...But, Will Boomers be Told the Truth About what They've Done for a Change?
Tom Brokaw's greatest contribution to the American mediascape may not be his role as an anchor on NBC; it may be his coining of the phrase "The Greatest Generation" to describe the once-young Americans who fought and won World War II. However, his treatment of another generation tonight on CNBC via a new documentary called "Boomers" derived from his book of a similar name, heaps another overdose of attention upon the already majorly overexposed Baby Boom generation. This time it's about how they're "facing aging" in these most challenging of economic times in, well, a generation."
A side note to our valued Baby Boomer readers: Forget about aging; you're aged! Well-aged. Old. There. You're old. Sorry; it's just a fact. You've been old for a few years now.
Brokaw's book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties, which was released in 2007, was described that year, by USA Today's Michael Minzesheimer as bland and better at descriptions than analysis. If the same turns out to be true for the documentary, he will have missed an opportunity to hold up a mirror to Boomers and ask them if they can see that what they did in the 1960s has not defined our world; it's what they did after the sixties that gave us the planet we walk today. In the 1980s the sold a nation the idea that greed was good. In the 1990s the fine-tuned that message by turning everything that wasn't bolted down over to corporate America. Rather than the more tangential message "Greed is Good," the mantra of the nineties gave us instructions. It was "Privatize! Outsource! Contract it out!"
A public school teacher recently told me a set of parents, whose daughter had been caught cheating on a final, protested the disciplinary action the school had decided to take by saying, "Come on, everybody cheats a little." The parents were likely Gen-Xers--my demographic--rather than Boomers.
I don't buy it. Not everybody cheats. But, that's the legacy of the Baby Boomer Generation.
Cheating is taking advantage of the trust of others. The others of whom the Boomers have taken advantage are the generations to come.
The Space Program as an Example
Their parents' generation gave Boomers the advantage of a highly accessible higher education system, the crown jewels of whose public university component may have been California's U.C. and CSU systems. But Boomers have decided to begin dismantling is in order to minimize their own pain as they continue aging. It's just too expensive now, they say. And yes, look at the ages of the politicians, administrators, corporate leaders, and even the largest demographic segment of taxpayers driving the deconstruction of nation's largest public university systems. They're boomers. Boomers represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population, weighing in at about 80,000,000 people, according to the U.S. Census.
To be sure, they've done great things. They've vastly improved race relations and increased human communication with technology and openness.
But, they dropped the ball or actually kicked it over the fence and onto the freeway (and in some cases told other generations to go get it), when it came to the economy, infrastructure, the environment, and the family unit.
Boomers have totally gutted U.S. manned space exploration. Think about what their parents did. They went to the moon--multiple times. We couldn't do that today if we wanted to. Think about where we find ourselves today in space: the shuttles are retiring; we're going to have to use the Russians rockets in order to get to the space station until the return to 1960s space-capsule technology is made real. Yes, that is the plan).
Unfortunately, there are so many ways to point to the Boomers as being responsible for so much that is wrong with America today. It's sad. So, if Mr. Brokaw (aged 70, and not a Boomer) expects the youth of today to buy another sales pitch of the Baby Boom generation as being anything but a net failure, he's kidding himself and the Boomers too.