Saturday, June 01, 2013

Blaming Baby Boomers

When I read comments on message boards, forums and pundit posts, I notice a recurring debate. Who do we blame most for America's decline: the GI Generation, the Silent Generation, or the Boomers? Each generation has their positive and negative contributions to society, but when the last round of betting occurs, who do you blame more? To crib off of Jacques Barzun's concept of the Great Switch, I blame that cabal of socialists funded by one portion of the rich who realized a strong state used for their aims rather than for an autocrat or specific income threshold voting class could pretend to fix societal ills and unjust social circumstances as they saw fit. The socialists (or marxists) needed an audience that would be receptive to their plans. A naked man running through the streets smeared with green jelly howling at the moon won't change anything unless a critical mass of individuals approve, enable, and copy that behavior. While others make great cases that the GI and Silent generations fostered, enabled and guided the Boomers in their bad decisions, Boomers contributed to social decay as well as the change in our legal and economic way of life. I'm blaming Boomers.

When discussing Boomers, I will use the 1946-1962 range for years of birth, as right now, it seems age 50 in early 2013 America is where you see that Boomer/Gen-X split. Buried deep in this Atlantic article is the feeling that those Boomer bastards are the ones to blame for our current problems. Boomers entered college, if they attended, starting in the early '60s. Some fought in Vietnam and some later did in the Persian Gulf War. They were educated and young workers through the '70s stagflation period, were mid-level managers or newbies in the boom '80s, but were the bosses and young executives in the '90s and '00s when recessions took on a different form. The 'jobs are leaving and they ain't coming back' started a bit in the early '80s twin recessions (mostly union shops), but kicked into overdrive in the early '90s recession (any shop). They were the decision makers and consultants who pushed for outsourcing and return on equity for shareholders. They pushed for the M&A booms on cheap credit to earn banker bonuses + commissions and acted as hatchet men when CEOs to increase the return on equity for shareholders. These might be the same people who were free spirited hippies in the '60s, but those hippies probably went down a different track to damage America. Throughout history, the opportunity for riches can change people.

Boomers also contributed to our regulation strangulation society where lawyers act as a choke on economic growth and personal liberty. They became lawyers at higher rates than prior generations as law schools churned out more graduates than there were practicing lawyers in the US. They voted for government expansion and reach in the '60s and '70s when they were given the right to vote. They were the eager beavers in college, listening to the socialist vanguard at universities. They tuck it away in the attic now that they are grandparents, but plenty of them took over campus offices, threw rocks at cops and raised hell to overthrow the system. Even if they doubted mid-20th century corruption, the framing of every issue was presented in a marxist, social justice manner by their commie professors. It altered their view on every issue during the culture wars starting with the Reagan revolution. The weird thing is that many of them had registered as Democrats before 1980, but became the glorified Reagan Democrats of the '80s. They never stopped to think about how the Democrats had changed that made them vote for a man more conservative than the republicans they often disparage like Nixon and Ford pre-Reagan or Bush, McCain or Romney post-Reagan. Some even recovered their liberalism once their kids were grown and no longer in any danger. They accepted their professors' ideas because the professors promised them a candyland of goodies that they wanted without the watchful eye of God. They complain about lawsuits and little leagues banning on deck warm up swings due to personal injury lawsuits, yet they were the same group to file such frivolous lawsuits and encourage them as newly minted lawyers in the '80s and '90s.

The most disgusting part of their behavior, and what I find the most damning, was their rejection of the culture, norms and traditions that came before them. Youth culture had always been just that, youth culture. With the rise of the Boomers, youth culture was elevated to primacy in the American cultural sphere. Boomers also cast off religious customs, because why have a moral code of conduct that you may be judged by when free love and great drugs are available? Boomers also started the downward spiral of social indicators that started roughly at the same time as the sexual revolution and loosening of family law. Illegitimacy and divorce rates have risen well above the rates of pre-'68 (when Boomers would have not been the marrying and divorcing crowd). Marriage rates have steadily declined. The abortion rate peaked in the late '70s/early '80s, which would have been Boomer women. At no step did they think of reforming the laws to go back to days of old or to make sure financial incentives were not set up to create a revenue stream for bad behavior. Even worse, they changed the structure of how a community enforces norms positive to maintaining civilization by invoking, "Don't judge". Without judgement, how do we know what is good or bad for society? Boomers were the start of that. We have a society of 40% obesity, 40% illegitimacy and 40% divorce rates that steadily creep up. Part of the sticky nature of those dysfunctional rates might be that Boomers were awful examples to their children. They also started the single mom, broken home dynamic that is now mainstream in America. If the hippies didn't become corporate sell outs, they most likely were the socially dysfunctional jackasses who contributed to the social decline of America. Their last gift is a generation of snowflakes, the Millenials.

It is true that a slice of the older generation put these ideas into their heads, but Boomers didn't have to listen. Boomers could have relied on the custom, guidance and thoughts of their parents rather than university professors. Boomers could have maintained some semblance of the social order that prior generations had kept stable. Boomers had choices. At each step, leading Boomers took the easy path and encouraged others to do so as well. Some social critics mention that we live in a disposable society with little value assigned to things. Can you blame us? Our parents rebelled against everything around them, trashed and smeared their nation's history, and threw down the old God? How can you assign value to anything when you live in the aftermath of a generation that didn't value its past and surroundings? Not all Boomers contributed to the decline and decay. Many are upset by it. Even if they were influenced and manipulated by later generations, the critical mass needed for the lurch leftward, cultural marxism, PC surveillance, and societal devolution was first reached by the Boomers.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your writing but it would be much easier to read if your paragraphs were smaller.

Portlander said...

I've always wondered who to blame, the Boomers, or their parents that indulged them?

To a certain extent, I can see where after going through WWII, it would be hard to get all worked up by the little things in life, and some slack has to be extended to the GI generation in that regard. However, getting worked up by the little things does set the bar whereby the big things are clearly and unequivocally off-limits. (I have a theory a lot of Steve Jobs stories about him worrying and fretting over every last detail were shit tests just to keep subordinates on their toes.)

At every step the Boomers took down their primrose path, the GI generation had the power and responsibility to set them straight. Instead they shrugged and looked the other way. To be sure Boomers did make their choices, and they have to be held responsible for those choices, but the GI generation acquiesced every step of the way.

Also, let's not forget the GI generation did a lot of things to subvert their own claim to authority: Vatican II, Vietnam, Great Society Socialism to name a few big ones off the top of my head. Even the abortion issue you cite, while it was Boomers having them, it was GI generation that changed the laws.

I blame them both. But I blame the GI generation first.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Honestly, I think the Silent Gen is worse than GI. Ranking most to blame I say 1. Boomer, 2. Silent, 3. GI. The Silents created many of the institutions the Boomers radicalized, they started some of the bad social trends, and they were in positions of power during a lot of the bad 60s-70s changes. Most of the time Silents enabled Boomers in a triangulated position away from GIs + Lost Gens.