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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Open letter to baby-boomer critics

We didn't ask for much
I don't get cross at much, but one thing that really sticks in my craw is the constant harping by a certain section of a certain age bracket – that somehow the baby-boomers are the source of all evil in the world.
    Not you, of course – you're smarter than that.
    Do they realise that the next generation is going to say exactly the same thing about theirs? With just as much or as little justification? Probably not. They're God's gift to humanity they are.
    What exactly are they doing to create a better world? Are they using fewer resources? Are they voting for political parties that are trying to? Not by the look of that house and that car and those clothes they're not.
    Which generation is expert at internet crime, likely to cause the collapse of the global economic system as we know it, and deal in new forms of bush-button warfare?
    Not fair criticism, they say. No, it's not fair – but it's as fair as what they're dishing out to their parents, or maybe their grandparents.
    Not you, of course, if you happen to be of that generation – as I said, you're smarter than that.
    Do they think corporate greed suddenly emerged twenty-plus years after the end of World War 2, just with people now retiring? Have they never heard of the 1929 Depression, the idiocy of Prohibition that gave us the platform for organised crime? Should the baby-boomers try to pass the buck to their parents, and they might do to theirs?
    Yes, some baby-boomers made money by investing in a house to put a roof over their children's head. Generally, they were not looking to end their lives basking in luxury. They just wanted security, and most paid for it fortnight by fortnight, interest rates at about 15%.

     Some put off travel until retirement, once they gave their kids a start in life. Now a lot don't have the money or the health to do that, or new responsibilities have been dumped in their laps that they had no idea were coming. They've missed out on a lot of the fun. Maybe not your oldies. Good for them if they've managed to squeeze it in before they drop off the perch.
    Who wants to start at the top? Who's seeking luxury right now? Who's travelled all over the world before they're thirty, and have a brand new car?
    I know that you saved money and paid for your trip and are busting your guts paying off that car. You know better than the whingers. I've no intention of insulting you. And you also know what your oldies did for you.
    A lot of baby-boomers didn't have any of this. They didn't leave high school with a glorious gap year ahead, often with no end of the gap in sight, supported by social security built on a system the post-war generation paid for. It was unthinkable.
    Incidentally, I'm in favour of the gap year, but that's another story. The point is, remember where the structure which supports it comes from.
    Most baby-boomers helped create a stable financial environment, paid into superannuation funds or, if they couldn't afford that or it wasn't available, the money was put into giving their kids the education and comforts they now have.
    Break your arm at basketball on a Saturday afternoon, and [in Australia] you can go to Accident & Emergency at a public hospital and have it dealt with – free of charge. Yes, it's way from perfect, but Gina Rinehart didn't give you that. Those baby-boomers did.
    The greatest critics are the well-heeled upstarts who have been handed their advantages on a silver platter. Luckily there are others the same age; you, for example, who know what your parents have done/are doing for you, and yes, we know you are still paying off your HECS tertiary education debt. I had to pay term by term for my university fees as well in the 1960s. Up front.
    Let's not forget a few things. Many of these baby-boomers are rearing their children's kids while their own children draw a salary. Yes, that income is critical and they don't begrudge it. In sadder cases, they're rearing children whose parents are rarely if ever around.
    Bear in mind that this is after these baby-boomers spent their working lives rearing their own, and thought they were going to get a break. Raising grandchildren is exhausting for people approaching old age, but they rarely complain, for the sake of those kids.
    They have not robbed their children of their future. In many cases, they sacrificed their own. And if they haven't solved the world's problems, like it or not, you may well have been the beneficiary, and the debt for that might well be passed down to your children through you.
    The ingratitude of those who say they are now going to have to pay something to support their parents' old age is bloody despicable. If that's their attitude, I say, grow up, kiddies. Make the stats say what you like. We were there, preparing to give our kids a future. It so happened that some made money. Woopie-do. A lot didn't because they made big sacrifices, and often still are.
    But as I said, I'm not talking about you. You have more sense. It's them. The immature, self-centred ingrates.
    To them I say, get off our backs. Many baby-boomers are all too familiar with that sensation, and we don't buy those spurious claims the piggy-backing little sods are making.


NOTE: My own children paid their own way after high school. They gave us as much as we gave them, and they don't complain.


  1. I don't see how a past generation can ever be considered wrong. History always shows it is always the latest generation that just don't know how things should be done!

    Glad to see you have recovered so well from your "shock therapy", I hope Tracey has recovered too. It must have given her a fright.

    Anne P.

    1. Thanks, Anne. Yes, Tracey found the whole 'shocking' thing a bit... shocking! I was more concerned about the burning smell, but no doubt should have been more about the zapping had I seen that cable earlier than I did!

      Of course, from ancient Greek times onwards, the oldies have always despaired over the behaviour of the younger, and the younger one has regarded the older as a whiney bunch of old fogies.

      I have Chinese texts from 2400 years ago with the same complaints.

  2. Talk about "horse-on-the-dining-room" conversation, Denis. I have been keeping these thoughts to myself for far too long. No longer. Ta. R

  3. The problem with the boomers is they stopped growing around the age of 18. They were 'forever young'. And they acted like their generation was the center of the universe. So, a backlash was bound to happen. And boomer parents raised a generation of silly kids.

    1. I'm presuming you're giving us a beautiful example of the stereotype in the minds of some of those I was criticising – thank you! Or is it troll day?

      I deliberately set apart critics of the baby-boomers from others in their age cohort. I know we are all forced into generalisations but wow! that's a ripper.

  4. Andrea. You're pulling our legs, right? I've just nearly killed myself looking after my aged mother for the last 14 years. I've fought against corporate destruction of the environment. I've been politically engaged on behalf of the health of society for decades. I now volunteer my services to other old people. My mother was in the women's army during WW2 and for her that was a pivotal point in Australia's history (does that mean her generation were self centred?) Similarly, I felt the social changes that occurred in the 60s and 70s were amazing - a time when people first began caring about the world we live in (there was a book called "Silent Spring'. Read it sometime). Social equality was seen as desirable so public health and education became a priority (Medicare?). It became OK for women to get bank loans to buy houses and to divorce men who were beating them up. Gay people no longer had to go quietly insane, feeling disgraced. It was a momentous time. Then the baby boomers had their adored children, ones who were no longer 'seen but not heard'. etc..Please don't call the beautiful 30 year olds I know 'silly'.

    Hot topic, Denis!

    Julie M

    1. Can't wait to tell my daughters, each holding positions of considerable responsibility, that they're silly [and it's their parents' fault].

      I blame mine, actually, for bringing me up so badly. :)

  5. It's jealousy. The green eyed monster. The boomer haters weren't there in the 60s and they hate us for being there.

    1. It had its charm in those days, but I must say I enjoy the good things in this world that those before me, my generation and our children have built for us.

      I don't think I've ever believed in 'generations' anyway. Society changes second by second, not sudden changes of the guard every 30 years. Certain events precipitate more radical change, but that whole block-identification thing is a convenience and pretty much an illusion, just as are any lines drawn under a point of time in history.

      Forty years of teaching history has taught me that much at least.

  6. As a member of the Silent Generation - i.e. people born before 1944 - I feel entitled to berate you young whipper snapper baby boomers. I berate you for ......well, everything .... because I can. I also berate Gen X, Gen Y and future cheeky youngsters. You're all young to me.

    Sister Aiden
    DOB 25th December 1901

    1. Ah! One thing I know as a baby-boomer whipper-snipper [or snapper, take your pick] is that the older you get, the smarter, so I defer completely to your 111 year wisdom.

      You're ace, Sissy.

  7. I will enthusiastically join in your berating because I am jealous we never had a name. Perhaps we need an ancient Greek name? I suggest Iota because we seem quite insignificant and there are few of us left to put our case! Anne Powles

    1. Funny thing is, the people of the Middle Ages didn't even know that's where they were, and probably thought they were extremely modern. How silly can you get?

      As to your generation, you must have been war-time or inter-war babies, though in the latter case your parents thought they'd had a Great War that couldn't possibly happen again. Sadly within a few years they put on a much more impressive show than World War 1.

      We baby-boomers have put on quite impressive shows in terms of creating misery and destruction, but kept them confined to smaller areas but with more horrible impacts. I daresay we can take some credit for that. But then we were only adolescents when Eisenhower warned the US and the world not to let democracy fall into the hands of the military-industrial complex, so can you blame us for ignoring him?

      It's our parent's generation's fault. It always is. Every generation knows that! Our crime is that some of us are going to live too long. Maybe that will happen, maybe not.

  8. Remembering that male friends of mine were expelled from high school in the mid-sixies for wearing their hair below their collars reminds me of the massive social changes resulting from the upheavals of the late 60s and early 70s. Divorce was such a scandal, that you only heard about your friends' divorces when you read about them in the paper. And sex before marriage, well only bad girls did that. No wonder a large portion of a whole generation turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. We sometimes forget, too, that all this happened against the background of the Vietnam War.

    Today's youth owes a great debt to the social and political revolutionaries of that period. They get to wear their hair any way they want.

    Previous comment deleted due to compromising typo (again).

    1. Amen to the inspiration behind that. Two of my final blog pieces on my childhood, all going well, will be "Religion in a 1950s Australian township" and "Sex in a 1950s Australian township". These may underline some of the general points you're making.

  9. hi Denis, followed the link you left on AFHP. Your post here is great. I've wondered, in isolation, for ages why this blame thing on the boomers is happening. Was so surprised by it at first. Eventually figured it had to be a younger gen blaming the older gen for their perceived woes, which you rightly point out has happened from time immemorial and with bafflement going both ways.

    The younger gen now have many more ways to air and get their views out there, more than any previous time, so we get to hear it more, and they can connect up with others of a like view and extend the whinge. Make it seem even more real.

    The sixties and early seventies were a great time to be young. Such idealism and so many barriers to break through. Very heady stuff. Younger one's now are much more conservative, or seem so. I'm biased, I still believe the boomers were/are a special gen.

    1. Thanks for that. You're right. I just think it's the other side of the coin!


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