"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."
29 January 2021
Excerpts from commentary by John Authers at Bloomberg: