We hear about Republicans being the real villains of this Great Depression repeat, what with their love-affair with deregulation and presumed favoritism for the wealthiest Americans.
Or it’s Democrats, when they had control of both houses of Congress with little “fixing” to show for it, and their “business unfriendly” ideology that purportedly leans closer to socialism than capitalism.
Or it’s Wall Street, driven by greed and little care for anything else but making a quick buck regardless of the method’s validity (let alone ethics…).
Or, it’s us, we who make up the ranks of “common Americans” (never did like that moniker; sounds like a feudal times’ referral to “commoners” meaning… peons…which of course was back when “commoners” didn’t rule the land as we do ours….), who thoughtlessly and recklessly took out loans we knew full well we couldn’t afford, didn’t qualify for given our worth/income, and now can’t afford to repay.
You know who underpins the majority all of these groups? Whose ideology is the foundation for all that has gone wrong? Who in fact lead the way for this economic implosion?
Let’s see how this pans out:
- The majority of folks in leadership positions in this country, both in government and business…are Boomers
- Unlike our parents, who sacrificed and saved, we Boomers aren’t much for sacrifice, and over the last decades of our adulthood elevated debt to a way of life, think of “saving” as something you do only so you can put a down-payment on something big in the next few months, and popularized the life-skill of wanting what you want when you want it even if you can’t afford it
- We, who started our young adult life eschewing the excesses of the corporate world, fighting to reverse the damages of pollution, and believing in the power of our unified voice to create positive change, now are the greatest polluters (with our three homes, our luxury vehicles, and our frequent flying for pleasure), the poorest voting record, and have made living in excess a trademark of our generation
Combine all of the above with the fact that we are, historically and numerically, the most powerful group in the U.S. right now (whether we wish to see it or not), and you have our ideology, combined with our positions as leaders, and topped off with our lack of determination to recognize our behavior as problematic let alone change our ways. This trifecta is the fundamental corrosive agent at this historic juncture, and only we Boomers can fix it.
Here’s some very simple ways to do just that:
- Stop spending and start saving….now
- Vote – all of us
- Reverse our need for excess as a litmus test for our self-worth, and replace it with our determination to simplify as the show of true self-esteem
- Be very clear with our elected officials that we want solutions that include accountability, and hold ourselves accountable for ensuring that
- Discontinue our fawning over folks with scillions of dollars, and instead turn our full admiration (and all the “star quality” therein) to those who better our world, as we once did; that would be teachers, nurses, social workers, scientists, journalists – folks who don’t make gobs of money (some who make very little money, actually) and yet make taking care of us, our children, and our world, their professional mission.
Boomers, do these things, and we will see this country back on solid ground. We are the Absolutely Amazing Generation. We can do this. I have complete faith in us.
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Here’s an interesting musing….and btw, as you read the piece below, there’s three strata of Boomers for understanding the variations within this huge demographic, not two:
- “leading edge” being those born between 1946 & 1950 (these Boomers are generally more like our parents than the Boomer generation);
- “middle (or real Boomers – these are the folks who did most of the dropping out, sex drugs rock and roll, sitting in/luding out, and all the other well earned stereotypes of our youth…), born between 1951 & 1958; and
- “junior” Boomers, born between 1959 & 1964 (these are the least “Boomer-like, and much more like Gen X’ers).
With that in mind, read on!
By JIM SHEA | Courant Columnist
October 1, 2008
It’s always been about us.
And why not?
We had the numbers.
We had the chutzpah.
We had Wavy Gravy, who once said:
“If you can remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.”
Yeah, we were cool, all right.
Now, though, we’re “Reelin’ in the Years.”
Time isn’t just no longer on our side. Time is changing sides.
Others generations might see this getting older thing as a problem.
We see it as a minor adjustment, such as reading glasses, Lipitor and forgetting stuff — like your spouse at the store.
Big freaking deal.
So what if our flashbacks have gone the way of our hot flashes: 60 is the new 40; 40 is the new 20; 20 is the new, what, “terrible twos?”
All baby boomers, of course, are not created equal.
While baby boomers are broadly identified as those born between 1946 and 1964, the demographic is often divided into two groups.
You have your “Leading-Edge” boomers (1946-55).
You have your “Trailing-Edge” boomers” (1955-64).
Trailing-Edge boomers are just entering the Fabulous 50s and trying to figure out how to send the kids to college and save for their golden, make that graying, years. (Hint: either be really rich, Powerball lucky, or plan on working into your 70s.)
Leading-Edge boomers began turning 62 this year and are starting to think about — retirement is definitely the wrong word here — what to do next.
For the first time in a long time the nest is empty. They not only have freedom, but also the time to spend it. So what’s it going to be?
Kick back in a rocking chair — oh, please!
Run (or power-walk) with the bulls — maybe.
Write the great American novel — an option.
Change the world — been there, done that.
Learn to program your cellphone — anything’s possible.
Trip the light fandango — turn cartwheels across the floor — bingo.
Then there’s this from Tim Wise, author of Speaking Treason Fluently, and an avid anti-racist by his assessment. You decide.
For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
- White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because ‘every family has challenges,’ even as black and Latino families with similar ‘challenges’ are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
- White privilege is when you can call yourself a ‘f***in’ redneck,’ like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll ‘kick their f***in’ ass,’ and talk about how you like to ‘shoot shit’ for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
- White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
- White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re ‘untested.
- White privilege is being able to say that you support the words ‘under God’ in the pledge of allegiance because ‘if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,’ and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the ‘under God’ part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
- White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to h ave a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was ‘Alaska first,’ and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
- White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
- White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a ‘second look.
- White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
- White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
- White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a ‘trick question,’ while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
- White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a ‘light’ burden.
- And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole ‘change’ thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.
White privilege is, in short, the problem.