IT is a badge of honor to be labeled a “Boomer” although the accurate term is “Baby Boomer.” But “boomer” is fine, particularly because those who use it as a derogatory term are, as usual for their generation, clueless about what the term boomer means outside their own SocMed world.
In Australia, it denotes a large male kangaroo standing 1.8 meters (5 feet 10 inches) tall and weighing up to 90 kilograms. It is also the term for the US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, individually with wartime capability to launch some 160 separately targeted nuclear warheads. Go boomers.
With my age cohort now into or nearing the biblical “three score and ten years,” I am reading more obituaries of people I “grew up” with such as Jimmy Buffett and Ryuichi Sakamoto. My silent first response is, “I’m glad it’s not me.”
Being a boomer gives me a perspective that you can never achieve. Ever. If you were born in 1980 or after, you have no idea what I have seen in real time.
The Russian Sputnik satellite was launched a month before my 7th birthday. But of more profound personal impact was a year later when the Sputnik 2 carried the dog Laika to space. My second-grade classmates talked about the fact that the dog would die up there. And we watched TV to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon 12 years later.
We lived through—and many were a part of both—the US invasion of Vietnam and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Americans my age were drafted to fight in Vietnam and others who previously smuggled hashish from Afghanistan were paid well to smuggle arms back in to the US-supported Afghan mujahideen.
My first video game experience was playing countless hours of “Pong.” Our Son #3 will graduate college with a Bachelor of Science in Entertainment and Multimedia Computing degree specializing in Game Development.
However, “The baby boomers are the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation ever produced,” says boomer Steve Bannon (age 70 years), White House chief strategist for US president Donald Trump. Further, boomers are the “Lucky Generation”: lucky because we had no world wars, rode the post-war global economic boom, and experienced huge technological developments. And we figured out how to prosper by borrowing from the future generations. Tough luck for you, Kiddies.
But that “luck” also brought a mindset of “Deferred Gratification” that the Gen X, Millennials, “Zs” and “Gen Alpha” are not accustomed to. The Gens of “Instant Messaging,” “Instagram” and Swipe Right “To meet new people” demand to have their dreams fulfilled NOW.
The decade before became known as the “Swinging Sixties.” But the 1970s, when I marched into adulthood, was marked by unrest and upheaval. The 1970s are famous for disco, the disposable lighter, and the Walkman, but it was also an era of economic struggle, cultural change, and technological innovation. Yet there was also a most economically consequential dynamic that greatly impacts all the Gens since, primarily a result of the attitude of “delayed gratification” that is missing today.
What we boomers did was create the institutionalization of environmental standards that forced the clean-up of pervasive industrial pollution and the re-engineering of the industrial base.
Charles Hugh Smith: “In today’s money, cleaning up the sources of air, water, and soil pollution cost trillions of dollars.” And—listen up, this is the key—“An investment that didn’t generate profits or productivity as measured in financial terms.”
Boomers were at the forefront of this change. It was not until the late 1980s that the payoff from this stupendous effort became visible and measurable. It is hard to imagine how bad the air and water quality was in the US and Europe by 1970. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on December 2, 1970.
The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970, and some 20 million Americans and more in Europe joined to participate in picking up garbage from rivers and setting up community car-pooling for example. Interestingly, not a single person glued himself or herself to a road or tried to damage a classic work of art.
The 21st century invented the ultimate form of instant gratification—Virtue Signaling. Elon Musk —2023: “What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it. And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good, while doing evil.” Evil is instant; good takes time.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis provided by AAA Southeast Equities Inc.