I've noticed several articles in recent weeks that are very negative about 'baby boomers'. Since I fall into that generation myself, albeit born far outside the USA and therefore never having considered myself one of them, I've been reading up on the subject.
My 'exposure' began with an article by Thomas L. Day in the Washington Post.
I’m 31, an Iraq war veteran, a Penn State graduate, a Catholic, a native of State College, acquaintance of Jerry Sandusky’s, and a product of his Second Mile foundation.
And I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation.
. . .
They have failed us, over and over and over again.
I speak not specifically of our parents -- I have two loving ones -- but of the public leaders our parents’ generation has produced.
. . .
Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work.
For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting.
. . .
Our parents’ generation has balked at the tough decisions required to preserve our country’s sacred entitlements, leaving us to clean up the mess. They let the infrastructure built with their fathers’ hands crumble like a stale cookie. They downgraded our nation’s credit rating. They seem content to hand us a debt exceeding the size of our entire economy, rather than brave a fight against the fortunate and entrenched interests on K Street and Wall Street.
There's more at the link.
Donald Sensing (a pastor whose blog I only recently discovered, but who's already earned my respect for his views and forthright approach to life) put it like this:
What we boomers have done is left an incredibly bollixed up legacy to our children, and we captain the ship of state happily off the falls because, hey, we'll be dead by the time it crashes onto the rocks, so what's it matter? But our kids and grandkids will be crushed by what we have done.
Again, more at the link. I like the way Rev. Sensing thinks. I'll have to make a plan to meet him sometime - he's not far from me.
Walter Russell Mead summed up the Baby Boomer generation in his own inimitable way.
... at the level of public policy and moral leadership, as a generation we have largely failed. The Boomer Progressive Establishment in particular has been a huge disappointment to itself and to the country. The political class slumbered as the entitlement and pension crisis grew to ominous dimensions. Boomer financial leadership was selfish and shortsighted, by and large. Boomer CEOs accelerated the trend toward unlimited greed among corporate elites, and Boomer members of corporate boards sit by and let it happen. Boomer academics created a profoundly dysfunctional system that systemically shovels resources upward from students and adjuncts to overpaid administrators and professors who by and large have not, to say the least, done an outstanding job of transmitting the cultural heritage of the past to future generations. Boomer Hollywood execs created an amoral morass of sludge — and maybe I’m missing something, but nobody spends a lot of time talking about the towering cultural accomplishments of the world historical art geniuses of the Boomer years. Boomer greens enthusiastically bet their movement on the truly idiotic drive for a global carbon treaty; they are now grieving over their failure to make any measurable progress after decades spent and hundreds of millions of dollars thrown away. On the Boomer watch the American family and the American middle class entered major crises; by the time the Boomers have finished with it the health system will be an unaffordable and dysfunctional tangle — perhaps the most complicated, expensive and poorly designed such system in the history of the world.
All of this was done by a generation that never lost its confidence that it was smarter, better educated and more idealistic than its Depression-surviving, World War-winning, segregation-ending, prosperity-building parents. We didn’t need their stinking faith, their stinking morals, or their pathetically conformist codes of moral behavior. We were better than that; after all, we grokked Jefferson Airplane, achieved nirvana on LSD and had a spiritual wealth and sensitivity that our boorish bourgeois forbears could not grasp. They might be doers, builders and achievers — but we Boomers grooved, man, we had sex in the park, we grew our hair long, and we listened to sexy musical lyrics about drugs that those pathetic old losers could not even understand.
What the Boomers as a generation missed (there were, of course and thankfully, many honorable individual exceptions) was the core set of values that every generation must discover to make a successful transition to real adulthood: maturity. Collectively the Boomers continued to follow ideals they associated with youth and individualism: fulfillment and “creativity” rather than endurance and commitment. Boomer spouses dropped families because relationships with spouses or children or mortgage payments no longer “fulfilled” them; Boomer society tolerated the most selfish and immature behavior in its public and cultural leaders out of the classically youthful and immature belief that intolerance and hypocrisy are greater sins than the dereliction of duty. That the greatest and most effective political leader the Baby Boom produced was William Jefferson Clinton tells you all you need to know.
More at the link.
It looks like the Boomers may also be partly to blame for the current lack of jobs for new entrants into the workforce. According to Yahoo! News, they're planning to work much longer than their parents and grandparents - because they can't afford to retire.
When it comes to retirement, many middle class Americans said 80 is the new 65 and plan to delay retirement because of worries over money, according to a new survey.
Wells Fargo bank asked 1,500 Americans who earned between $25,000 and $99,999 and ranged in age from 20 into their 70s questions about retirement, savings and Social Security for its seventh annual retirement survey.
Three-fourths of those surveyed said they expect to work in their retirement years. One quarter said they will "need to work until at least age 80" to live comfortably in retirement.
Of Americans who will work in retirement, "47 percent said that they are going to continue in the same job or a similar job of similar responsibility," Joe Ready, Well Fargo's director of Institutional Retirement and Trust, told Reuters Insider.
"That raises a lot of social and economic implications. Will they have the physical ability to work, the mental capacity? What does that mean for the younger work force in terms of coming through and looking to get ahead?"
. . .
On average, Americans have saved only seven percent of their desired retirement nest egg, with a median of $25,000 saved versus a median retirement goal of $350,000.
More at the link.
All in all, those are some pretty sobering facts and statistics. I don't know what to say, except that chickens inevitably come home to roost, sooner or later . . . and it looks like many Baby Boomers, having had it all their own way for so long, are finally realizing that their turn is coming. Unfortunately, those of them who lived responsibly may well end up being sucked into the whirlpool along with the feckless majority.