The way people talk about baby boomers being the source of so many problems in our modern-day world, you’d think we were a generation that spanned over hundreds of years. In actuality, boomers are people that were born roughly between 1943 and 1960. That’s an 18-year time span (give or take.) Yet millennials and, to a lesser degree, Gen X, often malign them as being responsible for nearly every aspect of society’s decline. The narrative goes, “Boomers inherited a wealthy white American utopia and grew up with every advantage, and frivolously pissed it all away, along with their children’s future.”
I’m here to tell you that is pure bullshit and that many of the negative actions falsely attributed to them were really perpetrated by other generations (or at the very least…these actions and policies were not unique to boomers.) I should also add that some of these negative developments were implemented against the will of the majority of boomers (political elites betraying the will of the people is nothing new, but it often gets lost down the historical memory hole how when things get implemented were actually unpopular.) Here are just a few of the false narratives.
- Boomers had it easy growing up.
This one might seem true if all you did was watch the first few seasons of The Wonder Years on Netflix and completely ignored the fact that more than 2 million of us were the last Americans to be drafted against our will to go fight in the jungles of Vietnam. Nearly 60,000 US troops were killed in Vietnam and more than 150,000 were wounded and maimed…most of them boomers. Unlike the people who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, many young people that fought in Vietnam were forcibly conscripted to fight in a pointless war. Even for those that managed to avoid the draft, it was a real concern that they had to actively confront. Think about it for a second, while the millennial fatass is eating pizza, drinking some shitty energy drink and playing Call of Duty, this is what many of us were doing at the same age. US involvement in The Vietnam War was initiated and subsequently sustained under the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon (none of whom were boomers.)
- Boomers spent us into debt and sold us out to globalization
This could be argued as marginally true, but it is nothing unique to the boomer generation. The first boomer president wasn’t until Bill Clinton in 1992, well after our national debt had already become massive and well after “debt culture” had become the norm in American society. Granted, Clinton was an awful president and signed some of the most ignorant, ill-advised economic policies in the post-Great Depression era, (i.e. the repeal of Glass Steagall and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000).
National Debt greatly increased during the Reagan era (Reagan was about 70 years old when he took office in 1981.) Boomers only recently entered retirement age a few years ago, so all that Medicare and Social Security money that has been going to elderly people for the last 40 years has not been going to boomers. The rest of the money has gone to the military, largely in relation to commitments leftover from foreign conflicts and entanglements dating back well before the boomers’ ascendance to power, including many they did not even support being involved in in the first place. It’s correct that Clinton signed NAFTA and promoted other globalist free trade initiatives, however these same policies were supported by Reagan, the first president Bush, and Nixon, none of whom were boomers. In fact, the boomer left, independents and right wing working class overwhelmingly opposed NAFTA and other similar deals. This was one of the reasons for the success of Ross Perot’s candidacy,(whom many working class boomers voted for.) The millennial criticism of boomers as having spent them into debt is somewhat bizarre, given that millennials want the government to spend even more money on even more frivolous endeavors. They enthusiastically supported Obama, who refused to prosecute Wall St. bankers and the corporate credit reporting agencies (Moody’s, Fitch, etc.) who were at the heart of the 2007 mortgage crisis, and even he was only offering them a fraction of what they wanted. Millennials seem to be just fine with outsourcing jobs, importing cheap labor and foreign competition. Boomers may have used shortsighted thinking to make and save money, but millennials seem to be willing to sacrifice their current education and job prospects just to virtue signal about how “inclusive” they are or whatever.
- Boomers are responsible for our problems in The Middle East
Boomers unquestionably worsened our problems in the middle east, with the war in Iraq, Afghanistan in particular, but also through stubborn and persistent meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and various Arab civil wars. It was Eisenhower and Churchill that chose to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953 and install the Shah, which ultimately laid the groundwork for Iran to become the enemy of ours it is today. Our support in the 1980s for mujahedeen fighters in Iran in the 1980s (including Bin Laden) helped create the Afghanistan of the Taliban. The Soviet Union deserves some blame for the situation in Afghanistan as well, but not baby boomers. US material support and aid for Israel in the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war, and support for Israel in general has also played a large role. The list of pre-boomer interventions goes on and on…US troops stationed in Lebanon, US support for Saddam and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Gulf War I, etc., but Boomers were not directly responsible for any of these decisions.
- Boomers are responsible for mass immigration
The most significant contribution to mass third world immigration to the US was the 1965 Immigration Act. Not a single boomer was involved in the passage of this bill, and none were even old enough to be serving in any branch of government in this period of time. In 1986, when the US gave amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, wasn’t boomers either. That was Ronald Reagan.
Remember Prop 187? SB1070 and a multitude of other laws which were gutted by the courts? What about forced desegregation busing in the 1970s, you know that thing that made your schools “diverse?” Boomers along with just about everyone else overwhelmingly opposed it.
Millennials and the younger generation (whatever you want to call them) pride themselves in having accumulated a wealth of useless knowledge of the intricacies of elaborate video game worlds and Harry Potter trivia. But how many of them even voted for Jill Stein which has brought us to the verge of an activist, conservative Supreme Court? Did I personally like Hillary? Hell no. But did I see her as ten times better than the ascension of King Trump? Hell yes.
If the boomers are guilty of something it is being overly idealistic. There’s a popular boomer expression, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” Hardly the kind of naive idealism you would expect. Many of them were simply taken along for a ride, (the way many millennials are now with Trump’s betrayals.) Yet, like George W. Bush and Dan Quayle, Trump is a “Fortunate Son,” and a lot of his voters were white boomers, there an equal number of poor white millennials who voted for him, and many more millennials who sat out or voted for Jill Stein in protest of Bernie getting the shaft. Whatever the reason, the next few generations are going to forget all about the boomers, but they will remember the millennials who gave us Trump and a Supreme Court that will likely strip away the foundations of American Democracy, and give us an isolated, xenophobic America…just like the one that gave us the first Great Depression. The next great test of millennial “moral superiority” will come this November when we see how many can get up off of their ass and vote.