• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    riverdaughter on And so it begins…
    lililam on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Propertius on And so it begins…
    insightanalytical on And so it begins…
    Propertius on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Propertius on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Today’s bright spot
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Ga6thDem on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Propertius on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Propertius on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Propertius on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Seagrl on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Ga6thDem on Somewhat Brief Reflections
    Ga6thDem on Somewhat Brief Reflections
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    July 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Open Thread
      Use comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. Facebook Twitter WhatsApp LinkedIn
  • Top Posts

Speak for yourself, Bill

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.

30 Responses

  1. As one of those early baby boomers, I can agree with much of what you said in that College was cheaper, and many were easier to gain admission to. Having said that, though, many of us wished we had been born earlier too. Our parents got to be war heroes and the clothes were way more interesting than our perpetual jeans. We also were far more constrained in our speech, patriotism was a given, even for former hippies like me. The biggest missing piece in your post,is that my generation was subject to the Draft, which a life changing issue. Of course we protested an illegal war, American lives were on the line, in a very real way. I went to three funerals for fallen friends by the time I was nineteen, not so enviable now, is it ?

    Women’s issues had only started to bubble over in my day, birth control, such as it was, was not reliable, and unfettered sex at Woodstock was far less frequent that the cool movies would have you believe, I know, I was there, see birth control, above. We read Betty Friedan, organizef for the E.R.A., and spoke up at work in a heretofore, unknown manner.

    Most of our husbands barely changed a diaper, and certainly never mopped a floor. We were the generation that had to do it all, while ‘dancing backwards in high heels’..The hubs weren’t bad guys, they were just a product of their era, too,
    Every generation has challenges, that is not new. But don’t we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us ?

    p.s. I forgot polio, the bane of our early childhood..So you see, you do have a few wee things for which to be thankful
    I am older than you, and even I knew that I would outlast SocSec, if I was lucky.., it was quite a hot topic at the time. I did adore the ‘Graduate’ though, mostly the killer sound track, which I still play on occasion..

    • I’m not criticizing the culture you grew up in. I’m only differentiating. We had VASTLY different experiences and I really resent being lumped in with the older cohort.
      Our financial issues are the thing that really sets us apart. It’s unfair to act like the babyboomers generation was uniform and homogenous from start to finish. It’s not. Those of us who were born in the last 8 years of it don’t have the same cultural and financial identity and it is time to recognize that fact. I’m getting pretty tired of being stuck in this group when I didn’t benefit from it at all and was way too young to have any fun.

  2. I was born in 1955 and entered the workforce in the mid-70s – just in time for wages to start stagnating. The dollar amount of the increases I get now are almost exactly the same as the increases I got in 1982 – and I make 5 times more, which isn’t saying much trust me. So what were 10% raises are now 2%.

    I’ve lived through the transition from companies that cared about their product to companies downsizing and outsourcing for profit. When I started working in the 70s America had manufacturing but it was the end of that era.

    So essentially I can totally relate even though I don’t quite squeak by your cut-off.

  3. Those of us boomers born and reared in abject poverty didn’t have it so good since the social safety net consisted of free cheese and nothing else– as long as you didn’t have a phone.

    • I can relate. We went to college in the Reagan years when suddenly funds for lower middle class kids we’re drying up, leaving us scrambling to cover our tuitions and living expenses.
      It was VERY painful.

  4. Douglas Coupland’s novel “Generation X” was specifically referring to the tail end boomers, not the post-boomers. He used that term because he thought we were a forgotten cohort that would get lost between the Woodstockers and what came next.

    To be fair, the tail end boomers were the first to buy into yuppie-ism in the 80s, and our elite cohort is responsible for a lot of the predatory culture of the financial industry (Coff-coff [obama] coff-coff). It probably makes more sense to say we were in the vanguard of the ithe culture of ncome-disparity, rather than blaming the previous generation for everything.

    • I won’t deny that our generation saw the rise of the dominant business major. But I would argue that the income disparity was already there and business majors were among the first to make it work for them. There’s no other reason to become a business major. It’s like robbing banks, that’s where the money is. I knew when I decided on Chemistry that I was never going to be rich but that the MBA I had gone out with briefly probably was. He still wasn’t very interesting to me.
      The yuppies I knew were about 10 years older than I was. They were all into Moetown and Reggae and The Big Chill. They might as well have been martians. I could not relate at all to that. But that’s the group we’re dumped into and I don’t think it’s fair to us. I’m not saying the babyboomers have done anything wrong. And they paid into their social insurance policies as well and deserve to get their share.
      What I think they feel guilty about is that they got the tax breaks. They were the ones who made the big incomes and benefitted from all the trickle down economics. Ok, so they feel guilty and now they think they shouldn’t collect on their social security. They should speak for themselves. We are not them.

    • Douglas Coupland’s novel “Generation X” was specifically referring to the tail end boomers, not the post-boomers. He used that term because he thought we were a forgotten cohort that would get lost between the Woodstockers and what came next.

      Indeed. The insistence of the MSM on continuing to use “Gen X” and “twentysomething” interchangeably when even the youngest “Gen X” were well into their thirties was incredibly irritating.

      Ironically the MSM proved Coupland’s point, by stripping his generation of the very name, X, that he had given them to suggest their namelessness!

      • I was born in 1963, so by Coupland’s definition, I am Generation X.

        Thank you.

        Take that, “Generation Jones” monicker advocates! 😈

        • Are you talkin’ to me?
          Are you talkin’ to ME?
          You talkin’ to ME?
          Are YOU TALkin’ to ME?


    • It was only a small upper class toplayer of the “younger boomers” who went Yuppie in any event. Most “younger boomers” were working class or below in any event. The propaganda spokesmouths of the Govermedia Stupidustrial Complex marinate the society in antiboomeritic propaganda 24-7 to try to prevent any thoughts of social class agendas, social class exploitation, social class enemies, social class allies . . from even emerging.

      Pro-Upper class advocates for the Rich and the Superrich, like Keller, are paid very well to confuse and obscure the issues. If you were not an aggressive Yuppie yourself, you were probably like the majority of your fellow “youngerboomer” age cohort who were also most likely not Yuppies themselves.

      Or am I being too generous? I think not. I welcome correction if I am wrong.

  5. WikiLeaks claims responsibility for fake Bill Keller column, citing donation ban
    Hoax including fake tweets and a counterfeit Times website dismissed as ‘childish prank’ by former editor Bill Keller


    • {{snort!}}
      Too bad the column I cited above was on the real NYTimes site and wasn’t about wikileaks.
      Why doesn’t wikileaks start writing all of stuff for columnists everywhere where they all suddenly experience a change of heart and become diehard fans of social safety net programs? I would donate to an organization that wrote Bill Keller columns that condemned the bankers for being greedy bastards who should all be arrested and their banks nationalized. Heck, I might even subscribe to the NYTimes to read something like that.

  6. Riverdaughter,

    “Our financial issues are the thing that really sets us apart. It’s unfair to act like the babyboomers generation was uniform and homogenous from start to finish. It’s not.”

    Like ANY generation is uniform and homogenous? It’s okay to make sweeping generalizations about tens of millions of diverse people as long as you define the boundaries differently?

    Right, all us early boomers got rich off real estate at your expense.

    You’re supposed to be a scientist. It’s really disappointing to hear this kind of mindless crap from you.

    • It *is* different. We’re still paying our mortgages and putting our kids thru school. We’re almost two decades from retirement. We can’t take early retirements, if we’re even lucky to have pensions, without extremely stiff and punitive penalties. Please don’t tell me there’s no difference between our groups.

      I sense a deep sense of guilt in you early boomers and a certain jaded sensitivity. But you’re like the older siblings and we’re getting all your handmedowns. Of course you are better off. Don’t fool yourself. We are not doing as well as you seem to think, especially those of us who don’t have jobs anymore. Are you paying excise taxes to take out 401k money so you don’t lose your house? Millions of people my age are.

      And really, Denise, I’m surprised that so many of you are in denial about it. Or you’re so caught up with yourselves that you aren’t paying attention. I’m not saying this blithely. I’m absolutely positive the numbers are there to back me up.

  7. Hi RD, have you heard of Strauss & Howe’s generations theory? They do recognize that there are different personality traits between the Boomers & separate them into First (1940s) & Last (1950s)Waves.
    They cut off the tail end (those born 1961-1964) altogether, lumping them in with other 1960s cohorts (First Wave) & 1970s cohorts (Last Wave) & call that group X-ers. They do this for cohort groups going all the way back to the 17th century, always dividing each group into First & Last Waves. I thought it was an interesting read

  8. For what it’s worth, I think this intergenerational warfare stuff is a distraction. It’s a tactic to deflect attention from the 1 %. That’s what Keller is doing here. Don’t blame the super rich CEOs who want to cut SOcial Security and rollback all forms of retirement security, blame the baby boomers. It’s a knock-off of the “greedy geezer ” tactic to undermine credibility of the social contract that underlies Social Security.

    • I agree. Which means we need to lean on Keller to explain why we aren’t blaming the bankers or the uber wealthy for any of this.

      • Perhaps we need to work on exterminating the New York Times from existence, and wiping it off the face of the earth so that Bill Keller doesn’t have a propaganda megaphone any more.

        • To borrow an analogy from WWII, when the Allies realized they could not “take back” the French Fleet at Oran which was in Vichy Hands, the Allies sank it.

          We cannot “take back” the New York Times. The New York Times is in Social Class Biznazi hands. It needs to be “sunk” the same way the French Fleet was sunk at Oran.

  9. Here’s another name for the youngerboomer generation which some people are trying to move into the mainstream language: Generation Jones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Jones

    • I refuse to be Generation Jones. I am late Boomer, early X, or unclassifiable. “Boomer” is a cool name. “X” is a cool name. “Jones” is the second most common family name in the Anglophone world; hence, it can’t be cool.

      I have spoken. Selah.

      • well its just a suggestion its advocates are making. If it don’t catch on, it won’t catch on.

  10. Good post…not that you will be able to out shout the corporate noise machine…Bill [HEY lets invade Iraq and kill a few hundred thousand humans] Keller is just one one example of American whoredom.

  11. “If we manage to accept that our investments will likely not be enough, we usually enter another fantasy world — that of working longer…Unfortunately, this ignores the reality that unemployment rates for those over 50 are increasing faster than for any other group and that displaced older workers face a higher risk of long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts…

    Like the nation’s wealth gap, the longevity gap has also widened. The chance to work into one’s 70s primarily belongs to the most well off…”


  12. I know I’m a Pisces with Scorpio Rising but wtf-1973- what does that make me generationally? I never paid much attention to the generation labels they always sounded ridiculous to me. Plus the baby boomers were the only ones who ever got any respect so I wanted no part of it.

    “I’m a citizen of the world!” I convinced myself of being attached to no political party, country, religion or socio-economic class (that’s been the trickiest because class connections remain the same regardles of what culture you dip into, something I did not understand until I started to study European films).

    Now I’m curious about 1973. Perhaps the angst I’ve felt since youth can explain much more about my personality, or my feelings about this sad confused country.

    And my apologies to the person who brought up “yuppies.” I never saw them anywhere except in the movies and I went to college in northern NJ and frequented NYC a lot in the late 80’s through mid-90’s. Oh that is until I moved to Washington, DC which is chock full of yuppies (a really mean and stupid variety). And they’ve been here since at least 1996.

  13. Jones is a great restaurant in Los Angeles but I don’t want that classification either.

  14. Yeah, Keller’s column irritated the hell out of me too. I’ve written extensively about how the economic downturn has hurt and further marginalized folks in the arts communities across the U.S. (most notably my “New Homeless” series for the Las Vegas Sun) and, as one of those ‘artists’ sidelined and suffering, I have been living among the poor, the former middle-class and they sure as hell don’t act entitled to me; we all want the same damn thing — an end to going hungry several days out of the week (my $106 a month in SNAP benefits doesn’t last four weeks), an end to the uncertainty over our lodgings. As I write this my girlfriend and I are living in a motel on the edge of the Las Vegas Strip after being threatened with eviction when we were one week late on our rent at an extended stay motel (after 7 months tenancy with no problems); after Monday we have no idea where we’re going, possibly the streets. And I’ve been on Social Security Disability for 11 years and take 10 daily maintenance medications. That doesn’t sound like the product of an entitled generation to me. Screw you, Keller. (I was born in 1959)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: