It's probably not the best idea to make historical arguments without knowing some history. Eisenhower coined the term "military-industrial complex" in 1961, when the first baby boomer class had just entered high school. It was the creation of the "greatest generation." Deregulation and union-busting are usually seen as signal accomplishments of the Reagan administration. Reagan was born in 1910, a member of the "greatest generation."kai1275 wrote:The Baby Boomers are to blame because of ONE major major reason. GREED! Unbridled, unrelenting GREED! They deregulated controls, busted all unions, blended corporations into government, created the military-industrial complex we have now, and all because they are greedy.gsjackson wrote:As an early baby boomer hoping to escape your euthanization program, I'll try to add a little nuance to this history.Cornfed wrote:The point about middle aged and elderly men having betrayed and sold out younger men is certainly valid. Men born in the West between about 1930 and 1960 must surely be the most selfish asshole generation of men in the history of the world. I suppose it is because they were raised as spoiled brats who could take everything for granted. This might be a good place to recycle a post I made in another forum:
Why old people suck
Specifically old white Western men. They are really the ones who have sold out their society for a handful of beans. Moreover, the more intelligent ones of them would have known darn well that the lifestyle they had been bribed into abandoning traditional society to adopt was an unsustainable suicide cult, but they were simply hoping to die of old age before it collapsed, thereby leaving future generations holding the bag.
Consider the unsustainable freebies they happily received, while externalizing the costs to their children and grandchildren:
Exponentially increasing house prices. In order to bribe them into abandoning their communities and extended families and move into suburbs, the system was engineered so house prices would exponentially increase, giving them a payday upon sale. Obviously this was never going to last forever, as the time would come when most young people could no longer afford to buy into the overpriced market. Instead of protesting the system for this reason, they took the money.
Absurdly generous pension plans. Like where you can retire on a full pension and benefits after working only 20 years. At least within the context of the current monetary system, this was obviously unsustainable, as it required the number of workers to massively outnumber parasitical retirees, and this situation could only last for a generation or so. Similarly retirement funds generally required a permanently exponentially expanding stock market, which in a finite universe is an impossibility.
Hiring c**ts and immigrants and outsourcing. All these things are incredibly damaging, but most of the costs could be externalized, whereas the benefits of lower wages could be localized in the pockets of the assholes who went along with it.
The very nature of suburban living and modernity itself. This is hugely inefficient and can only be sustained with a massive energy subsidy of cheap oil, which was always going to end. No serious attempts have been made to become more efficient or find alternative sources of energy, but then as stated the grossest generation don't care because they figure they'll be dead by the time the whole enterprise collapses anyway.
And so on. In the main the current crop of elderly and late middle aged people represent the most selfish, lazy and treacherous scum in history who have betrayed younger generations to an extent that is totally unprecedented. Women didn't have a choice but to be turned into monsters by the toxic environment around them, but old men are complicit in the destruction of their own society.
First of all, each of these critiques you make was originally developed and published quite a long time ago by a white male born between 1930 and 1960. Every generation has had dissidents who set themselves up in opposition to TPTB, and they usually get their butts handed to them. TPTB seized on a golden opportunity -- a combination of a disintegrating culture and ironclad control of the media -- to reverse progressive social legislation and de-politicize the population dramatically during the '70s, '80s and '90s. And prior to the internet, when all these egregious generational offenses were committed, it was all but impossible to find dissident points of view. You would have to take time off from making mortgage payments and raising families to hang out in libraries and bookstores, on the off chance that you might happen upon something that slipped through the publishing cartel. The television networks were in lockstep advancing the corporate agenda. Those were our sources of information.
To take your specific points, suburbanization was the work of the WWII generation, understandably traumatized by war and burying their heads in a cocktail glass while the highway lobby, real estate developers and others overturned multi-use zoning regulations, torpedoed public transportation and gave us suburban hell. It was well under way by 1950.
The housing bubble was blown up by Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve Board to mask an underlying weak economy and provide another asset class for predators in the financial sector after the stock market tanked in 2000. I'm not sure where blame lies with the average American old person. Were they supposed to sell their houses for less than what the market would bare? Most of them held on to their houses and saw them drop precipitously in value. The bubble lasted about five years, and was identified only on the fringes, as corporate media talked it up at every opportunity. You think a massive protest movement should have arisen during this time from the people whose houses were theoretically going up in value? That's a naÃ¯ve view of human nature in the extreme.
The only people I know of who can retire after 20 years and immediately begin receiving full benefits is the "warrior" class, the American military. Yes people born prior to about 1955 tended to work for one or few employers, and were able to take advantage of fixed benefit pension plans. There is nothing unsustainable about these pension plans -- as there is nothing unsustainable about social security -- unless employers also have to meet the bizarre expense of providing health care to their employees, as they do in the U.S., thanks to the usual political corruption that prohibits actual reform of any kind.
Yes, women swept into the workplace, riding on a great media tide of pseudo-idealism, and it wreaked havoc. We watched it happen in horror, but there was and is nothing that can be done about it. Yes, a nation that after Reagan worshipped corporate profits sat complacently as the labor movement was destroyed and a de-politicized population of immigrants was brought in to take the jobs of erstwhile union members, or the jobs were shipped overseas. But the corporate media sang soothing songs about "creative destruction" and the like. You can still hear the same numbers on this website or any other. The elites have gone to great lengths to establish the dogmas of neoliberalism, and it remains the conventional wisdom among most white Americans. Does it suggest intellectual feebleness? Yes. Treachery? No.
Why you need to take your on-target gripes with the elites and apply it to entire generations is not clear. Yes, the irony is rich that baby boomers were billed as the most idealistic generation in history back in the '60s, one poised to overthrow a culture of corporate conformity. But all that was just a media production. We were just a bunch of knuckleheads groping our way forward.
My generation is summed up for me in a scene from freshman orientation in 1968. The incoming class was gathered in the campus gardens for sort of a consciousness raising session, meant to elevate us to a sense of social responsibility. As we sat on the grass singing along to Simon and Garfunkel's America, I noticed a New Yorker in the class standing off to the side on a hill, arms folded and appearing to look down contemptuously on the proceedings. I had met him, and as the two freshman pitchers on the varsity baseball team that year we would be road roommates. I imagine what went through his head was something like this: "You hippy dippies are pathetic. America is for being owned, not understood." Sixteen years later his picture was on the cover of Money Magazine. In 2002 his published annual Wall Street salary was 22 million dollars. In 2008 he became a household name briefly as the economy unraveled and he golden parachuted away from the wreckage, courtesy of taxpayer bailout.
The future in 1968 belonged to him, as it usually belongs to big-time criminals. (And actually he was only half Jewish, but 100 percent New Yorker). Should the people sitting on the grass have done more to stop him? Ideally, yes. But taking collective action in the absence of some national crisis, such as WWII, would have distinguished them from most generations that had gone before them.
This is the generation that grew up in the golden age of American power, the first teenagers that had things easy, lots of money from mom and dad, no debts worth speaking about, lots of inheritances, no competition from minorities and other global workers, spoiled as HELL compared the previous generation. All you guys conveniently forgot what it took to create the powerful country the "Greatest Generation" worked tremendously hard to build.
Even some older black people that went to segregated schools back in the 50s, sometimes say shit like "Social Security is yall's problem now, we gonna get ours!" I lost count how many white people have said that to me. How do you explain this shit? It's greed!
It's amazing to me while I was working on my history degree in college, the sheer difference (in terms of general intelligence) folks from the 30's/FDR era had, when I would interview them about things from their past. These folks, many of which never finished highschool, some of which never finished 8th grade, but they had alot more common sense about certain things that no one in their 40-50s had at that time.
I know that I am not the only person on this forum that has experienced seeing or hearing that.
Sure baby boomers are greedy, just like all the generations that followed them, though the following generations never went through any pretense of idealism. It's all about getting paid, getting that bling. And yes, I agree that educational standards in the U.S. have fallen precipitously with every generation since the Roosevelt era.