Generational Larceny

Share on facebook
Facebook 0
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn 0
Share on reddit
Reddit 0
Share on delicious
Share on digg
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon 0
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print



As an aging Baby Boomer, class of 1957, I have frequently been appalled at the antics of many members of my huge age cohort.  Back in the Sixties, and the birth of the truly puerile “youth culture”, one of the mantras was “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30!”  Today, for way too many Baby Boomers, it is evident that the young are viewed as cows to be milked until the last Boomer has had a funeral replete with golden moldies from the Sixties.  Nick Gillespie of Reason gives us the grisly details:

Systematically and in all sorts of ways. Old people are doing everything possible to rob you of your money, your future, your dignity, and your freedom.

Here’s the irony, too (in a sort of Alanis Morissette sense): You’re getting hosed by the very same group that 45 years ago was bitching and moaning about “the generation gap” and how their parents just didn’t understand what really mattered in life.

Hence, many of the early pop anthems of the baby boomers -technically, those born between 1946 and 1964 but or all intents and purposes folks 55 years and older – focused on how stupid old people were (“don’t criticize what you can’t understand“) and how young people would rather croak themselves then end up like their parents (“I hope I die before I get old“). “We are stardust, we are golden,” sang Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at Woodstock. “We got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Flash forward four or five decades, a couple of hundred pounds, the odd organ transplant, random arrests and jail stints, and the only garden David Crosby is getting back to is the Olive Garden with its unlimited pasta bowls and breadsticks. What small parts of American life and power the boomers don’t yet run they will soon enough.

Did you read that New York Times op-ed that called for a brand-spankin’ new military draft and national service plan? “Let’s Draft Our Kids,” by veteran (read: old, born in 1955) journalist Thomas Ricks, is symptomatic of the new vibe, a kind of reverse Logan’s Run scenario. In that godawful 1976 flick, when you turned 30, you were killed for the common good. Nowadays, it’s more like life begins at 30. Which is confusing because 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40 and on and on. The important thing: Youth is no longer to be wasted on the young.

Ricks suggests letting high-school grads pick from either 18 months of military service or two years of civilian service, in return for free college tuition and subsidized health care and mortgages (libertarians, he notes, could opt out of service by forfeiting benefits though apparently not avoiding taxes). Beyond all the obviously great and good and wonderful things that come of forced labor, Ricks suggests that “having a draft might…make Americans think more carefully before going to war.” Sure it would. Just like it did in the past when we actually had a draft.

Expect this sort of plan to get more and more respectful hearings if unemployment stays high for another few weeks. Or as former hippies and punks get up there in years. Last year, during an appearance I had on Real Time with Bill Maher, the host and other guests (all of us well north of 30) thought mandatory service was a fine notion.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  In many ways government social policy since the New Deal has been a simple scam of robbing selected Peters to pay selected Pauls.  Increasingly, as the years roll by, more and more old Pauls will be robbing fewer and fewer young Peters in a futile attempt to preserve benefits from the government that are unsustainable.  Government policies, easy divorce, welfare payments for out of wedlock births, abortion on demand, etc., have been destructive of the basic social safety net, the family.  Government is a poor substitute and does so by plundering the young for the old.  Despicable.

More to explorer

Eating Their Own

  News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   WASHINGTON, D.C.—Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is busy celebrating her victory over the


  1. This is absolutely de trop. First you conflate the experience of several distinct demographic sets and social strata in the term ‘baby boomer’, then you stick all of them with the bill for a proposal floated by a scatter of liberal publicists, and then further berate them for defects in the political economy that were well established and identified problems in public discourse ‘ere most were even half way through their working lives.

  2. “ere most were even half way through their working lives.”

    Baby Boomers have been in charge of the system Art since 1993. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been done to alter policies that are fiscally and morally bankrupt. Instead, policies have been implemented, a prime example is the prescription drug plan of Bush 43, that have made the situation worse.

  3. The author posits that boomers are “for all intents and purposes folks 55 years and older . . .” which leaves me first in line at the closed door, being class of ’58.

    However, another diatribe I use to clear out otherwise delightful happy hours and driveway beer jags is the notion that “the Boomers” are actually 2 generations: Generation V – the ones referred to in the article – and Generation W, the rest of us born up to and including 1964. To begin the analogy, I use the VW microbus as the epitomal icon of the Boomer generation, despite the total coincidence.

    Gen V and Gen W (which you may have already figured, logically, come right before Gens X & Y) have very distinct traits. V was eligible for the Vietnam draft. W was not. V represents the vain, vapid and verbose stereotypes that the article cites. W wondered what the heck we were doing, standing in the wake of the Vs. Not old enough to actually rebel, protest, abandon all sexual and civil responsibility and hygiene, we Ws waited for the day we could finally join those hairy, hoary ranks, and just when we got there it all changed, just as it continuously has ever since. The Vs keep it all for themselves.

    Everything that constituted the leading generational wave, from bombing ROTC buildings to the Studio 54 experience to the Power Tie “Me First” attitudes of the neo-Con emergence are all V-led, like a flight of wild geese chasing silly dreams across the rainbow sky. We Ws, then, followed in our double-vee, just cruising along like the next flight of equally silly geese, only without even a malformed and warped sense of purpose. Or, at least, until some of us finally grew up and saw what our progenitors had wrought.

    So, whether being a Gen W represents anything other than being in that gap between the leading wave of robbers and those who will not be too old to plunder is up for argument, I suppose. All I know is that I do not like being lumped in with the “Boomer” demographic, and so I always say that I am a “Gen W.” If you are also in the Gen W age range, you are free to use the denomination to declare your independence as well.

  4. Donald, the redistribution of resources to the medical sector took place largely between the years 1965 and 1995. I will wager you that only at the end of this period were the majority of elite posts in government, business, and philanthropic enterprises occupied by those born during the years running from 1939 through about 1952. You are absolutely right those people had a responsibility to restructure retirement benefits so they would sit on a sustainable trajectory. To some extent this was done in a halting and partial fashion. The thing is, the troublesome aspect of our regime of public and private retirement benefits was manifest as early as 1977 and the responses over the succeeding 15 years were…halting and partial. Tip O’Neill (b. 1913) and Walter Mondale (b. 1928) were also given to demagoguery on Social Security.

    I will also point out that a comfortable majority of the people born in 1913, 1928, 1939, and 1952 have one thing in common: they grew up in wage-earning families and did not have any sort of tertiary schooling. I do not think social vanity (or Crosby, Stills, and Nash) has ever been particularly salable among the broad working class majority. (Regrettably, unilateral divorce has been).

  5. I have to preface my comments by stating that I am a dyed in the wool conservative and always have been. That said, I am getting awfully tired of hearing a very, very overused word – “unsustainable” used by just about every conservative (and a few liberals) to define medicare and Social Security. Leaving out Obamacare, the only reason these plans are “unsustainable” at this time is that the government is spending way too much money on a lot of other things (like Obamacare) and has done just about everything possible to retard any real economic growth that would render these problems less important.

    First of all being over 55 does not qualify one as a baby boomer in my book (although I am sure it may work to prove some government agency’s agenda) as most people of that age are still working and very productive. Being over 65 does qualify as most of these individuals are either retiring or thinking about it so are eligible for medicare and Social Security. If you are 55 you are at least 10+ years away so anything that is said about the survival of these funds is prognostication and we all know that government accounting offices are terribly accurate at that!

    I am dismayed by the argument that because the baby boomers had Woodstock and “did not trust anyone over 30” they are somehow unworthy of collecting social security or medicare benefits when they are needed. Specially after paying for these benefits for most of their life. I guess these actions were somehow more damning than the actions of today’s rap artists, Wall Street protesters and other social misfits. The view that the actions in the 60’s are fundamentally different from the actions of youth of any generation is naive in the extreme.

    What is different is that most of my generation (the real post war baby boom) had little or no objection to paying for social security and medicare even though we knew we were paying for someone else for most of our careers. Apparently younger workers today, including those who are 55 have no such obligation because it has been characterized by many as “unsusainable”.

    I have one answer for most people using the “unsustainable” argument – what is the alternative? Let’s take for example the multi-millions for whom Social Security and Medicare are either their main income and protection or at least allow them to keep some personal dignity and financial security. We take these programs away and what happens? In reality, if we just don’t start killing older adults, we will pay more when they are totally “welfare citizens”. Do not say changing now will allow those coming up to have an alternative plan because real life is that most people will not have a job which allows them to independently fully fund their retirement and medical care. Possibly more importantly, we create a huge voting block to increase those benefits and elect liberal politicians.

    The real answer is not to foster class warfare based on age – that is a liberal agenda item. The real answer is to rebuild an economy that will “sustain” needed programs as a smaller part of GDP and to modify these programs so they can fund themselves as much as possible.

  6. c matt

    Submitted on 2012/07/13 at 8:50am

    Mandatory service is a great notion – let’s start with those between 55 and 65 (in exchange for free health care, of course, otherwise it would be slavery) then work our way down.

  7. Thanks for posting the Milton Friedman (RIP) piece.

    Beginning in 1973, he restored Chile’s economy.

    See March 2, 2010, Wall Street Journal: “How Milton Friedman Saved Chile” by Bret Stephens.

    In 1973, when Gen. Augusto Pinochet saved his country, Chile was an economic disaster. Annual inflation was 1,000%; foreign-currency reserves were nil; and per capita GDP was about as low as Peru and far worse than Argentina.

    Chile already had intellectual capital via an exchange program between the Catholic University and the economics department of the University of Chicago, Friedman’s academic home.

    Even before 1973, several of Chile’s “Chicago Boys” had drafted a set of policy proposals which led to economic liberalization: reductions to government spending and the money supply; privatization of state-owned companies; the elimination of obstacles to free enterprise and foreign investment, etc.

    Pinochet appointed a number of “Chicago Boys” to senior economic posts. By 1990, the year P ceded power, per capita GDP had risen by 40% (in 2005 dollars) while Peru and Argentina had stagnated. Pinochet’s democratic successors pushed forward with the liberalization programs.

    Today, Chileans are South America’s richest people. They have the continent’s lowest level of corruption, the lowest infant-mortality rate, and the lowest number of people living below the poverty line.

    Peace and justice demand that Amerca end collectivist, central planners economic repression and restore the common good.

    It is not too late.

  8. Does anyone fancy a re-run of the June Days (1848), when the government closed the National Workshops that gave work and wages to the unemployed? Then, the Liberals secured a victory over the Radical Republicans, but at the cost of 1,500 dead in the streets and thousands of summary executions of prisoners. The Assembly, one recalls, welcomed the surrender of the last barricade with cries of “Long Live the Republic!” What they got, inevitably, was Napoléon III.

    Nowadays, when governments depend for their legitimacy on media coverage and the cult of personality, it is pretty generally recognised that welfare cheques, drug-dealing and cheap alcohol are indispensible guarantees of the political order.

    Talleyrand (one of the few bishops whose political judgment I respect) observed that “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.”

  9. I read Gillespie’s article. I’m confused. Don’t the numbers he cites show the exact opposite, specifically that people retiring in the next 20 years will get more out of the system than they put into it? I can understand the scepticism that that will actually happen, and I see that they will get less net from the system than the previous generations did, but they’re still getting a net plus. Let me repeat: I’m enough of a Simpsons fan to remember Lisa’s perpetual motion machine that kept going faster, and I understand why it doesn’t seem possible to keep giving out more money than you’re taking in. But can someone please confirm for me that Gillispie’s (actually, Urban Institute’s) numbers show just that?

  10. it is pretty generally recognised that welfare cheques, drug-dealing and cheap alcohol are indispensible guarantees of the political order.

    Recognized by whom?

  11. Donald says–“Baby Boomers have been in charge of the system…since 1933”.

    Amazing–since by definition they weren’t even being born for another 12 years and wouldn’t have manditory federal voting rights (then 21) until, at the earliest, 1957.

  12. Pinky,

    I think they advanced a solution. I believe a modest proposal is found somewhere among the 2,300 page of the Affordable Health Care Act.

    Likely the UK already operates Obamacare–like “treatment pathways.”

    UK Professor Patrick Pullicino, quoted Daily Mail synopsis: Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year.
    • The professor says doctors use ‘death pathway’ to euthanize the elderly
    • The treatment on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours
    • Around 29 per cent of patients that die in hospital are on controversial ‘treatment pathway’
    • A pensioner admitted to hospital was given pathway by a doctor on a weekend shift


    Therefore, when an elderly person’s SS/Medicare contributions have been repaid, the thugocrats can have him/her admitted to a specialized clinic and placed on a “morphine drip.” Also, the next generation may consume him/her fileted, stuffed or roasted. Killed two birds with one stone.

    I love it when a plan comes together.

Comments are closed.