Bogus Blaming of Baby Boomers


*One Lyman Stone, in The Atlantic of June 24, 2019, blames the Baby Boomers for many of the problems in America, in an article titled “The Boomers Ruined Everything.” According to Stone, the younger Americans (Gen X, Millennials) are having a hard time, economically and otherwise, because of the acts and behavior of the Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers ruined everything about America? Hardly. Stone’s universal generalization is the first key flaw in his argument. But let’s take a look.

To start off with, Stone begins with this gem: “The average U.S. state constitution is more than 100 years old. We are in the third-longest period without a constitutional amendment in American history: The longest such period ended in the Civil War.” What about our treasured Constitution needs to be changed? He offers no suggestions, so allow me to suggest one. Many people think that the Equal Rights Amendment has been added to our Constitution, when, in fact, it has not been ratified. Starting in 1978, the Equal Rights Amendment has been attempted, but has never been ratified by the states, of which, presently, thirty-eight states must approve, after the amendment has been approved by two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. I advised the National Organization for Women, (in a letter that I am certain was summarily discarded) some time ago, that they were spending too much time grandstanding in the U.S. Congress, and should have lined up the states for ratification before they tried to amend the U.S. Constitution, but then, NOW was not about to listen to the advice of a stupid Political Science major. Their efforts remain in vain to this day.

But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

baby boomers ruin everything

Just for reference, some amendments that were proposed were repeal of the Twenty-second Amendment, which limits the presidency to two terms, attempted in 1956 and attempted again, by Representative Jose Serrano (D-New York) in 2013. Bill Clinton expressed his pleasure of the repeal, and Ronald Reagan liked the idea as well. The School Prayer Amendment was proposed by Robert Byrd of West Virginia in 1962, 1973, 1979, 1982, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2006. I will end the history lesson with just a few more, one that sought to abolish the Electoral College, and another, the Human Life Amendment, a constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade.  Go ahead Stone, blame the Baby Boomers for that lack of amendments, even when those proposed were mostly done by the Greatest Generation. I will state, unequivocally, anyone who understands the founding of this republic would not approve of the abolition of the Electoral College. Abolishing the Electoral College will encourage the smaller states to succeed, as they will lose their voice in the rule of this republic and would have better luck succeeding from the union.

But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

baby boomers ruin everything

Stone carries on: “Cuts to retiree-focused benefits are scarier, while long-term problems such as excessive student debt, climate change, and low birth rates are more easily ignored.” Excessive student debt is somehow the responsibility of the Baby Boomers. Good to know, Mr. Stone. As the college loans kept climbing, tuition rates climbed as well, and departments like Women’s Studies, Astrobiology, Auctioneering, Adventure Education, Comic Art and others emerged to bring in the money for the colleges, and the professors. If the government decides to forgive all of the college debt, I’m going to devise a loan that I made to myself and insist that the government give me my money back, as I worked and paid for my education. Working and paying for your education builds character, a trait no longer admirable in America. For a government with a debt in the trillions, forgiving a few more trillion is no big deal.

But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

The Baby Boomers ruined everything about America?

The air and water of the U.S. are far cleaner than they were during the reign of the Greatest Generation. It was that miscreant Richard Nixon who signed into law the addition of the Environmental Protection Agency to the alphabet of federal agencies. Americans can do all they want to slow down climate change, while India, China, and a host of Third World countries blast pollution into the global atmosphere and into their waterways, and ultimately, the ocean. I suppose the Baby Boomers are responsible for the pollution all over the world, even when Gen X and Millennials live in an America that is far cleaner than the one the Boomers grew up in.

But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

baby boomers ruin everything

Could low birth rates be the result of women in the work force, and not staying home, having and taking care of children? Could low birth rates be a result of the American people discarding religious beliefs? To ensure that I’m not presenting biased data, I will use the source to observe that: “About 70% of Black children are born to single mothers. With the national average hovering around 40% in a society still clinging to orthodox views of marriage and male-centered households.” But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

More of Stone: “Jobs that once required a high-school degree now require a college degree. This escalation of credential requirements has created a kind of educational arms race. The rise in collegiate attainment, again, did not begin with Boomers. Rather, the GI Bill, and the explosion in new university chartering that it underwrote, created a new norm of college education for many jobs.” The Greatest Generation started the college boom with the G.I. Bill. Allow this for some reasoning, Mr. Stone:  As America became more litigious, the licensing craze took off.

Business owners added requirements like more education and licensing because if you were a licensed business with college-educated employees, the less likely you were to get sued. In many states, you cannot be responsible for a public-school classroom full of students without having a license to teach. Heavy equipment operators have to have specific training before they can operate some of the heavier equipment. The laws became more specific, and the education and licensing requirements followed suit. It was the lawyers, Mr. Stone. They sued businesses into covering themselves with licensed, educated employees. But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

Now to my favorite of Mr. Stone: “The most glaring example of this growth in regulation and control is also the easiest one to pin on Baby Boomers: the incredible rise in incarceration rates. Even though murder rates are today at the same levels they were in the 1950s, the imprisoned share of the population is higher in America than in any country other than North Korea. We imprison a larger share of the population than authoritarian countries such as Turkmenistan and China.” Several things have contributed mightily to the high incarceration rate in America. I don’t know why a lot more people do not see this, but whatever; the habitual offender laws, or the “three strikes” laws that began in earnest on March 7, 1994, when the federal government began implementing long stretches in jail for offenders who continue to commit crimes. The states (twenty-eight of them at last count) have implemented these laws that, upon the third offense, (a felony, that is) the state would  incarcerate the offending citizen for twenty-five years, or, sometimes, for the rest of their lives, all for a third felony.

A third DUI in some states can earn you several decades in the slammer. I am not in favor of going easy on intoxicated drivers, but for those who did not injure anyone to serve time with dangerous people such as murderers seems a little over the top to me. The “mandatory sentencing” instituted by many states does not offer any alternative but incarceration, with sentences required and no exceptions allowed.  Does America have a lot of people locked up? Yes. Does America have a lot of three-time felons locked up? Even more yes. Even with all of these citizens locked up, are cities like Chicago and Baltimore rife with crime? Yes. But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

Note here. The first and one of the most visible Baby Boomer presidents was William Clinton. In his last two years in office, Clinton sought desperately for some accomplishment that would put his name in the history books. He never found anything, after trying desperately for some kind of treaty in the Middle East. Clinton could have arranged for marijuana (which he didn’t inhale) to be decriminalized. He had the clout, he had the Boomers, but Clinton didn’t want his name on something like that. Can I prove the issue of decriminalization ever came up in his presidency? I have no research to support it. Could Clinton have used some of his political capital to decriminalize marijuana? No doubt in my Political Science trained brain, he could have. I think I can safely state that most of the Baby Boomers think incarcerating people for marijuana is a waste of resources. But then, the Boomers are responsible for all of this mess.

A universal generalization is hard to prove, and Mr. Stone reviews the difficulty with a considerable amount of naiveté. After enough time, I realized my Political Science degree meant very little in corporate America, but they really liked my problem solving. I listen to lectures by professors and politely refrain from shredding their arguments. I read articles by those such as Mr. Stone and wonder why they get paid to write such extrapolations of universal generalizations, but then, I was once just a stupid Political Science major.

Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary

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