Social Question

wildpotato's avatar

What do you think of the Esquire article about a "war on youth"?

Asked by wildpotato (13656 points ) April 16th, 2012 from iPhone

This article. I am conflicted – the stats are frightening, and the content resonates with the way I’ve been beginning to feel about the situation. So very glad I went to college to become the most qualified person at Staples. On the other hand, I can’t condemn the Boomers for their belief in endless growth, as I probably would have believed the same, had I been born earlier. Nor can I deny a right to them to age comfortably – though I think there are ways to address this issue and still reform the system to help young people more. What do you guys think about the pattern the article identifies? Did the Boomers inadvertently screw over their kids? Are Boomerang-ers entitled and unwilling to bear hardship? Do you think revolution is brewing? Other thoughts?

Secondary question for my fellow Boomerang-ers: if you find yourself in agreement with the article, do you/will you try to change things by voting? That’s our problem, y’know – few of us vote; most of them do.

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35 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I say bullshit!
I am a boomer ( on the tail end, born on the cusp of 1959–60, boomer gen. ended in ‘64 & I am 52 now. ) WE were bitching that OUR generation didn’t have it nearly as easy as the post WW2 generation of our parents. No affordable housing, the need for two incomes, inflation, on & on. EVERY generation wants to blame their predecessors and NOBODY, young or old is escaping this recession.

I know plenty of “boomers” that have lost almost everything in this economy the past few years. Recessions wipe out everyone, and there is no point in shifting the blame. We all just have to do what we have to do and that’s the way it is.
There are thousands of boomers that are going into their middle age and advancing years with little security, no retirement. Everyone suffers in hard times and shifting the blame is useless and counter productive.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I thought this has been going on for a long time.

I do not think boomers are doing it on purpose, they are just a generation absolutely focused on taking care of themselves. Their parents built bridges for them and sent men to the moon. The boomers sent all the jobs they had when they were working their way up overseas, gave themselves raises and lowered their taxes. They know that income taxes will have to go back up to pay for their medicare and social security, conveniently when most of them have retired.

bkcunningham's avatar

I think the article is hilarious. Almost as funny as Marche’s essay, “How Can We Not Love Obama?” Almost, but not quite. Thanks for the laughs.

josie's avatar

It is correct. The Boomers spent the wealth that was created by the WW II generation, then when it was gone, borrowed more to keep the party going. They are narcissists who preach altruism as long as somebody else pays for it.

Coloma's avatar

@josie But you can’t make a blanket statement about “they”. Who exactly ARE they? I’m of that generation and I am about as far from greedy narcissist boomer as they get. I’ve enjoyed some of the finer things in life but I don’t consider myself to be part of the yuppie boomer crowd at all. Careful with the “they.”

josie's avatar

The same use of “they” that people use against me every time they have a gripe about caucasion males. I am not guilty of most of what I am blamed for, but these days, everybody is stuck into a group. You too, whether you deserve it or not.
But not by me. I have always liked you, so you are exempt :)

Coloma's avatar

@josie Ditto..how could anyone resist that cheeky smile. ;-)

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not so much a “war on youth” (if only it were so ‘directed’!). It’s just a case of “kicking the can down the road”.

We’ve been playing musical chairs with our political economy for decades. No one wants to be left standing when the music stops. For that matter, no one really wants to be the bandmaster when the music can’t resume.

Coloma's avatar

@CWOTUS Well said. Yep, there is no new news under the sun. Goddamn yankees! lol

Linda_Owl's avatar

Not all ‘Boomers’ believe in endless growth, I am a ‘Boomer’ & I have known for years that endless growth was not sustainable – but the corporations believe in endless growth, as does Wall Street. These are the entities that are driving the ‘war on youth’ – not the retired Senior Citizens. All of us worked & paid our taxes. I retired at the age of 65 after working for 51 years (I got my first full time job when I was 14, passing as being 16) they did not check as closely then as they do now. After I finished high school, I got another job & I moved out on my own. Then I got married. I had 3 children & I worked the entire time I was pregnant & I was only off work for 8 weeks with each of them. Now the Republicans want to eliminate our Social Security benefits & our Medicare benefits, but these are the benefits we paid payroll taxes for on every single payroll check we earned. For a lot of us, social security benefits are all we have to live on (our IRAs were wiped out when the economy went in the toilet in 2008) & without medicare, we could not be treated by any doctors. Our society (as a whole) is far too materialistic. Too many people want the newest hi-tech gadget they can get & they do not consider the consequences of over spending. And Wall Street & the corporations have put us into this mess we are in & they should be held responsible – but I do not think that they will be held responsible.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@CWOTUS

Depression in ‘29, Boomer’s Grandparents did a New Deal, Tennessee Valley Authority, CCC.

Depression after WWII. Boomer’s Grandparents did the GI Bill (gave them all cheap houses and cheap college!!!), Eisenhower Interstate Highway system.

In 1964 the parent’s of the Boomers declare war on poverty. Pell Grants! All the boomers can go to school! Top tax bracket is 77%.

That was just before the boomers started voting. By the downturn of the late 70’s and 80’s, we were bad mouthing welfare mom’s and demanding tax rates be lowered.

This is not a case of kicking it down the road. This was a generation who acts very different than American’s before or after.

Linda_Owl's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I think your response was also made up without any forethought. Our generation has worked hard & acted as any other Americans have. The problem is the inequity of income & the inequity of taxes paid. The wealthiest of Americans make money at the expense of the rest of us & they pay less taxes.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Linda_Owl I am sorry. Help me understand what the Boomers have bequeathed to their children. I am not attacking individuals, the question invites generalities. So tell me, as I watch the crumbling infrastructure around me, what has been built in this nation since 1965?

If you say the internet I will giggle because my generation did that.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re not getting it, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought.

The New Deal and “War on Poverty” / “Great Society” are two of the primary incidents of kicking the can down the road that I’m talking about. Medicate and Social Security are the entitlements that are going to bankrupt us.

Top tax brackets of 77% made for weird tax planning – so that no one who would have been subject to that kind of tax would actually pay it – but they didn’t raise a lot of revenue. Revenue that we were already spending, because we had “the Social Security Trust Fund” to tap. (I’m using the royal we, here. I have always voted against more entitlements, more grants, more giveaways.)

“Welfare mothers” are nothing (except for the aspect of raising kids with that outlook and training them for that lifestyle – that was not a good thing).

Until I was in my late 40s I used to try to make the bargain that “I’ll give up any claim on future Social Security” with no other exchange than “let me out of making additional ‘contributions’, please.” It’s ruining a great nation.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@CWOTUS I am not trying to be difficult, help me understand your point of view here.

Previous generations paid extremely high taxes and tried to get everybody out of poverty.

Your generation thought that this was misguided, lowered taxes, kept the benefits for the most part except for the youngest and weakest in society, and gave the debt to me? But you want me to agree that the boomers were as good Americans as your parents or those before them?

JLeslie's avatar

It seems like the right wing conservatives want to spend money on wars and not pay for it across all generations. There might be disagreements on spending, but the liberals want to pay for it now and not pass the burden down or leave the country in a precarious situation.

bkcunningham's avatar

For the record, Baby Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964.

ETpro's avatar

I’m a war baby so I’m in the clear to take pot shots at anyone except my seniors who made up the Greatest Generation. The article hits a bunch of nails on the head. Actually, since the 1980s, the deck has been stacked for the very rich, not just for boomers. Of course, most of the very rich ARE boomers now, but the deck was stacked to build an oligarchy—to shift wealth to the top. In 30 years, the income of the wealthiest 1% has gone up over 300% while the middle class has remained almost flat in terms of real income growth and the bottom 60% have lost 6% in real income. If we continue to follow this path of ever more income tax cuts for the super rich, we will soon be a pure oligarchy—a banana republic. Revenues will drop to the point that we will have to gut all entitlements, something that won’t hurt the rich a bit but will devastate the middle class and poor.

Saying that is NOT class warfare, it is recognizing a fact. Lying about it being class warfare to tell the truth, that’s the real class warfare.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro Is it really class warfare, or is it a generation that feels no gratitude to those before them, and resents those after them? It is not like a lot of Gen X or Y are in the 1%, and you have the population size.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re wrong about the assumption that “previous generations… tried to get everybody out of poverty”. You’re also very wrong in assuming that previous generations paid high taxes. The modern two-earner family has been made necessary by… higher taxes of all kinds. That’s a relatively modern invention. Ditto the hidden tax of inflation, which is, with FICA, the most regressive (and deliberate, and well-hidden) tax of all.

I’m not here to defend “my generation”; I’m here to tell you that it is the higher spending (especially without higher productivity to back it up) that is bankrupting the nation.

That’s pretty much a function of government. They pander by buying votes from voters whom they also “educate” just enough to move the levers of the machines that keep the money flowing and ironically, “move the levers” in the old-fashioned voting booths, too.

Heinlein was exactly right when he described the mechanism by which democracies will destroy themselves…

“The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

CWOTUS's avatar

He had another quote that applies to your puzzlement, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought:

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

I have no generational resentment to anyone. Surely not to those who came before me, and not to anyone who follows. I wish all well. Most people do the same, I think. But we’re not here to try to “save” each other, either. Most don’t need “saving”, and to the extent that we try to save more and more, we force more and more into the queue of those who need saving.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@CWOTUS I do not attribute any of this to malice. As early as the 1970’s the boomers were called the “Me” generation.

I think you are in a generation who assigns themselves the best of intentions, while doing absolutely nothing to improve the fortunes of those after you. Taxes are lower than previously they were. You tell me I am imagining it, that things were very hard for you folks, if only I study the numbers in the way you want me to.

Nobody buys it. And while we pay for your medicare treatments and social security payments, and fix the bridges nobody has spent money on in forty years, and listen to the younger generation say they cannot afford college, we assume you will continue to assert your claims that you did more than enough, and we are all whiners.

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought There are plenty of baby boomers who are far from the top 1%. Without social security to retire on, many would be pushed into some form of poorhouse or living on the streets. I see plenty here in Boston who are on the streets now. They aren’t yet old enough for social security and for whatever reason, they have joined the ranks of the unemployable. There are also a whole rank of tech entrepreneurs who have joined the Warren Buffets of the nation as way beyond 1 Percenters. I am with @CWOTUS. I don’t think it is a generational plot. Stupidity? Naivete? These I buy. There seems no end to the belief that you can squeeze something out of nothing.

I am convinced that the war is one aimed at an oligarchy, not a gerontocracy.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro No offense meant towards those slightly older. But please be aware many of those born after 64 think the boomers displayed a great deal of malfeasance in their leadership.

The respect previously given to older generations when they complain about the younger will likely not be tolerated. 15 trillion in debt, 26 percent of bridges are structurally deficient, while tax rates on top earners are historically low.

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I am as critical of the flawed leadership as any on this board. You won’t get any debate from me there. But ALL the voters set this course, not just boomers.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro That is the crux of the issue.

And I hate to argue with you, as I normally think you are brilliant

Every boomer on this board says everybody does it, it is not just us. Every boomer I ever spoke to refuses to take responsibility.

Your grandparents tried to fix things.

Your parents tried to fix things.

You expect me and those younger than me to take care of the problems you are handing off.

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I’m older than the boomers. I voted no on every hair-brained idea they floated. I knew there were no free lunches. And I damn well refuse to take the fall for the greed ot those of every age group that outvoted me.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

^You sir are exempted.

rooeytoo's avatar

Last time I calculated I am going to have to live to about 104.6 to collect the actual amount of social security taxes I paid in and that is with no interest. My dad lived to 83 and I know he never even came close to collecting what he paid either. My brother who is in his 70’s is in the same boat. So I really don’t think any young person is doing me a favor and paying my social security. I worked my way through college and paid off my debts. I still contribute to society and the tax role by doing jobs that young people shun. So I too refuse to take the blame. If the younger generation see all these ills why don’t they get out there and vote and lead if the oldies are screwing up so badly? I get sick of the whiners who want to blame me because they jobs that pay them what they think they are worth. Or who want to blame me because they have to pay for their education. I am just as affected by the ills of the world as you are. I have no free ride. The ironic part is that in 50 years your kids are going to be saying the same thing about you.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/social-security-medicare-benefits-over-lifetime.pdf

“No matter how much you pay into the system, whether you earn the average wage over a lifetime ($43,100 in 2010 dollars) or if you’re in a two-income household where one earns a high wage and the other earns an average wage, you get back substantially more than you pay in.”

College cost inflation 1978–2008: Cost of living increased roughly 3.25-fold during this time; medical costs inflated roughly 6-fold; but college tuition and fees inflation approached 10-fold:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition_in_the_United_States

rooeytoo's avatar

104.6 for me, my dad (including what my mom collected) never came close nor will my brother.

People on social security are paying the same increases well except for college tuition in most cases, so what is the relevance of that. Salaries have also increased a bit in that time as well.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

http://www.workinglife.org/wiki/Wages+and+Benefits%3A+Real+Wages+%281964-2004%29

Real incomes have gone down, only Boomers have seen them rise.

I will assume your SS calculations are correct, but I think you have opted to not look at medicare costs, which are growing far faster than inflation.

rooeytoo's avatar

I give up. I’m going to take my nembutal now so that I am no longer a drain on the resources that apparently are rightfully yours.

ratboy's avatar

Perhaps we made a wrong turn at the summer of love, but look on the bright side. At the rate that we’re making the planet uninhabitable, you won’t suffer for long.

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