Boom Goes the Boomers!

As the economy tumbles, we're all searching for answers, for comfort. And part of that comfort comes from placing blame. Who's fault is this whole mess? The Republicans? GMC? Barney Frank? Bankers?

When it all first started, I had a theory, one I didn't point out on Burnside because 1) I don't really know what I'm talking about most of the time, and 2) I'm usually hesitant to point a finger of blame at entire people groups.

But then Marian Salzman, a trendspotter and marketing guru, came out on CNN.com and more or less told me my theory was exactly right: we're in this mess because of Baby Boomers.

And while I'll never forgive Salzman for popularizing the phrase "metrosexual", let's think about her claim for a moment: what do Barney Frank, the majority of Republican and Democratic leadership, President Bush, most banking/automobile CEOs, Rush Limbaugh, Barbara Streisand, O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump have in common?

They're all born between 1940 and 1955.

The Baby Boomers were the first to reap the rewards of America's superpower status. The Greatest Generation, wounds fresh from the Great Depression and World War II, fought for and attained prosperity, a bright future for their children. The Golden Age of America was about to begin.

And then their petulant, spoiled children rode all that hard work right off a cliff. Baby Boomers are defined by their immense self-centeredness and belief in the individual. They never shut up about all the great works they accomplished, like the end of the Vietnam War (which, by the way, lasted 16 years) and ingesting copious amounts of narcotics, and all the super-awesome music. Through Bill Clinton and George Bush, they've accomplished 16 straight years of awful presidency.

And pretty soon, this massive clump of self-obsessed Boomers will reach social security age, bringing on another economic crisis...one that could've been averted by now, except Baby Boomers aren't overly concerned with anyone but themselves.

It's not just politics, either...almost every aspect of how the Evangelical Church in America operates, good and bad (though, I'd lean toward the latter), is because of Baby Boomer influence.

Now, I realize Baby Boomers are a diverse group, and not all of them are to blame for America's current freefall. But that doesn't make my blood boil any less when remembering these stupid Ameriprise commercials:

Yeah, man...no bingo for you! You burned your draft card and let a black kid from inner-city Detroit go to Vietnam in your place! You survived the '60s! So go buy that boat, man...you deserve it.

I have some chapter ideas for "the book on how to turn retirement upside down":
  1. Freedom Means Buying Giant Cars
  2. The Greatest Generation: They Laid the Groundwork for You! (And No One Else!)
  3. From The Doors to Draft-Dodging: How to Tell Your Grandchildren How Much You Mattered
  4. Let's Get Rand-y: Unleashing Your Inner Howard Roark
(Incidentally, as Salzman's article points out, the worst of the baby boomers were born before 1953. Bill Gates, for example, has been a model of gracious, charitable wealth.)


  1. I like this one, Jordan.
    Makes me think about people I'm related too (*ahem* my Dad, *cough*) and the values he Tried to instill in his children. Oddly - now we all butt heads with him at the very base of our ideals and he scratches his head and doesn't understand where all his grandiose teaching went wrong...

  2. Dad (born in late 1953)December 29, 2008 at 6:22 PM

    That's good music in that video.

  3. Interesting how Jordan always comes up with these great theories (didn't you also predict Obama's rise to fame?) but never posts them until after someone else does... hm.... ;-) Ah, to be ahead of the times.

    But here's my question: How do the Baby Boomers' kids, the so-called "Trophy Kids," respond to this? We grew up during economic prosperity and were carpooled off to balet class and art class and etc etc etc, but then got all cynical and started listening to Grunge. It seems like even though we're more "alternative" and "indie" these days, that just feeds into the same self-centerdness as the Baby Boomers. Didn't Time Magazine put us all on the cover of their magazine, since thanks to Myspace and Facebook we've become our own celebrities? Yes, Generation X and even more-so Y helps others, but are we more of a product or a backlash of the Baby Boomers?

  4. Good points, stephanie...I should probably stop mentioning how I thought of everything first unless I have absolute proof.

    And yes, our generation is going to have it's own issues, partly due to being raised by Boomers, partly due to the technology and amateur celebrity status we can attain, partly because of so much information being available to us.

    It's difficult to start hand-wringing, though, until we're older...our behavior in our teens and 20's doesn't always reflect our legacy later on.

    You're also talking about two different different generations, X and Y.

  5. But even the idea of talking about generational differences comes from the Baby Boomers...so where does that leave us?

  6. Jordan,

    For my money Howe and Strauss (those said Boomer's) left us with a darned fine map to understand generational trends.

    The beauty of the model is recognizing that each generation reacts to the generation before it.

    The danger of the model (or at least generational thinkings) is to demonize the one before you. A lot of what I've been reading treats X and Y as if they had no sin nature.

  7. Well, i don't believe them, Larry, because they're boomers, and therefore demons.