The final part of this series is about our favorite generation before Millennials, the “Baby Boomers”! This is going to be a difficult one to write about. Just like the other parts, there will be pros and cons to our parents and grandparents generation. It’s going to be interesting digging into a generation that has so much impact on our lives today and from the looks of it will continue to have a large impact on our future lives and future generations.
I stated my opinion before that the Baby Boomers inherited a utopia in the making from the Greatest Generation. In the beginning they couldn’t impact it all too much but as they became of age and took the mantle from the Greatest Generation, they began to systematically change it. The changes contain lessons we Millennials can learn from, both good and bad. We’ll get the bad things out of the way first.
We had an economy that couldn’t be matched our caught up to by any nation on this planet. We have the largest middle class this world has ever seen. Jobs were plenty, industry was booming and in high demand. Majority of people benefited from this scenario, regardless if you had a college education or not, because there was demand in all sectors of the workforce. Businesses cared more compared to what we are used. These companies not only helped create the largest middle class, but they ensured it would keep going, that employees would be lifers, with good pay, good benefits and acknowledgement in ways of pensions, bonuses, unions, and many other positive actions. The communities benefited, as well. Take a look at Detroit for example and research what it used to be while the Greatest Generation ran the show. Was it perfect? It wasn’t perfect but it would have gotten there with time. However when Baby Boomers took over they went down a completely different path. They saw all this wealth and power that their parents created but wanted more and more they got.
When Baby Boomers took control of everything including our politics, they created work environments that would make it harder to advance and maintain a good standard of living. They followed the deranged advice from Milton Friedman about businesses only moral responsibility was to their shareholders and stock value. Now mix in what companies like McKinsey & Company took control of companies and ensured middle management was reduced to nothing, increasing the number of higher level executives instead and convincing companies that the best way to more profits while following the Friedman Doctrine is to purge employees from all sectors of the company, because overhead is the most expensive aspect of any business. They also got them to stop all this lifetime training like IBM did because it was expensive and they were purging people anyways. It would be cheaper to find someone with the knowledge they needed instead. So Baby Boomers hear this advice and become influenced by all the dollar signs and all the digits in their bank accounts. To connect the Friedman Doctrine again to the greed the Baby Boomers fell for and fell in love with, CEO pay has increased 1,008% between 1978 and 2018, yet worker pay only increased 12%, and by the way the Forbes article by Jesse Colombo linked right above is a really good read!
That is just the economic impact Baby Boomers had in a negative way. They then advanced national polices and ideals that would make it harder for future generations to achieve success. If we look at the parents of Baby Boomers, majority of the Greatest Generation did not have a college education. Majority of them worked blue collar jobs that earned a good living for their families. Some did go to college after returning from the war but not most. They saw that college education would be a good thing, so they encouraged their children to try and go to college, to be the first ones in their family to get a degree but it wasn’t a must. Baby Boomers that went to college, became executives or politicians took the encouragement and made it a requirement for future generations. My father has told me stories about his days working in the federal government and that there were people that entered where they worked straight out of high school and were lifers. Yet they were some of the best workers you ever seen. Because they were provided a job that would change their life, and provided training throughout their career to make them more valuable. Yet we can hardly find a job in the government or any job sector outside of blue collar work that doesn’t require a college education. This is all due to the Baby Boomers. Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D., is on point in his Heritage Foundation article, “Unfortunately, college has become a status symbol. Though they’re not willing to say it publicly, most college professors I know think we’re too eager to encourage kids to go to college. As I can attest, teaching students who don’t want to be there is no fun.” Also another very interesting read if you have the time to check it out!
How can we connect this idea of status symbol because it was the Baby Boomer? Take a look at the costs of college education when our parents went compared to now? They didn’t even pay half of what we are paying today and it will probably not even be a quarter of what future generations will have to pay if nothing is changed. Also look at high schools across the nation. When my father and mother were growing up, schools had classes for the ones that were going to go into the blue collar fields, like shop, car mechanics, welding, carpenters. Yet now you can barely find schools that do offer those classes. Why? Because if you go and listen to the students their counselors are telling them college is the only way forward, it will allow you to get a white collar job, you don’t want to do back breaking work for peanuts and so on. Look at what Bernie sanders said about not having a college degree, ““At the end of the day, providing a path to go to college is a helluva lot cheaper than putting people on a path to jail.”, or what John Kerry said, ““You know, education, if you make the most of it, and you study hard, and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” It’s all about it being a status symbol and nothing else, and the sad thing is that most blue collar jobs today are taken by Baby Boomers, yet because they want their family to look good they force the idea of college on their children, us. Another sad aspect of this is, Baby Boomers created class warfare. Think about it, if college is a status symbol, college is supposed to show employers you are smarter and better and they should hire you then you need to make sure you’re the best.
With this mentality they felt the best came from middle class or higher privileged families. Meaning they would be the only ones that could afford the ever increasing costs of college for their children and these companies would get the cream of the crop. Yet it got out of control, not only are the lower middle class families and the less fortunate unable to afford college for their kids, middle class families are now struggling to afford it as well, and most of the time they are going into debt just to obtain a status symbol.
So Baby Boomers have not only created and advanced their ideals and agendas but they did everything they could to maintain them. Another example of their control and horrible influence is housing costs. Our nations has had zoning codes since late 1800s to early 1900s but it was the Baby Boomers that enacted drastic changes. These changes were to ensure the value of their properties would go up so they could profit from it and even at times keep certain people out of their neighborhoods due to the fear of value going down. It also prevented new homes, or starter homes from being built near them or at all. This allowed them to reduce the new house listings in the area ensuring if they were going to sell and if you were going to buy and need to be in that location, you were going to pay the asking price. Baby Boomers also were the ones that broke the back of the Unions, thank you President Reagan… The very unions their parents the Greatest Generation created to protect themselves and their fellow Americans because they understood that an unregulated and unchallenged company will become corrupt and greedy, they just didn’t think their own children would destroy their creation.
So what are the lessons that can be learned from the Baby Boomer generation after all the statements above? Plenty of lessons can be learned, it’s really taking all their mistakes and the actions they took and flipping it around. Baby Boomers became greedy and took our capitalist ways to the extreme for massive profits. We instead and be greedy not only to better our lives and live a life of luxury but to benefit countless others. Take a look at b-corporations, or social enterprises, they are companies that not only want to make as much profits as possible but they want to use a large percentage of their profits to pay their employees good, provide good benefits, and do right by their local, national and international communities. We Millennials do not need to get rid of capitalism and replace it with socialism, instead we go the route of b-corporations/social enterprises and fix what has been broken. No more Friedman Doctrine, no more influence by companies like McKinsey & Company.
We can support businesses that want to help pay off student loan debts, we support businesses that offer their employees student loan debt assistance, we help each other pay off student loan debt and we take control of our governments to implement hard controls/caps on tuition costs. We also stop shaming blue collar professions and encourage individuals that want to go this route instead of giving them the stink eye for wanting to do that instead of college. We support people like Mike Rowe, and help spread his message. If we can help each other pay of student loan debts, convince businesses to assist in this effort we could reduce the amount of student loan debt to a point where it would not be unreasonable to have our fellow Millennials that we elected to wipe out the remainder. If that’s not possible then we wipe it out through our collective effort and show the government we don’t need their help but our retribution will come in the ballot box.
These are some lessons we can learn from Baby Boomers and if we learn from them well enough, we can make drastic positive changes to our nation, to our lives and to the world.