I’m sure by now everyone has seen (clips at least) of former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson’s recent appearance on Fox News where he decried kids today for “walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg.” Pretty much everyone had a laugh at the old geezer’s supposed cluelessness, but almost nobody has addressed the underlying point(s) he was making.
Before veering into his hilarious detour, Simpson was simply asserting that the modest changes to Social Security that his Debt Commission had recommended were necessary if today’s pensioners wanted to pass on a fiscally viable system to their decedents. One can debate the particulars, but that’s surely a fair enough argument.
Or is it? Simpson’s offhand remarks where he comically messed up the names of some pop celebrities and not unjustifiably sneered at kids for being stupidly dressed ingrates who no longer write obligatory post-Christmas “thank you” notes to gift-giving grandparents, questioned the premise underpinning that assertion.
While it’s an almost universally accepted notion that everyone has an abiding concern about the world they leave behind to their children (and in turn, their childrens’ offspring), by almost any metric, it has no basis whatsoever in fact. Indeed, it could be argued quite the opposite is true: that baby boomers in particular, whom some have perversely dubbed “The Worst Generation,” have hardly cared for anything at all but immediate fulfillment of their own short-term goals and selfish desires, so all this pious, sentimental blather about deep concern for the world their grandchildren will inherit – economically, environmentally, and otherwise – is perhaps, to borrow another one of Simpson’s expressions, really little more than “fakery”…