Friday, October 24, 2014

Millennials Need to Stop Whining About the Boomers!

Let's face it, the Baby Boomers have been a target of easy opportunity for all manner of nattering nabobs of negativity, who insist we Boomers are about to usher in the fall of civilization as we know it. From Arch-Boomer nemesis, Robert Samuelson who blames “entitlements” for an approaching fiscal train wreck, to a spate of authors – including P.J. O'Rourke, Joe Klein and  David Willets (in his book, ‘How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future and Why They Should Give It Back’)

Now enter a whiny Millennial, Alexander S. Balkin, who in a recent Salon piece (‘Boomers Ruined America) cried for over 1,000 words on how terrible, amoral and  greedy the Baby Boomers are with choice shots such as:

The perfect example of this was the 2008 collapse of the toxic housing debt market. In government, baby boomers ballooned the defense budget beyond the point of reason. They then raided government programs to pay for their mistakes. Regarding the environment, baby boomers left the United States reliant on coal (cough, cough) while eroding the advanced nuclear energy infrastructure built by their parents. We can thank baby boomer leadership for a nation that has no sound policy on foreign affairs, the environment, energy, social welfare, human rights, terrorism, technology development, education, debt, etc. The point being, baby boomer leadership has provided America with a government that is the most partisan and self-serving the union has ever seen, and remains entirely reactive to the world around it.
All of which is over-generalized mush – can you say “fallacy of composition” i.e. when one claims that what is true of a part is true of a whole?  In this case, the “Boomers” he is referring to make up about 5 percent of the total generation. These are the entitled, 'silver spoon in the mouth'  twerps like Gee Dumbya Bush – who got his Harvard education via a legacy entitlement, and who – once elected- set the nation on a course of perpetual fear (following 9/11) , perpetual war (with defense budgets to match)  and massive oil  & coal dependency (well, BOTH Bush and Cheney were oilmen, after all, duh!)

But this twerp Balkin makes no distinction between that enclave of miscreants and the vast mass of Boomers – like me – who gave blood, sweat and tears either fighting in Vietnam for a war those like Bush instigated (in that case, LBJ – fawning fool for the Texas oilmen and military industrial complex) or serving in Peace Corps (as I did for 4 years) or some other volunteer mode. Yet this guy blames us and essentially dumps us all into the same mix as the Bushite- Neocon- Maul Street shyster  subset of Boomers!  This lack of rational discrimination alone calls into question his credibility in writing the piece.

As for the 2008 financial meltdown, don’t even get me started. But if this guy Balkin had a clue he could have researched and excavated the actual background – which can be boiled down to those of the elite Bushie-mold ilk creating credit default swaps and mixing them up with valid bonds and labeling the whole AAA. Those who want more information (and that especially includes Mr. Balkin)  can go here:

Also, the historical causes of multi-nation financial meltdown are a lot less obvious than picking on one highly visible demographic.  If you want the supreme distillation it can basically be summed up in two parts: 1) trashing the Bretton Woods Global Finance Agreement (1973), and 2) Launching numerous wars of choice which have not only cost blood but enormous treasure.

In the case of Bretton Woods, while it wasn’t perfect it did provide a more equitable global basis for competition and trade than what’s in place now – based on such travesties as G.A.T.T., NAFTA and World Trade Organization fiats (which sent millions of American jobs overseas). Worse, with the collapse of Bretton Woods, global currencies went from a fixed exchange rate system to a floating system. Only years after did many of the creators of the latter realize what an error they had made, and how much they facilitated currency speculation –especially in the carry trade. Since the Asian crisis in 1997, currency raiders have splattered the reserves of a number of nations as governments have watched helplessly. Only most recently, this piracy has reached new heights via the used of “naked credit default swaps” for speculators to bet on national collapse (as in Greece) with NO money on the table of their own.

If one now factors in how things have changed since 1973, one begins to see why the “younger generation” has been placed in economic peril – and it isn’t from the Boomers! For one thing, floating exchange rates and currency raids have allowed the dollar’s strength to deteriorate. This is called “currency debasement” and it’s been used over and over in recent decades for not very salutary purposes. For example, the Bush government used it to make the cost of domestic goods cheaper (via a cheaper dollar) to try to reduce the U.S. trade deficit.

Then again, the global market tyranny that has replaced Bretton Woods, has enabled millions and millions of high paying, relatively secure jobs (especially in manufacturing, but more recently in computer software specialties) to be shipped offshore to places like Bangalore and Beijing. Minus those higher benefits, higher paying jobs, Americans have barely been able to make ends meet – and this partly explains their stupendous reliance on credit card – to make up for their lost income. Young people, caught in this vortex, will obviously not see the same economic security as their parents who held steady good paying jobs with top benefits, to the extent that one could even afford to stay home. The now (nearly extinct) single income family!

Now, to this, add in all the wars  (Bushie instigated- without higher taxes to pay for them) which have bled down the national treasury (as I noted by an estimated $6 trillion – not even counting whacked out “defense” spending such as the $2.1 trillion under Reagan) and you have the basis for an economic Armageddon. Because make no mistake, SOMEONE had to pay or will have to pay, for those wars. Who is holding most of the bonds right now? Chinese and Japanese bankers – to the tune of nearly $2 trillion. Who will get the bill in the future? Our kids and grand kids, because their cowardly government didn’t have the brains or insight not to try to act like the world’s cop – and especially (in the Bush years) launching a full scale war against robed lunatics when a localized police or intel action could have been effective.

They preferred to bankrupt us, as Osama bin Laden always wanted – playing into his hands. Nor did they have the inner fortitude, given they got their war vote (by reconciliation no less) , to at least mandate the taxes to pay for it.  They preferred instead to use future taxes (and higher interest rates) to pay for it, but on the backs of future generations.

Yet now the smarmy asses in congress that voted for these war travesties and their humongous costs, want to say we haven’t the money for decent health care reform.

No, the Boomers are not the ghouls they’re made out to be by the likes of David Willet  or Alexander S. Balkin.  One of whom (Willet)  blames us for having too few children to increase our wealth relative to theirs and the other blames us for everything from the credit crisis to exploding defense budgets and overt dependence on fossil fuels.  Neither displays any grasp of reality and therein lies the problem. Because minus test in reality and hard evidence you don't know what you're talking about. 

People need to wake up, stop their blame game, and examine who the real culprits are in this forlorn multinational debt and war miasma. One thing for sure: Boomers do not need to “give back” anything to the next generation. What we do have to offer is our insight, and best advice. It’s up to the young ‘uns to take it or leave it, but if they leave it – don’t blame us for their predicament and lack of political smarts.

If I had one piece of advice for the likes of Balkin and his compatriots, it would be to put down the Ipods, smart phones and Twitter access and head to the library to do some serious reading: on history, politics and economics especially. To see first hand how you got to where you are without having to rely on simplistic a whole generation. Knowledge is the key to your liberation, not picking on a large group that in many ways has been victimized as much or worse than you and for a longer time.

And btw, despite Balkin's claims we were somehow all privileged and got it all handed to us, I will have him know that most of us weren't favored sons like George W. Bush. We either had to get scholarships to attend university or student loans. And after graduating we educated ourselves on the basics of the political system and economics - our parents didn't have the time to dote because they were too busy working.

Before Mr. Balkin or others of his generation go after the Boomers again, they may wish to pick up a copy of my book, The Elements of the Corporatocracy – to see how Millennials really ended up where they are:

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