No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Boomers

Keeping up with the Joneses

Sir Robert Jones is leaving New Zealand, as he describes in his final blog post, Farewell, where he nails the key point:

And how many of our kids will follow? This question arises in the post of another prominent New Zealander, Don Brash, where he points out five major problems that I’ll summarise here:

  1. The crisis of housing affordability.
  2. The rapidly growing racial divide.
  3. The very slow growth in the average income of New Zealanders.
  4. Our education system is also failing far too many of our kids, as international surveys show: we have some of the worst results for maths and science of any developed country.
  5. The failure of successive governments to deal with the looming fiscal challenges of an aging population

Don’t think the kids haven’t noticed all this, and the failure to deal with these issues: mine certainly have, and their US citizenship is burning a hole in their pockets:

Some countries face serious challenges which they can do little about – rapid depletion of water resources for example, or extreme political tensions arising from religious differences, or hostile neighbours. We have none of those challenges, and have only ourselves to blame if we see more and more of our kids decide that they can have a better future somewhere else

I doubt that I’ll leave again, as I have in the past, but increasingly I feel that I’m merely holding a fort here that is irrelevant to those I love.

Oh man, the Hippies have sold out again. đź¤Ł

In the late 1960’s the hippies gloried in the mud, drugs and sex of a thousand Woodstocks while also protesting against the Vietnam War and “The Man”, and loudly proclaiming the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in overcoming Capitalism via lovely little communes. Admittedly there were plenty of young Baby Boomers who might not have been hippies but cosplayed at being one via hair, clothes and drugs, but the hippie remained the iconic symbol of it all.

One of the reasons for the emergence of Punk Music in the late 1970’s was the observation that the hippies had sold out on pretty much all their principles and become born-again capitalists, among other things, and were using this power to continue to push a lot of shitty music that didn’t rebel against anything, let alone the economic and other problems of that time.

By the 1980’s they had turned into yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) and started voting for Reagan. In New Zealand the crowning glory for these long-haired gits was to become Labour MP’s, tear down much of the First Labour Government’s institutions and impose a whole lot of capitalism in its place. To be fair they did give the finger to Reagan and the US in general on matters military and began the process of social liberalisation, but those were cheap and easy wins.

Money remained their god, as it is to this day.

Which brings me to the news about Joe Rogan. If you haven’t heard of him or listened to him it’s probably because you’re still watching One News and reading the NZ Herald or listening to Radio NZ instead of listening to his podcasts on the Spotify music streaming service, where his listener/viewers run to some 11 million per podcast – compared to CNN’s 500,000.

Rogan is definitely not a hippie. He’s Gen X, with all that that implies about treating much of the information about our world with cynical, skeptical, humour. As such he’s recently run into a bit of a storm about his interviews with people like Doctor Robert Malone and other critics of various aspects of the world’s Covid-19 responses. His personal stance is also “problematic” for his critics, as he’s openly discussed catching the disease (Delta in his case) plus using forbidden treatments like Ivermectin, Vitamin D supplements and so forth – and not getting the c-19 vaccinations.

This has made him a target, especially of the dying CNN, with demands he be booted from Spotify for all his “misinformation”. As those demands have failed the accusations have shifted from that to racism (his past use of the word “nigger” in quoting others – just like Joe Biden, Cenk Uygur and Anna Kasparian) and with that also failing he’s now being accused of January 6-type “insurrectionist” thinking.

One of the most prominent examples of the pressure applied came several weeks ago when aging 60’s rocker Neil Young made a big public splash about pulling his music from Spotify if they didn’t boot Rogan. Young was quickly followed by another hippie icon, Joni Mitchell.

All this got the MSM very excited. Spotify followed their requests – and pulled their music in late January, while keeping Rogan.

Gen-X cynics like me noted the deep irony of Young’s demands. We also noted the fact that aging “rebels” really, really don’t like fading away and being ignored, and that Young in particular had a history of pulling PR stunts like this – followed by tours.

And so we come to this…

… just this morning [Feb 14], I was able to pull up both these dedicated champions of the Man’s approved COVID-19 narrative on Spotify.


BTW – here’s those Young Turks of the modern Democrat Party, Cenk Uygur and Anna Kasparian, having the same discussions as Rogan did.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 15, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Generational Toxicity

Over on the Bowalley Road blog Chris Trotter has really been letting the words flow wildly in relation to the news of the AUKUS pact that has been announced, with two articles in one week on the subject.

They’re the usual combination of themes one would expect from his Lefty age group: pro-China, anti-US, anti-nuclear, fears of a new Cold War, fears of NZ getting sucked back into another “Anglo Saxon Imperialist” world and so forth.

But it was actually this passage that intrigued me:

It is also quite possible that, by 2023, the United States will be embroiled in domestic strife bordering on civil-war. 

Followed by a lot of ignorant guff about the USA and the Republican Party. Now I’m not averse to the arguments about a possible second Civil War in the USA: it’s increasingly being discussed in non-fringe circles on both the American Left and Right. Even in popular culture I saw the “comedian” Sarah Silverman talking the other day about the nation splitting up because Democrat and Republican voters increasingly cannot stand dealing with eachother.

But there’s another aspect of this that should be taken account of: the growing war between the generations. Specifically between the Baby Boomers and … every other generation: Gen-X, Millennials and Gen-Z. Admittedly this more of a US thing than elsewhere: I don’t think NZ Baby Boomers ever fitted the label of being the “Me Generation” after Tom Wolfe’s famous 1976 article.

I’ve already covered some of this in two posts, Ok Boomer and Hand over the $35 trillion, you old fart, but a recent article by a Baby Boomer in the New York Post should be more of an eye-opener for Boomers, Millennials’ extreme hatred for Baby Boomers is totally unjustified:

Baby boomers who cried “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30” during the Vietnam War should be scared to death of millennials. Because, at least among the Twitterati, they hate us — they really, really hate us.

Last week I took a beating from younger readers over an essay I wrote lamenting the decline of the “power lunch.” Although it only partly blamed the phenomenon on millennial habits — e.g., preferring avocado and kale to beef and baked potatoes — hundreds of thousands on Twitter either posted or retweeted such insults as “Old man yells at lunch table” (I’m 69), “What’s it like to be an antique?” and “We’re the ones doing the actual lunches while you’re having three-martini lunches.”

Millennials (and to some extent their Gen-X and Gen-Z brethren) hate their elders with a ferocity never before seen in our culture.

Generation gaps will always be with us. Historian Marc Wortman found a generational split over sending young men off to war way back in 1941. But unlike those of us who came of age in the 1960s-early 1970s, who merely disapproved of our elders’ “colonialist” wars and shag rugs, millennials (born between 1980-1994) can’t stand the air we boomers breathe.

Young hippies outdoors.

To some extent? This guy should go to some of the chat areas of Reddit and other non-FaceTwit Social Media.

He’ll quickly discover that Gen-Z are right up there on bringing the hate and Gen-X even more so given their proximity in time. Few things piss off X’rs more than being pegged as Boomers by being born in the 1960’s, as if we remember Woodstock and “Free Love”.

Unfortunately the article then delves into the reasons why and thus demonstrates even more how Boomers just don’t get it.

But if they spent more time studying actual history, which can’t easily be found on iPhones, they’d know that boomers were, and remain, the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known.

FFS. He thinks this is because of Greta Thunderhead and her influence on 16 year olds re Climate Charge.

Oh no, dear fellow, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s only one sentence where he alludes to just one thing stemming from that wonderful “socially conscious” generation:

Maybe too much so — our universities’ overwhelmingly “progressive” agendas originated in the 1960s and have become more dominant ever since.

That’s because the Boomers who were the radical students of the late 60’s/early 70’s now dominate those universities as professors and administrators, and are hard at work teaching the next generations the same stuff, without any opposing arguments or ideas.

Being “the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known” isn’t an excuse or a defense, it’s an unwitting confession of guilt.

What this guy and the millions of Boomers like him miss is that this shite has now spread into every other part of the USA: the MSM, entertainment, government, bureaucracies and even corporates and the military.

I know of no American member of the younger generations who thinks that Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid will be there for them in their dotage of the late 21st century. Or a military that can actually win a war either. Not to mention housing costs, energy costs, career progression, jobs in general or the chance of getting married and raising a family because it’s so bloody expensive in more ways than just dollars.

What he also misses is that these younger generations, or at least a good chunk of them, might be objecting to having had these institutions trashed by the ideas of a generation that aggressively devalued the traditional things on which they rested, even as there are members of Gen-X/Millennial that have learned from their forebears and joined in with the trashing, as this guy points out:

As a college professor for over 35 years, I’ve gotten to know three generations of students: Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980), the Millennials (1981-1996), and now Gen Z (1997-2012). And because I teach rhetoric, I’ve read thousands of their papers, providing substantial insight into the way they think.

In general, however, I found that Millennials presented unique challenges. They were, as a group, the most entitled, judgmental, and arrogant of all the students I’ve taught, often basing an inflated sense of self-importance on scanty evidence.

Essentially, they are the “participation trophy” generation, the unwitting victims of countless artificial “self-esteem building” experiments by the education establishment, not to mention their own parents.

Ouch. But there is hope:

There is another generation of bright young people — Gen Z — following right on their heels and therein may lie our temporal salvation.

In comparison to their Millennial predecessors, my Gen Z students tend to be more open-minded, more interested in facts and logic, more inclined to question the status quo…

That partially explains the Fuck Joe Biden chants that have swept across college football stadiums in the last few weeks and even spread to the Yankees-Mets game in NYC of all places.

They also take a more nuanced view of history and are inherently distrustful of ideologues on either side. 

Let’s hope so, and that inheritances will add up to avoiding a different type of American Civil War.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 21, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Hand over the $35 trillion, you old farts

It would be an understatement to say that the latest Generations, Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly a bunch of unhappy campers here in Western societies.

The main reason for their unhappiness is a growing feeling of falling behind and never being able to catch up as their forebears did after WWII. The target of their wrath are the Baby Boomers who, in their view, inherited a rapidly developing economy of plentiful, well-paid jobs – many of which did not require great education – as well as plentiful and cheap housing.

Obviously those are broad and crude generalisations. Many a Boomer will gladly tell you about mortgage rates of 20%+ in the 1970’s as they struggled to get their families together.

But the generations are often scathing about their predecessors; look at what Boomers had to say about their parent’s generation, they of Great Depression and WWII experience.

Strangely my Gen X group seems to have escaped the abuse, despite the fact that we got pretty good economies in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at least if you went overseas back then, something that Boomer Chris Trotter is still bitter about:

People like Bernard bade their country farewell at the first opportunity. All that free education and health care, all that social security: the tens-of-thousands of dollars invested in him by his fellow citizens; it all went to foreigners. If all the Bernards and Bernadettes of the 1980s and 90s had thrown in their lot with Anderton and his followers, the tragic failures detailed in Hickey’s Spinoff post might have been avoided. But Bernard and his ilk sneered at Anderton and the Alliance. The Left were economic Neanderthals. Losers.

The Mill / Gen Z groups do have legitimate complaints. With Western economies not exactly booming in the last twenty years as they did after WWII and with wage and salary earnings having stagnated as a proportion of the economy, plus ridiculous housing inflation that has actually got worse as the 21st century has developed. They’re just not building wealth as the Boomers did for the same age range.

However, that graph actually contains the answer, and it’s analysed in a WSJ article, Older Americans Stockpiled A Record $35 Trillion. The Time Has Come To Give It Away. It starts with what everybody knows – or suspects even if they haven’t looked at the data:

At the end of this year’s first quarter, Americans age 70 and above had a net worth of nearly $35 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. That amounts to 27% of all U.S. wealth, up from 20% three decades ago. Their wealth is equal to 157% of U.S. gross domestic product, more than double the proportion 30 years ago, federal data show.

But nobody lives forever:

Older generations will hand down some $70 trillion between 2018 and 2042, according to research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates. Roughly $61 trillion will go to heirs—increasingly millennials and Generation Xers—with the balance going to philanthropy.

To which Mill / Gen Z might say, “So what. I need the money sooner than that”. Well the good news is that it’s already started.

The average inheritance in 2019 was $212,854, up 45% from an inflation-adjusted $146,844 in 1998, according to an analysis of Fed data by economists at a unit of Capital One Financial Corp.

And people aren’t waiting until they die. Annual gifts taxpayers reported to the Internal Revenue Service—a fraction of the gifts that flow outside the tax system—rose to $75 billion in 2016, from an inflation-adjusted $45 billion in 2010. Over that period, the amount that people could give away without paying taxes on gifts rose from $1 million to more than $5 million for individuals, and from $2 million to more than $10 million for couples.

Because of indexiing in the US system, those latter figures are adjusting up every year. There’s just one fly in the ointment:

The pending wealth transfers have caught the attention of the Biden administration, which recently proposed reducing a $40 billion annual tax break that has been the cornerstone of estate planning for generations of Americans. Today, people who inherit assets that have risen in value, such as stock held outside retirement accounts, a family home or a three-generation manufacturing company, don’t pay capital-gains taxes unless they sell. If they sell, they can exclude gains that occurred during the prior owner’s lifetime.

Under the Biden proposal, the owner’s unrealized gains would become taxable in the year of his or her death

Our Beloved And Kind Socialists here in NZ are obviously also thinking along the same lines: Is Labour going to introduce a death tax?

Oh I think they will, if they can get away with it, because they “know” that governments are better at distributing wealth across generations than families, just like they’re better at spreading the wealth around in the here and now.

I wonder what that will do to the youth vote in both nations?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 19, 2021 at 10:13 am

Ok Boomer!

When Green MP Chloe Swarbrick unloaded this line in our Parliament last year a lot of people were suddenly woke to a debate that, while still largely unknown, has been slowly growing louder about the future that awaits the generations of the Millennials (also called Gen Y), Gen Z, and whoever follows them – especially in contrast to the Baby Boomers.

Nobody gives a shit about Gen X’rs, including fights over whether the start and end tails of our generation are Boomers or Millennials respectively. As usual it’s less about birth years and more about core cultural experiences.

For a start, the end of the alphabet has been reached, so what’s next in naming? Probably something related to software and Apps: Gen 21.2 is my suggestion, honouring this century and the second generation to be born in it, although I see Wikipedia has already jumped on Gen Alpha.

Whatever. As far as the MSM are concerned Climate Change seems to be the main bugaboo that these generations will face, but I don’t think that will be the case at all.

No, the biggest fights are going to revolve around somewhat more mundane and practical things, particularly the welfare state and economy established by the generation of WWII and The Slump (nauseatingly labeled “The Greatest Generation” by US Boomers) to cushion their offspring from the vicissitudes of war and recession, which was then modified by the Boomers themselves.

The most obvious modification, at least here in New Zealand, was the period of Rogernomics, starting in 1984.

I always found it amusing that the Left, who had wet themselves with joy in the late 60’s/early 70’s over the “Youf” rising up to smash the old conservative nostrums of NZ with regard to music, sex, drugs, the military and so forth, became so angry and horrified at how the same generation (including some of the same people) decided to smash up Old Zealand’s economic structures some fifteen years later.

It’s so typical of revolutions that they don’t just stop at smashing up the things you hate, but also the things you love. You’d think after the French and Russian Revolutions that lesson would have been learned on the Left.

And so it is with Chris Trotter, who sees dark portents ahead in Changing The Climate – One RNZ Broadcast At A Time:

A telling example of RNZ’s determination to set the political climate was broadcast on the public broadcaster’s Checkpoint programme of Wednesday, 26 February 2020, in which RNZ reporter, Nita Blake-Persen, secured prime placement for her story “NZ Super costs up as NZ retirees on $100k passes 30,000”.

It is difficult to assign any other motive for producing this sort of story than a desire to fan the flames of intergenerational warfare. Singling out high income-earners over 65 (whose annual contribution to the IRD, based on a minimum salary of $100,000 is a bracing $23,920!) was certainly inflammatory.

Ms Blake-Persen’s analysis also hints strongly that the abandonment of the universalist principles underpinning NZ Superannuation may have to be accepted as unavoidable collateral damage in the aforesaid war between the generations.

And of course uber-neo-liberal, David Farrar, chimed in as well with, This is why NZ Super should be means tested. Needless to say there was a fair bit of pushback in that Kiwiblog thread, especially those who noted the same thing Trotter did, which was that the tax paid by a person on $100k/annum income, plus the tax paid on their Super, meant they were actually still net givers to the system.

The Actuary giveth – and the Actuary taketh away. Thus does the magic of “universalist principles” operate in practice.

But here’s the really bad news. You know all those young people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, who are slowly trending towards Socialism? The sort who elected Corbyn to leadership of the British Labour Party; the sort who are powering Bernie Sanders (supposedly) to victory in the Democrat Party nomination?

Well it’s not so much that they’re angry with capitalism for screwing them over; they’re angry with Baby Boomers who they think got the long straw when it comes to wages vs. house prices, and single-income families vs. the almost absolute need for double-incomes, and even having a family of more than one designer child at all, plus other things.

I have children ranging from teens to early twenties and to read the online forums they play in is to find that they and their peers hate Baby Boomers. I mean they really fucking loath them to a degree I don’t think even Boomers reached in their protests against their WWII parents. “OK Boomer” is merely the politest tip of the iceberg. And this is not located just to NZ but covers their friends across the English-speaking world. So Trotter is right to be concerned, but it’s too late.

For example, here’s a blog article from the US by Jack Baruth, that captures this pretty well, Boomer-Os Killed The Summer Job Star, where the writer – a Gen Xr (hence the song title reference) – takes on the complaints about the young folk in a seperate article by one Eric Chester, Baby Boomer. You really should read the whole thing, plus the comments, not least because I didn’t find this: my kids did.

Eric mournfully writes about the vanishing of his childhood job as a paperboy, circa 1967. It’s worth reading for the response to that alone because it’s about a lot more than economics. But Baruth then identifies where Eric would have been later on in life:

He was thirty years old in 1987. Let’s say he bought an index fund. It’s worth ten times what it was then. Let’s say he bought real estate in Ohio. It’s worth as much as ten times what he paid. If he bought real estate in Calfornia — or Denver, where he lives — perhaps it’s worth twenty times what it was then. Every single economic policy change since about 1990 has had two primary effects:

  • lowered real wages through increased labor market participation and/or lowered demand for labor;
  • increased the value of fixed assets or investment instruments

In other words, if you were “holding” in 1987, when the oldest Boomers were forty and the youngest were twenty-five, you’re golden now. If you were just starting your career in 1987, you were racing against time. If you’re starting today, the deck has been stacked against you higher than you’ll ever clear.

Want to live the middle-class life of 1975? Better hope your IPO nets you ten million bucks. The wealthiest of the Baby Boomers deliberately created a world in which they’d pay less for the things they wanted (employees, labor, televisions) while being paid more for the things they owned (real estate, index funds, 1959 Les Pauls, 1985 Porsche 911s). It was a hell of a trick, wasn’t it?

The latest two generations simply do not believe that US society will be there for them in their old age with Medicare and Social Security – and much the same thinking is happening here in NZ.

They know that “universalism” does not beat actuarial tables and declining worker/retiree ratios. They also know they can’t win politically at the moment.

But in ten years time, let alone twenty?

And despite Chris Trotter (with fear) and DPF (with triumph) both thinking this is some final win for neo-liberalism, Jack Baruth throws cold water on that notion while also explaining that the Bernie/AOC phenomena is not going to be destroyed even if Trump wipes the floor with Bernie in this year’s US election:

Eric Chester looks at the hellscape generated by his generation and what he sees is that there aren’t any more paperboys. I look at it and I have serious concerns. I note that support for explicitly socialist government is growing by leaps and bounds. Some of my friends think this is because the Millennials are stupid. “Don’t they know that they won’t be the people who benefit from a communist government?” This is what I think the proto-socialists have figured out:

  • In the event of a Red Revolution in this country, they have a very slim chance of becoming part of the nomenklatura who have power, real estate, and freedom to determine their own lives.
  • If there is no Red Revolution, they have precisely zero chance of ever owning a home, saving for retirement, or starting a traditional family.

This is where the situation in our country becomes dangerous. As long as there is some chance of succeeding in the current state of affairs, people will generally play along. If you take away all of their hope, they have nothing to lose. Talk about bread lines and mending old clothes doesn’t frighten people who have already internalized the fact that they will be earning close to starvation wages for their entire lives. This is particularly true if they have no children who would be at risk. It’s a roll of the dice for them and things can only come up better.

All rather apocalyptic, no? Western societies have skirted this sort of thing before: bribing off with the welfare state any potential revolutionaries who might jump to Fascism and Communism?

The trouble is that the welfare state was looking decidely shaky even before the great “neo-liberal” events of Reagan, Thatcher and Douglas in the 1980’s.

And Baruth focuses on the idea that it’s about hope as much as anything practical or factual:

Very few people in my generation grew up screaming “EAT THE RICH” and stuff like that. We figured we had a chance to be the rich, even if things might not be as easy for us as they’d been for our parents. The twenty-five-year-olds of today no longer think they have any chance — and they live in an echo chamber of $25-per-article bloggers who screech night and day about the potential benefits of violent economic redistribution.

Interestingly one solution he sees is something that will occur naturally: death and inheritance – and based on the discussions I see, the Gen-Y/Z cohort are already there in planning.

I just don’t know if that can happen soon enough for them.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm