Tuesday, February 07, 2006

An Open Letter to Baby Boomers: A Modest Proposal

V Note: In order to better serve all five of my readers, I have approached several of my friends and lovers for some content. This piece is penned by Jack Serpentine. And, if you have something that you would like me to consider posting, please send it along to my e-mail address: butterfly_v [at] hotmail.com.

Dear Baby Boomers,

I wanted to write a note to give you a glimpse into how subsequent generations view you, and provide a little idea for fixing some of the damage you’ve wrought.

I know your generation pretty well, and I think all of us are getting to know more and more about you with each passing day. You’re the ones who got in on the sweet part of the American Century. You were taken care of by a generation who won World War II, saved democracy, and built our country into the economic and military superpower it is today. On top of this, they made sure you got to go to college for a reasonable price, own your own home, and finance gadgets they only dreamed about.

Your generation took all of these advantages and what did you do? Well, you started off well enough, I guess. You decided to steal the music of black America and turn it into a white institution. Then you threw a semi-cool party in upstate New York that you cashed-in on and overrated. Of course you had good reasons for doing this. You had to protest for your rights to do whatever you wanted and get the education and jobs you “deserved.” Nothing wrong with that, I guess.

Here’s where you went totally wrong. After having some good times in the 60’s and making everyone think the world would move away from greed and war, you sold out. And I mean
S-O-L-D O-U-T.
The first chance you could really shape world events, you voted for Reagan. Then you decided to get while the gettin’ was good. You helped to drive up education costs, housing costs, and drive down real wages. You decided it would be a good idea to use all the benefits that made this country great and then, after exhausting the resources, you’d cut them all so your kids couldn’t have them. You wanted YOUR tax cuts, YOUR medical care, YOUR cheap oil. You robbed the very bank that was so good as to finance your sorry asses. Those of you on Madison Avenue have decided to place ads celebrating your individuality and spirit. What are these ads for? They’re for brokerage firms and investment banks to protect YOUR wealth. Every time I see an aging hippie who still has the gall to listen to Hendrix while driving a $45,000 Volvo, I want to puke.

We should have seen it coming. This is a generation that got stoned out of its mind, and then fought a war on drugs. A generation that chanted “Hell no, we won’t go!” and then got us into an unnecessary war in Iraq. A generation that said it was about the music, then used the music to pitch Hummers, computer programs, and light bulbs. Wow.

Now we have to deal with massive deficits, historic trade gaps, skyrocketing education and housing costs, inflation, depressed wages, lost jobs, and finance unnecessary wars your generation thought it was a good idea to fight. Thanks.

So here’s my modest proposal: We’re taking your Social Security. I know whole slugs of you are retiring soon, and I know damn well you’ll be demanding your Social Security benefits. You’ll also be demanding premium health care and affordable retirement communities. Of course, you won’t want to pay for this, so you’ll want to put it on the credit card my generation has to pay.

Well, too bad. You can’t have your Social Security. We’ll be needing it to help our kids go to college and have affordable housing. We’ll be needing it to shore up our competitive edge, cure diseases, and pay off a bunch of wars. We’ll be needing it to do the things you didn’t have the discipline and character to do. Don’t think it’s because we’re benevolent. It’s just that someone has to step up and save this Republic that you couldn’t give a damn about. We can only do that by investing in the future, and you certainly are not the future.

So here we come for the Social Security. I think it’s a pretty good deal. You had 60 years to get it together and you didn’t. All we’re taking is what you refused to actually fund anyway. Surely either your tie-dyed shirt or your brown, Reaganite power suit can shield you from the cold, harsh world you avoided for the better part of half a century.


The Generations that Don’t Suck


Anonymous Days of Broken Arrows said...

I'm glad someone is finally sticking it to the baby boomers in print. The punk rockers used to do this, but demographics meant they never had a chance.

Maybe someday we won't have to hear those annoying commercials that tout the Boomers as the generation that did it all: Protester, wife, mother, CEO, Republican, politician, retiree, etc. Give me a break.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[standing ovation] Yeah!! Yeah!! Woo Hoo! Can I get an Amen? I applaud you and this post! Amazing and eloquent! Three cheers for this open-letter! I really think this should be on the cover of all magazines and newspapers. Finally someone said it! Thank you.

5:12 PM  
Blogger KOB said...

Bravo. You're right. Although Gore did win the election.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

Humorous but generalistic and presumptuous.

Most of my generation didn't wholly jump into the counter culture thing as most of yours doesn't shoot each other dead over shoes, spinner wheels and sports attire or "getting dissed".

The yuppies mentioned and derided were phonies to begin with and never actuated or embraced the free thinking and art progressions that all the youth today still benefit from.

We disgustedly called them "hip capitalists" and most of the guys anyway then grew their hair long so they could get laid!

It was for most then as phony and self serving as todays youth culture of copy cat styles and herd mentalities.


8:09 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Well, we were also the generation that started organic farming, recycling, the EPA, Civil Rights, the Women's Movement, Roe v. Wade. We got Nixon out of office and stopped the Vietnam War. Not everything we did was so awful.

We drove VW's. Your generation drives SUV's. Hmmm ... I know we did have the creme de la creme of this empire (which is now tanking rather dramatically). I completely understand why younger people are jealous of us. i would be, too.

If it's any consolation, we're getting old which is no picnic and I'm not even close to that. Really enjoyed this post!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Reagan? In my first presidential election I voted for McGovern. And I'm kind of a youngish baby boomer. Oh well.

8:55 PM  
Blogger J. Serpentine said...

I'm happy to see I got responses to this little rant. I suppose I should answer in Circle V fashion as it is her blog.

Days, Chase, and Cob: Thanks for the support. Now when our generation comes to power, we need to make good on actually helping the next generation.

cjt: "Generalistic and presumptuous?" I can't believe I didn't get to all the ins and outs of millions of members of an entire generation in a few paragraphs. I'll try harder the next time. The point still stands that the Boomers, in my very humble opinion, stand for a kind of hypocritical me-first attitude that I hope will not be seen in any future generations.

Reya: How can I disagree with a girl who voted for McGovern and has those sexy glasses?

9:37 PM  
Blogger Kyle Foley said...

in the boomers defense we would have done the same thing had we been there - suffering builds character and no generation suffered more than brokaw's greatest generation. the boomers were met with little adversity and lots of wealth - a bad combination. generation x and y are also heirs to a lot of wealth - i think per capita gdp has increased from 22k to 37k in the last 20 or 30 years, although much of it goes to the wealthy. i really don't know how unsober american life is since i'm a bit isolated from it all. the point is if you want a virtuous generation then you can only become virtuous by surmounting difficult obstacles - so take your pick would you rather live in foolish, shallow prosperity or would you like china, iran, north korean and russia to band together and begin world war 3?

by the way i opened a link to your blog.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

It's easy to generally assume that all those that of that age used to look like the sterotypes of Beatlemania's Carnaby Street London or SF in '66-'69.

That's the picture painted by the media now and it's just not accurate.

It would be same as if in the future the present generation is thought of as all violent and egomaniacal Vin Diesel movie characters, and with all these dim-eyed shaved head kids around me now it just may be sad but true.

I can't think of any accomplishments by a youth movement in the last 4 decades except those by my generation.

Well no.. there's letting Nader give us Bush, yeah that was memorable History!

10:15 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

Aaaaand futhermore..the Me Generation came of age in the 80's. This may be what you see in despair now. It was the selling of the Reagan mentality of conspicuous consumption and Hooty and the Blowfish (lifting weights, playing golf, being a young wanna be preppy "asshole") that ruined the higher aspirations of before.

"Me first" was not of really of the boomers. It was our kids.

10:29 PM  
Blogger dn said...

Pardon me, but it's "Hootie", not "Hooty". And Reagan's Me Generation didn't make them popular in the 80's, Letterman made them popular in the 90's.

Fucking asshole Baby Boomers.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Congrats to Jack Serpentine. You're on a good blog, Jack.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Serpentine for President.... What? Too soon?

Great post.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous cjt said...

Hooty, Letterman humor, all the medicore assholisms are tied together. Good point, Dave Letterman is still the grand poobah of this lost generation.


4:22 AM  
Blogger dn said...


And it's still "Hootie".

12:20 PM  
Blogger ejtakeslife said...

Um, holla! Could't agree more. Would you permit me to add one more thing?

"You wage a culture war in the name of the offspring whose financial and educational future you've driven into the ground. Your children may not be able to afford college or health care, but thanks a bunch for protecting us from the gays and godless, even though we as a generation actually are okay with whatever consenting adults do with their private lives."

**steps off soapbox**

12:46 PM  
Blogger RoarSavage said...

I'm sending this to my Mom. She's too young to be a baby boomer- only 50- but she's def a boomer wannabe. Republican, voted for Reagan, the whole 9. Thanks for the fuel to the ongoing family debate, JS.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I was thinking about this post and all comments - thanks Mr. Serpentine for the thumbs up on my glasses! It's so weird to be on the older side of what we called the "generation gap." Wow. Anyway I was thinking I could post the lyrics to "My Generation" by the Who but when I read the lyrics, I realized, jesus we really were stoned out of our minds. oops. Even so, we did accomplish some amazing things, as did Gen X, Y and as will whatever the 20 somethings call themselves these days. It will be a much tougher world than the one I grew up in. For instance, I actually believed getting stoned out of my mind was going to open the consciousness of the collective to usher in the Age of Aquarius. No one is that naive anymore.

Every empire has to end. This is the end of the American empire. If I was in my 20's I would be looking hard to figure out who to blame.

Very provocative post, especially for me, one of the ones being accused. Thank you all!

5:18 PM  
Blogger J. Serpentine said...

Thanks again guys.

CTJ: Dn's right. What are you talking about? I'm losing you. And it's totally Hootie. He's such a baby. He won't dance, but you won't sing.

Kyle: Appreciate the post. Believe me though, our generation will undergo some suffering. And I don't have a blog. I just guest when the money, or sexual favors are substantial.

ej: Word.

Roarsavage: Always glad to fuel any family debate. I'm a real homewrecker.

Reya: Thanks for bringing up "My Generation." I directly referred to The Who in the original post. Pete and Roger are the ones selling Hummers. Not to mention it's a little sad seeing Roger sing, "Hope I die before I get old!" when he's inches away from needing an iron lung. Still, I love those crazy Brits.

And to Ali: They'd never accept me. I'd be too real for em.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Floyd said...

I would posit that another common facet of the Boomer psyche is the complete lack of responsibility while expecting harsh justice for others. Take CTJ for example, quibbling over which generation is actually responsible for Reagan, Bush, etc., rather than admitting that those children born in the 40's and 50's are the ones that wanted to have their cake and eat it too, and voted accordingly. Spoiled brats.

*Of course, these are overgeneralizations, and I'm sure there are many socially responsible Boomers. Unfortunately, your egos are greatly outnumbered by the ids.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Roarke said...

I liked the blog. A little over the top and generalized, but it's really a subject that deserves a book. I do agree the boomers are definately the original "me" generation. No that the following ones didn't learn from their parents.

The boomers are definately taking more than their fair share. They intend to use social security as a retirement plan, when it was never intended as such. It was ment to keep older Americans out of poverty during the great depression the final few years before they died. It was not meant to fund 30 years of leisure for a generation that hasn't saved enough.

The boomers have accomplished somethings, though I don't necessarily think you can credit them with all of the accomplishments Reya lists. Ending the Vietnam War? No. Helped yes, but ended no. Got Nixon out of office? Not unless you set him up with Watergate...I think he removed himself. Organic farming? This isn't new and actually was the common form of farming until the early to mid 20th century. Also, I don't really remember seeing organic food in the supermarket until a few years ago. So who is really responsible for that? Hard to say. Civil rights and women's rights? Yes, the boomers did accomplish both and they should be proud.

Now for Reya's accusation that we are the cause for popularity of the SUV. Do we drive them? Yes, but last time I checked the vast majority of wealth and the largest demographic group are the boomers, without them SUVs are not the dominant vehicle.

Jealous of the baby boomers? Not really. Frustrated with their current apethetic and screw everyone else attitude...yeah.

It's interesting that a few posts think it's the end of American hegemony. Just giving up? Reya has already dug the hole, but based on her post she is writing from a moral, cultural and philisophical point of view not an economic or military. I agree we are not on the correct moral, cultural or philosophical path. We have gone from being the beacon on the hill, from being the special nation 90% of the planet wants to emulate...to just another rich country. It will be our job to regain the world's trust, the baby boomers lost. On top of this we will have to over come the most significant world event since World War II...the rise of the third world. We have succesfully spread capitalism, now we have to compete. Luckily competition is our strong suit.

10:07 PM  
Blogger KOB said...

This post is a great starting point for an argument, but I agree that it's too generalized and quicksand.

But on the issue of Social Security, I'll make this point. Many baby boomers were counting on fixed pensions and social security to make it. But many baby boomers have had their pensions wiped out in corporate bankruptcy or have had their private pension plans frozen mid-career. It's been a huge financial hit.

The 401k option was not an option for many boomers in their first 20 years in the workforce. It wasn't until 1980 that some companies began offering them, and they really didn't become widespread until many years later.

The retirement picture for many boomers is ugly.

But I do agree that Social Security should be based on need, health care is a right, and every generation has a responsibility for doing something about global warming.

10:54 PM  
Blogger J. Serpentine said...

Nice points.

Floyd: Always a pleasure.

roarke: I also don't think it's the end for us. And I don't even think we're on the wrong philosophical path. We still stand for equal rights and personal freedom. We have by far the best legal system, which gives every other country an incentive to invest in us. Plus our higher education is supreme. I'm just incensed by the greed and hypocrisy of the Boomers. I'll gladly do a book. Tell your publisher friends.

kob: Nobody will go with basing Social Security on need. People paid in, and they'll want to take out.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous soldout said...

The contention that boomers are somehow responsible for the civil right revolution is misguided. I think it is fair to say that there have been three major civil rights milestones in the 20th Century:
1- January 1948: Truman desegregates the US military. Boomers were just being born.
2- 1954: Brown v. Board. Boomers were learning to walk.
3- Civil Rights Act of 1964--Boomers still weren't voting and "stodgy," "out-of-touch" old-timers were still running the world.

It is incredibly unfair not to credit the Civil Rights movement to the Greatest Generation. And unlike Boomers, most of the GGs actually lived near black people--so their decisions had actual consequences.

In the late '60s and '70s, the boomers hit their "peak"--protesting vague injustices without getting anything done. (except earning MBAs for $5 dollars a credit hour)

Boomers matured just in time for the '80s and they were more than ready. Contrary to the earlier statement about how the '80s were not the Boomers fault--exactly who else are we to blame? You were the 30-50 somethings driving the American economy by pushing old timers into early retirement, ripping off consumers, and forcing every profession into short-term profit machines. (what generation is Boesky? what about Milken?--you guessed it)

Meanwhile, racial relations detoriated rapidly as Boomers moved as quickly and as far away from anyone with a deep sun tan.

Boomers and the Civil Rights movement--give me a break. Partying at Woodstock 15 years after the the Greatest Generation actually did something about Civil Rights is meaningless. Giving credit to the Boomers for Civil Rights is like blaming my 8-year nephew for the Iraq War.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous soldout said...


To defend the boomers you have to defend capitalism. We exemplified it better than anyone else. We had fun when were young (drove the music, car and local drug markets), driven to succeed as young professionals, and wildly successful as leaders of the American economic empire.

We sacrificed our families, our values, the environment, and America's credibility, but we created the most dominant economic world superpower on earth. A superpower driven by consumer debt, low wages, and materialism. But a superpower that is resilient, flexible, tough, and utterly dominant. Money is first, second, and third in our paradigm and we make it better than anyone else ever.

Are we selfish? Absolutely--but what do you expect from a generation that was this good at greed. We want everything--we take everything (even from our kids). Honestly, there is no other way we could have developed this kind of economy without every Joe Schmo "needing" an upper-class lifestye--no matter the consequences.

Survival of the capitalistic fittest is our true motto. If your generation wants to win, play the game better.

Any notion that boomers have somehow been "virtuous" during our dominance is absurd. We are the "man" in every sense of the word--much more so than the values-driven generation before us--a generation that the we unbelievably loved to ridicule and mock as "greedy" and "mean spirited" during our rise to the greenback-laden mountaintop of the universe. But hey--nothing sells like mindlessly challenging authority. (except sex)

3:50 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

People just need to stop living so damn long. 60 years is plenty you selfish bastards!

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Roarke said...

I'll give soldout credit on debunking the boomers Civil Rights credit.

Soldout: "Survival of the capitalistic fittest is our true motto. If your generation wants to win, play the game better."----Your generation better hope we play the game better. If not we won't be able to support your 30 years of leisure. Oh, by the way we already play capitalism way better, with slightly less blatant greed (not much but slightly). Who started all of those internet companies in the 90's? 40 year olds?..No. A couple 30 year olds?..No. Twenty somethings....90% of the internet companies. Sure most failed, but it did speed up the development of tech and the internet.

KOB: "But on the issue of Social Security, I'll make this point. Many baby boomers were counting on fixed pensions and social security to make it. But many baby boomers have had their pensions wiped out in corporate bankruptcy or have had their private pension plans frozen mid-career. It's been a huge financial hit."----Like I said previously social security was not meant to be counted on for retirement, so they made a mistake there too bad. Pensions? This is a joke as most people never worked at one company for 30 years. Plus, I don't feel sorry for people that don't take ownership and responsibility for their own lives. Why would you ever give COMPLETE control of your retirement to someone else? Here take my money...I trust that you will still have it in 30 years.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are writing the usual B.S...

Take a good look at the real economic facts. Most of the Baby Boomers have struggled just like any other generation. They are more aggressive and successful because they had to be - They have always been competing against large numbers of each other, in everything they did (school, jobs, etc.).

Todays technology and economy are mostly the result of their creativity and work. I think your real problem is that you do not know how to compete with todays changing market. Yes, globilization is developing fast, and it is affecting our job market here. But, in the 60's and 70's when manufacturing started to shift overseas - The baby boomers developed new technology, products and services.

And you can moan about the fact that it is dividing our society into the rich and poor - But, guess what? There is a large middle-class here, and there are more professional minorities today because the baby boomers stood up for that.

Stop blaming the baby boomers for your insecurities and fears. Start thinking of what the next logical economic development should be, and get in on it.

And the idea of their stealing the African-Americans music. Boy, you have been brain-washed. Take a look at how the people in Africa sing and dance - even to today. Then take a look at the Scottish/Irish heritage for music and dance. The Africans here in America took this from them. The instruments, the music, the dancing. Get real!..Take a look at what heritage this really resembles.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like the me generation. gimme, gimme ..dont want to work hard , ya want it all handed to ya!Oh, if its easy I'll do it. You really dont know what the fuck yer talkin about. Get off the computer get a job where ya get yer hands dirty, Maybe if enough of ya did that you may accomplish something in your life. Boomers are the least of your problems, you need to worry about illegal immigration, crazy muslims and oh yes Das Yude.....amongst other things in the world today. I know ! get a bag of some good ass kicken weed and "Chill"

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give me a damn break!!! African Americans did not steal Irish/Scottish dance moves or music. I've been to Ireland/Scotland/Wales and throughout various parts of Africa and South America, and African cultures certainly excel in rythmic dance and music. Their music is soulful and original. African American culture has incorporated traditional music and dance styles into modern songs and dances, which people from all backgrounds love and appreciate. The sad reality is that there are a lot of artists out there that have taken songs originally performed by black singers and musicians and passed them off as their own. The Irish/Scottish certainly have moves, but certainly not African moves. 'm sure if you ever moved away from your idiot tube (television) and traveled outside of your bubble you'd stop telling your garbage.

1:40 PM  

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