A Message to Baby Boomers and Generation X

When I hear people my age (35+) rip the younger generation I usually keep my mouth shut. But I have something I need to say, so this is my public response to the people who think there is something wrong with young people today.

Let me tell you what I think about young people:

The kids coming of age right now are the greatest generation, and we don’t give them the respect and freedom we were given and it is shameful.

When we were young, our elders trusted us to drink at 18. In contrast, today, because of our own insecurities and fears, we send our 18-year-olds off to the deserts of the Middle East to be dismembered or killed and when they are lucky enough to return alive we throw them in jail for drinking underage. We have dozens of laws and regulations which apply only to those under 21. Laws that do not apply to us and never did, even when we were 18.

It is a testimony to their maturity and character that they treat us with the respect they do. The Baby Boomers rioted in the streets over this type of blatant prejudice.

Some have labeled today’s generation the entitlement generation.

When I hear you complain about the salaries they demand… I think… I wish I had expected more when I was young. Besides, have you seen the price of a home today? You want to sell your homes for a 300% profit, but you won’t pay young families enough to afford them, and then you cry about the housing bubble. Were you stoned in econ 101?

It’s time young people understand the value they provide. Who told them that the best way to earn money was to buy an expensive education? We did. And now they have high expectations and we criticize them?

I hear complaints that the younger generation isn’t loyal. Good. Why should they be loyal? They watched as corporations fired their ‘loyal’ parents and grandparents by the thousands in the 80s and 90s. Loyal to who? And for what? These kids aren’t stupid. They can learn from history.

I’m grateful so many young people – some just out of high school, others just a year or so out of college are thinking, growing, and changing the world, making it better for everyone, while building value for themselves and everyone else.

The Millennial Generation stands in sharp contrast to the last two generations.

We (the GenX and the Boomer generations) squandered the opportunities we had when we were young. Many of us acted like rich unhappy brats burning through mommy and daddy’s money at the amusement park and our excesses and stupidity led to the authoritarian nanny state we have today. Young people are the ones who are going to dismantle it. We won’t, because we don’t know how to live without mommy and daddy (Big Fat Government) protecting us and fixing everything we fail to take responsibility for.

When we cry about how we must protect children from the evils of drugs and crime, we project our fear of our own past onto a younger generation, a fear that they might be as stupid and irresponsible as we were, so we created a police state to crack down on rebellious youths, when we needed to crack down on ourselves.

I am from the older half of GenX (born in the 60s) and I have four older brothers in the boomer generation. My brothers grew up in a medium sized (pop 25,000) Midwest town and all graduated in the 1970s.

After watching Dazed and Confused, I asked my brother, “Was high school like that in the 1970s?”

He said, “No, I was a freak, and that movie didn’t scratch the surface. You saw the good kids in that movie – the jocks. I recall one morning in 1977 when a student brought two sheets (200 doses) of acid to school and sold them all before homeroom. That day was fuckin’ crazy.”

That was just one day, at one school in the 1970s, and it was happening from coast to coast. Cut to today – do you believe there are days when 200 kids are running around a medium sized Midwestern high school hallucinating on LSD? I don’t think so. If they are, I’d be damn surprised. Today, most of them are smarter than that.

Mike Males gives us the facts in his NYT column:

What experts label “adolescent risk taking” is really baby boomer risk taking. It’s true that 30 years ago, the riskiest age group for violent death was 15 to 24. But those same boomers continue to suffer high rates of addiction and other ills throughout middle age, while later generations of teenagers are better behaved. Today, the age group most at risk for violent death is 40 to 49, including illegal-drug death rates five times higher than for teenagers.

When I mention that you refuse to let your kids ride their bikes to the park, you say, “Things are different today. There are more crazies out there.” Yep, and the crazies are us. Middle-aged people are so riddled with anxiety we are eating Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac like Copenhagen at a rodeo. We are afraid of everything, and most of it is delusional. Some of us are screaming, ‘the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming’, others see pedophiles on every park bench, and the rest of us are running around like Chicken Little proclaiming, ‘the sky is falling.”

TV News and Talk Radio is creating your paranoid distorted view of reality. Turn it off.

If we’d open our eyes, we’d see that everything is getting better and safer – even our kids. Violent crime rates are less than half of what they were when we grew up and we have just raised the most educated generation in history.

When you write stories about how young people have a sense of entitlement, I want to shout – WHERE DO YOU THINK THEY GOT IT? We are the ones that think we are entitled to everything. Who invented the concept of the McMansion? I bet he wasn’t 20.

The kids aren’t greedy; we are. And to the extent they are greedy, they learned it from us. If you think kids today have a sense of entitlement, wait until the boomers are fully retired, then you’ll hear the collective whining of 30 million adult children who failed to save for retirement. After all, who ran up 10 trillion dollars in debt living beyond their means?

The next time you hear an adult complaining about how they don’t have enough money for this or that and how life just isn’t fair and how the government needs to do more, remember the last time you saw a child throwing a temper tantrum at the supermarket because his mommy won’t buy him a candy bar and you’ll know what you are listening to – the collective tantrums of us the most spoiled generations in history. I pray the Millennials shake their collective finger at us and say, “you are going to have to learn to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

I know some of you believe we will continue to slip into a dystopian police state because people can’t be trusted. I don’t share your bleak vision. I have faith that future generations will learn to take responsibility for themselves and others without delegating it to an army of tyrants with guns and cages.

In fact, I can’t imagine any other possibility and there is evidence that suggests our future is bright.

What do you want to evolve into? People who are ethical because you understand the self-destructive nature of corruption? People who understand cheating is cheating yourself? People who are good because you know it leads to good things for everyone? People who understand that peace and prosperity go hand in hand?

Pollyannaish? Maybe…

But contrary to popular opinion, humanity is becoming healthier, wealthier, stronger, smarter, kinder, and more ethical with each passing generation. Our shrinking world is making us better – our technology is making us smarter, and our young people are leading the way.

Neil Howe and William Strauss say the Millennial generation is in line to be the next “hero” generation.

They will live up to the expectation.

So listen to them, trust them, and get out of their way. They are creating a better future for all of us.

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64 thoughts on “A Message to Baby Boomers and Generation X”

  1. I’v supervised many generation Y. I will have to say that they are the most protected generation of all and the most full of it! They want something for NOTHING. So did we! LOL Boy was that a rude awakening! LOL I continue to find articles on how we “managers” are “suppose to coddle them like their parents” but I CANNOT FIND….NOT ONE… SINGLE article on how they are to work for us. They are spoiled ROTTEN beyond belief. We can thank them all for our future…..no more war, no more falling without bruises or scrapes b/c our sidewalks will be cushioned with that rubber playground surface. PLEASE! WAKE UP! THE EASY GENERATION IS WHAT THEY SHOULD BE NAMED. I’m so sick of hearing about what they want. What about what is? REALITY CHECK HERE! (1966)

  2. I’m not finished. They lack values. Their parents gave and gave and gave. So they expect the entire world to give and give and give. THIS IS NOT REALITY! This is dream land. Good luck to them all. It’s going to be another 35 years before they reap any benefits for being “in full charge” and I pray that I’m dead by then.

  3. I thought the link you included to “I Hate Young People” was compelling and amusing. Does that make me a bad old person?

  4. I came to this article by way of a google search on “disdain for boomers”. The insatiable boomer appetite for more, more, more of all of the resources are currently straining the system and will leave us gen y, gen x, millennium etc with a much reduced standard of living. A standard of living boomers would not accept.

    In general, they have partied from birth with no regard for their future or ours. Now they want us to pick up the tab for their failing health when most of their ills come from lifestyle choices. I wonder if they are proposing coverage for STD treatment in this health care bill when the nursing homes and retirement communities are where it is running rampant! A good merger would be Depends and Harley, Viagra and Trogan. They have spent all of their Social Security Fund, their winnings of the inflated economy of the 1990 – 2008, their inheritance from the WWII group, and their own personal savings and NOW!! they want to take us down with them. Leaving us paying for their selfishness long long long after they are gone. Actually, I think they have already sold us to China. We will find out in the reading of the Will.

    Yes, the world is going to end Baby Boomers. I for one will be glad to see you go.

  5. “You want to sell your homes for a 300% profit, but you won’t pay young families enough to afford them, and then you cry about the housing bubble.”

    A little irony there, huh? Admittedly, I’m a genXer–but I sniffed out this BS back in high school. Back then, I didn’t have the benefit of a rear-view mirror to decode my growing sense of unease over rampant entitlement, hubris, and rationalized greed. I’d say the past decade or two of all-out business failures should suggest–this generation has no sense of leadership or strategy. It’s time to speak from our conscience, and actively seek change. I wasted years kissing up to these people–believing it was “in my best interest”. Whatever, time to say it like it is–and I’m rather amazing so many came to similar conclusions. There is some hope.

  6. Speaking as dead-smack-center Gen X who was right in the middle of every cultural touchpoint of my generation I can honestly say that I like the new generation better than anyone else. They are docile, they are lemmings and they aren’t the anti-authoritarian risk takers that you sometimes find in Gen X and BB but they are smart, nice and work hard. They’ve chosen rather than to actively resist to just simply passively tune out of society and create their own worlds and so far they seem to be doing just fine in their bubble. White earplugs anyone?
    BB’s are like a plague of locusts devouring everything in their path, leaving nothing for anyone behind them and the sooner they all kick the better in my opinion. I wish I could say my generation was better but for every smart over-achiever Super-X I know 5 drug-addled 40 year old ‘rockers’ who can’t seem to get over the fact that it’s not 1989 anymore. It’s just a shame that the generation that was going to change the world succeeded in doing just that.

  7. I’m going to ramble like a crazy guy in the woods about this post…so here I go.

    I hate Baby Boomers but not so much Gen X’ers. Maybe because I’m technically a Gen Y’er, but I was born in 1983, so I was into the Cobain stuff.

    They (baby boomers) really screwed everything up. They had all the fun. We got screwed over. Luckily I never paid attention to that crap and I lived a good college, High School, and Post-Grad life…

    …unfortunately, I screwed up in going into the corporate world. It’s a killer out there. And let me tell you, it’s the baby boomers’ faults. Where I work, work is never shut off. You are always on call. blackberries, emails, calls at 12 AM. I’m telling you, it’s horrid and it wasn’t this way until the greedy Baby Boomers started getting into the Yuppie years in the 1980s. They had their parties in the late 1960s and all the 1970s. Then when their kids got a little bit older, they sold out and created this greedy mess.

    I shut off my phone every Friday and people look at me at the office like I am a rebel. When I leave at 5, I get laughed at…the very very very old people in the corporation say it wasn’t this way until the 1980s.

    Baby boomers were either sell outs like Jerry Rubin or ended up blowing their brains out Abbie Hoffman style when their realized their friends in Chicago ’68 were just doing it to get laid.

    And the “Greatest Generation” wasn’t that great either. They were racist mysogenistic douchebags. And any other generation would have done the same thing if Pearl Harbor happened in their time.

    In conclusion, of all the living generations, Baby Boomers and “Greatest Generation” folks were jerks. Gen X’ers never had a chance. And the Melleniums are douchebags, but look at their parents, you can’t blame em.

  8. Baby Boomer is the last analog generation, they are filled with trojans and viruses.

    Gen X is a hybrid generation, they are balanced and understand both sides of things.

    Gen Y is the first digital generation, they are riddled with bugs.

    Gen Z(millenniums) are too young to be discussed, who knows how they will turn out. I have feeling they will eat the Gen Y shit just like Gen X ate big brothers shit.

    The idiocrats(the baby boomer) are subtle fascist that exploits their children for their own benefit. With parents like that who needs enemy? They will make a pause for Gen Y. But it is just a pause. The idiocrats think they actually succeeded and did good, they will clone themselves via Gen Y.

    Hitler obvious fascism ruled for around 5 years, the boomers subtle fascism has been in full swing for 30 years now. Don’t ask the them to talk to you about it, they don’t even know about it because they are dumb ass idiots!

    The baby boomers were brain washed by operation paper clip. They formed the boomers via the tv. The boomers will believe everything they see on the tv, at the expense of their children.

    I’m 37, but i look like i’m 23. Every time a boomer idiot talks to me they are nice until i tell them i’m 37.

    The boomers are a lie and a trap. Gen Y, you have been warned.

  9. Funny thing is that generations are defined by war. This is whats funny. baby boomers who don’t deserve to respect of capitalization. Don’t have wars they have operations. A much friendlier saying on CNN and FOX. The real question is at what point in my generation is someone going to stand up and say,”Hey violence is the last resort, I don’t have an issue with gay people getting married, abortion is a persons choice, I should be able to own guns.” Where’s a flat Tax?

    We have lived for generations being one side or the other. The difference is that the newer generations don’t care about left or right, or democrat or republican. We just want to live our lives and not have you people telling us what we should be doing. baby boomers tell us whats right and wrong, guess what the right and left are wrong. Get over yourselves. Guess what your not great. You didn’t make the world better. You corrupted a whole generation to have self entitlement, and hopefully more people in my generation other than myself see what you have tried to do. Shame on you. You don’t want to know how many people I hear from the boomers saying, “the government needs to help me i lost 400k in my 401k.”
    I’m gonna let you in on a secret,”Maybe you shouldn’t have had all your retirement money in high risk stocks when your 50.” Bunch of idiots.

    You created this future.

    Deal with it.

    Don’t cry when we don’t help you when your 80 and living in a home. We wont have the money while we are paying off your debt.

  10. You can not group Boomers and Xers. They are the most conflicting of the generation types. Anyway, Xers have not messed everything up because we can not get into positions to fix (or mess up) anything because of micromanaging, narcissistic Boomers are baring our way. When we get them out, maybe X and Y can clean it up and rebuild. The longer Boomers are in and we do not MAKE anything in the US, the harder it will be to recover.

  11. during the surge the economy was booming and the military was desperate to get anyone to join. when the economy crashed the current young generation joined the military in droves. combat arms jobs in the military are still under strength, while all support jobs are above 100% strength.

    total military, all branches, active and reserve make up 0.7% of the population. 0.5% is active duty. 0.5% of 300 million is about 1.5 million. about half of that is airforce, navy and coast guard which are relatively safe branches compared to the army and marines. of those in the army and marines less than 25% are in combat arms jobs where the metal meets the meat.

    so a quarter or less of half of 1.5 million is on the front line. less than 200,000 americans, aged 17 to 60 something protect 299,800,000 americans that dont serve.

    this millennial generation that i grew up with, and you regard so highly, did not enlist to protect america when it needed them. they joined when the economy went to pot and they needed the military.

    i dont share your enthusiasm for the spoiled children of spoiled children who are just as self serving as their parents.

  12. Warren Van Owen Roland Gunner wrote

    “And the “Greatest Generation” wasn’t that great either. They were racist mysogenistic douchebags. And any other generation would have done the same thing if Pearl Harbor happened in their time. ”

    men who were denied by the military after pearl harbor committed suicide. after september 11th the military had such a hard time getting people to join it had to accept convicted murderers. i see a distinct difference in the character of the two generations.

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.
    The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.
    The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,
    nothing which is more important than his own personal safety,
    is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
    unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

  13. When I was in the U.S. Army, Xers, Boomers, and Millenials got along. We had to. Now that I am a civilian, I can see why Xers have disdain for Boomers and retard Millennials. All -in -all I’m glad to be an Xers since I’ve experienced what Boomers went through in the Disco 70s (I.e. l
    and line phones, LP albums, inflation, pop culture, etc) to the Gen Y Facebook of today.

  14. “men who were denied by the military after pearl harbor committed suicide. after september 11th the military had such a hard time getting people to join it had to accept convicted murderers. i see a distinct difference in the character of the two generations.”

    Somebody needs to take history 101: After September 11, men signed up for the military by the boatloads to go fight in Afghanistan. Only when we invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with 911, and began the “nation building” exercise did the military then have trouble recruiting and for good reason. The fact is, any generation would have responded the same way to Pearl Harbor and to 911.

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