Dear people between the ages of 25 and 40,
As we near retirement, Mom and I wanted to write you kids to share a few thoughts about the lives we've lived and the world we've left behind for you. We feel this is necessary because at first glance it might seem like we are a generation of narcissistic, spoiled assholes who freeloaded off of the magnificent world our parents built for us and then cashed out before handing it over to you. This is an unfair characterization. It disregards the fact that we earned the right to do those things. We earned them by being awesome. Haven't you seen the films of us marching around protesting The Man in the sixties? Or the Woodstock footage that documents the way we changed the world with drugs, bad music, and indiscriminate fucking? We didn't cash out. We merely took what was due.
We grew up in a much different world (hence our endless lectures about the way things were in the fifties and sixties) that you kids wouldn't recognize. Ridiculously cheap energy – at least until 1973 – and the fact that WWII left the rest of the industrialized world in ruins allowed us to grow up with unprecedented prosperity. Even though our parents were minimally educated, blue collar work still paid back then. Of course, none of this is anything that we did. Our parents fought the war and did the hard work. But it sure did give us one hell of a sense of entitlement!
By the time we got to college we were convinced that the world revolved around us – and we were right! This was back when education was still affordable and the degrees actually made it more likely that one would find a job. The costs didn't matter much, though, since Mom and Dad footed the bill thanks to that nice, stable employment they enjoyed. When we graduated and started to overtake the rest of the workforce with our sheer numbers we were shocked to learn how many opportunities to enrich themselves our parents' generation was leaving on the table. Let me tell you, we weren't about to make that same mistake!
We really appreciated the blue collar work that made our lives possible, but how could we ignore how inefficient it is to pay Americans to do work that can be done in Indonesia? The genius of outsourcing was self-evident. Still is. Brilliant, isn't it? We've been at it for decades and I still can't see the downside. Some people complained, but the important thing is that WE got our bonuses and our stock prices went up. Our stock and other investments are really superfluous, though, since we're all going to retire on lavish pension plans, not to mention Social Security. More on those in a minute, son.
The structural changes we made to the economy, changes that were solely to our benefit and essentially told future generations to eat a dick, are nothing compared to the political changes we've made. This is the generation that gave American Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Newt Gingrich. Two words: you're welcome.
We realized like no other generation that the purpose of politics is to line our own pockets. Yes, most of that has been at your expense, kids. Sorry about that. Here's some token financial assistance with your college education. That should set things right.
Inflation may have made our mortgages incredibly cheap and essentially wiped out whatever student loans we had, but once we took over the political process you'd better believe we pursued the hell out of anti-inflationary monetary policies. Sorry about that! We needed the low interest rates for our vacation home mortgages and our 17 credit cards. We have taken advantage of dozens of New Deal era social programs, but boy are they pricey! So we did the logical thing and kept the benefits for ourselves and piled the costs onto you. Then we voted for people who would ensure that your generation would never enjoy the same horrible, inefficient Big Government. Sure, we waited until we got to the top of the income pyramid before demanding round after round of tax cuts with fanatical zeal. But I don't see how that makes us bad people. You enjoy low taxes too on whatever it is you earn when you're working.
Are you ready for the best part? We're all retiring on those fat-ass pensions I mentioned a few moments ago – and now we're dismantling pension plans too. Not for us, of course. For you. Here's how it works. We retire with full salary and zero uncertainty; then we lecture you about how expensive and inefficient pensions are compared to "building your own retirement" in the stock market. Hell, we even tried to replace Social Security with the Nasdaq Roulette wheel. No, WE would still have Social Security. You, not so much. Think of it like the way we enjoyed cradle-to-grave employer provided health coverage and then nearly died shitting ourselves opposing health care reform. Doesn't your boss give you insurance? Oh, come on. They must. You are probably reading the forms wrong. Let me take a look at them next time you visit.
In closing, kids, our entire adult lives have been guided by a simple philosophy: we got ours, so fuck you. It's hard to watch you struggle while we live off of all of the things we took away from you in the name of "fiscal responsibility." Some people might call that greed, but we are the greatest, most special generation of people who ever lived. I think we earned it. Maybe rather that whining and blogging and drinking Pabst you should earn some of these things too. I mean, you have a Master's Degree and you're working as a temp! With that kind of lack of ambition, how do you expect to accomplish as much as we have?
Everyone born between 1945 and 1960
PS: Sorry about those budget deficits. We don't really have much to say in defense of those except that Communism was really, really scary, especially in the 1980s when the USSR was on its last legs. How were we supposed to pay for all that stuff the country needed? Taxes? Come on. That sounds like something our parents would have said, what with their lack of vision and foresight.