Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Failure of the Boomer Generation

...of which I am one. Walter Russell Mead details our sins - and castigates both Left and Right for being selfish narcissists:

My generation has some real accomplishments under its belt, especially in the worlds of science and technology. And we made important progress in making American society a more open place for people and groups who were once excluded. In every field of American life, there are Boomers who have made and are making important, selfless contributions: in hospitals, in classrooms, in government, in business, in the military. You name it and we are there.

But at the level of public policy and moral leadership, as a generation we have largely failed. The Boomer Progressive Establishment in particular has been a huge disappointment to itself and to the country. The political class slumbered as the entitlement and pension crisis grew to ominous dimensions. Boomer financial leadership was selfish and shortsighted, by and large. Boomer CEOs accelerated the trend toward unlimited greed among corporate elites, and Boomer members of corporate boards sit by and let it happen. Boomer academics created a profoundly dysfunctional system that systemically shovels resources upward from students and adjuncts to overpaid administrators and professors who by and large have not, to say the least, done an outstanding job of transmitting the cultural heritage of the past to future generations. Boomer Hollywood execs created an amoral morass of sludge — and maybe I’m missing something, but nobody spends a lot of time talking about the towering cultural accomplishments of the world historical art geniuses of the Boomer years. Boomer greens enthusiastically bet their movement on the truly idiotic drive for a global carbon treaty; they are now grieving over their failure to make any measurable progress after decades spent and hundreds of millions of dollars thrown away. On the Boomer watch the American family and the American middle class entered major crises; by the time the Boomers have finished with it the health system will be an unaffordable and dysfunctional tangle — perhaps the most complicated, expensive and poorly designed such system in the history of the world.

All of this was done by a generation that never lost its confidence that it was smarter, better educated and more idealistic than its Depression-surviving, World War-winning, segregation-ending, prosperity-building parents. We didn’t need their stinking faith, their stinking morals, or their pathetically conformist codes of moral behavior.

Mead goes on to point out that the culture of narcissism and entitlement can be found on the left and the right. And since I always thought Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are basically twins of different mothers (Mead only cites Clinton, which is an oversight) ..... well, those two politicians - brilliant, wonky, undisciplined, and whiny - basically sum up the Boomer generation.

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