The Great Depression and World War II forced Americans to live with 16 straight years of scarcity. In the years after the war, people decided they’d had enough. There was what one historian called a “renunciation of renunciation.” We’ve now had a few generations raised with this consumption mind-set. There’s less of a sense that life is a partnership among the dead, the living and the unborn, with obligations to those to come.Interesting avoidance of the obvious generation that deserves the blame. I'm talking about my generation: The Baby Boomers. We didn't endure the Great Depression and World War II, but we were raised by parents who found it just wonderful to have a predictable quiet life home life, comforts that were perfectly normal to us, but without the prior deprivations, boring and unsatisfying.
Oh, the trouble we made, changing the culture, restructuring the politics, leveraging our numbers. Don't say we didn't look to the future! The future was us getting old.
We set up the benefits programs, and we taught the younger generations to believe in them, deeply and emotionally. We're just trying to get to the end without their noticing what we have done. It's a tricky business, because we want the money to flow into our needs as we struggle to live longer and longer, sucking more and more of the life out of the young before we die.
Wasn't it amazing the way we got you to love Obama — the last of the Baby Boomers (or did you believe him when he said he was post-Boomer?)? Under the banner "HOPE," he got you to believe in a health-care scheme that forces healthy young people to sacrifice your hope of building individual wealth.
Obviously, the story isn't over yet, but what will be left when we're gone? How long will that take? It depends on how securely we've structured this thing, how long your soppy empathy lasts, and whether the "death panels" taunt keeps working to deter you from the kind of self-serving politics from which we ourselves never refrained.