29 January 2021

Inter-generational conflict

Excerpts from commentary by John Authers at Bloomberg:
"It is no longer acceptable to insult people on the basis of their race, sex, or sexuality, which is as it should be. However, it now appears to be OK to attack people because of their age. Look through WallStreetBets traffic and disparaging references to boomers come thick and fast. This incident is an opportunity to get one over on a generation who have houses, guaranteed pensions, subsidized healthcare, and paid off their college bills decades ago.

The demonization of boomers is growing alarming. One WallStreetBets post with 27,000 likes starts “All you ****king Boomers enjoyed the golden age of America...” If that seems reasonable in a way, just imagine replacing the word “Boomers” with a racial term. The level of inter-generational distrust is terrifying. 

While personal animus isn’t justified, the same cannot be said for the notion that there is generational injustice. Plainly, the Baby Boomers had a great deal, and the Millennials and those who follow them have a terrible one. (Full disclosure: I’m in Generation X and my children are in Generation Z). Generational conflict is set to be a critical fissure for the decades ahead, particularly as the number of retirees swells relative to the number in the working population

In particular, there is the intractable issue of pensions. Many defined-benefit plans appear to be in real danger of failing to meet their guarantees, at least in the U.S.; defined-contribution plans the world over appear likely to leave people with inadequate income in retirement. Does society do everything it can to honor commitments to retirees (and thereby widen the generational gap still further)? Or are we on course for some reckoning in which older people surrender some of the benefits they have been expecting? This question is central to the next book club selection — The Great Demographic Reversal by Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan — which we will be discussing in a live blog on the terminal on Feb. 3."

20 comments:

  1. Geeze, young people these days!

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  2. I thought the below linked article had some relevant facts on why this animus may exist.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/the-republican-party-has-an-older-voters-problem.html

    Consider that only 28% of people under 30 voted for Trump in 2016. Across the board, GOP messaging has railed against the welfare state while somehow keeping seniors and red states convinced that they are not the largest recipients of these entitlements. I am 34. It's a dissonance that makes no sense to me or anyone I know my age. Regressive environmental policies will disproportionately affect younger generations and, of course, are spearheaded by avaricious Republicans drunk on superPAC dollars. And this in an overall environment when green energies are often far more cost effective in the first place.

    Painting with a broad brush is bound to get you into trouble, especially with identity politics, but it's hard to see how any decent person could vote for the flimsy (very nearly non-existant) Republican platform. Given that the elderly grew up in a fundamentally different world and are majority voting conservative in the battleground states, it's not difficult to understand this "intergenerational conflict."

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    1. 100%. Add to that the endless demonization that Millennials have had to suffer through for years and years... I've had to sit through multiple professional development sessions that were premised on Millennials being difficult to work with and open for mockery... and it's not surprising that we're ready to turn the tables.

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  3. Yeah, we had a good deal. Got a free trip to Southeast Asia, got to experience gas shortages and prices that risen 300%, inflation in double digits, a mortgage on my first house at 17%. I am ashamed that I managed to get through all that, make a decent living, put 2 kids through college with no loans and now enjoy a comfortable life in retirement.

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    1. As a Boomer myself, I'll point out that those high mortgage rates of the 1970's didn't stop the fact that my family's mortgage payment for a 3BR, 3BA house with an attached 2-car garage in a nice suburb was the same as the rental cost of a studio apartment in a poor neighborhood, where I lived while putting myself through college in those days, a feat that is simply not possible for more recent generations.

      Yes, there were wars. So what? The younger generations have never lived one day of their lives in which the U.S. was not at war.

      If you were white, life in the U.S. used to be easier. A lot easier. Be grateful for the advantages you enjoyed.

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    2. "The younger generations have never lived one day of their lives in which the U.S. was not at war."

      The younger generations have never had to sit in front of the TV and pray that their birthdate is drawn near the end of the draft lottery instead of at the beginning.

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    3. Ah yes, back when anyone could be drafted, no matter how powerful or wealthy their father was (well, almost).

      Much better now that we've made the educational process and job market so unequal that one of the only paths open to poor people of color is to enlist in the military.

      Given the choice between recognizing how the powers-that-be decided to insert ourselves in a war half a world away, and berating young people who currently are being killed off for various reasons right here at home at a much faster rate than died in Vietnam, it's telling where your emphasis lies.

      You made a good life for yourself. That's great. So did I, despite having a lot more to overcome. But we still have no reason to feel superior, because our choices as a generation have resulted in much worse outcomes for the generations after us.

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    4. Just to be clear, I was a poor person, I guess of no color, raised by my widowed mother. I enlisted rather than waiting to be drafted so that I could at least of some options when I went in. I survived, came home, became an aircraft mechanic and eventually went to college.

      I do not feel superior. I also do not apologize for succeeding in making a good life more my self.

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  4. As a proud member of the 'lost generation' between boomers and millennials, I place all the blame squarely on the pool tables.

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  5. Having been born a couple years before the start of boomers, I feel left out. Now all you whippersnappers get off my lawn.

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  6. The four asterisks before the letters king in 'All you ****king Boomers', what letters do they replace ?
    Or have we boommers lost touch with swear word spelling ?

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    1. the '****' = 'kool' or 'cool', so that would read as 'coolking Boomers' or 'koolking Boomers' (if you want to be 'kool').

      I-)

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  7. I am not about to complain about my life. But if my biggest concern, the pain that causes me to write a long essay, is being called a boomer or a genx-er or a bad name, then I would sit back and be content.

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  8. Isn't it one of the "features" of capitalism to create scarcity in order to drive prices up? And it appears, from where I sit, we have an endless cycle of division created so adeptly with the advent of mass media. Remember those rotten rebels out of the 50's? (Sarcasm so don't bite me). Look at how television & Madison Avenue sowed the initial seeds of disrespect and how today's tech has taken it to lunatic levels where everyone is screeching and nobody is listening. Throw in the millions that believe the 60's happened in a vaccum. And my favorite--victim culture. Never have so many privleged people been so oppressed. It's getting kind of boring isn't it?

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  9. These articles are awfully rich, considering the sustained attacks against "millennials" in the popular press over the last decade. In the corresponding time I never saw any arguments of firm conviction against them by these same people.

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  10. I'm either a late Boomer or an early whatever's next. (white, middle class)

    Earlier generations have chosen to vote to defund public education, mostly after they got theirs (if they were getting it). But when I was a kid, public education was basically welfare for mostly middle class white kids.

    And the mortgage deduction was welfare for mostly white families.

    Here's what I have to say about the current generation of college students, who are, say, 18-22. Life is stressful for them; they are mostly good folks, who are trying to do well in whatever ways seem right to them. Pretty much like every generation before them.

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  11. As a Boomer, they have every right to be ticked off at a generation that squandered its resources, decimated the environment well into the future and left them holding the bill...

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  12. The article/opinion piece is disingenuous at best. Of course younger people have a right to be pissed at what their elders have done to our world, our country, and our society (especially when said elders make false equivalencies of their personal experiences (e.g., I worked my way through college) that in no way reflect reality today. Most importantly, it was Boomers who, in their youth, invented the war cry of "Don't trust anyone over 30!"

    (For the record, I'm a tail end boomer/early Gen Xer and I totally agree that life truly sucks for young people right now, as our country is, as we speak, struggling to keep democracy from falling to Trumpian-dictatorship, and to keep unregulated capitalism from slipping into full-blown feudalism, where a handful of obscenely rich hold sway over the desperate, powerless masses.)

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  13. Just dropping in to add that the argument template upon which "If that seems reasonable in a way, just imagine replacing the word 'Boomers' with a racial term" is based is just as dishonest as it is overworn. The author implies that discrimination relating to one identity category is functionally identical to that of any other, hoping to coin a slur by appropriating the shock value of some other imagined one. This in turn is an appropriation of the results of decades of struggle by e.g. Black activists to shape discourse (e.g. racialized rhetoric) around those identity categories. And appropriation to what end? This dude is just hoping that if he makes "OK Boomer" a slur, he can discount an entire dispossessed generation's -- uh, make that two and a half generations' -- fundamentally material critiques of a social system that screwed them over.

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