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Generation X Anger – Is It Warranted?

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Does anyone ever feel any anger or resentment toward the baby boomers?

I have spent probably the last twenty years (I am forty-three) debating this, and have first come to the conclusion that if no one else does, apparently I do, although I believe there is some generational undertow that many of us younger Americans feel … but just can’t quite put a finger on it.

Disclaimer! I do love so many great boomers. When you break down that generation into individuals, I don’t really “hate” them or feel direct anger. It’s the entire group of them that has me in an emotional fix. Let me add that I was born in 1965, which by most calculations, places me exactly one year after “that generation,” the ones born from 1946-1964.

This makes me what one could call an “old” Generation X-er, or even debatably, among a group of people that are called “tweeners,” those of us who are too young to get the Boomers, yet too old to get the younger Gen X-ers, who are considered more tech-savvy.

We are the ones who actually lived our precious twenties through Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, that time that is now looked at behind rose-colored glasses by seemingly everyone. It was not a time of job growth or environmental insight.

And Mr. Reagan cut social programs down to next to nothing and it was during his “reign” that the horrendous stereotype of unwed women (particularly of color) taking welfare for each baby they had was magnified recklessly into the political landscape, simultaneously perpetuating both the villainy of women and race.

I graduated during the Orwellian year of 1984, and my cohorts, both male and female, had significant difficulty finding jobs. Computer technology was beginning to bloom, but my age group had nary a notion of what that meant.

So I was part of the group that went on to college, if not for the higher learning, then for the fact that there were no jobs for us young folks in the eighties. Manufacturing jobs were dominated by boomers, who have and have held an iron grip on the good-paying jobs in the Midwest.

They still do. The economic collapse of recent years has finally brought to pass the realization that the boomers pretty much dismantled the hopes and dreams of the younger generation by simply A) SELLING OUT on all their hoopla and mantras against The Man and B) selfishly assuming in the aftermath of that sell-out that they were entitled to every single job and it better pay well.

But their unions and elected officials only worried about them! There was no planning for the younger generation, either within the workforce or within social security.

In 1980, men or women could procure a manufacturing job, thereby not requiring a college degree, and easily make well over $20 an hour here in the great American Midwest. This enabled them to live comfortably, raise families full of children, buy a home, a decent car every other year, and otherwise jack their credit cards to the max.

But a slow decline began back then. Yes, I contend it was BACK THEN that all we are going through NOW began.

By the late ’90s, finding those jobs might still have been relatively easy, but the system no longer favored hiring in people with the intent of keeping them until retirement, granting them salaries that could provide for a family.

Instead, temporary agencies had begun to filter in, putting workers in with no benefits, half the pay, and no security for planning a future around the job.

Young men and women were relegated to eight and ten bucks an hour, and try taking care of a family on that amount.

It is still this way. Perhaps those in major metro areas don’t “get that,” but us taking up space in the entire middle section of this country keenly do.

In my small city, there is a major manufacturer who is still populated with the “old guys,” i.e. the boomers who are, many of them, past their retirement, either in age or spirit or physical capabilities. Since the early 2000s, new hires, which are rare, were given a pay scale more akin to McDonald’s. After all, the union had negotiated the boomers’ pay as permanently untouchable, and since money was tight, who would bear the weight?
Generations X and Y, that’s who. 

Every day my husband and I spot listless young men roaming around our area, jobless. Young men jobless are a tragedy. Young women jobless are a tragedy, too, granted. Yet, it is incredibly disheartening to listen to, yes, you guessed who, the boomers call these young men “punks” and “slackers.”

Since when did the hippie movement and anti-establishment sentimentality morph into pure mean-spirited, arrogant judgment? I get that there were a large number of boomers who weren’t hippies. I get that. Yet, the benefits gained by that generation were reaped by all when it suited them. 

Instant gratification is here as an American trait because of the immediacy in action the boomers perpetuated. Riots, loud discourse, I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong, no compromise, all of it came through the “hard work” that the boomers love to credit themselves with.

I have noticed many of them also love to use the old line, “There’s no shame in flipping burgers” to entice those younger than them to take all the—let’s admit it!—shitty jobs that are out there and ones that they themselves are rarely found working.

Doubtless, there are some very kind-hearted boomers out there. They are a group that enjoys volunteering and for that I give them big hugs and tremendous credit. 

It must feel good, dare I say it though, to go help those “less fortunate” and then go home to that house bought for a song twenty-five-plus years ago, getting up each day to go to a job that pays double what the young men and women working beside you are receiving, and smugly know, deep down, that you, as a boomer, are just fine, thank God.


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