'The Boomer Bust'
Satirist P.J. O'Rourke has a new book out on baby boomers and what they have wrought in America.
O'Rourke based this Wall Street Journal article on the book, and if this is any indication of what's in it, I hope Santa puts it under the tree for me this year.
We should have had a cooler name, the way the Lost Generation did. Except good luck to anybody who tries to tell us to get lost. Anyway, it's too late now. We're stuck with being forever described as exploding infants. And maybe it's time, now that we've splattered ourselves all over the place, for the baby boom to look back and think. "What made us who we are?" "And what caused us to act the way we do?" "And WTF?" Because the truth is, if we hadn't decided to be young forever, we'd be old.
The youngest baby boomers, born in the last year when anybody thought it was hip to like Lyndon Johnson, are turning 50. We'd be sad about getting old if we weren't too busy remarrying younger wives, reviving careers that hit glass ceilings when children arrived and renewing prescriptions for drugs that keep us from being sad. And we'll never retire. We can't. The mortgage is underwater. We're in debt up to the Rogaine for the kids' college education. And it serves us right-we're the generation who insisted that a passion for living should replace working for one.
Still, it's an appropriate moment for us to weigh what we've wrought and tally what we've added to and subtracted from existence. We've reached the age of accountability. The world is our fault. We are the generation that has an excuse for everything-one of our greatest contributions to modern life-but the world is still our fault.
This is every generation's fate. It's a matter of power and privilege and demography. Whenever anything happens anywhere, somebody over 50 signs the bill for it. And the baby boom, seated as we are at the head of life's table, is hearing Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials all saying, "Check, please!"
To address America's baby boom is to face big, broad problems. We number more than 75 million, and we're not only diverse but take a thorny pride in our every deviation from the norm (even though we're in therapy for it). We are all alike in that each of us thinks we're unusual.
O'Rourke divides boomers into segments with the "seniors" - his generation" - being those born in the late 1940's; juniors born in the early 50's; sophomores born in the late 1950's; and freshmen born in the early 1960's. His roaringly funny description of each also hits home.
No one captures the self-centeredness, the obsession with pleasure that is the boomer's signature better than P.J. O'Rourke. Read the whole thing.