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Goodbye and Get Lost! The Devolution of the Baby Boom Generation

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Goodbye and Get Lost!
The Devolution of the
Baby Boom Generation

Some people say that I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one.
-- John Lennon

By John F. Miglio

Although Albert Camus died before baby boomers took charge of the world and placed their redoubtable imprimatur on the political scene, he foreshadowed their eventual devolution in this prescient statement: "Conformity is one of the nihilistic temptations of rebellion which dominate a large part of our intellectual history. It demonstrates how the rebel who takes to action is tempted to succumb, if he forgets his origins, to the most absolute conformity. And so explains the twentieth century."

Camus was right, of course. As a baby boomer, it doesn't make me happy to say this; however, how else does one explain the "absolute conformity" (not to mention hypocrisy) of my once-rebellious generation? How else does one explain the disgraceful situation in which our country now finds itself?

We can't blame Nixon any more, although it would be fun to still kick him around. No, we have to look inward. We're the ones who created this mess. We're the ones who abrogated our political idealism and slowly but surely conformed to establishment power and corporate materialism. And we're the ones who allowed George W. Bush, a baby boomer of the worst sort, to slime his way into the presidency and bankrupt the country both economically and morally.

No wonder young people and Europeans hate our guts. The sad truth is, if you had told me in 1968 (40 years ago) that in 2008 the United States would be bogged down in another unnecessary war of choice that would kill thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, I wouldn't have believed you. In fact, I would have said, "No, I think Americans have learned their lesson with Vietnam and won't make that mistake again."

If you had told me 40 years ago that proportionate to inflation, average Americans would be worse off economically than they were in the late 1960s, I would have said, "Impossible! Every generation since World War II is destined to do better than their parents."

If you had told me 40 years ago that Americans would eventually embrace free market economics, become slaves to multinational corporations, and allow the upper one per cent of the population to own 40% of its wealth, I would have laughed and said, "I agree with Mencken that Americans are not the brightest inhabitants on the planet, but they're at least smart enough to know when they're being played for saps!"

If you had told me 40 years ago that the stock market would crash in the late 1990s, that hundreds of thousands of citizens would lose their homes to foreclosures and that major banks would fail in 2008, I would have said, "Not possible! We learned our lesson from the Great Depression regarding the importance of strong government regulations and oversight of the real estate and financial markets!"

If you had told me 40 years ago that in 2008, the price of gas would be over $4 a gallon and that the country still wouldn't have an energy policy based on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, I would have said, "Are you kidding? I just read the latest issue of Popular Science, and by the turn of the century Americans will all be riding in electric cars."

If you had told me 40 years ago that marijuana would still be illegal in 2008 and that over a third of our prison population would be in jail not because they hurt anyone but merely because they possessed drugs, I would have said, "Nah, by the turn of the century, even the most conservative stiffs will wake up and realize that making drugs illegal is a huge mistake."

If you had told me 40 years ago that 47 million Americans would not have health insurance in 2008 and that the accumulated debt on their medical bills would be the leading cause of bankruptcy, I would have said, "Americans are compassionate people. That could never happen."

If you had told me 40 years ago that there would be a television show in 2008 called Jackass and that one of its "stars" would literally jump into a cesspool at a waste treatment plant on an episode called "pooh diving," I would have said, "That's ridiculous! No one would do that on TV-- even for a lot of money."

If you had told me 40 years ago that the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 would be stolen by the Republicans courtesy of the Supreme Court and Diebold, I would have said, "Nonsense! The Democratic Party would never stand for that!"

If you had told me 40 years ago that the 43rd President of the United States would be this spoiled, dumb-ass, rich kid who would make Lyndon Johnson look like a compassionate genius, a noble King Arthur, I would have said, "No, Americans are becoming more sophisticated after being deceived about Vietnam and will demand much more truth and authenticity from future presidents."

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John F. Miglio is the editor of the Online Review of Books & Current Affairs and author of Sunshine Assassins, a futuristic political thriller.

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Sorry, please forgive my total ignorance. I was to... by Roland Michel Tremblay on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 5:27:02 PM
What are YOU guys going to do about it the next 17... by Bia Winter on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2008 at 7:57:53 AM
 I am a baby boomer and a very strong support... by Julie Johnson on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 5:39:24 PM
Hi Julie, Oh! You have to stop for a minute, fo... by Roland Michel Tremblay on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 6:12:08 PM
i like cheeky! Nice job. i need a little humor. ... by sometimes blinded on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 6:23:30 PM
About seventy percent of the baby boom generation ... by Ruth on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 8:41:25 PM
- we 'boomer' generation are indeed the pe... by siamdave on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 9:29:00 PM
that foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, wer... by Edward Ulysses Cate on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 10:11:12 PM
I AGREE WHEN OUR GOVERNMENT TOOK CONTROL OF OUR ED... by rich racer on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 3:26:12 AM
Stop all of this! I am the Generation X! None of w... by Roland Michel Tremblay on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 10:18:49 PM
RolandSorry to disappoint you, but the youngest b... by Julie Johnson on Saturday, Aug 2, 2008 at 11:05:59 PM
The Baby Boom lasted from 1942-1965.  But Bab... by pft on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 2:42:36 AM
It was not the Baby Boomers who designed nor enfor... by francine on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 5:43:25 AM
It's amazing how an article can digress to a total... by Mike Folkerth on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 9:05:43 AM
Roland Michel, interesting that your email begins ... by siamdave on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 9:42:52 AM
I disagree with the anaylisis that "baby Boom... by robert braunstein on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 11:14:50 AM
and is paying a dear price now. Joe Sixpack, the-m... by Nobody Ever on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 2:12:16 PM
I saw this article and at first wasn't going t... by martinweiss on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 2:29:12 PM
Boomers brought us "The Summer of Love" ... by martinweiss on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 2:34:20 PM
 thanx Marty, I'm tired of the bum rap. S... by robert braunstein on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 2:44:29 PM
I quote an excerpt from an article titled Little K... by Sarah Morgan on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 7:43:09 PM
Here's my article "Who Ownes the Boomer&#... by Nobody Ever on Sunday, Aug 3, 2008 at 10:25:56 PM
And I have told them repeatedly. They are a shill ... by Bia Winter on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2008 at 8:19:02 AM
Martinweiss - Thank you for reminding people of so... by Julie Johnson on Monday, Aug 4, 2008 at 12:34:39 AM
There's plenty of us Boomers who are still jus... by Bia Winter on Monday, Aug 4, 2008 at 9:04:21 AM
I saw poll released today...fascinating approach, ... by Sandy Williams on Monday, Aug 4, 2008 at 6:51:57 PM
I sent this around to my list yesterday and got so... by Bia Winter on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2008 at 7:55:32 AM