An “Abandoned” Generation

This week’s prediction from the BBC programme The Oracle: Booming Bivouacs for Boomers as Retirement Plans Go Bust

Keiser: “Well it all sounds mighty convenient for the baby-boomers… Free market-loving, deregulatory, Reaganites who outsourced the entire economy of the country and then plundered from their children with a debt-fuelled binge during their ‘working years’… Now they declare themselves socialists when they’re about to retire bankrupt! So their slave children can pay the bill.”

A generation “abandoned” by the baby-boomers… This will, of course, come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever to Gen-X’ers and others that have unfortunately followed in the wake of these pricks for the past thirty years or so.


46 Replies to “An “Abandoned” Generation”

  1. Reagan years were not boomer years. Actual babyboomers were born between 1945 and 1953 – Trudeau, Nixon years.

    For some reason, anyone over 40 seems to be considered a boomer. Boomers were born between WWII and the Korean war – you know, when the guys came home on leave or right after wars were over.

  2. Reagan years were not boomer years.

    In terms of their prime “working life” they most certainly were. The reference here is not so much to when they were born, but the period during which they were “productive” from an economic perspective.

  3. followed in the wake of these pricks for the past thirty years or so ;
    The Boomers that were pricks ?
    Or were all Boomers pricks ?

  4. Well, technically it used to be what I said…because now they refer to boomers as pensioners and/or going to be pensioners. For that, it’s 60 years or over. That’s why there’s so much concern about all those boomers ready to retire.

  5. Baby boomer is a term used to describe a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom. Many analysts now believe that two distinct cultural generations were born during this baby boom; the older generation is often called the Baby Boom Generation and the younger generation is often called Generation Jones. The term “baby boomer” is sometimes used in a cultural context, and sometimes used to describe someone who was born during the post-WWII baby boom.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The blame game is what matters.

    Suck it up kids – no generation has gone without faults.

  6. Benalbanach — No, of course they’re not ALL pricks, just an amazingly large number of them. 😉

    Born at the end of 1959, I fall into that somewhat awkward position of having just missed by a few years the compelling generational wave surfed by the boomers who, it always seemed, got all of the cream and left little behind for those us who followed behind in their wake, suffering from the recessions they created, scrounging for crumbs off the table, and always somehow generally getting the shitty downside of things.

    These folks were, as you may recall, the generation that initially was all about “free love” and peace and what not, until that whimsical notion was exhausted in a bleary, incoherent haze of drugs and became suddenly rather inconvenient as they grew a bit older. Then they morphed into the self-absorbed “ME Generation” because it was all about them and their precious fucking egos, self-fulfillment, realization, actualization, etc., as they embarked on journeys of inner self-discovery and so on… until that flatulent nonsense was quickly turfed in exchange for the tawdry excess and nouveau riche indulgence of the 80s as they relentlessly plowed through that decade with their grotesque, self-indulgent “Greed is good” ethos. Finally, they shifted with relative ease into the 90s and much of the last decade possessed by yet another iteration of narcissistic selfishness: this time, the arrogant “I’m all right, Jack!” attitude of smug satisfaction at having successfully entrenched themselves within the “establishment” they’d once so vehemently railed against. But alas (for them), it was all an illusion… a mirage — and much of their supposed “wealth” and security has now abruptly vanished… Poof! All gone. Nothing but smoke and mirrors.

  7. Suck it up kids – no generation has gone without faults.

    Most certainly. It’s kind of a variation of the “Kids today!” rant that we’ve all indulged in at one time or another (and in doing so, effectively time-stamping our official certification as old fogies) but can be easily traced back to ancient Greece where Aristotle, Socrates and Plato bitched about the younger generation of their time. And so it goes…

  8. Wow. As someone born in the last ‘qualifying’ year to be a boomer, I resent being lumped in with the egotistic me group. Most of us are responsible adults that live in a house that is paid for, not ‘under water’ and do have some RRSP money to live on. The boomers who have lived responsibly have been screwed over by the likes of PMSH (I will not tax trust units — RRSP tanks!) and the stock market free regulation crowd (Dow down 50%). Unlike the GenerationX-ers (has there ever been a more self absorbed group — but I digress) time is not on our side. Get off my lawn!

  9. LOL

    Of course when talking about whole generations and sweeping “trends” that have been attached to various decades in order to describe/differentiate them, one tends to paint with a ridiculously broad brush. Perhaps so much so as to render any such characterizations as being largely meaningless.

  10. Southern Quebec -“Unlike the GenerationX-ers – has there ever been a more self absorbed group”

    Yeah its called the the Baby Boom Generation (aka the ME Generation, aka the Bush Generation). Then again anyone who believed in Reaganomics and other greed building philosophies could be called delusional in retrospect.

    Don’t pick on us Gen Xers, we didnt have the money to create this mess. We’re still paying off our student loans that we actually have to (cant just default on them or not pay them like the old days).

  11. Demographers put Generation X as anyone born between 1960 and 1972. So Red, you just qualify!

    As a Gen X’er, I have been wallowing in the wake of the Tidal Wave called the Baby Boom all my life. Their sheer demographic power has left me only the remnants of their bounty. Every time I get rolling in life, they initiate a crisis or recession that sets me back another two of three years.

    They don’t do this consciously of course, but there obsession with the material always creates new complications and their sense of entitlement always creates a new crisis. Gen X pays the price.

    As well, I have to manage their offspring – the insufferable “millennials.” These jerks actually whine when they have to actually work. Their self-esteem has been so stroked and nurtured by their Boomer Parents that they are shocked when we actually fire them.

    What a mess.

    This is a eerily prescient post as I am just finishing-off “X Saves the World” by Jeff Gordinier.

  12. Notice the boomers here all feel personally targeted. They should relax…or pipe down anyway. They’ve dominated all discourse for 30 years now.

    The situation is far more complicated to be blamed on any one individual boomer. In any case, a far more important issue that never gets examined properly is the illusory nature of prosperity. Not that there can be anything done about it necessarily, but we generally have very funny ideas about what standard of living and prosperity mean.

    I’d be interested to hear more about the revolt among economic students in France; that’s a good place to start. The sheer quantity of bad or pseudo-science that informs our understanding of economics is a HUGE part of this.

  13. Lost generation indeed!

    Seems to me we had non-boomers Chretian & Martin in charge .. then Harper(’59) who is a boomer/gen-x cusp figure.

    Dubya and Clinton born in 46 – technically boomers – but again born on the cusp.

    And there were so many of us when we came of age that in the USA they got shipped to Vietnam while in Canada we traveled abroad and/or worked on LIP grants.

    And just cause everyone focused on our massive demographic doesn’t mean we dominated the conversation! (Hey we didn’t even have cell phones or facebook!)

  14. Red have you ever hit the nail on the head today. I have been procrastinating for 2 years on a post that is someday to be entitled, “I blame the boomers.” I was always afraid I would be accused of generalizing. My own boomer parents for example weren’t guilty of some of the excesses of the worlds saddest and most entitled generation. A generation that spent the 60’s and 70’s drunk driving their GTO’s through my neighborhood and yours and now support a drunk driving regime that will put me jail for standing next to my car with a beer. These same assholes now support speedbumps on public streets and 40 km speed zones when that same old GTO wouldn’t even be in second gear at 4okm. They also support 3 and 5 year probation periods for new drivers who have to jump through a hundred hoops to get the same license they have been getting sent in the mail since they took a 10 minute test in 1965. The generation that spent 1965 through 1985 with a smoke in their mouth now won’t let me smoke in a bar, or their parents smoke in an old age home. Their parent built great nations and did great things. They pissed it all away while they kept outsourcing their childrens jobs. They refused to pay taxes of any kind and as a result every single government that has been elected in Canada at every single level of government has been elected on a platform of ” I won’t raise your taxes.” As a result we have an infrustructure deficit that my grandchildren wont be able to pay for. They were the first generation of Canadians that didn’t have to pay for healthcare and if they have their way will be the last as they fight to privatize healthcare now so they won’t have to stand in line and wait for the MRI that will tell them they need a new knee because their real knees won’t support their tremendous girth. They bankrupted Canada in the 70’s while they joined the ” UI Ski team” then slashed the fuck out of the program right about the time their children needed it and now no one qualifies. They learned in economics school in 1980 that unions were bad so they broke the unions and drove down wages for everybody. Yeah boomers. I got more but I’ve taken up enough space.

  15. It’s never good to generalise about boomers, since they are really, really convinced of their own innate wonderfulness and can get exceedingly withering or vindictive if you anger them unnecessarily. I was hoping that dotage would moderate the self-righteousness a bit, but with the advances in health care, that’s not going to happen.

    I’ve always thought a more focussed enemies list of boomers is a better way of going about it.

    We also have to remember that Canada and the US are two very different countries. The excesses of the boomer generation didn’t arrive here until later and were moderated by a society that had quite a few institutions to challenge boomer materialism, their hare-brained administrative, educational and cultural fashions and their general feeling that the real point of life is self-actualisation; “having it all” and “being all you can be.”

    But as I said earlier, it’s the assumptions that underlie our understanding of economic well-being that have led to all of these unintended consequences.

  16. There’s a whole lot of Boomer Bashin’ goin’ on here!!…and some of it rightly so though a blanket ‘hate in’ serves no one.
    I will cop to being a boomer (1951) and in my defence; have NEVER borrowed money…have never serviced credit card debt but have in the past had in excess of $100,000 credit limit…own four pieces of property and drive later model vehicles ( no new ones any more…they’re not worth the price).Owned my own business…am handicapped last 6 years in a car accident so don’t work at a regular job…also Don’t live on a gov’t pension…and use my own money.
    I was always a hard worker and managed to accumulate what I have debt free by doing without ’till I could afford it.
    As for the present credit crunch etc…it really affects me very little.
    What does tick me off though is mindless people who slag others with generalities by lumping them altogether.The shoe doesn’t always fit !
    I note an awfull lot of younger generation people who are in debt up to their eyeballs due to wanting it all now and living from cheque to cheque…hoping it all stays together.
    Ha…what a foolish way to live…that’s relying on others to bail you out for bad planning and then whining when it doesn’t all go to plan.
    As in any generation, there’s alot of asshats and to specifically blame the original Madison Avenue post WW2 television experiment kids for all of the present evils is in effect a misdirected approach to a problem that affects us all and is in need of some serious road repair.
    A good place to start is by living within one’s means.

  17. Simon — I didn’t really intend for this to become a “hate in” against Baby Boomers. It’s not something that exactly consumes me with a burning resentment or anything, but more just a sense of being amused at always having felt somewhat out of synch with the prevailing trends created by the generation just ahead of me.

    Whatever one may think of them, it can’t be denied that they’ve had an enormous and dramatic influence on society throughout every stage of their collective progression through life. Now of course that they will be living longer than any group of people before them in history, it will continue to be the case as the impact of the healthcare costs they’ll increasingly be incurring will “break the bank” so to speak (the so-called “Boomsday” scenario) when it comes to social security. Not to mention the fact that in the States at least they’ve been borrowing — some may say “stealing” — from pension funds to create the illusion that annual budget deficits weren’t as outrageously large as is actually the case. I believe one former auditor general estimated the actual amount of the national debt if all the unfunded liabilities were taken into account is something like $53 trillion, rather than the already obscene $11 trillion or so.

    But more to your point, as I mentioned earlier in the comments, of course it’s unfair to generalize so broadly and my griping isn’t meant to implicate every individual in the boomer generation — that would be absurd. Obviously, there are innumerable exceptions to the rule in all respects.

    And yes, living within our means is a lesson everyone would do well to learn (or re-learn as the case may be). The problem with that of course, is the dreaded “paradox of thrift” that Keynes warned of.

  18. “The younger generations want it all now” to paraphrase Simon. Very true. My parents – boomers – didn’t own their first house until they were 22. If people who are 22 today had the same crappy jobs my parents had they would never be able to buy a house – ever.

    I, with an income in the six figures, bought my first house at 31 after years of planning, saving, reading and listening to those in management complain that if us youngens were dedicated to the company we would buy a house to signify our commitment. So I finally bought – the interest rate was as good as it gets, the local housing market was almost at the lowest point, the house would take me maybe 5 years to pay off, and the company i work(ed) for claimed to be in such good shape that it would be massively expanding over the coming months.
    Moved in on a Friday, arrived at work on the Monday to find the doors were locked. But alas, I am off topic. The point was that along with my parents, everyone of my boomer aunts and uncles bought houses, cars etc. at ages far younger then anyone I know in my “want everything now” age bracket.

  19. WS — I didn’t reluctantly buy my first house until I was 35 and then it was something of a similar situation… promised a great job with unlimited potential, only to find out shortly after the fact that the company was in the process of being sold out to another firm (which they knew full well when I was bamboozled into moving). As a result, I was FORCED to move to the other side of the country to become part of the management team of the takeover company, in the process losing about $20,000 of equity I had in the place I’d just recently bought. I spent almost two years maddeningly wrangling back and forth with these assholes over the issue, finally capitulating to their demands… only then to find out that I was regarded as something of an inconvenient “liability” to them because they resented paying my existing (fairly generous) salary, but were too infernally cheap to simply cash me out. Instead, the miserable SOBs decided to just make my life a living hell — your basic “constructive dismissal” scenario. After I left and found a new job, they hounded me to recover the moving expenses they’d paid (less than half of the equity I’d lost) and when I fired back with a snarky website that mocked them for being a bunch of pigs, they sued me for defamation to the tune of a million dollars.

    And so it goes.

  20. And people wonder why people resent big business at times.

    What does tick me off though is mindless people who slag others with generalities by lumping them altogether.The shoe doesn’t always fit !
    I note an awfull lot of younger generation people who are in debt up to their eyeballs due to wanting it all now and living from cheque to cheque…hoping it all stays together.

    Er, um, isn’t that a generalities about the young ones?

    As for living pay cheque to pay cheque… it’s easier to understand when you consider the fact that basic spending has gone up from 54% of pay to 75% of pay. It’s crap at times.

  21. That was just my own somewhat crappy experience — your mileage may vary… And I don’t harbour any special resentment against “big business” per se, quite far from it… there are many good, ethically decent companies out there, even though it seems that a fascistic, despotic corporatism has been gradually taking hold of things over the past 30 years or so… It’s maybe not entirely naïve to suggest that there’s a lot free-ranging “evil” rampantly out and about in the world. Maybe having finally learned from the mistakes of the past, when the economy eventually “resets” itself then things will be a little better… Or so we hope.

  22. There are some good companies out there…. I’m in a slightly sour mood because of some things happening at work (not a bad company, but…) …. also reading Bait and Switch this week-end probably didn’t help. 😉

  23. Get a grip, Red. 1959 is plenty far back to ensure your admission into the generation you so readily condemn. The 40s somethings/50s somethings never failed to show up at the trough out of concern for future generations. BTW – I’ve never seen a generation so consumer driven and so socially unconscious as the 80s/90s bunch.

  24. MoS — Red. 1959 is plenty far back to ensure your admission into the generation you so readily condemn.

    Um, no. As noted by ATY above “Demographers put Generation X as anyone born between 1960 and 1972.” My B-day is Nov 21, 1959… so not so “plenty far back” and, as I said, a somewhat awkward position to be in… the very tail end of the boomers and cusp of Gen-X.

    But don’t let pesky “facts” get in the way a convenient brain fart.

  25. Generation Jones is way underplayed here, considering how much buzz its been getting recently. I’ve been really into it, sorta pathetic in a way, I suppose, but there’s something about finally having a generational label which actually fits that resonates.

    The Associated Press’ annual trend report lists The Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. A long list of prominent voices have pointed out that Obama (born in 1961) is part of GenJones (born 1954-1965), including : David Brooks (New York Times), Karen Tumulty (Time Magazine), Clarence Page (Chicago Tribune), Jonathan Alter (Newsweek), Roland Martin (CNN), Michael Steele (Chairman, RNC), Chris Van Hollen (Chairman, DCCC), Stuart Rothenberg (Roll Call), Juan Williams (Fox News Channel), Howard Wolfson (Political Advisor), Mel Martinez (U.S. Senator [R-Florida]), Carl Leubsdorf (Dallas Morning News), and Peter Fenn (MSNBC) and many more top journalists, generations experts and political and social pundits.

    Several polls have confirmed that those born between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s clearly identify with GenJones over its surrounding generations. One particularly interesting poll a few months ago had a nationally representative sample of 500 people all born in 1961–the same birth year as Obama. They overwhelmingly chose GenJones over GenX or the Baby Boom Generation as the generation which they felt they fit into.

    There was just an excellent op-ed on Generation Jones in USA TODAY a few weeks ago:

    And here is a video with over 20 top pundits talking about GenJones as the new generation of leadership:

  26. I have to confess to being ignorant about this whole “GenJones” thing… Not, to be honest, that I was ever much interested in identifying with a group of people born entirely of chance at a certain time as a way of specifically defining myself.

  27. Just so you get your facts straight, Red, this from Wiki

    “In demographic terms, Generation Jones was part of the baby boom which ended in the early 1960s.”

  28. My point is that you’re very much of the “boomer” generation. A generation being the average age difference between children and their mother, commonly considered between 20 to 25 years. We know when the boomer generation began – late 1945 and so it continued until at least 1965 when some boomers commenced having their own children, launching the next generation. Just wanted to point that out given your stated concern about facts.

  29. For starters, you are confusing cultural generations (e.g. GenX) with familial generations (parent-child). You are absolutely right re. familial, but cultural generations have absolutely nothing to do with mothers being of age to bear children. Cultural generations are all about shared formative experiences, which leads to other confusion here. The demographic boom in births was 1946-1964, but there were two distinct generations born. Again, generations are about shared formative experiences, not fertility rates.

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies = 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION = 1942-1953
    Generation Jones = 1954-1965

  30. Seems like quite needless pettifogging to me. But whatever. In this regard, the disclaimer from the Wiki entry is quite apt:

    …it is impossible to achieve broad consensus of a precise definition, even within a given territory. Different groups, organizations, individuals, and scholars may have widely varying opinions on what constitutes a baby boomer, both technically and culturally. Ascribing universal attributes to a broad generation is difficult, and some observers believe that it is inherently impossible. Nonetheless, many people have attempted to determine they’re broad cultural similarities and historical impact of the generation, and thus the term has gained widespread popular usage.

    When I asked what your “point” was it was more to understand the nature of your assertion. Was it simply to quibble over the demographic range involved? Because, I would suggest that’s a fairly useless discussion — being quite debatable and all. If you want to assert that I have no right whatsoever to kvetch about the matter given that I’m statistically “entitled” to be part of the “boomer” generation then that’s another matter.

  31. hedt2010 — Thanks for putting a finer point on it. I really was talking initially in the most general sort of way that would be familiar to anyone in my approximate age range based on cultural experience.

  32. From hedt2010’s link to USAToday:

    “But generations arise from shared formative experiences, not head counts…”

    Indeed, which is where I’m having a problem here. One being opinion versus fact regarding what those shared experiences are and the other being “shared experiences” as defined by Americans.

    This topic is always dominated by American discussion, which seems to be unavoidable, but we always, in hindsight, end up buying into a lot of assumptions that never play out here in exactly the same way. Vietnam, student protests, drug culture, the OPEC oil embargo, Watergate, the Iranian revolution, the Reagan Era, the Clinton era, 9/11 etc. And what are genuine social movements in the USA quite often end up being nothing more than fashions and trends in consumer and political culture when they end up here.

  33. It’ really is no surprise that Generation X (born 1961-1980)will take this crisis on the chin. If you look back in history to the last major crisis period (1930-1945), the generation then at the midlife stage was the Lost Generation (born 1883-1900) also suffered greatly because of the excess of previous generations (during the 1920’s). Generation X is indeed in for a tough ride, and like the Lost generation, it is unlikely that we will have a society that will help us in elderhood. But bashing Boomers won’t help right now. The thing that will is helping the next generation (the Millennials born 1982~2005) to build a stronger society. I have been presenting research about this shift of generations on my blog:

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