Are the Boomers the problem with America?

G51989

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
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NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gene-marks/this-is-why-the-baby-boom_b_4441735.html

Wow, so it looks like we have a budget deal in Washington. A debt ceiling and spending crisis has been averted. It's good news. But let's all calm down. It's only temporary. The agreement does not address the long-term fiscal problems we have. Problems that were mostly created by none other than the "baby boomer" generation. Yeah, you know who you are.

You're tanned and healthy and living way past average life expectancy. You've got a defined benefit pension plan from a large company or government that was created years ago when people didn't understand how horribly these plans can go wrong and now can't afford to meet its liabilities but you don't care as long as you get your check which you don't really need anyway. And your social security check. And your Medicare reimbursement check. You once hated the government. You smoked pot and protested against Vietnam and President Nixon. That was a long, long time ago.

Life has been good for you. You're a baby boomer. You were born between 1946 and the early 1960s. You had Woodstock and the Stones in the '60s, discos and coke in the '70s, Wall Street in the '80s, Bill Clinton in the '90s and now you're retiring to Arizona and Florida on the backs of your stressed out kids whose own children stay at home with them into their 20s because they have no jobs. Tom Brokaw once wrote a book about the greatest generation, those brave people who survived the depression and fought in World War II. Unfortunately that great generation spawned a generation of narcissists: the baby boomers.

The boomers have created liabilities that will take generations to pay off. Our national debt is now at around $17 trillion, larger for the first time in recent history than the size of our entire economy. And it's projected to continue to significantly grow over the next few decades unless something is dramatically done to reduce it. Boomers don't like to talk about fiscal responsibility or living within their means. They like their credit cards and government secured mortgages on overvalued properties. They enjoy their malls and their cars and their houses and as long as someone's willing to lend them the money to buy this stuff they don't seem to care much about how it will be one day paid. They still represent an enormous voting block and have no intention to have this lifestyle threatened. This is the real reason why Washington can't create a long-term deficit reduction plan. The boomers love their safety nets.

These safety nets were created over the past few decades by boomers and for boomers, with little regard to the future. One of the major reasons why our national debt is so high is because 40 percent of our government's spending goes to some type of insurance: social insurance, retirement, health benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. These systems are bankrupt. But they're needed to pay for the boomers' health care and pension plans. People that were born after 1965 are working hard to make sure that the boomer generation gets their retirement and disability paid for by the government. But it's still not enough. So our government has to borrow and print money. And our debts balloon. Who will pay these debts? Ah, who cares says the boomers. Not my problem.

They are the source of one of the biggest problems with Obamacare. Whether you support the Affordable Care Act or not (and I think there are lots of great things about it), one undeniable fact is that the cost of this new system is being put squarely on the shoulders of the young. People in their 20's need less health care than the boomers in their 60s and 70s. This is not only because younger people today have healthier lifestyles but because many boomers spent most of their young lives smoking, drinking sugary sodas and engaging in risky, unprotected sex. There are 34 million mostly young and uninsured people who will be required on January 1, 2014 to pay for health insurance just so the boomers can take advantage of the added benefits that health insurance companies have to now legally provide.

They are, thank God, the last reminders of our racist, homophobic, sexist past. When you look at those "white only" diners and drinking fountains in those photos from the 1960s you just can't believe it. Or how women were treated. And gays. But many of our beloved boomers were teenagers back then, living with parents who watched Ozzie and Harriet and raised to believe that people who weren't white weren't to be trusted, women were meant to stay at home and gays were sinners. Over time, these attitudes have changed, mainly because people in their 20s and 30s are smarter, better educated and more open-minded. Unfortunately, and although we now have a black president, the last remnants of the boomer generation who still wield power in their churches and companies are doing their best to keep women out of the corporate suite, protest against gay marriage and fight immigration reform.

We're scrambling to fix the environment because of their excesses. For years, and despite warnings, the boomers refused to recycle and ran companies that spewed ozone-destroying chemicals into the air. There are countless plots of land that are unusable because of chemicals and pesticides dumped by this generation I'm no environmentalist but even I have to shake my head at the destruction laid upon the planet over the past 40 years alone: decimated forests, extinct species, smog filled skies, islands of plastic floating in the ocean. Only recently are steps being taken by younger generations to attempt to reverse this trend.

The good news is that the baby boomer generation is quickly getting older. Ten thousand boomers are retiring each day. We can't ship them all off to an island, unfortunately. But I'm optimistic that the next generation of leaders will not make the same mistakes. Governments will take care of people who are truly needy -- not just because they turned 65 and have a car payment -- and this will help fix our deficit problems. Racism will continue to decline as the world becomes smaller and more social. Our environment will improve because kids in elementary school are being taught to care about the planet. Ultimately, these generations will fix the problems that the boomers created. And we can soon bid farewell to that horrible generation.

P.S. - I was born in 1965...so I've got some answering to do too.
I can't say I disagree with it, the Baby Boomers had their lives handed to them on a silver platter, and consistently work to screw over the later generations, then call them lazy.

Do you agree or disagree?

Personally I agree. Boomers constantly call the younger generations lazy and unmotivated, despite people working more hours for less pay then the boomers ever did.

It seems like the boomers broke America, and the Millennials need to restore America to its former glory.

EDIT: This is nothing personal against anyone of that age group, but as a whole it has a lots of merit.
 
Last edited:

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
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New England, USA
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gene-marks/this-is-why-the-baby-boom_b_4441735.html



I can't say I disagree with it, the Baby Boomers had their lives handed to them on a silver platter, and consistently work to screw over the later generations, then call them lazy.

Do you agree or disagree?

Personally I agree. Boomers constantly call the younger generations lazy and unmotivated, despite people working more hours for less pay then the boomers ever did.

It seems like the boomers broke America, and the Millennials need to restore America to its former glory.
How could I possibly disagree with an oversimplified, stereotype laden screed as the one presented.

Yes, although my birth preceded the requisite birth date of 1946, I will, personally take responsibility for everything that it wrong in the lives of those born later.

It's all my fault. I don't mean that figuratively...it's me, I screwed everything up. My life has been one silver spoon after another. My life was, indeed, handed to me on a silver platter (my father was an artist, unrecognized, so we were just rolling in dough), I certainly didn't have to work to put myself through college and graduate school...they saw me and said "Here, almost baby boomer...take it all for free!".

Yup, it's just been one long walk in the park. And, of course, gross and vapid over generalizations are such a convenient way to boil complex situations down into nice simple...they-did-it-to-me bromides.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
How could I possibly disagree with an oversimplified, stereotype laden screed as the one presented.

Yes, although my birth preceded the requisite birth date of 1946, I will, personally take responsibility for everything that it wrong in the lives of those born later.

It's all my fault. I don't mean that figuratively...it's me, I screwed everything up. My life has been one silver spoon after another. My life was, indeed, handed to me on a silver platter (my father was an artist, unrecognized, so we were just rolling in dough), I certainly didn't have to work to put myself through college and graduate school...they saw me and said "Here, almost baby boomer...take it all for free!".

Yup, it's just been one long walk in the park. And, of course, gross and vapid over generalizations are such a convenient way to boil complex situations down into nice simple...they-did-it-to-me bromides.

Ummm, this is not personal towards anyone of that age group because their exceptions of course.

Nor is anything towards you.

But in general as a whole, no generation in the entire history of America, has had it as easy as the boomers.
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
To some extent I agree, but I grew up in a house where things where not taken for granted.

Both my parents where born before 1960 so fall into this baby boomer category, but they are both some of the hardest working people I know. Neither of them spends willy-nilly on things they can't afford. House and car payments are the only debt they have every carried. Anything they put on a credit card gets paid off each month so no interest is applied. They always try to pay things off early also. The house they bought 4 years ago to be closer to grandparents is paid off and they only have one vehicle payment right now. They live almost debt free. They could probably retire and be OK, but they both enjoy working and it gives them something to do. The money goes into there saving so that when they do retire they can travel and enjoy themselves.

They passed all of that stuff along to me. I got lucky in that they covered the first 3 years of college for me with me only having to cover books and living expenses. I have never carried a balance on my credit cards, and the only debt I have right now is the 20 year mortgage on my house.

I see a lot of stupid spending from both my parents generation and mine. We all buy things we don't need but the key is moderation and not always grabbing for the newest shinny thing to come along.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,914
1,596
New England, USA
Ummm, this is not personal towards anyone of that age group because their exceptions of course.

Nor is anything towards you.

But in general as a whole, no generation in the entire history of America, has had it as easy as the boomers.
Please define "easy", and source the assertion, especially the assertion as it refers to multiple millions of people.

Thanks...
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
I see a lot of stupid spending from both my parents generation and mine. We all buy things we don't need but the key is moderation and not always grabbing for the newest shinny thing to come along.
But that is the antithesis of the basis of our economic model. Requiring constant growth for the whole thing to not fall apart by definition means that you need to have loose wallets. There is a reason why the advertising industry has grown to a gargantuan size, the entire model relies on consumers NOT being savvy.

Hell, there is a reason the entire model relies on the concept of a "consumer".
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Please define "easy", and source the assertion, especially the assertion as it refers to multiple millions of people.

Thanks...
Well, Labor unions were very strong, the middle class and working class had very high incomes compared to today, and there was normally a good paying factory job for anyone who wanted it during the 50s 60s and 70s.

There was also affordable college and vocational school.

Thats all gone now.
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
But that is the antithesis of the basis of our economic model. Requiring constant growth for the whole thing to not fall apart by definition means that you need to have loose wallets. There is a reason why the advertising industry has grown to a gargantuan size, the entire model relies on consumers NOT being savvy.

Hell, there is a reason the entire model relies on the concept of a "consumer".
True enough, and that is the reason things are not built to last any longer.

A household fridge that lasts more than 10-15 years now is considered a miracle. My grandparents had, until recently, a fridge from the 50-60 in there basement. Still going strong but was using a lot of electricity and they hardly every had it full of stuff. So they unplugged it and donated it to a friend to use as a garage fridge.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
Please define "easy", and source the assertion, especially the assertion as it refers to multiple millions of people.

Thanks...
Shrink, I don't know why this thread has made you so upset, a reasoned look would see that every major piece of the bedrock of American society has eroded under the stewardship of the given generation in question. Now, lies to persuade that generation that things like Reaganomics was a good idea played heavily into it, but that aside consider what it takes to build up a middle class lifestyle:

Education: Costs could not be more night and day different on the KEY factor that we are constantly told enables one to climb the middle class latter. Elizabeth Warren put it plainly, her education cost $50 for tuition a semester. I go to a community college and am paying $1200 a semester as a part time student with a part time $15 an hour job capped at 19 hours a week.

Wages: It's no secret that Americans are working far more hours for even less money than the boomer period equivalent (60's).



I know its upsetting, as it boils my blood as well, but the country was sold a bridge and it's time that we stop pretending it didn't happen. It's not to vilify people in your age bracket, it's to acknowledge that collectively as a country, we simply ****ed up buying into the lies that Wall Street & giant corporations sold us. It's a collective failure that we STILL aren't allowed to acknowledge, and without doing so how in the hell are we ever going to correct course?

Your generation did some amazing things, and it's leaders (put into power by the voters) did some amazingly stupid (borderline evil for the ones who knew the end results, such as Justice Powell) things that we are still being afflicted by.

Again, I know it's frustrating, but don't think anyone is pointing at you. There is no reason other than nostalgia and pointless pride that prevents the country from acknowledging the mistakes we've made.

I think you're a swell guy, and I'm sure on reflection you'll realize that regardless of the incendiary wording of this article, it makes some good points that in all honesty should be a non-issue acknowledging in hindsight.

After all, I think we can all agree that Reagans total abandonment of the Sherman Act (anti-trust legislation) and ending free higher education in California was a phenomenally stupid (again, I call it evil because that ******* knew exactly what he was doing) precedent that only poured gas on the fire that was burning out our societal fabric already.

----------

True enough, and that is the reason things are not built to last any longer.

A household fridge that lasts more than 10-15 years now is considered a miracle. My grandparents had, until recently, a fridge from the 50-60 in there basement. Still going strong but was using a lot of electricity and they hardly every had it full of stuff. So they unplugged it and donated it to a friend to use as a garage fridge.
Trust me, just because it's true doesn't mean that its not a completely ****ed up way for humanity to live. Infinite growth in a world of finite resources is the creed of the cancer cell, see as we've built that principle into how society as a whole operates ("markets", Capitalism)....what does that make us? ;)
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,914
1,596
New England, USA
Shrink, I don't know why this thread has made you so upset, a reasoned look would see that every major piece of the bedrock of American society has eroded under the stewardship of the given generation in question. Now, lies to persuade that generation that things like Reaganomics was a good idea played heavily into it, but that aside consider what it takes to build up a middle class lifestyle:

Education: Costs could not be more night and day different on the KEY factor that we are constantly told enables one to climb the middle class latter. Elizabeth Warren put it plainly, her education cost $50 for tuition a semester. I go to a community college and am paying $1200 a semester as a part time student with a part time $15 an hour job capped at 19 hours a week.

Wages: It's no secret that Americans are working far more hours for even less money than the boomer period equivalent (60's).



I know its upsetting, as it boils my blood as well, but the country was sold a bridge and it's time that we stop pretending it didn't happen. It's not to vilify people in your age bracket, it's to acknowledge that collectively as a country, we simply ****ed up buying into the lies that Wall Street & giant corporations sold us. It's a collective failure that we STILL aren't allowed to acknowledge, and without doing so how in the hell are we ever going to correct course?

Your generation did some amazing things, and it's leaders (put into power by the voters) did some amazingly stupid (borderline evil for the ones who knew the end results, such as Justice Powell) things that we are still being afflicted by.

Again, I know it's frustrating, but don't think anyone is pointing at you. There is no reason other than nostalgia and pointless pride that prevents the country from acknowledging the mistakes we've made.

I think you're a swell guy, and I'm sure on reflection you'll realize that regardless of the incendiary wording of this article, it makes some good points that in all honesty should be a non-issue acknowledging in hindsight.

After all, I think we can all agree that Reagans total abandonment of the Sherman Act (anti-trust legislation) and ending free higher education in California was a phenomenally stupid (again, I call it evil because that ******* knew exactly what he was doing) precedent that only poured gas on the fire that was burning out our societal fabric already.

----------



Trust me, just because it's true doesn't mean that its not a completely ****ed up way for humanity to live. Infinite growth in a world of finite resources is the creed of the cancer cell, see as we've built that principle into how society as a whole operates ("markets", Capitalism)....what does that make us? ;)
An interesting, well written, well reasoned, and (I just hate to admit it!:mad:), persuasive argument.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
An interesting, well written, well reasoned, and (I just hate to admit it!:mad:), persuasive argument.
To be honest Shrink, that means a lot coming from you....just keep in mind I'm not 23 yet:p
 

kupkakez

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2011
1,842
669
Austin, TX
I don't think any particular generation is the problem with America.

In response to the argument that boomers had it "easier" I would sort of agree with that. Growing up in the Rust Belt (Northeast Ohio) steel mill jobs were plentiful in the 60's etc. Most of the men in my family held a job in the mills and made dang good money for people that didn't get an education beyond high school. Through pictures and stories I've heard that living was good, they were able to save for retirement, have hobbies etc.

Living in the Rust Belt now is pretty much one barren wasteland. It's depressing it's rough to come by decent paying jobs like there were back in the days of the mills. The university I graduated from was PAYING graduates to stay in the area to help revitalize it. Most that graduates move out of the state or to a different part of the state. I went back home at Christmas time last year for the first time in 2 years and I couldn't believe how depressing it was compared to life in Austin, Texas.

So yes, I think in some regards the older generation did have it a bit easier. Again I think this would depend on where you lived and live now. I'm not speaking for the country as a whole just the general area I lived in.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,544
7,802
CT
So when did it all go to hell. After the war ended everyone was flying high. This is how the boomer generation came to be. Money was good, we were building infrastructure. But was that the beginning of the end? People moved to the suburbs. That has come back to bite us now. The sprawl that took place while good back then ruined the city, drove factories out of business.

The boomers had everything handed to them, so they used it and over time didn't fix it. So now we have aging infrastructure that their parents built that wasn't maintained. Pollution Pollution is higher now because of the big station wagon days. Everyone wanted the new shine applianced that made life easier. We stopped saving, stopped fixing.

So while ending and wining the war was a good thing did it also hurt us 60 years later.
 

chown33

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Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
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Pumpkindale
Shrink, I don't know why this thread has made you so upset, a reasoned look would see that every major piece of the bedrock of American society has eroded under the stewardship of the given generation in question. Now, lies to persuade that generation that things like Reaganomics was a good idea played heavily into it, but that aside consider what it takes to build up a middle class lifestyle:
...
After all, I think we can all agree that Reagans total abandonment of the Sherman Act (anti-trust legislation) and ending free higher education in California was a phenomenally stupid (again, I call it evil because that ******* knew exactly what he was doing) precedent that only poured gas on the fire that was burning out our societal fabric already.
I just wanted to point out that Reagan wasn't a boomer (born 1911). To the extent that your hypothesis hinges on his policies, then I don't see how that part can be blamed on the boomers.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
I just wanted to point out that Reagan wasn't a boomer (born 1911). To the extent that your hypothesis hinges on his policies, then I don't see how that part can be blamed on the boomers.
I know it's not the strict definition of the Boomers, but I consider the political actions during the Boomer generation's rise and solidification of power in Washington to be part of their legacy. He was a Boomer president, while not himself being a Boomer. I'd consider Obama to be a Boomer president as well seeing as the voting electorate is still overwhelming of the Boomer population.

That makes sense right? I don't know a better way to phrase it.
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
1,100
1,293
I can't say I disagree with it, the Baby Boomers had their lives handed to them on a silver platter, and consistently work to screw over the later generations, then call them lazy.

Do you agree or disagree?
I disagree with the generalizations. Do I need to bore you with the jobs I had before I landed my first good job?

I'm afraid most of us here did work consistently to screw over later generations. This is Mac Rumors, after all. I was delighted when I could self-publish via TeX, Macs, Postscript printers, etc. instead of having to go to a professional shop to do it. Indirectly, that threw one of my in-laws out of work eventually. (I have always supported training and retraining programs.) We are all guilty of using computers, information technology, and the internet in such a way as to take away jobs from booksellers, travel agents, printers, and all kinds of jobs.

I have also always resented it when people higher in the social hierarchy refer to people lower in the hierarchy as lazy. Unfortunately, this is a behavior we share with other primates like baboons.

Personally I agree. Boomers constantly call the younger generations lazy and unmotivated, despite people working more hours for less pay then the boomers ever did.

It seems like the boomers broke America, and the Millennials need to restore America to its former glory.

EDIT: This is nothing personal against anyone of that age group, but as a whole it has a lots of merit.
I am very serious about this: people need to do a little bit of study on primate behavior. Here is a place to start:

http://www.pbs.org/programs/killer-stress/

You can't change our primate roots. You can change society to mitigate the resulting ills.
 

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
... Boomers had their lives handed to them on a silver platter ...
This Boomer (born 1960) disagrees.

My adult working life started in the early 1980's during a recession. The last ~30 years have seen stagnant wages, manufacturing and industry collapse and millions of jobs lost overseas. While worker productivity has continued to increase, real wages have been flat for decades. All of this occurred during the prime earning years for the Boomer Generation.

Where is this silver platter that you speak of?

I certainly haven't seen it.

 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
This Boomer (born 1960) disagrees.

My adult working life started in the early 1980's during a recession. The last ~30 years have seen stagnant wages, manufacturing and industry collapse and millions of jobs lost overseas. While worker productivity has continued to increase, real wages have been flat for decades. All of this occurred during the prime earning years for the Boomer Generation.

Where is this silver platter that you speak of?

I certainly haven't seen it.

I'm two years younger. Those born right after the war had it pretty good. Those born at the end of the boom generation, not so much.

I think the boomers had it good for a number of reasons.

Born after the war and after The Great Depression. Their parents wanted better lives for them and for them not to have to scrape cow dung off their shoes every night.

The progressive policies following WWII allowed them an inexpensive if not free education, affordable healthcare, inexpensive food, clothing, gasoline and entertainment.

Most of the rest of the industrial world's production capacity had been destroyed or seriously impaired. The USA faced no such problem and the Marshall Plan, certainly one of the most progressive policies after the war was brilliant and guaranteed American jobs for a long time.

There are I'm sure, many other reasons for their dominance of American thought for so long, one being their sheer numbers, however, it was their parents generation who created the policies and programs to ease their children's lives. Also, it wasn't the boomers who put a man on the moon but as I've argued repeatedly here in the past, the fact that they make up 60% of NASA employees is why the US space program has gone down the tubes.

Young people are willing to take risks, 60 year olds are only interested in minimizing risks.