Talkin' Bout My Generational Theft

Feb. 23, 2009
A quick rant on the concerns about "generational theft" that I keep hearing of late. As a hardworking member of a generation (in my case, the tail end of Gen X) that has been part of the workforce in both the 1990s and 2000s, I have watched as the ...

A quick rant on the concerns about "generational theft" that I keep hearing of late.

As a hardworking member of a generation (in my case, the tail end of Gen X) that has been part of the workforce in both the 1990s and 2000s, I have watched as the element after element of the decades-old social contract between employee and employer, and between citizen and government, has fallen apart like a Minneapolis highway bridge. Pensions disappear and are replaced by 401Ks, employer matches and tuition assistance disappear and are replaced by nothing, insurance premiums rise, prescription drug prices rise, rents rise, costs of living rise, unemployment rises, bridges and levees fall, home values drop off a cliff as does American soft power and moral authority, and all of this while the money funnel set up by Wall Street and Washington D.C. was delivering the wealth my generation was working so hard to create elsewhere. Where did it all go? (Illegal tax havens for the ultrarich brought to you by the tax cheat specialists at UBS, perhaps?)

Meanwhile, despite the increasing productivity of the American workforce, the last 20-30 years have seen an unprecedented ballooning of all types of debt: household, financial, government debt -- all of it.

And now the same people that created all this debt with self-destructive fiscal irresponsibility are clutching at their pearls and crying about how a stimulus plan that is needed to patch up the huge hole in the economy caused by their irresponsible policy choices is somehow "generational theft."

It's like a team of burglars rob you, set your house on fire and then try to keep the firefighters from putting it out by screaming a bunch of nonsense into megaphones at once. It would be funny, if it didn't matter.

Little wonder that people hate politicians with a passion. Me, I've watched the members of the baby boomer generation fight old battles into a perpetual gridlock standstill that solves nothing and benefits no one (but their re-election campaigns), while they lie our way into costly and unneccessary battles overseas, while all the while using shady "off-balance sheet" accounting tactics (no doubt borrowed from their friends in the private sector) to conceal the real costs of all this mismanagement from the American people.

Meanwhile, I've read how the numbers are trending, and despite the new administration's best efforts to rein in entitlement programs and make them solvent again (again, with honest and transparent accounting) I honestly don't expect to see a dime of Social Security -- one of the New Deal programs created by FDR to combat the last major American housefire -- if/when I ever get to retirement age.

(Interesting side note: as far as I can tell, the Fox News/Limbaugh/CNBC "axis of evil" is now trying to blame the entire Great Depression on FDR, as well as blame the current economic meltdown on President Obama's month-old administration. It would be a shockingly presumptive gambit if we didn't already know that compulsive prevarication is the last bastion of the modern conservative movement.)

So, my message to all those who are suddenly concerned about the theft of wealth from mine and future generations -- to borrow an apt phrase here, we weren't born yesterday. We know you've been stealing us blind for years. We'll just keep working hard, and taking every shot we can get to run you out of office, so you too can join the growing ranks of the unemployed.

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