Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Aug 03rd
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

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover