The Myth of the Boomer Bogeyman

 

How often the youngsters use the Boomer—sometimes, BOOMER!—when airing their grievances. Maybe they’ve created a keyboard shortcut to spit out “Boomer” with two strokes instead of six. Shift-plus-something or other. Perhaps one of them can show this Boomer how to work this consarn machine.

What you hear these days, and you hear it all the time, is that the Boomers are the root of all our ills. In January, when Neil Young demanded that Spotify defenestrate Joe Rogan or else lose the Young catalog, writer Declan Leary said Young made his announcement with “Boomer sincerity.” Maybe there is a unique Boomer form of sincerity, and maybe Young has it, but one thing Young is not is a Boomer. He was born in 1945. Neil Young belongs to the so-called Silent Generation.

“Boomer” is now an epithet for anything one does not like about the 1960s. In other words, “Boomer” now has practically no meaning whatsoever, assuming it ever did.

Creators and Consumers

The real issue is the decade of the 1960s. Someone must get the blame for the ’60s! But it isn’t the Boomers. To be sure, the first wave of the Baby Boom were the first consumers of the 1960s. But they did not create the ’60s. Those ghastly people were almost all born in the Silent Generation era and even all the way back to the Lost Generation, another essentially meaningless term.

In his otherwise masterful book, The Age of Entitlement, Christopher Caldwell argues that back in the Reagan ’80s, Boomers used resources taken from future generations to fund a “vision of an easy and indulgent lifestyle.” He says they outsourced labor and opened the door to massive immigration in order to make this easy life happen. But did Boomers play any part in that?

I am a Boomer, and I voted for Reagan, but I have no memory of voting for him in order to impose my bills on future generations. I voted for him to kill the Soviet Union, which he did, to cut taxes, which he did, and to reduce the size of government, which he didn’t. Caldwell argues Reagan made an unspoken bargain that would save the Great Society entitlement programs in exchange for lower taxes and increased defense spending that drove up the deficit and the debt, and massively increased the size of the federal government.

If the Boomers didn’t do this, then who did? Reagan’s commerce secretary, Malcolm Baldridge, was born in 1922. Donald Regan, then-secretary of the treasury, was born in 1918. The chairmen of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers were born in 1927, 1939, and 1923, respectively. One Boomer was there, David Stockman. He was born in 1946, but he opposed what Reagan was doing.

Abbie Hoffman.

Helen Andrews wrote a whole book bashing Boomers. Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster argues that Boomers are “proud of what they did” and that their generation chalked up a number of successes. To whom did she turn? Three ’60s-era gasbags: Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and David Crosby. Hayden said, “We ended a war, toppled two presidents, and desegregated the South.” Crosby said, “We were right about the war. We were right about the environment. We were right about civil rights and women’s issues.” Hoffman said, “We were young. We were reckless, arrogant, silly, headstrong—and we are right.”

The problem is that none of them—not Hoffman, Hayden, or Crosby—are Boomers. Hoffman was born in 1936, Crosby in 1941, and Hayden in 1939.

This is one of the fundamental flaws in this whole anti-Boomer mythology. The social, political, and cultural markers of the 1960s—usually blamed on the Boomers—came from those born before 1946 and, in many cases, long before.

Smut and the Sexual Revolution

Consider pornography. Andrews argues Boomer complicity in the spread of the porn industry. Certainly, Boomers consumed porn—usually a Playboy found in their dad’s stash somewhere in the basement. More than likely their inadvertent supplier dads were of the Greatest Generation, as was Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who was born in 1926. Without a doubt, the Boomer kids liked what they saw. But they were consumers, not creators.

Andrews cites the Fanny Hill case from 1966, where the Supreme Court decided a book could not be banned if it had any literary merit. This opened the door to much of the nastiness that came after. But Boomers played no part in this case. It was decided by two Supreme Court justices born in the late 19th century and three born in the early years of the 20th. The lawyer who brought the case was born in 1915, and the defendant was born in 1922. Not one of them were even remotely Boomers.

Andrews partially blames Steve Jobs for spreading online pornography because he created a global tech brand, including the iPhone, where even kids can access hardcore porn. She does give Jobs credit for making Macs relatively child-friendly with more robust parental controls. She considers that to be anti-Boomerish, though. I don’t know why. But Jobs did not invent the Internet. Donald Davies, born in 1924, did that, along with Paul Baran, born in 1926. Free-streaming porn was created in the mid-aughts by a trio of Canadian GenXers inspired by YouTube, also founded by GenXers. No Boomers around here.

Consider the sexual revolution. Perhaps the most significant disruptor of Western Civilization was the birth-control pill, first developed by Gregory Pincus (b. 1903), and synthesized by Carl Djerassi (b. 1923). Even the term “sexual revolution” was coined by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who was born in the 19th century. During the 1968 student riots in Paris and Berlin, students threw copies of his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism at the cops. Reich invented the Orgone Accumulator, later mocked by Woody Allen as the “Orgasmatron” in his movie “Sleeper,” wherein adherents sit inside and gather sexual energy. This was an utterly ’60s thing, but it was not a Boomer thing. Norman Mailer (b. 1923) sat in one. After Reich went to prison for his fraudulent claims about the Orgone Accumulator, Mailer built them in his garage. Saul Bellow (b. 1915) sat in one every day.

Andrews says, “Boomers didn’t just shake up the nuclear family. They broke it.” Certainly, the war on marriage and family blossomed in the 1960s. But the kids born between 1946 and 1964 did not cause the breakdown of the family: they were its first victims.

One of the most influential books that tore marriage asunder was The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, who was born way back in 1921. She convinced women—overeducated, bored, stuck in the suburbs without a car, the high point of their day hubby strolling through the door at 6:00 demanding his dinner—something was wrong. Friedan’s bestseller came out in 1963, when she was 42.

Jessie Bernard was among the most influential anti-marriage writers of the time (now largely forgotten), whose work has been cited in hundreds of scholarly works. She was considered a pioneer in sociological research on marriage, which she argued was created by men to the detriment of women’s happiness. Bernard was born in 1903.

Boomers didn’t even create no-fault divorce. Ronald Reagan, born in 1911, did that in 1969 as governor of California when the front edge of the Boom turned 22. This pernicious idea had swept through all 50 states within a few years, long before Boomers had any electoral or legislative influence.

Popular Culture

There is this image of Boomers forever entranced by the popular culture they grew up with and forever foisting it upon everyone else. This is undoubtedly true. But it was a popular culture they largely did not create. None of the members of the Beatles were products of the Boom. Neither were any of the Rolling Stones. Hardly any of the performers at Woodstock were Boomers. Ditto for Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Roger Daltrey, Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Steven Stills.

What about movies? Among the most influential movies of the day were “Easy Rider” and “The Graduate.” These quintessential Boomer movies are arguably the movies that changed the focus of Hollywood to an obsession with young ticket-buyers. Well, “The Graduate” was written by Mike Nichols, born in 1931, and Buck Henry, born in 1930, based on a novel by Charles Webb, who was born in 1939. It starred Dustin Hoffman, who was born in 1937. Even ingenue Katharine Ross, who played Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine, was born before the Boom in 1940. “Easy Rider” was the fourth-highest-grossing movie of 1969 and is considered a Boomer classic. It was directed by Dennis Hopper, born in 1936, and starred Peter Fonda, born in 1940, and Jack Nicholson, born in 1937.

One of the truisms endlessly repeated by Boomer critics is that the Boomers inherited a remarkable economy and then proceeded to ruin it. Helen Andrews claims that Millennials cannot buy houses because the Boomers hoard property and cash. And maybe this is true. But, as it happens, the Boomers said precisely the same thing about the Silent Generation.

Writing in Terry Teachout’s 1990 book Beyond the Boom, conservative social critic Maggie Gallagher said she had “house lust.” Gallagher was miffed that young people could not afford houses because the earlier generation drove up prices in her then Brooklyn neighborhood. She said the Silents “came of age during the greatest continuous period of affluence in American history, got college educations, bought houses, could afford children and full-time mothers,” etc. In other words, arguments identical to Andrews’ complaints about Gallagher’s generation.

Did the Boomers inherit a booming economy and then ruin it? Consider that the Boomers entered the workplace between 1964 and 1982. The unemployment rate in 1969 was 6.9 percent. In 1970, the federal government enacted the Emergency Employment Act, which instituted wage and price controls. There were repeated recessions. They even invented a new term—“stagflation”—for the combination of slow growth, high inflation, and high unemployment. Remember long gas lines where you could only buy gas on certain days? What about Jimmy Carter’s “malaise speech?” Gas lines and malaise happened when the ’46ers turned 34, and the mid-Boom had just entered the workforce. The late Boom was still popping pimples.

Betty Friedan.

And who exactly was running the economy when the Boomers were in college, in their 20s, and even their 30s? Who delivered this supposedly amazing economy that the Boomers were supposed to have ruined? Largely the “Greatest Generation.” In 1968, General Motors, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor, General Electric, and Chrysler were the top-five companies. Boomers were nowhere near the C-Suites of those companies. Nixon’s team of economic advisers were all born between 1905 and 1927. Jimmy Carter’s economic advisers were born between 1907 and 1931. (OK, he had one youngster who was born in 1940.)

Critics say Boomers forced women into the workplace. Yet it was Silent Generation feminists like Betty Friedan and Kate Millet, author of the landmark 1970 book Sexual Politics, who began the drumbeat for women to leave the home. Friedan was born in 1921, Millet in 1934.

What’s more, women had already begun migrating to the workplace. That trend had been rising steadily since the front edge Boomers were toddlers. In 1948, 17 million women worked. That grew to 29 million in 1968, when the first Baby Boomers were just leaving their teens. Granted, Boomers did nothing to stop the trajectory. If anything, they leaned into it. But they were only following the lead set by their parents and grandparents.

And what about politics? The Boomers are said to have been a revolutionary generation. Certainly, they provided the ground troops for much that happened on college campuses from 1968 to 1972. Understand, though, that the ’46ers entered college in 1964, which were then still fairly conservative. That was the year Goldwater ran against Johnson. And who were the political heroes of the New Left? There was the aforementioned Tom Hayden, who drafted the highly influential “Port Huron Statement.” There was Mario Savio, leader of the Free Speech Movement, founded at Berkeley because the administration would not allow on-campus political activity. He was born in 1942.

Not one of the Chicago Seven was born in the Boom. One of them, David Dellinger, was born in 1915.

Certainly, leftist young people helped take over the Democratic Party in 1972, and it has only become crazier since that time. But remember, Richard Nixon, that great devil, won 52 percent of the youth vote in 1972.

Absurd and Lazy

And this leads us to a central fallacy of those who would paint the Boom with one brush. The collapse of American society doesn’t have a single cause, much less an epicenter. Sure, many from the Boom marched against the war in Vietnam (though they stopped when Nixon ended the draft), but the Boom happily marched off to Vietnam, too. What’s more, the war in Vietnam had majority support across all age groups for almost all of the war.

This naming of generations is absurd and lazy. It seems to have started with Gertrude Stein’s off-hand quip to Hemingway about his “génération perdue.” Next came the Greatest Generation, a moniker coined by—good grief!—TV newsman Tom Brokaw. Then came the Silent Generation, which Time may or may not have coined in 1951.

There was a vast difference between the early, mid, and late Boom. I was born in mid-Boom, and I have never had much in common with those born 10 years before. Oh, sure: those of us in mid-Boom were envious of the college kids. In 1972, when Nixon began to bomb the supply lines from North Vietnam, my sophomore class in high school wore black armbands—along with the cool, 20-something Boomer teachers. In college, a few years later, we marched against the Shah of Iran. Ever heard of SAVAK? Look them up.

But the proposition that there is any meaningful commonality among those born in the 18 years from 1946 to 1964 is ludicrous. It is to believe my socially conservative Catholic wife, born in 1964, has anything in common with Rolling Stone founder, Jann Wenner, born in 1946. It is a proposition of marketers.

Jonathan Pontell recognized this essential Boomer dichotomy when he postulated “Generation Jones” for those born after 1954. These Jonesers missed the Vietnam War and much else so closely identified with the ’60s Boomers. Pontell said that Generation Jones fills “the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ and ‘Just Say No,’ and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged.” Generation Jones never caught on, but the distinctions Pontell makes are pretty correct. You might say it is the difference between the demographic and what marketers call the “psychographic.” And this gets back to whether you accept all the ’60s nonsense.

Undoubtedly, something happened in the 1960s. Without a doubt, a considerable cohort of the Baby Boom joined up with the craziness. But then, so has some portion of every successive generation. The Sexual Revolution wasn’t cooked up by kids born in 1946. They liked it; they joined it; even in retirement, if reports are accurate, the Sexual Revolution rolls on for front-edge Boomers. But it was not their idea. Rock was not their idea. Heck, folk music was not their idea. Radical feminism was not their idea. They were the first enthusiastic consumers of it all, but they did not invent any of it.

I hate to put it this way, but we were the first victims. We were Patient Zero.

As one social critic noted, the vital thing to understand about the 1960s is this: It wasn’t the age of Mick Jagger, Abbie Hoffman, and Neil Young. He says it is not relevant that the ’60s came from the Silent or even the Greatest Generation. What’s relevant is that cultural transmission changed from vertical transmission (father to son) to horizontal transmission: sibling to sibling, Boomer to Boomer. Given that most of the cultural change visited upon the 1960s first came from Silents, maybe a better way to put it is that cultural transmission came from older brother to younger brother, from cool uncle to eager nephew. All of this could very well be true.

Even so, folks should ease off the keyboard shortcut blaming everything on the Boomer Bogeyman. He is a mythical creature.

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  1. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Austin Ruse: The problem is that none of them—not Hoffman, Hayden, or Crosby—are Boomers. Hoffman was born in 1936, Crosby in 1941, and Hayden in 1939.

    I have long referred to the so-called “silent generation” as the worst generation. They are literally and figuratively the Charles Manson to the boomer Squeaky Fromme.

    • #1
  2. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    We’ve even had the Boomer epithet hurled here on Ricochet.  IIRC, someone blamed poor race relations on Boomers since race is transparent to those who came later.  I’ve often said that the Greatest Generation escapes blame for some of its greatest hits, like driving Medicare and social security into the dump. 

    I guess Mrs Tex and I are “Jonsers” (me 1957 and her 1961) but even those 4 years show interesting differences.  I vividly remember the Kennedy assassination as a first grader and she doesn’t remember it at all.  Then again, we shared the horrors of plaid double knit clothing.

    Great and well written post. 

    • #2
  3. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Austin Ruse: The problem is that none of them—not Hoffman, Hayden, or Crosby—are Boomers. Hoffman was born in 1936, Crosby in 1941, and Hayden in 1939.

    I have long referred to the so-called “silent generation” as the worst generation. They are literally and figuratively the Charles Manson to the boomer Squeaky Fromme.

    It’s the legacy of their adoration of FDR and his Progressivism.

    • #3
  4. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    When boomers complain about millenials, they invite the epithet. Boomers have been whining about millenials since millenials started exiting college circa 2006-2010.

    But who is responsible for the way millenials are? Why, the generation that raised them. So while boomers can point to the silent Gen as failing THEM (though there was some serious over-the-top rejection of tradition by boomers and a true rise of teenage rebellion), the millenials can turn the boomer hate back on to the boomers.

    They are YOUR children.

    Me, I was one of the oldest millenials raised by the youngest boomers. I’m practically in the same generation as my parents. By a couple years, we’d both be Gen X. My parents watched their boomer siblings make tons of mistakes and their kids are all byproducts of how they were raised. 

    Every generation has their misfits. What sets boomers apart as the starting domino is how you embraced those misfits as examples to lead your generation. Drug addled and std ridden, your generation is STILL at it in your retirement homes until a broken hip makes you dependent on your hated millennial and Gen x kids.

    • #4
  5. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    Stina (View Comment):

    When boomers complain about millenials, they invite the epithet. Boomers have been whining about millenials since millenials started exiting college circa 2006-2010.

    But who is responsible for the way millenials are? Why, the generation that raised them. So while boomers can point to the silent Gen as failing THEM (though there was some serious over-the-top rejection of tradition by boomers and a true rise of teenage rebellion), the millenials can turn the boomer hate back on to the boomers.

    They are YOUR children.

    Me, I was one of the oldest millenials raised by the youngest boomers. I’m practically in the same generation as my parents. By a couple years, we’d both be Gen X. My parents watched their boomer siblings make tons of mistakes and their kids are all byproducts of how they were raised.

    Every generation has their misfits. What sets boomers apart as the starting domino is how you embraced those misfits as examples to lead your generation. Drug addled and std ridden, your generation is STILL at it in your retirement homes until a broken hip makes you dependent on your hated millennial and Gen x kids.

    This is really about who created the culture rather than who failed whom. 

    • #5
  6. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Kids go along with their peers and if not empowered but required to work and learn some, figure out reality and the group may go along with them, so they change matters, but they used to link it to the past which serious kids figured out.   I know some serious kids and most that I know have brothers and sisters.   Maybe if we can avoid the totalitarian thrust being foisted on us by older seriously totalitarian folks at the top and the massive bureaucracy that is insulated from the rest of us and enthusiastically embraced by vast numbers of totally  uneducated kids that fill our universities  we could survive.  But the top knows that and so does China.  China isn’t run by kids either.   

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Great post that patiently and, to me at least, accurately delineates the postwar timeline and identifies where the boomers fit in.

    I think the reason we have attracted so much criticism from the generations before and after us is the result of something that is truly not our fault: there were simply so many of us. We were instantly a source of media and marketing fascination, and sadly envy and resentment ensued. We were the result of a global joie de vivre that came with the end of the war and the victory over evil. There was definitely a “Holy cow–look at all these babies! Isn’t this wonderful? We’ll need a new school” reaction across America.

    I see the resentment toward the boomers everywhere I go, and I think it’s really sad. As a historical fact, the baby boom was actually a good thing. Part of it was the result of the socializing that occurred during the war, part of it was the GI bill, part of it was that people felt good about themselves and optimistic about the future. Wish we could bottle all those things.

    The baby boomer population bulge in turn created great prosperity.  The United States was able to get back into consumer production when the war was over, and our factories could meet the pent-up demand globally and take advantage of the discoveries and inventions that the war had brought about.

    Unfortunately, this prosperity attracted the constant demonization by the socialists and communists because the United States made them look bad. The happy prosperous boomers have been a target of the communists and socialists since the war. The communists and socialists have created rancor and division where there should be excitement that usually greets success.

    Because there were so many of us, we became an object of interest in terms of trend following. Marketing came of age, and we were their happy targets. The news media also followed the trends that were so obvious because of our numbers.

    The boomers are hated by the communists and socialists because we are a free-market success story. They really hate us. What kills me about this is that Marxism was sold as the more moral alternative to the free market economy because capitalism could survive only if there were wars. The Marxists spread this poison everywhere, especially in our schools. In reality, the boomers’ prosperity should a beacon of light for a consumer-based economy. We have proven it can be done. If government would just get out of the way, prosperity would follow. I can prove it, just looking at what happened to the boomer generation, the first completely consumer-based economy. And a too-short Trump administration proved this fact of economic life beyond anyone’s expectations. The fascists had to destroy him at any costs. He proved that freedom works for everyone’s benefit.

    The healthy existence of the boomers is a stick in the eye to the communists.

    • #7
  8. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    I would fall into the “Jonesers” category (b 1959) as well.  I’ve railed for years that chronologically I have little to nothing in common with those born in 1946.  They started emerging from high school in 1964, I was in 1977.  There was a huge difference in the world in those 13 years.  The Beatles and Stones to me were oldies – I was into Queen, ELO,  and Supertramp.  Their early adulthood saw the introduction of the muscle cars.  Mine saw the era of the worst cars ever created – epitomized by the Pinto and Chrysler K cars.  They started experimenting with new (old) clothing styles like love beads and bell bottoms.  We were lumped with the *** awful leisure suit.  

    Thank you for this article – it provides fodder for my ranting!

    • #8
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Anti-boomer sentiment is just another rationale for a have-not’s rage and resentment. Whether you think the guy who has the job you don’t sold out to ‘the Man’, only got it because he’s [minority], got it through connections (Jewish, Masonic, Harvard, Good Ol’ Boy), or through being white or being in a privileged generation, you can avoid thinking unpleasant thoughts like, ‘maybe I’m at the bottom because I’m a newbie’, or, ‘maybe I’m at the bottom because I’m just not that smart and not that skilled’. 

    • #9
  10. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    I’ve always wanted to write a novel about growing up in the sixties from the point of view of the tail end of the baby boom-those born in late 1950’s, early 1960’s.  I wouldn’t start as early as 1954 like Jones.  Most literature and art about growing up in the 1960’s is from the teenagers point of view and focuses on the turbulence, rebellion and the tensions it causes in families.  Generally being more sympathetic to those who rebelled than those who did not.  But I think that those of us who were children, not teens, had our views of the 1960’s not shaped by Jimi Hendrix, Abby Hoffman, etc., but by our parents.  And my parents were horrified as they watched America burn and drugs spread out from the inner cities to the suburbs.  My mother abhorred the 60’s generation and dreaded the day when they took over corporate and political America.  I can’t say she was wrong.   As I loved and admired my parents greatly, I internalized that fear of the environment around us and the people who reveled in it and was generally contemptuous of both. 

    As I got older, my views of both have become more tempered, but I agree wholeheartedly that the Boomers are not a monolith and it is a mistake to view them that way.  

    • #10
  11. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    TBA (View Comment):

    Anti-boomer sentiment is just another rationale for a have-not’s rage and resentment. Whether you think the guy who has the job you don’t sold out to ‘the Man’, only got it because he’s [minority], got it through connections (Jewish, Masonic, Harvard, Good Ol’ Boy), or through being white or being in a privileged generation, you can avoid thinking unpleasant thoughts like, ‘maybe I’m at the bottom because I’m a newbie’, or, ‘maybe I’m at the bottom because I’m just not that smart and not that skilled’.

    One of the things that mystifies me is the idea that we Boomers had unprecedented and now extinct advantages in education, employment, and housing.  I’m probably opening up a can of worms here, but Mrs Tex and I both started our careers in the military.  Every single program that benefitted us and led to success in later jobs is still in existence.  ROTC scholarships, Airman commissioning programs, VA loans.  There are even extensive veteran benefit programs for which we never qualified (that came later).  I don’t look down on Millennials that struggle for success, but only note that the ways we succeeded still exist.  And until President Brandon, the odds of seeing the interest rates we dealt with in the early 80’s seemed very remote.  
    And this from Pew: “Gen Z and Millennial voters favored Biden over Trump by margins of about 20 points”

    Don’t blame us, kids.

    Sources: Mortgage rates Voting

    • #11
  12. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Every generation produces individuals that are flawed as well as individuals that live virtuous lives. Margaret Sanger and Ayn Rand come to mind. They were polar opposites politically, but their personal lives were a mess. I cannot keep up with the personal pronouns to describe generations much less the new personal pronouns to describe gender fluidity.

    I have decided to call every generation after the Roe v Wade decision “Survivors.”

    Thank you for an insightful post.

    • #12
  13. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    This naming of generations is absurd and lazy.

    Been saying this for a long time.

     

    • #13
  14. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Stina (View Comment):
    What sets boomers apart as the starting domino is how you embraced those misfits as examples to lead your generation.

    It’s called missing the point. “You” is not “us” because there is no “us” (maybe someone will make a TV series called that).

    No “generation” embraces misfits, or embraces heroes, or embraces average schmucks, individuals do. I don’t blame a generation of people who happen to be born in some selective, non-sensical random grouping of years for the misdeeds of individuals in that group. 

    And who raised these evil boomers to inculcate into us all of our horrible habits? 

     

    • #14
  15. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    I’ve always liked Baby Boomers. I could probably count more of them as friends than I can in my millennial cohort. What’s interested me over the years is how much Baby Boomers dislike Baby Boomers (excepting the self-congratulatory ones you cited above). Granted, at the risk of generalizing more than a bit, it seems that conservatives in that generation don’t care for counterculturists and the progressives feel the same way about the ones who voted for Reagan. Somehow I think getting Boomers to reassess that vague self-loathing is key to us turning the ship around.

    Good post, Austin. 

    • #15
  16. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    The Great Adventure (View Comment):

    I would fall into the “Jonesers” category (b 1959) as well. I’ve railed for years that chronologically I have little to nothing in common with those born in 1946. They started emerging from high school in 1964, I was in 1977. There was a huge difference in the world in those 13 years. The Beatles and Stones to me were oldies – I was into Queen, ELO, and Supertramp. Their early adulthood saw the introduction of the muscle cars. Mine saw the era of the worst cars ever created – epitomized by the Pinto and Chrysler K cars. They started experimenting with new (old) clothing styles like love beads and bell bottoms. We were lumped with the *** awful leisure suit.

    Thank you for this article – it provides fodder for my ranting!

    Glad to oblige. 

    • #16
  17. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Austin Ruse: What’s relevant is that cultural transmission changed from vertical transmission (father to son) to horizontal transmission: sibling to sibling, Boomer to Boomer. Given that most of the cultural change visited upon the 1960s first came from Silents, maybe a better way to put it is that cultural transmission came from older brother to younger brother, from cool uncle to eager nephew. All of this could very well be true.

    And I blame college for much of it, and child labor laws for more. 

    We created structures that isolated people by generational cohort such that perpetual youth could slogan their way to dysfunctional values based on unexamined beliefs. 

    The little dears. 

    • #17
  18. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I get that a “generation” is .  .  . well,  a generation.   But any metric that lumps those born in 1947 with those born in 1963 is inherently flawed.

    • #18
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I get that a “generation” is . . . well, a generation. But any metric that lumps those born in 1947 with those born in 1963 is inherently flawed.

    “My, there sure are a lot of these guys…they must be all alike.” 

    • #19
  20. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I did not vote for Reagan, but I did notice he accomplished many good things. (And without doubt those accomplishments would have been even more numerous if young Hinckley hadn’t taken out part of his lung so early on in his administration.)

    Some time in the1990’s, I was standing around in the Kinko’s in Sausalito waiting for a massive printing machine  to finish off some posters I needed.

    The young man who was running the place came up to me, and against a background of heavy metal music he was playing to ease the pain of having to deal with a work day, he shouted out “You Boomers think you are so smart. But tell me – what is it that you  really changed?” He punctuated the end of his query with a very intense and very nasty glare.

    Here is this guy, who looked quite like a Hell’s Angel at a motorcyclist’s convention, with long stringy hair and beard, with a piercing in one eyebrow, a dirty leather jacket, scuffed up boots, and tatts across his neck, telling me that we had not changed one thing.

    I wanted to explain to him that back in the day, to hold down almost any type of job outside of gangsta tavern bartending gig would have truly meant a clean suit, a clean shaven face plus clean body devoid of piercings and tattoos, and the work  day would be  spent listening to the piped in Muzak that drove many of us young Boomers nearly insane after hearing it 8 hours a day.

    Plus of course, if I had held  a job and gone up to some client or customer and told them that I knew their pro-Vietnam war and support for Nixon meant that they were in alliance with the devil, I would have been fired a moment or two after the customer complained.

    Anyway in reply, I shrugged and used my 20-something son’s then favorite expression: “Whatever.” Then thanked him  politely after  he handed me the posters and rang the order up.

    • #20
  21. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    Denigrating Boomers is just another attempt at dividing people. It’s an effective one, too, because it has far greater potential to weaken family bonds.

    • #21
  22. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Anyway in reply, I shrugged and used my 20-something son’s then favorite expression: “Whatever.” Then thanked him politely after he handed me the posters and rang the order up.

     

    I was known as a pretty easy-going father.  The kids knew the boundaries and as long as they showed responsibility within those boundaries, Dad would be more interested in getting them to groan under the weight of Dad jokes than he would be inclined to holler at them.  Once in a while, however, one of them would cross one of the boundaries.

    My son – then about 13 – had a friend over one day.  He and the friend were up in his room, which opened onto the landing above a 2 story entryway of the house.  My office was right below his room.  My wife was downstairs and reminded him that she needed him to do something.  He responded with “Whatever”.

    Dad came flying out of his office and unleashed one of his rare tirades – “Don’t you EVER!!!!!!” etc.  From that point forward it was known throughout the neighborhood that in our house the word “whatever” could be used IN a sentence but not AS a sentence.

    • #22
  23. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I think the question is “Who did the most divorcing ?” I think so because I think “Okay , Boomer” sounds like a lot of what’s behind it are the feelings of people who had their world blown apart by their parents’ divorce.

    • #23
  24. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    The Great Adventure (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Anyway in reply, I shrugged and used my 20-something son’s then favorite expression: “Whatever.” Then thanked him politely after he handed me the posters and rang the order up.

     

    I was known as a pretty easy-going father. The kids knew the boundaries and as long as they showed responsibility within those boundaries, Dad would be more interested in getting them to groan under the weight of Dad jokes than he would be inclined to holler at them. Once in a while, however, one of them would cross one of the boundaries.

    My son – then about 13 – had a friend over one day. He and the friend were up in his room, which opened onto the landing above a 2 story entryway of the house. My office was right below his room. My wife was downstairs and reminded him that she needed him to do something. He responded with “Whatever”.

    Dad came flying out of his office and unleashed one of his rare tirades – “Don’t you EVER!!!!!!” etc. From that point forward it was known throughout the neighborhood that in our house the word “whatever” could be used IN a sentence but not AS a sentence.

    I’m thinking how good it was of you to stand up for your wife that way. On some level, it was also reassuring for your son.

    • #24
  25. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Things changed fast in the middle of the Boomer generation.

    I was born in 1946. I graduated from high school in 1963. Everybody at that point was a big fan of the USA and we intended to plug into the post-WW2 prosperity and hoped to work in a place where you could do your entire career in one company and retire with a decent pension. JFK was assassinated in November of my freshman year at college.

    By the time I was a junior (and even more so my senior year) the people who followed us were much more cynical and had hugely different outlooks. They grew their hair long and their major vice turned from alcohol to pot. A lot of my contemporaries eventually followed both of those trends, but none of us had them when we began college. If you looked at our college yearbooks from 63-64 and 64-65 you would not have seen any male with long hair.

    Then, the year after I graduated, we had the year 1968 (see 1968: The Year That Rocked the World) and all of the post-WW2 assumptions and priorities just blew up.

    So in two years the “Boomer” generation transformed radically. My life was not at all like the life of somebody who was born a couple of years after me.

    • #25
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Anyway in reply, I shrugged and used my 20-something son’s then favorite expression: “Whatever.” Then thanked him politely after he handed me the posters and rang the order up.

     

    I was known as a pretty easy-going father. The kids knew the boundaries and as long as they showed responsibility within those boundaries, Dad would be more interested in getting them to groan under the weight of Dad jokes than he would be inclined to holler at them. Once in a while, however, one of them would cross one of the boundaries.

    My son – then about 13 – had a friend over one day. He and the friend were up in his room, which opened onto the landing above a 2 story entryway of the house. My office was right below his room. My wife was downstairs and reminded him that she needed him to do something. He responded with “Whatever”.

    Dad came flying out of his office and unleashed one of his rare tirades – “Don’t you EVER!!!!!!” etc. From that point forward it was known throughout the neighborhood that in our house the word “whatever” could be used IN a sentence but not AS a sentence.

    I’m thinking how good it was of you to stand up for your wife that way. On some level, it was also reassuring for your son.

    He already knew the importance of a mom, but that probably helped him see the value of a wife. 

    • #26
  27. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    We’ve even had the Boomer epithet hurled here on Ricochet. IIRC, someone blamed poor race relations on Boomers since race is transparent to those who came later. I’ve often said that the Greatest Generation escapes blame for some of its greatest hits, like driving Medicare and social security into the dump.

    Of all the things blamed on Boomers, I find this race talking point the most ridiculous.  Race was not transparent to Boomers, but it has since morphed into the most important attribute of a person and of a society, by far, to “those who came later”.  Perhaps the culture is so enmeshed in identity politics that it has destroyed  awareness of its defining characteristic.

     

    • #27
  28. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Great post that patiently and, to me at least, accurately delineates the postwar timeline and identifies where the boomers fit in.

    I think the reason we have attracted so much criticism from the generations before and after us is the result of something that is truly not our fault: there were simply so many of us. We were instantly a source of media and marketing fascination, and sadly envy and resentment ensued.

    The institutions dealing with the Boomer cohort appeared like a snake that swallowed a rabbit.  The labor market and the housing market behaved like, well, markets, so it was not so easy to get a good job or good housing for those entering these markets.

    And resentment was real.  A high school date was cancelled when the girl’s father observed that I had arrived in a VW Bus.  I was accused of having a “bedroom on wheels”.  “Interactions with police” was a constant irritation.  I was pulled over or questioned by police every day during a 10 day period in the summer of 1971 for walking, jogging, or driving while young, male, and White.  No arrests, no tickets, no violations – just pat downs, requests to search something, ID checks, the usual hassling.

    • #28
  29. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    I think the question is “Who did the most divorcing ?” I think so because I think “Okay , Boomer” sounds like a lot of what’s behind it are the feelings of people who had their world blown apart by their parents’ divorce.

    I thought “Okay, boomer” was the 20-somethings responding to people the age of their grandparents.  Maybe it’s like calling someone Pops or Pappy or Old Timer, but with a modern dose of irreverence.

    • #29
  30. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    I think the question is “Who did the most divorcing ?” I think so because I think “Okay , Boomer” sounds like a lot of what’s behind it are the feelings of people who had their world blown apart by their parents’ divorce.

    I thought “Okay, boomer” was the 20-somethings responding to people the age of their grandparents. Maybe it’s like calling someone Pops or Pappy or Old Timer, but with a modern dose of irreverence.

    Millenials I think started the ok boomer. Maybe some younger Xers. Millenials are the offspring of the Boomers. Gen Z are the offspring of Gen X and to some extent, older millenials.

    • #30
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