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Is it time to lose faith in the Boomers?
November 14, 2011 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I have decided to continue to respect my elders, but to politely tell them, “Out of my way.” Thomas Day, a 31-year-old Iraq War vet, Penn State alum, and product of Jerry Sandusky's Second Mile Foundation, reflects on what he calls the "failure" of the Baby Boomer generation to protect the world they inherited.
posted by downing street memo (108 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read this earlier this morning and I have to say: it's a pretty good tear-down of the process of disillusionment. Similar (but less far-reaching or real-life) steps were taken in my "deconversion" from semi-evangelical Christian to atheist.
posted by grubi at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Iraq War vet and Penn State alum, if only this guy was Catholic, he'd really hit the trifecta of modern day reasons to lose faith in institutions."

*reads article*

"Oh..."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've been saying this for years. Glad to hear it from someone slightly more reputable seeming.
posted by smackwich at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, neither Paterno or Sandusky are boomers.
posted by octothorpe at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yes. Everyone and all things before your generation are fake, frauds, immoral, and so you can now set forth to do better, be better etc etc...Lots of luck.
posted by Postroad at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


Everyone and all things before your generation are fake, frauds, immoral

Not everyone. Only the loudest and most powerful.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:01 PM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


you can now set forth to do better, be better etc etc...Lots of luck.

I, too, wish the author luck. The world doesn't change for the better without people who want to try.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:04 PM on November 14, 2011 [20 favorites]


And let me be the first Gen-X member to say "well, shit, we've been saying this for years; thank god some of the Millennials are chiming in now, there are much more of y'all."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on November 14, 2011 [48 favorites]


Now if you can only turn-around the voting statistics.
posted by pashdown at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and be sure vote Republican and EVERYTHING will get straightened out pronto. After all, the boomer generation did absolutely nothing through the 60s and 70s to change the world and create an environment with many of the "liberties" that your generation seems to believe came right out of the first American Revolution. Wah, wah, wah.
posted by Sparkticus at 12:06 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think many of the problems are institutional in nature, so blaming people isn't all that productive. Institutions (a) seem to fall towards taking collectives of caring people and aggregating their actions into sociopathic outcomes, and (b) are bigger than people, and celebrated exceptions aside, Goliath usually wins.

Venting at people instead of systems may even be part of why the problem persists.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, neither Paterno or Sandusky are boomers.

You're passing the buck. There was an entire generation in between them and this guy.
posted by rhizome at 12:08 PM on November 14, 2011


For what it's worth, neither Paterno or Sandusky are boomers.

Neither, for that matter, is McQueary.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:08 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My comments on this piece from the existing Penn State thread:

It's an interesting read, but the links he tries to make between the failure of leadership at Penn State and various failures of leadership in Washington, DC seem tenuous at best. There is perhaps a generational component to the failures on the national level, but I don't really see one at Penn State, with Paterno representing the tail end of the greatest generation, McQueary being squarely in Gen X territory, and the others being somewhere in between.

I think the author of the piece would probably be an interesting guy to hear more of for his perspective on things, but I feel like he missed the mark trying to tie these events together to the larger problem of selfish baby boomers fucking everything up.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:10 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"but I feel like he missed the mark trying to tie these events together to the larger problem of selfish baby boomers fucking everything up.

Good, so we agree, our national problems are largely caused by selfish baby boomers fucking everything up.
posted by FuturisticDragon at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I rarely buy this generational crossfire, I'm sure, we....and I'm someone in my low 30s will have our brushes with greed, ineptitude, and social non-progressiveness....but I blew my lid when Clinton went on Stewart last week and was asked about the corporate and financial scandals that littered Washington and New York the last couple years and he was like, "Well was among the last generation of students who was taught corporations had a social responsibility, blah, blah, blah......"

As if it was a problem of either our generation or the one 1958-1972ish one.....Yup, his baby boomers never had a coprorate scandal (ADM, Iran Contra, Savings and Loan, etc)....

Or even the concept that it is the educational system that so abruptly failed us while it worked for them....because we were just not special enough to not be molded by it.

The stereotype of the boomers is that they think they are special and can't do wrong. They failed because they're not that.

The Gen X stereotype is going to fail the opposite direction -- we think we're too jaded to even get into the debate....i.e. we're above it....but, trust me, we'll have our own mess-ups, corruptions, etc.....when you build a society around greed and people acting in their own selfishness, it's going to happen, despite the generation.
posted by skepticallypleased at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is all easy to agree with. Nonetheless, it's worth asking: what goal does it serve to play a generational blame game? Not all boomers are corrupt ne'er-do-wells and not all millennials (or whatever they're called by the cognoscenti these days) are innocents. If the so-called Greatest Generation had left the boomers a world that they wanted to inhabit, they would not have revolted en masse against it. "Fuck the system." That's not OWS speaking -- that's Abbie Hoffman circa 1968. And thus it always was, and so shall it always be.

You're passing the buck. There was an entire generation in between them and this guy.

If there's any passing the buck, it's being done by the framing in downing street memo's FPP. The linked article says absolutely nothing about boomers -- doesn't use the word boomers. The assumption is made that he's talking about boomers, but he does nothing of the kind. And now we're all following the frame and talking about boomers. If this guy's parents are in their very early fifties, by tweaking various arbitrary definitions, they're as likely to be Gen Xers as they are to be boomers.
posted by blucevalo at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


They took the football team’s waterboy and made a 101st Airborne Division soldier.

Still carrying water...
posted by telstar at 12:16 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


And let me be the first Gen-X member to say "well, shit, we've been saying this for years; thank god some of the Millennials are chiming in now, there are much more of y'all."

At 31 years old, Thomas Day is most literally a member of Generation X.
posted by muddgirl at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


No he aint.
posted by grubi at 12:21 PM on November 14, 2011


...And in the 1960s the Boomers blamed their parents' generation for creating wars and sending young people to fight them and for placidly accepting racial discrimination and for a number of other social crimes that caused an entire generation to "Never Trust Anyone over 30". Every child grows up trusting his elders, those Big People who feed him and protect him and teach him right from wrong. Then when the kid reaches his 20s and gets out in the world he sees that his elders are just as flawed as anyone else, sometimes more so. It's called growing up and learning to form your own opinions. To blame the Penn State scandal and the current economic crisis specifically on Boomer parents is just par for the course....each succeeding generation will blame the previous one for all of society's ills. Good thing, because that's how change eventually occurs.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


my fuckin' peers were all too busy - either getting wasted or making zillions on wall street. too bad for me i was one of the former and not the latter...
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2011


Yes. Everyone and all things before your generation are fake, frauds, immoral, and so you can now set forth to do better, be better etc etc...Lots of luck

I dunno, the baby book era was sort of a fluke. The fact that Americans enjoyed a fucking shitload of wealth due to selling weapons to Europe (for both World War I and World War II) was only a one-time thing. And people don't want to give that up, so they're now acting like toddlers who are getting their toys taken away.
posted by Melismata at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am increasingly convinced that it's these sort of sentiments that are going to lead to the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare. As people under 40 realize that we're being asked to pay for benefits for our elders but will not, in turn, be able to participate in those benefits to the same extent, the desire to pay for them at all starts to go down pretty sharply.

It doesn't matter whether these sentiments and the opinions they demonstrate about the world are accurate or not. Their existence is sufficient to motivate political action.
posted by valkyryn at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do we have to call them Gen-X? Can we not call them Gen-Scammed-By-The-Markets? Internet bubbles, housing bubbles, loan and credit bubbles, stock market bubbles, send-your-kid-to-college-and-his-life-will-be-golden bubbles... its like an economic obstacle course and they just derped into every wooden wall.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


[This is a difficult topic, can we please not play FTFY games here?]
posted by jessamyn at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, in summary, his complaint is about the misguidance and misdirection received from Penn State, the Catholic church, US leadership's response to the 9/11 attacks, being lied to into a war, the loss of our infrastructure, our economy, our jobs, and our patience at waiting for this to get better.

And he's pissed about it.

Ok, cool. I agree. I don't know who the blame rests on, or if it's even worth trying to assign blame anymore. I'd be happy just to have the problems acknowledged and an honest effort to be put forth to fix them. At this point, the only ones I see standing up to have these changes made are the young people protesting and being vocal about the future. So I support them.

It might not be perfect, but they are asking questions that need to be asked.
posted by quin at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nice. At least nobody can dismiss this guy because he's "unpatriotic" or "nonreligious" or "not from the area so he doesn't know what he's talking about".
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Millennials

What are even the generational boundaries anymore? Every time I hear about how supposedly "my" generation doesn't care about privacy anymore and can't remember a world without the internet and cell phones, I wonder who is in charge of drawing these lines.

If you're 26-30, I don't think the supposed touchstones of "millennials" apply for the most part.
posted by spaltavian at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I found the linked article to be an attempt to sell a weak axe-grinding op-ed about boomer-bashing by dropping a few paragraphs about the Paterno scandal as the lede. Unfortunately it seems to have worked.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the article:
"One thing I know for certain: A leader must emerge from Happy Valley to tie our community together again, and it won’t come from our parents’ generation.
They have failed us, over and over and over again."

There's the problem right there: the idea that there are benevolent leaders. When you grow up, you understand that people in power (aka older people) are not necessarily wise and benevolent. This bogus attack on a whole generation doesn't say as much about boomers as it does about the critics who have lost faith in their idols, whether they are football coaches, priests, politicians, or parents. The solution? Don't create idols.
posted by binturong at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


I dunno, the baby book era was sort of a fluke. The fact that Americans enjoyed a fucking shitload of wealth due to selling weapons to Europe (for both World War I and World War II) was only a one-time thing. And people don't want to give that up, so they're now acting like toddlers who are getting their toys taken away.

Toys in this case reffering to healthcare and retirement savings.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


There are a lot of these earnest, but poorly written, poorly thought-ought, slap-dash blog essays popping up here and on FB and I wish they would stop.
His understanding of the cold-war, and its lessons, is sorely lacking, and his history with second-mile could have been an opportunity to prevent the entire organization from being indicted along with Sandusky, but instead he has painted himself and every child who might have actually been helped by the charity as a victim of sexual abuse, which, if nothing else, is unfair to the actual victims.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's impossible to understand the gap between the 99% and the 1% without looking at the generational divide:
The Pew study concluded: "People generally accumulate wealth as they age, so it is not unusual to find large age-based gaps on this measure. However, the current gap is unprecedented. In 1984, the age-based wealth gap had been 10:1. By 2009, it had ballooned to 47:1."
Gen X Takes The Housing Hit; Boomers Only Grazed
posted by DaShiv at 12:32 PM on November 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


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.


I am born in the baby boom and the world we inherited was blown to shit by the generation before us.

So I would like to offer my sincere apologies for my generation not destroying the world in WW3 so you could earn the money we earned cleaning up after the last one.

Sorry about that. We fucked up on that one.
posted by three blind mice at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes. Everyone and all things before your generation are fake, frauds, immoral, and so you can now set forth to do better, be better etc etc...Lots of luck.

The writer specifically praise those of his grandparents' generation for the country they left to their children. Your criticism is wrong.
posted by Jehan at 12:44 PM on November 14, 2011


grubi wrote: No he aint

Please sort this out so I may know where I stand.
posted by wierdo at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2011


Gen X: 1961-1975
Gen Y: 1976-1990
Millenials: 1991-2005
Zombies: 2006-whenevs
posted by grubi at 12:47 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


We're just pretty much making things up at this point, aren't we?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:48 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm with him on a lot of his content but I don't understand this attitude about his parents' generation. Or any other generation.

Is his point that he's done waiting for other leaders to step up and he's going to be a part of that himself? Okay, super. I'm all in favor. I'd contend you decided to be a part of the solution when you decided there was a need for people in the military and you enlisted. Whether that's an accurate assessment or not is irrelevant - he acted in response to a perceived need to be a part of making the world the place he wishes it was.

Maybe he's saying he's done looking for a savior from 'above.' Okay. Was anyone asking you to? I mean, sure, the entrenched powers will always want everyone else to shut up and leave the right people (them) running the show. But identifying that as generational seems a little naive to me.

Perhaps we can look forward to his follow-up in a few years when he gets to the point of realizing there's no point in being pissed off at the world other people made; someday people will be pissed off at the world you made, bub. So what? The trick is to make it through the next decade or four without being pissed off at yourself for the world you were a part of making. That's way harder to live with.

Of course it's also harder to live with the knowledge that nobody was the bad guy in their own story. It's so much easier to think of the boomers (or whoever) as deliberately fucking us over rather than just making the best decision they could at the time, or just being typical humans and thinking that they'd pay the butcher's bill some other day.
posted by phearlez at 12:49 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're just pretty much making things up at this point, aren't we?

Weren't we always?
posted by grubi at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2011


grubi, I've generally heard of Gen X ending in the early 80s. According the Wikipedia, that's pretty common.

Then again, it's all pretty arbitrary.
posted by brundlefly at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2011


Gen Y: 1976-1990
Millenials: 1991-2005


Yay, the dividing line changed. I'm a Gen Y again. Back to video games and letting the Millenials deal with it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


For what it's worth, neither Paterno or Sandusky are boomers.

Kind of a nitpick in regards to Sandusky, who only misses the formal def by a year. Culturally I don't know if you can make the distinction.
posted by aught at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2011


I agree with the spirit, the will behind it, but rather than inspire by pointing a finger backward, it should be done pointing forward.
posted by Atreides at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2011


but rather than inspire by pointing a finger backward, it should be done pointing forward.

Goddamn zombies ruin everything.
posted by grubi at 12:54 PM on November 14, 2011


The only thing I really hate about the Boomers is that because of them, most radio stations still play godawful "classic rock".
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing I really hate about the Millenials is that because of them, most radio stations still play godawful "pop".
posted by grubi at 12:57 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


And also: dubstep? Fuck that shit.
posted by grubi at 1:00 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The baby boom has been pretty clearly identified as 1946 to 1964 with 1956/7 being the peak birth rate years. A lot of those born in the early 60's don't like to admit they are boomers, but that is the fact. You can argue that the life experience of someone born in 1946 is significantly different than someone born in 1964, but that's the problem with these labels. It is probably more appropriate to look at them as the generation surrounding the birth year of 1956 with the end years having some overlap with the generations before and after.

baby boomer: 1946-1964
Gen X: 1965-1981
posted by Edward L at 1:00 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, Edward L, that's reasonable.

But still: fuck dubstep.
posted by grubi at 1:02 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're just pretty much making things up at this point, aren't we?

Sure, but this has been the case as long as there have been humans.
posted by aught at 1:07 PM on November 14, 2011


Yeah, you tell 'em, to get out of the way. Maybe in, like, a song:

Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand

Oh, wait, that's what they said.

The real problem is not a person's age. It's their inertia.


baby boomer: 1946-1964
Gen X: 1965-1981

The problem is that these 16 to 19 year ranges group together people who have very little in common. A 19 year range for "boomers" groups not a few people into the same generation as their own parents.
posted by tyllwin at 1:08 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Sorry in advance for potential hyperbole, just laying on the line how I feel) The past few months have caught up to the past decade of escalating horrors. We're seeing behind the red curtain on a mass scale, almost like some kind of biblical reckoning - the systematic unraveling of all cherished institutions we've held faith in. The Penn State scandal is just the latest in this long line. If you were to ask some hypothetical diety to force everyone to come to terms with all sorts of falsities before the apocalypse hits, this would be a pretty natural way to do it. The Penn State scandal would be meant to show us, beyond the individual horrors of Sandusky and Paterno, the end result of the university sports program obsession and perversion, both on the side of the fans and the administration, and the mass willingness to defend our heroes as shining and infallible in the face of utter ugliness. So there's the "big sports programs" side of things. As the article says we've also got the financial institutions part down cold, the "government institutions leading us to war on false pretenses," the "religious institutions ignoring moral and human failure for the good of the church" etc. etc. This feels like a moment in time in which everything people love is starting to crumble before our eyes, doesn't it? The question is whether and how we will replace these institutions with things that are good and honest, or as someone upthread suggested, whether we'll just lose faith in institutions as a whole and be better off for it.
posted by naju at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


aught: "For what it's worth, neither Paterno or Sandusky are boomers.

Kind of a nitpick in regards to Sandusky, who only misses the formal def by a year. Culturally I don't know if you can make the distinction.
"

Metafilter just seems to have this obnoxious knee-jerk need to blame everything on my generation even when the connection is tenuous at best. Blaming groups for the failures of individuals is generally frowned on here except when we're talking about those damn boomers who fucked everything up. And in this case, most of the primary people we're even boomers, heck Paterno is twenty years too old, but somehow it's still my fault.
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any American born between the assassination of JFK (1963) and the birth of MTV (1982) can be considered "Generation X" was the definition I grew up with. The Millenials would then be those born between the birth of MTV and 9/11. The current crop is born after 9/11. I think landmark events mark generational boundaries better.
posted by Renoroc at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


the birth of MTV (1982)

August 1981.
posted by grubi at 1:11 PM on November 14, 2011


I think landmark events mark generational boundaries better.

Then I would suggest the release of Star Wars rather than the birth of MTV.
posted by grubi at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2011


August 1981

That's the 1982 model year.
posted by maxwelton at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I thought the generational analysis here (as well as all generational analyses, everywhere) was pretty facile, as well as the dude's sense of history. But I think it's pretty clear that the general target of his ire is what he construes as the baby boom generation.

But I think it's impossible to watch the news every day and not think to yourself - someone failed, and the people that failed are overwhelmingly still in charge.
posted by downing street memo at 1:18 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run ...but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant ...

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket ...booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) ... but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that ...

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda .... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ....

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

--HST
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:23 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


The thing he's really upset about, I think, is he put his trust in a group of people who claimed to -- and at first seemed to -- know what they were doing. And his trust was full, 100%. And it got trampled by betrayal. Part of it is faith in a generation, part of it is faith in a authority. And both were miserable failures.
posted by grubi at 1:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


grubi wrote: And also: dubstep? Fuck that shit

I will. I will love it long time for only five dollas.
posted by wierdo at 1:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem is that these 16 to 19 year ranges group together people who have very little in common.

Agreed, but a "generation" of people should be in the 16-19 year range and it's probably actually broader because the "average" age of a parent when their child is born is probably in the early to mid 20s with again a broad range.

My parents are a generation, I am the next generation, my children are the generation following that.

The labels break down pretty quickly.
posted by Edward L at 1:35 PM on November 14, 2011


Metafilter - where snarky metrics meet cynical generalizations.
posted by Chuffy at 1:36 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something to think about is that the label for your generation has nothing to do with predicting the character of person that you are. It's a label, and has more to do with how you will be used by politicians, corporations, and any other entity for which sticking you in a category is more expedient than actually listening to you. You are not, nor should you be your generation.
posted by hanoixan at 1:46 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are not, nor should you be your generation.

Oh but I am. I am a very Generation X individual. I have no problem with that.
posted by grubi at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2011


Born in 1968, and currently listening to Freestylers remixed by Flux Pavilion.
Stereotypes? Fuck that shit.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2011


How many types of stereo are there?
posted by grubi at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2011


But I think it's pretty clear that the general target of his ire is what he construes as the baby boom generation.

If he were making an analysis of what the boomers did or didn't do to fuck things up, and if he thought boomers were the source of all evil in the world, wouldn't he have used the word boomer to describe the evildoers even once?

But I think it's impossible to watch the news every day and not think to yourself - someone failed, and the people that failed are overwhelmingly still in charge.

Okay, but did they fail because they're boomers -- or did they fail because they're greedy incompetent assholes? And are the two categories congruent? I think not.
posted by blucevalo at 1:53 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter just seems to have this obnoxious knee-jerk need to blame everything on my generation even when the connection is tenuous at best.

Think it's bad here, try reading other sites' constant references to The Olds. (Which actually means Baby Boomers, not people in their 70s and up.)

We liberals condemn the other side for trying to make up ways to divide people. Is sterotyping and them blaming the stereotype of an entire generation going to help?

Anyway, as I've been living paycheck-to-paycheck almost my entire life while working in nonprofit arts and education I'm very sorry to have ruined your lives with my greed, AfterBabyBoomers.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:17 PM on November 14, 2011


This member of Generation X just wants a beer and to be left alone.
posted by birdherder at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Labeling groups of people by stretches of birth year, is like when Time-Life would put out those record collections like ROCK OF THE SEVENTIES that had everything on them from Steppenwolf to the Sex Pistols, with no context.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Toys in this case reffering to healthcare and retirement savings.

And three-garage homes. And gazillion-dollar salaries for CEOs. And starter homes that young couples can't afford. And...
posted by Melismata at 2:27 PM on November 14, 2011


Metafilter: just wants a beer and to be left alone.
posted by ob at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2011


If you think the primary divide in America is generational, then you're not paying attention.

Also, the fact that the bulk of the very rich are of the older generation does not mean that the older generation is rich. Go draw yourself some Venn diagrams.

And the guy who wrote this essay? He's a born follower. A catholic who thrived in the military and admired football coaches — he's spent his whole life thinking that all he has to do is follow orders and someone else, The Leader, will take care of everything else. He's getting, at 31 years old, the same rude awakening that Watergate provided me when I was just a tween, and what you formerly disaffected high-schooler MeFites also got a long time ago.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:37 PM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


The college debt issue has created a clear divide.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:40 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Think it's bad here, try reading other sites' constant references to The Olds. (Which actually means Baby Boomers, not people in their 70s and up.)

If it makes you feel better, P.J.O'Rourke blames it all on the Greatest Generation.

he's spent his whole life thinking that all he has to do is follow orders and someone else, The Leader, will take care of everything else.

That's a bit harsh. I expect he assumed he was being groomed to take up his adult responsibilities when sufficiently adultized, and thought that might take a little longer than it has. Well, today he is a man. That he's appalled should be no surprise, that he's surprised is probably something he should have kept to himself.

The college debt issue has created a clear divide.


Sounds about right. As to other divides - if you were too young to go to Woodstock or Vietnam, you might not be a baby boomer.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:44 PM on November 14, 2011


That's okay, soldier. Because I decided to stop respecting soldiers and to tell them to get out of my way, ooh, probably around the time you were born.
posted by Decani at 2:48 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get this. College students rioted in support of Paterno last week and I'm supposed to trust them? Frankly, I see it as an ideological rather than generational divide. I don't trust many people on this issue, and most of them are other survivors, feminists, and/or professionals who work with survivors. And even then, that's a limited trust that should be supported by having open-door and supervision policies when it comes to working with children.

But I'll admit, I have trust issues.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Three Blind Mice: I would have a tendency to agree with your point, however, it seems like the boomers aren't really interested in letting anyone else actually enjoy the world they helped rebuild. My parents generation (boomers) general political thrust is "I got mine, screw you": see tea party demographics. I hope that's not what the boomers parents generation fought and died for in WWII.
posted by Freen at 3:01 PM on November 14, 2011


We looked for leadership from our churches, and were told to fight not poverty or injustice, but gay marriage. In the Catholic Church, we were told to blame the media, not the abusive priests, not the bishops, not the Vatican, for making us feel that our church has failed us in its sex abuse scandal and cover-up

What do you mean, "we," Kemo Sabe?

(Left the Catholic Church at 20 for a faith that actually was fighting for gay marriage. Reform from within, agitate from outside, or vote with your feet.)
posted by availablelight at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2011


Speaking as a mid-Boomer (1955, although I feel more like a late-Boomer, pun intended), I accept a share of the blame, but don't forget those in the group Tom Brokaw lied to us was "The Greatest Generation". The Generation that returned from WWII included uncountable numbers suffering from undiagnosed PTSD (my father among them), who built Allentown-ish suburbs so that their Nuclear Families could live far from their own parents and other Extended Family (and abuse their children in peace), and began the work tearing down or just wearing out our physical and moral infrastructure the minute they were Fully Vested and believed they could not be affected themselves (although I'll concede that those who built the Social Safety Net and Interstate Highways did not adequately take into account their increasing cost of maintenance). Ronald Reagan was and is still their leader, and the Boomers who wanted to succeed took to the model of Bill Clinton who built his career on "making the Democratic Party more business-friendly" (we know how that's working out). Our society has been "eating our seed corn" since just after I got out of college - and now we're making that seed corn into HFCS.

On preview, P.J. O'Rourke got it so obviously wrong, the problem with "The Greatest Generation" was a feeling of SPECIAL entitlement, that they had EARNED special treatment and their children who didn't go to war or live through the Great Depression or grow up without TV didn't. That's where I disagree with Freen above, that generation invented the "I got mine, screw you" attitude. I grew up with it. (And the whole "Libertarian" philosophy O'Rourke swears by is built upon that Special Entitlement, to believe that they'd be Kings if it were more of a Jungle, so obviously he wouldn't understand shit.)

My father mismanaged his retirement nest egg sufficiently that the last dozen years of his life he had to live on a monthly Social Security check reduced by his choice to take retirement at 62. Meanwhile, I got to be among the first on my block to be financially ruined by healthcare costs (in spite of a job with better-than-average medical benefits), but at least I ended up poor enough to qualify for Social Security Disability and a monthly check larger than my dad's with 15 years less work history. I have no 'assets' but I feel like I "lucked out" since my income is more than many with two jobs and kids to feed. As my health and my mental acuity continue to slowly decline (this comment may be the most productive thing I CAN do today), I'm privileged to get to sit back and watch the world go by and go to Hell. Or am I just suffering early-onset get-off-my-lawn-ism? (Can't be, can't afford a lawn.)

When I was in college in the mid-70s, I argued that the political leadership of that time was as good as The Founding Fathers (not that our guys were that great, but the old old guys were seriously overrated). And that, if we put our best minds to it then, we could totally improve on America's obviously flawed Constitution (I was anti-Electoral College when it didn't decide elections). But now, I see a generation of leadership, dominated by some Boomers and a few of their parents, that make me wish for the return of Gerald Ford, and a bunch of 'best minds' I wouldn't trust to rewrite an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Get off my front porch, I got one of those)

And, (I digress) those record collections from the Seventies "with everything on them from Steppenwolf to the Sex Pistols"? They represented a brief period of diversity in culture when walls were torn down and it was possible for a radio station to segue from Rock to Pop to Country to Soul, before the "57 channels and nothing's on" learned to make money from niche audiences, and the "open internet" gave us the power to build our own walls (and IMO, the media created safely behind these niche-created walls stopped getting better). Me, I don't even use shuffle, I program my own mix of Thomas Dolby, Dusty Springfield, Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash and The Who (never got fooled before). And I gave up on 'new music' when Mary Fahl and the October Project didn't get the superstardom they deserved.

The longer I write this and react to the flow of other comments, the more I'm learning about myself. I should contact 60 Minutes and audition for that curmudgeon job they have available. Or maybe just quote one of the sadly departed cast members of Saturday Night Live When It Was Good: "nevermind".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:08 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


P.J. O'Rourke is an asshole. If he, and anyone else for that matter, wants to live in a pre Great Society/New Deal world, Sub Saharan Africa has alot of the same demographics, with respect to education, life expectancy, poverty and the like. The only thing that has conclusively and consistently improved the lot of human beings across the globe is the implementation of essentially Great Society/New Deal type measures through the power of Government.

Seriously, I wish I could force people to watch Hans Rosling's TED talks: the past fucking sucked. Hard. For everyone. Lets be clear on one thing: that is the world that the tea party wants to live in, those sorts of things, the one goddamned thing that has consistently improved the lives and wellbeing of millions, that is what the tea party (and a hell of alot of boomers) want. So yes, Fuck the Boomers.
posted by Freen at 3:12 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Err, more accurately, Fuck the Tea Party. Sorry, I got a bit carried away.
posted by Freen at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My parents generation (boomers) general political thrust is "I got mine, screw you": see tea party demographics.

Help me here, people! What's the name for this fallacy? "Because most A are B, then most B are A". Converse error? Affirming the consequent? Anybody got a snappier name?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Generational comparisons are fun for nostalgia--anything else, not so much.
posted by carping demon at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


My grandfather got a college education after WWII, worked most of his career for Standard Oil, and moved his family out of Hammond to the northwestern burbs of Chicago. On one of my last visits to him, he expressed regret for the world he helped create, but he was talking global warming, peak oil, and mass extinction, not starter homes.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:36 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walter Russell Mead uses Day's op-ed to launch his own specious attacks on the boomers.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:44 PM on November 14, 2011


Help me here, people! What's the name for this fallacy? "Because most A are B, then most B are A". Converse error? Affirming the consequent? Anybody got a snappier name?

"Discussing generations on the internet fallacy"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:47 PM on November 14, 2011


In Random Mood. Warning. My Greatest Generation relatives drank like fish and partied all the time, while we kids ran around screaming.

I think this weird "blame the boomers" stuff is based (several layers deep) on how high college tuition is these days and how deep in debt most college grads are.

I didn't have any net worth until I was in my late 40s, but having socked away a huge chunk of my private school teaching income since then I may actually be able to retire without starving to death, having gotten my kid through college with relatively little debt. And suddenly my whole generation is somehow this wealthy bunch of people? All full of authority n' stuff? Let's get rid of Social Security? It's a Ponzi scheme?

Having taken care of my mother through ten years of progressive decline and an awful death from Parkinson's, while my sister is nursing my father, I can tell you, folks, you really DON'T want your parents to be indigent. It's better if they have some money.
posted by Peach at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The past few months have caught up to the past decade of escalating horrors. We're seeing behind the red curtain on a mass scale, almost like some kind of biblical reckoning - the systematic unraveling of all cherished institutions we've held faith in. The Penn State scandal

I thought you were talking about the failure of capitalism and the imminent collapse of the Eurozone
posted by KokuRyu at 4:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, Generation X are just a bunch of scared whiners unable to really make any real, effective change. See: Obama.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you are forgetting Ethan Hawk
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming this guy is going to school on the GI bill.

Moocher.
posted by bardic at 7:50 PM on November 14, 2011


Know what I hate about the whole "generational divide" thing? It never takes into account how many Americans have completely different generational divides. As a 40 year old African American, I always think of myself as part of the first post civil rights generation. Which was a really short demographic era, as the kids who grew up in the bleak urban landscape of Reagan's 1980's were raised a very different world than those of us born into the pride and optimism of only 10 years earlier. In addition to that I know lots of people who see themselves in the context of how many generations they are removed from immigration. Some of my best friends growing up were 1st generation Asian immigrants. Their lives didn't have a generation gap, it was a veritable grand canyon.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:04 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


This man feels betrayed by my generation? What, he doesn't need his civil rights, or gender equality, or the idea that peace is a universal ideal? He doesn't need education for his disabled children, or some wilderness to soothe his soul? We lousy boomers worked to push the big wheel that we didn't believe in, so that life in general wouldn't just fall apart. We brought you organic produce, and a consideration for planetary wellness. What? Did you never develop a following? Hey, start a religion, there are tons of DIY religious groups any more. Start a religion for people who never got enough attention, then move them to an island, shut the stockade wall, and turn off the lights.

Yeah. I have sinned. I am utterly indifferent to football, no matter how the ball is shaped.
posted by Oyéah at 8:24 PM on November 14, 2011


civil rights

MLK, JKF and LBJ weren't boomers.
posted by spaltavian at 8:32 PM on November 14, 2011


I like to think that Boomers refined the twin 20th Century obsessions of television and automobiles.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:53 PM on November 14, 2011


MLK, JKF and LBJ weren't boomers.

But, the kids that died in the movement were boomers. The kids that walked into schools alone, were boomers, and the kids who fought the status quo to accept them were boomers.
posted by Oyéah at 8:53 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bah.

All this talk about which generation is eeevil and which are wide eyed saints lied to ignores the greatest taboo in American life: class. It's a distraction at best and an active evil at worst, as generational war is used once again as a tool by the 1% to fsck over the rest of us.

Remember: bankers, not boomers are evil.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:13 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the author's template was more on society needing to stop glorifying figures in sports and less on generational divide then his argument would be stronger. It still boggles my mind that Penn State would support anyone involved in this situation. Just because these people can coach young guys throwing a pig skin don't make them above the rules of society.

Generational divide generalizations are a dangerous thing to assume. Their are too many nuances like wars, racial/gender/sexual politics, technology, history, etc. on why certain generations have a collective mindset. Also, their are always going to be exception to these collective minds who don't follow that generation's supposed mindset.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2011


To clarify, when I say support anyone, I mean support anyone who tried to cover up Sandusky's crimes.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2011


This guy has some good points. But it's funny that he sounds exactly like someone his age from 40 years ago. Seems like every generation is mad at the generation that came before.
posted by freakazoid at 8:23 AM on November 15, 2011


The past few months have caught up to the past decade of escalating horrors. We're seeing behind the red curtain on a mass scale, almost like some kind of biblical reckoning - the systematic unraveling of all cherished institutions we've held faith in.

Or as the fellow said 92 years ago:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

posted by FelliniBlank at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.


Yeah. There comes a point in everyone's life when they think their own historical moment is the pivotal point of all history. And then history rolls onward to the next thing.
posted by aught at 6:26 AM on November 17, 2011


A thoughtful response to Day's piece.
posted by No Robots at 8:56 AM on November 18, 2011


Hat tip for the above to the Maverick Philosopher.
posted by No Robots at 8:59 AM on November 18, 2011


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