The Last Great Generational War

economic chart

Baby boomers ensured that the economy, the planet, and their children are now all in a worse condition than when the boomers were born. This is common knowledge if you’re not a baby boomer and may come as a shock for those who of you born before 1964. All the talk these past few years of avocado toast and the generational anger towards millennials might just be projection. Regardless, the facts about the boomer’s destructive behaviour is evident and now the global population needs to address it.

How can we explain this calamitous, pathological selfishness at the root of the sustained crisis of Boomer mismanagement? Leaning heavily on the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Gibney insists that Boomers, as a whole, are self-evident sociopaths “characterized by self-interested actions unburdened by conscience and unresponsive to consequence, mostly arising from non-genetic, contextual causes.” Boomers have repeatedly put the gratification of their own immediate, generationally specific desires above consideration for the long-term consequences doing so would have for them, the country, and their children. Their manifest sociopathy distinguishes them as a singularly antisocial group, devoid of the lowest-common-denominator feelings of collective responsibility for maintaining a livable society for all.

What’s so good about all of this? Well, it means we can finally stop playing the blame game and get on with focusing on what matters. Plus, knowing the problem means we’re on our way to a solution. And in the end, maybe what we’ll experience as a society is a return to thinking of others and not how we exploit them.

Perhaps then a generation will come to mean something less arbitrary, less focused on a descriptive category superimposed onto one group of people or another, telling them who they are based on what they own and how they earn a paycheck. Perhaps then to be part of a “generation” will mean just that—to feel a collective, affirmative duty to cultivate the as-yet-unwritten force of possibility to make the world anew that comes with being born, the generative potential to shake loose the grip of what has been on what the people could be.

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4 thoughts on “The Last Great Generational War

  1. Sorry, Adam, but I read the linked article and it’s a load of nonsense, gnashing of teeth and a load of empty wailing. Millennial-bashing? What?

    The complaints about Boomers don’t bother me. Let’s get a couple of things straight. We didn’t create neoliberalism. That was done by Mises, Hayek and Friedman and it was implemented by the Reagan/Thatcher generation. For the record there wasn’t a Boomer among them.

    I do have a measure of disdain for Millennials because all I see them doing is whining. It’s annoying. Here’s the deal, Adam. If you don’t like being preyed upon, stop acting like prey. Stop the “things are good” when they’re not. Take climate change. Your generation is going to live through a lot of that and it’ll be a lot harder than it is today. Your future is being written today and it’s being written indelibly and you Millennials are just laying down and taking it. The longer you do nothing more than grumble the worse it’s going to be for you.

    The future of climate change is going to be decided this decade and the fossil fuelers are holding all the aces – economically and politically. So what are you going to do about that? Write another lament? Wail “woe is me”? As far as I can tell that’s about all you’re going to do.

    We all need a generational shift but you guys are too busy with your smartphones and iPads to be bothered.

  2. Yet another boomer-bashing article of the type I see springing up in forums of all types.

    “Baby boomers ensured that the economy, the planet, and their children are now all in a worse condition than when the boomers were born.” Whine, complain.

    Apparently we all sat down in the early seventies, sociopaths all, and agreed to screw future generations. Only dumbass Americans could come up with such a ridiculous thesis. It’s like a cult founded on some tripe or other, just a different flavour. You don’t find Europeans gushing this sort of rubbish. But you”ve bought it, hook, line and sinker. Do you practise thinking logically yourself at all, read social history, or just jump on a bandwagon that transfers all responsibilities to others, while making you feel superior in having figured it all out?

    There was about a 25 to 30 year period after WW2 when along with the Marshall Plan, the corporate world allowed wages to rise in the West. By the late seventies it was all getting a bit much for the really wealthy to take. So for most of my boomer career, I was met with the levelling off of recompense your graph shows from 1979. Retiring in 2012 at 65, I had only been in the workforce for 4 decent years after schooling. I’m so darn rich, I could fund the world!

    Talk to people who went through the real depression in the thirties to see how corporations treated people. When that hegemony began to return in the ’80s with wacko trickle-down economics as a cover for cutting taxes on the rich and limiting increases for the proles, your average boomer didn’t know it was the beginning of the end of half-decent times. How could they? It was insidious and slow, accompanied by voodoo economics. Once the Iron Curtain came down, there really was no need to pay a living wage to flaunt against the Soviets drab existence to make them feel envious. That’s when the real rot began to set in. Offshore to China, dump factories, people and society at home.

    Anyway, enough of me attempting to pull your head out of your rear end. I just remembered. You’re the one demanding bike lanes as a right without paying road usage fees. You do have a strong sense of entitlement paid for out of the labour of others who contributed to the infrastructure that is here already. Ever wonder why cities had streets in the era before bicycles or cars? You can see hundreds of photographic vistas on shorpy.com.

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