I usually skip the health section of my homeown newspaper, the Washington Post, because it’s mostly one finger-wagging lecture after another about the need to eat unhulled quinoa grains instead of steak–or else it’s boo-hoo feature stories about such “problems” as as wives who can’t sleep because their husbands snore.
But this week I scanned Abigail Trafford’s gooey column, “My Time,” which is usually about how wonderful it is to get old (yeah, sure). This week’s entry was about how the first of the Baby Boomers–the demographic cohort born between 1946 and 1964–will be turning 60 this year. (Many from the younger generations who have to live in the world the Boomers created are probably greeting this news with, “Way to go, Gramps and Grams! We can’t get enough of those gray ponytails and the chipped love beads. Now, can’t we put an age cap on voting?”)
I knew that something was going to be a little off in Trafford’s column when she greeted the rapidly aging Boomers with this salutation
“Wake up, Little Susie!”
Huh? That tune was recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1957, when the oldest Boomers were 11 years old. Since those were the days before parents gave their tween offspring their own credit cards, I don’t think many Boomers were among the crowd that made “Susie” a No. 1 hit back then.
Then Trafford piles on the congratulations to the Sixties set:
“You once stormed the barricades of racism and sexism and redistributed — to a limited extent — the country’s precious natural resource of opportunity.”
I’ll say it was a “limited extent.” The civil rights movement, which was a genuine and long-needed push for legal equality and opportunity for African-Americans, was over well before the Boom generation started college. The oldest Boomers were 8 when the Supreme Court ordered the end of segregated public schools, 17 when Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, and barely 18 when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Boomers were around in full force, however, when black radicals and victimologists co-opted the civil rights movement during the late 1960s with the blessing of white liberals and started a round of riots, reverse racisim, and race-based extortion that hasn’t ended to this day.
As for “sexism,” even if you think Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are the greatest thing since indoor electricity, they ain’t Boomers, for the same reason that Martin Luther King wasn’t a Boomer. And as with legal rights for blacks, women won theirs way back when the Boomers were still in high school, with the 1964 Civil Rights act and the 1963 Equal Pay Act.
What the Boomersactually did, besides wear funny clothes, smoke a lot of the weed that Bill Clinton never inhaled, and attend antiwar demonstrations on their parents’ nickel, was this, as Kay Hymowitz lays it out in the latest issue of City Journal:
“Forty-five years ago, there was only a small difference in the way American women went about the whole marriage-and-children question; just about everyone, from a Smith grad living in New Canaan, Connecticut, to a high school dropout in Appalachia, first tied the knot and only then delivered the bouncing bundle of joy. As of 1960, the percentage of women with either a college or high school diploma who had children without first getting married was so low that you’d need a magnifying glass to find it on a graph; even the percentage of high school dropouts who were never-married mothers barely hit 1 percent. Moreover, after getting married and having a baby, almost all women stayed married. A little under 5 percent of mothers in the top third of the education distribution and about 6 percent of the middle group were either divorced or separated (though these figures don’t include divorced-and-then-remarried mothers). And while marital breakup was higher among mothers who were high school dropouts, their divorce rate was still only a modest 8 percent or so.
“That all changed in the decades following the 1960s, when, as everyone who was alive at the time remembers, the American family seemed on the verge of self-immolation. For women, marriage and children no longer seemed part of the same story line. Instead of staying married for the kids, mothers at every education level joined the national divorce binge. By 1980, the percentage of divorced college-educated mothers more than doubled, to 12 percent-about the same percentage as divorced mothers with a high school diploma or with some college. For high school dropout mothers, the percentage increased to 15 percent. An increasing number of women had children without getting married at all.”
Yes, the Boomers can take credit for wrecking the American family. The sexual revolution, the divorce binge, the soaring increase in households with children headed by single women (which correlates near 1.0 with poverty, crime, and lack of educational opportunity)–for all those, we have the Baby Boomers and their endless quest for self-gratification to thank.
As for Trafford, she’s now counseling the aging hippies of the Boom years to do the following:
“Be loud and obnoxious. That’s what it will take to create a hospitable environment for older men and women…..Now you must muster your numerical power to overcome the barriers of ageism and derogatory stereotypes of older people — at home, in the hospital, on television, in the workplace.”
In other words, file a lot of age-discrimination lawsuits to suck more resources out of productive economic activity and into the pockets of lawyers. And generally make pests of yourselves by joining the victimology brigade. Old folks need their own Al Sharpton.
“[T]he country faces an immediate threat of generational warfare as political leaders continue to focus on the burdens of an aging population rather than its assets. The rhetoric over resources will get nasty: school lunches or Meals on Wheels? You have to break up this phony fight and become public champions of the young. That way, you can help renegotiate the social contract not just to support and engage the swelling ranks of aging boomers but to give the same caring and opportunity to all generations.”
In other words, support oodles of expensive government programs to be paid for out of the taxes of post-Baby Boom wage-earners.
Let me remind the Boomers that their proudest achievement was, ironically, the creation of a viable, powerful, and successful conservative political movement in America for the first time since the New Deal–all composed of ordinary people who took a look at the Boomers and decided that they couldn’t stand either how they acted or the moral mayhem they set into motion. Campus riots during the mid-1960s elected Ronald Reagan governor of California. Riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 elected Richard Nixon president of the United States. We all know how it’s been ever since.
And one more thing: Remember, Baby Boomers, that you wouldn’t be around to pat yourselves on the back if it hadn’t been for your parents, who belonged to a different generation called the Greatest Generation. They were the folks who, filled with self-confidence and confidence in America’s future after winning a war in which they themselves had fought, worked hard, bought homes in the brand-new suburbs, and produced gazillions of little yous, raising and educating all of you in an era of unprecedented prosperity and opportunity–just so you could grow those ponytails, rattle those love-beads, and diss everyone over the age of 30.
Just keep that in mind: There wouldn’t have been a Baby Boom without the efforts of the people who hated everything the Baby Boomers stand for.