Thursday, December 25, 2008

Post No. 71a: Article of Interest from Baby Boomers Out, Cuspers In

The following article is taken from a recent edition of It was forwarded to us by one of our loyal readers, Stever.

Commentary: Baby Boomers Out, 'Cuspers' In
By Marian Salzman, Chief Marketing Officer, Porter Novelli Worldwide
"New York (CNN) -- Rarely has there been a year when so many things went out of style in such a short time: not just investment bankers, gas-guzzling vehicles, corporate jets, conspicuous consumption and political polarization, but also a whole generation.
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  1. Fame is so fleeting. I have no problem with the Cuspers taking the mantle of leadership. I was not especially proud of what we Boomers managed to do though I wouldn't blame the decline of the economy on us. We built it up and, like all things, what goes up must come down. It might be the Cuspers' turn to take it up another notch or let it slide even further down.

  2. There have been far worse periods in history: barbarism, slavery and its associated trade, the Crusades, the Inquisition, colonialism, apartheid, Hitler, etc. We got accustomed to material things and relaxation. It's now time to get back to work.

  3. We'd appreciate your thoughts about what, if anything, about the Baby Boomer generation, in terms of its character attributes, led to the situation where we were the captains of the ship when we sailed into this economic storm. Can we identify anything? We have some ideas, but we would like to hear from you first. Help us out.

  4. Boomers are a pretty divers bunch. Sure there we boomers that were at Woodstock, marched in anti-war rallies, dropped acid etc. There were also youngsters that went to Vietnam, followed the straight and narrow and had a few beers instead of hard drugs. Most of them went on to become productive members of society albeit at a later age than many of their parents. They are on the whole less bigoted than the generation before them. Want to hang on to youth or at least don't want to spend their "golden year" rocking on the front porch. Were they greedier than the generation that came of age in the 1950's? I don't think so. That generation were the ones who wanted to heap up fortunes while the boomers were more interested in exploring the world within and the world without. Do I think they were bad stewards? Not worse than most.

  5. We pretty much agree with you on the details June. I think that we are more complex philosophically. Additionally, because of technological advances, there is more information, study, media attention, analysis, etc. applicable to every single action taken. We also suspect that we have a better appreciation of the world than our predecessors.

    But why did we screw up the economy so badly?

  6. I don't think we did screw up the economy. We are not in the Great Depression, in spite of the election year hype and fear-mongering, but we are in a strong recession. Will it be as bad as the results of the 1973-1975 oil crisis, where the cost of gasoline quadrupled in just a few months? Will it be worse than the Carter years, where we had double digit inflation and double digit interest rates? We got through those easily enough, it seems in retrospect. And I am not inclined to think it is the fault of one group of people born between 1946 and 1954 (if the Cuspers want out of the blame). The economy was not controlled by us, it is a multi-generational phenomenon.

  7. For some of our regular readers, in analyzing this subject further, try adopting and arguing a position 180 out (exactly the opposite of what you actually feel) and let's see if we come up with anything different in the process. Be sure to tell us in advance that you are doing that.

    In thinking about it further, we're going to employ this exercise more frequently in the future to generate new ways of looking at things.

    P.S. It also assists one in becoming more receptive to the views of others, less likely to draw hard lines in the sand, and more objective from a conceptual perspective.

  8. Douglas, you indicated that "we did not screw up the economy." Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman just today suggested that it is the worst that it has been in "two lifetimes," which we admit might be a bit of hyperbole in his choice of the word "lifetime."

    He does agree with you that it is not as bad as the Great Depression, and suggests that it will not reach that level. Why? He believes that we learned something following the Great Depression about what not to do.

    Krugman also suggested that it will be very difficult to hold unemployment below 9% next year, and he would not be surprised if it crept into double digits.

    Interestingly, many economic professors suggest that the New Deal did not get us out of the Depression, and many forget that we encountered a recession in 1938 even after years of New Deal policies. They suggest that the economy really did not improve until we geared up for industrial production with World War II.

    Getting back to your assertion to the effect that we did not screw up the economy, tell us what is going on. If we Baby Boomers did not do it, which demographic did? Do we Baby Boomers bear ANY responsibility at all? Are you suggesting that the economy is not screwed up? Are you suggesting that this is just a brief, temporary lull, and if so, how long do you contend it will last? Are you suggesting that economists are lying to us? Are you suggesting that our elected leaders and business leaders are lying to us? Is this all much ado about nothing?

    Are you suggesting that what Sen. McCain said is still true, namely that the economy is fundamentally strong?

  9. Okay- I’m taking my lead from the View host and channeling the public defender within (but I don't know if this is exactly what you meant):

    I need to apologize for being a baby boomer. We were vain, greedy and set in wait for George Bush to lead our way! As hippies our goal was conspicuous consumption. We’re totally responsible for the economic problems. We knew a massive fuel shortages would occur in 21st century and didn’t care. We caused the problems with the Middle East- ( in that there was no problem in the Middle East or warring factors before we arrived on the scene.)

    Baby boomers are responsible for all kinds of disasters. We stupidly demanded equal rights for women, blacks and all people in out society and workplace. We created numerous cures for diseases and extended human life span in the past 30 years thus overpopulating this ENTIRE country with healthier individuals. We created an internet digital monster that has become the ’ruin’ of us all. We stick our nose into other countries problems , give billions of tax dollars in aid,- like we could give a damn. With our ‘free love’ attitude and demanding sex education be taught in our schools, we undoubtedly caused the aids epidemic, brought forth pornography and drugs into our society (- considering none of that existed before 1945.)

    I could go on endlessly of all the damage my generation has done and personally apologize for it all . I unfortunately became a baby boomer greedy success story -when I should have remained barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen like my Momma. My life could be so much better now- huh?

    Isn’t it time the Cusper’s and GenX grow up and stops blaming Mom and Dad for everything?

  10. I think Vikki did it well. How can I follow that act?

    Yes, Log, I am saying the Boomers didn't do in the economy. I am saying no one group did it. In fact, I don't think it is all that bad. Of course, I am speaking from a position that is relatively recession proof. I have a guaranteed income that, according to all accounts, will not be harmed by the downturn. If it is, there will be upheaval the likes of which haven't been seen since teh fall of Rome. I also have savings that will remain stable over the next ten years. It is the working people, the people who need jobs and have lived (or are living) on the cusp of struggle that will feel the effects. The Rich will feel it but more as annoyance than trouble.

    So, let's go to the state of the economy... Krugman says 9% unemployment next year? I have been in cities, struggling as a young man with a family, where unemployment was that high (1971) and I made it through. Several countries in Europe have had 10% unemployment or worse for some time. The combined unemployment rate in the EU was 6.7% in March of this year. It has been going up as they have sunk into this recession.

    So, yes, I would say this economy is functionally sound. What this recession will do is lower the trade imbalance, reduce some of the illegal immigration, and maybe re-orient us toward a more rational society that does not value things above people. I am not all that hopeful about that last as I still see lots of people wanting X-boxes, WII's, phones that do much more than make calls, amd other gadgets. But overall I think the economy is fairly solid. I think that if the auto companies go under, we may have a deep recession which will last more than a couple of years but that is only if all three go under. I am betting that GM, at least, will survive and be stronger for it.

    As to what, or who, caused this recession, I couldn't say. I do know that I have observed the media calling it terrible for far longer than it has been. That the media was fretting over the housing bubble bursting and "woe is us" when it did. The media almost gleefully reporting the rising cost of gas and oil and Congress raking everyone over the coals while refusing to expand drilling. I blame the election cycle mostly for playing the economy card a little too well. An economy is what people believe it is. If they see prosperity continuing then they will invest, will start businesses, will spend, will buy. If they see a downturn coming, they hold back, withdraw investments, restrict spending, withdraw from risk. Molding public opinion with doom and gloom forecasts does not lead to prosperous times. I could be wrong but that is how I see it.

  11. Very nice advocacy Vikki for the Boomers. We would submit that there is some good and some bad about EVERY generation.

    There is a concept called comparative fault or comparative responsibility. It allows for the partioning or apportionment of fault amongst various contributing factions. For example, it is possible that the Greatest Generation is X% responsible for the current state of our nation; that the Boomers are Y% responsible; that the Cuspers are Z% responsible; that Generation Jones is M% responsible.

    Douglas, we are in agreement with you that fault is multi-generational. However, each generation must take responsibility for some part of causative activity. By doing so, we can identify what to change going forward.

  12. Have you noticed thus far any significant distinguishing features between Obama and his "generation" and the Baby Boomers?


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