I see posts on Facebook quite often that point out how various social institutions (think colleges, government, police, etc.) are not doing what they are supposedly designed to do. This is most certainly true. There is no reason to dress in combat gear and shoot a kid six times because, well, whyever the person who shot him did that.
Short aside — if you would like to see an hilarious take on the tragedy in Ferguson that is also quite sad and maybe a bit frightening, check out Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.
Boomers are currently running the country. Perhaps the world but I don’t know about that. In this country (and other first-world nations) the generation that resulted from the pent up horniness after World War II is firmly in control. I’m one of those boomers myself, born in 1949. Thanks for the Medicare, by the way. I’m not retired but I do get great insurance, thanks to you youngsters slaving away. Damn nice of you, I must say! Which illustrates what I’m trying to get at. Boomers were raised by a generation that had, for goodness’ sake, engaged in a great war to save civilization. And they won! They taxed themselves as high as 89 percent at the margin in order to ensure that their children, the boomers, wanted for absolutely nothing. A couple of examples will show what I mean. In California in the 1960s and 1970s the in-state tuition at State owned universities and colleges was exactly $0.00. That’s right, if you were a resident, your college was free. Lots of boomers took advantage of that, too. My first semester at BGSU (Go Falcons!?) cost me $186.00. That was 1967. With inflation that amounts to about $2000 to $2500 dollars, which tells you that tuition was highly subsidized in Ohio, too. Besides cheap and easily available education, we also had access to a plethora of public works paid for the depression-era programs such as the Works Progress Administration, that not only gave many young people meaningful work, but also provided a legacy of top-notch public facilities in the form of stadiums, developed parks, trails and other infrastructure that made it a joy to be a kid. And then there is the Interstate Highway System, which most boomers never had to drive without. I honestly think it is the greatest system of roads ever built, and boomers have enjoyed it all of their lives.
While all of these things were being built, developed, and implemented, boomers were not paying much, if anything, in taxes. Not that we were dodging taxes, mind you, but people with low incomes, which describes almost everybody in their youth, paid almost nothing in income tax. (The average, by the way, was 13%, with rich people paying, as I’ve pointed out, some outrageously high rates.) So, essentially, boomers grew up with all of these wonderful things existing, so far as they could tell, absolutely for free! After all, no boomer ever paid a dime to cut a trail in a national park. Or to build a high-school stadium. Or even to put up the stairways at, for instance, Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis where I once lived. Things are, and of a right ought to be, free! Well, NOT!
People are free to choose their path in life. Or should be, anyway. But things are not free. Today we see boomers railing against socialism and welfare while sopping up Medicare, which really is excellent insurance at very low cost by the way, and Social Security (the name actually says “socialism”) and other government programs. Many of us also believe that taxes are a terrible evil. Seriously, a man like Rand Paul can get a hearing on a national level? Our parents spent billions of dollars to make us comfortable, but we begrudge some poor mom working at Burger King the food stamps she needs to feed her family? Why, yes, we do, as a matter of fact. Hell, it’s easy being young and poor! We remember!
Maybe if boomers weren’t so introspective as a generation they’d be able to see their own role in the current national condition more clearly. The truth is, “the answer lies within” is true only if the question is something like “where can I find ten meters of slimy intestines?” I can’t do anything about the boomers. I wish I could, but I gave up on them a long time ago. There was an angry demonstration, about what I don’t know, in Bowling Green. The organizer was named Charlie. A friend of mine asked the demonstrators where Charlie was. The answer: “Charlie can’t be here. He’d get busted!” I’d been thinking less and less highly of my generation anyway, but that tore it. Getting busted is the whole point, if you’re serious about social change. I mean, sheesh! I imagine that Charlie went on to be a accountant at AIG or something.
So, I apologize to all of you non-boomers who may read this. I’d like to say “I didn’t do it” but in fact I’m sure I contributed. If only by getting a low-cost degree, sitting in my high-school’s stadium, and visiting some wonderful national parks, all without paying significant amounts of tax. Even though I’m a boomer, I can see that our parents were serious about sacrifice on behalf of future generations. Apparently, though, boomers are the last generation of the future. Here’s a hint: if you’re worried about your grandchildren’s world, how about coughing up the cash to make it better? See? Not a peep!
So, I truly am sorry. Fortunately for us, thanks to immigration, Social Security and Medicare probably will not run out of funds, and boomers (like other idealist generations before them) are really more concerned with comfort and playtime than money, so probably it will all work out. Still, it would have been nice for you guys if somebody had paid your way through school, wouldn’t it? But, here’s my word of advice. When you have kids, don’t overindulge them, and don’t overprotect them. The world keeps changing, so make sure they’re ready for that. There will be more generations like the boomers in the future, but if you do it right, maybe they’ll be a tad less obnoxious about things. At least, give it a try, okay?