Who is the “we” we’re talking about?
Bill Keller wrote a pretty fricking clueless column about the “Entitled Generation”. Apparently, if you were born at the tail end of the baby boom, you’re a spoiled rotten brat who has had everything handed to you on a silver platter.
You know, I hate to be the one to incite generational warfare but there are actually *two* types of babyboomers. It’s a shame that the demographers have made no effort to separate the two so I’m going to do it for them.
The first cohort born after 1946 was the Love generation. That was the one that protested and questioned authority and benefitted from low tuition and lots of jobs. It burned its youthful anger out around 1971. Then came MY generation. I don’t know what you would call us. We were born after 1956 or so. For us, reality was very different. By the time we were adolescents, there was an oil crisis, the country had stagflation, money to colleges was drying up, tuition was spiking and there were no jobs when we came out of school. Oh, and all the tax breaks that the previous generations had used had been cut by the time we made our first paychecks.
We also PREPAID our social security incomes, Bill. That’s something the early boomers didn’t have to do for a good decade or so while they were chasing plastics and Mrs. Robinson.
YOU guys had The Graduate, we had Blade Runner.
You had The Beatles, we had Billy Idol.
No matter how you slice it, we are not the same.
We’ve always paid more for everything. We bought the early babyboomer’s starter homes at a premium while they took their profits and bought the first McMansions. We paid our student loans over 10 years at inflated interest rates. We got dumped into HMOs or saw our deductions rise at the time when the early boomers’ kids were already out of braces. And now, we are watching the early boomers retire while the rest of us are getting laid off in middle age.
We have never had it as good as the early boomers. But we are too old to make up for all the money we will need if the entitlements are slashed. We are going to die poor, Bill.
But hey, if YOU have more money than you know what to do with and can retire without social security, I have no problem if you give up your entitlement so the rest of us can eat a decent diet when we’re 65. Oh, did I mention that for those of us who had professional careers, we survived on 2 weeks vacation for the first 10 years and a miserly 3-4 weeks after that? Do you have any idea how much vacation time Europeans get? We have spent most of our lives chained to a computer in a cubicle. We have saved our personal days to chaperone our kids’ field trips. We have abbreviated every trip and god help us if a hurricane doesn’t force us to give up the house we rented for a week at Nag’s Head.
For us late babyboomers, we have already adjusted to a more modest life. Or those of us who didn’t are suffering under massive amounts of debt that the early boomers escaped because they just happened to be born in the right year.
I realize that yours is the narrow view of the privileged boomer who thinks that we’re all the same. You need to get out more, Bill. Come to New Jersey where there are thousands of us laid off with no hope of getting anything like our old salaries back and tell us to our faces that we need to take a cut in our future PREPAID social security payments. Tell us that we should make even more sacrifices while you retire on your defined benefit pensions and we scrape by on measly reduced pensions, stingy cash balance plans and mismanaged and pilfered 401Ks.
You have no idea who the hell you’re talking to. We are not YOU.
Maybe you would have better luck talking to your banker buddies who are absconding with our trillions of dollars of taxpayer largess to give the money back or take a much higher hit on income taxes.
Or you could make a case with your big megaphone to the insurance industry and the hospitals to stop seeing every patient as a profit to be milked for everything its worth. We pay more money than any country in the world for medical care and it’s because no one has the guts to tell the health care industry that they are not allowed to make unlimited amounts of cash off of us.
Or maybe you can tell the military contractors to stop gorging off of us in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are plenty of people you could say “that’s enough” or “don’t take too much, it’s greedy and you’re drawing attention to yourselves” or “you should be ashamed of yourselves for being massive assholes and cruel”. But no, you decide to pick on those of us who will end up with nothing if we take your advice and give up the money we have PREPAID for our retirements.
I have an idea, why don’t the early boomers go first? Set an example, Bill. You and your friends can give up all of the money you don’t need starting with people born in 1946. Then, by the time you get to those of us who were born after 1956, there will be enough to go around.
Here’s your problem, Bill. Every generation who started work after 1983 is going to be irate that you have to nerve to bring this up. If you are asking us to give up what we PREPAID because we were told it was absolutely necessary to save a social insurance policy we all believed in because the politicians we trusted gave the rich and powerful, such as yourself, unbelievably generous tax breaks, then you are endorsing fraud, Bill. It’s as wrong to do it to us as it is to stiff all the depositors at JP Morgan Chase and MF Global for disastrous bets their CEOs allowed.
Why isn’t your little moral lecture turned on the people who stole from our generation? We could all be living peacefully and prosperously if not for them.
Stop telling US what to do. We’re the victims, not the predators.