My general (and intense) hatred and loathing of the baby boomer generation is no secret. It is also well-founded as it is the baby boomer generation that has been in control of the country's finances, politics, economics and corporate leadership. It is not debatable who's been at the helm of the country and its institutions for the past 30 years and, therefore, whose fault the current condition of the country is. And since their generation is near the end of its life cycle, the baby boomer generation legacy is more or less set in stone. They WILL go down in the history books as the generation that destroyed the United States.
Naturally, I don't believe the baby boomers deserve one red cent of social security, medicare, medicaid or any of the other plethora of various government programs they voted themselves in. They are the only generation (at least to my knowledge) in the history of the world that not only squandered the economic production of their parents (via inheritance), but also all of the economic production of their own lives AND were so voracious in their squandering, they needed to mortgage the economic production of their children.
Of course, when a baby boomer runs into me and they're shocked I find their generational theft disagreeable, they always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS say,
"But I paid into the system!"
To which I quickly and factually respond,
"And you also voted into the morons who pissed all your contributions away on all those social programs you so love. You got the benefit of 30 years of Keynesian deficit spending stimulus. YOU ALREADY GOT YOUR MONEY BACK IN SPADES!"
But the argument then stops because usually the baby boomer I'm talking to has never looked at a federal budget in his entire adult life.
However, before we all jump on the baby boomer generation (and don't worry, history will be INCREDIBLY harsh on them) we have to look at our own generational selves in the mirror. Specifically, whether we deserve all these programs or not.
Of course, the question is moot and academic. I don't think there will be any money to be paid out in the first place, but let's just say there was. Do our generations really deserve all the unicorns, puppies, hope, and change the government says we're entitled to? I say no and here is the reason why.
Gen X and Gen Y are doing the EXACT same thing as their baby boomer predecessors did. They are spending more money than they make. They expect other people to take care of themselves. They are entitled WAY more than the baby boomers ever were. And (most importantly) THEY VOTED IN DROVES FOR BARACK OBAMA and thus THE MORTGAGING OF THEIR OWN FUTURES.
Much as I loathe the baby boomers, the successive generations, mine included, are worse. Despite BLATANT and OBVIOUS financial problems our generations faced, we lacked the adult maturity (let alone simple 2nd grade mathematics) to turn this country around. And while the baby boomers have been voting more and more conservative, it is the younger generations through galactic stupidity, ignorance and selfishness that merely nailed a couple more nails in the US-coffin and thus our own futures.
Like I said, I doubt there will even be any money for Gen Y, Gen X and any future generations to make good on all those socialist entitlement goodies we promised ourselves. But before we start blaming previous generation's for our current problems, we should start blaming ourselves for making our future problems worse.
Oh, and when you're 55 and about to retire, please don't tell future generations,
"But I paid into the system!"
This post sponsored by "Enjoy the Decline!"
Social security was a bad idea from the beginning. You could also say the same thing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were both created as a result of the New Deal. I still pragmatically support a minimum social safety net but nothing more than that. Public housing, affirmative action and all that stuff needs to go too. Progressives love to insist on funding the programs that are causing much of the problems in the first place and I don't get why.
To keep it in perspective, the lefties think we're the real big government budget hawk socialists. Check out this article from last year.
Geez. You need to do an article destroying any complaints about how austerity and neoliberalism is the cause of the world's problems or some nonsense like that.
Maggie Thatcher is dead, BTW if you haven't heard. Every British person I know so far has been celebrating and rejoicing. I guess she didn't implement Hayek or Friedman's ideas properly. Died of a stroke I believe.
Karl Denninger had a good post for young people with regards to (lack of) responsibility for debts incurred by their predecessors, and the one choice/condition that would make them also responsible for said debts.
I note that the Greatest Generation (TM) gave us the Great Society, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, Affirmative Action (Nixon) and Revenue Sharing (Nixon). Feminism was rolling along pretty well by the late 1970s. The WW II generation was in charge for all of it. The social and economic theories underpinning these disasters were mostly in place by the 1930s. I don't see how any of this can be laid at the feet of the Boomers. Who created the school systems we attended? Who wrote the books? Furthermore, most of the trendy '60s gurus were born before WW II.
Regarding Social Security, only about 30% goes to actual retirement benefits, as opposed to things like SSDI. The Social Security Administration used to be, and perhaps still is, very proud of that fact.
By the way, when you start shooting Boomers, save the first two bullets for your parents, if they have the misfortune to still be alive.
I've been watching this crap unfold day-by-day since 1964 and voting made not a damn bit of difference.
I must agree with Ivar, as much as people bash the boomers, and praise "The greatest generation (TGG)", TGG are the ones who started all the socialist garbage in the 30's under FDR, and they are the ones who raised the spoiled boomers (of who I am one) with those expectations.
If they are saying "I paid into the system", they are understating reality. What they should be saying is "I had no choice but to pay into the system". Now, the whole reason for your blog is to lament (and I am being kind here) the state of society as you see it and your reaction to the mess you did not create. Why, then, should older folks who found themselves in a similar situation as you find yourself -- no choice but to pay, nobody different for whom to vote -- be entitled to complain about their treatment as you do?
I am proud to be "a part of the problem." With each successive election, my first act is to e-mail my representatives and tell them "I will FIRE the son-of-a-bitch that touches my benefits."
I well remember my first paycheck. I was prepared for PART of it.
As I looked at the stub I thought: "Federal Income Tax. Well, the army keeps the communists out. I'm good with that. State Income Tax. Well, I drive on the roads. Roads are good." (I know now that roads are paid for with a different tax, but give me a break. I was 11.)
"But who is this FICA bastard and who said he could have so much of MY MONEY???!!!"
So yeah - it IS an "entitlement." I PAID for those benefits, and I will NEVER, EVER stop squeezing my elected reps for them.
Meh. This Gen-Xer doesn't expect and never did expect to see anything from the gub'mint except a bill.
I occasionally hear someone say how Gen x-y are going to rewrite the way things are done and change this and that to make it better blah blah blah.
Funny that when I look at the baby boomers in power now, they were going to change things for the better when they forced their way in in the 60-70's. Once they got in power they sold out their causes for reelection and the game has continued.
The only chance gen x-y have to change anything is that the baby boomers will hold on to power so long and screw things up so bad that it cant possible help but be changed.
Rick, the captain already pointed out that the boomers voted those policies in.
I would have to agree with the last two posts. Being of the same generation that instituted the idiocy of the welfare state does not make you guilty or responsible for the outcome. It is a gross over generalization to say that all boomers were in favor of these social atrocities. Liberalism is mostly a sickness of the young. Look at the people who protested in the 60's, against war, against capitalism, against social "injustice". It's the same people who do it now. The young college age kids who think they know everything. Most people once they leave college, get a job, and start a family, when they realize the govt is taking a third or more of their income, they grow up really fast. They outgrow the foolish idea that if we just spend enough of other people's money we can solve all the world's problems. Anyone in their 40's or later who still believes this is either an idiot or a politician pandering for the youth / minority / single mother vote.
I am on the edge, not quite old enough to be a Boomer and too old to be an X, I stopped being an idiot socialist when I got my first W-2. Where the hell did all my money go? To somebody sitting on their @ss doing nothing. I went from being an idiot Democrat, in a mostly Democrat state, to an "open minded" Independent, to a conservative Republican in a very short time. Now I don't even consider myself a Republican. They are just as spineless and foolish as their opponents.
It's not the generation that elected the idiots that destroyed the country, it's the idiocy of youth that did it. People who don't work or haven't yet had to support themselves and a family should not be allowed to vote. People who realize that every dollar spent by the govt is a dollar out if their own pocket don't vote for more govt spending. Only people dependent on govt who pay nothing in or are done paying in vote for more. They are the cause of our ruin, that and crony capitalism have destroyed the American Dream.
X and Y were raised by the boomers. Y especially has been subjected to boomer indoctrination their entire lives in the school systems and from the media.
They don't deserve social security or anything for being dupes, but it isn't as if we should have expected otherwise. Although a case could be made they suffer from mass retardation and should be put on disability.
I think Y should be renamed "Generation Sucker".
I'm going to have agree with Ivar, Anonymous (1 & 2) and Rick on this one.
Newt Gingrich said it best. America is culturally ill - we are addicted to artificially low interest rates and suicidal levels of welfare.
I believe those truths cost him his career just as much as your honesty cost you Cap.
I am up in Canada, in Alberta - where the oilpatch is booming and things are good for now - but I just cancelled my monthly contributions to my RRSP. I am taking my paltry $15,000 'slush/emergrncy' fund out of my chequing account and moving it to a strong box hidden in my house.
This is not a 'generational thing' - it is a stupidity issue plain and simple.
I am making what patheticc preperations for the collapse that I can...and I think that when the collapse happens, it will be swift, severe and merciless.
Captain: who to blame and why is now obvious to all but the stupidest people. Although I enjoy your documentation of the decline and the social issues around it, I would like to see your recommendations for going forward and how to brace for it. Are there any safe investments when scum like Obama and his turdies occupy the Whitehouse, and Europe is falling to the socialists?
Wow this is a great thread so far, so much to argue!
However, I am going to just make this one point.
As a Gen X'er, meaning that I was born in the late 60's early 70's, From the moment of birth I was bombarded with propaganda literally every second of my life. Grew up on bullshit leftist sesame street as a child, then on to early teens where we grew up with no guidance at all, being latchkey kids, and had to figure everything out for ourselves,having divorced and uncaring parents.
I guess what I al trying to say is that it was hard to take the red pill when you could not find the medicine cabinet in the dark! I am not making excuses, just want to let you know from my perspective how hard it was to really understand what was going on in the world around us.
Now, the fucking baby boomers, they AGITATED for all of this social change, many here are trying to blame the greatest generation, but the greatest generation politicians were just being politically expedient and giving the boomers what they were agitating for, and since the bombers were the majority it's kind of their jobs to listen to them.
No, the boomers did not vote in SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. FDR did SS. LBJ did Medicare and Medicaid in 1967. The front end of the boomers were only 19 when LBJ did his thing. Voting age was 21 then.
For most of the boomers, SS, Medicare, and Medicaid were just the way things were when they came of age.
It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with politics. There are plenty of baby boomers who tried to stem the tide. Blame the socialists.
Contrary to the belief that the left doesn't understand the maths they are very well aware of it, they know that it is unsustainable and want to see the system fail in order to demonstrate that capitalism doesn't work, even though it was the demands of socialism that killed it. The young are just useful idiots.
Without Keynesian economics, things would be even worse. Just compare America to the rest of Europe. Just look at low inflation and low interest rates, indicating that lower government spending would *not* be replaced with private-sector spending.
One man's spending is another man's hard-earned income, so any attempt to squash the amount of money circulating through the economy will only result in people trying to work but finding that there's no work to do.
Captain Capitalism? Sounds like your misunderstanding of Modern Monetary Theory is holding back your promotion to admiral.
Uh, no, if the government wouldn't be intervening, not to mention taking on crushing levels of debt, there would be private sector demand because investors and capital would deem the US a safer locale for investment.
BUT since you and your Keynsians have gone full blown socialism you've scared any kind of private investment away.
You are demoted to Infected Spartan Receiver 4th class.
The WW 2 Generation are the ones who really screwed the pooch and may ultimately have destroyed America. All kinds of government programs, socialism, government certified experts, etc. that all benefited THEM. Then all tuned up by Reagan to benefit them EVEN MORE! Then Dubya doing it again with Medicare part D.
These are after all the ones who kept electing FDR as he ran roughshod over the constitution, then flipped and backed McCarthyism, loved the Dick President (Nixon), etc. Indeed, it was the Greatest Generation(TM) that supported Keynesian economics whole-heartedly.
One of the Anonymice says, "Now, the fucking baby boomers, they AGITATED for all of this social change".
As one of the despised baby boomers, let me say that most of us didn't agitate for one single goddam thing and have gone about our lives minding our own business.
Our votes mattered squat because (1) lots of FDR fans were still voting like it was 1932 and (2) favored minority grievance groups were bought off by entitlements and special privileges to vote to keep the welfare state rolling. They may have been our age cohort but there the similarities end.
We did what we could to inoculate our kids against the crap gushed out by the eduction blob and the media and many of us succeeded at that.
I did watch lots of GenX smartasses as they grew up scooting around on skateboards with their pants down to their plumbers' cracks and their baseball caps on backwards and wondered if they would ever catch on to the way the real world worked.
As I see from the comments here, many never did.
I'm curious why so many GenX and GenY folks are so comprehensively screwed these days. I have yet to meet any of them who didn't considered themselves to be more intelligent and better informed than any previous generation. Why they ended up as they have is a mystery to me.
I am 55, grew up super fucking poor IN DETROIT (the city not the 'burbs) and rather than be a victim, worked hard, self-educated myself, got into the computer industry (working a entry-level job that paid $1,300 a month) and worked my way up. I earned every cent I made, never complained EVER and never took a dime from anyone.
I have paid a ton in taxes, have saved money and have done my best to invest wisely. I work out like a mad man, am healthy and I still have to pay for all the fat fucks out there as well as the 20 Million who smoke through medicare and all the other stuff. I have paid into the system...I should get back at least what I HAD TO PAY...because if it was up to me, I would have not paid a dime (and saved it on my own), but then again, I would be in jail. There are NO free ride and yes, there are baby boomers who actually work hard and pay taxes and have taken ZERO back. I do not have kids, so my taxes go to schools that I will never take advantage of. I do not own a car and I use public transportation or bike.
You can go fuck yourself, you worthless BETA puke. Stop fucking making worthless, sweeping generalizations, get off your worthless ass and go out visit some baby boomers who own farms, who own businesses and provide jobs for thousands of people and stop thinking you have all the answers!
Maxx has it right. Like I was saying, there are idiots who believe all this socialist crap and politicians who take advantage of the idiots to stay in power. Those evil corporations either play the game and grease the wheels of politics or they work within the screwed up system and convert their full time employees to part time, outsource, or offshore their labor to cut costs, avoid rediculous regulations and mandates, just to stay in business. Those who work within a corrupt system should not be lumped in with those who manipulate and control the system just as all Boomers are not responsible for the idiots in their generation who never grew up.
I think I need to clarify something, but I didn't think I'd have to resort to a NABBALT.
There ARE baby boomers, just as there are X'er and Y'ers who never swallowed whole the leftist clap trap, voted conservative all the way, busted their asses off and never took a government dime.
Those people most certainly do deserve their benefits. However in terms of generational "units" and where I have to speak about generations in general, I cannot single out sub-groups or individuals. In short, the St. Leykis Clause is in effect for this post.
Cap, looks like you have one of those Magic Money Tree, I mean Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Warren Mosler sycophants commenting on your blog who think the government is insolvent and that we can never run out of dollars because the country operates under a fiat currency system. This "theory" seems to be getting more popular around The Huffington Post circles. They also claim that MMT is most suitable for developed economies and that it wouldn't work on very poor countries. Even economists like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong don't buy MMT either, so just be aware of that.
Another thing I keep seeing is how there's possibly a difference between the burden of debt and the actual debt itself. Any comment?
The problem with social security is that it was never set up as a legitimate pension system. It was a ponzi scheme right from the get go. There were people who got money out of it, when it was set up in the 30's, who had never paid into it in the first place. There was never any "trust fund". The "trust fund" has always been an accounting fiction.
This is the fundamental reason why social security is crashing. All ponzi schemes crash eventually, when they run out of new "investors".
Had it been established as a legitimate pension, like the Singaporean retirement system, there would be no problem with it.
I'm at the tail end of the baby boom (born in 61). I have always voted conservative, but it's unfortunately seldom made a difference.
I don't feel "entitled" to what I paid in. While I couldn't stop it, I consider it highway robbery. I don't want to get mine when I retire, I just want to be left alone. I earned everything that I've made, and I'm not going to take anything later. Just tell the gummint to leave me alone.
I have always advocated computerizing the voting rolls, and the votes of Congress, and holding all the assholes accountable. And I'm not smiling when I say that.
Don't apologize Cappy. You said "no" to the Baby Boomers. Tantrums should be expected. The "Greatest Generation" rewarded their tantrums and now tantrums are their first response to the word "no."
Don't worry. Eventually the reality of our economic state will spank even them and they will finally grow up.
"Deserves? Deserves ain't got nothin' to do with it."
If we are being honest this is what tptb want. They want you to argue about left and right when you actually have no choice in politics. All the presidential candidates have been chosen by tptb at their secret meetings, like the bohemian grove. Last real president was jfk and he was shot when he was going to dismantle the federal reserve. Central banks are another major problem; they allow countries to completely ignore reality.
We are under a daily onslaught of being indoctrinated. Always remember who the real enemy is, not the one they chose.
Well, your critique of my generation is spot on. However, let's not pretend that much of the X and Y generations aren't already sucking at the teat. They are. I know they are because my generation trained them to do so.
Welfare? Check. Medicaide? Check. Foodstamps? Check. Free lunches? Check. 15,000 other programs? Check.
We managed to convince the young idiots that there's a perpetual money tree out there. And, we've bred down so low that the majority will always believe this.
SS and Medicare? LOL!!! I'll die without both.
I agree with those who point out that the pre-Boomer generation is the one responsible for Social Security. We Boomers bear about the same responsibility as Gen X and Y: we didn't start the fire, but neither did we do bugger-all to put it out.
OK, I found NABBALT (Not All Baby Boomers Are Like That). But, what is the "St. Leykis Clause"? Google was no help,
Looks like it will be the Smith & Wesson retirement plan for me...
There simply is no reliable store of value, especially not on a scale to support an ever growing mass on seniors on the productivity of fewer young people with decreasing productivity. It doesn't matter if you have the Social Security Trust fund holding T-Bonds, Stocks, Private Sector Bonds or even precious metals. As soon as you have more people eating than producing you are going to run into supply/demand issues. Any such system will essentially run as "pay go", or "ponzi" if you prefer.
The Social Security Trust fund is pretty weird if you look at it from an accounting perspective, because it's both an asset and a liability.
The only way to ensure a good retirement is making sure that the next generation is far better off than you are (or far more numerous). Luckily for the geezers, the millenials are way to spoiled rotten and dumb to realize that it's not the 1% who have squandered their feature, it has been their parents and grandparents.
As for MMT, that system has a few flaws with regards to how the treasury, Fed and the banking system interact, aside from the political prescriptions it akes. Monetary Realism is a good framework on how the monetary system actually works without the controversial political prescriptions.
Sadly, most economists are pretty much stuck in Bretton Woods era.
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