While We Cope With Recession, Baby Boomers Keep Spending

April 28, 2008

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but this Los Angeles Times article about how a large number of Gen-X and Yers are seeing their dreams go bust reads like the handiwork of a self-satisfied Baby Boomer wagging their finger and saying, “Told ya so!”

I guess I approach articles such as these with more than a hint of skepticism because statements like, “Raised amid a long stretch of financial bounty and weaned on video games, cellphones, iPods and weekends at the mall, many Generation X and Y members have barely seen a time when they couldn’t spend freely on the latest styles and gadgets” sound as if they are coming from a douchey ‘Boomer who does not want to talk about how his generation is responsible for the current economic downturn, and would rather pat himself on the back for having survived a recession and for being financially secure at a point in US history when many are not. These navel gazing ‘boomer journalists really do love taunting those younger than them for not getting their shit together and contributing to society. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t bother delving into why more and more young people are finding themselves in debt, because to do so would be to admit that his generation raised the cost of living to such outrageous levels that almost every graduating college student arrives at his or her first job already mired in debt. So a quote such as, “This generation as a whole has not experienced any substantial kind of financial difficulty…It could be a defining moment for them,” are laughable…because what kind of “substantial financial difficulty” greeted ‘boomers upon college graduation? The oil crisis in the early ’70s occurred when the oldest members of the generation were turning thirty-years old. I’d say those seven or eight years between entering the work force and the start of the oil crisis enabled most of the Baby Boomers to handle the “crisis” without much difficulty.

By the way, it’s worth noting that during the 1973 recession, the price of oil rose from $3 a barrel to $12. In today’s dollars, that’s an increase of $10 a barrel to $40 a barrel. This week, the price of oil hit $115 a barrel. I’d say the Baby Boomers had it pretty easy in ’73. During the early ’80s recession, the oldest ‘boomers had already begun birthing the youngest Gen Xers. Again, they miraculously survived that recession, and remained viable workers straight through the Internet boom (and bust), all the while amassing great enough wealth to not have to worry about debt. Even in today’s economic downturn (if you want to call it a recession, that’s fine), they’re still spending like mad, acquiring all the useless trinkets they could ever desire, looking down laughing from their clouds made of easy cash advances! My dad even called me yesterday and asked me to buy him $300 worth of memorabilia from the store. Recession? What recession? Negligence towards future generations is one of the most deplorable traits of any Baby Boomer, and the author of this article clearly has no shame in flippantly citing things like average credit card debt, and the toll of the Iraq war on our economy from his lofty position of gainfully employed, fearlessly dedicated possible ‘boomer.

“Paradoxically…research shows that younger people have grown up in a time of great wealth but have more anxiety about their economic future than past generations.” That’s odd, maybe it stems from watching our parents buy themselves everything under the sun. This article from Forbes states that by 2015, “u-boomers” will account for 25% of US consumption. Until then, I’m sure they’ll just continue to brush off our cries that most of what’s wrong with this country is their fault, and simply stick there fingers in their ears and go, “LA LA LA LA GET A JOB I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA”.

I’m sure my friend-in-blogging “Mr. X-er”, who runs The Worst Generation Ever, would have a field day picking apart this article. I don’t really have the strength to make it through all three pages of this article. I’ve already exhausted enough words on just page one.


  1. Rita

    It’s too bad that the generations are squabbling so. In these tough economic times, we all need to pull together and support each other.

    You may not be aware that a recent AARP study indicated that more than 25 percent of baby boomers are ill prepared for retirement and will have to work beyond age 65.

    There are many articles in the news and stories on the radio recently that many boomers are reassessing their retirement plans due to the current economic conditions. They may not be able to retire when they’d planned or have the lifestyle they’d planned.

    I write a boomer consumer blog called The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.

    Things I’ve learned about boomers since I’ve been writing the blog are: (1) the suicide rate is increasing in people at midlife; (2) boomers use more psychoactive prescription drugs and have three to four times more emotional disorders; and (3) studies show boomers aren’t in as good health at their current age as the generation before them.

    It doesn’t seem to me that everything is happiness and roses in Boomerville today.


  2. X-er

    Just out of curiosity there Rita, but whose fault is it that the boomers have not saved enough for retirement?

    They seemed to have enough money to buy a nice McMansion. Oh wait, they don’t really own that either. The bank owns that.

    Their cars? Oh, the bank owns those too. Good thing they are big cars that require a lot of expensive gas.

    Talk about a generation that has only known good times.

    Have you ever noticed that every financial statistic is only given since WWII. A little recession here. A little recession there. Some stagflation in the 70s but on the whole 60+ years of economic growth.

    As for them having more emotional disorders? We’ve always known that. The boomers are f’d up. That is not a statistic that you should use to illicit sympathy. To me it just sounds like more narcissistic ranting. Oh me, or poor me. I have depression. I have anxiety. Oh poor me. I have a job. I had cheap college. I had better schools. Oh poor me, what will I do now.

    Here decode these letter: STFU

    Latch key kid was a term invented for my generation. Previous generations would have described that as abandonment.

    Our Gen started getting out of college just as American Business invented the word downsizing. You boomers were being thrown out of jobs then too. But when we couldn’t find even entry-level jobs we got labeled as slackers by your gen. Any job opening that came along went to someone with experience. That wasn’t us. But I guess someone had to serve up your fries.

    A little angry? Geeze, I wonder why.

    The tech revolution starts. We finally start to make a good living and what happens. The boomer managers ship all the good jobs over seas.

    I really can’t wait for y’all to start dieing. Cuz we’ll all have a great party.

  3. X-er

    Oh, and some more statistics for you.

    Boomers have the highest divorce rate.

    They give the lowest percentage of the wealth to charity.

    The give the least amount of the time to charity.

    They make up the fast growing segment of the prison population.

    And that is just a start.

  4. Karma

    Interesting opinion – Just wanted to point out the comment about retirement money being not enough, is a result of monetory policy more than their spending, although it contributes. The introduction of complex derivatives is another contributing factor, makes their conservative retirement schemes unable to keep up with aggressive inflation from monetory policies.

    Disclaimer – I’m not a baby boomer

  5. |

    Xer, I question your statistics about who gives to charity.

    And Elephants on Bicycles, what do you mean they borrowed against future generations? Are you talking about the government or individuals? On an individual level, boomers are not in debt like the younger generations, because we’ve had the time to pay off debt, including mortgages, and to accumulate wealth during a pretty good economy for the last 15 years. What our generation IS guilty of is being the lenders to desperate home buyers and being the CEOs of bad banks and other mis-managed corporations. If you mean government debt, I believe it was the war in Iraq that ran up the tab, but it was also the earmarked pet projects of Congress. All of which you could argue added to the sum total of economic output, which also helped build the wealth of the nation. To read many of the Gen X comments here and elsewhere, you would think politics had been invented by the Boomers. Not so, there were ugly political factions in the older generations and we extended that and could have done a better job, there’s no question. There have always been government deficits and political polarization. The one thing we could have done better regarding younger generations is pass along the good things to be proud of that we learned from our elders, including a knowledge of history and civilization. We were lucky to be born when we were, compared to anybody else. Hopefully that luck will pull us through. (I know Xers won’t agree with my sentiment).

  6. |

    Again, why waste all this energy hating boomers?

    Your life is what you make it, and hating people doesn’t help move your life forward in a positive way.


  7. |

    The real irony of all this is the fact that recessions always seem to come about every 10-30 years, and yet each time we approcah one (normally during the good times) we hear facts about that was the past, or here in the UK – its the end to boom and bust. Personally I think the blame lies with a few select people.

  8. SickOfTheBashing

    Sorry, but I don’t agree with the Boomer bashing. Thanks to a many Boomers we have experienced a lot of freedoms and benefits. They were hard and efficient workers. We have civil rights, womens rights, etc. Show some appreciation for what our parents and grandparents sacrificed along the way.

    The downside is that because we have been given just about everything (didn’t work for it) and every gadget, car, and computer at their expense, we are impersonal, rude and impatient. Maybe they should have treated us like they were treated as kids . . . but kids would have lost their minds.

    Not all Boomers caused this mess, it’s due to a certain group of greedy, privileged individuals who had no respect for taxpayers’ money. We need to do a better job at holding elected officials accountable. We let the last Administration extend a huge bailout scott free, without any accountability. What we need to understand is that things continue to evolve, life changes, and gravy eventually runs out. So guess what, we are now required to find smart new ways to do old things.

  9. Crystal

    Here’s another reason to hate the fact that a Boomer can actually use Facebook. A quick check on Daniel Costello (author of the LA Times article) reveals that you could be just in time to wish him a Happy Birthday as he celebrates his date of birth: May 15, 1973. Not a douchy Boomer after all. I will admit, he seems much more mature than this blogger.

  10. |

    I believe it was the war in Iraq that ran up the tab, but it was also the earmarked pet projects of Congress. All of which you could argue added to the sum total of economic output, which also helped build the wealth of the nation.

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