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Atlantic Monthly, 24 June 2019: The Boomers Ruined Everything
#1
Quote:The Baby Boomers ruined America. That sounds like a hyperbolic claim, but it’s one way to state what I found as I tried to solve a riddle. American society is going through a strange set of shifts: Even as cultural values are in rapid flux, political institutions seem frozen in time. The average U.S. state constitution is more than 100 years old. We are in the third-longest period without a constitutional amendment in American history: The longest such period ended in the Civil War. So what’s to blame for this institutional aging?

One possibility is simply that Americans got older. The average American was 32 years old in 2000, and 37 in 2018. The retiree share of the population is booming, while birth rates are plummeting. When a society gets older, its politics change. Older voters have different interests than younger voters: Cuts to retiree-focused benefits are scarier, while long-term problems such as excessive student debt, climate change, and low birth rates are more easily ignored.

But it’s not just aging. In a variety of different areas, the Baby Boom generation created, advanced, or preserved policies that made American institutions less dynamic. In a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute, I looked at issues including housing, work rules, higher education, law enforcement, and public budgeting, and found a consistent pattern: The political ascendancy of the Boomers brought with it tightening control and stricter regulation, making it harder to succeed in America. This lack of dynamism largely hasn’t hurt Boomers, but the mistakes of the past are fast becoming a crisis for younger Americans.

To avoid copyright violations (and to encourage people to read the article) I offer synopses.



Synopses:

1. Zoning has made it easier to build housing for high-income people, but more difficult to build housing for the working class. This creates a near surfeit of of "McMansions", but a great shortage of affordable housing. Of course, housing will always be pricey, but the real cost of housing has never been so high in American history. This goes beyond a larger population. It often uses environmentalist language as a cause to exclude people from a modestly-good life.

I recognize the need to protect property owners from blackmail (give us $5 million, home-owners, and we will not build a smelter in your neighborhood and reduce your middle-class housing to slums). Quarter-acre lots do not have a softer impact upon the environment than close-in apartment complexes.

2. Licensing makes getting jobs with genuine opportunity in professional advancement and starting businesses more difficult. Licensing in theory keeps the incompetent out of certain activities, but it also keeps people from getting chances to develop competence in a skilled occupation. Licensing has gone far beyond the traditional licenses for physicians, attorneys, and CPA's even to short-order cooks and taxi drivers.  Despite having the potential to advance, multitudes get stuck in low-skilled, dead-end jobs.

3. Escalation of educational credentialing. Just about everyone wants to see himself as part of a noble profession, and raising the educational requirements can create such an image. Such also keeps people out of jobs that they might reasonably 'grow into'. Work that people used to do with high-school diplomas (and I would be leery of hiring a high-school dropout because such indicates someone likely to be a rebel or to not be up to the job) now requires a college degree. 

The disparity between incomes by people with doctoral or professional degrees and people with less than a high-school education has gone from about 3:1 in 1970 to nearly 6:1 today. The disparity between the incomes of people with doctoral degrees and 'some college' has gone from about 3:2 in 1970 to about 3:1 today, which means that people with "some college" or an associate's degree (the latter hardly a lark) is as severe as the difference between the difference between a doctoral degree and being a high-school dropout in 1970.

People with doctoral degrees are not obviously more competent than they used to be. 

(from the article):


Quote: Meanwhile, even as higher education gets more expensive, the actual economic returns to a university degree are about flat. People who are more educated make more money than people with less education, but overall, most educational groups are just treading water. The social norm requiring degrees for virtually any middle-class job is one largely invented by Boomers and their parents, and enforced by those generations.

4. Incarceration. Beyond any doubt, convicted offenders, not all of them violent, have been getting harsher sentences as "put 'em away and lose the key" attitudes entrenched themselves. Incarcerated offenders become a supply of super-cheap labor for gain and profit of economic elites. 

5. Public and private debt. People assume huge amounts of student loan debt just so they can be glorified clerks, doing what 'mere' high-school grads might have done in earlier years. Debt ties to efforts to stave off recessions and to government payments to retirees. Eventual consequences will be higher taxes (an anathema of the Right that accepts its chose interpretation of the vague and indefensible Laffer curve as economic orthodoxy that all must accept), increasingly-inadequate (by current standards)  public services, privatization (to monopolistic gougers) or budgetary collapse that could make the 1929-1932 meltdown look enviable by contrast. 

6. an aging population. Death rates for young adults have been on the rise -- suicide, the opiate epidemic, vehicle crashes, and violence.

Boomers (or perhaps only elite Boomers -- my interpretation) , this article suggests, made choices that can only hurt the young who can solve America's problems if not overwhelmed.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archiv...ket-newtab
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#2
This is a worthless article; just more republican free-market nonsense.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#3
It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.
1984 Apollonian Civic
ISFP - The Artist.






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#4
(06-26-2019, 03:02 AM)Eric the Green Wrote: This is a worthless article; just more republican free-market nonsense.

It is controversial. It also shows how much the economic elites have abandoned the concept of a free market so long as they get plutocracy instead with the related gain, indulgence, and power that comes with the poverty, frustration, and subordination of others. Small business cannot manipulate the economic rules as the corporate behemoths can. Free markets tend to meet human needs; monopolistic organizations with self-serving bureaucratic elites create and exploit scarcity both of critical goods and services (like housing and medicine) and opportunity, ensuring that the rest of us compete ferociously for the ability to pay a high price for such.

I notice that the author conspicuously neglected the gutting of the power of labor unions without which the worker is often helpless against bureaucrats who exploit the bargaining weakness of workers. I can imagine "You can take a pay cut for the creation of more security for your employer and more opportunity in the long run, can't you?" after some young man's wife has a child. With a union such is impossible. With none it is a potentiality, and a lucrative one for ownership and management (who get bonuses for such). This is the right-wing bias.

We do not have a free market. We have plutocracy, and with plutocracy comes poverty for people not plutocrats or people connected thereto. The bureaucratic elites of American corporations and now non-profits are just as rapacious and demanding as the nomenklatura of 'socialist' states. Who needs a market when one can profiteer from scarcity? Who needs a market when lobbyists can divvy up the economy on behalf of those already rich? There is more profit to be had by making critical gods and services more expensive, as with housing, medicine, education, and transportation.

Cause and effect may be confused, but with any controversial subject such is always possible, if not likely.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#5
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

The narrowing of opportunity has become an objective. On-the-job training is better for meeting occupational requirements than is a college degree, especially for clerical and production work. Formal education, unless for extremely-technical work or as preparation for professional schools might as well have the purpose of showing people how to live to the fullest. Poetry, drama, music, dance, art, and (all in all) the expansion of the mental universe are far better than 'sex and drugs and rock-n-roll'.

The problem originates right here in the good old U.S. of A., where we have been getting the worst of plutocratic gouging with the economic sadism of bureaucratic elites. While people with graduate degrees get stuck with the 'temporary' hardships of 'adjunct professorships' that pay little better than retail sales, college deans (who used to be college professors who dreaded the role but needed to the money because they could not teach) take on the roles of CFOs and CEOs -- and the salaries -- for gouging students and making sure that college teachers are 'only' adjunct professors.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#6
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

We Boomers have bolloxed things badly.  I agree.  Then again, we've been operating on a tight wire without the benefit of a net.  The older modes of behavior we were raised to follow were decrepit in our youth and totally moribund today.  The ones we've created to replace them leave a lot to be desired, as you might expect.  Part and parcel: we're split into diametrically opposed factions, making it impossible for us to present a coherent message -- even a bad one.  So, you're on your own to work things through.  We wish you well.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#7
(06-26-2019, 11:56 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

We Boomers have bolloxed things badly.  I agree.  Then again, we've been operating on a tight wire without the benefit of a net.  The older modes of behavior we were raised to follow were decrepit in our youth and totally moribund today.  The ones we've created to replace them leave a lot to be desired, as you might expect.  Part and parcel: we're split into diametrically opposed factions, making it impossible for us to present a coherent message -- even a bad one.  So, you're on your own to work things through.  We wish you well.

This reflects, so far as I can tell, Boomer economic and bureaucratic elites getting away with what no other generation could get away with. The GI Generation had an ethos of taking care of each other, at least in their own communities and organizations; I expect much the same with the Millennial Generation. The Silent simply followed the dominant trend, with people like Carl Icahn, "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, and Jack Welch as flagrant outliers. Although Boom non-elites found themselves cowed and were unable to exercise the latent narcissism of an Idealist generation, the elites found nothing to stop them. If a Reactive gets rich, then it will be by either personal enterprise (Dell) or by spectacular achievement, as it was for the Lost. Entrepreneurs who start with little and spectacular achievers in entertainment or the professions are not oppressors as inheritors who press their advantages and corrupt the political elites are. I expect the tax laws to hit passive investments and bureaucratic incomes as the main body of Generation X to get into its sixties.

It is safe to assume that a Boomer who has spent most of his adult life in a servile or labor occupation has had humility (the antithesis of narcissism) forced upon him The Boom elites have shown no solidarity with Boom non-elites. Boomer elites have been the absolutely worst in structuring society with the idea that the rest of Humanity exists to suffer for elite gain, indulgence, and power.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#8
(06-26-2019, 11:56 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

We Boomers have bolloxed things badly.  I agree.  Then again, we've been operating on a tight wire without the benefit of a net.  The older modes of behavior we were raised to follow were decrepit in our youth and totally moribund today.  The ones we've created to replace them leave a lot to be desired, as you might expect.  Part and parcel: we're split into diametrically opposed factions, making it impossible for us to present a coherent message -- even a bad one.  So, you're on your own to work things through.  We wish you well.

I never mentioned I was finger pointing boomers specifically. I don't like that. I cant stand it to be honest as it is not productive. I was just agreeing with how it is for younger generations and agreeing with what goes on that makes start up so much more difficult due to certain hardships and lies told to us. It does not have to be boomers specifically, but older generations in general have not set up a well efficient system for sure that helps younger generations up, but crushes and bleeds them instead.
1984 Apollonian Civic
ISFP - The Artist.






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#9
It is arguable that the wrong Boomers -- the ones operating on principle, having innovative and creative solutions, and having the knack for drawing upon several millennia of culture and wisdom if not creating their own culture and wisdom -- are not in charge. If I well fit that description I would not be in charge. The Boom elite reminds me in a way of how I saw slave-owning planters portrayed themselves -- as benefactors to their slaves, indeed, the best thing that could ever happen to Africans. Those planters could never see themselves as the selfish brutes that Abolitionists saw them.

That self-praise, that of exploiters so delusional as to believe that they act in charity through their exaction of toil and their brutal methods of management, is exactly what one sees in elites facing downfall in revolution and war. Maybe Boomer elites are not so bad as those planters depicted in a memorable article from American Heritage Magazine, but the spirit is much the same.

The problem with the Boom Generation is that the worst so far have prevailed and compelled the rest of us not only to earn our sustenance but to cover for their greed and their sybaritic ways of life.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#10
(06-26-2019, 05:03 PM)pbrower2a Wrote: It is arguable that the wrong Boomers -- the ones operating on principle, having innovative and creative solutions, and having the knack for drawing upon several millennia of culture and wisdom if not creating their own culture and wisdom -- are not in charge. If I well fit that description I would not be in charge. The Boom elite reminds me in a way of how I saw slave-owning planters portrayed themselves -- as benefactors to their slaves, indeed, the best thing that could ever happen to Africans. Those planters could never see themselves as the selfish brutes that Abolitionists saw them.

That self-praise, that of exploiters so delusional as to believe that they act in charity through their exaction of toil and their brutal methods of management, is exactly what one sees in elites facing downfall in revolution and war. Maybe Boomer elites are not so bad as those planters depicted in a memorable article from American Heritage Magazine, but the spirit is much the same.

The problem with the Boom Generation is that the worst so far have prevailed and compelled the rest of us not only to earn our sustenance but to cover for their greed and their sybaritic ways of life.

Very true but something I watched four days ago just came up in my head and I wonder what your thoughts are when watching it. 



1984 Apollonian Civic
ISFP - The Artist.






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#11
(06-25-2019, 08:27 AM)pbrower2a Wrote: People are still becoming fully adult in many respects (such as cultural identity and political tendencies) earlier than they used to. Maybe a comparatively few eighteen-year-olds vote, but it is arguable that more 25-years-olds are voting than used to be the case.

It is possible that with increasing lifespans and shorter lengths of generations than was the case in the 18th century and earlier that we have more times in which we have four active adult generations at once. The people who married and had children earlier, basically peasants, had no influence upon economics or culture and generally have little role in history in medieval and early-modern times. The aristocratic elites who owned everything and wielded all the power usually had to wait until age 30 or so to even start to get a transition to influence upon society.

The generational cycle might be muted in its potential ferocity. It is hard to imagine a Crisis as horrific as the last one because there will be active Silent adults in influence as late as 2030 by which time a younger Adaptive generation will start influencing at the least the mass culture of the time. Howe and Strauss tell us that what defines most eras is not so much the domination of one generational type but instead the absence of one. Thus a High is so culturally-stale because the last adult Idealist generation that might offer some controversy is no longer around; an Awakening is so irreverent toward needful traditions (dammit, at least look out for the children!) because the last adult Reactive generation is out to pasture or at least rushed to the 'retirement home'; an Unraveling is so destructive to institutions because a Civic (or Civic-like, as was the case of the Gilded going into the 1920s) that might know how to organize things or keep things organized is in retirement; and finally a Crisis is potentially so ferocious because Adaptive adults who might suggest gentleness instead of cruelty and might seek to mitigate the call to 'loose the fateful lightning of His terrible, swift sword' are then irrelevant.

It's probably for the better, because the nuclear genie is out of the lamp and cannot be put back into it.

(06-26-2019, 11:56 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

We Boomers have bolloxed things badly.  I agree.  Then again, we've been operating on a tight wire without the benefit of a net.  The older modes of behavior we were raised to follow were decrepit in our youth and totally moribund today.  The ones we've created to replace them leave a lot to be desired, as you might expect.  Part and parcel: we're split into diametrically opposed factions, making it impossible for us to present a coherent message -- even a bad one.  So, you're on your own to work things through.  We wish you well.

What older modes of behavior are moribund today and decrepit in your youth?
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#12
(06-26-2019, 08:39 PM)AspieMillennial Wrote:
(06-26-2019, 11:56 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(06-26-2019, 04:46 AM)taramarie Wrote: It actually has an excellent point and the only worthless thing here is the commentary that goes along with it above my comment. It is spot on for us millennials, including us millennials overseas who are stuck with the mess and who have been lied to by boomers particularly about the freaking degrees.

We Boomers have bolloxed things badly.  I agree.  Then again, we've been operating on a tight wire without the benefit of a net.  The older modes of behavior we were raised to follow were decrepit in our youth and totally moribund today.  The ones we've created to replace them leave a lot to be desired, as you might expect.  Part and parcel: we're split into diametrically opposed factions, making it impossible for us to present a coherent message -- even a bad one.  So, you're on your own to work things through.  We wish you well.

What older modes of behavior are moribund today and decrepit in your youth?

There used to be a "sense of decorum" that defined how we presented ourselves in public and interacted in both public and private settings. In short, these were the stodgy rules our elders followed, often to the letter but mostly in spirit. There were unwritten rules for everything (e.g. dress, speech, deference to authority and elders) which we Boomers hated and obliterated. Now, there are rules for nothing, and we're in the opposite camp of too little decorum to make polite society a reliable thing. It's all flat and bad behavior is just as acceptable as good, though we're still reluctant to walk around totally naked. Angel
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#13
It would seem that...

the Lost found out that where there were no rules there was no expectation of fairness, decency, or even safety. The GIs chose regimentation and conformity to avoid inequity, disorder, and danger. The Silent bent the rules a little to have some fun. Boomers who could get away with it broke the rules so that they could be masters of the universe.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#14
But the real boomers, the blue boomers, failed to become said masters, leaving it to the red boomers to become our masters, along with their Silent financiers and their Xer boosters.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#15
lol "real boomers." Good grief....
1984 Apollonian Civic
ISFP - The Artist.






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#16
(06-25-2019, 10:27 PM)pbrower2a Wrote:
Quote:The Baby Boomers ruined America. That sounds like a hyperbolic claim, but it’s one way to state what I found as I tried to solve a riddle. American society is going through a strange set of shifts: Even as cultural values are in rapid flux, political institutions seem frozen in time. The average U.S. state constitution is more than 100 years old. We are in the third-longest period without a constitutional amendment in American history: The longest such period ended in the Civil War. So what’s to blame for this institutional aging?

One possibility is simply that Americans got older. The average American was 32 years old in 2000, and 37 in 2018. The retiree share of the population is booming, while birth rates are plummeting. When a society gets older, its politics change. Older voters have different interests than younger voters: Cuts to retiree-focused benefits are scarier, while long-term problems such as excessive student debt, climate change, and low birth rates are more easily ignored.

But it’s not just aging. In a variety of different areas, the Baby Boom generation created, advanced, or preserved policies that made American institutions less dynamic. In a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute, I looked at issues including housing, work rules, higher education, law enforcement, and public budgeting, and found a consistent pattern: The political ascendancy of the Boomers brought with it tightening control and stricter regulation, making it harder to succeed in America. This lack of dynamism largely hasn’t hurt Boomers, but the mistakes of the past are fast becoming a crisis for younger Americans.

To avoid copyright violations (and to encourage people to read the article) I offer synopses.



Synopses:

1. Zoning has made it easier to build housing for high-income people, but more difficult to build housing for the working class. This creates a near surfeit of of "McMansions", but a great shortage of affordable housing. Of course, housing will always be pricey, but the real cost of housing has never been so high in American history. This goes beyond a larger population. It often uses environmentalist language as a cause to exclude people from a modestly-good life.

I recognize the need to protect property owners from blackmail (give us $5 million, home-owners, and we will not build a smelter in your neighborhood and reduce your middle-class housing to slums). Quarter-acre lots do not have a softer impact upon the environment than close-in apartment complexes.

2. Licensing makes getting jobs with genuine opportunity in professional advancement and starting businesses more difficult. Licensing in theory keeps the incompetent out of certain activities, but it also keeps people from getting chances to develop competence in a skilled occupation. Licensing has gone far beyond the traditional licenses for physicians, attorneys, and CPA's even to short-order cooks and taxi drivers.  Despite having the potential to advance, multitudes get stuck in low-skilled, dead-end jobs.

3. Escalation of educational credentialing. Just about everyone wants to see himself as part of a noble profession, and raising the educational requirements can create such an image. Such also keeps people out of jobs that they might reasonably 'grow into'. Work that people used to do with high-school diplomas (and I would be leery of hiring a high-school dropout because such indicates someone likely to be a rebel or to not be up to the job) now requires a college degree. 

The disparity between incomes by people with doctoral or professional degrees and people with less than a high-school education has gone from about 3:1 in 1970 to nearly 6:1 today. The disparity between the incomes of people with doctoral degrees and 'some college' has gone from about 3:2 in 1970 to about 3:1 today, which means that people with "some college" or an associate's degree (the latter hardly a lark) is as severe as the difference between the difference between a doctoral degree and being a high-school dropout in 1970.

People with doctoral degrees are not obviously more competent than they used to be. 

(from the article):


Quote: Meanwhile, even as higher education gets more expensive, the actual economic returns to a university degree are about flat. People who are more educated make more money than people with less education, but overall, most educational groups are just treading water. The social norm requiring degrees for virtually any middle-class job is one largely invented by Boomers and their parents, and enforced by those generations.

4. Incarceration. Beyond any doubt, convicted offenders, not all of them violent, have been getting harsher sentences as "put 'em away and lose the key" attitudes entrenched themselves. Incarcerated offenders become a supply of super-cheap labor for gain and profit of economic elites. 

5. Public and private debt. People assume huge amounts of student loan debt just so they can be glorified clerks, doing what 'mere' high-school grads might have done in earlier years. Debt ties to efforts to stave off recessions and to government payments to retirees. Eventual consequences will be higher taxes (an anathema of the Right that accepts its chose interpretation of the vague and indefensible Laffer curve as economic orthodoxy that all must accept), increasingly-inadequate (by current standards)  public services, privatization (to monopolistic gougers) or budgetary collapse that could make the 1929-1932 meltdown look enviable by contrast. 

6. an aging population. Death rates for young adults have been on the rise -- suicide, the opiate epidemic, vehicle crashes, and violence.

Boomers (or perhaps only elite Boomers -- my interpretation) , this article suggests, made choices that can only hurt the young who can solve America's problems if not overwhelmed.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archiv...ket-newtab

Your bullet points seem good though I'm not sure about some of the details.  The income disparities based on education may be partly due to education inflation; that is, a person who might not have graduated high school 50 years ago might now be someone who has "some college", but he might be no more capable in terms of work output.  Also I'm not sure how incarcerated offenders are much of a supply of "super-cheap" labor since I don't think the work they do is productive at all.  It's people who are out of jail and working that are super-cheap labor, because real wages haven't risen since 1973 despite productivity doubling; that applies to the whole spectrum of wage earners, from janitors to middle managers.

I'm not sure how valid it is to single out boomers.  Certainly boomers are responsible for the continued encroachment of regulation today, but the period they're looking at also includes times when the GI and Silent generations were in charge.
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#17
(06-28-2019, 03:15 PM)Warren Dew Wrote: ...  I'm not sure how valid it is to single out boomers.  Certainly boomers are responsible for the continued encroachment of regulation today, but the period they're looking at also includes times when the GI and Silent generations were in charge.

HINT: regulation is down and declining. The last paradigm shift was to the right under Reagan, and that hasn't eased a bit. Finally, a leftward shift may be starting, but the gutless Dems are fighting hard to stop it. The more Progressive Dems may not have enough clout to push back effectively.

If you hate the talk about socialism (note: small 's'), you're not going to like the next few decades, but talk is cheap. If real policy change happens, then something boring and Great Power 1T-like may happen, or it might be an age of stellar advancement for everyone. If not, then plan for worse … much worse. We should know by 2024, unless my guess is totally off.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#18
Boomers were a destructive influence in culture (consumerism) and probably also in economics (neoliberalism), but gen X followed them and doesn't stand for anything better. Neither do millennials with their technology obsession and hipster culture.

The entire millennial saeculum is a dark age for the Anglosphere, except that technology kept advancing.
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#19
(06-28-2019, 07:06 PM)David Horn Wrote:
(06-28-2019, 03:15 PM)Warren Dew Wrote: ...  I'm not sure how valid it is to single out boomers.  Certainly boomers are responsible for the continued encroachment of regulation today, but the period they're looking at also includes times when the GI and Silent generations were in charge.

HINT: regulation is down and declining.  The last paradigm shift was to the right under Reagan, and that hasn't eased a bit.  Finally, a leftward shift may be starting, but the gutless Dems are fighting hard to stop it.  The more Progressive Dems may not have enough clout to push back effectively.  

If you hate the talk about socialism (note: small 's'), you're not going to like the next few decades, but talk is cheap.  If real policy change happens, then something boring and Great Power 1T-like may happen, or it might be an age of stellar advancement for everyone.  If not, then plan for worse … much worse.  We should know by 2024, unless my guess is totally off.

-- "when, in the course of human events......"
Heart  Bernie/Tulsi 2020    Heart
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#20
(06-28-2019, 03:15 PM)Warren Dew Wrote:
(06-25-2019, 10:27 PM)pbrower2a Wrote:
Quote:The Baby Boomers ruined America. That sounds like a hyperbolic claim, but it’s one way to state what I found as I tried to solve a riddle. American society is going through a strange set of shifts: Even as cultural values are in rapid flux, political institutions seem frozen in time. The average U.S. state constitution is more than 100 years old. We are in the third-longest period without a constitutional amendment in American history: The longest such period ended in the Civil War. So what’s to blame for this institutional aging?

One possibility is simply that Americans got older. The average American was 32 years old in 2000, and 37 in 2018. The retiree share of the population is booming, while birth rates are plummeting. When a society gets older, its politics change. Older voters have different interests than younger voters: Cuts to retiree-focused benefits are scarier, while long-term problems such as excessive student debt, climate change, and low birth rates are more easily ignored.

But it’s not just aging. In a variety of different areas, the Baby Boom generation created, advanced, or preserved policies that made American institutions less dynamic. In a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute, I looked at issues including housing, work rules, higher education, law enforcement, and public budgeting, and found a consistent pattern: The political ascendancy of the Boomers brought with it tightening control and stricter regulation, making it harder to succeed in America. This lack of dynamism largely hasn’t hurt Boomers, but the mistakes of the past are fast becoming a crisis for younger Americans.

To avoid copyright violations (and to encourage people to read the article) I offer synopses.



Synopses:

1. Zoning has made it easier to build housing for high-income people, but more difficult to build housing for the working class. This creates a near surfeit of of "McMansions", but a great shortage of affordable housing. Of course, housing will always be pricey, but the real cost of housing has never been so high in American history. This goes beyond a larger population. It often uses environmentalist language as a cause to exclude people from a modestly-good life.

I recognize the need to protect property owners from blackmail (give us $5 million, home-owners, and we will not build a smelter in your neighborhood and reduce your middle-class housing to slums). Quarter-acre lots do not have a softer impact upon the environment than close-in apartment complexes.

2. Licensing makes getting jobs with genuine opportunity in professional advancement and starting businesses more difficult. Licensing in theory keeps the incompetent out of certain activities, but it also keeps people from getting chances to develop competence in a skilled occupation. Licensing has gone far beyond the traditional licenses for physicians, attorneys, and CPA's even to short-order cooks and taxi drivers.  Despite having the potential to advance, multitudes get stuck in low-skilled, dead-end jobs.

3. Escalation of educational credentialing. Just about everyone wants to see himself as part of a noble profession, and raising the educational requirements can create such an image. Such also keeps people out of jobs that they might reasonably 'grow into'. Work that people used to do with high-school diplomas (and I would be leery of hiring a high-school dropout because such indicates someone likely to be a rebel or to not be up to the job) now requires a college degree. 

The disparity between incomes by people with doctoral or professional degrees and people with less than a high-school education has gone from about 3:1 in 1970 to nearly 6:1 today. The disparity between the incomes of people with doctoral degrees and 'some college' has gone from about 3:2 in 1970 to about 3:1 today, which means that people with "some college" or an associate's degree (the latter hardly a lark) is as severe as the difference between the difference between a doctoral degree and being a high-school dropout in 1970.

People with doctoral degrees are not obviously more competent than they used to be. 

(from the article):


Quote: Meanwhile, even as higher education gets more expensive, the actual economic returns to a university degree are about flat. People who are more educated make more money than people with less education, but overall, most educational groups are just treading water. The social norm requiring degrees for virtually any middle-class job is one largely invented by Boomers and their parents, and enforced by those generations.

4. Incarceration. Beyond any doubt, convicted offenders, not all of them violent, have been getting harsher sentences as "put 'em away and lose the key" attitudes entrenched themselves. Incarcerated offenders become a supply of super-cheap labor for gain and profit of economic elites. 

5. Public and private debt. People assume huge amounts of student loan debt just so they can be glorified clerks, doing what 'mere' high-school grads might have done in earlier years. Debt ties to efforts to stave off recessions and to government payments to retirees. Eventual consequences will be higher taxes (an anathema of the Right that accepts its chose interpretation of the vague and indefensible Laffer curve as economic orthodoxy that all must accept), increasingly-inadequate (by current standards)  public services, privatization (to monopolistic gougers) or budgetary collapse that could make the 1929-1932 meltdown look enviable by contrast. 

6. an aging population. Death rates for young adults have been on the rise -- suicide, the opiate epidemic, vehicle crashes, and violence.

Boomers (or perhaps only elite Boomers -- my interpretation) , this article suggests, made choices that can only hurt the young who can solve America's problems if not overwhelmed.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archiv...ket-newtab

Your bullet points seem good though I'm not sure about some of the details.  The income disparities based on education may be partly due to education inflation; that is, a person who might not have graduated high school 50 years ago might now be someone who has "some college", but he might be no more capable in terms of work output.  Also I'm not sure how incarcerated offenders are much of a supply of "super-cheap" labor since I don't think the work they do is productive at all.  It's people who are out of jail and working that are super-cheap labor, because real wages haven't risen since 1973 despite productivity doubling; that applies to the whole spectrum of wage earners, from janitors to middle managers.

College education used to be comparatively cheap -- about as expensive as a hobby. It probably less to get a college education at UC Berkeley if one was a California resident in the 1960s as it was to have a hobby of modifying jalopies into hot rods. Smart kids not from the middle or upper classes used to be consigned to industrial labor or even domestic service; as late as 1950 half the black female graduates of a San Diego high school expected to have domestic service as their career. In those days, getting a high-schooi diploma was still an above-average educational achievement. Today a middling student from the working classes is typically encouraged to at least start a college program.

Having "some college" can range from dropping out after one semester of junior college due to bad grades that one recognizes as well-deserved to ending up one credit short of completing a degree. Occupations that used to not demand significant college education, such as police work and commissioned sales, now insist upon some college education because such allegedly makes one a more  'polished' worker. More people are attending college than ever before but are dropping out more, and more people are getting college degrees worth little. The only new colleges that have any academic viability are at best extensions of old and venerable institutions. Maybe if the University of Michigan establishes a "University of Michigan at Traverse City", then that institution will have much the same academic rigor as the original U-of-M. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Rice, Vanderbilt, and the University of Chicago do not do that.  It is the academic rigor, and not the cost to the student, that makes a college education valuable. If the college does not offer a rigorous education. then its degrees might as well be toilet paper. A well-honed intellect is precious on the job; a college degree from a suspect institution in which one hardly needs to crack a book is worthless.

There was a thread on questionable vocational schools that were expensive to attend (they got maximal loans for students on their supposed behalf and then bled students for more) that supposedly prepared students to go quickly into the workforce in entry-level occupations. These schools advertised heavily on daytime schlock television whose viewers are heavily unemployed, severely underemployed, or watched a little something during the day because they worked a night shift and hated their jobs. Such people are not exactly Harvard material, University of Texas material, or even "Kegger State" material. To be sure, vocational schools that offer a vocational program that leads at modest cost to employability have validity at the least in getting people jobs that can better finance a college education at a real school.

People who cannot make the literal grade of graduating from high school are mostly a troubled lot. One might be excused if one is from a very poor country and had to drop out to help support a family when the bread-winning father of a large family died or became disabled. The inability to complete a high-school program usually indicates that one is a rebel incapable of getting along with even the mildest of bureaucracies, the public K-12 system. Educators bend over backwards to get marginal and even sub-marginal (special education) students to complete their high-school programs. People unable to complete a high-school diploma are troubles at work. As a grisly study, figure that people sentenced to death for murder in states that do many executions are heavily high-school drop-outs. One discusses people with poor impulse control and short-trigger tempers, people with very little capacity for deferred gratification. At one time it was kids who had early exposure to unusually high levels of lead in their system (lead crates both learning disabilities and poor impulse control). Very rarely is the executed inmate someone who committed a first-degree murder as part of an elaborate plot that unraveled.

On other matters:

Housing


In the aftermath of WWII, America committed itself to building new suburbs with (by current standards of urban flats) spacious housing with real yards, a garage for a car, and some privacy for the kids so that from early in life the kids would have the advantages of the upper-middle class in real estate alone. The slum was the norm for working-class urban Americans, and the slum was the pathology. Obviously there was red-lining (the white kids living in such neighborhoods should be spared the prospect of dating and marrying black kids, let alone having black children emerging from the vaginas of precious white girls) that kept most blacks in substandard housing. Maybe the reality of a population of 350 million instead of 150 million people makes upper-middle-class housing a pipe dream for people not really upper-middle class.

This is not 1949 anymore. To get housing that working-class people can afford in places that have the high-paying jobs, Americans will have to accept housing more like that of Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Many of us still have a culture created on the American frontier, and that assumes that the suburban ranch-style house is to be a norm for the middle class.

But... slum-like housing retards efforts to get kids out of poverty. Slum kids rely more heavily upon mind-numbing electronic entertainments that have become much what Karl Marx saw in religion -- the opiate of the masses. Even if the entertainment is itself harmless (televised sports) it drowns out opportunities for learning. But then I speak of non-white communities. For whites it is no better. NHL hockey is no better than NBA basketball as a time-killer. The suburban kids got bedrooms all to themselves and peace and quiet in which they could read. Try reading where the pop music and television blare.

We may simply have the wrong set of cultures to make the best out of high-density housing. As a white American who has lived in rural, suburban, and (if only during my college years) core-city environments I would consider Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, or Singapore miserable places in which to live. It's not for the people. Maybe Americans will have to adapt to such.

Incarceration

Beyond any doubt, America's offenders in prison are losers as a group in formal learning and in economic opportunity. To be sure, there are rare offenders who had some modicum of economic success who snapped and murdered a spouse or lover (Scott Peterson, Jodi Arias), and fraudsters who got away with something until they got caught for insider trading, tax fraud, money laundering, large-scale embezzlement, or abuse of public funds. Or some sexual pervert who messes with children. Or some scammer who committed a crime through the technicality of wire fraud or mail fraud, in which getting the dubious rewards of a crime is the defining offense. Accept the funds from a scam as a check that clears the banking system by mail or express-delivery service, and you commit mail fraud; accept the funds from such a scam through electronic payments and you commit wire fraud. We see such people in national news stories. The more banal type of crook? One knows them if one is a victim or if one knows the crook oneself. You saw the profile.

The lock-'em-up-and-lose-the-key ethos that became popular in the 1970s has not disappeared. But note well: all federal offenders are instantly enrolled in the Federal Prison Industries, and most states have such an arrangement for anyone not on Death Row. It may not be as infamously exploitative as the old prison farms such as Tucker State Prison in Arkansas or the old 'convict leases', but inmates work for very low wages. Without the brutality and with Constitutional protections of life and limb, it is much the same exploitation as in a gulag. Such employment is by nature exploitative.

Economic exploitation is always a powerful motivation for the elites of ownership (as in Nazi Germany) or elites of administration (the Soviet Union under Stalin). Note well that no society can ever be better than the character of such economic and administrative elites that there are. But as America goes from a competitive economy for elites to a monopolized economy with bureaucratic elites practically selected for narcissistic cruelty, America goes bad. There is something good to be said of a political order whose basis is the yeoman farmer and the small-scale shopkeeper who cannot dictate how politics works. We are resisting, which reflects the legacy of a venerable political culture that still defines our institutions as forms.

Things go badly if our society chooses to criminalize defaults on debt or gives people offers that they cannot refuse -- like hereditary peonage.

Debt

I just mentioned one danger should the institutions change to make debt-holding even more insidious as a means of controlling people. The Right seems to prefer loan-sharking to welfare, and if it gets its way one can imagine the results. Another is that the government can so commit itself to undertaxing the income-grabbers while using heavy government spending and mandated consumption (for the masses) to generate extraordinary profits. The biggest increases in public debt arise from wars for profit, assumption of private debt in the wake of economic bubbles that go bust, and show projects ("bridges to nowhere").

In some Third-World countries, 'debt hawks' make appeals to the local elites to build expensive roads (where few people have motor vehicles), airports (where almost all the travelers are foreigners), and public works to imitate the First World, only in the savanna or the jungle. Such projects are terribly overpriced, in part because they require people from overseas to do the labor. The pay goes to ex-pats who will spend little locally and take their pay back to London, Chicago, or Beijing. The raw materials will themselves be imported. But they will bring development that pays for itself? Not exactly. The country that accepts the deals of the 'debt hawks' usually finds that revenues fall  well short of payments of debt service. Then the debt hakes really tighten their talons.

People are wise to eschew debt. Note well that the airline industry in America did not begin in airports resembling the newest one of our time, and that the roads that Model-T Fords had to negotiate were rutted dirt roads, dusty in drought and mud after rain.

Quote:I'm not sure how valid it is to single out boomers.  Certainly boomers are responsible for the continued encroachment of regulation today, but the period they're looking at also includes times when the GI and Silent generations were in charge.

Boom elites of ownership and administration have done a horrible job of stewardship, putting their own gain, indulgence, and power above everything else and above everyone else. Maybe things will change some as Boomers get retired from roles as business executives -- and having known GI's, the Silent, Boomers, and X in such roles, I would say that the Boomers were the worst. The Boom elites can almost be described as creating socialism for the rich -- socialism without social justice. X may be less moral, but at least  it is more entrepreneurial.

Note well that my critique is of elites. Boomers who do or did genuine labor, let us say as welders (an occupation with lots of Boomers), have not been exploiters or oppressors. Leading Boom politicians and operatives? Will history judge the likes of Lee Atwater, Jack Abramoff, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, and especially Donald Trump sympathetically? Business executives paid lavishly to treat workers badly? It is possible that the economic edifice that this contemporary norm has created will collapse of its own contradictions, and America will revert to a pattern of yeoman farmers and small shopkeepers again -- with little opportunity for the growth of corporate bureaucracies for a long time.

I have taken so many swipes at Donald Trump that I might even seem to have a feud with him. Yes, he is an odious person. He reminds me of the same ethos as that of a slave-owning planter who insisted that slavery was the best thing that could have ever happened to the 'African' -- that the exploiter who lives lavishly is in fact the benefactor of the person whence he waxes fat and manages brutally. But let us remember that Donald Trump is as much a symptom as a cause. Bureaucracies that foster narcissistic leadership out for itself alone when not for the aristocratic elites of ownership create economic distress and deny solutions other than more of the same. The very rich develop a sense of entitlement that becomes increasingly rapacious. Lobbyists come to manage the political process that used to depend upon more independent actors  in Congress and in State legislatures. Mass low culture of a certain time was so incredibly vile and mindless that it could foster only stupidity and baseness.

Marx may have believed that ownership was the essence of exploitation. As the Soviet Union and other 'socialist' states have shown, and as corporate bureaucracies in which the executives have little role in ownership show, it is power that serves as the essence if exploitation. Power has no use for transparency except for making its demands easy to understand among the exploiters of toilers whose lives are reduced to animalistic simplicity -- work, and you might get the privilege of survival. Feudal estate, antebellum plantation, gulag, or KZ-lager, the same principle applies.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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