By Tom Z
10:36 AM EDT, October 10, 2012
Everyone seems to agree that the economy is in trouble. Except for me, of course. If unemployment is 10%, that’s fine. I’m in the top 10% of employees, so unless unemployment gets to 90% I don’t have to worry. Of course, other people who aren’t as good at math believe that we’re in the midst of trying economic times. And now they’re asking the important question: What can we do to revive American manufacturing and ensure a sustainable future for our children? I’m just kidding. They’re asking who we should blame. Consensus seems to be that the baby boomers, by reproducing at an extraordinary rate, have thinned out our natural resources and sucked our social security and medicare dry. (Baby boomers obviously don’t believe this; they blame Millenials and their skateboarding video game playing snap bracelet wearing disco fever.) In a new piece in The Atlantic, young professional Jim Tankersley has a conversation with his baby boomer dad and realizes the truth: that every generation sucks! Here's an excerpt:
The knife twists. I am 34 years old. I have some pretty successful friends. How have we sacrificed to balance the budget, to slow climate change, to deliver better opportunity for our children? We haven't. I own an SUV, and I don't compost my trash. We are barreling, generationally, toward higher and higher levels of carbon emissions; a demographer from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research estimated last year that an individual's emissions rise some 50 percent from the time he is in his 30s until the time he retires. Worst of all, we don't seem to care about changing things: Only about a third of registered 25-to-44-year-olds voted in the 2010 election, compared with half of registered baby boomers.
If my father is a leech on the future, then I am becoming one, too.
It makes no sense to go around casting blame. Every generation tries to solve the problems of its time, but there are new problems that result as an offshoot of their solutions. For example, the "Greatest Generation" won World War II, but to do so, they had to rely heavily on the help of women. As a result, women began to realize how much society had undervalued them, and that led to a cultural revolution. A solution to one problem begets a new problem. Or, to give you a modern day example, Millenials hated watching commercials, so we invented the DVR, but now you can only record 3 shows at a time if you still want to watch live HD television. You see what I mean? Every generation has it tough.
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