Friday, June 19, 2009

This Boomer Isn't Apologizing

It is RARE that I agree with a Wall Street Journal opinion column, yet I agree with this one -- but still take issue with the commentator. He takes issue with the blame being heaped on the Baby Boomer generation for having done all sorts of terrible things.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that graduation ceremonies have become collective airings of guilt and grief. It's now chic for boomers to apologize for their generation's crimes. It's the only thing conservatives and liberals seem to agree on. Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana, told Butler University grads that our generation is "just plain selfish." At Grinnell College in Iowa, author Thomas Friedman compared boomers to "hungry locusts . . . eating through just about everything." Film maker Ken Burns told this year's Boston College grads that those born between 1946 and 1960 have "squandered the legacy handed to them by the generation from World War II."

Mitchell Elias, Jr. (born April 7, 1949 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania), is a 50-year0old Republican. Tom Friedman, born in 1953, is a 55-year-old "I-know-best" hanranguer. Ken Burns is 9 days younger than Friedman, and thinks he knows everything.

The legacy of the WW II generation? Segregated armed forces, segregated cities, rampant racism, a strong KKK, McCarthyism, a President in Eisenhower afraid of the senator from Wisconsin and without the decency to defend General Marshall, Richard Nixon in all his gory glory, VietNam ... that sort of legacy.

I could go on, but you get the point. We partied like it was 1999, paid for it with Ponzi schemes and left the mess for our kids and grandkids to clean up. We're sorry -- so sorry.

Well, I'm not. I have two teenagers and an 8-year-old, and I can say firsthand that if boomer parents have anything for which to be sorry it's for rearing a generation of pampered kids who've been chauffeured around to soccer leagues since they were 6. This is a generation that has come to regard rising affluence as a basic human right, because that is all it has ever known -- until now. Today's high-school and college students think of iPods, designer cellphones and $599 lap tops as entitlements. They think their future should be as mapped out as unambiguously as the GPS system in their cars.

I'm not apologizing either. If teenagers think such luxuries are entitlements, then their parents are to blame, indeed.

How bad can the legacy of the baby boomers really be? Let's see: We're the generation that spawned Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, ATMs and Gatorade. We defeated the evils of communism and delivered the world from the brink of global thermonuclear war. Now youngsters are telling pollsters that they think socialism may be better than capitalism after all. Do they expect us to apologize for winning the Cold War next?

Well, Gatorade is nothing to brag about, and Google was started by post-Boomers, but he makes a very good point. No apologies necessary.

The boomers' children and their children will inherit more wealth and assets than any other in the history of the planet -- that is, unless Mr. Obama taxes it all away. So how about a little gratitude from these trust-fund babies for our multitrillion-dollar going-away gifts?

Aha, there it is: criticize the President as a tax-and-spend liberal, never mind that reagan and Bush, the supposedly fiscally prudent Republicans, got us into this mess.

My kids have never once handed back the car keys because of some moral problem with their carbon footprint -- and I think they are fairly typical.

Why not take the keys away?

Let's see what this next generation of over-educated ingrates can do.

So much anger.

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