By Sam Hill | Newsweek Magazine
“OK, Boomer” is what younger people say when they want to dismiss boomers as being out of touch or stuck in our boomer ways, sort of this generation’s version of “If you say so, old-timer.” It’s not exactly an ageist insult, but it sure ain’t a compliment.
Fine. OK. We get it. Have fun. But remember one thing before slinging insults: The world, according to Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker (and many others), is better off now than it’s been at any time in history. That’s right. Ever. And I contend it’s because of boomers. Boomers are the greatest generation the world has ever known. The most innovative. The most caring. The hardest-working. That may seem a bit much, but to quote the pitcher Dizzy Dean, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”
Millennials seem to think their challenges are greater than those any other generation has faced. Not really. The Great Recession? Nothing compared with the Great Depression (although the way the markets have been behaving lately, you may get there yet). The wealth gap? Today it’s actually pretty close to historical averages, and nowhere near the peak that occurred at the end of the 1800s, research shows. Student loans? Student loan debt is $1.6 trillion. Over the next 30 years, boomers will pass down $68 trillion as part of the “Great Wealth Transfer.” That should cover it for many borrowers (the timing may suck, though).
There’s more. Opioids? We had heroin and crack. Good jobs? They weren’t that easy to come by for us either. We were the population pig-in-the-economic-python. Competition was fierce. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell? We had Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Lester Maddox and Richard Daley. What about the fact that boomers get an outsized proportion of government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare, what some call boomer socialism? Well, that’s true—but would millennials rather we went back to the old system where the older generation lived with their adult kids who cared for them? Didn’t think so. Oh yeah, we also had the Vietnam War and the draft.