Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Could Boomers Still be the ‘Greatest Generation?’

tom_honig_sAs the 1960s ended and the ’70s began, the baby boomers stood tall and arrogantly proclaimed that the previous generation had made a mess of things, and this generational bulge of humanity was going to set things right.

Now it’s 40 years later and what do we boomers have to say for ourselves? Look at the Wall Street bankers who almost brought down the entire world economy. Look at a broken political leadership in Washington (and in Sacramento). Look at Santa Cruz County with 12 percent unemployment, gridlocked traffic and not enough water.

After writing a book about the boomers’ predecessors, “The Greatest Generation,” newsman Tom Brokaw took on the next generation in his book, “Boom.” USA Today reported that some wondered aloud whether the boomer book would be called “The Worst Generation.” Brokaw wrote that he assured “my Boomer buddies that I don’t think they represent the worst—far from it—but I also teased that I didn’t think any of them were as great as they thought they were.”

But the boomers aren’t done yet. As the leading edge of the baby boom generation prepares for Medicare, its impact on the rest of the population is huge. The potential for disaster is huge. But so, maybe, is the opportunity for us boomers to live up to our potential.

By this time, nearly everyone knows about the widening federal deficits—and the potentially cataclysmic debt. But the news is actually worse than what you see—because of the aging baby boomers.

Smart observers have been warning for years of what will happen when boomers go on Medicare and collect Social Security. Essentially, here’s the scoop: by 2040 all our federal tax revenues will add up to cover exactly two things: interest on the debt and Medicare/Medicaid costs. Everything else – education, building roads and dams, welfare, defense, Social Security – is unfunded.

The most recent—and perhaps the best— writer to explain the scope of the problem is David M. Walker, former head of the General Accounting Office, in his book, “Comeback America.” Walker argues that unless something dramatic is done, the United States will be something less than it is today. A child who is 10 years old today has the following to look forward to, says Walker: “So much of their money will be devoted to keeping government afloat that they’ll have relatively little for everything else in life. Their homes will be smaller and drabber. There will be less to spend for cars, vacations, dinners out and big TV sets, which their parents took for granted. … They will have less to offer their children, including less educational opportunities. … I am embarrassed by the mess we are passing on to them.”

Walker is unlike some observers, in that he sees solutions. I wish I could be as hopeful. In this space two weeks ago, I pointed out that the wrong people – elected officials – are in charge of the health-care debate. The wrong people are in charge of our budgets, whether in Washington or Sacramento. The electorate is falling prey to the electeds’ mass-produced talking points. Special interests are wielding far more influence than the general voter.

But just maybe there’s an opportunity here for the boomers. Maybe, finally, as we age we can just cast our selfish eyes on the next generation. For the last 40 years or so, we’ve demanded a lot from our government: lower taxes and more services.

Now is the time to demand something new: a better world for the next generation. Imagine if politicians could get votes for acting responsibly and spending on things that matter in the future. Politicians will only do that if the general public starts demanding more.

Boomers—and that means interest groups like AARP—will have to change their focus. We can’t advocate solely for ourselves anymore. Face it: most older people are wealthier than their younger counterparts, and it’s time to readjust entitlements in order to reflect that reality. When public officials propose cuts or increased revenues, it would be nice if occasionally it could be greeted with something other than knee-jerk protests.

Perhaps it’s even time to change the two-party system. Republicans won’t allow more taxes; Democrats refuse to restructure social spending. Maybe it’s time for a good third-party candidate. But who could do it?

Hmmm. Maybe now that Santa Cruz City Manager Dick Wilson says he’s retiring, he could move to D.C. and take up the challenge. After all, he’s kept Santa Cruz afloat all these years.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Ron Slak, February 09, 2010
Tom,
i applaud your words this week, especially since you have stated that we need to think about more than ourselves and our own comforts. We were the first spoiled generation, and we raised a more spoiled generation.

Our economy and our educational resources are going in the wrong direction. The wrong people are making decisions, and that is evident. We, the people must activate as we once did, but in a different manner. Not to protest, but to find solutions. Pointing our fingers just worsens everything. Just look at Congress. They can accomplish nothing of significance. We need to work from the center out.

So for me the answer lies within the community I live. We need to take better control of our destiny and not rely on outside entities. We use those entities as we can, but we rely on ourselves.
For the baby boomers getting ready for retirement, forget it, roll up your sleeves, and giving help of your time as it is needed, and where it is needed. Use what your learned over a lifetime and apply it our community. Give us your resources. We need them more than ever. Join boards, becine a volunteer, fund raising. Donate some of your time to organizations you love, who need volunteers, or they will close.

Tom, thanks for your words. Let's not demand anything from deaf ears. We need to do the work ourselves , right here in SCC.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire