Who's to Blame? Part 2: What did the boomers do wrong?

(If you haven't read part one: Who's to blame? Why the boomers of course. Really? please do so before reading Part Two.)

Having ascertained that we, the baby boomers, are to blame for the demise of western civilization, at least according to fashionable opinion, and done my best to repudiate any personal responsibility, it is now time to find out how we did so.


Googled Question: What did the baby boomers do wrong?

From Google: Why did the boomer generation have to f--k up the economy so bad?

“Because they didn't like the way America had been, so they took some LSD, Spat on servicemen coming home from war, burned their bras, took speed, swapped sex partners, and somehow decided they had a better way of doing things.”

Yes, all 76 million of us boomers went to Woodstock and tripped out. (Except me. I couldn’t. My mother wouldn’t let me.)

Hey, kid, you weren't there.

America wasn't a happy place at that time: civil rights issues were a hot war zone; a corrupt government was caught openly lying to us; a disgraced president resigned inches away from impeachment; a “conflict” that was in fact a war, deemed an unnecessary, immoral war, that killed a lot of young men -- our contemporaries, many of them forced by a draft system that impressed them into service -- not to mention the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians -- all pretty senseless, considering how things ended up and the first war to come into our living rooms via television. Add in the fight against inequality between the sexes which led to the opening of opportunity for our daughters and granddaughters; and how many young people, raised by those devoted to acquisition and disillusioned by the sense of hypocrisy of it all, woke up to the idea they might be a political force and full of zeal (as young people often are) went looking for change and were met with violent repression, all of it played against the backdrop of a narrow-minded fairy-tale ideal of private life as provided by the media ("The Brady Bunch" was a TV show, not reality) and the political changes going on all over the world --

It wasn't the prettiest of times!

So before you judge, remember you weren't there, for if you had been, you might see things a little differently.

Vietnam: How many served, how many died, were wounded or came home addicted to drugs?

58,169 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served in Vietnam itself. Two thirds of all who served were volunteers -- though some say they just didn't wait to be drafted so as to have choice as to which arm of the service they could join.

3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the SE Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

According to a VA study, there was no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non veterans of the same age group.

However:

Most of us did not take LSD. My husband was one of those servicemen coming home from war -- one of approximately 1,200,000 who served -- at any given time -- during Vietnam. I never burned a bra, but did (and still do) believe in equality for women. I’ve never taken speed and my sex life has been rather conservative – not that it’s any of your business.

Perhaps you might want to look at those who were young during a different time of upheaval: The '20's -- suffragettes demanding votes for women and fighting for the right to birth control, "free-love," prohibition (among other repressive laws,) union building -- and busting, the rise of the gangster empires, profound political corruption, the iron grip of the "Robber Baron" families on the economy, a yawning chasm between the wealthy and the average Joe, the rise of international socialism -- and another generation famed for hedonism and immorality, drunk on bathtub gin and smoking "Maryjane or rope," whose Bacchanalian excesses only ended with the Wall Street crash of '29.

I guess my point is: people, particularly young people, have always partied, killed their brain cells with mood altering substances and fornicated at a every given opportunity.

God knows the young of today are no exception!

But no one blames the subsequent financial ruin or the Great Depression on the youthful excesses of the '20's. No -- some of these guys grew up to be the "Greatest Generation" (born 1901-1925) and they clung to power with a tenacity that only death could release. Their children (and sometimes grandchildren), the "Boomers", were well past middle age for the most part, before they had a chance to take the wheel from the "Greats" and their lost-in-the-shuffle older offspring, the so-called "Silent Generation" (1926-1944) -- so-called because they didn't have a voice possibly due to the low birth rate of that time, and seem to belong to either the "Greats" or the "Boomers" in mindset.

But even so, it seems a pattern ensues. A generation born on a "high" gives birth to a generation born in a crisis, who give birth to a generation born on a high....

Oh -- the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's just the luck of the draw as to whether you're born to a high or a crisis it seems.

Can we please drop the stereotype? We are not a one-blame fits all generation.

Here’s another gem I couldn’t resist quoting:

“Last study I saw showed a general "trouble" age in all generations where they caused the most trouble.......but this pattern was disrupted with the hippie generation and has pretty much following them as they aged since thier ideology was basically full of crap. Therefore thier expectations have always been based on thier ideology. Later in that generation Boomers weren't so contributary.”

What I’d like to say to this commenter, -- aside from pointing out the ‘i before e except after c or when pronounced “eh” as in neighbor or weigh (or their) -- is that we weren’t all hippies, any more than you are all whiners, crack-heads and slackers. Most of us went about growing up, getting an education, finding jobs, having a family, all that normal stuff, just like every other generation did before and future generations will continue to do.

So, please, what flawed ideology was it we baby boomers based our lives on? For the life of me, I can't remember this huge generation ever adopting one in particular. Was it make love not war? (Which still sounds pretty good to me.) Or was it that old belief in sexual and racial equality? (Oh dear -- not that old line!) Please, do enlighten me.

As to being contributory, let’s look beyond the unrecognized and oft-denied aristocracy of our society, the descendants of the great robber-baron families who inherited their wealth, and the wunderkinds of the corporate world, the mega-rich executives because they are a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of those people in the boomer age group. If an entire generation is to blame, then we must look at the average member of that age group.

The average U.S. income per household for baby boomers is $45,000 per year. A comfortable, adequate income, you say? Well, keep in mind, this is the average which means because we know some make much (much) more, then it follows that many more make less, sometimes a lot less.

Yes, yes, I know the stereotype of the old hippie who cut of his ponytail and discovered junk bonds, who bought a 23,000 foot McMansion with nothing down and.... But that doesn't reflect what I see around me.

Let’s deal with reality.Let's leave the big-earners and the mega-business to one side.

Who do you think founded and/or runs the many small businesses that make up the back-bone of our economy?Baby-boomers, that's who.

Take me as a case study. After my stint in the corporate world, I left the bright lights/big city for life in rural communities, and started a number of small business, ranging from auditing and accounting services, retail, services such as pet boarding, grooming and household cleaning, and even a small agribusiness. I provided employment to a number of people and treated them as fairly as was fiscally possible. I paid my taxes. I gave to charity. All of which contributed to my community and country.

On the personal side, I provided my children with a reasonable start to adult life so that they could go forward as contributing members of society .On top of this, I worked with endangered children for years, as well as fostering children. I now work with the elderly, making it possible for them to stay in their own homes. I am not wealthy and never have been, but I’ve always paid my own way. I think I’ve been as contributory as my means allow.

Am I a paragon of virtue, an anomaly of my selfish, greedy generation, an exception to the rule? No, I don’t think so. My life experience has shown me otherwise. Baby boomers are no different from any other generation; some are responsible, hard-working, community-minded, charitable and compassionate and some are not. There are all kinds in any group, particularly one 76 million large.

In most respects, I am quite representative of my age group. My generational contemporaries, as I know them, are hard-working people who've done their best in life and feel as powerless as all of you in the face of what is happening in the world.

Don't you get it? It's all just another version of divide and conquer, designed to keep your minds occupied with nonsense and trivia rather than question the status quo.

But apparently you don't get it. There's more, much more to be found out there, waxing prolific on the faults of my generation. Here's but a small sampling:

Are Baby Boomers to blame for debt crisis? “They lived well, grew up in relative abundance, never knew adversity or crisis, and..."

Some of us lived well, no doubt. As to "relative abundance," relative to what? The Great Depression? The Middle Ages? You? I ask, because the "abundance" I saw showered on our collective children truly boggled my mind.

We never knew adversity, you say.

When I turned thirty, Canada was in the grip of '80's recession, with double-digit unemployment and interest rates that soared to the sky -- never been so high before or since. My mortgage came up for renewal and the best rate I could get was 24.6% -- usery! A rapid spate of foreclosures rocked the housing industry. The government announced only those "living in dire straits" would get assistance, causing one town in Ontario to change its name to Dire Straits, proving that at least we'd kept our sense of humor.

In the US, the situation was little better. The oil crisis meant long lines at the pumps and skyrocketing gas prices. The savings and loan industry collapsed, wiping out fortunes and leaving many families homeless.

Yeah -- the 1980's were a blast!

Didn't know crisis? Ha, ha! Did you grow up under the shadow of "the bomb," where your teachers played you appalling film footage of atomic explosions, and twice a week you were required to do "duck and cover" drills? Sometimes we were required to run out to the playground and cover our heads with our coats; other times, we stayed inside. Even at the ripe old age of seven, eight or nine, hiding under my desk, I was smart enough to know I was huddled beneath a pile of kindling.

It was the early sixties, and we spent our childhood waiting to be blown to smithereens -- the end of the world.

No, no crisis here! No trauma at all.

Will Boomers ever admit to being wrong? “ The blame can be spread to almost an entire generation of Americans better known as the Baby Boomers. Other generations may have contributed to the fight, but the origin of the debt crisis dates back to the 1960s...”

Hey, buddy, the first boomers were born in 1946 and births peaked in the early '50's. So that would make us between seven and fifteen in the early sixties and seventeen and twenty-five by their close. Hardly at the helm of the ship, were we? In fact, I'd say it wasn't until Clinton's presidency that baby boomers first took power. (I don't count old G.W. -- he's too old-school to be considered one of us -- if there is an "us.")

After the Baby Boom failure “ So, for everyone who has had their fill of Baby Boom cynicism, partisanship and greed let me be the first to say: Baby Boomers, stop screwing us over. It’s been a long time since Civil Rights...”

I know I've had enough of partisanship and greed -- though whether those attributes can be considered the exclusive characteristics of the boomers is up for debate. As to cynicism, how can anyone with a working brain not be a cynic, looking at the world today? If you're not cynical, you're not thinking. You're a dupe!

He goes on to say the current state of affairs is entirely our fault because we've had the right to vote for four decades and we've done nothing to stop the "U.S.S. Titanic" from floundering. He has a point here, though he misses the big picture. It isn't as if we haven't tried, you know.

Does he believe those elected are truly answerable to those who put them in office? One would hope so, but this is rarely the truth. They are answerable to those who paid the piper, dear young, misguided writer, but perhaps that's just another expression of "boomer cynicism."

You'll see.

Blame the Baby Boomers: Shallow, Greedy and Corrupt “The Baby Boom Generation will never be mistaken for the Greatest Generation that survived the Great Depression and defeated evil in a World War that killed 72 million people. I hate to tell you Boomers, but putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your $50,000 SUV is not sacrifice.” Your claim to fame is living way beyond your means for the last three decades…"

Well, true, we are not our parents. Their war was considered an act of heroism and nobility.

Our war was a scuzzy, dirty little affair that killed close to 60,000 of our young men, tore society apart and wiped out a large percentage of the populations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for reasons never given, and for a result best not remembered. Will we ever forget those last images of a decade of genocide and sacrifice -- the ignoble retreat, helicopters ferrying the last Americans out of Saigon, leaving their Vietnamese friends and supporters behind to fend for themselves, to die, to drown in overcrowded scows on turbulent seas in their desperation?

Not noble. Not noble at all. No, we are definitely not our parents.

Sacrifice? Let's see, as a woman I feel my generation's life has been irrevocably marked by war. Our fathers fought in Europe or the Pacific and suffered, returning to their homes bearing all the scars of war, at a time when such terms as PTSD were unknown and they were to sally forth into private life in a manly fashion, uncomplaining and certainly adhering to the myth of the day -- men were strong and silent. No wonder so many of our fathers were heavy drinkers (alcohol consumption was at an all-time high in the early fifties,) were uncommunicative and woke us up at night with their screams.

Our husbands went to Vietnam, some drafted but most willingly, to live through horrors and return to us angry, wounded and full of one big question: What had it all been for?

Our sons fought in Desert Storm, Mogadishu, Bosnia and Kosovo, and they and our grand-sons, (and daughters and grand-daughters) continue fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. With so little opportunity in the private sector, we watch them compete for positions in the military, and wonder what this portends for the future. Is war all that is left?

I don't display a yellow-ribbon on my tiny Honda Fit (very fuel efficient and green) because as a true child of the sixties, I want an end to war. I want an end to the killing, the waste of resources, the death and destruction, the wasting of our young people's lives in whatever hell-hole we've chosen to send them, an end to the spending...

Don't you?

But this one, oh, this one is the absolute worst, although to my mind it says more about our descendants than it does us:

Baby Boomer Generation: As Selfish in Near-Death as They Were in Life "They were the “Me” generation. The more privileged members of the Baby Boomer generation protested against the Vietnam War on our shores, while their contemporaries gave their lives and limbs to the Viet Cong over there. They supported illegal drug use, free love/rampant sex, and bra burning. They paved the way for the decline of the nuclear family–today..."

After this opening paragraph (this repetitive, stereotypical, banal, over-used, trite, ridiculous opening paragraph) this writer goes on to list the greatest of our sins.

We are spending our money before we die and leaving nothing to our heirs!

(Note to my children: Sorry I will leave you nothing, but it's going to be all I can do to make sure the bills are paid before I go. I'll do my best. If I can't, my instructions to you are "screw the creditors." My mortgage is more than the house is worth, and my estate is negative. However, I know you've made good use of that which I've already given you, and as a result are capable of doing for yourself. So I'm not going to beat myself up too badly over it.)

for a laugh

OMG! What "selfishness" indeed!

Here are some extracts from this article which I simply must share (at the risk of getting a duplicate content slap on the wrist.)

“...even though many Boomers are multi-millionaires, they are leaving little of it to their kids and spending it all on themselves before they die. But on the bright side, this will hopefully end–with the Boomer generation–the cycle of spoiled counter-cultural senses of entitlement that they had.... In the end they will be the same: ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME...”

Uh, excuse me while I take a minute to digest this. (Kind'a knocks your socks off, don't it?)

Many of us are multi-millionaires? Hey, sugar-buns, the average baby-boomer household enjoys an annual income of $45,000 so how about directing this... what I can only call the temper tantrum of an overly-indulged child... to those to whom the shoe fits: those baby-boomers who did elevate themselves to a comfortable living, who are not to be confused with those whose wealth was inherited.

Let's see, they raised you, provided you with all the appropriate health care, did their best to give you a good education, bank-rolled your college education and more than likely, financed your launch into adult life.

And now -- shame, shame, shame -- they intend to live a comfortable retirement instead of eking out their last years in denial and penury to give yet more to you.


All you boomers out there, those of you whose parents left you a batch, raise your hands.

Now, sweetie-pie, count the hands.

Less than 10% of us boomers received much in the way of inheritance, anything over $25,000 according to what statistics I can find. (My parents left each of us three girls $9,000 CDN, for which I was grateful, and my only regret was they both died of disease before they could spend all of it!)

Who is the selfish one with a sense of entitlement?

Little wonder that on one site which attempted to answer the question "What did baby boomers do wrong?" voted the most popular answer was this:

"Had children."

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Comments 12 comments

Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

A very eloquent defense of your generation, Lynda, but still...disco.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Lynda your evaluation was incredible. You're so right on every point. Sometimes I beat myself up over being from the boomer generation, but I'm living on the margin of poverty with no medication and no help from anyone except myself. The only escape is death and I'm trying to avoid that one. So I may have screwed up but I'm the one paying for it not the rest. The screwup we have to accept is allowing the loss of our country to the forces of evil, they know who they are. I commend your fortitude and writing,

Peter


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

LOL "Had children!" Love it! Ya know, I was just thinking that the other night. I love my kids, but I would never miss them if we had never met. Sometimes, if I had it to do over, well, maybe not. :0) WE supported the previous generation who BTW, got More out of Social Security than they probably ever paid in. I think that the $500 per paycheck FICA dipped in and took from me can damned well come back to me in the form of my Social Security. Another great hub! Those 'Young Republicans' I knew in the 1960's, well they grew up to be 'old' Republicans.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi again, Jeff. I don't like disco either, though I'll admit to some pretty good times while it played....

Hi Peter, Sorry to hear of your circumstance. If it's any comfort, you're not alone. We did try to beat down those forces of evil, but.... Thanks so much. Lynda

Hi again, BobbiRant. A poll was once taken of parents with grown children that asked it they would do it all again. Less than 1/3 said they would have children had they their life to live over. It shocked me at the time. But then I was one of the children, then. Thanks for your support. Lynda

Thanks all.


Justsilvie 5 years ago

I have to repeat my words form Part 1, Excellent Hub! Actually a total wake- up call and made me realize just what it means to be a Boomer. We are screwed! But we are also damn resilient so I don’ think the majority of us are going to move over or roll over while we still are breathing.

It brings a whole new meaning to the popular T-Shirt “I am spending my children’s inheritance”. Which to be honest if I had one to spend, I would!!! They are most welcome to have what is left when I was finished, I said these words on my Mother and I hope my kids are smart enough to say them on their children.

Disco! hmmmm Have to admit i did like some of it.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Justsilvie. Compliments are always welcome. Yes, we are a special generation in so many ways. Has any other generation seen as much change as we have? And so quickly? Thanks for commenting here. Lynda


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Wow ... fun conversation on Yahoo on this question. Tempers running wild lol.

"I guess my point is: people, particularly young people, have always partied, killed their brain cells with mood altering substances and fornicated at a every given opportunity." - I can agree with the altering substances issue, I don't know about the "fornicating" part though (for me anyway - to each their own).

“Last study I saw showed a general "trouble" age in all generations where they caused the most trouble.......but this pattern was disrupted with the hippie generation and has pretty much following them as they aged since thier ideology was basically full of crap. Therefore thier expectations have always been based on thier ideology. Later in that generation Boomers weren't so contributary.” LOL!! What a gem indeed ... (I don't see much logic in that quote so, I'll pass.)

"Am I a paragon of virtue ..." - I think so.

Comparing who's crisis was worse will probably not get us anywhere either. That got me to think of children yelling at each other: "My daddy's better than your daddy!" lol ...

"Does he believe those elected are truly answerable to those who put them in office? One would hope so, but this is rarely the truth. They are answerable to those who paid the piper, dear young, misguided writer, but perhaps that's just another expression of "boomer cynicism."

That glitch in the system should be tried to be over-come. Just an opinion.

I have to ask now about the bra-burning thing: what is that all about? I over-looked it a few times but I keep seeing it ...

You wrote about the temper tantrums on the web and yes those are fun but I look at those that just happened on the streets of Tottenham and Manchester ... I look around here: just plain anger on the younger side. I think it comes from pain in many cases. "The truth is rarely pure and never simple".

"What did baby boomers do wrong?" voted the most popular answer was this:

"Had children."

My father agrees with the above statement. My sister and I have been told that if he had to do it all over again, he would not have had children. We have an amazing dysfunctional relationship.

By the way, disco wasn't that bad I don't think ... Cheers and thank you for another very good article! All the best.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hello Mr. Happy -- I guess we all have the tendency to personalize such issues, whether we are a member of the group under attack or not. My own personal opinion is that the world is made up of individuals and any attempt to lump them into one category, whether by birth date, religion, race, political affiliation, is only doomed to injustice and failure.

The "burn the bra" thing went like this: the bra, or the need to bind our breasts if you will, was considered a symbol of restriction to the female gender. And if you had to wear one, you would agree. How much nicer it is to go without rather than have this great cinch around your ribcage... But I digress. In the sixties and seventies, public bra burning was a form of protest against the unfair restrictions against women. I never did burn mine -- couldn't afford to replace it! But certainly, my sympathies and beliefs were on their side. Equality for women -- definitely.

As to your dysfunctional family, I once saw a wonderful cartoon. It showed a huge hall filled with empty chairs and not a soul in sight. Across the stage was a banner reading "National Conference of Those from Normal Families."

Thanks for the comment. Lynda


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I think you are fully right Mrs. Lynda ... lumping individuals into categories does not help. Much to think about - thank you and all the best.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

I believe that my baby boomer contemporaries, as I know them, are hard-working people who've done their best in life and feel as powerless as the rest of society in the face of what is happening in the world.

I also agree that the tendency to blame is all just another version of divide and conquer, designed to keep everyone's minds occupied with nonsense and trivia rather than question the status quo.

As I said in my Part I comment, the sooner we stop blaming and start coming together to find workable solutions, the better off we'll all be.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I don't think it anybody but it was orchestrated by the very top. They de-regulated the stock market and banks. They still crabbing thousands and millins of high wages and bonues even so teh bank and the stock market are loosing left right and centre. Yet, nobody puts a stop to it. Why, because they all benefit from it but us.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

lmmartin,

I am at the end of the boomers and yet, I too am responsible. I tried to promote Truth in Accounting and gave accounting financial insights but the whole nation is against being frugal. No one wants to hear the words we cannot afford it.

I worked for premier municipal governments who could afford their infrastructure - yet everyone conveniently forgot about the maintenance.

Yes, we can afford to buy a home - they bank says so but even the bankers forgot the maintenance.

In Germany, the right of way is taken care of by the property owner I am told - we here in the US must take responsibility - it is our right of way - it is not the government's responsibility - it is our debit - both the right of way and the debt are ours - not theirs.

We must all take the blame.

Another excellent Hub. The statistics are right on mark - but you as a fellow finance professional I would expect nothing less.

Very well done! Keep the common sense flowing. We, the boomers are listening and reading.

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