The fact that the Boomers led a society addicted to debt is well-chronicled, and addictions, as we all know, are hard to overcome. Fueled by their addiction, the Boomers led America on a consumption boom which lasted for almost a quarter century. Look around you, look at all the stuff you can’t live without: the twelve year olds with iPhones, TVs in every room, meals out most nights of the week. It probably has infected your thinking, too. The housing/mortgage bubble and bust is yet another outcome of the mentality. And the behavior carried over into their “stewardship” of our cities, states, and federal government — if you can’t afford it, no worries. Just keep issuing debt, somebody will buy it, and we’ll grow (or inflate) our way out of it. Nothing was ever out of reach. At home or in Washington, the Baby Boomer mentality was just to put it on the card (or two, three, or five — you remember mom’s wallet from the ‘90s). And life will be good.
But it is obviously an unsustainable illusion, and you, Young America, are going to be handed a very long butcher bill. The federal debt alone is $16 trillion, and if the past holds true to form, about to rise precipitously. State debt increasing? Check. Cities? Check. Hey, they’re even starting to fall off a cliff and file for bankruptcy.
And your parents aren’t done yet. They have more programs they want to fund before they are through creating the world in perfect harmony they sang of in 1970. And they are in a hurry.
Why, you might ask? Here’s the other shoe: they are preparing to retire. Yes, the Baby Boomers are about to head to their golf courses, and they want to make sure they are well taken care of. So don’t touch those entitlements, kids, we “earned” those. And give us our universal health care and prescription drug benefits … it’s a right, and it’s good for you, too. Oh, and when these huge numbers leave the workforce, the few of you still working get to pay for it all.
Yes, that is the dirty, awful, evil joke. You, Young Americans, get to pay for it all. And you won’t be able to. Nor will your kids. (Still got that marijuana handy?) The economy — bereft of manufacturing and the kind of self-sufficiency that remained until the Boomers got through “outsourcing” — bled jobs and career paths. Household incomes are in decline.