The worst generation?

posted at 3:35 pm on February 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Ruth Ann Dailey delivers a scathing indictment of those protesting the efforts by Scott Walker and Republicans to restore some fiscal sanity to Wisconsin’s budget.  The Greatest Generation that preceded the baby boomers now demanding irrational entitlements and pension plans fought Hitler and survived the Great Depression.  The next generation instead invents Hitlers and insists on putting future generations into economic servitude:

Our parents survived the Great Depression, then donned uniforms to fight the Good War and save Western Civilization. We call them “The Greatest Generation.” We use capital letters to honor their achievements and spirit of uncomplaining self-sacrifice.

But they gave birth to us, the cohort born between 1945 and 1964, and they gave us everything they never had. Since fate has demanded little of us, we spoiled “baby boomers” are, as former Clinton adviser Paul Begala (born 1961) has written, “the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation” in U.S. history.

That epic selfishness is on full display in Wisconsin’s budget battle.

A former union member and the wife of another, Dailey writes that private-sector unions inevitably have to deal with economic realities in negotiations with management.  However, public-sector unions use political clout gained through mandatory union dues to collaborate with politicians to stick succeeding generations with outrageous bills:

The problem isn’t unionizing, per se; I am a former, proud member of The Newspaper Guild and the wife of a grateful musicians union member. Unions exist to get the best possible contracts for their members, but private sector unions — unlike the public variety — have to respond to market forces. To reality.

Instead, those who sit across from public sector unions, negotiating on taxpayers’ behalf, are politicians — of both parties — who are only too happy to accept endorsements and donations today while sticking future generations with the bill.

If Democrats succeed in stalling the bill, Walker will have little choice but to conduct a wave of layoffs throughout the state bureaucracy in order to solve the budget shortfall.  Guess who will lose those jobs?  Under current union rules, most of that pain will be borne by younger workers, in the last-in-first-out structure of the contracts.  The boomers will be the most secure.

Of course, not all boomers are to blame, and even those who are blameworthy are hardly alone.  The people who set up these structures of public-sector unionization and entitlement programs were hardly the boomers; many of them preceded the Greatest Generation as these were put in place from the 1930s to the 1960s.  Boomers didn’t gain significant political power until the 1970s, and it’s telling that we have only had three boomer Presidents — and Obama’s status as a boomer is at least debatable, with his 1961 birthdate putting him at the far end of the baby boom. Obama (and I) are closer to Gen-X than boomer, having come of age in the Reagan era and at the end of the Cold War.

However, the boomers haven’t exactly led on entitlement reform either, which would have to impact that generation most if reform is to be effective.  Instead of sacrificing for the next generation, the boomers as a rule want the next generations to sacrifice for them. As a group, they have used their political clout to keep significant reform of entitlements and public pensions off the table until now, when it’s almost too late to fix any of them.  That may not make them the “worst” generation in America — with a few moment’s thought, one can come up with better examples — but it’s hardly a worthy successor to the generation that liberated half the world and worked for more than 40 years to liberate the other half.

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If you know any folks in their late 60s, I’d encourage you to ask them about their experiences and outlook. I predict you will find that war-generation babies have a significantly different approach to life than the Entitlement Generation. Don’t blame us for this swamp.

There. I feel better now.

warbaby on February 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM


I was born before Pearl Harbor, and all of the family moved back to my grandparent’s home to live as the fathers went off to war. I was old enough to remember a lot, and after D-Day to be there as the chaplain came to the front door to advise as to who would be remaining in a cemetery in France.

I remember the ration coupons, the little red ration buttons and the Victory gardens. (Still have some of the red buttons for butter and sugar)

My daughter deployed with the Navy for the war in Iraq. She looks at me with amazement when I tell her about the life at her great grandparents home during the years 1941 to 1945. Nothing like the “home front” now-a-days.

Yoop on February 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM

it was the Greatest Generation, not the Boomers, who set up the Ponzi Security and Medicare systems for their own benefit. the same systems that are now crushing us. Yeah they did some great things, but when they got back from WWII, they turned the Federal Government into the world’s largest insurance and retirement plan administrator and offered their kids and grandkids up into tax slavery to support their lifestyles as Seasoned Citizens. Is that harsh? I think its true.

james23 on February 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM

I don’t support SS or Medicare; however, I think it is important to understand why the American public initially embraced these things. It was in honor of their parents and older relatives. I believe they genuinely wanted to never again see “the old folks” with no guaranteed money or healthcare. This weighed very heavily on children of the depression who saw their own grandparents have to give up their homes and move in with their children in many cases.

My Dad always said that SS became a terrible program because it made people believe they didn’t have to save any money for retirement; however, he also said it was better than the alternative of retirees not having any money at all.

I forgive them for supporting Social Security in its original form — but not for Medicare. Anyone who had seen how SS was going awry should never have fallen for Medicare.

Greyledge Gal on February 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Count to 10 on February 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Count, I beg to differ. My grandfather, who was born in 1900, once told me, as he approached his 100th birthday “You know, I’ve never appreciated anything anybody gave me for nothing.”

Words I live by today.

pain train on February 21, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Let’s not forget that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “The Greatest Generation” were the parents of ALL the spoiled, selfish, self indulgent, ‘entitled’, spendthrift Baby Boomers. As a Boomer, I can tell you that our parents were the people we learned all those bad habits from. And in case anyone wonders, my father, a Marine, fought in three island campaigns in the Pacific in WWII. The Greatests voted for LBJ and “The Great Society” and they BLOCKED SS and Medicare reform. The Greatests were the ones that made entitlment reform THE THIRD RAIL OF POLITICS. So, lets keep all the Boomer scums’ bad habits in context, please.

Also, we Boomers thought that our IRA’s were safe for retirement and that was what we were going to rely on. Now all the RINOs and Dems screwed, not just us, be everyone in the country with their Fanny & Freddie corruption and Derivatives etc. Most of those pols who did the screwing were not Boomers. They were the generation between the “Greatests” and the Boomers.

JimP on February 21, 2011 at 7:45 PM

I believe the entitlement mentality was started during the Roosevelt administration which was before baby boomers were even born, and revved up during the Johnson adminstration with medicare, medicaid, welfare, and foodstamps when the oldest baby boomers were teenagers….Don’t blame us for what has developed….

theaddora on February 21, 2011 at 7:54 PM

The Great Depression started the entitltemt train and it’s just derailing now but another more important thing that happened is that in the late 60s early 70s when liberals took over entertainment… God went out of our lives. People were influenced by the free love and sex culture (though it looks benign compared to what is out there now) started our moral decline. People don’t fear God and so do things that God fearing people would not do. God tells us to be good stewards of the land and our money and people have become so greedy and irresponsible.

CCRWM on February 21, 2011 at 8:28 PM

A lot of these entitlement programs started out as short term vehicles to help people who were in trouble temporarily…that they became abused and a way of life for lazy irresponsible people is a tragedy. That they became a way for Dems to enslave people is immoral.

CCRWM on February 21, 2011 at 8:32 PM

And that goes waaaay beyond unions, and state budgets, Dems hiding at HoJo’s and all this other nickel and dime stuff that may have actually mattered 10 years ago.

The energy, water and resource pie worldwide is getting divided up into ever smaller pieces. I’m convinced that the Marxist-in-Chief and his minions have set us on a course to reduce our standard of living while bringing up the rest of the world’s.

Once upon a time we would have fought for those resources-but that’s “Imperialism”. Other countries have no such qualms.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 21, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Dr. Z, the sad thing is that many millions of people live better now than did their parents because of the US.

What these ignorant liberals will find out is that as the standard of living falls in the US, all the other countries with the poorest of the poor will suffer even more.

Jvette on February 21, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Born in ’59, and of a father who faced the bad guys at Ie Shima, Aka Shima, Okinawa and Suicide Bay, I had been always embarrassed by my Boomer status, due to, well, damn near everything the boomers do.

Then one day I went to one of those diversity workshops that my employer (USGov’t – yes, I’m one of those) is always putting on in the hope of indoctri…making a better man of me. This one was on age-ism and, as most these things do, started off by putting a label on each of us (we get labelled so we won’t stereotype one another, you see).

Well, in this workshop the facilitator took great pains to divide the boomers into two groups, the Woodstockers and the Young Boomers.

I have felt better about myself ever since.

Cricket624 on February 21, 2011 at 9:04 PM

the facilitator took great pains to divide the boomers into two groups, the Woodstockers and the Young Boomers

I was born in 1962. We late Boomers aren’t really boomers at all. We are some sort of hidden generation. We don’t feel connection to the Boomers and always get the hang-over but never the party. To top it all off we aren’t even identified as a group. Here’s to the Hangover Generation, may we wallow in obscurity.

LakeLevel on February 21, 2011 at 9:31 PM


was born in 1962. We late Boomers aren’t really boomers at all. We are some sort of hidden generation. We don’t feel connection to the Boomers and always get the hang-over but never the party. To top it all off we aren’t even identified as a group. Here’s to the Hangover Generation, may we wallow in obscurity.

LakeLevel on February 21, 2011 at 9:31 PM

I agree. Born in 1960 yet never part of the perpetually pissed off adolescent group of boomers.

Jvette on February 21, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Cricket624 on February 21, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Cricket, please post the name and contact info for the people running the sensitivity training so that I can file suit. I’m one of the “Woodstockers”. I bitterly resent that title since I volunteered for VN. I can’t stand those hippie, draft dodging ~!@#$#$! and find it grossly insensitive to be lumped in with that trash.

JimP on February 22, 2011 at 8:50 AM


Sorry about that: I have no idea where any of these lugs come from and I only go when my director says, “Hey, let’s do this, guys.” Team player, I am.

Hope you’ll find this interesting: during the training we were divided into our respective groups – Korean Era, Woodstockers, Young Bs, Gens X, Y, Z and Whatev – and all told to break up with a whiteboard and post our core values. When done, I looked at the young’uns boards and thought, “I remember feeling that way,” and I looked at the Korean era and thought, “I can see growing into that,” and then I looked at the Woodstockers and thought, “WTF?”

They were so socially out of it. For example, one of their core values was “rebellion.” That’s it – no rebel for freedom, for civil rights, for peace, or anything – just “rebellion.” They were quite proud of it, too. And it was their favorite, with them going on about it to distraction. Again, it was all purposeless.

It left me thinking, “I don’t like you people.”

So I guess I failed the workshop.

I’m sorry, I know veterans of this era and guys like you shouldn’t have the burden of being associated with such as these. But the media paints your generation with their values. As the book says, they’re stealing your valor.

And thank you for your service.

Cricket624 on February 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM


I just reread my post and that last line coud be interpreted as SARC. I meant the sentiment sincerely. I am deeply appreciative of your service.

Cricket624 on February 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM


No apology necessary. I wasn’t serious about the info. Just being sarc myself, venting, and expessing my low regard for all the hippie protestors. Thank you for your kind words.

All the best for you and yours.

JimP on February 22, 2011 at 7:53 PM