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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatPurely Politics(Moderators: bhcordova, RedHotMama, BFW) A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America
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« on: Mar 08, 2017, 10:53AM »

An interesting take on causes behind why our culture really slowed in advancement, coming from the culture that had such a powerful middle class that worked together, and really advanced tech on a large scope to get us to the moon and beyond... to a culture that has really turned inward to focus on "me me me" even if it comes at a great expense to others.

I've been noticing the same basic thing for a couple decades now, but the author really flushes it out to a very detailed level.

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/03/08/bruce-gibney-sociopaths-baby-boomers

Couple excerpts of discussion:

On why he thinks the baby boomers are uninterested in preparing for future generations

"One of the key indicators for sociopathy is a lack of empathy. So you just don't care for people other than yourselves. So in the case of Social Security, the Social Security Administration projects the trust fund will be depleted in 2034, but by 2034 the median boomer will be dead. And the same sort of dynamic applies to the national debt, which will reach crisis levels in next 20 years. And the same logic applies to or lack thereof applies to climate, which is a problem whose most significant impacts are expected from the late 2030s on, but any cost of remediation must be borne today and would therefore imperil the entitlements budget. So, they're deeply focused on maximizing consumption now without regard to problems that are going to be postmortem."

On factors that may have influenced baby boomers' behavior

"They were the first generation to be raised permissively. Dr. Spock's book came out in 1946. So did the first mass-produced television from RCA, and the boomers are extremely high consumers of TV. There were some other odd aspects of their upbringing, including exposure to relatively high levels of environmental lead. It was the only generation where bottle feeding was a majoritarian practice. But I think one of the other critical factors was that, especially for the first two-thirds of the baby boomers, they were raised in a time of what seemed like effortless prosperity where the economy growth, you know, something like 3 percent. They would watch new stars be embroidered on the flag as Alaska and Hawaii were added to the union. Neil Armstrong bounded on the moon. The United States more or less leaped from one great success to another, and that conditioned them to believe that success would be effortless. And I think that's had some significant impacts on the conduct of policy and personal lives."

On why boomers have managed to stay in power

"That's straightforward. There are just a lot of them and the boomers are, from the perspective of policy, all roughly the same age, and they all care about basically the same thing, and that's maintaining the flow of government-intermediated benefits for as long as possible. But because Social Security and Medicare consumes a large fraction of the budget and will consume most of the discretionary budget over the next 20 years, if the boomers can win on this single issue they went on every other issue. So, if there is no room in the budget left over after paying out these entitlements for research and development or for funding free public higher education, something that hasn't existed since the boomers themselves were in in college, or for remediating the climate, then the nation loses on all these issues and the boomers win on the single issue that they're most concerned about which is entitlements."
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 08, 2017, 11:05AM »

So, an entire generation of people magically changed their human motivations? Sounds like the book version of click-bait.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 08, 2017, 11:16AM »

I can remember a TEA Party rally with a sign that said "Keep the Government's hands off my Medicare".  Erm, isn't Medicare a Government program?

Incidentally, as a certified Boomer (born 1948) I can say that my parents were much more avid TV watchers than I ever was.  As children, the Greatest Generation were avid consumers of Radio and Cinema.  When TV came along they transitioned both interests to the "tube".

There are a couple of issues that contribute to the problems of Social Security:  First, we are living a lot longer and thus the age 65 retirement is not realistic.  In 1935 when Social Security was formulated about half the people were dead by 65 and 3/4 within 5 years.  Now we live to our 80s.  Even Boomers who would be willing to work past 65 find that there are mandatory retirements in many big companies and ageism is rampant so anybody with gray hair applying for a job is automatically less likely to be hired.

I will concede that we Boomers are the Me generation; much more self-centered than anybody else.  And the Boomer lawmakers are loath to increase taxes to pay for necessary infrastructure or other expenses.  Just like Louis XIV, "Apres moi le deluge" (After me the flood).
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 08, 2017, 11:36AM »

Are Gen X and the Millenials any different?


Or is this more Boomer self-preoccupation? ( We're sociopaths -> We're special)
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 08, 2017, 03:04PM »

Sounds like so much malarkey.  Remember, when you talk of baby boomers, you are talking of a group that spans decades.  The first Boomers were already getting married when the last were being born.  The GenXers and GenYers are truly the 'me' generations. 
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 08, 2017, 04:30PM »

Are Gen X and the Millenials any different?
Actually, yes...

As one quick example:
"Prior generations did not divorce frequently, in substantial part because no fault divorce wasn't around until '69. But the odd thing is that the boomers actually have higher rates of divorce than even their children at comparable points in the marriage. So their rates of divorce are lower. And that's relevant not because divorce is a moral good or bad, per se, in any given situation, but because one of the key sociopathic indicators is an inability to form a lasting relationship, and I think divorce certainly falls into that category."


Also very different political mindsets overall. Note, the baby boomers are basically what put trump in office. Largely an attitude of go back to the good ol days, hey I got mine, too bad  if you're out of luck it's your own fault... Pull yourself up on your own... The political policies, and the underlying views that shape them, of earlier generations are often quite different. Even comparing age to age... Baby boomers have been the party of the GOP resurgence for some time now.
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 08, 2017, 05:02PM »

Post boomer generations don't divorce because they don't marry.
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 08, 2017, 05:27PM »

In the 1960s the Baby Boomers championed Equal Rights and opposed the Vietnam War.  They succeeded in getting equal rights for Blacks; and ending the Vietnam War, which nobody felt was necessary.

It's not uncommon for radical Leftists to become staunch Conservatives as they get older.  We had an uncle who was a Communist in the 1930s and became far right as he got older.  We Boomers are now in that artery hardened stage.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 08, 2017, 05:43PM »

Usually attributed to Churchill:

If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 08, 2017, 06:25PM »

In the 1960s the Baby Boomers championed Equal Rights and opposed the Vietnam War.  They succeeded in getting equal rights for Blacks; and ending the Vietnam War, which nobody felt was necessary.

It's not uncommon for radical Leftists to become staunch Conservatives as they get older.  We had an uncle who was a Communist in the 1930s and became far right as he got older.  We Boomers are now in that artery hardened stage.

No one wants to actually click the link I see. Just like facebook... read the title of whatever, and make a comment without even opening the article.

Claiming the baby boomers really did much on equal rights is like giving millennials credit for gay rights. In both cases, the groundwork for each was laid before either generation was really aware of it or really much outside of other small kids and school. (look to the timing of brown vs board of ed as an example - 1954, or rosa parks - 1955, or the civil rights act of 1957 for civil rights... or milk, stonewall riots, lawrence vs texas for gay rights)(for reference, the boomer generation started about '46... so the oldest boomers would be about 10 during these events) And in both cases, the ones in power... the ones who actually fought for and made a change... they were the earlier generations. The ones that WERE actually in power and using their clout. It's great to think, hey! I'm a 20 year old protesting the man! I'm doing something! But that's really just the self-centered ego of a 20 year old.

The more interesting part, is what happens to civil rights when baby boomers get into power... The drug war. Minimum sentencing laws. "Super-Predators". Minorities such as blacks were finally starting to rise economically, their unemployment rate was dropping faster than whites (though still double the actual percentage), and they were becoming more accepted and integrated into white society, and generally seen as close to equal. Then they became stigmatized, affirmative action efforts were strongly and regularly challenged on multiple levels, drug and other laws targeted against them, incarceration rates skyrocketed, and the ability to have a voice in even basic civil functions such as voting was taken away again as their economic status basically stagnated...

Trump is a boomer. Elected by boomers. With rhetoric that whenever it turned the way of blacks... turned to inner city, drugs, violence, and crime.

Interesting dynamic for the generation that likes to take credit for civil rights advances (again, in truth, made before the generation had any real clout) to respond to the first black president with blatant racism and a resurgence of white supremacists.
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 08, 2017, 07:18PM »

I don't give much attention to experts who make broad conclusions like this. Ridiculous to categorize a huge percentage of the population like this.
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 09, 2017, 03:15AM »

A lot of the people criticized as Boomers are actually Silent Generation - Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, Harry Reid, John Kerry, John Lennon, Grace Slick, etc.

Millennials are accused of suffering from High Conflict Personality Disorder.
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 09, 2017, 05:00AM »

I have written on this extensively. THe generations that were the forebears of the Boomers, our parents and grandparents, lived through the Great Depression and WWII in their formative years. This led them to understand the concept of "we're all in this together", and "if we don't take care of each other, nobody's life will get better." We Boomers had none of the deprivation in our formative years our forbears had experienced. We became the majority at the time the rest of the world was finally fully recovering from the devastation of the second WW and the OPEC nations were throwing off the yoke of western industrial imperialism. Jimmy Carter warned us that we needed to change our patterns of consumption to meet the challenges of a changing world. Ronald Reagan offered "pie in the sky" "we can do anything if we just get government off the backs of the people." In our first election as the majority we opted for the pie, and ever since, through out our time as the heart and brain of our country, we have overseen the dismantlement and disregard of all the great institutions and infrastructures our forbears built for us. Drumpf and his Trumpanzees will finish the job, and our kids will be left with the same situation our Parents and Graandparents faced in the middle of the last century. It is sad.
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 09, 2017, 09:35AM »

Quote
Claiming the baby boomers really did much on equal rights is like giving millennials credit for gay rights. In both cases, the groundwork for each was laid before either generation was really aware of it or really much outside of other small kids and school. (look to the timing of brown vs board of ed as an example - 1954, or rosa parks - 1955, or the civil rights act of 1957 for civil rights... or milk, stonewall riots, lawrence vs texas for gay rights)(for reference, the boomer generation started about '46... so the oldest boomers would be about 10 during these events) And in both cases, the ones in power... the ones who actually fought for and made a change... they were the earlier generations. The ones that WERE actually in power and using their clout. It's great to think, hey! I'm a 20 year old protesting the man! I'm doing something! But that's really just the self-centered ego of a 20 year old.

I clicked and read, and I'd never really thought of that before.  It's easy to think that since the boomers were there in Vietnam or the Civil Rights movement that they were pivotal.  But it was the WWII generation actually creating the laws that pushed the change.

I'm kind of done with conservative Boomers at this point.  I'm a GenXer who has seen my net worth slip, who's paid into social security but don't expect an ROI, and get yelled at by boomers for being a snowflake and crying for a participation trophy. 

Guess who thought up participation trophies?  Boomers.  They gave them to their kids so THEY could feel special.

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« Reply #14 on: Mar 09, 2017, 10:08AM »

I did a TV shoot that was set in the early 60s Las Vegas. Cool fashions, cool music, civil rights, beatniks. The late 50s/early 60s don't get any respect. Then the Boomers hijacked the decade and nearly everything since. The sex was good though.


My view anyway.
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 09, 2017, 10:09AM »

I don't give much attention to experts who make broad conclusions like this. Ridiculous to categorize a huge percentage of the population like this.
It's simply looking at a societal view rather than an individual. In which case, there are certainly societal shifts over time, ebbs and flows... Earlier generations built the killer middle class of the middle of the 1900s with strong cooperation and unions and such. They pushed hard for that. Boomers in turn push hard to kill those advances for personal gain. Now... we have very few unions left, and it is very difficult to start one.

And just as there are ebbs and flows in societal views, there are ebbs and flows in populations. The boomers were a big jolt to the system... a lot of people at one time, hence the name. SO it also makes sense to look at this major jolt in population as an influencing force... because they were/are. There were too many not to be. And the concentration of a population boom such as theirs with ebbs on either side... mean they were the most influential generation for a good while.

You look at individuals on an individual level, and large societal groups on a societal level. Not ridiculous at all.
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 09, 2017, 10:19AM »

I clicked and read, and I'd never really thought of that before.  It's easy to think that since the boomers were there in Vietnam or the Civil Rights movement that they were pivotal.  But it was the WWII generation actually creating the laws that pushed the change.
That was kinda a start to me as well... probably because boomers have so strongly sold "their role" over the years in those. But looking at even the basic timeline, it just doesn't match up. When the general scope of the generation ends near the same time that the landmark civil rights decisions and legislation was made... they just CANT have much of an impact. Some were just born!

But... that does fit the overall arch. Claiming responsibility for "good" things they didn't even do, just because they might have been there at the time.
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 10, 2017, 10:23AM »

The author is a venture capitalist, not a historian. Consider the source, and how his world view might motivate his conclusions.
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 10, 2017, 10:49AM »

The author is a venture capitalist, not a historian. Consider the source, and how his world view might motivate his conclusions.
Do you take issue with his conclusions? Or merely wish to attack the messenger?
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 10, 2017, 10:56AM »

I partially take issue with his conclusions.

I don't think the Boomers have sabotaged the nation any more than other groups.

Boomers invented "bottom line evaluation" and the Xers adopted it whole hog.  It's a way to ignore any non-financial aspect of anything.  As a result, if it doesn't pay back it's unimportant.  Things like arts, humanity, history, etc.
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« Reply #20 on: Mar 10, 2017, 10:56AM »

Do you take issue with his conclusions? Or merely wish to attack the messenger?

It has been pointed out, both in this thread, and in printed reviews, that he paints with an overly broad brush. Also, he is not a psychiatrist, AFAIK.
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« Reply #21 on: Mar 10, 2017, 04:47PM »

Not guilty. Pre-Boomer. :-P
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« Reply #22 on: Mar 11, 2017, 05:03AM »

I partially take issue with his conclusions.

I don't think the Boomers have sabotaged the nation any more than other groups.

Boomers invented "bottom line evaluation" and the Xers adopted it whole hog.  It's a way to ignore any non-financial aspect of anything.  As a result, if it doesn't pay back it's unimportant.  Things like arts, humanity, history, etc.

WE, the Baby Boomers, gave the world Reagan, trickle-down economics, de-regulation, and the destruction of unions as a force for the good of the common man. WE, the Baby Boomers, turned the USA from a 'tax and spend" country with rotating deficits and debt that was the largest creditor nation on the planet into a "borrow and spend" nation with institutionalized deficits and crippling debt that is the world's greatest debtor nation. WE, the Baby Boomers, took a nation that built and maintained infrastructure that led, and was the envy of, the world to build the largest most successful middle class in history and turned it into a country that doesn't build much of anything and is allowing the things our parents and grandparents built for us to crumble around our heads while our middle class shrinks in oblivion. WE, the baby boomers, gave us Drumpf. WE, the Baby Boomers have largely been a malignant cancer on this country.
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« Reply #23 on: Sep 28, 2017, 04:58PM »

I did read the article linked, and the redeeming point of the article and the author is that he admits that he is making generalizations about boomers as a generation and not individuals.  I would really have to read the book to have an opinion on how much he got right and how much he didn't.  I would tend to think that there are more boomers who grew up and came of age in the 60s who don't fit this generalization than do, but those that have been in positions of political power, and at the helm of our fortune 500 companies have had too much unfettered power and influence and we the majority allowed it.  Regarding us lagging in technical development: it was boomers like Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs who made this medium that we are using to communicate on now.  What would you have us do with social security?  My mother (not a boomer) only has social security to live on after the company her husband worked for went bankrupt and took away her survivor benefits pension.  She is barely getting by on social security now.  People in my parents generation relied on a combination of employer and government pensions, now the employee pensions are going away, would it not be selfish of us to reduce the social security benefits they paid into at this time?  I don't think it's selfish of people who were made promises of a secure future, and who had money mandatorily taken from their paychecks to fund it to now get what they were promised. Of course in my mother's case we could take her social security away and she would wind up on welfare so how would that solve anything?  Could we as a group have done better for the environment, no doubt we could have.  Yes as a boomer at the end of the generation (born in 1960) I can see why we as a generation can historically get a bad report card in a lot of areas. I can also see where we excelled (the tech boom is one of those areas, yes we aren't going to the moon anymore but do we really need to?).  I would bet that a lot of the clean energy that is being developed today is being done by and under the supervision of Baby boomer engineers.  It's easy for millennials to sit back and throw stones and to some extent they have some valid points, but keep in mind when I was growing up we had all the good intentions in the world too, and were critical of our parents generation, we were going to end racism, and poverty, and save the world.  I hope that millennials can do a better job than we did, and that they can save the world, my advice to millennials look to our mistakes so you don't repeat them, but stop the blame game and start working on the solutions so that history is more kind to you in the grand scheme of things.  Most of us boomers are retired or getting ready to retire so tag your it, lets see what you can do with it!!
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« Reply #24 on: Sep 29, 2017, 02:46AM »

Nicely put. Our parents and grandparents have been called "The Greatest Generation". One has to wonder what appellation will be appled to us. "The Most Selfish/ Self Centered Generation"? "The Me, Me, Me Generation"? It seems that all the good that came from our generation came from those who ignored public service, politically anyway, and created the technology you speak of outside of the public domain. We've done our best to limit/ destroy the public domain.
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« Reply #25 on: Sep 29, 2017, 05:39AM »

What would you have us do with social security?  My mother (not a boomer) only has social security to live on after the company her husband worked for went bankrupt and took away her survivor benefits pension.  She is barely getting by on social security now.  People in my parents generation relied on a combination of employer and government pensions, now the employee pensions are going away, would it not be selfish of us to reduce the social security benefits they paid into at this time?  I don't think it's selfish of people who were made promises of a secure future, and who had money mandatorily taken from their paychecks to fund it to now get what they were promised.
To quote the article:
"One of the key indicators for sociopathy is a lack of empathy. So you just don't care for people other than yourselves. So in the case of Social Security, the Social Security Administration projects the trust fund will be depleted in 2034, but by 2034 the median boomer will be dead. And the same sort of dynamic applies to the national debt, which will reach crisis levels in next 20 years. And the same logic applies to or lack thereof applies to climate, which is a problem whose most significant impacts are expected from the late 2030s on, but any cost of remediation must be borne today and would therefore imperil the entitlements budget. So, they're deeply focused on maximizing consumption now without regard to problems that are going to be postmortem."

The key problem isn't social security itself, but rather then years of intentionally siphoning from the social security funds (in good times) to pay for other things, and now that it's due to come under heavy load... refusing to fund it at sustainable levels. Baby boomers disproportionally make up the republican party. Their solution? Tell people, who've been paying into the system for sometimes 30 years themselves and who also have no pension only 401ks (which are a joke)... yeah, you don't get this perk. And end the program for anyone under 55. Aka anyone younger than boomers. So boomers should continue to fund your mother and anyone else on it or close, but we can't raise revenue to provide for them to get it themselves when it comes it.

In a very similar way, look at the GOP tax plan currently. We have incredible amounts of debt, we are in about the best we can expect for growth, but the current tax proposal looks to grow the debt and deficit even more when it should be paying off our debt and sustaining governmental funding.

Most of us boomers are retired or getting ready to retire so tag your it, lets see what you can do with it!!
Sadly, it looks like before boomers officially retire and let things go, their boomer president and boomer congress wants to take away healthcare for tax cuts for the rich, gut governmental programs now for more tax cuts, end social security for their children, and make as much money at the sake of the environment before they pass on.
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« Reply #26 on: Sep 29, 2017, 06:09AM »

To quote the article:
"One of the key indicators for sociopathy is a lack of empathy. So you just don't care for people other than yourselves. So in the case of Social Security, the Social Security Administration projects the trust fund will be depleted in 2034, but by 2034 the median boomer will be dead. And the same sort of dynamic applies to the national debt, which will reach crisis levels in next 20 years. And the same logic applies to or lack thereof applies to climate, which is a problem whose most significant impacts are expected from the late 2030s on, but any cost of remediation must be borne today and would therefore imperil the entitlements budget. So, they're deeply focused on maximizing consumption now without regard to problems that are going to be postmortem."

The key problem isn't social security itself, but rather then years of intentionally siphoning from the social security funds (in good times) to pay for other things, and now that it's due to come under heavy load... refusing to fund it at sustainable levels. Baby boomers disproportionally make up the republican party. Their solution? Tell people, who've been paying into the system for sometimes 30 years themselves and who also have no pension only 401ks (which are a joke)... yeah, you don't get this perk. And end the program for anyone under 55. Aka anyone younger than boomers. So boomers should continue to fund your mother and anyone else on it or close, but we can't raise revenue to provide for them to get it themselves when it comes it.

In a very similar way, look at the GOP tax plan currently. We have incredible amounts of debt, we are in about the best we can expect for growth, but the current tax proposal looks to grow the debt and deficit even more when it should be paying off our debt and sustaining governmental funding.
Sadly, it looks like before boomers officially retire and let things go, their boomer president and boomer congress wants to take away healthcare for tax cuts for the rich, gut governmental programs now for more tax cuts, end social security for their children, and make as much money at the sake of the environment before they pass on.
Bob,
I totally agree with you about the problems with social security and how it got that way.  I was asking you and others (there was a question at the end of my statement) "What should do we do now?"  How do we fix it without throwing old ladies out on the street?  I have my opinions: I would say raise the income cap and make those that earn more pay more in, then something we should have done from day one invest the overage for future use.  The Republicans (which I am not one) refuse to do anything that will cost them and their rich friends more money.  We don't disagree on this as much as you think.  I'm hoping the Republicans tax plan, as well as their health care plans continue to get shut down.  Not all of us Baby boomers are right wing Republicans that only care about themselves, many of us our liberal Democrats, or non-party affiliated or somewhere in between.  That's the problem I have with the article (and the author admits it also) is they paint our whole generation with one big broad brush, and classify us all the same.  I personally would gladly pay more taxes if it meant we would get things like Universal Health Care, Better education for our children, and affordable college for young adults.  Not all of us are heartless and only care about ourselves.  Many of us are doing our best to help others, we volunteer, we give to charity, etc.  Don't judge us by our age or some arbitrary category we happen to fall into based on our birthday.  I also agree with you that the next generation is getting a raw deal in regards to employment opportunities, pensions, etc.  These issues are also effecting my generation, the advantage you have is you know it's coming and can save for retirement, we have to be mindful that whatever solutions we come up with also take care of those who thought they had a pension coming and now don't.  How many baby boomers are out of work right now (Have you ever tried to find a job when you're in your 50s or early 60s) or are living at or below the poverty line.  Many of these issues effect people of all generations.  The administration wants to see us divided and fighting among ourselves, and pointing fingers at each other.  If we all got together we could throw them out, and replace them. My point is lets stop pointing fingers and start coming up with solutions!!   
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