I try to avoid following the news, but every now and then a little nugget of worthless political theatre slips past my defences.
For example, I’ve noticed that even mainstream politicians seem to be somewhat aware of the looming fiscal Armageddon threatening to send the United States into a state of economic, social and civil collapse. In response, the Democrats would like to shovel some more coal into the runaway train’s furnaces, while the Republicans plan to slow it down by stringing a piece of yarn across its tracks. Clearly, fresh ideas are needed.
So allow me to put forth a proposal of my own: I call it The Generation Z Baby Boomer Retirement Plan, and I humbly request that you consider it alongside those proposed by the Republican and Democratic political machines.
As a kindness to the reader, I have omitted graphs, forecasts, projections, baselines, and all such distractions. Instead, I offer you but a paragraph:
I propose that we completely abandon the Baby Boom generation to the forces of economics, scarcity and nature. I propose we acknowledge the Baby Boomers as the absolute worst cohort of humanity that has ever lived, and deal with them accordingly. I propose we cast off our socially-mandated veneer of mercy, search our hearts, and realize that we are – really and truly, without a hint of Swiftian satire – perfectly OK with watching Baby Boomers die in the streets on our way to work.
Why, the enthusiastic and pro-active among you ask, don’t we just round up the Baby Boomers and shoot them? Or string them up from the lampposts, like Christmas decorations?
I admire your go-getting attitude, my peppy friends, but read carefully. No one said that all baby boomers should die in the streets. Hard-working, dutifully-saving boomers who’ve amassed a nest egg to see them through retirement will be more than welcome in our brave new world. Boomers with caring friends and relatives shan’t go hungry. No man is poor, so long as he has a friend or grateful child.
But those who don’t fall under either of the above categories – i.e., those boomers who’ve lived their 55+ years without a penny or a loyal friend to show for it – we’d all appreciate if you could slink off and die in an alley, like crippled stray cats. Go on now.
Harsh words? Perhaps. The soft-hearted and mush-headed may balk at such strict rhetoric. But I argue that our generation’s complete and utter abandonment of the Baby Boomers is not only just – it’s necessary.
Regarding necessity, it is difficult to overstate just how completely and utterly fucked the western world is today. I won’t make the case here, but I will invite intrepid commenters to debate which will be burnt more crisply in the coming decades: The bankrupt, classless, tradition-less, culturally depraved Los United States of America? Or the slightly more bankrupt, but slightly more traditional Dar-Al-Europe?
I think a case can be made for either. But regardless, make no mistake: We are on the brink of collapse. We are living in the dying decades of one of the greatest empires that has ever existed in recorded human history. At the absolute minimum, my generation is heading straight for a sudden and massive decline in our standard of living. At worst, a complete and prolonged collapse in all social order.
In either case, we will have more important things to concern ourselves with than paying for old Johnny-General-Motors’ counterproductive cholesterol medication. We have more on our plate than ensuring Holly-Human-Resources-Administrator can afford to retire with a house on the lake, like she always dreamed of. We have been bequeathed a harsh world. Surviving in it may take everything we’ve got. Rebuilding it will take more still.
So Baby Boomers, pardon me if, in an era of looming hyperinflation, sovereign bankruptcies, and food riots, I feel less than obligated to pay for your 30+ years of gold-plated retirement.
Now let’s talk about justice.
Throughout human history, the default nature of inter-generational relations has been thus: Parents do their best to leave their children as much as possible, to give them the best possible chance to succeed in life, and in turn do the same for their children. This is the sort of parental attitude that leads to savings rates of 30-50% within most East Asian countries, and most historical Western polities. Barring war, plague, famine and pestilence, a given generation will usually hand off to their progeny a world that’s a bit better than how they found it.
Keeping this perspective in mind, let’s consider the baby boomer track record:
In the aftermath of the second world war, America was the wealthiest and most powerful nation that had ever existed. The so-called Greatest Generation, i.e. those who came of age during the Great Depression and defeated the Nazis shortly thereafter, left them a seat of power, wealth, and accumulated social capital beyond the wildest dreams of any prior generation. The Baby Boomers truly had it all, and they grew up in an era of unprecedented technological and economic advance. The parents of the baby boomers built the modern economy, put a man on the moon, and did it all while raising their children in (generally) stable and loving leave-it-to-beaver style home environments.
But then the Boomers came of age. Where future historians will see idyll, opportunity, and paradise, they saw Injustice! Oppression! They saw a nation that need to be torn apart and rebuilt anew. Rather than continue on the path set by their (totally square) ancestors, they took to the streets. They sat-in, stood-in, loved-in. They tuned in, turned on, dropped out. They rebelled against, you know, The Man:
- They implemented the Great Society swath of middle-class entitlements.
- They destroyed that evil, out-dated, patriarchal institution then known as the traditional family.
- They legislated the mass importation of destitute third-worlders, while building the minority grievance industry.
- They destroyed American industry with wage, pension and benefits package demands that far outstripped their actual productivity.
- The best and brightest dedicated their lives to unproductive, extractive, value-transferring ‘professions’ such as law, finance, and academic research.
- They neglected their children’s education, spend the family nest egg, and often even failed to save for their own retirements.
In short, they were given a world with effectively limitless possibility, and they proceeded to destroy it. They are passing us a broken world, a bankrupt empire, and a social fabric tearing at the seams of individual atomization, ethnic tension, and mistrust. Worst of all, they’ve taught the more gullible among us – via the universities and media which they control – that the true culprits of our present discontent are everyone but the Baby Boomers. They even claim that only the Boomers’ courageous stand for social justice and equality has saved us from an even worse fate! Hilariously, most of my generational cohort is stupid enough to believe it, as they turn out in droves to vote for more of the same.
So here we are, Generation Z. Our lives are destined to be plagued by scarcity, discord, and difficulty. Much of the blame for our situation can be placed fairly at the feet of the Baby Boom generation. How shall we react?
I caution against hatred. Hate requires energy, and we’ll have little enough to spare as it is. In any case, it goes without saying that many Baby Boomers are fine people, exceptional for their generation, and have more than earned our respect and support in their old age.
But for those – the majority – who haven’t, I prescribe simple indifference. Avoid paying taxes. Default on your student loans. Don’t contribute to your 401K. Denominate your savings in a form that will make it difficult to confiscate them, when fiscal crunch time comes. When we eventually seize power: End their pensions. End their benefits. End their bloated health care entitlements. The Baby Boomers lived it up large in the first half of their lives, as they spent the social and economic capital that had been bequeathed to them. Now they would do the same in the second half, racking up debts for us and our children to pay off.
The only question is: Are we going to lay down and take it?