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Although I am a Millennial (with a podcast!), and ELO’s critical and commercial peak came when my parents were in high school (though their greatest hits, like “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Evil Woman” have had a long cultural shelf life), I nonetheless have long been a huge fan of this Beatlesque symphonic pop-rock group. I have written about ELO’s output at Ricochet and even got to discuss it for two hours on an episode of National Review’s excellent Political Beats podcast.
One of the running themes of Young Americans, my Ricochet podcast, is the stubborn half-life of Baby Boomer pop culture. The movies, TV, music, etc., that were popular when the Baby Boom generation was growing up, and the pop culture they created, still seem dominant even as that generation ages into retirement. Star Wars movies still clean up in theaters. Bruce Springsteen tours sell out. Hawaii Five-O gets a TV remake. Et cetera.
Ordinarily, it is my job as a 25-year-old host of a podcast of young people to resent this fact. I bristle beneath the bridle of the Baby Boomers, who refuse to relinquish their stranglehold on pop culture. And I call on younger generations to start creating their own pop culture to liberate us from the Boomer reign.
Yeah, this is what I’m supposed to do. But I’ve got to hand it to you Boomers: You made some good stuff. And so, when I recently appeared on Political Beats, a National Review podcast that performs deep dives on the favorite bands of political personalities (which is what I guess I am now…), I chose Electric Light Orchestra.
The Young Americans return for another year of charting Millennial neuroses by starting out with the topic on everyone’s mind: marriage. Specifically, why aren’t Millennials getting married? To help figure out why, (single) host Jack Butler consults another single person, an engaged person, and a married couple.
Mayonnaise. Home Depot. Breakfast. Lunch. Vacations. Golf. Like some assiduous predator stalking in the cultural night, the Millennial generation has killed each of these things, one by one…or has it? The latest episode takes up the trend of Millennials’ killing things, such as the aforementioned items, and tries to determine whether their guilt is fair or misplaced. Each guest also picks a thing they hope Millennials do kill.
Also, the Young Americans proudly sell out once again, as this episode is brought to you by Simple Contacts.
Last Thursday was the 50th anniversary of The Beatles, a.k.a., The White Album, The Beatles’ sprawling 1968 double-LP. I took the occasion to record a podcast on The Beatles’ musical legacy, which you can listen to here.
In the course of that podcast, I made the case for The Beatles’ greatness, even though they are most decidedly a product of the Baby Boomer culture that refuses to relinquish its death grip on us all. But I don’t think they’re entirely beyond criticism, though I wouldn’t dare make it on my own meager authority. Which is why I here invoke George Martin, who made so much of The Beatles’ music possible (as I explained here), and who believed that The White Album should have been just one album and not a double LP.
Goo goo g’joob! As The Beatles (a.k.a., The White Album) reaches its 50th anniversary, the Young Americans take some time on a hard day’s night to have a long and winding discussion about whether The Beatles really are the greatest band of all time (the answer is yes), and whether they still matter and should be in your life (the answer is also yes).
In an episode of multiple firsts, Jack strikes out on his own to interview Matthew Hennessey, the deputy op-ed editor of the Wall Street Journal, author of Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials, and, at 44, a decidedly un-young American. They discuss whether Millennials or Baby Boomers are really to blame for America’s problems, whether Gen X can save us, and whether generational warfare might ultimately be a distraction from the real enemy: excessive technology.
Follow this podcast on Twitter @youngamericanz.
The latest episode of the Young Americans is brought to you by Ricochet (of course), and by the concept of ownership: of libs, an increasingly popular posture on the right, including among young conservatives, and of homes, which young people are apparently not buying. The Young Americans attempt to explore and explain both of these trends, while learning in the end that what mattered most was the friends they made along the way. (Awww…)
By the 2020 election, America’s “millennial” class will replace Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest age-bloc of voters. David Davenport, a Hoover Institution research fellow specializing in constitution federalism and Americans politics and law, discusses what it will take to get a cynical under-35 crowd to the polls and, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, whether the even younger “Generation Z” will emerge as a political force.
An article in the March/April Issue of Victoria Magazine described a woman who married for money, then later fell in love with her husband. They eventually divorced, and she left her home state of California for a small town in Virginia. The selling point was a set of railroad tracks through the center of town. She purchased […]
I just came from Eye Center South. I have been having clouded vision which has increased over the last couple years. My recent visit to eye doctor revealed…..cataracts!!! But I’m too young to have cataracts I hollered! He said he’s seen them in all ages – 20’s to 80’s! He said smoking, (not me), diabetes […]
Today I turn – cough – cough.…well, as my friend of the same age put it, it’s the 39th anniversary of my 21st birthday. I feel weird. I don’t know what it is about the number, but it startles people. When I mention how old I am, their eyes bug out, their mouths form a […]
Watching someone en route to victory at a big-city marathon, you’re liable to hear a tv commentator say “He makes it look so easy”. In fact, it shouldn’t be surprising that the winner makes it look easy. What would be surprising is the guy finishing last making it look easy. “Surprising” would be a […]
On the member feed, Benjamin Glaser has a post titled “You Want to Know Why Ted Cruz Can Win?” that discusses the senator’s new campaign ad and the shocked reaction at its high quality from the Washington Post. It’s an eye-catching and powerful ad … to me. Big deal. But I was going to vote Republican anyway.
Blaming the Baby Boomers is a popular pastime among Millennials nowadays. Apparently, the problems of our present day are mostly their fault. They allowed government to grow and metastasize, and saddled us with loads of debt. They bought into crazy-lazy theories about overpopulation, and didn’t have enough children. They soaked up all the perks of the Reagan years and left their kids jobless with expensive, worthless degrees.
Now they’re planning to collect billions in pensions and Social Security and Medicare, and younger generations will work themselves to the bone to pay for it, while their retired parents (along with non-parent peers who spent all their own earnings on themselves, and are now helping themselves to ours) enjoy shuffleboard and vacations to the South of France. And then we’ll probably just lie down and die of treatable diseases in our broken-down, two-bit apartments. By that time, you see, the coffers will be emptier than empty, and death will be the only thing we can still afford. Dang Boomers.
I’m being dramatic of course, but I confess that I am not immune to anti-Boomer angst. We’ve all been privy to those conversations when an older relative (perhaps freshly returned from a Caribbean cruise) complains about the medical procedure that Medicare won’t fully cover even though they need it. The griping about how Social Security or pensions are too small. It’s hard to resist unleashing a torrent of indignation on such people. Do they really not see how entitled they are?
I recently had a discussion with an older cousin of mine in his 50s. He was telling me he would like to see the welfare state gone, deregulation, smaller government, and all the other standard stuff Conservatives want for the future. Then he was telling me how my generation is footing the bill and tough luck for you guys. Live with it while I benefit because you guys didn’t vote the other way in very large numbers. I have heard this same line of argument or reasoning multiple times before. And I explained to him that this position towards millennials as on the hook for paying for the Boomers’ and Gen-Xers’ tab is immoral.
First off, Social Security and Medicare are the biggest welfare programs in the country. People get mad when I say it, but it is true. It was sold to the country as a government-run savings account, but that isn’t the case. People generally take out more than they put in and these programs are bankrupting the nation. Medicare alone will rise from about $615 billion at present, to a little over $1 trillion in just the next seven years. The rise in costs is far beyond anything that was put into it. This is welfare, pure and simple. It is robbing the young and their future to pay for the old. It is robbing the future of this country. That is what is happening. To complain about Uncle Sam stealing or taxing all the time while cashing these checks and enjoying medicare is hypocrisy to the 10th power.
Yes, you got fleeced. The government forcibly took money out of your paychecks for decades to fund unsustainable programs that are robbing the future of this country you hold dear, and the futures of your kids and grandkids, whom I also hope you hold just as dear. You lost that money and what was done to you is unjust. But to then turn around and fleece your progeny because you got robbed does not make it right. It makes things even more unjust and puts in jeopardy the economic well being of your progeny and this nation. I am 26 years old. These programs will not exist at all when I am old enough to be done working or can work no longer. But if I had the choice right now or in the foreseeable future, I would tell the government to keep the money they robbed from me, as I will not jeopardize or steal my descendants’ future. Many conservatives have bought into the idea that we should just accept the New Deal and Great Society as already here. I reject that, totally. The New Deal and Great Society have given us decades of nothing but highway robbery and phony promises. As I reminded my cousin, Millennials didn’t invent Social Security or Medicare, and we have nothing to do with — or to gain from — these programs that will soon break our country.
Over in the post about Presidential politics and boomer animosity, things began to focus more on the animosity and less on the politics. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I hadn’t ever put into words what I think as a borderline Gen X/Millennial.
I think I should first say that — at least for me — there isn’t an active animosity towards Boomers. That is to say, when I read news about Social Security or welfare programs, I don’t immediately think to myself, “Those [expletive] Boomers!” The greatest man I’ve known personally was a Boomer and — like others here of that generation — he hated the welfare state and everything that came with it. In defense of such folks, there really wasn’t much they personally could have done about it any more than there’s anything personally we can do about ObamaCare or Executive amnesty (the former of which our generation will likely be blamed for).
That being said, the deeper I get into a conversation about what’s going to happen, why it’s going to happen, and how it began to be, the more I begin to resent the Boomer generation in that moment. Not the individuals, but the generation as a group. It’s disheartening to look at my tax returns each year at how much we pay in that could be used for student loans, to invest in retirement, adopt kids, or whatever else, knowing full-well that both my taxes and the national debt are only going to continue to rise forever.
I get into a fair amount of political discussion with my kids these days (to set the stage, the “kids” are around 40). Being a Baby Boomer in denial, I’m often amazed by the understated animosity directed at my generation by its successors. Painting with a broad brush, we get blamed for grabbing the goodies and leaving the dregs, whether it’s housing, social security, or senior discounts at retail. Much of this is deserved. The “Greatest Generation” may have been followed by the “Greedy Generation.” We grew up with fast cars, cheap gas, and no nanny state; our kids grew up with bike helmets and recycle or die.
I am curious as to what Ricochet folks think about presidential electability based on age, generational resentment and image. To me, it accounts for much about Hillary versus Obama — indeed, Obama versus anyone over 65 — and sheds some light on who could run against Hillary. Some random data follows:
- Mitt Romney: March 12, 1947 (67)
- Hillary Clinton: October 26, 1947 (67)
- Elizabeth Warren: June 22, 1949 (65)
- Rick Perry: March 4, 1950 (64)
- Jeb Bush: February 11, 1953 (61)
- Chris Christie: September 6, 1962 (52)
- Rand Paul: January 7, 1963 (52)
- Scott Walker: November 2, 1967 (47)
- Ted Cruz: December 22, 1970 (44)
- Bobby Jindal: June 10, 1971 (43)
Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without inter-generational verbal conflict conducted while consuming a bird for the crime of being delicious. Traditionally, these discussions have revolved around how the older generations had it so tough:
- “I had to walk 12 miles barefoot in the snow to Our Lady of 25th Street and we had one nun to teach 145 kids”
- “Our tenement had one outhouse for 15 units to share”
- “Because of the Kaiser I could never really enjoy my liberty cabbage”
With all the changes of the last few years, I say that in 2014 the tables have turned, and it’s time for the younger generation to tell their elders how good they had it this holiday. Some reasons:
- The economy is growing half as fast for us as it did for Boomers (real GDP growth 1974 to 1984 was +37% and for 2004 to 2014 was +17%). And these are the government inflation adjusted GDP numbers;
- Every other ad on TV is features a couple discussing ED or Henry Winkler hocking reverse mortgages;
- The U6 unemployment rate has been well over 10% for 6 years and is currently almost 13%. For the non-economic nerds, U6 unemployment includes those who gave up looking for a job or are forced to work part-time because they can’t find a fulltime job, unlike the nonsense U3 (“total unemployment”) number the media uses;
- Homes were an investment not a reverse ATM machine (median home prices were up almost 50% from 1976-1980 and down 10% from 2006-2010);
- “Don’t let the bedbugs bite” was said as a joke for boomers; today, we check our kids’ mattresses; and
- Coca-Cola had real sugar, cars were made out of metal, and saying “Merry Christmas” was not a micro-aggression leading to a one-way ticket to the reeducation camp
And please don’t tell us about growing up during the Cold War and living with ICBMs pointed at your garage; you weren’t the only ones, and Red Dawn wasn’t marketed at you. Wolverines!