Last night, all the liberals I follow on Twitter were linking to this Washington Post essay headlined "Penn State, my final loss of faith." I was confused, because the piece was so juvenile and whiny. The author, a 31-year-old war veteran and grad student, blames Baby Boomers for everything wrong in the world. I'm fond of the "blame Baby Boomer" game myself, if done knowingly, but worry that a grown man might believe that only one generation includes people who possess the capability of, say, sodomizing children. It may be nice to think that, but it's just wrong.
Still, Walter Russell Mead was able to squeeze something out of the essay. Mead writes:
No generation gets it perfectly right, and every generation has a lot of diversity in it. But it is hard to avoid the sense, as the Baby Boom generation prepares to transit to overburdened retirement and health care systems, that somehow in our quest for new frontiers, shiny new ideas, and most of all that uncompromising demand for personal fulfillment at all costs — we neglected the most important things.
We are the generation that accepted the behavior of the multi-millionaire CEO with the trophy wife. We are the generation that failed to protect its children from a tide of filth and debasing popular entertainment without parallel in the history of the world. We are a generation that deliberately and cynically passed the cost of its retirement down to its children. We are a generation that preferred and rewarded financial engineering over business construction. We lost control of the borders and failed to make provisions for the illegal immigrants our fecklessness allowed into the country. We embraced a free trade agenda that accelerated the hollowing out of manufacturing and took no thought about what to build in place of the industrial economy we condemned. We shopped until we dropped, and then we got up and shopped some more. On a scale unprecedented in American history, we broke the most solemn vows human beings can make in order to pursue something we deemed much more important than honor and fidelity. We chased chimeras and started at fantasies but failed to take sober measures to prevent a clearly visible and, once upon a time, easily preventable budget crunch.
Mead's a Boomer himself, so he's not saying that all Boomers are this way, just that the generation has produced some problems. What do you think? Is there something to this "blame Boomers" approach or is it just another way of avoiding handling the problems we face?