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.