You’ll hear it whenever the real or perceived prosperity of the Baby Boomer generation is brought up. Millenials raised on a steady diet of narcissism and socialism will claim that the ‘greedy Baby Boomers ruined things for everyone’. Baby Boomers are to blame for everything from the cost of tuition to housing affordability. Baby Boomers are often an even bigger target than ‘all of the white people’ and that takes some doing.
Now as a Gen-X-er, I don’t really have a dog in the fight. I could easily be one of the whiny ingrates if I chose to be less accountable. But given my love of debunking Cultural Marxist nonsense wherever it rears its ugly head, I’m going in to bat for the Baby Boomers despite the fact that they overcame far more hardship and adversity than I did, not to mention my even more blessed whining Millennial Boomer-phobe juniors, and could easily kick our collective a—es in more ways than one.
Like Cultural Marxist doctrine about ‘all of the white people’, their Boomer-phobia stems from a narrow telescopic view of the world. The regressive left love to do this, flying in the face of their alleged respect for analytics and data. Let’s look at Western Civilisation, for example. They pay no heed to all of the hardship and heavy lifting over thousands of years that took us out of the Stone Age to where we are right now. The past is only useful for them to cherry pick a couple of examples of atrocities, to compensate for the fact that they can’t find any atrocities to use as examples as to why they’re so certain that Western Civilisation sucks so badly right now (for instance, they will always attempt to diminish a 2016 ISIS atrocity by making reference to a 500 A.D. Christian atrocity). They completely discount the rocky road traveled and focus entirely on the rewarding end point.
The same twisted logic is used to liberally demonise Baby Boomers (who all conveniently seem to be framed as white, despite the plethora of similarly hard-working migrants who are enjoying the well-earned spoils of retirement). Millennials look at retirees and see a greedy couple who own a home that appears way too big and extravagant for them. The fact that they raised a family in it and may have a sentimental attachment to it never occurs to them. Nor (like their interpretation of Western Civilisation) do the steps taken to reach this particular moment in time occur to them.
The elderly husband diligently worked in a job that he hated for forty years to pay off a mortgage so that he could enjoy his retirement at this moment. His wife’s employment opportunities consisted of taking in ironing part time because ‘the patriarchy’. “But the mortgage was $48,000!” I hear our millennial moan. “I could smash that in three years”. Maybe, but could you smash that in three years back in 1975 on $7500 a year and interest rates of 10.38%?
Our diligent Boomer couple only ever dreamed of things like overseas travel and fine dining. Those things were only for the very well-to-do – the kind of people who would displace all the Aboriginals from Newtown, and raise similarly privileged Millennials who would have the time to navel-gaze and entertain socialist fantasies filled with rich, white Baby Boomer bogeymen.
For the most part, Baby Boomers didn’t have the luxury to kill a decade in tertiary education, even though it was free. The Baby Boomers who did would go on to demonise the rest of the Baby Boomers. They didn’t travel overseas at least five times before they hit their mid-thirties. They had a mortgage to pay, and children to raise and make sacrifices for. They were too busy surviving to live decadently in their youth. They refrained from buying a Sandman Panel Van with money they didn’t have in the hope that they could buy one later when they were more financially comfortable.
Compare these life attitudes to those who demonise them. Boomer-phobes know that a useless B.A. or an over-specialised degree with little chance of employment will cripple them financially for decades, but they do it anyway to prove their intellectual superiority to the rest of us, and to try (often in vain) to leave us in the dust of their higher wage bracket. The Boomer-phobe will spend the equivalent of a home deposit over the course of three or four lavish overseas trips, all the while being bitter that his retiree neighbour who went on holidays at the same camping ground at Jervis Bay for 27 years owns his own home. The Boomer-phobe will also be running around in an Audi that the bank owns, oblivious to the fact that prior to his retiree neighbour buying a beautifully restored Sandman Panel Van with all the bells and whistles a couple of years back, he’d been running around in a clapped-out Commodore for the past 23 years.
My parents are typical of the life experience of older Boomers. Going through school without shoes (proven with photographic evidence). Leaving as early as possible to become less of a burden, and breadwinners for large families of English and Irish descent. Making the big sacrifices for us, their children. Forsaking overseas trips and new cars in order to foster a climate of prosperity in which their kids would venture overseas before they ever did. In the case of one of my parents, they passed away before they ever got to enjoy that particular rite of passage, and God knows they’d earned it.
For me, I made a choice early on that I wanted to travel. I knew that the cost was the security that my parents had enjoyed and provided for their children. I was young, single, foolish, and bulletproof at the time, but still had enough sense to realise that you can’t have everything regardless of how entitled you may feel. You can see the world, but don’t expect to own your own home. You can live it up and refuse to budget, but don’t expect a fully-paid mortgage to magically materialise when you retire, whether it’s 1995 or 2046.
The narrative that Boomers had it easier is a myth. Boomers were much more likely to find themselves in occupations that involved manual labour. Boomers had less disposable income to buy goods that were more comparatively expensive (in 1975, a new car cost $16,000. In 2016 a new car can be had for around that. A television in 1975 cost around $600. A set of similar dimensions can be had for a lot less in 2016. A good record player was between $300 and $500 in 1975. Exactly the same price as a serious record player today). Food was a little cheaper, but to be fair, Millennials also have more extravagant tastes. Of course a serving of smashed avo at a Point Piper cafe is going to break the bank more than Vegemite on toast from Safeway.
The Boomer-phobes are very much throwing the Baby Boomers out with the bathwater, essentially blaming factors like globalism and their own irresponsibility and bad life choices on a generation that did a lot of heavy lifting, just like generations before them. Essentially, the concerns of the Boomer-phobes can be distilled into a sentiment that ‘these people left us with a world that is pretty decent, but not as easy as we’d like it to be, therefore we deserve all their stuff’.
Boomers enjoyed a few minor advantages, but people like my parents and yours weren’t the idiots that deregulated our economy, advocated open borders and the resultant erosion of wages and social services, and perpetuated suicidal cultural self-loathing. They were the last Australian generation to feel wholesale pride in their achievements, aspirations, and identity. And, more importantly, in the achievements, aspirations, and identity of those who came before them. And that’s supposed to be a bad thing?
Globalism (that fosters boomer-phobia as a diversionary tactic) and an unwillingness by Millennials to forsake short-term gratification for long-term security, are squarely to blame for this venomous envy of people who have paid their dues, and (as the fairness free market is wont to do) have reaped the rewards of patience. Baby Boomers are allegedly rich and selfish, yet inexplicably risked this narcissistic prosperity (if you believe the left narrative) by voting overwhelmingly for Brexit, Donald Trump, and presumably One Nation in the upcoming QLD election.
You can probably argue the minutiae of which generation had more favourable economic conditions. Be that as it may, it seems rather silly and incredibly petty to demonise a generation for being responsible and showing restraint in an economy regardless of whether times were more prosperous or not. Is a Baby Boomer somehow more noble if he or she squandered every opportunity, never thought about the future, and was left destitute and penniless?
Perhaps it’s high time that youthful Boomer-phobes realised that the selflessness and restraint that Boomers showed in their youth is being echoed in their twilight years. It would be easy enough for them to rest on their financially-comfortable laurels and distance themselves from the political process.
But therein lies the difference between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Millennials seem concerned with their own prosperity and with taking what they deem to be their fair share from those who showed more restraint and responsibility, and who made more sacrifices. Baby Boomers with their political choices seem more concerned with protecting what’s left for those who follow, and preserving the legacy of those who came before.
It’s your XYZ.