A New Role for Baby Boomers

James V. Capua
The entitlement crisis: an opportunity for proto-Geezers of the Baby Boom finally to stop whining and make themselves useful

Normally I'd be inclined to dismiss something from a former Deputy Campaign Manager to the mealy-mouthed, politically faithless, financial crisis-panicked Republican  presidential candidate of 2008, but Reed Galen has inspired a thought in It's Bootstrap  Time for Generation X.  Galen encourages his  fellow Gen X'ers ( basically,  those born in the 60's and 70's, the exact definition varies) to rise to the occasion: not  "sit around and worry about what 'the system' has done, or might do.... The days of thinking about how things were, or how things should be are gone... [But] go out and try to make the best life we can for ourselves and our families, and ask "the system" to just leave us alone."

Well, if the allegedly "flannel-wearing, alienated, over-educated, underachieving slackers with body piercing, who drank Starbucks coffee and had to work at McJobs," can be called upon to,  in  Moonstruck's  Loretta Castorini's immortal words, "Snap out of it!" what about their generational predecessors? Shouldn't the Baby Boomers, that most selfish and pampered demographic cohort in American history, also do their bit? As we Baby Boomers approach Geezerdom, and contemplate cashing in on just about the only significant contribution those of us who did not serve in Vietnam or otherwise help win the Cold War ever made to a country that gave us probably the best life ever lived on this planet, are we going to continue true to form as a generation of  entitlement whiners?

Think about that obnoxious proto-Geezer in the floppy hat who razzed Mitt Romney at the Iowa State Fair this week with the usual yammering about Social Security and Medicare. Do we really want to be remembered as that guy? I know most of us don't have great credits thus far, but does our most significant late-career political role have to be playing frightened peasants begging their lord to be saved from an imaginary monster?

None of us are being asked to give up anything, though, as bad as things are, maybe we should. Can we, at least, reject being used by cynical politicians who manipulate us to avoid necessary changes to an old age pension and medical care system that, unreformed, will rob future generations and still fail in the end?

It is in Baby Boomers' hands to turn off the current in what the Obama re-election campaign still regards as a reliable "Third Rail of American Politics." Clearly, having no accomplishments beyond astounding swiftness in destroying an economy and the confidence of our people, they intend to win by frightening us, holding out to us our lousy social security check and our access to an already deteriorating medical system.

In the 60's we were famous for prattling tiresomely about the boundless possibilities for self-definition, so let's try it now.  We don't need to define ourselves as the old bag in the commercial who cackles proudly about "Not paying a penny for my Power Chair!" Instead we could consider redefining, even at this late date.  One good model is Russell Simpson's resolute prototypical American pre-Baby Boom Geezer, "Dad" Knowland of They Were Expendable, who sits calmly on his porch, jug at hand and rifle ready, waiting to confront whatever comes and resolved to acquit himself as best he can.

How about it-- Geezers for Entitlement Reform?

The entitlement crisis: an opportunity for proto-Geezers of the Baby Boom finally to stop whining and make themselves useful

Normally I'd be inclined to dismiss something from a former Deputy Campaign Manager to the mealy-mouthed, politically faithless, financial crisis-panicked Republican  presidential candidate of 2008, but Reed Galen has inspired a thought in It's Bootstrap  Time for Generation X.  Galen encourages his  fellow Gen X'ers ( basically,  those born in the 60's and 70's, the exact definition varies) to rise to the occasion: not  "sit around and worry about what 'the system' has done, or might do.... The days of thinking about how things were, or how things should be are gone... [But] go out and try to make the best life we can for ourselves and our families, and ask "the system" to just leave us alone."

Well, if the allegedly "flannel-wearing, alienated, over-educated, underachieving slackers with body piercing, who drank Starbucks coffee and had to work at McJobs," can be called upon to,  in  Moonstruck's  Loretta Castorini's immortal words, "Snap out of it!" what about their generational predecessors? Shouldn't the Baby Boomers, that most selfish and pampered demographic cohort in American history, also do their bit? As we Baby Boomers approach Geezerdom, and contemplate cashing in on just about the only significant contribution those of us who did not serve in Vietnam or otherwise help win the Cold War ever made to a country that gave us probably the best life ever lived on this planet, are we going to continue true to form as a generation of  entitlement whiners?

Think about that obnoxious proto-Geezer in the floppy hat who razzed Mitt Romney at the Iowa State Fair this week with the usual yammering about Social Security and Medicare. Do we really want to be remembered as that guy? I know most of us don't have great credits thus far, but does our most significant late-career political role have to be playing frightened peasants begging their lord to be saved from an imaginary monster?

None of us are being asked to give up anything, though, as bad as things are, maybe we should. Can we, at least, reject being used by cynical politicians who manipulate us to avoid necessary changes to an old age pension and medical care system that, unreformed, will rob future generations and still fail in the end?

It is in Baby Boomers' hands to turn off the current in what the Obama re-election campaign still regards as a reliable "Third Rail of American Politics." Clearly, having no accomplishments beyond astounding swiftness in destroying an economy and the confidence of our people, they intend to win by frightening us, holding out to us our lousy social security check and our access to an already deteriorating medical system.

In the 60's we were famous for prattling tiresomely about the boundless possibilities for self-definition, so let's try it now.  We don't need to define ourselves as the old bag in the commercial who cackles proudly about "Not paying a penny for my Power Chair!" Instead we could consider redefining, even at this late date.  One good model is Russell Simpson's resolute prototypical American pre-Baby Boom Geezer, "Dad" Knowland of They Were Expendable, who sits calmly on his porch, jug at hand and rifle ready, waiting to confront whatever comes and resolved to acquit himself as best he can.

How about it-- Geezers for Entitlement Reform?