Friday, March 20, 2009

The Trouble With Baby Boomers

'Baby Boomers'

Such a cute moniker. It makes them seem cuddly, permanently wrapped in soft blue and pink blankets, shaking their rattle, full of innocence and limitless potential.

The truth of the matter is much bleaker, however.

Baby boomers in the media, at work, around the family dinner table, like to chide the members of younger generations for their cynicism, sarcasm, apathy, and selfishness.

Well, is this not a product of the sociopolitical climate they have presided over for far too long?

Flagrantly corrupt, immoral, and hypocritical politicians. A government ruled by special interests. An environment ravaged by their greedy corporations and their greedy disposable lifestyles, their mentality that the world will always be one of plenty, that resources and landfills are not finite. A military/industrial complex that is rapidly leading to a guerrilla World War III. An illogical, strict intolerance for gays, abortion, immigrants, and alternative energy. A refusal to solve health crises, because (as Chris Rock once said) the money is in the treatment, not the cure. Pure, unadulterated greed. A dearth of heroes, a plethora of villains.

It must have been nice to grow up in a world where people would have jobs after college. Where somebody with a history degree might end up becoming a CEO, an advertising executive or a college professor. Where you didn't have to acquire an MBA to answer phones, a master's degree to teach kindergarten. Where you worked only 40 hours a week and had full health and pension benefits. Where only one parent had to work and you could afford a house and a car and food on the table. I suppose it makes sense--such luxury must have spoiled you rotten.

Baby boomers, do you not see how drastically that world has crumbled on your watch? There are no jobs. College tuition has tripled, quadrupled. Housing costs have skyrocketed. Wages have failed to keep pace even with mere inflation, much less the artificial rise in costs of products due to the corporatization of every major industry, every type of retailer, big or small. A cup of coffee costs $3. Minimum wage is $6.55/hr. Health benefits have disappeared. Asking for a pension would be laughable. Doctors and hospitals are in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. The same diseases linger. Art has become a commodity, ruled by fearful bean counters. Confidence in government, medical professionals, financial managers, and just about everybody else is at an all-time low.

And it is not at an all-time low because we are being cynical and enjoy hatching conspiracy theories just to fuck with you, to rebel. It is at an all-time low because even if we only look at the people who have been CAUGHT for the evil deeds they have done, our cynicism and 'crazy' theories and critical thinking have turned out to hold much more water than your idea of blind trust in professionals and leaders. Your idea of 'put your nose to the grindstone and never look up, people are inherently good and will take care of you, have a little faith' suddenly holds no water.

How many of you trusted Bernie Madoff? How many of you trusted your financial managers who told you the market will only go up? How many of you trusted your doctor when he put you on bum, possibly even unneccessary, medication that made things worse or killed you? How many of you voted for Ronald Reagan/George Bush/George Bush? How many of you now blame Obama and 'crazy young daredevil traders' for the problems their policies and cronies caused?

I do not mean to imply that all Baby Boomers are necessarily complicit in our societal downfall--but the fact of the matter is the multitude of innocents among them have done little or nothing to stop things. Protest? They make fun of protests! That was something hippies did! That is something crazy youngsters on drugs do! [Nevermind that they would have just been tear-gassed and wrongfully imprisoned by the man if they had protested, if there hadn't been enough of them to overrun the Bastille and start beheading people]

99% of Baby Boomers fall into one of two categories: the perpetrators and the gullible lambs led to slaughter. They did not question authority; they had faith in the integrity of their leaders; they trusted blindly. And look where it got us.

Yet they chide us kids for our fact-based, knee-jerk, implicit mistrust in those in power.

They are at retirement age. Most of them are still working, holding on to jobs that should be ours, would have been ours, if they had acted like their parents and actually retired at 55. Many are well into their 60s and going strong. Why are they still working? Because they are greedy, they have gotten used to having a ton of money coming in, used to being able to buy a vacation house, another car, a boat, going on lots of vacations, piling up more and more savings for retirement, playing the game.

Another, more disturbing reason, is that they have been a generation so used to working hard--because, I commend them, most came from very humble beginnings, and have earned what they received by working loyally and diligently--that most of them wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they retired. The men cringe at the idea of sitting around the house with their old wives all day, with nothing to occupy their time, because they rarely acquired any hobbies or interests beyond sitting at the office or in front of a TV screen; the women cringe even more at the thought of having to deal with their husband being around the house all day, when they have grown accustomed to their peace and quiet. And so the men continue to work and the women let them.

It is too bad that they don't realize we are a generation that works even harder, even longer--for much less. And that sad reality only makes us want to work less, only fuels our cynicism, only further chips away at our faith in humanity, at our hope for the future.

I want every Baby Boomer reading this (are there any?) to look at themself in the mirror and think about what kind of world--moral, intellectual, physical--he or she has left us.

What reasons do we have not to be cynical and apathetic?

Hey, Broseph--pass the bong and let's disappear into a fantasy world once's so much better than reality. You get that job at Starbucks yet? Oh, you just finished your stint at Coffee University and are waiting for an offer? Shit. I should do that--I'd love to make $10 an hour...


Bonus thought for the day:

As Lord Acton once said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

I think it is interesting that most people repeat this quote as "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." It leaves out one of the most important aspects of his insightful observation. Power corrupts, sure--but, more importantly, more simply, power attracts the wrong kind of people. And so we are smart to be wary of them, to keep watch over them, to be fearful of ulterior motives. To not do so would be ignorant and emboldening to them. As they have proven time and time again...



Anonymous said...

You don't have a clue as to what you are talking about. Do you realize how expensive it is to raise a family today? Retire at $55? Are you nuts? Do you really think that just because you have a degree you deserve the same job that a sixty year old who has 35 years experience has? You got alot to learn!!!

Anonymous said...

From your comments, you seem to be a very bitter, and ignorant person. But I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Yes, I am one of those horrible "boomers". But none of what you have said is true for me or others I know. As far as I'm concerned, it is our generation that has right now is being taken advantage of financially. We are the ones being used. Yes, there was a time when many baby boomers (older ones) got the jobs, etc. But not everyone, and not all ages groups. There are so many of us, we have had to fight for what we got, simply because of sheer competition among the numbers. Believe me, the baby boomers have NOT had a peachy keen life, and still do not. Young people have enjoyed so much more advancements, (medically, technically, etc.)No, the grass is not greener on the other side, but maybe even a little browner instead!

Goodtime Charlie said...

Anonymous---your grammar and punctuation are atrocious.

And no, I do not think that I am more deserving than everybody with exceptional levels of on-the-job experience--but nor does everybody with experience necessarily deserve the job more than somebody who might be smarter and faster.

I am aware I have a lot to learn and relish the opportunity to learn more than simply how to say "Yes, sir, thank you for allowing me to pick up your trash even though I could do your job better than you--and for less money."

Despite your clear bias, you must remember that baby boomers created the boom that recently went bust. Were it not for their greed--which blinded them to the side effects of their methods--none of us would be in the positions we are in today, yourself included.

I do not wish poverty, illness, and/or misery on anyone, but I feel more sympathy for those who are NOT responsible for it than for those who are.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Charlie,

Simply states, we are ALL responsible for this mess, whether you choose to believe it, or not! Enough said.

Anonymous said...


Oh, by the way, one more thing -- your attitude is atrocious. C'mon. Do you REALLY believe you could do a better job than most of those experienced workers out there? Sorry about the typos, but with all the "kid" interruptions, I don't have much time to spend here.