I Don’t Like Baby Boomers

…and to paraphrase an old joke, “I are one”.

Well, that’s not exactly true; I like most ‘boomers’, just as I like most people. It’s a few of their shared characteristics that I dislike (not most, just a few, really).

I read Generations by Howe and Strauss when it first came out in 1992, and was tremendously impressed at their insights, as were most of my generation who read it. Being self-centered as we are (boomers invented the me-generation, after all) Howe and Struass had us pegged from the start. They should have – they’re boomers too.

Yes, we’re an extroverted group, not afraid of the spotlight or power (as we see in our two boomer presidents, Clinton and Bush). But we’re arrogant, and overly self-assured, as we see in the personae of Woodward and Bernstein. They brought down a president? Really? And this was a good thing?

Yes, we invented sex, drugs and rock-‘n-roll, except that we didn’t. And we had the audacity to preach to our parents (especially if our parents fought in World War II), as if we had a superior morality. Oh, God, did we preach. We still do. On top of all that, we have always preached the gospel of individualism, even as we all rushed out together to buy hula-hoops. (Brian – “You’re all individuals!” Small voice – “I am not.”)

Sigh. Our foibles have indeed be balanced by some mitigating factors: our civic enthusiasm is not a bad thing, even if it is (more than) occasionally mis-directed. And our sheer numbers have contributed to the national well being, even if we screwed up royally in Viet-Nam. Today we (literally) run the country, and the job has been done worse, even if it has been done better at times. Our children will blame us for emptying the nation coiffures for Social Security, but they will be wrong. Our parents and grandparents should never have set up that Ponzy scheme to begin with, and we will replace it with something better and lasting (just wait and see).

Boomers are mostly in their 50s and 60s now, and believe it or not, some are wising up. I’m confident that with age comes wisdom, and what I see on the horizon is a situation where a large number of experience people remain in the workforce (part-time, mind you), just when they’re needed, doing for the first time in their lives, just what they want to do (not what they need to do). I see an infrastructure in place to allow the communication of information on an industrial scale needed to take advantage of this. I see longer life-times that need productive work, and opportunities for productive work that need longer life-times. Virtuous circles all over the place!

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