Monday, April 30, 2007

Are the Practical Gen Xers Taking Over?

After four presidential terms of incessant puerility, from Clinton's sex-obsessed band geek perpetual adolescence to W's school-yard strutting and taunting (do you ever get the feeling that every time W steps up to the mic he's winking at some prep school buddies saying 'can you believe I'm pullin' this s@#t off?'), maybe the Boomers are exhausting themselves with the winner-takes-all national culture war that they have been waging since the 60s.

The Atlantic Monthly suggests in A Separate Peace, that "The way to end culture wars is to slug them out state by state."

No doubt a practical and real attempt at a solution by Gen X who have been pawns in the ideological battles of the Boomers for too long...

GENERATION KILL: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War

Although the Millenials are often compared to the G.I.s as a Civic type of generation, there are some differences that a century of entitlements have wrought at their expense. Here are some quotes from the book, Generation Kill by Evan Wright :

Culturally, these Marines would be virtually unrecognizable to their forebears in the "Greatest Generation." They are kids raised on hip-hop, Marilyn Manson and Jerry Springer. For them, "motherfucker" is a term of endearment. For some, slain rapper Tupac is an American patriot whose writings are better known than the speeches of Abraham Lincoln...

These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents.

Before the "War on Terrorism" began, not a whole lot was expected of this generation other than the hope that those in it would squeak through high school without pulling too many more mass shootings in the manner of Columbine.

But since the 9/11 attacks, the weight of America's "War on Terrorism" has fallen on their shoulders...

Even though their Commander in Chief tells them they are fighting today in Iraq to protect American freedom, few would be shaken to discover that they might actually be leading a grab for oil. In a way, they almost expect to be lied to...

Be Free? No, Behave!

Of course the cradle-to-grave entitlements of Europe are under pressure due to Europe's declining birth-rate. So it is no surprise to read that the Spanish Government is seeking to indoctrinate the youth with their "Education for Citizenship" program since the retirees will need willing wage-slaves to support them.

Like Generation X and the Millenials, the youth of Europe have had their inheritance voted away before they were even born...

But, objects a Spanish Cardinal: "[The Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares] stressed that the purpose of the course material “is not that we be good, but that we behave well..."

It makes one think of the children obediently being ground down at school in Pink Floyd's "The Wall"...
The children march in unison to the same beat, rolling through a machine only to emerge as putty-faced clones void of individual distinction who ultimately falling blindly into an oversized meat grinder, metaphorically pulverized and minced into the same ground beef-like form as the preceding victim.

Read the entire article: Education for Citizenship leads to totalitarianism, says Spanish Cardinal

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boomers Die and Take Jobs with Them?

The American Association of Community Colleges reports that:

Allied health programs also were the most frequently
added programs in recent years at 26.2%, and industrial skilled trades were the most frequently discontinued programs, also at 26.3%.
Community College programs are more reactive to the job market than four year colleges and everyone knows the growing need to care for the aging Boomers is now upon us. But when the factories are closed down and the industrial jobs are gone, they won't come back easily.

It is our concern that this trend at community colleges represents a short term boom in changing the bed pans of aged hippies, while sacrificing long term vocational excellence. Eventually the Boomers will pass away and this boom will be bust. What then?

Read the entire report:

UPDATE (04/24): We came across this quote from Camille Paglia today regarding some generational aspects of the Virginia Tech shootings that seemed germain to this particular post:
“There is nothing happening educationally in these boring prisons that are fondly called suburban high schools. They are saturated with a false humanitarianism, which is especially damaging for boys.

“Young men have enormous energy. There was a time when they could run away, hop on a freighter, go to a factory and earn money, do something with their hands. Now there is this snobbery of the upper-middle-class professional. Everyone has to be a lawyer or paper pusher.”

Cho is a classic example of “someone who felt he was a loser in the cruel social rat race”, Paglia says. The pervasive hook-up culture at college, where girls are prepared to sleep with boys they barely know or fancy, can be a source of seething resentment and alienation for those who are left out.

Read the entire article.

Baby Boomers in Charge

Because the baby-boomers never grew up they insist on treating everyone else like children, writes A.D. Lelong from New York. A more apt description of the vices of the boomers as self-centered authorities, both juvenile and patronising at the same time, I have not heard.
Imagine a world where all adults are put into a giant playpen, and guarded by adolescent babysitters. Welcome to the world of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It is a world where all adults are treated like children. Where dangerous things are labeled, 'keep out of reach of children.' It is a world where they are not permitted to exercise responsibility. It is a world where only "experts" can be trusted.

Read the entire article.

Generational Warfare

The Washington Post's Book World has a review by Judy Budnitz of Christopher Buckley's satire Boomsday.

Here's the set-up: One Generation is pitted against another in the shadow of a Social Security crisis.... Incensed by the financial burden soon to be placed on her age bracket by baby-boomers approaching retirement, she [protagonist Cassandra Devine] proposes on her blog that boomers be encouraged to commit suicide.
Read the entire review.

This reminds us of the great, dark and cynical Gen-X satire from 1999 in the Onion that the Long-Awaited Baby Boomer Die-off To Begin Soon.

The selfishness that has been a hallmark of the Boomers will continue right up to the very end, as they force millions of younger Americans to devote an inordinate mount of time and resources to their care, bankrupting the Social Security system in the process," Clausewitz said. "In their old age, the Boomers will actually manage to take as much from the next generation as they did the previous one, which fought WWII so that their Boomer children could have Philco TVs and Davy Crockett air rifles.

Of course this is the vicious side of Gen-X cynically excoriating the vices of the boomers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Making Kids Worthless... an interesting study by Oskari Juurikkala of some of the economics underlying why the Baby-Boomers are going to bust Social Security, and why those of us left will pay the burden...

Here is one of the assumptions:
People will always have children,' assured Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor, in 1957. He was convinced that the future of the brave new pay-as-you-go social security system would not be undermined by demographic changes.
And here is an unintended consequence:
Instead of caring for their own parents and close relatives, those of working age are compelled by force of law and gun to pay for the retirement of everyone else. To put it plainly, social security replaces children and the family as the main support in old age by literally socializing the traditional duties of the family. Why have children when the state will take care of you in your old age?
Entire Article: Making Kids Worthless: Social Security's Contribution to the Fertility Crisis

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Silent Operators Plundering the Future

The Washington Post has been running a series on Gerald Cassidy and the development of D.C. lobbying.
Cassidy is on the tail end of the Silent Generation.
According to Strauss and Howe there are four types of generations throughout American history. The Idealist (Baby Boomers), the Reactive (Gen-X), the Civic (GIs and Millennials), and Adaptive (Silent).
While the Civic types build institutions, the Adaptives operate within those institutions and systems, often making them more human and livable. Cassidy is a fascinating example of a Silent operating within the framework of the corporate/political process system developed by the GIs in response to the secular crises that defined their formative years -the Depression and WWII.
Cassidy's company invented the earmark appropriations which have often come under fire in the media. Whether a good thing or bad Cassidy's story is nonetheless a good example of an Adaptive type operating within a Civic system.
But what will be the next Civic system of the Millennials? Current paradigms may not apply...

Monday, April 16, 2007


In 1999 the Onion, in characteristic Gen-X fashion, asserted that the Columbine jocks had safely resumed their bullying. It seemed harsh and cynical, even for the Onion. But it was profoundly prophetic.
Gone is the grungy, slacker outsider, in are Two-A-Days, which follows the lives and exploits of the state champion Hoover High football team and their cheerleader girlfriends. And don't forget MTV's other reality shows such as The Hills and Laguna Beach.
MTV, the oracle of youth culture has suddenly made heroes of the very ones who were always teen movie villains only a decade ago.
After years of subverting the high school hierarchy with awkward outsiders overthrowing the entrenched jockocracy (See: any 80s/90s movie where outsider gets girl and everyone learns important lessons), the rightful order of American culture returns. On top are the strong, the rich and the beautiful. Why the change?
Strauss and Howe have written extensively about the Generational Cycles in American History. According to them the new Millennials (1981/2-2001) are a civic generation like the GIs who came of age during the Depression and fought in World War II. The Millennials are like the "Greatest Generation".
But did the GIs enter the world with $150,000 in debt already on their heads? The GIs may have grown up poor, but were they born with Less than Zero? The GIs were able to vote themselves a New Deal, a Social Security paid for by the youth.
But now the youth are fewer, and those perpetual adolescents, the Baby-Boomers are set to retire.
So of course we need Two-a-Days. In Two-a-Days everyone and everything is in order. They follow the rules and are rewarded. They follow the rules and they are winners. They are a team. And the next Civic generation will be all about teamwork.
The desiccated, old American order that the Boomers destroyed must be reestablished by the Boomers themselves. (See: The Organization Kid.). The youth can no longer "Question Authority" when there are payroll taxes to pay.