Monday, June 12, 2017

Let's All Hate on the Baby Boomers

Since the Baby Boomers are now munching down on Social Security and Medicare, at enormous expense, it is natural for our younger friends to get a little shirty.

After all, Social Security and Medicare are flat-out generational injustice. The federal government has a compulsory and mandatory program to which workers are forced to contribute, and seniors get to collect on a formula that has nothing to do with what the young workers can afford, as they struggle to get a job, get married, and raise a family.

But Social Security was passed in 1935, before the Baby Boom was even a twinkle in its father's eye. And Medicare was passed in 1965, before the Baby Boom got to vote.

But the Baby Boom could have Done Something about it. It could have reformed Social Security and Medicare; it could have protected the family; it could have rallied against the race and gender politics of the liberals.

So the Baby Boomers went 100 percent for sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Of course, doesn't every young generation want to let it all hang out? So the Baby Boomers fought against the Vietnam War -- like the Irish rioted against the draft in 1863 in New York City. Young 'uns generally don't like fighting in their fathers' wars, unless, as in World War II, they have no option.

Let's divide and conquer. Let's talk about the liberal Baby Boomers. The truth is that they believed in everything they did to destroy the Fifties world, because they thought that world was racist and sexist and oppressive. They were taught by their teachers to be civil-rights workers and Peace Corps volunteers and they went out and did it. They weren't perfect -- hello Bill and Hillary -- but basically they were good little boys and girls that learned their lessons well and applied them exactly as ordered.

What about conservative Baby Boomers? Well, we came into the world and didn't like the liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. we agreed with the Cold War and many of us served in the military. We worked, we wived, we thrived, and now we have built a nice retirement for ourselves way beyond the government entitlements. We wanted to reform the welfare state and we succeeded here and there. Of course, we were hypocrites and backsliders and didn't always live up to what we professed. But it wasn't the hypocrisy that beat us, it was that overall, we failed; we failed to change the culture, and now America is roiled in a culture war where it is very difficult for anyone to stand against the liberal hegemony without losing job and reputation.

And then there are the ordinary people, the ordinary middle class and working class Baby Boomers that just did what they could to live their lives, without any thought that they could or should change things.

The truth is that we are in the middle of something that is much bigger and consequential than the post-WWII Baby Boom. We are in the middle of a battle to decide between two great contesting notions of how the world should work.

On the one hand is an unexpected, unsought-for Great Enrichment, from $3 per person per day to the present $145 per person per day, that has issued from the market economy and the failure of the ruling class to prevent innovation from changing the world.

On the other hand is the notion that politics and government can transform the world, that government programs and administrative systems can and should provide a better, more just distribution of the good things in life, particularly the material things in life.

On the one hand we have a faith in social cooperation with the minimum of force; on the other a faith that bold, vigorous experimentation with political and administrative systems is the only way to roll back centuries of privilege and exploitation.

At some point, and it may not be far in the future, these competing faiths will be brought to the proof. For me, the question is not in doubt: the big government philosophy of systems and government domination will run out of money and collapse, à la Venezuela, because nothing less than utter failure will prompt a turning from the big government model and its tempting offer of free stuff.

And yet. The two great socialist states, Russia and China, have abandoned the follies of full-on socialism, but not the faith in ruling-class supremacy, and the right of a ruling class to meddle and loot the people that work and strive for a living.

And governments have not really got beyond the economics of the Dark Ages, when the Carolingian kings thought that markets were a good idea, especially if they charged 10 percent duty on all transactions.

But by all means blame the Baby Boom. we grandpas and grannies are old and cranky, and it is time to set us straight.

No comments:

Post a Comment