9 Nov

I’ve seen brief discussions of the huge gap in wealth between young and old at a couple of other blogs, but I thought I’d weigh in because I Write Shit Sometimes. Occasionally.

As a cusp-y Gen Xer and politically-aware pessimist, I’ve been aware for some time that the traditional American Dream was probably going to be unachievable for me, even though I’m middle class and white. I figured that if people ten years older than me were being called “slackers” because they weren’t going to be as financially successful as their parents, the “you’re fucked” ball was already rolling and it was going to be difficult to stop, especially since demographics aren’t on our side.  What infuriates me is that people my age and younger have had FUCK ALL TO DO WITH creating the  policies and economic conditions that have created such a large wealth gap between younger and older people.

People 65 and older established their careers and bought homes during times when pensions, strong unions, cheap higher education, and affordable housing actually existed. These same people (along with Baby Boomers*) elected Ronald Reagan the year that I was born, setting off a cascade of lower taxes and deregulation, effectively destroying the conditions that allowed them to obtain steady jobs with living wages at the beginning of their careers. They reaped all of the benefits of lower taxes without any of the risks.

Now that they’re older, they still support “small government” and the “free market” and lower taxes EXCEPT when it comes to Medicare and Social Security. I’m anti-throwing Granny out on the street (I love my granny!), but that level of self-absorption is fucking breathtaking, especially when we’re being told to suck it up and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.**

I don’t dispute that older people have worked hard for what they have. I don’t feel entitled to anything. I don’t envy their wealth. I do, however, envy their opportunities–opportunities that aren’t available to me, my cousins, my brothers, and my friends because of the shithole banana repbulic they’ve helped to create.


*I have quite a bit resentment towards Baby Boomers, too (take up all the cultural air much, fuckers?), but at least they aren’t content to let the world burn and they do let us live in their basements.

**Some of the comments on the stories I’ve read are typical conservative kids get off my lawn bullshit, but my favorite was something about how we shouldn’t have bought designer sneakers and McMansions. Anecdote ain’t data, but I can say confidently that I don’t know anyone with a designer sneaker collection. Also, despite being well out of college and acquainted mostly with people from areas where housing is relatively cheap, I know hardly anybody my age who owns their own home, much less a fucking McMansion. Most of them do have color TVs and cell phones, though, and may occasionally eat t-bone steaks.

14 Responses to “FYIGM”

  1. Big Bad Bald Bastard 11.09.2011 at 14:49 #

    Most of them do have color TVs and cell phones, though, and may occasionally eat t-bone steaks.

    Elitists! The whole “cell phone” thing is really ridiculous- I mean, it’s not 1995 anymore. It’s probably more expensive to have a land line these days.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 11.09.2011 at 15:49 #

    we shouldn’t have bought designer sneakers and McMansions. That’s right, choose! One or the other!

    It’s easy to trick the olds into things. Look at the State of Florida, home of the olds.

    They voted Rick Scott in as their Governor (world’s biggest Medicare scammer, and also a Reptiloid).

    The problem is our politicians and media are owned by the banks and the M.I.C.

  3. bbkf 11.09.2011 at 18:33 #

    wow am i glad that i juuuuuuuusssssst missed being a boomer…i would not want to deal with your invective…

  4. Another Kiwi 11.09.2011 at 19:04 #

    I am on the cusp of “Boomerhood” and I don’t like them/us either. The most selfish generation in recent history.
    One example is the group from NZ who got free university tuition and a weekly bursary. Just had to find rent and bills money. Which they got by taking holiday jobs. Then when they got into power-whammo tuition fees and they cut holiday jobs! So now we have kids leaving university under $25K debt which they evade by going overseas because they can’t have a normal life as their parents did in NZ.
    I got no time for them/us. Don’t hate them just wish they’d shut-up and go away.

  5. John Revolta 11.10.2011 at 01:05 #

    So, what- I’m supposed to feel bad because I’m in my 50s and everybody my age is a
    selfish idiot? Screw that.

    Take a closer look around. Eighty percent of the people in this country are selfish idiots,
    regardless of age. My friends who teach college tell me it’s even worse with the current crop.

    At least the boomers can still claim a sizable group who still haven’t bought into the system*. As far as I can see it’s the gen x and y types who basically abdicated any social
    responsibility and let thirty years go by without even a whiff of social activism or concern.
    Thank God, shit finally got bad enough to get people off their asses again.
    As Wang Lung’s neighbor put it, “There is a way, when the rich become too rich”.

    Or, as Charles Bukowski put it, in the 70’s, “the young people say ‘don’t trust anyone over thirty’, and this is probably a good rule. By the time a man is thirty years old, he will probably have sold out. So, in a way, HOW CAN I TRUST ANYONE UNDER THIRTY?”

    Furthermore, Lawn. Off.

    *I personally know all three of ’em!

    P.S. Good to hear from you VS!

  6. John Revolta 11.10.2011 at 01:09 #

    Ooops. T&U. Must’ve forgot the meds, goldangit.

  7. John Revolta 11.10.2011 at 01:57 #

    See, this is why I quit drinking during extramarital sex…………………………..

  8. M. Bouffant 11.10.2011 at 05:37 #

    (take up all the cultural air much, fuckers?)

    Look, it’s not our fault our stupid parents bred like rabbits & there’s more moolah in pandering/catering to the tastes of a huge bulge in the population, which refuses to act its age. You’ll get your chance eventually. (Fuck, I hate “classic rock.” And today’s movies suck. Not gonna breathe any of that air.)

    And no, you may not stay in my basement.

    P.S.: bbkf, I think you are too one of us, so watch it!

  9. Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.10.2011 at 10:18 #

    Here’s another interesting point – when teh olds scream bloody murder about their Medicare and Social Security, it’s looking out after their own self-interests. Just liek when teh wealthy talk about going Galt and witholding their magical job creation juice (yeah I know, but bear with me). But when young folks agitate it’s ageism, and when teh poor want to not starve in teh streets it’s class warfare.

    It’s liek acting in “enlightened self-interest” is only morally justifiable for folks that tend to not need it.

    When teh Boomers were young, their social activism was mostly about themselves. About not dying in some jungle on the other side of the world. About not being considered sub-humans because of the colour of their skin. About strengthening the power of the labour unions they were members of. If any of you Boomers can remember that far back, how did your progressive social activism of “Don’t trust anyone over 30” respond to Medicare?

  10. TruculentandUnreliable 11.10.2011 at 22:32 #

    Yeah, there’s a big problem with applying a set of traits to a huge number of people based on when they were born. I get it. I do feel bad for a lot of Boomers, especially the younger ones, because they’re nearing retirement at the worst time possible. I really worry about my mother (born in 1959), because she has no savings, not much in her 401K, and is supporting my younger brother. She has a decent middle class job and is by no means extravagant, but has been knocked on her ass financially a few times (we have really good luck in my family). Anyway, I just do not see her retiring at 65 unless things change soon, and that makes me sad. I know a lot of people in their fifties are in the same situation.

    It just hurts me that there are young people out there who are struggling and who are being told that everyone their age is a shiftless, lazy loser. It’s nothing new or special–just an age-based extension of conservative rhetoric, but it still bugs.

    Quite honestly, I think what underlies all of this, for me, is the fact that I’m really, really scared for the future. Both for me, personally, and this country.

  11. Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.11.2011 at 14:29 #

    This is one of the things about liberalism. There’s a focus on the less fortunate.

    Young people give a shit about the olds despite the fact that the folks who fucked everything up are grey-haired shitbags. Because not all olds are banksters or lobbyists or fabulously successful or wev. Liberals see folks in their fifties, sixties and beyond, struggling on paltry fixed incomes – and it makes an impact. That’s why twentysomething OWS’ers are adamantly against cutting Medicare or Social Security, even if it’s to shift funds to student loan forgiveness.

    And there are lots of Boomers who recognize the very obvious dire straits that recent college grads are in – with little or no job prospects and a mountain of debt as their reward for working hard and staying in school. It’s a shitty way to start a professional life. The problem is that the Boomers and other olds that actually run things either don’t see or don’t care.

    Srsly. Things have gotten shittier and shittier for teh graduating class of xxxx, as xxxx increases. That’s like, teh opposite of teh way it’s supposed to be. Job prospects are so much worse, and teh few who do land jobs are making less real money and have no job security, let alone future career prospects. And they are facing it saddled with massive debt loads.

    All of those fucktard deficit hawks who bitch and moan and complain about saddling future generations with big government debt – fuck those assholes. Seriously, you wanna think about teh kids and grandkids and so on, then look at their situations – at what they are actually having to cope with because of your greediness and microscopically narrow view of the world. After ruining teh global economy, the position is that it’s best left broken – because that benefits future generations most. Fuck.

  12. Another Kiwi 11.11.2011 at 19:18 #

    They are selfish, DKW. The best summation I read came from a poltical analyst guy, Colin James, who wrote about the pirates that fucked NZ over in the 80’s and 90’s. They had had it good and they wanted to shake things up. This was a reaction against the grey conformity that strangled NZ at the time, the end of certainty.
    All right, we don’t have to have the “more English than the English” mindset that we used to have and we probably did have restrictive trade practices and there wasn’t much more to NZ than farming, Rugby and bad beer but bridges didn’t fall down because of marine worm attacks, the power didn’t go off to Auckland for three days because they hadn’t replaced the cables for 15 years and people could go to work with a reasonable expectation of being able to finish the day with that job. I am all for freedom of expression and the ability to ride the fucking bounding fucking main of capitalist endeavour but we shooting our future selves in the head if we leave 95% of the population behind.

  13. Larkspur 11.11.2011 at 21:45 #

    Oh, T&U, I do believe I used to babysit your mom.

    If it’s any consolation, I live very much like a youngster, except without ginormous student loans. I rent an apartment, I drive a 1988 Honda Civic, I used to have a shiny baby IRA account (it earned a couple of bucks and then crashed and burned and circumstances required me to cash in the residue, which was like $3,000), I have no discernible future, plus I look my age. **I look my age.**

    Sometimes I think I should look back and figure out exactly what my proactive decisions were that enabled me to fuck up what ought to have been a bulletproof Boomer hall pass, because it seems so obvious to everyone else that anyone my age who hasn’t scored big must have been deliberately driving into the ditch.

    I will say this, and I suspect that none of y’all will disagree with me: there has never been a golden age for folks with psychiatric illnesses. Never. Insurance never covered it to any beneficial degree, plus no one talked about it, plus how could anyone born after WWII really know anything about discomfort or sacrifice.

    In mitigation, please note that I never had children, and I always vote in favor of school funding bonds and stuff. Ooh! I don’t know why I just thought of this, but I read in the paper the other day that someone spotted a bumper sticker that says (and I want one real bad now): I Brake Like A Little Girl.

  14. Makhno 11.24.2011 at 17:33 #

    And at this rate, by the time things get bad enough for bloody revolution, our generation will be the establishment. We’re going to go to the guillotine for our parents’ greed.

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