Boomers, Breaking

Didn’t get a chance to slot this in last week, but in light of the Warren/McHenry incident, it seems relevant. Mark Schmitt at The New Republic plots out the numbers behind what the subhead refers to as “The GOP’s brilliant generational weapon in the Medicare fight”:

Today’s 55-year-old was born in 1956. That’s not generally considered a major break in the generations. It’s smack in the middle of the Baby Boom (the peak of the boom, in fact), with almost a decade to go before the first Gen-Xers were born, dreaming of Winona Ryder. But the difference between early and later Boomers, especially in their experience of the economy, is dramatic.
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A baby born in 1956 would have graduated from high school in about 1974, from college in 1978 or so. Look at almost any historical chart of the American economy, and you see two sharp breaks in the 1970s. First, in 1974, household incomes, which had been rising since World War II, flattened. Real wages started to stagnate. The poverty rate stopped falling. Health insurance coverage stopped rising. Those trends have continued ever since.
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Second, a little later in the decade, around the time today’s 55-year-olds graduated from college (if they did—fewer than 30 percent have a four-year degree), inequality began its sharp rise, and the share of national income going to the bottom 40 percent began to fall. Productivity and wages, which had tended to keep pace, began to diverge, meaning that workers began seeing little of the benefits of their own productivity gains. The number of jobs in manufacturing peaked and began to drop sharply. Defined benefit pensions, which provide a secure base of income in retirement, began to give way to 401(k)s and similar schemes that depend on the worker to save and the stock market to perform. While the benefits of higher education rose, college tuitions started to rise even faster. Those trends, too, have continued.
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If there was ever going to be a generational war in this country, that high school class of ’74 would be its Mason-Dixon line. It’s the moment when Bill Clinton’s promise—“if you work hard and play by the rules you’ll get ahead”—began to lose its value. Today’s seniors and near-seniors spent much of their working lives in that postwar world, with their incomes rising, investments gaining, their health increasingly secure, and their retirements predictable. Everyone 55 and younger spent his or her entire working life in an economy where all those trends had stalled or reversed. To borrow former White House economist Jared Bernstein’s phrase, it was the “You’re On Your Own” economy. Finally, those 55-year-olds are spending several of what should be their peak earning years, years when they should be salting away money in their 401(k)s and IRAs, in a period of deep recession and very slow recovery. […]

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Heading into the 2012 election… the electorate is likely to shift back to one in which younger and middle-aged voters vote in proportion to their share of the population, so a “Mediscare” campaign won’t work. This time, the GOP hopes to play both sides of the generational war, gambling that while seniors want security, younger voters never expected the certainty of Medicare, just as they don’t expect reliable pensions or Social Security benefits, and thus will embrace a plan that sounds innovative, flexible, and market-based. Contending that the only alternative to premium support is the end of Medicare entirely, they are offering a generation that is accustomed to getting less than their parents a little bit, rather than nothing.[…]
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…If Social Security is any precedent, younger voters will be indifferent, while older voters won’t believe they’re exempt. The Republicans will again walk away from the conflict, hoping to get credit for being “serious” without bearing a political price for the error.
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For Democrats, the defeat of the Ryan plan, like the failed Social Security privatization before it, will be regarded as a great victory, and an opportunity to get a fresh start with worried older voters. But they should not ignore the generational divide revealed by Ryan’s cutoff. If progressive politics has nothing to offer the late Boomers and the generations that follow except the same old programs, and nothing that responds to their distinctive experience of the economy, then eventually they’ll fall for one of these gimmicks from the right.

Yes, I am one of those 55-year-olds (born in November 1955, actually). Ever since my entry into the public sphere (Bronx public kindergarten), both those in authority and my slightly older Boomer ‘cohorts’ have been telling me “You should’ve been here just a couple years ago — before it was used up / worn out / overextended.” And, too often, the Gen Xers have dutifully responded to the robber-baron misdirection of their Reagan-administration era by attacking “greedy Boomers” rather than the tiny minority of greedheads at the top of the economic pyramid that were busy looting all our public treasury and private savings. I don’t share Eventheliberal TNR‘s assumption that those of us on either side of the Magic 55 Date will automatically fall for the GOP’s dishonest divide-and-conquer techniques, again, but I do think it’s important we stay aware of how it’s been used against us in the past.

134 replies
  1. 1
    UofAZGrad says:

    Whatever these people came to accept in the 70s, 80s, 90s and first decade of 2000s,one thing is sure. They will vote. Old people vote even if they didn’t vote in their middle-aged years. They will vote themselves a level of security near what the greatest generation get and all the republicans are doing with privatization is making sure it costs a shit ton more tax money so that rich donors get their skim. See Medicare Advantage.

  2. 2
    Barbara says:

    How could anybody over 55 believe that these drastic cuts to Medicare for people under the age of 55 (and Medicaid cuts for people of all ages) won’t be extended to them in their lifetime?

    Yes, you are correct, the generational divide among boomers has been well-documented. I demur, however, over whether it’s just a few greedheads among the earlier boomers — it is simply no coincidence that boomer voters are the generation that considers low taxes to be the most important value in the universe — because it’s THEIR money. Hence, they have a pattern of voting to defund public goods just as soon as they stopped needing them (or thought they no longer did). Public education is Exhibit A.

  3. 3
    Joel says:

    Sounds like a lot of overanalytical bullshit to me.

  4. 4
    geg6 says:

    Sorry, TNR, but I and almost all of my friends are on the side of the divide that is going to get fucked by the Ryan Plan (born in 1958). And I don’t know a single one who is complacent about the idea that SS and Medicare won’t be around for us. Does this asshat, and the GOP by extension, believe that we’re just fine with the idea that we’ve paid into the funds for all these years, have no defined pensions, took a beating on our 401Ks, and have lost all value in our homes but will be thrilled to vote GOP so they can cut us out of SS and Medicare? Really? Seriously?

    Fuck that. All of us are up in arms around here. And this asshole Schmitt can go take a running jump off a cliff. I don’t know a single person my age who isn’t going to fight for SS and Medicare, tooth and nail.

  5. 5
    Alex S. says:

    I was wondering why some of the Tea Party representatives were already explaining that if you are 55 years or older, nothing will change for you under the Ryan plan. And this is why. Generational warfare.

  6. 6

    How could anybody over 55 believe that these drastic cuts to Medicare for people under the age of 55 (and Medicaid cuts for people of all ages) won’t be extended to them in their lifetime?

    @Barbara: Everyone is convinced that they are a special, unique snowflake that should be exempt from anything bad that happens to those around them. That is just simply human nature.

    Plus, the over-55 cohort has, as Anne notes, had everything go their way. It’s all been arranged, bought and paid for, using the money of those that came before and after them. Why would they be capable of believing that such a state of affairs could ever change? It never has, not in their entire lives.

  7. 7
    Bulworth says:

    The 55-and-older exemption is pretty standard boilerplate for most Social Security reform proposals that have been made in the past decade.

  8. 8
    Joel says:

    Mark Schmitt is, for what it’s worth, a hack from the American Prospect.

  9. 9
    JoJo says:

    I remember in 1981 when I was 21 years old, my 32 year old sister and 35 year old brother in law couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find a job. It must have been that I was lazy, not that the official unemployment rate was over 10%.

    It’s been like that my whole life. Jobs have always been in short supply, housing costs are outrageous and the opportunities that they always took for granted simply haven’t been there for me.

  10. 10
    Cermet says:

    @Joel: Really? You were born when?

  11. 11
    CaseyL says:

    I’m 55, and have no intention of ever voting for a GOP candidate or proposal, ever. Generational warfare has nothing to do with it: refusing to vote for sadistic nihilists who are out to steal everything they can from us and hand it over to their Dark Masters has everything to do with it.

    And I’m not about to get into the generational warfare thing. It’s dumb and plays right into their hands.

  12. 12
    General Stuck says:

    In a related piece of good news, that will cause wingers and their plutocrat puppetmasters some added heart burn

    It’s getting personal now. In a shift still evolving, federal enforcers are targeting individual executives in health care fraud cases that used to be aimed at impersonal corporations.

    More of this please. And to boot, these assholes living large behind the corporate veil, will also get nailed not only if they participated in fraud, but if they weren’t and were in a position to stop it.

    More of this please.

    Obama leveling out near 55 percent approval.

  13. 13
    ericblair says:

    @Barbara:

    How could anybody over 55 believe that these drastic cuts to Medicare for people under the age of 55 (and Medicaid cuts for people of all ages) won’t be extended to them in their lifetime?

    This is where the nuance thing works for us and not against us. The smarter people over 55 quickly realize that this is the camel’s nose in the tent. The dumber and meaner ones over 55, who usually toe the gooper line, don’t do nuance that well and just hear “Medicare cuts”, you know, like the ones those asshole Democrats were just accused of doing and who were told that it’s the worst thing in the world.

    I’m just gobsmacked by the shotgun-assisted podiatric self-mutilation the goopers managed on this thing. They just plumb forgot that robbing Joe Sixpack blind to pay Johnny Moneybags doesn’t go over so well with Joe Sixpack, so you gotta lie about it, and gooper ideology is simply a way to do that. Ryan seems to actually believe it, and must be still scratching his head about why everybody’s so pissed off.

  14. 14
    TheOtherWA says:

    Interesting theory, but I doubt people in their 30s and 40s will fall for any republic party bs unless they had gone to the dark side before the economic collapse.

    My parents were in their 40s when I was born in the 60s. I know what my parents were promised and accomplished during the post war years, and the pile of shit that’s been served to my generation.

    This great generational divide isn’t going to work the way the wingnuts think it will.

  15. 15
    Napoleon says:

    @geg6:

    Does this asshat

    Talk about shooting the messanger. Mark S. doesn’t say it will work just that it is what they are banking on.

  16. 16
    PurpleGirl says:

    I was born in 1951(also in November), so I’m just a few years older than you Anne Laurie. I graduated college a bit late, around 1974 and entered that bad job market, too. I and most of my friends have experienced all these economic shocks. None of us are secure.

    It has always seemed to me that the people who were the most secure were that group born during the war years, like my sister was. (She’s a full ten years older.) That’s the group that got pension buy outs when companies started to reduce staffs. That’s the group that still have company pensions. That’s the group that really were the greedheads in the FIRE sector. Yes, there were some early boomers there, but not all boomers lucked out. I dislike blaming the (early) boomers for everything bad because not all them lucked out either. There are a lot of us in our early 60s and late 50s who are underemployed or unemployed. None of us can make up that time.

  17. 17
    geg6 says:

    @Cermet:

    Well, I don’t know about Joel, but I was born in 1958 and I agree with him. Over analytical bullshit is about right.

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    When he says “55-year-olds graduated from college (if they did—fewer than 30 percent have a four-year degree” this was at the time jobs for HS degree was still paying excellent wages (compared to the late 90’s up to today, that is)) and dropping out of college or getting an AA was still ok. Boy, has the world changed in the 80’s as butt licker raygun sold the middle class down the river to the corporations that now own congress.

  19. 19
    alwhite says:

    I fall on the ‘old’ side of that equation, if just barely (’52, class of ’70) and the truth is I lost the guaranteed benefit retirement – after 20 years with one company I was given an account with $18,000 I can’t touch until I turn 65 & it pays the Federal interest rate (ave ~ 3%). My 401k has been in neutral for a decade.

    If the Masters Of the Universe were smart they would be working to get us old farts out to make way for the new kids but they have taken the opposite approach.

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but did Bill Clinton really promise that if people worked hard and played by the rules that they would “get ahead?” I remember him saying something vaguely similar to that, but I don’t think “get ahead” was part of the promise.

    Now, where is that NAFTA job retraining.

  21. 21
    Nutella says:

    Sounds like he’s saying that the under-55’s have had so much stolen from them already that they’ll volunteer to have the benefits their many years of FICA payments paid for stolen too. They’re just natural victims to him.

  22. 22

    @geg6:

    talk to people born after the boom by a few years, its pretty common to believe that the socsec, and medicare will run out just before we get there. i try to tell people, only if you accept this reality, because if you accept it, if you lower your expectations in time with the (beatles) music, they will sell you junk that almost meets your lowered expectations.

    in general though, its kind of amusing to hear younger boomers complain about older boomers. for all the complaints they register, they had it easy compared to everyone that followed in that regard. hell even colleges finally realized they were graduating too many people, and they didn’t need to save kids from the draft, so they toughened up. sex, you wanna talk about it? remember when herpes was a big deal, and aids was going to kill you, like, before the wet spot dried? now, try hitting puberty in that environment. any wonder many gen-xers became reactionary social conservatives without all the hypocracy that makes such living, bearable?

  23. 23
    Cermet says:

    @geg6: Haven’t read his post so you may be right but In what ways? His analysis appears correct and agrees with what I saw during those decades but I would like to know were he is wrong.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    @Napoleon:

    Really? Are you sure he doesn’t make statements of fact that he can’t really back up by anything other than his own bullshit?

    If there was ever going to be a generational war in this country, that high school class of ’74 would be its Mason-Dixon line.

    Heading into the 2012 election… the electorate is likely to shift back to one in which younger and middle-aged voters vote in proportion to their share of the population, so a “Mediscare” campaign won’t work.

    I am one of those people. He doesn’t know a fucking thing about us if he can say this shit. My age cohort was the peak of that Boomer generation, even if we are at the later end, datewise. Birthrate in 1957 was 25.3, the very peak of the boom.

    And the idea that we will just sit back, all depressed over how much the GOP fucked up our lives as compared to our older brothers and sisters is complete and utter bullshit from a total asshat.

  25. 25
    RossInDetroit says:

    Sticking it to the old folks is a losing strategy. They have political and economic influence out of proportion to their numbers. Take a look at the faces at political rallies. Lots of retirees with time on their hands. And they’re especially well socially connected with their peers. That’s a bloc of influence that you mess with at your peril.

  26. 26
    cmorenc says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Now, where is that NAFTA job retraining.

    That NAFTA job training was to learn how to be a data gatherer for the next census. If you missed out on that in 2010, you missed the boat, you were asleep at the switch.

  27. 27
    geg6 says:

    @Cermet:

    His analysis basically says that we are all just too downtrodden and depressed over our fucked up lives and will fall for any old crap the GOP throws at us, like writing us out of the social contract.

  28. 28
    f_space_that says:

    Anyone over 55 who thinks they will be exempt from being touched by the Grand Old Pantysniffers hasn’t been paying attention the last 30 years. Stop abortion, just the first step in eliminating birth control. And the list goes on ad infnitum. Also, there are a LOT of us over. 55ers who are not as greedy as the villagers thinks we are and are concerned that the meager social safety net we have is preserved for our children and their children.

  29. 29
    Judas Escargot says:

    The GOP needs two things to be true to get away with their plan: (1) A sufficiently mean, selfish crop of 55-plussers and (2) a sufficiently short-sighted group of under-30s with no faith in govt solutions of any kind. They’ll just keep trying the “55+” approach every 4-5 years until these two conditions become true, or until they start to suffer electorally (brief pause while I roll on the floor laughing at the idea of the GOP ever suffering political consequences).

    Given the innate ignorance/meanness of my own particular cohort (43), I’m still not so sure the GOP won’t eventually get the 55+ crop they’re looking for in 7-15 years– just as the bulk of the “South Park Generation” come into voting age.

    Joy.

    I expect the group that’s from 40-55 right now will be exquisitely f_cked in the reasonably near future.

  30. 30
    Napoleon says:

    @geg6:

    Are you sure he doesn’t make statements of fact

    Yes I am.

    The first quote you pull is conditional – it says “If”. All he is saying if you want to run that stratagy that is the most likely place you could get a fault like, not that you would get a fault line or that it would work. In fact as to the second quote you pull out it is followed by this:

    This time, the GOP hopes to play both sides of the generational war, GAMBLING that while seniors want security, younger voters never expected the certainty of Medicare, just as they don’t expect reliable pensions or Social Security benefits, and thus will embrace a plan that sounds innovative.

    He then ends by noting that Dubya tried the same thing and failed and then says:

    And despite this week’s relaunch of the Ryan plan, it’s likely to end in the same result.

  31. 31
    khead says:

    If progressive politics has nothing to offer the late Boomers and the generations that follow except the same old programs, and nothing that responds to their distinctive experience of the economy, then eventually they’ll fall for one of these gimmicks from the right.

    Nancy smash

  32. 32
    jfxgillis says:

    Annie:

    Schmitt has a very astute and profound insight, but his conclusion is exactly backwards. This is the kind of thing that can drive those Boomers whose first vote was for Reagan into the same camp as those Boomers whose first vote was for McGovern.

    It’s a unifying, not disunifying force.

  33. 33
    Poopyman says:

    @RossInDetroit: As regards the “faces at political rallies”, bear in mind that the media only shows right wing rallies. I understand those damned kids march in the tens of thousands and it never gets covered.

  34. 34
    bemused says:

    People in their early 50’s that I know are not one bit complacent about the GOP Medicare Plan. They are pissed. From brief remarks, I can’t tell if they are all more liberal leaning and not inclined to buy into republican spin (likely) but I do think that age group is a lot more concerned than younger people. By 50, people start thinking more seriously about when and if retirement, voluntary or not, happens and what their quality of life will look like.

  35. 35
    catclub says:

    “Heading into the 2012 election… the electorate is likely to shift back to one in which younger and middle-aged voters vote in proportion to their share of the population, so a “Mediscare” campaign won’t work.”

    But it WILL work to create a democratic landslide if OLD people also vote against the GOP. They were the only group in 2008 that did not vote for Obama. If they change as well:
    landslide.

  36. 36
    Tom Q says:

    I’m with geg6: I think the writer’s problem is not in factual reportage, but in assuming that this GOP spin is going to be effective. I see no signs either that the non-core-GOPer over-55’s are saying “Screw anyone younger, we’ve got ours”, nor that anyone under 55 is thinking, “Okay, crumbs is better than I expected”.

    They always say salesmen’s best customers are other salesman, because they respond to the ingenuity of the pitch rather than the factual basis. This analysis is so take by what it sees as the diabolical cleverness of the approach that it assumes it will work with people, regardless of the negative effect it would have on their lives. I don’t buy that.

  37. 37
    Kane says:

    The notion that seniors would be so selfish that they would accept a plan that would benefit them while taking away future Medicare from their children, grandchild­ren and great-gran­dchildren underestim­ates our seniors and ignores our history.

  38. 38
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Kane:

    The notion that seniors would be so selfish that they would accept a plan that would benefit them while taking away future Medicare from their children, grandchild­ren and great-gran­dchildren underestim­ates our seniors and ignores our history.

    There’s really no evidence seniors are looking out for anyone other than themselves. They’re confused or distrustful about who will actually be harmed by the Ryan legislation, not altruistic.

  39. 39
    RossInDetroit says:

    @bemused:

    People in their early 50’s that I know are not one bit complacent about the GOP Medicare Plan. They are pissed.

    Damn right we are. I’ve been paying for it since 1976 and it had better be there for me when I retire. Not squandered on vouchers that only the well off can afford to use on something worthwhile.

  40. 40

    Given the innate ignorance/meanness of my own particular cohort (43), I’m still not so sure the GOP won’t eventually get the 55+ crop they’re looking for in 7-15 years—just as the bulk of the “South Park Generation” come into voting age.

    @Judas Escargot: Got to agree with this. I’m pissed at my elders for looting the national piggy bank.

    But they’re the smallest and most visible part of the problem – tip of the iceberg, if you will. I’m truly horrified at my generation (we are the same age) who thought Reagan was the greatest thing since sliced bread (even though none of us were actually old enough to vote for him) and, depending on which day you ask, are either political nihilists (on a good day) or the political equivalent of the guys who flew the planes into the towers (on a bad day).

    I expect the group that’s from 40-55 right now will be exquisitely f_cked in the reasonably near future.

    We will be – and we’ll do it to ourselves.

  41. 41
    Downpuppy says:

    Putting the split in at 55 is just too blatant, & has nothing to do with TNRs drivel. By 55, you have a pretty clear idea what Medicare is about, and no way will you let some clowns stick you with a worthless voucher instead.

    So it’s blindingly obvious that to anybody over 55, vouchers are something worth much less. And the people under 55 aren’t supposed to notice that the substitute is crap.

    Do they think everyone is as stupid as David Brooks?

  42. 42
    Nemesis says:

    Have an outcome in mind. Parse data to support your position.

  43. 43

    The notion that seniors would be so selfish that they would accept a plan that would benefit them while taking away future Medicare from their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren underestimates our seniors and ignores our history.

    @Kane: I almost burst a kidney from laughing when I read this. The worst time to post drivel like this is the day after THE national holiday where you have to sit down with your elders and listen to them tell you how awesome everything was until your generation came along and voted President Blackity-black-black Muslim into office and ruined America. They’d do it in a second, and I’ll bet such legislation would pass their age cohort by a 9 to 1 margin.

  44. 44
    Origuy says:

    October 1956 here. I think his analysis of the Republican strategy is on target, but I don’t see how he got his conclusion. It’s like that Far Side cartoon where the scientist has a complicated formula on the blackboard and “magic happens” before his answer.

  45. 45
    David in NY says:

    Maybe if I read the whole Schmitt piece, I’d understand the brilliance of the Republican strategy, but I’m not inclined to because, pretty much like every other commenter, the excerpt mystifies me. I’m an early boomer and have done pretty well, but not so well I could do without Medicare and Social Security, so the “we’re only taking it away from the kids” line pretty much eludes me, as it seems to elude most of my cohort, as near as I can tell. It’s scary. And Schmitt’s apparent line, that the under 55’s will just knuckle under, because, well, because they’ve grown used to a crappy economy laced with insecurity and inequality — that seems totally counter-intuitive. If I need SS and Medicare, then folks who’ve lived less secure or less lucky lives will need them even more, and fight for them.

    So, is Schmitt just stupid, or do I miss something? Or is this just more good news for John McCain?

  46. 46

    @Tom Q:

    nfl lockout, owners vs players, you would be amazed at how many younger nfl fans are asserting the right of the owners to make as much money as they want, and dictate terms, and that the players are being greedy for even thinking they have the right to refuse an offer that is less than the previous agreement.

    the upshot is, no matter how they run their business, whether they take public funds or not, the owners, above all else deserve a profit greater in real terms than any of the players salaries. it is greed of the players, that they think they have rights to assert, and they are the ones who are responsible for being locked out.

    its one window, into a mere subset of the various age groups, but i think it speaks to the serfdom, and the wealth worship that exists, and, too, the willingness to settle for crumbs.

  47. 47
    gex says:

    @CaseyL: Hear hear! Our overlords really like the divide and conquer approach to human society. Old – young, black – white, male – female, gay – straight. So many of their policies and campaign tactics are intended to divide along those lines. Otherwise us regular folks vastly outnumber them.

  48. 48

    @Failure, Inc.:

    I expect the group that’s from 40-55 right now will be exquisitely f_cked in the reasonably near future.
    We will be – and we’ll do it to ourselves.

    @Judas Escargot:

    i ain’t co-signing for shit, but i agree with this message.

  49. 49

    First, let me say that I don’t think that people younger than age ABC are dumber than folks older than age ABC. I also don’t think that members of either camp are more selfish than the others.

    If any intelligent person investigates Ryan’s proposal, he or she will discover that, in the words of Paul Krugman, it is a pile of junk.

    And yes, Republican assumption that any of us would buy into their dirty little scheme is insulting.

  50. 50
    David in NY says:

    By the way, to those youngsters above who seem rankled by their elders, from all the accounts of town hall meetings about Medicare I’ve seen, it’s been the older cohort that’s been standing up for them. Maybe it’s only self interest but I doubt it. I think that there’s a real shame involved in intentionally leaving your kids with less than you have. And the older cohort is not interested in being shamed that way, at least not the ones talking to their Congresspeople.

  51. 51
    kdaug says:

    @geg6: If they ain’t gonna give me the benefits, fine – just cut me a check for everything I’ve paid in and I’ll wash my hands of it.

  52. 52
    handy says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal:

    What I find amazing about this is you’ll hear people say “Well the players are making way too much money for playing a game–why don’t we give that money to teachers or policemen (or some other red herring)” yet when pointed out the multibillion dollar business that is the NFL will say the owners and the league deserve what they get because they’re the ones “making the risk.” Right. There’s no risk at all facing any of these players when they strap on and hit the field.

    America is a religious country. We worship the wealthy.

  53. 53
    David in NY says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Nice point.

  54. 54
    Elie says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    There are a lot of us in our early 60s and late 50s who are underemployed or unemployed. None of us can make up that time.

    I totally agree — I am an “older” boomer and have been underemployed and now unemployed over the last several years. Many of my friends in the same boomer group are also struggling in one way or the other. My experience of this theoretical group is quite different than the picture painted…

  55. 55
    aimai says:

    @Barbara:

    I’m not sure we can lay that at the feet of the boomer generation. The defunding of public education happens in pretty complex ways that I think are more related to the Republican party’s drumbeat of attacks on public education in the south where public education itself has always been seen as a problem because it means education of non white and poor white voters. In the South no one paid for public education before the Civil War and the elites were extremely uninterested in paying for it after the Civil War. Private academies were all the rage.

    Second of all the insistence on paying for most school districgts with property taxes meant that the better schools were always in the wealthier areas, which almost definitionally would also be those with the highest land value/income value per kid since the number of families using the facilities would be lower than in an urban area. Its been my experience that age/boomerness doesn’t actually influence the willingness of seniors to keep paying high taxes when they are living in their own communities and those taxes keep the value of their homes up. But deracinated boomer/retired communities that move to gated southern/southwestern non-city type communities are a different matter. I’m not even sure that those people always know that they are ducking out of a responsibility when they choose to buy into some of these retirement communities since they think they are also cutting back on a host of public services, from police to fire, which they used to pay taxes for.

    aimai

  56. 56
    bemused says:

    @Failure, Inc.:

    So seniors 56 and older have looted the national piggy bank…they are to blame? Really?

  57. 57
    Cermet says:

    @geg6: Thanks for the post – saves me from reading such BS.

  58. 58
    Georgia Pig says:

    If that’s the strategy, it’s a major miscalculation of the mindset of at least 45-55 year olds. Yes, us late boomers are used to seeing pensions, etc. take in the ass, but Medicare was and has always been the backstop because, unlike regular retirement income, you can’t plan for medical expenses. Plus, after seeing years of bait and switch with gimmicks like 401(k)s, the late boomers are cynical as to another gimmick – “premium support.” Finally, those of us in our early 50’s have been paying into Medicare — on our full incomes — for 30 years. Groupons for Medicare will be an especially bitter pill for middle and upper middle class retirees, especially now that most corps don’t pay health expenses for retirees.

  59. 59
    Kane says:

    @Failure, Inc.:

    I almost burst a kidney from laughing when I read this. The worst time to post drivel like this is the day after THE national holiday where you have to sit down with your elders and listen to them tell you how awesome everything was until your generation came along and voted President Blackity-black-black Muslim into office and ruined America. They’d do it in a second, and I’ll bet such legislation would pass their age cohort by a 9 to 1 margin.

    Perhaps. Grumpy elders at family gatherings are always going to rail about the good ol’ days and how the younger generation has it all so easy. But it should also be remembered that our seniors, those of the Greatest Generation and the bulk of Baby Boomers have in large measure lived their lives based on the ideals and values of the American Dream. They have sacrificed throughout their lives not only for themsleves, but for future generations. To ask them now to change those values, to abandon their children, grand-children and great-grandchildren is antithetical to their mindset.

  60. 60
    gex says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: Further, they’ll mock any player who highlights the slavery like aspects of the league. What the fuck do they think “own the rights to” means? They own the rights to a player FFS.

    I would like the players to just go find 32 new owners who are willing to profit only handsomely instead of profiting obscenely. The stadia are mostly tax payer built, so we’re good there…

  61. 61
    Yutsano says:

    @gex: Bring back public ownership of teams a la the Green Bay Packers. That oughta shut the owners right up even just threatening that.

  62. 62
    melchiscott says:

    Despite what exit polling shows, there are plenty of “OLD” people who regularly vote against the GOP, who in fact have a hard time imagining any situation where they could ever vote for a Republican. If the Democrats could only bring themselves to run more progressives, lots more “OLD” people who now stay home, would probably show up and vote for ’em.

  63. 63
    geg6 says:

    @Kane:

    And in my family, at least, it’s the family elders (me, my sisters, my brothers-in-law) who voted in the blackety-black-black Muslim. And we’re indoctrinating the youngsters, too. They, too, love them some blackety-black-black Muslim dude in the White House. Both nieces had Obama t-shirts on for the Memorial Day celebration.

  64. 64
    gex says:

    @Yutsano: That would just be more soshulism that came to pass under the soshulist Muslim blackity black interloper’s administration. let’s do it!

    Although, I’m already thinking of how I can ask for a refund for my portion of the Vikings.

  65. 65
    Judas Escargot says:

    @bemused:

    Did they vote for Reagan or GWB?

    Then yes. Yes, they are.

  66. 66
    Napoleon says:

    @Tom Q:

    I think the writer’s problem is not in factual reportage, but in assuming that this GOP spin is going to be effective.

    You would have a point but for the fact that he says he doesn’t think it is going to work – the exact opposite of what you say he says.

  67. 67
    Kane says:

    @geg6:
    Nice. My parents are life-long republicans. I mean hardcore republicans. My father always had something nasty to say about the Clintons. But in 2008, after much campaigning by me, they switched to the Obama team. It’s been a magical transformation, as my parents are now defenders of President Obama and democrats.

  68. 68
    bemused says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    Don’t tar all seniors with the Reagan/Bush brush.

  69. 69
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Failure, Inc.:

    … THE national holiday where you have to sit down with your elders and listen to them tell you how awesome everything was until your generation came along and voted President Blackity-black-black Muslim into office and ruined America. They’d do it in a second, and I’ll bet such legislation would pass their age cohort by a 9 to 1 margin.

    Well Kane, sorry to hear you had a bad time at the relatives. If I were you, I would remind those spiteful people you spend your holidays with that the reality is that someone is going to have to pay for their care and they’re schmucks if they think its going to be you “because you’re family” doesn’t cut it when you’ve got to look out for yourself. Just let them know that the only reason you still hang out with them on holidays is that you know they won’t be hitting you up so that Aunt Julie can remain on life support two more weeks, cause if it was up to you, you’d pull the plug.

    I think you’d get a different voting result after that.

  70. 70
    aimai says:

    Haven’t read the original article yet but I’d like to put in a word for Mark Schmitt, he’s not a Republican strategist at all, IIRC. From what I know of his politics I tend to think the problematic line “mediscare won’t work” doesn’t mean that the Democrats use of the Ryan plan against the Republicans won’t work but rather that the Republicans *calling* it “Mediscare” won’t work. I, myself, think that the very phrase “Mediscare” which the Republicans are using won’t work because they’ve gone to the well on that one too many times, and too recently, for their own voters to forget. Let alone for that line to work on Obama’s voters.

    aimai

  71. 71

    @Judas Escargot: A higher percentage of Gen X’ers (the Reagan generation – e.g. our illustrious host) voted for GWB than Boomers. I’m getting ready for work and don’t have time to find the link again but you can google it.

    Gen Xers are the most conservative/Republican/right wing generation. The Boomers are slightly more liberal, and of course the millennials (the boomer’s children, mostly, and I think not coincidentally) are much more liberal.

    eta: Referring to how they vote. GenXers may be slightly more socially liberal than older voters. Not sure about that, but voting patterns matter.

  72. 72
    Munira says:

    They don’t seem to consider the fact that we also care about what happens to our kids and grandkids. Selfishness seems to be one of the main qualities of today’s Republican party and they forget that the rest of us aren’t necessarily like that.

  73. 73
    Gravie says:

    Well, I’m an over-55 boomer and I don’t believe in “apres moi, le deluge.” In fact, I’ve become more progressive, more vocal and less willing to put up with right-wing b*#$!^ the older I get. So I’d hope that sweeping assumptions about everyone in my age cohort get the same kind of reception that thinking people give to sweeping assumptions about other ethnographic or demographic groups.

  74. 74
    alwhite says:

    One of the biggest changes I have seen in my life time has been from “a rising tide raises all boats” to “Fuck if anybody should get more’n me”.

    When I was a kid people were excited when working people got more, even if it wasn’t them. Now too many people think it is a crime if anybody has a crumb more then they do.

    “Why should those guys get health care/pensions/raises/vacation time/more money when I don’t?” This thinking holds true for janitors, NFL players and just about everyone except CEOs who some how magically get a pass from the people they are screwing.

  75. 75
    David in NY says:

    Yes, I am one of those 55-year-olds (born in November 1955, actually). Ever since my entry into the public sphere (Bronx public kindergarten), both those in authority and my slightly older Boomer ‘cohorts’ have been telling me “You should’ve been here just a couple years ago—before it was used up / worn out / overextended.”

    Missed this at first. I would comment, “Thus it has ever been.” I’m ten years older than you, originally from the Midwest, and I heard much the same thing from my school teachers. Some folks just naturally think we’re in decline from some past golden age.

    In your case, entering school in the Bronx in the early 1960’s, there may have been some basis for it, though. Too long to go into, but many neighborhoods in NYC actually did go into a pretty serious decline caused by new stresses and old deferred maintenance and mismanagement.

  76. 76
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Janet Strange: I think the Silents have the gen’Xers beat on that front, but yeah. It seems that the Republican generational hand-off is going to be very conservative when it gets to my cohort. The first Gen’X Republican president is more likely to be a Breitbert or a Beck or a Palin or a Ryan than a…oh criminies. Aren’t there any non-kool aid conservatives in my generation? Sullivan. O.K. Maybe like Sullivan.

  77. 77
    bemused says:

    I get exasperated with ‘the baby boomers grabbled all the goodies and left none for the rest of us’ talk. It just seems like another chapter in “How to Divide and Turn Americans Against One Another”, the conservative handbook on diverting attention and redirecting anger away from the real looters.

  78. 78
    gex says:

    @Janet Strange: Grr. I don’t like my age cohort in that respect. Although in my circles, the only Reagan-loving Republican is the closet case Catholic. I’m guessing their daughter (Reagan) will be their only child.

  79. 79
    Special One says:

    Pfft. The Boomers’ only problem is serious daddy issues. They just lay there and let the Greatest Generation of Swine rob this country blind while installing the kind of government at home that they went to Europe to fight.

  80. 80
    David in NY says:

    It occurs to me that the Republicans made a huge mistake in 2010 posing as the defenders of Medicare. Maybe even a bigger mistake than backing Paul Ryan’s plan.

  81. 81
    ruemara says:

    @Elie:
    I lost my entire 30’s-the 40’s are looking not that awesome, my mate has lost his 40’s. WTF are we supposed to do? We’ve got 3 more months of having a home and all the 401k is gone. I wish I had it as easy as the 55 & up crowd. Yet I look around and see that 99% of the people I know have no idea what I’m going through. They’re just politely horrified, so they stop looking at me. Americans don’t see a damn thing, they’re too scared that if they look, the face may just be their own. Who wants to understand that your situation is that fucking tenuous?

    edited to add: I am not a boomer. This was/is 2000-2011. To know your fucking life and career is over at 35 was heartbreaking.

  82. 82

    @gex:

    they analyzed the hell out of those comments, from every angle other than the book by william rhoden”Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete” that adrian peterson was referring to. ironic that

    the problem is, the owners refuse to really delve into where their share of the money goes, including using it, and the franchise value as equity in other businesses. i wouldn’t be shocked at all if there are a few owners that actually are leveraged to the eyebrows, but they should say so publicly.

    they have an anti-trust exemption for negotiating broadcast rights with over the air networks, they negotiated to get paid even without any games, in violation of their contractual obligation to seek the maximum value of the contracts, which in turn is part of the revenue they split with the players.

    a new league would be ok, eventually, but this one needs to be held accountable first. even if “its just football” you can get an insight into how the galtian overlords expect to get their way.

  83. 83
    Tom Q says:

    @Napoleon: He seems to say it’s going to work eventually. Otherwise, why would he be bursting about how clever it is?

    As for the NFL analogy — while I’m in agreement that way too many people buy into the “greedy players” angle, the fact remains that NFL players are, for the (often short) duration of their careers, paid more than lots of these grousing folk will ever see. So the fact these people can be made to resent football players isn’t evidence they’ve fallen for the GOP line on all matters.

  84. 84
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @handy:

    America is a religious country. We worship the wealthy.

    Which is why we deserve to be annihilated.

  85. 85
    Zak44 says:

    I’m a War Baby (’44) and I’m pissed as hell at the possibility that my kids won’t have the safety nets that the over-55 took for granted all our lives.

    Why would the Ryanistas think that we’ve come this far just for the chance to fuck over our children and grandchildren?

  86. 86
    catclub says:

    @Zak44: “Why would the Ryanistas think that we’ve come this far just for the chance to fuck over our children and grandchildren?”

    Projection? (We need a Roger Ailes thread.) They would do it, so they think others would do it as well.

  87. 87
    gex says:

    @catclub: I would also have accepted “It’s been working since the 1980’s” as an answer.

  88. 88
    Anoniminous says:

    The average GOP demographic is 65 years plus. Simple arithmetic gives their birth years as 1930 through 1945 thus pre-dating the Baby-Boom. This cohort saw nothing but employment opportunities during their early working years as they entered the workforce from, roughly, 1948 through 1963 – at the peak of the Post-War economic boom and crested the wave through their working life.

    I note the first rumbles of the TeaBaggers was the presidential election of 1964 when Goldwater became the GOP nominee, 3 years before any of Boomer generation were able to vote.

    Political demographics isn’t my field so I can only suggest the Boomer’s support for a political ideology broke per the voting age population as a whole. (Correction requested!) However that may be, we do know the pre-Boomer generation does, in fact, give the GOP their Margin-of-Victory, especially in the South but also in the Mid-West although the sheer number of Boomer age GOP supporters is required to get them to the position for that Margin-of-Victory to be the M-o-V.

    Viewed in this light, GOP desperation becomes clear. As the pre-Boom generation meets the actuary tables the GOP loses it’s M-o-V. NO MATTER HOW THE BOOMER GENERATION VOTES BREAK. Adding in the fact the TeaBaggers have forced the GOP to throw away support from the rising population of non-whites, Latinos being the obvious example, they are going to get hit with a double whammy.

    What this means, to Gen X & Gen Y, is a Golden Opportunity. To this old New Leftie to change our situation requires a Newer Deal based on an updated version of the American School of Economics which established the basis for the post-war boom in the US and the rest of the world in the first place.

  89. 89
    handy says:

    @Tom Q:

    So the fact these people can be made to resent football players isn’t evidence they’ve fallen for the GOP line on all matters.

    The evidence for me is in how this resentment gets worked out when it’s pointed out how much money the owners get. Arguments quickly degenerate into, “Well if I’m the boss I should be able to dictate how much you get paid and if you don’t like it you can go somewhere else.” In other words, the standard GOP screeds we’ve been hearing about teh ebil soshulist unions for the past 40 years.

  90. 90
    Morbo says:

    @bemused:

    @Judas Escargot:
    __
    Don’t tar all seniors with the Reagan/Bush brush.

    Yeah, you forgot the McCain brush.

  91. 91
    Lockewasright says:

    I was born in 1974, so I don’t know any of this first hand. Still, I wonder which side of the divide it is that is supposed to be interested in fucking over their adult children such as me. My dad is in the older “greedhead” half. He has no interest in Ryan’s plan to put a healthy retirement out of reach for his children.

  92. 92
  93. 93
    Anoniminous says:

    @ruemara:

    Your situation is EXACTLY why we need a Newer Deal.

    ETA: which can only happen is if Gen X and Y get politically active. Sit out the next election, like you (statistically) did the last election and you’re going to get massively screwed.

  94. 94
    Judas Escargot says:

    @bemused:

    Don’t tar all seniors with the Reagan/Bush brush.

    Not all of them. Just the ones who voted for them.

    BTW, the 30-44 cohort broke for Bush in 2004 just as deeply as the 60+ voters did.

    As for the 1980 election, that was a few weeks shy of my 13th birthday. You can’t blame us for that one. :P

  95. 95

    @ruemara:

    I’m so sorry everything is so rough. [[hugs]]

    Seriously, though, even if your career is over, your life doesn’t have to be over.

    Perhaps you could do something that is meaningful to you, either as a vocation or an avocation. Can’t promise you prosperity but consider this question: Would you rather be poor and happy or poor and angry?

    By the way, if you are losing a home that you were buying, I would suggest that you rent a place to go to BEFORE the foreclosure hits the courts. Landlords do run credit checks. And next year, if you’ve been a good tenant, they won’t bother looking up your credit score.

  96. 96
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    I spent 7 years searching for meaningful employment thanks to Reagan’s asshole policies. I’ve been well employed since the late 1980’s, but no way in hell could I start saving now to supplement Medicare and SS. I knew in 2004 how the fuck compound interest works, and I know it now with Ryan’s lies. Ryan can DIAF.

  97. 97
    Paul in KY says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: Have noticed that too. Can only think maybe it is wannabe jocks (who’ve never had to think about being a professional athlete) who are thinking they would sell their soul to the devil to be a pro athlete (and they would) and it’s the noble NFL owner who allows you to be a professional athlete…so just take what they give & be happy.

  98. 98
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @David in NY:

    By the way, to those youngsters above who seem rankled by their elders, from all the accounts of town hall meetings about Medicare I’ve seen, it’s been the older cohort that’s been standing up for them. Maybe it’s only self interest but I doubt it.

    It is ABSOLUTELY self interest on a massive scale. That shit isn’t even a debatable point.

  99. 99
    Pococurante says:

    I’ve always been more in agreement with the “13th Generation” definition. I was born in 1963 and always identified far more with “Generation X” than the boomers.

  100. 100
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @PurpleGirl: I also got out of college just in time for Nixon’s recession. After a year of trying I got a job in a field I didn’t want and a place I didn’t want to live, but at least it was a start. My experience seems more like those of the 1955ers than an Early Boomer.

    My wife was laid off at 58 and is out of the job market and I’m hanging on to my job as hard as I can. The only people I know with pensions are state/local/fed employees. I don’t know anyone in private industry who’s got anything but a 401K.

    Bottom line, the working life of 20-65 is shrinking. It’s probably 25-60 now and dropping to 55. You can’t save enough money to retire in 30 years. We’re all screwed.

  101. 101
    Tonybrown74 says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    The GOP needs two things to be true to get away with their plan: (1) A sufficiently mean, selfish crop of 55-plussers and (2) a sufficiently short-sighted group of under-30s with no faith in govt solutions of any kind. They’ll just keep trying the “55+” approach every 4-5 years until these two conditions become true, or until they start to suffer electorally (brief pause while I roll on the floor laughing at the idea of the GOP ever suffering political consequences).

    I think that if the economy today was like back in the late 90s, then they would be able to get away with it. But with all this uncertainty? And the unemployment rate being so high?

    I don’t think so. People are going to fight for what little they have now.

  102. 102
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kane: Great job. Don’t rest until you are sure they went in there and voted for the Pres. in 2012.

  103. 103
    chmatl says:

    @Failure, Inc.: I have to agree with you. I had a conversation with my ultraconservative 75-year-old dad about the PPACA. I personalized the benefits of the law right down to my husband and me. And personalized the negatives as well. His response was basically “yeah, sucks to be you.” He could understand what I was saying, but absolutely could not empathize in the slightest. Why should he? He gets to have his cake and eat it too – conservative ideology AND Medicare. That the hypocrisy doesn’t just reach out and slap him, I truly don’t get.

  104. 104
    Paul in KY says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: The owners definitely do not want to open the books at all. You see what happened when the slimes that used to own the Dodgers had to open theirs when they were divorcing.

    Lots of embarrasing and/or illegal stuff they were doing. The NFL owners see that & think: ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I’.

  105. 105
    Barbara says:

    aimai, Although I would agree that the pattern for primary and secondary education is more complex, there has been a clear pattern of defunding of post-secondary education, which is much less complex. This is true in states as diverse from each other as California and Virginia. Even to the extent that funding continues, there is much more pressure to charge students high tuition and impose direct costs and loans. This started in the early 80s (basically, while I was in college) and was very visible as a pattern. Think about it: when those born in 1955 turned 25, the appetite for making higher education affordable began to wane. When I started college my tuition was $1600 per year, an amount that could be funded largely even then with summer earnings and working during the year. When I ended four years later it had already tripled, and has continued that upward trajectory ever since.

    It was probably ridiculously cheap — but the point is and remains: baby boomers paid ridiculously cheap tuition and those who came after them did not get the benefit of that intergenerational transfer of resources.

  106. 106
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    There is another side to this “everyone votes for their own self-interest” strategy.

    If this strategy were universally true, blue collar workers wouldn’t give two shits about the estate tax.

    People vote, not just for their actual financial interest, but according to where they think they may possibly be– so Joe the Plumber gets exercized over a tax he will never have to pay, and even most seniors that I know are constantly terrified by the prospect that their money may run out, or they may need financially crippling medicare care, or whatever.

    Its less greed than fear, and the GOP mantra of “every man for himself” doesn’t play well with fearful people.

  107. 107
    Xenos says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Bottom line, the working life of 20-65 is shrinking. It’s probably 25-60 now and dropping to 55. You can’t save enough money to retire in 30 years. We’re all screwed.

    Not to be an apologist for the conservatives, but this sounds a lot like what happened to my grandfather, permanently unemployed at the age of 55 by a heart attack during one of the recessions of the late 1950s. He hung on with savings and family support until social security kicked in.

    We need to build extended family support and investment into our expectations, because the kind of industrial economy that gave a couple generations financial independence is not coming back again. In fact, it was exceptional, and nice while it lasted, but we need to adjust to a reality more like what we see in most of human history.

  108. 108
    Hungry Joe says:

    Sorry, but I was born in 1950 and I don’t feel that, by collecting Social Security (soon) and Medicare (soon), I’ll be looting anything; instead, I’ll be receiving benefits I deserve from a civilized society. As for those younger than me — Ryan’s targets — it is my responsibility to fight like hell to make sure they are provided for as well. Sure, there will be/are plenty of I-got-mine,-fuck-you seniors and soon-to-be seniors, but we don’t have to turn them all around — just enough to turn the tide. And we will.

    Keywords: Fight like hell.

  109. 109
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    @Xenos:
    Fair enough, but “extended families” depend on “large” families;
    Historically, the support network for the poor and elderly was a large, complex extended family of nieces, aunts, grandparents and working adult children.

    This is why children were considered an asset, not a liability- if you had 8 children, and a dozen or more cousins, aunts and uncles, in-laws, the support network for the occasional family member who got sick or thrown into poverty was large and robust enough to where the shared sacrifice was manageable.

    With the smaller families today, that support network has shrunk. One or two adult children, with one or two living aunts or cousins can’t possibly support several grandparents, while simultaneously raising their own children.

    In other words, those who don’t have living elderly parents (like me) will need to pitch in and help support via taxes those who do.
    This can only be done with a national committment to shared sacrifice, where paying taxes for the support of elderly is accepted.

  110. 110
    Xenos says:

    @Juicetard (FKA Liberty60): A further point you could make is that the employment, medical, and educational systems make large families impracticable, and that an appropriate (generous) public benefit system is what allows economic growth and personal freedom to be maximized. Not a bug, but a feature.

    Maybe it is my rationalizing my own large family, but the more I worry about the financial and technological underpinnings of the modern age the only two options that seem to make sense is to have no children, or to have many.

  111. 111
    phillygirl says:

    Not sure what this tells you, but polling data show that older boomers are much more likely than those who are 10 years older than they are, and noticeably more likely than those 10 years younger, to hate Republicans. Something to do with 1968, I guess. I like that.

  112. 112
    melchiscott says:

    It’s been 30 years since Reaganism took hold of the country. That’s more than enough time to demonstrate its failure for everyone but the few who forced it on us in the first place. In every aspect of our common community, the embrace of tax cutting and privatization has resulted in weaker infrastructure, lost industries, poor schools, restricted access to health care, narrowed freedoms, diminished futures. It’s tempting to say that how we got here should be obvious. But, really, who has time to be reading the fine print in things like the Ryan plan, for example, when we all have to work so hard to keep from falling farther? The barrage of dissembling that comes from Republicans and their political and media enablers is truly blinding. That’s why it’s encouraging that Democrats have been willing to make the case about the Ryan plan. But we have to hold them to it, and we have to build coalitions across generations and classes and interest groups — as was done in Wisconsin. The generational stereotyping (and plenty of it is on display in this thread) is useless to progressive interests. It serves only the undemocratic interests who want to continue running the country.

  113. 113
  114. 114
    PhoenixRising says:

    @ruemara: Who wants to understand that your situation is that fucking tenuous?

    No one. Recently my own mother (family’s first college grad in ’64, at 22, who was able to pay for college by waiting tables) asked me when I’m going to stop fooling around with my computer business (we made it through the recession and support 5 families, supplement 4 others–thanks be to the FSM, anything could change tomorrow) and get a graduate degree so I can teach, like I always said I wanted to.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Both of my sisters and my sister in law are married to men with major debt from grad school and intermittent recent employment. All three scared moms WISH their chosen husband had deferred his dreams and started a business like I did. And all 3 have postgrad education of their own that they struggle to service the debt for, along with trying to juggle childcare and housing expenses in a job market with no openings because the 64 year olds can’t afford to retire and make room.

    The war babies really DID get through their entire lives, from newly built elementary schools to the press 1 for Medicare claims voice mail tree, with the world laid out to serve them. Otherwise intelligent people in that age cohort simply can’t grasp why their slightly younger relatives never seemed to do as well, and those of us among their kids who decided to reject the rat race and make something worthwhile as best we could are a mystery to them too.

    Your life isn’t over. The lie that you could get a job and have a stable income and have a lifestyle like your parents’ was never true, and I’m genuinely sorry that you’re in the majority that thought otherwise. I got lucky when I got hit on the head with that at 23. We were always screwed, if the measure of success was a 401(k) and a 4/2.75 house in a safe white burb and new cars. That game was over before we were dealt the cards.

    So ask yourself, now what? What will make my short time on this planet most enjoyable to me and serve others? Good luck.

  115. 115
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Kane: But they’re very happy to abandon other people’s descendents.

    Like, seriously, are you just not paying attention to what’s happening in your (and my, more’s the pity) country to the young people?

  116. 116
    Lawnguylander says:

    @Janet Strange:

    A higher percentage of Gen X’ers (the Reagan generation – e.g. our illustrious host) voted for GWB than Boomers. I’m getting ready for work and don’t have time to find the link again but you can google it.

    Exit polls don’t break voters down into convenient categories like that so nobody can google that and prove or disprove your assertion. The only breakdowns that are published are 18-29, 30-44, 45-59 and 60 and older and then 18-64 and 65 and older. Here’s 2004. It’s impossible to know how boomers voted as compared to Gen Xers but some portion of the latter group would have been included in the only age group that went for Kerry.

  117. 117
    Lawnguylander says:

    @phillygirl:

    What polling data?

  118. 118
    Barbara says:

    Hungry Joe: Yes, exactly. Even if people born before 1955 didn’t quite understand why their younger siblings found it so hard to get ahead the way they had, at least some of them have figured it out with their own children and grandchildren.

    After all, how are your children going to help you with your daily chores if they are working two jobs into their fifties to pay off their student loans and save for their now vastly reduced retirement expectations? And oh, by the way, if you need a nursing home, chances are, you won’t be able to afford it even if you were born before 1955, because Medicaid is going out the window for everyone if Ryan has his way.

  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    Those of us older than the magic 55 age break, who have watched at all have seen the country slowly change. A lot of us old farts who were workers, skilled labors, without that college degree, who tried to save or had pensions/401ks are now or about to be living on SS. Only. And it is not a pretty picture. I’m sure that some of us will fight like hell to keep what little we have, even if that means those behind us will suffer. Some of us see our generation as the evil assholes who have fucked up the concepts that we were told this country was supposed to be founded on, just like the younger generations see it and we are pissed too. So I’m not all that upset that the younger generations are pissed, and mad at the old farts, many of us deserve it.
    But not all of us.

  120. 120
    KXB says:

    I don’t know if I have ever experienced a “boom”. I certainly read about booms, saw booms on TV, and would often overhead conversations about booms. But when I had no money for stocks, I could not take advantage of the tech bubble. I don’t own a home, so I cannot relate to the housing boom. I always seem to just miss out.

  121. 121
    jl says:

    The column ends stupidly, in my opinion.

    “If progressive politics has nothing to offer the late Boomers and the generations that follow except the same old programs, and nothing that responds to their distinctive experience of the economy, then eventually they’ll fall for one of these gimmicks from the right.”

    What does Schmidt mean by ‘the same old programs’? Does Schmidt have any good and sound ideas for a major redesign of US social insurance programs for the elderly? He gives none and references none. This is empty headed bamboozalingo and slogan, not analysis. It is as bad as Joe Klein’s moronic exclamation that social security is so industrial age and twentieth century.

    The parallel between the Social Security fight and Ryan’s attack on social health care insurance for the elderly is also flawed, I think.

    Bush II’s Social Security scam was easier to sell because few working age people have to grapple with the problems of living ‘on a capital’ as they used to say back in the olden days.

    Even young punks like me (who the author seems to believe are easily duped into thinking something simply and imaginably wonderful will happen in our retirements without Medicare) have to grapple with the issues of the inefficient, immoral and slowly disintegrating US health insurance and health care system. It is not pleasant for anyone of any age. Us youngins, even healthy ones, can see problems in the private insurance and health care provider market every day.

  122. 122
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    @Barbara:

    Even if people born before 1955 didn’t quite understand why their younger siblings found it so hard to get ahead the way they had, at least some of them have figured it out with their own children and grandchildren.

    Yes!
    I am 50, and am now watching my 21 year old son struggle to find even a minimum wage summer job; anyone who pitches me the IGMFU inter-generational argument isn’t going to get far.

  123. 123
    Barry says:

    @Anoniminous: “Adding in the fact the TeaBaggers have forced the GOP to throw away support from the rising population of non-whites, Latinos being the obvious example, they are going to get hit with a double whammy.”

    The GOP throwing away non-whites was started with Goldwater and Nixon’s Southern Strategy. They figured that picking up white Southerners was worth it.

    And it did bring them forty years of power, and immense wealth – at their period of dominance is still not over.

  124. 124
    Barry says:

    @handy: Or, in other words: sh*t for the workers, and gold for the owners.

  125. 125
    Steaming Pile says:

    @f_space_that: Lots of them HAVEN’T been paying attention.

    @Hungry Joe: The point is, you PAID FOR IT. You get a statement every year from the SSA telling you very precisely what your personal investment in SS is, pretty much down to the penny. It belongs to you; it’s not something the government is giving you out of the general public’s pocket.

    And that’s the line you use, folks. The Republicans are STEALING from you. Period. It’s YOUR MONEY (throw that one back in their faces and see how they wince).

  126. 126
    Lysana says:

    I’m a GenXer married to a Gen13er (43/51). I was never a Republican. I was raised a Democrat by a Silent Generation mother and father. I skewed Libertarian in college but realized they were out of their gourds in too many areas to work. My husband was a Republican when we met, but more of the Goldwater school than a Reaganite. My voting record since the second Clinton term has been straight Democrat with very minor exceptions in more local races.

    My phase of GenX was long accused of political apathy. Care to know why? Watergate. My earliest memories of politics are greed, corruption, and fraud, all engineered by Republicans. Then we got Reagan in the White House during our most formative years and told he was the best thing ever, and he was a Republican. Cognitive dissonance set in. The younger Xers who weren’t aware enough to hear about Watergate may have fallen for Reagan, but my subset took one look and said, “Fuck this.” I cared too much so I went Lib, seeing back then that a third party would be necessary and I hoped they’d be socially advanced enough to do it.

    So will this generational split tactic work? I rather doubt it. My generation’s reaching our 40s. We’re suffering ageism, being reminded of our various isms, and seeing our “secure” tech jobs leave for India. We’re pretty damn pissed.

    So what to do? Remind us it was Republicans who forced that. Remind us that once again, the Republicans want to keep us insecure and fearful. Keep reminding us. And those of us who got Watergate with our TV dinners before the sitcoms came on will remember.

  127. 127
    Anoniminous says:

    @Barry:

    I agree the Southern Strategy worked for the GOP. My point was it could be on its last legs IF the Gen X and Y bother to get politically active … at least to the extent of voting.

    Example, Congress should have eliminated sugar, cotton, and peanut subsidies in the last farm bill. If those redneck southern peckerwoods want to end entitlements then let ’em have their wish.

  128. 128

    Thanks AL! I had the article in my bookmarks & was thinking of typing on the subject. No need to know!

  129. 129
    pluege says:

    forget the details. The real story that needs to be told is that 10% of the population possesses 75% of the nation’s entire wealth leaving 90% to fight over 25% table scraps.

    Any dullard can understand that a system that generates that outcome is a massively failed system by any standard other than the psychotic greed standard. It is just plain wrong. And that is what the US is today – a massively failed economic system that steals the energy from 90% of the population to drown 10% of the population in the fruit of the labor of the 90%. Get people to know those numbers and things will change for the better.

  130. 130
    grace says:

    @pluege: Except, unfortunately, there are a lot in that 90% who persist in believing they have a chance to join the 10%. That’s been the default position for the American experiment since at least the Monroe era. Don’t get me wrong, I intend to keep hammering away at the inequalities in any way I can. But the true elite, the ones who are running the economy, have invested a great deal in keeping alive longing after the American Dream — a dream of property and independence. I just don’t know how you mobilize people by telling them their dreams are nothing much more than a canard. How do you convince the apolitical folks that their best interests are aligned with liberals?

  131. 131
    trixie larue says:

    The group of people you are talking about are called “jonesers,” according to Wikipedia. They were the first group to face recession, unemployment, loss of jobs overseas. The American Dream has always belonged to the wealthy. What is even more incredible and appalling is that this slide did not stop. The solution was to cut, cut, cut and those who were not born lucky or white suffered the worst. And now we begin a second generational slide as more cuts are made and justified – public education, health, pensions.

    The solution seems so easy and yet no one will stand up for it. Raise taxes.

  132. 132
    Comrade Kevin says:

    I will soon be 45 years old, I expect Medicare to be there in 20 years, and will be extremely pissed off if it isn’t.

  133. 133
    Bernard says:

    yes, never let them pull the wool over our eyes. constantly call them on the lies. and it is full of lies. lies are the only way Republicans can keep the fear going.

    the older Boomers bought the Reagan BS lock stock and barrel. the 60’s was a gift to the Right wing who used it to scare the shit out of anyone who wanted to scam their neighbor.

    never forget. and don’t let them BS you and those you know.

    never, forget. or we will be like the Jews in Germany during the Nazis times.

    divide and conquer.

    the line about worshipping wealth is so true and the root of our problems.

    only if we can expose the reality of how the Republicans have been screwing us all and never let this continue, by fighting tooth and nail.

    what amazes me most is the selfishness of those older Boomers and others, who think it’s okay to screw over others. obviously, not Christians or humans to say the least

  134. 134

    Get out while the borders are still open. The rate of social disintegration and moral bankruptcy on display in the political-media-legal environment of the US is staggering.

    Something’s gotta give. If Obama would embrace the inequities in American law with the enthusiasm he’s embraced the homosexuals (God bless him), we could empty the jails of harmless pot smokers and fill them up instead with self admitted war criminals and financial racketeers.

    Enjoy.

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