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United States Government Politics

Ask Slashdot: Did Baby Boomers Break America? (time.com) 609

"Automation taking jobs is only one symptom of a larger problem," argues an anonymous Slashdot reader, sharing a link to this excerpt from Steven Brill's new book Tailspin, which seeks to identify "the people and forces behind America's fifty-year fall -- and those fighting to reverse it." The excerpt has this intriguing title: "How Baby Boomers Broke America." As my generation of achievers graduated from elite universities and moved into the professional world, their personal successes often had serious societal consequences. They upended corporate America and Wall Street with inventions in law and finance that created an economy built on deals that moved assets around instead of building new ones. They created exotic, and risky, financial instruments, including derivatives and credit default swaps, that produced sugar highs of immediate profits but separated those taking the risk from those who would bear the consequences. They organized hedge funds that turned owning stock into a minute-by-minute bet rather than a long-term investment... Regulatory agencies were overwhelmed by battalions of lawyers who brilliantly weaponized the bedrock American value of due process so that, for example, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule protecting workers from a deadly chemical could be challenged and delayed for more than a decade and end up being hundreds of pages long. Lawyers then contested the meaning of every clause while racking up fees of hundreds of dollars per hour from clients who were saving millions of dollars on every clause they could water down...

As government was disabled from delivering on vital issues, the protected were able to protect themselves still more. For them, it was all about building their own moats. Their money, their power, their lobbyists, their lawyers, their drive overwhelmed the institutions that were supposed to hold them accountable -- government agencies, Congress, the courts... That, rather than a split between Democrats and Republicans, is the real polarization that has broken America since the 1960s. It's the protected vs. the unprotected, the common good vs. maximizing and protecting the elite winners' winnings... [I]n a way unprecedented in history, they were able to consolidate their winnings, outsmart and co-opt the forces that might have reined them in, and pull up the ladder so more could not share in their success or challenge their primacy.

Brill argues that the unprotected need things like "a realistic shot at justice in the courts," writing that instead "the First Amendment became a tool for the wealthy to put a thumb on the scales of democracy." And he shares these statistics about the rest of America today:
  • For adults in their 30s, the chance of earning more than their parents dropped to 50% from 90% just two generations earlier.
  • In 2017, household debt had grown higher than the peak reached in 2008 before the crash, with student and automobile loans staking growing claims on family paychecks.
  • Although the U.S. remains the world's richest country, it has the third-highest poverty rate among the 35 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development...

Has he identified the source of a societal malaise? Leave your own thoughts in the comments.

And is Brill's thesis correct? Did baby boomers break America?

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Did Baby Boomers Break America?

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  • Legalized bribery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:42PM (#56680288)
    The root of all of these problems is that bribery is legal in the US. I would imagine that we have probably the most corrupt government in the modern world. Make bribery illegal again, and most of these problems would (eventually) go away, because we'd have a government that represented the citizens again.
    • Legalized opinions (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is it? Here's $1 million if you'll change your opinion.

    • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:48PM (#56680324)

      The root of all of these problems is that bribery is legal in the US. I would imagine that we have probably the most corrupt government in the modern world. Make bribery illegal again, and most of these problems would (eventually) go away, because we'd have a government that represented the citizens again.

      Precisely this. The party dosent matter. Go to opensecrets.org and look at your representatives funding. If small donations are lower than 50%, they won't care too much but will maintain some interests if not in direct conflict with the majority donors. Under 25% and you may get a few bones on top of a couple of core issues only. Under 10% and things get grim, you are probably going to be completely sold out. Under 3% lol, just lol. You are no longer represented at all.

      • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:29PM (#56680512) Journal

        Perhaps it's merely malaise. Legalized Bribery is the worst thing ever to happen to political campaigns, except for all other forms of bribery.

        Political corruption always exists. Unlike cigar-smoke-stained backroom deals, if corruption of elected officials is above board, theoretically, we'd be aware of it as voters in a democracy and snuff it out at the ballot box... unless we're a bit too distracted and/or time-constrained by our busy little lives.

        • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:33PM (#56680526) Journal

          unless we're a bit too distracted and/or time-constrained by our busy little lives.

          And if the people aren't paying attention, there is no law you can make that will get rid of corruption. Vigilance is the price of democracy.

          • unless we're a bit too distracted and/or time-constrained by our busy little lives.

            And if the people aren't paying attention, there is no law you can make that will get rid of corruption. Vigilance is the price of democracy.

            Humans are flawed. At some point in the evolution of the current state of democracy, folks with enough sense to vote decided to accept a certain level of malfeasance in their elected representatives... the jury's still out on whether this is a calculated stipulation of the inherent weakness of humans, or a complete capitulation to the base animal we're still trying to evolve from.

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            And if the people aren't paying attention, there is no law you can make that will get rid of corruption.

            You can improve things by cutting government. If the corrupt divide up 30% of GDP it's s lot worse than letting them divide up 10% of GDP.

            Cutting government is a lot better than telling people to spend even more of their lives watching over the 30-40% that’s already being taken from them.

        • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

          Legalized Bribery is the worst thing ever to happen to political campaigns, except for all other forms of bribery.

          Political corruption always exists. Unlike cigar-smoke-stained backroom deals, if corruption of elected officials is above board, theoretically, we'd be aware of it as voters in a democracy and snuff it out at the ballot box...

          In what way is backroom deals worse than legalized bribery?

          In a country where corruption is illegal, a politician who was seen partying on a $50 million yacht can end up in prison, or worse. Maybe there will be corruption still, but it will be more difficult to pull off than in one in which it's entirely legal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:46PM (#56680314)

    Not all boomers were involved in the financial frauds and messes. Those did indeed cause trouble, should have been blocked as illegal right away.
    However, our government has been lousy at catching abuses, at least as far back as the 1800s. Hear of the "robber barons" of that time? The term was not spuriously given.
    Boomers have contributed in many technical fields, for example, and without those contributions the state of computing and microelectronics would be far back of where it is. But to understand that you do need to know a little history.
    It should be noted that the push to get EVERYONE able to buy a house came from government, and that broke down the finance rules that kept the sharks out, leading to the takeover by so many fraudsters (of many ages). As I recall this started in the Clinton administration, but effects were not instantly obvious. To really screw things up takes a computer, and to totally gefuck the world takes a government.

  • Ehh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fhic ( 214533 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:47PM (#56680316)

    Most of us did the best we could with what we had to work with. I hope you do the same, and your children will complain. And so it goes across generations, the way it always has.

    • by nomadic ( 141991 )

      The thing is, it's not like we don't have, even now, people from the generations before and after boomers and we notice the difference. Boomers are uniquely narcissistic and greedy in a way that their parents, and their children (and grandchildren), are not.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First up: The generational split is kind of a cheap division of humans in general. Few splits are really good though - but the artificial grouping on vague birth year ranges is particularly a weak way to draw meaning. Like, zodiac-level weak.

    Even what we DO commonly believe about generations is largely about misunderstanding them. The whole "baby boomers were hippies" notion was largely based on statistical exceptions - sure, you could point to groups of hippies, but they largely did NOT represent the g

  • Plot twist. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:59PM (#56680378)

    Actually it was the extreme postwar naivete of "the greatest generation", the generation that fought world war 2.

    They broke the world in an attempt to build a better, non-violent world for their children --- the baby boomers, who grew up to be a bunch of assholes.

    Oh the BITTER irony.

  • One thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:18PM (#56680470)

    There's just one thing that broke America: Hubris.
    The belief that America is the greatest, best, top, first, you-name-it broke it beyond repair.
    Hubris always turns a champion into a loser, from sports to finance to politics.

  • These are the guys who went from the "we" generation of the '60s to the "me" generation of the '70s. It couldn't be their fault.
  • Crap! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:36PM (#56680534)

    The blame is not on an entire generation, but on select individuals of that generation. The one-percenters, no matter what the age, are still the culprits.

  • Population Density? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:38PM (#56680544) Homepage Journal

    Isn't that a question of density of population? Like in population has grown so much that everything is getting scarcer for everybody. I know the US are huge (I'm European), but nonetheless, some areas are so overcrowded that it's impossible but for the wealthiest to buy a property. The same goes for jobs: there are already a million people with the same skills than you but better at them, and available from all over the world thanks to globalization. It's becoming more and more difficult to stand out and not just be useless. You can make similar reasoning for almost all the things that people in their 30s have more difficulties to obtain than their parent. Isn't that all linked to the size of the population compared to the size of our little planet?

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Density is part of it, but in the US, we have things like this:

      https://mobile.nytimes.com/201... [nytimes.com]

      That’s a special example, but smaller versions of that are everywhere.

      Graft and corruption and bureaucratic incompetence add up when it’s pervasive and continues on for 50 years.

  • "Waah intergenerational politics makes people click on headlines, so click away masses!"
    FFS shut up, it's just more clickbait. This shit needs to stop appearing on /.
    At the very least I expect the clickbait on here to actually be somewhat related to "clickbait for nerds". Not "clickbait for whiny morons."
  • Time frames. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:50PM (#56680594)

    The Western world used to plan for generational time periods. Companies were set up with the intent of providing a regular profit over time, slowly increasing, but overall being reliable producers.
    Back in the 70s, some people started to decide that they could start selling bits of these to make a fast buck, so you could buy a company, split it up into components, and sell bits of it for more than you paid for it. Voila, instant profit, and it'd only take a year.
    Then investors started to want these immediate gains more and more. So more of the regular reliable producers were split up.
    That put the regular producers up against the profit margins of the breakers, and many were written off as being "not profitable", making it tough to get loans to continue operating, meaning they had to sell up (which went to the breakers to get bits sold off at profit to financiers).
    Investors getting used to the fast money only started to look at the immediate future. Can they make money in the next year? If yes, then all's shiny!
    Very very few people in the West are now asking the question "Where do we see ourselves in 50 years?". If you're not asking yourself that question, you can easily find yourself on a path that looks rosy for the next few years, but with a huge drop that you just don't see coming. Or by the time you do, there's sod all you can do about it; the inertia of all the short termist vision catches up with you.
    Instant gratification isn't a long term strategy.

  • by deerpig ( 62295 ) <brad.chenla@la> on Saturday May 26, 2018 @08:54PM (#56680620) Homepage

    I was born at the end of the baby boom, we came of age in the late 70's and early 80's, when the country was going through a backlash against the counterculture and political tumoil of the late 60's and early 70's. Gone was the optimism and hope for a better world replaced by greed. Everyone was trying to get MBA or Law degrees. Engineering, science, the arts? Most people we're interested. As my age group entered the workforce and started and gained experience they only seemed to care about making money, and as much money as fast as possible. And remember, it wasn't only Wall Street. The whole Dot Com boom was awash from get-rich-quick speculative investing from the Boomers and managed by the late boomers. The whole cynical stupidity of the browser wars was driven by assholes to make the web into electric metaphors for things that the Boomers knew how to monetize.

    The visionaries behind the Web were outgunned by the banal greed of Bill Gates who is a classic Robber Baron, who is now in the stage of life where he is trying to buy redemption with good deeds. And even then, his good deeds are making him money. I've heard this from a number of NGOs who have worked with his foundation. They don't give unless they can get. And then we had the fake hippie Steve Jobs who helped spark the PC revolution and then spent the last half of his life doing everything in his power to crush it and turn general computing devices that could be customized and extended to fit you into consumer electronics that forced people to do things the way that Jobs wanted you to do.

    For every Woz there were a hundred or more Jobs. Woz and those like him, Steward Brand is an early boomer, Linus is a later boomer but they are the rare exceptions that prove the rule. So yeah, the late boomers, we really did and do suck.

  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @09:05PM (#56680652)
    As someone who will never get to touch a pension while Boomers guaranteed themselves thousands of dollars a month on top of social security, yes, they did. I'm only 31 and have been putting money into a 401k for a only a few years now, so I'll be lucky if I even get to retire before 70.
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @12:49AM (#56681378)

      So you're fucking lucky, actually paying into a retirement fund at 31 and being able to retire at 70. As a boomer, there was promises of pensions, that went away after some rich fucking punk bought out the business, went into massive debt and used the pension fund as collateral. The workers are the last to get payed in a bankruptcy and lots of boomers are now old and homeless due to young fucking MBA's and such leveraging the system to suck up pension funds.
      When you pay into a pension fund for most of your life and it is gone, there is no 401k to fall back on. And this blaming a generation because the 0.1% do what they've always done is bullshit, all my peers, boomers, are facing the same thing as retirement looms, promised pensions that are gone and suckered into paying into pensions instead of savings.

  • Delays in the implementation of a safety regulation? How does that cause the kind of structural problems we see? Would everything be great if regulation didn’t have to face due process?

    Yes, all the time and energy spent trying to secure a government advantage is productivity lost. The solution is less government power and money for rich people to fight over. Then instead of using the country’s talent to shuffle pieces around the board, that talent could be used for productive work.

  • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @09:19PM (#56680688)

    There are a variety of policy and market reasons for the transfer of wealth from young to old.
    * One reason for the age-based increasing income increasing inequality [time.com] is the transfer of wealth and purchasing power from the society at-large to existing asset holders, who are typically older. And this is done via monetary policy.

    Monetary policy is about trying to bring about prosperity via manipulation of the money supply. The net result of monetary policy is the transfer of purchasing power from one group to another. For example, inflation doesn't involve a transfer of money, but it makes a saver poorer and a debtor less poor by changing the purchasing power each one has, by changing the value of the currency. One uses monetary policy to stoke or reduce inflation. Or QE - Quantitative Easing. It was printing money [pbs.org] to buy bonds (government debt and mortgage debt). The printing of money has some side effect - it is not consequence-free. The recipients of that money firehose were made wealthier. And the asset bubbles which resulted also made existing asset holders (physical (e.g. real estate) and financial - stock market went from 11K (2011) to 25K (2017) in six years) wealthier.

    Governments through the ages have always wanted easy, controllable, predictable prosperity, but in reality achieving prosperity is much trickier and chaotic. It requires first the correct intelligence, temperament and values of the population. Then the population interacts with the natural world and creates legal and physical and security infrastructure. Then, more chaotic, is the creation of items that people value (not merely to satisfy speculative demand (which is quite volatile), like items to gamble on, but things that will satisfy consumption demand (which is more persistent) - demand to consume those items, both goods and services and perhaps non-speculative financial products). And then the march of technology to continue to improve social welfare and the standard of living. And then through some luck, that value and purchasing power must be distributed in some semi-equitable way to the population so that it can consume those things they value.

    That's complicated and volatile and not guaranteed. Manipulating the money supply is much simpler. Prosperity through the stroke of a pen. Unfortunately, if it were possible, Haiti or Sierra Leone could become prosperous in short order. Obviously, that will not happen. But manipulating the money supply and the value of the currency to bring about prosperity has been a siren song for policy makers and leaders over the millennia. And the side effect today has been the transfer of wealth from young to older.
    * Also, straight up preying on the young by using them as pass through entities for government money firehosed to the education sector. The young get stuck with the debt, and education costs escalate because they're being paid by our rich Uncle Sam. Yet we all see the reports on how much wealthier those with degrees are versus those without.
    * Next medical costs and insurance. There are both policy and market-based reasons for this.
    * Then, offshoring of manufacturing and intellectual property - offshoring of the production of value. Again both policy and market-based reasons for this.
    * Finally, we're on the dawn of a new industrial revolution, with software automation. The effect is the same as what happened with the industrial revolution - one person could create a much larger amount of product because of technology. To summarize, it was the "consolidation of the production of value."

    So - the net result of all of these factors? Young people are f-cked.

  • This doesn't surprise me in the least. America is due to experience the fate of Ancient Rome. Our elected leadership is corrupt and self-serving, income inequality and average debt is rising, and our infrastructure is decaying. Methinks revolution is not too far off.
  • Marx and Engels (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @09:53PM (#56680830)

    I think I'm the first to post this here, so here goes a very brief (and therefore not strictly accurate) account of what's happening...

    Marx (Karl, not Groucho) and Engels predicted this in their books Das Kapital, 1876-1894. They understood the nature of capitalism in that is was a very effective system for increasing wealth inequality, i.e. it helps the rich to get richer by making the poor poorer, by exerting continuous downward pressure on earned income (wages, salaries, and contractual work) and producing ever more extreme mechanisms for the wealthy (owners) to accrue increasing control over capital for their own benefit.

    Baby boomers, millennials, the gig economy, precarious employment, anti-union legislation, political and legal corruption, environmental degradation, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, immoral and illegal wars, racism and police brutality, etc., are all symptoms of capitalism working as it is supposed to. Nothing's broken. This is how our chosen economic system works by design.

    The "Golden Age of Capitalism", post WWII until the mid-1970s, was the result of massive wealth redistribution, e.g. tax payer funded public infrastructure building that created millions of jobs, rapid expansion and subsidy of further and higher education, and progressive taxation, whereby the the richest paid the highest rates of taxes in order to fund govt. infrastructure projects, education, etc., starting from after the Great Depression, which itself was caused by massive wealth inequality. In other words, the USA enjoyed a brief period of unprecedented economic prosperity because it adopted a form of socialist policies known as Keynesianism.

    What did I miss?

    BTW, this guy made a whacky film that runs through the central concepts modern life as we experience them today. It's dense, covering a lot of ground in a very short time, so worth using the pause button while you think through what he's presenting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Marx and Engels (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @01:24AM (#56681472)

      Marx (Karl, not Groucho) and Engels predicted this in their books Das Kapital, 1876-1894. They understood the nature of capitalism in that is was a very effective system for increasing wealth inequality, i.e. it helps the rich to get richer by making the poor poorer

      Marx was wrong. Being at the poverty level in the U.S. puts your income in the 84th percentile for the world [forbes.com]. That is, if you're living in poverty in the U.S., some 80% of the world is worse off than you are.

      The mistake Marx made (which you repeat) was that he assumed if inequality is increasing, that means the poor are getting poorer. i.e. inequality can only increase if the poor get poorer. But that's not true. Inequality can increase even when the poor get richer - as long as the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer, inequality is increasing. That's what capitalism does. Everyone gets richer, but at inequal rates. Those who find better means of becoming more productive (whether by hard work, a good idea, or just dumb luck) end up getting disproportionately richer.

      And that ultimately is why Marxism fails. By eliminating this inequality, you also eliminate the incentive for individuals to make themselves more productive. You're not going to work an extra hour plowing that field, if the fruit of your extra labor ends up distributed across the entire country resulting in everyone (including yourself) getting just 1 extra grain of wheat apiece. And if you aren't increasing your own productivity, your country is not getting any richer, and your standard of living is not increasing..

      The so-called "socialist" countries in Europe aren't really socialist. They're a hybrid socialist-capitalist. Even capitalism (inequality) to maintain an incentive for people to figure out new ways to become more productive, but enough socialism to keep the level of inequality in check. The U.S. is also socialist-capitalist, but favors the capitalism side a bit more. This results in greater inequality, but also yields a higher GDP per capita [wikipedia.org] (average productivity per citizen) than countries which favor the socialism side more. Neither is "right" - they're just different approaches based on how much you value higher productivity (standard of living) vs income equality.

      The "Golden Age of Capitalism" as you put it happened because Henry Ford figured out that when he paid his workers more than the prevailing wage at the time, it actually increased his own wealth even more because suddenly his workers could afford to buy his cars. See, that's another thing about capitalism - it's optimized when the pay people receive is proportional to their individual contribution to the country's productivity. If a fat cat CEO is keeping his employees' wages artificially low to make himself rich, that actually hurts overall productivity. The CEO ends up wasting much of his income on non-productive toys like Ferraris and gold-plated toilet seats, whereas if the money had gone to his employees instead, they would've spent it more on essentials which would've contributed more to the economy (given other workers more work to do producing the things they buy).

      Prior to Ford, workers were being underpaid. Once Ford began paying workers more, they began buying more, which created more demand for other workers to produce more, which resulted in them being paid more to fulfill that increased demand, which resulted in them buying more, etc. This feedback loop is what led to the phenomenal economic growth in the mid-20th century. Countries which overcome this hump are the leading economies in the world today. Their top 1% ($500k+/yr in the U.S.) only accounts for about 20% or less of total personal income [irs.gov]. The bulk of their personal income goes to less wealthy people, which is another way of saying the vast majority of the income the top 1% makes comes from purchases made by those who are not in the top 1%.

      The countries which haven't yet overcome this hump typically have their top 1% (or 0.1%) account for 50% or more of the country's personal income. Most of their economic activity is due to the rich buying and selling with each other, while they underpay their workers. Their GDP per capita tends to stagnate at $10k/yr or lower as a result.

    • Re:Marx and Engels (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @02:39AM (#56681602) Homepage Journal

      The "Golden Age of Capitalism", post WWII until the mid-1970s, was the result of massive wealth redistribution, e.g. tax payer funded public infrastructure building that created millions of jobs, rapid expansion and subsidy of further and higher education, and progressive taxation, whereby the the richest paid the highest rates of taxes in order to fund govt. infrastructure projects, education, etc., starting from after the Great Depression, which itself was caused by massive wealth inequality. In other words, the USA enjoyed a brief period of unprecedented economic prosperity because it adopted a form of socialist policies known as Keynesianism.

      I won't argue that these all played a part; but you're missing a massive truth from this time in history.

      Of all the industrialized nations at the end of WWII, only the US and Canada escaped unscathed. The industrial capacity of the other main industrial powers -- particularly England, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan -- were beyond decimated. Factories throughout Europe and Japan were widely destroyed by the end of the war.

      And while Canada's industrial capacity increased during the war years, with its significantly larger population and wealth the United States really remained as the only nation with significant industrial output for several decades. It took a roughly generation for Germany and Japan to get back to pre-war output levels. Korea and China weren't heavily industrialized before the war, but built capacity and eventually because industrial powers as well.

      The point being, America enjoyed a good decade or two being the only significant industrial power on the planet. The USSR challenged the US in some areas certainly, but they weren't a significant international supplier of manufactured goods (outside of weapons). It took other countries decades to build the sort of capacity needed to challenge the Americans.

      But today Asia is heavily industrialized, as is Europe. Japan overtook the US in certain areas back in the 70's and 80's (areas such as cameras and consumer electronics); Japan, Korea, and up-and-coming China are generally considered to have overtaken US automotive manufacturer in small to mid-sized vehicle categories as well (while German, Italian, French, and British manufacturers have put their marks on the high end).

      The US had an advantage for an entire generation due to industrial capacity in much of the rest of the world being pounded into rubble. That is no longer the case. Where once the US had no competition, today they do.

      Again, not to discount anything you've said -- wealth redistribution built a lot of very important infrastructure for the US. But you have to keep in mind that, during those times, the US didn't really have to compete with much of anybody. They got to win by default for decades. But that's not the world of today, and unless WWIII breaks out (and leaves North America primarily untouched), there isn't any way to turn back the clock to a time when the US had all the infrastructure, and everyone else was rebuilding nearly from scratch.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How does a discussion on baby boomers, in any logical way, lead you to a communist rant against capitalism?

      Capitalism brings immense benefits to the world. Poverty around the world is less than any time in history. Energy is cheaper than it has ever been before. Technology, by proxy of microprocessors and Moore's law have brought down the cost of communications thousands of times. Food is cheaper than it has ever been in history. We're in less wars, and conflicts, as a planet, than any time ever before i
  • No (Score:2, Redundant)

    by murdocj ( 543661 )

    This reminds me of a cartoon from the 60s with a caption of "your fault!" that shows some hippie pointing to his dad, who is pointing to the granddad, who is pointing to the great-granddad, who is pointing to eventually back to a monkey with a startled look on its face.

    No, the baby boomers didn't create all the problems of the world.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      No, the baby boomers didn't create all the problems of the world.

      I agree, it was the Greatest Generation.

      • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @07:11AM (#56682260) Journal

        No, the baby boomers didn't create all the problems of the world.

        I agree, it was the Greatest Generation.

        No, it wasn't their fault either. They were set up by the people who profited from the war. Once they were all traumatized from killing each other, people are easy to manipulate, anything is better than war. The Baby Boomers were traumatized by their parents who came back from war, so they were easy to manipulate too. After that it was all advertising which keeps the trauma response in place whilst giving us the illusion of freedom.

        We're all to blame because we're too fucking stupid to see we are being manipulated.

  • Some of the things that drive me crazy, are the lack of fiscal responsibility and outright dishonesty over the last 60 some years in government.

    How anyone could think it it is OK to run up government debt, budget after budget with deficits, not properly funding the lavish pensions promised to public employees and now the outright corruption in the bureaucratic and political leadership in government. Just to name a few things.

    Did the boomers run things well, the only answer can be no, not that well. Beca
  • People like to blame generations, but I think the overall loss of stability is to blame. I work in IT and am doing well, but I know that a CIO coming in and wanting to make his mark could send my job to Infosys or Tata and put me out on the street. You didn't have this in the baby boomer years...there were practically no layoffs and companies kept their workers for a full career. People could reasonably expect to work for maybe 2 or 3 employers their whole career, and now long tenure employment is very hard

  • No. But it sure seems like some whiney millennial types want to act like it.

  • I mean, my fellow Americans.

  • by az-saguaro ( 1231754 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @04:58AM (#56681926)

    I am enjoying this thread, because so many people have discussed insightful perspectives on the social and economic dynamics behind all of this. If nothing else, one can appreciate that the stresses on modern life bred by the Baby Boom generation are quite complex and multifactorial. As one of those Baby Boomers, here is another perspective on this topic that I have perceived as society has changed over these years. It suggests that some of the deficits of modern society are an unintended consequence of morally righteous movements in that era, activities meant to promote social equality and broader educational opportunities. Note - this is not an argument against education and equality, just an abstract observation of social and economic dynamics.

    This thesis can be described as “workforce inflation with wage dilution”.

    The post-war period circa 1945-1980 was, in the USA, an era of unprecedented optimism and middle class wealth. People could fulfill the American dream of home ownership, employment, and social security. Yes, there were negatives, like the Cold War and the A-bomb, Vietnam, Civil Rights, and the Generation Gap, but the anxieties were balanced by the inspirations. There were gadgets galore, easy lifestyle, cultural robustness, and a sense of purpose and mission in projects like the Marshall Plan, the Peace Corps, the United Nations, Rock and Roll, Levittown and the suburbs, Route 66 and the open road, the Space Race, and so many others. This came on the heels of a well tooled industrial infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce (including Rosie the Riveter and the ladies), and a post war surge in college education. So, if you are living in the 50's or 60's, listening to Elvis Presley or Little Richard on your portable radio, watching the Smothers Brothers or the Apollo moon walks on a brand new color TV that you bought at a suburban shopping mall that you drove to in your Chevy or Olds, while the dishes and clothes are being washed automatically for you, life could hardly be imagined to be better.

    That unprecedented social ease and economic robustness was the product of just half the population working. In that era, the women stayed home to "tend the hearth", while the men worked. With half the adult population at work, and half at home raising children with family values, then society, for the majority of people, was at a peak of "feeling good". Then came women's lib and educational and social equality, products of the Bay Boom era. Suddenly the workforce is diluted with twice the number of job seekers to do the same number of jobs that gave us unprecedented economic success. This is NOT a diatribe against women or equality. Translated to modern terms, that was the end of an era in which, in a society where committed domestic partnerships were the consistent norm, one partner was out of the house "bringing home the bacon", while the other partner raised the family, crucial to the perpetuation of primary education, values, and social norms for the next generation. So, at that time, we had extraordinary wealth, material largesse based on manufacturing prowess, and cultural optimism which required only half of the adult population to produce, while the other half of the adult population stayed at home to perpetuate respectable social values.

    What happens though if the other half, the stay-at-home half, suddenly wants to and does enter the workplace? By spending less time at home, then social mores and family morals risk becoming diluted, corrupted, or forgotten. At the same time, the workforce is now doubled, twice the people working to make what was already a peak or epitome level of material production. The problem is that there is a certain fixed economic value in the existing material production. If a new TV is valued at $100, having two people instead of one to manufacture it does not change its relative value, and thus its retail price cannot vary too much. The company cannot charge $200 because people's wages have not gone up, so $200 is overpr

  • ...and I don't mean we're all baby boomers, I mean that baby boomers are the same people with the same motivations that I see around me every day. The immediate gratification and status and symbol seeking culture.

    Baby boomers just happened to be the generation where it started rolling downhill faster. The current generation in their late 30's and early 40's (as one example) is simply pushing that faster and faster as the gears of our economy and society work more and more loose.

    Want someone to blame? There's someone you can - it's YOU.

  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @08:58AM (#56682566)

    The US economy was destined to be broken by the most siginficant event of the year 1913. That was the passage of the 16th Amendment enabling a US income tax.

    50 years later, US President John F. Kennedy said, " "The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources and to a higher rate of economic growth is the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative and incentive.” John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963 "

    Since then, it has only gotten worse. According to the proponents of a major competing financing mechanism, the Fair Tax, 22% of the price of any good manufactured in the USA is comprised of the cost of US income taxes. The US income taxes, not labor rates, are the real reason that manufacturing largely fled the USA. Don't believe it? Consider that, according to the auto companies who whined in 2008 when 2 out of 3 were going bankrupt that workers were costing $78 / hr in total compensation. Sound high? Consider that it takes 30 - 33 person-hours to build a car in the USA. Multiply that out to get about $2,500 labor cost. Then plug in the 22% cost of US income taxes to a $40K American-built SUV. That's $8,800. So, $2,500 in labor or $8,800 in tax expense. Which would be better to get rid of, enslaving the workers and paying them $0, or getting rid of the income taxes, which are simply legalized stealing of people's money by the gov't.

    Looking at income taxes from an unconventional point of view, they are simple slavery. What did the old slave owners do to slaves? They stole the proceeds of the slave's labor for themselves. What does the gov't do? They steal the proceeds of the American people's labor for a portion of the year. We talk of tax freedom day, which this year is supposedly April 19. Last year it was April 23. A trend in the right direction, but woefully inadequate. The gov't is essentially the slave owner, we are the slaves, and the situation exists from January 1 to April 19 this year.

    Tax freedom day should be January 1, the income taxes should be totally repealed, and I favor the FairTax to replace them. The FairTax is a consumption tax on new goods and services that occur above poverty level spending for each person's living situation. That is, if you're a family of 4 and the poverty level is $24,000, the gov't gives you enough money in a monthly check to pay the FairTax on $2,000 of spending per month. If you're single, and the poverty level is $12K, you get enough money from the gov't every month to pay the FairTax on $1000 of spending for that month.

    Bill Archer, former head of the House Ways and Means committee, commissioned a survey to ask 500 foreign CEOs what they would do if the US passed the FairTax. 400 of them said that they would build their next factory in the USA. The other 100 said that they would move their company headquarters to the USA.

    Sadly, we'll likely never get the FairTax passed because people have been successfully duped into believing that "corporate taxes" are paid by those mean old rich corporate executives who suffer mightily when they have to cough up those taxes out of their own pockets and thus diminish their playboy, high-living lifestyle to the delight of said unwashed, duped masses. The reality is that those mean old corporate executive simply raise the prices of the goods manufactured by the companies that they control, lower the wages of the workers in the companies that they control, and reduce dividends for the stocks the companies use for financing, all to take those monies saved to send the corporate taxes to the US gov't. Sadly, sometimes these price hikes, especially, make US products more expensive on the market than the foreign-made products built in countries with higher corporate income taxes (which was all other countries until earlier this year when Trump lowered the tax rates from 35%, where it had been since 1941, to 21%. Due to this reduction, the economy is "taking off." But it could be massively better if all the income taxes were lowered to $0.

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?