Well, Baby Boomers are of age now, and it appears that the world is still going to Hell in a handbasket, but it's doing so for reasons that hardly anyone dreamed of back in the 1960's. The older generation which my contemporaries lambasted for screwing everything up has become "The Greatest Generation," and now it seems that the generation responsible for wrecking America is--you guessed it, the Baby Boomers!
I've read quite a lot of rants about Baby Boomers over the past few months, and most of them were so off the mark that they were laughable. The latest rant I saw is typical of the lot. It deals with how we Baby Boomers screwed up Social Security. It says:
Saving up for retirement is a good idea, but when you guys empty out all the money Social Security has, the rest of us will never be able to retire. Since you helped set these systems up, that hardly seems fair.
Here's a little history lesson for youthful bellyachers about how Baby Boomers screwed up Social Security:
Do you have any idea why, when Social Security was first instituted in 1935 (10 years before the first Baby Boomer was born), that they set the retirement age at 65? Because that was the age by which most people were dead. Social Security began as a scheme to separate people from their money with little or no hope of ever getting it back. As healthcare improved and life expectancies increased, the cash cow that was Social Security became a Ponzi scheme because people were expected to live too long. And when did the actuaries figure out that this was going to happen? Back in the 1960's, when the oldest Baby Boomers were just graduating from college and fighting a thankless war that no Washington politicians seemed interested in trying to win. When was the time to fix Social Security? Before most Baby Boomers were old enough to vote!
When I started paying Social Security on the paychecks from my part time jobs as a teenager, I resented it. Why? I fully expected to never get a cent back. Over the years, the politicians have applied Band Aids to the Social Security system to keep it staggering along, and I'm actually getting some of my money back. Amazingly, I'll probably live long enough to get it all back and a little extra, too, before the whole system crashes and burns.
The Social Security mess may not be fair, but it was not created by Baby Boomers. It's been festering for decades. It's like the story of Somebody, Anybody, Everybody, and Nobody. For years, fixing Social Security has been something that Everybody has expected Somebody to do. Anybody could do it, but so far Nobody has done it. And Nobody can blame Anybody because it hasn't been done, because Everybody shares part of the blame for the mess.
I probably won't live to see it, but I predict that when the Millennials get to be the age of Baby Boomers, their children will be blaming them because America is going to Hell in a hand basket.
Every generation inherits problems from previous generations. Every generation passes problems on to subsequent generations. Blaming the immediately preceding generation for all the problems in the world was dumb when Baby Boomers were doing it, and it's just as dumb now when Millennials are doing it.