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Are you a Boomer or a Gloomer ? Vol 66

February 11, 2015

“Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak” ! – author unknown

In today’s world, there seem, at least from my perspective, to be two opposite positions on where this planet is heading. Either you are a Gloomer, who believes that a plague is about to kill us all, WW3 is about to start in Ukraine, Greece will cause the EU collapse, the FED is causing deflation and a recession by printing money, insert your own doomsday scenario … you get the picture.

Or, you believe that we are doing better. Islam is now going to work to solve its own internal issues without outside interference or someone else to blame, our over consumption is finally on the wane, saving resources and the climate, human rights have never been more possible, science and technology will fix our health, solar is overtaking oil as a fuel, insert your own feel good story … you are a Boomer.

Normally, I use the Boomer word to describe our generation, the 46 to 66 year olds that are the biggest cohort in history. In this case Boomer, I believe, resonates in both a population and a belief context.

Of course, there are people who see the Boomers, the cohort, as nothing like the boom time in our society. I just watched a Joni Mitchell interview (on you tube), where she really disparages us Boomers. As an icon of Woodstock and a poet, she lectured on the Boomer’s parents competitive nature and how that resulted in us getting everything we wanted. We got spoiled. Drugs, birth control, free love, and an absence of hearing the word “no” made us feel entitled. The ME generation became consumers. George Carlin, in one of his famous rants chronicled on you tube, belittled Boomers as selfish, “me first”, “give it to me cause I want it” people , basically stating that we are ungovernable.

Even Willie Nelson and Jesse Ventura, in their “Lost Interviews” ( you can look it up ), bemoaned the fact that Boomers have lost their way, and were, in many ways, asleep. We love drugs, but started the war on drugs. The rebels of the 60’s, the anti-establishment anti-war crowd just spent most of the last 15 years on a bloody Eastern crusade. Free love is now abstinence. Boomers seem to have gone back on every core principle of our generation. We live in our own little world, and if we are not personally effected, we just don’t care. Kinda sounds like the vaccine discussion of today, does it not ?

Wow, some pretty damning opinions. I have not included the younger cohort’s thoughts, as we tend to discount our children’s comments as uninformed or immature – they don’t know the real world. Sound familiar ? Hearing our icon’s comment negatively, however, should give one pause.

Ok, pause over. I get that the older generation can see life thru a certain lens, but the world has changed from their day, and their inability to change is damning. Good thing we love them ! Just keep giving them smartphones, and enjoy their utter bafflement …

Today, we are curing diseases, making inroads into cancer, increasing individual human rights, eliminating poverty, keeping conflicts regional, managing population growth, using technology to save the planet, melting all types of people together into one society, going to Mars, integrating all countries into a global frame of reference – all in all, with one exception, a noteworthy path of accomplishments that we Boomers can be proud of. A path, as our work has only started as we come of age, but progress to be proud of. When the richest person on the planet, Bill Gates, is using most of his fortune to transform people and societies, well, what other time in history did the wealthy do that ? Thanks Bill, and all the other billionaires who have taken the 50% challenge !

Yes, our television news can look bleak at times. Conflict, poverty, crime, and injustice can all seem prevalent. I would argue, however, that they are actually smaller than they used to be. Crime levels are dropping, injustices are now usually individual in nature, not group or regional. The fact that the news organizations have to search hard to find individual stories is telling. Also, every time I see a Kim Kardashian story, I know we are ok. If that’s the worst they can throw at us …

My only exception, my basic worry, concerns the debt we Boomers have rung up. Governmental debt, household debt, student loans, credit cards, unfunded pensions, all these things keep me worried that we could kill this golden age we have nurtured. On the one hand, I wonder where all the money went ? Trillions seem to be missing. I would love to have someone tell me where it is, cause it didn’t get spend on things I can see. Now that’s something I would like Paul Krugman, the economist and NY Times columnist, to write about !

On the other hand, we do seem to be slowly reacting to the situation, Not wanting to go into retirement owing money, and really not wanting to pass this liability onto our kids, we do seem to have cut back on consumption, the economic horse we rode to prosperity on. Slowly, we are realizing that our wants are different than our needs, and both are higher than our income, especially our retirement income.

Pick your poison, but I am a Boomer in both senses of the word. Or, as George Carlin ranted, Boomers, be strong, work hard and play harder, gimmie more, and just do it. The results so far look pretty good.

Next on Boomers – WTF ! , is Greece more like a adult kid who just won’t leave, or an aging parent who needs our help ?

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