My Response to Baby Boomer Whining

My aunt sent around a “it’s not fair to criticize the Baby Boomers” email. Here’s my (somewhat incomplete response to that nonsense; the email is quoted below my remarks):

Hello all,
(Please note what follows is my interpretation as a historian of 20th Century US politics, and it is NOT directed at anyone on this mailing list as I have no wish to insult any friend or family member. Aunt Lois’ email, however, made me react in a certain way.)

With all due respect to all my friends and family on this mailing list, I must tell you that as a historian I assert that the “baby boomer” generation is (present company excepted of course) the worst generation ever vomited up by any society. BBs have destroyed everything they have touched and left the nation in ruin.

The BBs started taking power around 1980, and look at the result. Between 1789-1980, the US took on ~$1 trillion in debt. By 2011, under three decades of BB rule, we have $12 trillion in debt. BBs consistently voted to cut taxes and preserve services — a complete contradiction which should have been obvious to most people (unless you are a dedicated viewer of Fox “News,” where up is down and black is white).

By voting for tax cuts that made no sense, BBs stole money from my generation and the one after mine, the current college students, and left us with nothing but fiscal chaos. I remind you that in the 1950s — the decade which most Americans associate with prosperity, thanks to the labor unions which created the middle class — the top tax rate was 90%. 90%. Now it’s in the range of 32% and the middle and lower classes pay more in taxes as a percentage of their income than the wealthiest 1%. That’s BB math. Yes, it make less sense than a monkey with Alzheimer’s. And yet people are marching to demand tax cuts for that wealthiest 1% under the Tea Party banner. Welcome to Never-Never Land, the final product of BB delusion.

How the “conservatives” tricked an entire generation into voting AGAINST its own interests is beyond me. It makes no sense. Voting to cut taxes on the wealthiest in our society has destroyed much of our economy. How is this not obvious? Maybe fluoridated water made all the BBs mentally deficient, because I can’t think of another reason why anyone would fall for such a scam perpetrated by the wealthy oligarchs who rule us. The only reason we have a middle class is due to the victories of the labor movement in the 1930s and 40s, and now the BBs rail against union “greed.” What? What??? CEOs now earn approximately 400 times the average worker; in the 1950s it was in the neighborhood of 45 times. And the unions are “greedy”? How does that make sense? I do not suggest that some unions have had problems, but as far as I know no union has driven the American economy to the brink of collapse because of their financial shenanigans like the CEOs of Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns.

Another point: Ronald Reagan was not god. He did some good things and he did some horrible things — have you read about life in Nicaragua during the Contra period? Or the other nations in Central America with US-backed Death Squads?

One thing to remember about good ol’ RR is that he raised taxes when the situation demanded it. It’s stunning how much people have forgotten, or chosen to forget, because of what is said on FOX “News,” a station that makes Pravda look like the New York Times.

FOX “News” is actually the best example of the BB generation: they lie all the time about everything and have tried to turn greed into a virtue. That about sums up the BB generation from the viewpoint of those who came after.

We — the generations after the BBs— have every right to criticize what the BB generation has done. It proved to be a selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, short-sighted, greedy generation that cared for nothing but itself — and getting a 40″ television. The BBs were handed everything and they demanded more and more and more like a rapacious child. Like a plague of locusts the BBs swept over the country and ate up everything they could. We probably would have fared better if the country collapsed in 1980 rather than come under BB rule.

The two BB presidents were Clinton and Bush Jr. One was a sex offender (but a good president in some ways) and the other was an idiot who drove this nation right off the cliff by falling into the trap set by Al Qaeda and who couldn’t negotiate his was out of a paper bag with no bottom. Both were draft dodgers (as were Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) and Bush et al played Soldier Boy by invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and thus caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, all because of intelligence they knew was a lie and which the Germans insisted was a lie (google “Curveball”).

And Dick Cheney is just evil. I imagine he eats the hearts of unicorns for breakfast and washes it down with the tears of orphans.

I remind you that is primarily the BB generation which has brought Sarah Palin to the forefront … a woman so ignorant that she couldn’t be elected dog catcher in any other civilized nation. Yet we are stuck with her because the BBs are too distracted to see through her act.

This nation now lies in ruins after 30 years of rule by the Baby Boomers. So yes, we criticize the BBs but only when they deserve it — which is always about everything.
~ Shawn

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Safety nor Liberty.”
– Benjamin Franklin

On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM, wrote:

Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others.

HOWEVER, upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,
The pride out of appearance,
The courtesy out of driving,
The romance out of love,
The commitment out of marriage,
The responsibility out of parenthood,
The togetherness out of the family,
The learning out of education,
The service out of patriotism,
The Golden Rule from rulers,
The nativity scene out of cities,
The civility out of behavior,
The refinement out of language,
The dedication out of employment,
The prudence out of spending,
The ambition out of achievement or
God out of government and school.

And we certainly are NOT the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance
from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

And, we do understand the meaning of patriotism,
and remember those who have fought and died for our country.

Does anyone under the age of 50 know the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner?

What about the last verse of My Country ’tis of Thee?

“Our father’s God to thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s Holy light.
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.”

Just look at the Seniors with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand
at attention with their hand over their hearts!

YES, I’M A SENIOR CITIZEN!

I’m the life of the party…… even if it lasts until 8 p.m.

I’m very good at opening childproof caps…. with a hammer.

I’m awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.

I’m smiling all the time because I can’t hear a thing you’re saying.

I’m sure everything I can’t find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.

I’m wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and that’s just my left leg.

I’m beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.

I’m a walking storeroom of facts….. I’ve just lost the key to the storeroom door.

Yes, I’m a SENIOR CITIZEN and I think I am having the time of my life!

Now if I could only remember who sent this to me, I wouldn’t send it back to them,
but I would send it to many more too!
Spread the laughter
Share the cheer
Let’s be happy
While we’re here.

Go Green – Recycle CONGRESS!!

Exactly

This is a wonderful article from Alter.net, which expresses exactly how I’ve been feeling. This is the first page of several, so be sure to read the whole article.

America: Why R Your Peeps So Dum?
U.S. culture is going down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.
December 9, 2010

JoeBageant.com / By Joe Bageant

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don’t even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.

As William Edwards Deming famously demonstrated, no system can understand itself, and why it does what it does, including the American social system. Not knowing shit about why your society does what it makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. So we create institutions whose function is to pretend to know, which makes everyone feel better. Unfortunately, it also makes the savviest among us — those elites who run the institutions — very rich, or safe from the vicissitudes that buffet the rest of us.

Directly or indirectly, they understand that the real function of American social institutions is to justify, rationalize and hide the true purpose of cultural behavior from the lumpenproletariat, and to shape that behavior to the benefit of the institution’s members. “Hey, they’re a lump. Whaddya expect us to do?”

Doubting readers may consider America’s health institutions, the insurance corporations, hospital chains, physicians’ lobbies. Between them they have established a perfectly legal right to clip you and me for thousands of dollars at their own discretion. That we so rabidly defend their right to gouge us, given all the information available in the digital age, mystifies the world.

Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google.

The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman’s right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That’s why they are called dumb.

But throw in sixty years of television’s mind puddling effects, and you end up with 24 million Americans watching Bristol Palin thrashing around on Dancing with the Stars, then watch her being interviewed with all seriousness on the networks as major news. The inescapable conclusion of half of heartland America is that her mama must certainly be presidential material, even if Bristol cannot dance. It ain’t a pretty picture out there in Chattanooga and Keokuk.

The other half, the liberal half, concludes that Bristol’s bad dancing is part of her spawn-of-the-Devil mama’s plan to take over the country, and make millions in the process, not to mention make Tina Fey and Jon Stewart richer than they already are. That’s a tall order for a squirrel brained woman who recently asked a black president to “refudiate” the NAACP (though I kinda like refudiate, myself). Cultural stupidity accounts for virtually every aspect of Sarah Palin, both as a person and a political icon. Which, come to think of it, may be a pretty good reason not to “misunderstimate” her. After all, we’re still talking about her in both political camps. And the woman OWNS the Huffington Post, fer Christsake. Not to mention a franchise on cultural ignorance.

It’s Time To Start Over

Let’s face it. The party’s over for the United States. We need to start over.

Please join me at FreeNewEngland.Org.


It will start small. A protest somewhere about something gets out of hand. The police press in too closely, or the demonstrators shout insults at the police. Soon out come the truncheons. Then the tear-gas. Then a bullet. A single bullet with a single fatality. The protest becomes a riot. Images of police brutality captured by a hundred cellphones splash across the screens of the lacksidasical press who are about to discover protest equals profits.

Democrats call for justice. Republicans call for order. Tea Partiers call it tyranny.

An angry left abandons the President. The bitter Tea Partiers split the Republicans. The Tea Party partiers paralyze the government in the name of paralyzing tyranny. The Rump Republicans split again, driving out the last of the moderates. The Democrats gain only more fissure in a party now too big for any tent.

The defaults begin. Cities and states reach a point at which papering over the deficits is no longer possible. Services grind to a halt. The middle class suddenly realizes how much of their lives are dependent on government programs, and suddenly understand the plight of the poor. Spending grinds to a halt and foreclosures continue to rise. Evictions. Job loss. Starvation.

The protests grow larger and angrier. There is no common target, no common platform, no common grasp of a solution. Rocks are thrown. Molotovs. Crowds fire back.

Democrats call for justice. Republicans call for order. Tea Partiers call it tyranny.

No one thinks to call it off.

My Response to a Student’s Question

—–Original Message—–
From: *******
Sent: Sat 11/6/2010 10:06 PM
To: **********
Subject: An important article

Hi all,

This is a very important article about the economic dangers we face right now:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/opinion/07kristof.html?_r=2

Naturally, you are NOT required to read it; but I urge you to.

Have a great rest of your weekend!
============================
—–Original Message—–
From: ************
Sent: Sun 11/7/2010 7:42 PM
To: ************
Subject: RE: An important article

Hello Dr. *****,
I really appreciate all the articles you reference to our [history] class. They help me gain perspective I would not otherwise get from other classes or from other adults. I understand that my generation is most likely going to face a lot of economic strain/problems in the near future, but I’m curious to know what your suggestions/perspective are/is for possibly easing that economic strain (especially for people of my generation).

Thank you,
**** ****

==============================
(Editor’s note: much of this is off the top of my head; I will be editing and updating over the next several days.)

Hi **** ****,

Thanks for writing, and I”m glad that you have appreciated the links and other information. I sometimes hesitate to send them or comment in class, because I hate to sound like the prophet of doom all the time, but I am concerned enough about the immediate future that I really feel like someone has to say something to you, even if it’s awkward sometimes. You can find many such articles (and opinion pieces) at http://www.reddit.com. I’m not sure I have an answer, but I can tell you why I feel the way I do.

In all honesty, I’m not sure there is much that can be done really. The wealthy ruling class, in conjunction with angry Americans ignorant of the real situation because the media is more of a distraction than a help these days, handed the House of Representatives to a party pledged to repeal health care reform (which will save $$$ and a majority of Americans want to keep– reference #1); who are controlled in part but a radical fringe (google “Rand Paul”) who could, possibly, refuse to allow the Congress to raise the debt ceiling next summer which would push the United States into default which would immediately cause a massive economic collapse around the world (see this video & skip ahead to 7:00); whose leader John Boehner (who will become Speaker of the House in January) has been described by the conservative press as a “lazy bar fly” (reference #2); who are insisting on preserving tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans who are NOT spending the money they receive back in tax cuts to revive the economy (reference #3); who refuse to admit the imperialist adventure in Iraq was founded on lies (reference #4); who are refusing to compromise with President Obama on virtually anything and who obstructed many needed reforms during the last two years (reference #5; reference 5A); and, because they control the House, have the sole power to introduce so-called “money” (spending) bills. They have spent two years claiming the real key to salvation is tax cuts and cuts in spending. When pushed, however, not a single Republican leader could name a single government program to cut.

Here’s the video proof:

Why not? Because the American people, who have clearly become schizophrenic, demand both tax cuts and government programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, and a vast array of other programs that we encounter almost every day. Therefore, Republicans will not cut much spending, and what they do cut will disproportionally hurt the poorest among us — because the poor don’t vote (generally speaking) and they have no ability to influence our elections because they have no money.

This is exactly what happened int he 1980s, when the Reagan Administration slashed taxes but increased spending. In eight years, the United States went from the world’s biggest lender to the world’s biggest debtor. In 1980, the US had approximately $1 trillion in debt, accumulated since 1789; today, that number is around $12 trillion, only 30 years later. We have now reached the point where the debt is damaging economic growth. Let me remind you that since 1980, we have had five presidents; only two of those have been Democrats, and when Bill Clinton left office in 2001 the government had a budget surplus and a booming economy (although some of that was part of the dotcom bubble).

So in other words, the Republican Party — which claims that the Democrats are “tax and spend liberals” — is mostly responsible for increasing the debt of the United States of America by a factor of 12 in only 30 years. This charge against the Democrats — a holdover from the ’60s — is therefore demonstrably untrue; and yet many Americans believe it. Indeed, the largest spending spree in decades took place from 2001-2006 during the presidency of George W. Bush — arguably the worst president in the history of the United States. Bush’s tax cuts led to a fall in government revenue, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq drove us over the fiscal cliff.

(Click to see the entire image)

The entire argument for tax cuts is that the wealthy will spend they money; but as I said, they are NOT spending it. Thus we are financial rewarding the exact same people (the small wealthy ruling elite, about 5% of the population or so) responsible for this entire crisis. It’s like catching a thief trying to break into your house and handing him keys to the front door (reference #6).

I do not argue that the Democrats are perfect, they are not; they are often incompetent. Since 2008, however, they accomplished much. That progress, slow as it was, will now ground to a halt over the next two years as the Republican Party “investigates” President Obama for being a Kenyan, or a secret Muslim, or any number of reasons that will deflect him from his work and waste millions of taxpayer dollars and are only intended to whip up fear and hatred for a African American president (reference #7). I will, in all honesty, be astounded if no one takes a shot at President Obama at some point because of they way FOX News and the conservative press have appealed to racism and fear since 2008 (see this for example; and also this).

I grew up a Republican. I do not recognize this party; in fact, it is nothing like the party of Ronald Reagan even though they have made him their patron saint. Unfortunately, Reagan’s policies have contributed to this mess (reference #8).

Right now, the United States of America is like someone who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The instant response of most people who receive that diagnosis is: “That’s not true! I’m not going to die! I’m going to be fine! I don’t have to worry!” This is denial, the first stage of grief, and this year’s election proved that by returning to partial power the exact same political party that drove this country right into the ground since 2001.

We literally handed the keys back to the drunk driver after the accident.

We have also reached the point where the best member of the United States Senate — Al Franken — spent the ’70s and ’80s as a coke-addled comedian; and our best sources of news are two television shows anchored by comedians: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. In other words, you live in an America where the only people who make sense are the court jesters.

I am constantly astonished that the American public has such a short memory. I often feel that I am living in Orwell’s “1984“. (reference #10). There is a scene in the book where Winston, the main character, is listening to a speaker describe how horrible their enemy Eurasia is. Then, in the middle of the speech, the speaker changes the enemy to Eastasia and does not even stop speaking. He simply continues on about the war with Eastasia as if nothing had change. The audience never blinked. (See “1984”, part II, section IX for this scene and for an explanation as to what’s really going on today; this is the “Theory of Oligarchic Collectivism” section). Just like Americans never blinked when they handed back power to the exact party and the exact leaders they ousted in 2006. We have also become, according to some, a Third World nation (reference #9)

Consider this excerpt from Newser.com:

(NEWSER) – Republicans crowing from the rooftops about the mandate they got on Election Day can cork it and come back down to Earth to face the music, writes Markos Moulitsas Zuniga in the Christian Science Monitor—because John Boehner and Co. are doomed. Tuesday wasn’t an embrace of a GOP agenda, he writes. In fact, exit polls showed that voters viewed Dems more favorably than the GOP; but, feeling vengeful, they largely voted for Republicans anyway. Some 35% of voters blamed Wall Street for the economy; yet 56% went GOP in “a con of masterful proportions—embrace Wall Street and its money, yet still win the votes of the financial industry’s biggest critics,” writes Moulitsas, who runs the Daily Kos.

The Democrats were killed by a base that sat home Tuesday—a base that won’t be sitting on its hands in 2012. But those who voted GOP aren’t even in sync with the GOP agenda: “Of the 47% of voters who want the health care law as is or even expanded, 44% of them voted Republican,” Moulitsas writes. “Now, this GOP-led House will make sure that nothing of note passes, and try to gum up the works further. With power comes responsibility, and John Boehner will be under pressure to walk the line between the ideological purity his tea party base demands, and the pragmatism of governing. When he fails (and he will),” Democrats will pounce.

Americans, therefore, voted for the political party that stands opposed to what most Americans want!

Another major problem: on Tuesday, Americans handed the Republicans a majority in most state legislatures, which means they have control over redistricting which allow them to redraw Congressional districts to favor Republicans (reference #11). Thus we have secured more power for the political party that has destroyed us (with the help of many Democrats, to be sure.) In fact, the only Democrat to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act, Senator Russ Feingold, was defeated for reelection by a man without a high school diploma who opposed a bill protecting sexual abuse victims from their perpetrators (reference #12).

This is not about liberalism vs. conservatism. The Democratic Party is not a liberal party; the Republican Party is not a conservative party. They are simply institutions whose leadership and congressional members have literally been bought and paid for by the ruling wealthy elite (again, about 5% of the population or thereabouts; the richest of the rich) to advance the economic security of that elite. What I also do not understand is how the middle class does not understand how they are the most heavily taxed people in the country BECAUSE of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; or that they are being literally raped ever day by the wealthy elite while blaming poor people. It simply does not make any sense to me. However, through FOX News and the control of other media, and the advent of “social media,” the ruling wealthy elite has managed to trick a large part of the American public into blaming all the wrong people for their plight. This is not to suggest that there are not poor people scamming the system; there are.

But the vast majority of the money being stolen from the middle class is through tax cuts and other subsidies for the wealthy ruling elite. So this would be like watching Neighbor A burn down your house, and Neighbor A convincing you — against all rationality and contrary to easily-available evidence — that Neighbor B was responsible.

No one ever accused me of being an optimist. However, this is almost impossible for historians. This has all happened before, and it will all happen again — if we’re lucky. Here’s what I think is coming: a major war; civil war in the United States; and/or a savage right-wing dictatorship. In that case, I can tell you that the best we can hope for is peaceful disunion of the United States. That’s the best for which we can hope, sadly.

[Side-note: I believe the Republicans made a pact with a Devil by accepting the so-called Tea Party. The Tea Party will inevitably do far more damage to the Republicans than most people realize.]

However, I have not lost all hope; your generation is an excellent generation in many ways. You don’t carry much of the baggage my generation inherited from the “Baby Boomers.” I hope that some of you will take action to prevent what I fear may be coming.

Anyway, I hope this helps in some way, at least to clarify some issues for you.

Thanks again for writing,

Dr. ****



My Prediction for the Future

My nephew and neices will know nothing but war and disorder for the rest of their lives.

Everyone who voted Republican tonight will share the blame. Everyone.

You are all cowards who can’t face the truth.

You Democrats are to blame, too.

You didn’t communicate well enough.

Yeah, Right. As If.

Chumps

Americans voting for Republicans is like Tina moving back in with Ike.