buck and dump the cost of their errors or shortcomings on anyone beneath them in the hierarchy. Equally culpable are those who recognize the problems but do little or nothing about them in terms of larger action. These attitudes are gutting anything that once made the pillars of industry and society worthwhile. Those worthwhile values were not entitlement, profit, material wealth and self-righteous exploitation of one's place in the hierarchy, but of mutual responsibility, duty, dignity and human decency. Nor is this simply a critique of capitalism. Soullessness is the heart of the problem and it equally plagues different political persuasions, our social behaviour and our bank accounts.
In short, Boomers are not the only ones to blame for the brutalization and impoverishment of politics, culture, the economy and society. We are all suffering, in different ways, from a loss in our ability to sympathize - with others, with ourselves.
Nevertheless, Baby Boomers are increasingly being blamed for the way the human cost of those problems has been mortgaged against the future. To be clear, while this blog has occasionally criticized Boomer legacies, it equally highlights their ideas and achievements. The anti-Boomer narrative which is falling into place is much more radical and inflexible than it was a few years ago. It is also disturbing because an increasingly rigid picture of Boomers is starting to justify a line about violent karmic retribution. I present the comments below to show a sample of attitudes which are fast becoming orthodoxy among many around 45 years of age and younger:
- "As a 30-year old, let me thank the Boomer generation for picking the economy clean, leaving a world bereft of opportunities for Gen Xers and Yers, while at the same time jacking up tuition costs, moving business ventures offshore under flags of convenience, spending trillions on entitlements that younger people will be forced to pay for, and essentially ending any form of job security in the name of increased profits for Boomer executives to keep their largely Boomer shareholders and Boards of Directors happy. The generation that celebrated getting RICH as the only route to self-actualization (keeping up with the Jones, and all that) has left a world where their children will be lucky to even maintain a middle-class lifestyle as they pay their monstrous student loans and sky-high housing rents."
- "First, you are deprived of responsible parent-figures. Instead, you get to hear about their wild partying and loose sex. This makes you think your own existence is just a random error or choice of convenience. Next, they sabotage you emotionally and psychologically with extensive dogma for their own screwed-up points of view. How many generation Xers found that, unlike their parents, they had 60s-70s rock 'n' roll pushed on them by their parents? Or were encouraged to be liberal? Finally, they extend their drama to you. 'We suffer daily so you don't have to.' Guess what: that means you get to do the same. They whine endlessly about society, make negative predictions, talk about how we're all doomed, and then look at you as if to check and see if they've pissed you off. After all, you're the one who's going to see these collapses, not they. It's time to take them all out to the open ocean, put them in wire cages and drop those in the water. At 200 feet down they'll figure it out and do an interpretive dance, then pause forever in silence."
- "I feel like I am weighed down by policy after policy voted for and enacted by Boomers. I make a good living, but a weighed down by student loan debt after the Boomers devistated funding for higher education after they no longer needed it for themselves. I pay more and more in health care premiums because my boomer coworkers are getting older and sicker...the opposite was true for them when they were my age - younger working population due to the bulge from the boomers. My spouse and I both have to work because without that, we will never be able to retire as pensions are a thing of the past...which necessitates $25K in child care expenses every year. Our home cost us more than it should have due to boomer speculation in the housing market. I am already drowning in their mess and have only more to look forward to as I am certain they will vote to keep their Social Security and Medicare entact and cut the heck out of the benefits of anyone under 50. Yes...I know you all worked for those benefits, but so am I. I am sick to death of seeing retired 50 or 60 somethings who have been on the take all of their lives taking ever more. I hate to feel this angry, and I know there are lots of honest hard working boomers, but just imagine...REALLY imagine how it would feel to be 30 years younger. Think about you would feel about your future or your kids future. I am all for shared sacrifice, but that's not what the boomers want...they want everyone else to sacrifice so that they don't have to."
- "Consider how they have our young men and women invading so many countries. Consider the cost in human life on both sides as well as the debt which many generations will have to pay for. Now, they are trashing our rights which have been won by the those who came before them. The sad thing is with technology the way it is recovering these rights will be nearly impossible. And of course there is the Left vs Right game or show. People eat it up even those younger than the boomers. They somehow think [t]hat the two parties that got us here have some understanding as to how to get us out of this mess. History will look back on these times and wonder what they were thinking."
- "Quite frankly over the next 15 years we must take control reducing social security benefits for seniors aka baby boomers. This generation that refused to pay their fair share for social security and has cut higher education and they don't deserve the benefits. We should shift those funds to education for our children and research and environmentally safe technology."
- "What they don’t tell you is how they nurtured their self-importance until it blossomed in to hyper partisanship. They don’t talk about how they’re the ones fucking us right now. They don’t talk about how Social Security is more important to them than anything, just like cheap education used to be. They don’t talk about ... being the ones that put us in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and continued the spread of the US hegemony. They don’t talk about how they’re the ones holding alternative energy back, the ones who coasted by on their parents (a generation who, for all their faults, can say that they survived the worst and defended the defenseless when needed,) and shifted all their failures on to their older kids. They don’t tell you how afraid they are of us. They don’t really understand egalitarianism or a fair economy. They don’t understand direct democracy, don’t understand unity. They don’t understand anything but getting their own way."
- "Baby Boomers Rush To Establish Authoritarian Society Before They Die Off: neocon baby boomers hate obama. the "moral majority" baby boomers. who cling to their 'morals' but have no problem voting to spend their grandchildren's futures to bomb other children. on the flip side we have the liberal baby boomers. there are plenty of them. lots of college professors for example. guys who have been in unions all their lives. government workers. all of which care more about their fat pensions than hungry children. these liberal boomers are as 'compassionate' as the conservative boomers are 'moral'. all a bunch of hypocrites"
- "what kind of examples did the boomers set? hypocrisy, hypocrisy, and more hypocrisy. while getting boob jobs, doing endless drugs, destroying marriages, letting kids raise themselves. wtf did you guys expect? even our votes are meaningless as we're so few in number that nobody heard our voices. ever. we didn't starve ourselves out. we turned our backs against everything the boomer generation stood for. the lies. hypocrisy. homewrecking. mindless consumerism. divorce. sticking babies in daycare and grandparents in nursing homes. creating whole industries of cradle to death care. the younger generations, they have hope. but gen x? we saw what you were and realized it as children. we weren't fooled by the fakeness. we saw the sham that the adults, our 'role models', teachers, community leaders, etc. held out for us to embrace and it was gross. if embracing that makes the boomers more 'alive' than gen x then whatever. that's not life imo. it's parasitic. a perversion of what life should be."
- "the boomer generation have managed to fuck all the good that the great generations had sacrificed. And yet here we are in 2012 at the crux of their latter history. Amazing what you fuckers have accomplished, you managed to completely reverse ... and undo all the good that the generation before you had built."
- "The Baby Boomers only believe in force, money and power for its own sake. They are arrogant and want to outshine and take from the young. Torture? No problem. Straddle the youth with a Trillion dollars of debt? Well they shouldn't have gone to schools they can't afford. The Boomers have absolutely no sense of community or responsibility. Now they pump their drug addled LSD riddled brains with more drugs to live longer so they can stomp out joy or freedom where ever it may hide."
- "Notice how not ONE of them takes responsibility. The Baby Boomer is a sociopath generation. Even as the Greatest Generation aged out they began to take responsibility through their movies and books for their part in what America's hypocrisy and inequity. The Boomers are the least Self Aware people on the planet."
- "The boomers run the nation, currently. Obama is a boomer, George W. Bush is a boomer, Clinton was a boomer, his pathetic wife who won’t divorce him is a boomer, Ben Bernanke is a boomer, Jon Corzine is a boomer, Franklin Raines is a boomer, Dick Fuld is a boomer, Jamie Dimon is a boomer. ... [Y]ou stupid [boomer] children, who never grew up, and never will grow up, still fight tooth and nail over which party is better or worse, when they have identical policies and differ in minutae and rhetoric only. If Stalin was running on the Democratic ticket, and Hitler on the Republican ticket, you’d still be arguing about who is worse or better, although both are absolute disasters. ... The icing on the cake though, is that this nation is going to go bankrupt because of your absolute collective stupidity, ignorance, and arrogance. You think generation X and Y is going to pay your Social Security and Medicaid? How? 16 trillion dollars debt is just what the cash balance of the national debt is, it doesn’t count liabilities. If you include the liabilities of what would exist if Social Security and other social services cost, it’s over 100 trillion dollars now. When the USSR collapsed, the old were spat upon and mocked by the younger generations as they literally starved. That’s your future, and you absolutely deserve it, because you haven’t paid one iota of attention ever. ... Hmm, let me try to post a link: http://tinyurl.com/bfzet24 You see that graph? That’s what our national debt looks like if you price it into anual tax revenue per year. Another way to look at that, is that’s what the prime interest rate needs to be in order to consume every single penny of tax revenue just to service the debt. In 1980, Paul Volker raised the prime interest rate to 18% for 2 quarters, and this was done to prevent the collapse of the dollar, that’s not an option at all today. There was also the Reagan Corollary and Carter Doctrine which is dissolving today which is the actual reason we had a problem with Iraq, why we have a problem with Iran, and why Venezuala is in our cross hairs. Do you understand any of this? Probably not, and I’m perfectly fine with this, because I don’t want you to be able to prepare for the inevitable. I want to see you reap what you’ve sown. You people learned nothing from your parents, and you will learn nothing from your children. You shut your mind off for all of your useless hypocritical lives, you have been assured by your fellow generation that you’re right, and everybody else is wrong. They say suffering is an excellent teacher. May you learn well. You haven’t experienced one bit of the level of animosity that will be directed toward you yet either. If you think I’m being harsh, wait until all the other generations start to take their crash course in education."