How Baby Boomers Ruined Everything
Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
So I’m working a canvassing job this summer, and if you’re unfamiliar with canvassing that basically means I’m trudging around in inclement weather knocking on strangers’ doors only to get them slammed in my face. I’m not selling anything, though- I’m trying to talk to them about climate change.
As a social experiment, canvassing is rife with interesting encounters. But there’s one response I keep hearing from Baby Boomers, day after day, and it’s this one response that’s shocked me the most.
While older people are equally concerned by climate change and the current climate-denying administration, they still don’t want to get involved, because they say, and I quote, “I don’t care. I’ll be dead soon anyways.” This remark is often followed by, “I feel bad for your generation, though. You guys are the ones who are going to have to deal with this.”
I can’t help but wonder if that’s what our Congressmen are thinking as they strip our planet for parts and sell it to the highest bidder. “Who cares. I’ll be dead soon anyways.” For the amount of flack Boomers love to give millennials for being selfish, this attitude infuriates me, to say the least.
Hey, Baby Boomers? Here are 13 reasons you should care.
1. You elected him.
As you’re met with an increasingly changing world, Trump’s “burn-it-all-to-the-ground” campaign promises appealed to you. But it’s my generation that has to pay the price.
2. Your generation is the one making these policies.
If politicians are also thinking that none of this matters because they’ll be dead soon, how are you better than them?
That’s the same logic being used to exploit the planet.
3. You fought for these rights in the sixties. Don’t let them die while we’re fighting for them too.
Despite your achievements in the hippie era and your passion for protest, these days you tend to vote Republican.
Where did that tireless passion go? We need you more than ever in the fight. Wouldn’t your twenty-one-year-old self be outraged at what’s happening today?
4. You grew up with more opportunity than my generation will ever have.
You were born into an era of effortless prosperity. You went to work in a job market that delivered a living wage, even for those without a college education. College was also affordable for you- a fraction of the cost it is for us today (including inflation). A single one of you working could provide for a whole family financially. As an employee, you could expect to advance in your field and work your way into the middle class. It was the rule of law that incomes grew across the board.
You soaked up economic opportunity without bothering to preserve any for the generations to come.
5. You burned cheap fossil fuels, filled the atmosphere with dangerous gases, and will never pay the cost as future generations now have to avert climate disaster.
We will pay the cost. Don’t “feel bad” for us and what our generation “will have to deal with.” We are inheriting your legacy.
6. You run the government.
Boomers make up eighty-six percent of governors, three-quarters of the Cabinet, and much of the judiciary and bureaucracy in general. In 2008, you held seventy-nine percent of House seats, and today you hold a still-formidable sixty-nine percent of seats in Congress.
7. You crashed the economy.
Your generation took control of the government decades ago, used it to rack up tremendous amounts of national debt (even before the 2008 Recession), and will probably never pay the price for that.
8. There are more of you than there are of us.
Between 1928 and 1965, 128 million of you were born. Millennials born between 1981 and 1988 number 66 million. We need your help.
9. You exercise tremendous voting power.
Even though you number only half of the eligible voting population, you vote more frequently than anyone else. Maybe this is a condition of your upbringing, whereas millennials have to work more, worry more, and suffer from a serious disillusionment with our political system- the system you created. We have inherited a system that is largely blind to our needs, shows little concern for our rights, and cares not at all to fight for the issues which affect our daily lives.
10. You hold most of the wealth.
From 1983 to 2003, wealth gaps between older and younger generations were equivalent to the growing wealth gaps between the top five percent and the bottom ninety-five percent. You are much wealthier compared to us than your parents ever were compared to you when you were young people.
11. By saying “I’ll be dead soon,” you’re actually saying you don’t care about us.
Your parents’ generation’s responsible policies ensured affordable higher education and economic opportunity for you. When your generation inherited power, you didn’t preserve the same rights for us.
When you were young, this country had just put a man on the moon. Now our government is struggling to even admit that space travel is worthwhile, a far cry from the ambition for exploration and creative growth you inherited as young adults. Your generation is running things now. We deserve the same.
There is more opportunity- more of everything- than there has ever been before. There is no reason we should not have prosperity in this amazing era of history. But your generation and its policies care only for war, oil, and tax cuts for the rich, chiming in choruses of “I’ll be dead soon” as economic inequality has skyrocketed and young people feel more and more unacknowledged by their government.
12. It does affect you.
This is your legacy you leave for future generations. Don’t you want that legacy to be better than:
”In their old age, Baby Boomers were the generation that sat complacently by as their country fell apart. Despite their earlier passion and plights, they wrecked the economy, saying, ‘I’ll be dead soon, who cares.’”
13. We deserve better.
We do. You had better. We deserve a life of opportunity and optimism too, rather than the dark climate shrouding politics right now.
So, Baby Boomers:
I don’t write this to blame you for the world’s problems (even though you’re more than ready to blame millennials for everything from smartphones to rap music), and I don’t want you to apologize for the prosperous life you’ve lived.
But I do ask that you care that we’ll never get the same.
I ask you to exercise the power you have as a generation and accept responsibility to help us shoulder the burden of an increasingly collapsing world. I ask you to stand with us, and I ask you to help preserve for my generation the rights and privileges your parents preserved for yours.
I ask you to care.
Because even though you’ll “be dead soon,” you’re not dead yet.