My Boomer Life and the Greatest Generation Parents Who Raised Me

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Posted on 20th December 2012 by Stucky in Economy

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I won’t be posting a Quinn-like masterpiece with lots of graphs and statistics. First, I don’t have that ability. Second, I am not a statistic. I am a person … so this will be a personal story with anecdotes about my achy-breaky Boomer life. Mostly, I just want to address the following question;

“ARE BOOMERS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING WRONG IN AMERICA TODAY?”

First, let me whine a little.  A number of folks here (you know who you are, lol) answer that question with an emphatic “YES!!”.  I find it incredulous that otherwise very smart folks can say such things. I don’t know if it’s said just for effect to “piss off” Boomers such as myself, or if you can really attribute this country’s Great Malaise to such a simple theory.   It is also rather dismaying that whenever ANYTHING positive is said about the Boomer generation, then that person is accused of being in “denial” or an “apologist”.  It’s almost as if the quest for knowledge ceases when it comes to Boomers … a really surprising turn of events considering the large number of INTJs here.

Others will say we Boomers shouldn’t take it “personally” — which, really, is like calling a black person “nigger”, and then exclaiming, “Oh! Please don’t take that personally”. Tough to do! Accuse me of whatever you wish. I simply cannot wrap my tiny mind around the Broad Brush Approach — lumping an entire generation of 76 million people  as the cause of Everything Evil is not wise, helpful, applicable, or even possible, imho.  You might as well say, “Humans caused all our evils” … which would also be equally correct, and equally useless since the classification is too enormous.  But if one is looking for an Easy Unified Theory of Everything Wrong With America … “Boomers Did It” … well, have at it.

I cannot identify with the rich Boomers, because I am not rich. I cannot identify with the rich Greatest Generation , because I am not rich. I cannot identify with the rich of any generation, because I am not rich. Without advocating a class-warfare approach, I must maintain that a far greater divide in America is along Class — not, age.  The mega-rich, the mega-powerful, the ultra-elite — yeah, the 1% — as George Carlin says, THEY are your owners! Redirect your anger accordingly.

I am NOT against the younger generation. I love ‘em. I feel I have more in common with my emotionally troubled son than with most Boomers in my life.  Unlike what happens to many old farts, he at least he still questions everything, still wonders what this crazy life is all about, still wonders how he “fits in”.  Just like I did when I was his age, and actually, still do to some extent.  \\end:whining//

STUCKY  CONSIDERS HIS PAST WHILE AT A CHRISTMAS CONCERT

A couple Sundays ago I went to my Dad’s Christmas concert.  He sings for The Plainfield Gesang & Turn Verein, a German-American heritage club that was founded in 1886. There were about 200 people in attendance.  I would say that 90% of demographics were Boomers such as myself and our parents, The Greatest Generation.

I not only listened to the music, but as I watched my dad singing so proudly, and as I glanced at my mom who always gets weepy at this event, my mind also grew nostalgic, as it is prone to do at such holiday occasions.

It is only in the past few years that I have seen my parents as “whole” persons. What I mean by that is that their whole existence on this planet, as far as I was concerned for most of my life, only started around when I was 5 years old … my earliest memories of them. That means about 30 years of their lives — while they did start to tell me bits and pieces once I turned 17 and thereafter — well, for all intents and purposes it simply didn’t exist. What a damn shame, to my own detriment, that I didn’t even care about the great fountain of experience and knowledge I so easily dismissed. The major event that shaped my parent’s lives was WWII. With apologies to all those here who know this story, I shall very briefly summarize it for those who don’t, for context.

My dad was a German living in Romania.  One day, when dad was a teenager, the German Army came sweeping into his village, yanked him from his home, told him he was in the German Army, sent him to the Russian front, where he was captured, spent time in a Russian prison camp, and upon release was not allowed to return to Romania and never saw his family again, but was instead sent to England to work in the coal mines for several years – a form of ‘reparation’, before he made his way to a refugee camp in Austria.

My mother was a German living in Yugoslavia. One day, when she was a teenager, the Russian Army came sweeping into her village. They shot a lot of older German men – the young ones were all off to war — on the spot. Virtually all the women in the village were promptly sent to a Russian gulag, where she was raped, saw her mom raped and then murdered in front of her eyes. After the war ended only she and her brother remained alive, they were not allowed to return to their village, and they walked to a refugee camp in Austria.

I don’t relay these events for pity. Screw that. They are just one of millions of German families who suffered in WWII … just as millions of Americans have suffered in WWII, with only the details changing. I just have a story to tell, and my parent’s story is a huge part of my story. Of course I can’t speak for 76 million of us except in a general sense.  For example, I graduated from a high school of about 2,000 and I feel comfortable in saying we all share the Same Boomer Story, generally speaking.

THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING BOOMERISM

The point is these are the people who raised my fat Boomer ass … which they did not do in a vacuum, independent of things that shaped their lives.  The picture in your mind’s eye of a “Boomer” is quite incomplete if you forget, or misunderstand, our Greatest Generation parents.

So, I’m watching my mother as she watches the concert, I put my hand around her shoulder as I see her eyes well up with tears. What is she thinking?  What pains are still so real to her today .. that I can’t help her with?  I start thinking about my own 59 years of living … how crystal clear certain events of my own teenage years still are … as if they happened yesterday. And then a feel a certain shame that it took me so long to see my parents as whole persons.  I suddenly feel despondent that I so despised several aspects of my upbringing that I couldn’t wait to join the military, even in the midst of the Vietnam war, just to get the fuck out from under my parent’s thumb.  Before taking a look at how the Greatest Generation raised us, let’s quickly take a look at another key to understanding Boomers;  the world in which we lived

HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY ??

The Gay 20’s really weren’t all that gay, just as  the world Boomers inherited wasn’t only the fun, Hippie, pot-smokin’, LSD trippin’, rock’n-roll groovin’, free love image that is remembered today. Two big events and a ton of smaller ones helped turn our once pure souls to the Dark Side.

First Big Event: Da Bomb. Russia. Nukes. Commie bastards. Ka-BAM! All gone. Nuclear winter. Dead. Why??? Nuke drills!! Little Boomer children hiding under desks for protection. Little Boomer children watching gub’mint movies showing homes blasted to smithereens. Little desk hiding Boomers not stupid, “We gonna die under this desk!!”  Was I forever traumatized – some prepubescent PTSD – by these drills? No. Did it affect my perception of what the world was about and that just maybe it made no sense at all and that the grownups were idiots and that since tomorrow may never come so I might as well live just for today … even though I was just a kid at the time?  You better believe it.

Second Big Event. Vietnam. Dirty, nasty, disgusting, vile war that killed 60,000 of us and maimed hundreds of thousands more. What was it good for? Absolutely nothing.  Did it affect my perception of what the world was about and that just maybe it made no sense at all and that the grownups were idiots and that since tomorrow may never come so I might as well live just for today? You better believe it.

Not to mention in no particular order;  civil rights ….. riots …. . corrupt government openly lying ….. a disgraced president ….. dead soldiers faces broadcast on TV every night ….. Kent State …..  double-digit unemployment ……. Midnight Cowboy ….. 25% interest rate for a home loan ….. gas lines ….. shitty cars that exploded ….. S&L crisis ….. Bay of Pigs ….. nukes in Cuba!! …. Abortion …. JFK ….. and, MLK …. Jimmie Hendrix and Janis Joplin …. Gloria Steinem and  woman’s rights ….. no more prayer in school ….. the Ayatollah ….. Supreme Court turns activist all over the place …… Korea ….. school integration ……………….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Did we shape the times, or did the times shape us? I think it’s the latter. Simple math. 

The first Boomers were born in 1946.  How old are the people-in-charge, the leaders, the CEOs, the 535 politicians that rule our lives … i.e., the people who actually make things happen?  Let’s be conservative and say that it’s 30 years old.  So, the first Boomers with power to affect the status quo  arrive on the scene only in 1975.  I  would say Boomers  took the helms of power around  daddy Bush’s presidency in 1989 – when the first Boomers were 43 years old.

The “ME Generation” —- A MISNOMER

We are … and you may add the adjective “most” to many  of these descriptions;  selfish, self-indulgent, unwilling to sacrifice, politically correct, drug addicted, material minded, entitled, liberal or commie shits, bad parents, lazy, humans to ever walk the earth. And to top it all off we invented Afro’s and disco (actually, two legitimate reasons to hate us).  Amazingly, we accomplished all this because of the year in which we were born.  And because of our sin of ‘The Year Of Our Birth’, you can go to literally hundreds of blogs other than here and find the admonishment that Boomers should “just die already”.  The implication being, that once this happens, pretty much everything will return to bliss, prosperity, and overall happiness.  I read that we Boomers only cared about only three things;  1) Me, 2) Me, and 3) Me.  Just like the “love of money” is the root of evil,  our preoccupation with “Me” is the root cause underlying our evilness.

BUT — the ME-Generation was raised by the Greatest Generation.

How would YOU like to be born following that moniker?  Imagine you have just one older sibling, and your parents referred to him/her as “The Greatest Kid”.  It just might fuck you up!  Lol   Boomer babies didn’t drop out the shoot and at the moment of birth become The Most Selfish Bastards ever.  We did not raise ourselves. Somewhere along the line, some person(s) and some event(s) helped us along into becoming selfish pricks.  Cause leads to effect, nature abhors a vacuum.

What do you THINK you know about The Greatest Generation?

Unless you’re a Boomer, what you think you know about the Greatest Generation is likely inaccurate.  The people you know as grandparents are NOT the same people who raised us.  Some kind of Weird Assed Transformation took place from the time we were born to the people you know. Maybe it has to do with the aging process – whereby one becomes more introspective, soft hearted, and most importantly – accepting of Things As They Are … not, What They Should Be, a mantra us Boomer kids heard a million times if we heard it once.   Maybe it was the realization that their own Materialism was a big mistake … and trust me on this, in many ways they were much more materialistic than their boomer children.  Maybe they didn’t ‘change’, maybe they just ‘adapted’ – but, the Metamorphosis into A New Life Form –one that is NOW loved and revered –  is and was spectacular.  

Let’s take a look at what Boomer kids heard growing up

“ I’m not buying you a new pair of Converse sneakers. You think money grows on trees?”

“You’re not going out dressed like that, are you? What will the neighbors think?”

“I slave all day to put food on the table, so you damn well better eat all of it!”

 “You don’t know what hardship is all about.  WE had it rough.”

“Kids in China are starving. Learn some gratitude, dammit.”

 “You see all the stuff we have?.  We did all this for you.”

“Turn off the damn lights. You think electricity is free?”

 “You don’t know the meaning of sacrifice.”

“Cut your hair!  At least look respectable.”

 “You don’t know how lucky you are.”

“At least you could show some respect.”

 “You don’t know the value of things.”

“Why don’t you appreciate anything?”

 “Quit acting like a bum!”  KaPow!!  (We boomer kids got wacked …. A LOT)

If you don’t see a significant amount of materialism in those statements then, I’m sorry, you’re just not being perceptive enough.  Materialism is largely a state of mind.  Bertrand Russel said,  ——- “It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

HANGING ONTO WHAT YOU GOT LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT

It’s not about how much stuff you own. It’s about the stuff you own that eventually owns you.  A middle aged man attempts to reclaim his youth and buys a vintage Harley, just like the one in Easy Rider. He owns the bike.  Before you know it he’s spending all weekend polishing every nut and bolt.  Then he decides it needs some restoration, and he spends a few grand doing that.  Then he spends more and more time away from his family and with his fellow enthusiasts, riding around town, showing off like a peacock. Then one day his teenage son accidently puts a small scratch on the fender.  He hurls a string of expletives at his son for committing this unforgiveable sin.  The bike now owns HIM.

Although I lacked nothing growing up, my pre-boomer angst was fueled by the ever present possibility that all the blessings bestowed on me could be lost at any time. From scarcity we came, and to scarcity we could return.  This pretty much fulfills Bertrand Russels’s  materialism “preoccupation” criteria. Our stuff, meager as it might be, owned us.  The resultant activity of the scarcity meme, in terms of materialism, is that my Greatest Generation dad worked his ass off to make sure scarcity would never rear its ugly head. This is admirable and not to be condemned.  Don’t you, and I, do the very same thing for our children? 

But, it did have unintended consequences.  Growing up I couldn’t help but feeling that material gain was more important than anything else. Our parents did work their fingers to the bone.  But by the time they dragged their tired asses through the door, they were too tired to hug us.  They were too tired to have any really meaningful conversations, especially about sex.  “Children should be seen, and not heard.” , I swear was God’s eternal truth scripted somewhere in the Gospels. So, we spent a great deal of our time out of our parents’ sight.  That was great for both of us … far less arguments.

We even had our own special place to play in the house.  The basement. We sure as hell never romped around the main level, especially the living room;  “Don’t sit there!  That’s GOOD furniture!!”.  Our little boomer minds duly noted; ‘furniture more important than us’. Watch reruns of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and Marie’s living room to see the hilarious abortions  our parents resorted in order to “save” the good furniture;  they covered everything in plastic! Lol  All of us immediately identified with the advice Dustin Hoffman received in The Graduate;  “Plastics, my boy. Plastics.”  Eventually we got the last laugh when all that plastic shit turned a putrid shade of yellow, and the cushions smelled like skunk ass when the plastic was removed. Meanwhile, we were banished to the basement where we could destroy nothing of real value.

FROM DEPRIVATION TO EXCESS TO REBELLION

One of the most common reactions to deprivation is excess.  For example, people who have faced starvation will often, once circumstances have changed, become gluttons.  This was our parents’ response.

Then, as time passes, a typical reaction to excess is rebellion. This was our response.  For example, on a grand scale a Colonist eventually  rebels against the excesses of his British masters, and dumps tea in the bay.  On an individual scale, children (of any era) eventually rebel against their parents’ excessive rules by doing the exact opposite. The goal of the Rebel, whether a nation or a child,  is always to starve the master of their power.

This dynamic plays out predictably well in the Greatest Generation / Boomer relationship.  The Greatest Generation faced deprivations in spades; from the Great Depression to Dust Bowls to World War II. The end of the Big War ushers in the greatest economic boom in American history, or something like that.  Remembering their deprivations the Greatest Generation becomes as materialistic as any in recent memory.  Some of you folks err when you compare that materialism back then with what we have today.  You look at countless graphs, data, GDPs, debt, one financial ratio after another … compare the two eras … and somehow conclude that the Greatest Generation were ‘savers’.  The “numbers” don’t look so bad back then only because the whole shebang was just getting started.  Some shit just takes time to get stinky.

What was this great economic post-war boom about? Was it not the beginning of Consumerism? What do you think this is all about;  … getting that little starter house, then upgrading to the bigger house with the nice white picket fence, movin’ on up to a good neighborhood, getting that  fifty cent promotion, replacing a literal ice-BOX with a real refrigerator, getting a nice big Dee-troit car or two,  the explosion of corporate TV shows like the Colgate Comedy Hour … if not consumer fueled materialism? Excess folks, excess.

“Oh Yeah?  Well …. fuck you!!”

The Boomer children, mostly neglected as daddy –and soon, mommy – pursued the Good Life (FOR us, naturally) reacted in a way that shouldn’t be a surprise …. we rebelled against our oppressor for their real or imagined sins.   Only we did with much greater aplomb than ever before ; we didn’t fuck around, we were all in. 

They had short-haired geeky musicians, we had long-haired hip rockers.  They had booze, we had drugs.  They had rules – lots of them —, we had none. Free Love, baby!  If it feels good, do it. Love the one you’re with.  They worked hard, we went to Woodstock. They had a lifeless church, we had the Jesus Movement.  They followed the call of  Madison Avenue,  our hearts  hung out at Haight and Ashbury. They liked Ike, we preferred Dylan.  They wore penny loafers, we had sandals and a bandana (and other ridicules articles of clothing). And so it went at every turn; right or wrong, a repudiation of ALL that came before.  So people  look back on this crazy-assed behavior and label us the “ME” generation.  I’ll grant you that there is some truth to that.  But, it falls far short  of what was really going on. It wasn’t “me, me, me” as much as it was; “fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you”.

BTW, isn’t that EXACTLY what the younger generations are saying about us Boomers; “Fuck You!”?   History rhyming yet again. Solomon correctly wrote; “Vanity of vanities, there is nothing new under the sun.” I don’t know what dumbass mistakes this younger generation will make — I sometimes feel they think they’ll make none, the first Perfect Generation — but trust me on this one thing oh Young Ones, you too will blow it … and your offspring will mock you as well.

BOOMERS NEVER EARNED ANYTHING — EVERYTHING WAS HANDED TO THEM

Nothing quite baffles me like this accusation.  I shake my head wondering exactly what was given to me. I started out getting a fifty-cent allowance, back when fifty cents could still get me into the movies (double feature plus cartoons, a soda, and a popcorn and get a nickel back). It wasn’t “free” either … it came attached to doing chores.  Mow the lawn, take out the garbage, do the dishes when asked, and keep my room clean.  This our parents called “learning responsibility”. All for 2 bits … good thing we weren’t Unionized.

But for real money to get real stuff — like those Converse sneakers — we had to work.  So, I got my first job at around 13 selling subscriptions of the town newspaper door to door on Saturdays.  I got a dollar per new subscription.  Some Saturdays I’d rack up 20 plus bucks and back then that was living large. My first real job was in high school. I worked in a lasagna factory, stirring lasagna in a huge vat of boiling water … for $1.35 an hour. And I never stopped working since.  We worked hard all our lives. My friends all did likewise.  So. Pardon me if I am offended at being called “selfish, greedy, and entitled” as I refuse to accept that label.

Speaking of “entitled”, perhaps this is what people mean; all those juicy gub’mint entitlement programs, especially SS and Medicare.  First of all, social security was NOT created by the Boomer generation. So, solly.  Try the generation before us. Medicare was NOT created by Boomers either. Sure it was enacted in 1965. The oldest of the Boomer generation would have been born in 1943 … making that Boomer just 22 years old in 1965. The voting age was still 21.  Please don’t tell me Medicare was voted into being because of then 22 year old Boomers!

I know people just hate it when us old farts “expect” to collect on SS. Can you walk in my shoes for a moment?  Let’s say you paid $50,000 into some account set up by the gub’ment. It is money you earned by the sweat of your brow.  You didn’t ask the gob’ment to do this for you.  They took it by force and promised to give it back to you later. Much later. That “much later” is now here, and some people want to tell us, “Hey, you can’t have the money. The gub’ment spent it and you can’t have it.” We used to have a word for this: Theft.  Look, I can understand that I may not be able to collect SS forever until I die.  But, can I at least get MY $50,000 dollars back?? You don’t even have to pay any interest, if that makes it better.

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF MY BRETHREN

I won’t cover any of the other Entitlements / Social Programs.  All I  can tell you I voted Republican most of my life, and I cannot ever recall voting based on getting free shit.  Foreign policy, wars, and character where my usual hot buttons. I don’t know how other Boomers voted. I don’t care.

I don’t care because I don’t believe in the idea of Collective Guilt. Google that term and the first page will show articles on “German collective guilt over Nazis”, so this is a topic I personally know something about. It is a heinous principle first found in the Old Testament that — “The sin of the fathers He punishes on the children to the third and fourth generation.”  A monstrous mockery of justice!! Collective guilt refuses to acknowledge the INDIVIDUAL. Evil regimes and their dictators (Stalin, Mao, Marx, etc.) love collective guilt as they collectivize individuals as “the populace” or “the masses” or “the workers” and then enslave or execute them as it suits their purposes. That’s why I have often said here that the demonization of Boomers may one day logically lead to Death Chambers for us old farts.

You, dear reader, don’t believe in collective guilt either. Do you find yourself guilty of the crime of slavery? No.  Do you find yourself guilty for the genocide of Native Americans ? No. Do you find yourself guilty for Mai Lai? No.  Do you find me guilty for Buchenwald?  No.  So why do you throw all Boomers in the Collective guilty pot?  It is said ‘people get the government they deserve’.  If that’s true then I should find YOU guilty for the current mess we’re in. But, don’t worry, I won’t because that entire argument is specious.   Here’s one way we should follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation; they didn’t blame their own parents for their youthful excesses of the ’20′s which then led to the financial ruin of the Great Depression . They just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made the best of a bad situation. So should we.

“YOU MADE PROMISES TO US ………. AND YOU LIED!!”

Another common theme amongst disgruntled Utes are the broken promises we Boomers made. When I went to the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in NYC I saw more than a few Utes displaying  posters about Education  … “$60,000 in Student Loans and No Job”, and several variations thereof, including demands to forgive the debt.  For change of pace I will number my responses.

1)— Guess what kids?  Your generation isn’t the only one that was lied too. We were lied too, also. So, welcome to the real world.

2)— Guess who told us that education was the path to a better life?  That’s right, our Greatest Generation parents.  We just passed what we learned in OUR youth, onto you. By and large that’s how parenting works. Again, welcome to the real world.

3)— Our parents valued education because they were mostly blue-collar workers toiling away in factories (remember those?). They saw first-hand that the “higher-ups”, the folks in the office, the guys in white-collars made significantly more loot than they did.  So, putting two and two together they came up with the brilliant conclusion that education pays.  And that’s why I got my ass kicked whenever I brought home a bad Report Card. The first question at the dinner table was, “Did you wash your hands?”. The second and usually last question was “Did you do your homework?”  Study, study, study was drilled into our mush brains until the cows came home. It is really no more complicated than that.

4)— What’s wrong with furthering your education anyway? Did we commit some Mortal Sin in telling you to study? Don’t you know that we “pushed” this Horrible Thought on you for a reason?  Don’t you know that with knowledge you’ll learn how to think and analyze. Don’t you know the value of  using logic and rational thought, and how that will benefit you throughout your life?  Don’t you know we wanted to give you a foundation that would allow you to filter through all the bullshit the world tries to feed you? Apparently, not.

5)— Regarding not paying back your loan.  Where did you learn that from?  Certainly not from us Boomers when you were young!  Again, we taught you what was taught to us. And here’s one thing I can guaran-damn-tee you our parents showed us; paying one’s bills was a Badge of Honor.  It wasn’t God, country, and apple pie. It was Pay Your Bills, God, country, and apple pie. My parents would sacrifice a meal in order to pay a bill.  We taught you to do the same when you were little.

Here’s what Boomers and the Greatest Generation did wrong.

6) We monetized “value” when talking about “the value of an education”.  Did the Greek philosophers value education to make more money? No.  Did the great men of the Renaissance era value education to make more money? No. Did our Founding Fathers value education to make more money? No.  The “value” of an education is more than exploiting it for financial gain (see #4 above).  But, clearly, modern America is all about the Almighty Dollar.  So, I went to college pretty much in order to make better money. And I told my kids to go to college to make better money. Guilty as charged. Money, it’s a gas. I suppose what pisses off Utes is that Boomers were actually able to get jobs when they graduated, while they can’t. Which leads me to my final point.

7) Tough shit!!  And please don’t tell me us Boomers “guaranteed” you a good job upon getting an education. First of all if you actually believed such a statement you need to recalibrate your Bullshit Detector. They never has been and never will be any guarantees in life, except death, taxes, and obese fat women pictures from our own beloved AWD.  Secondly, it’s a lie from hell.  Our Greatest Generation parents were keenly aware of the possibility of losing it all … again.  

They even coined a unique phrase to drill home the concept of no guarantees; –“you never know”. For example, “Put down that stick! You could poke your sister’s eye out, YOU NEVER KNOW!” (In my childhood there were apparently about 845 ways to poke out my sister’s eye.) Or, “Put on clean underwear before we drive to church.  We might have an accident, YOU NEVER KNOW!”.  Or, “No, we’re not joining the community swimming pool.  We need to save every penny, YOU NEVER KNOW when we’ll need it.”. 

Lastly, Utes also blame Boomers that they can’t get married,  they have to live with their parents, will never be able to start a family, buy a house, etc. etc.  It all boils down to “life isn’t fair”. Well!  1) we Boomers used that phrase on our own parents a million times.  Please come up with something new.  2)  In what fairy-tale are you living where ‘fairness’ is the rule of the land? 3) Stop emulating Gordon Gecko. Try, Tim the Toolman. 4) My parents taught me this and I pass it along to you.  Perhaps the Ten Best Words Of Advice you will ever hear;   “Life isn’t fair. Get over it. DO something about it.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

In closing, let me say that I’m not trying to change the real Boomer Haters. It was downright depressing doing some research for this article. I don’t know exactly how widespread this hatred is, but what is out there is savage, vicious, and said with such ferocity that I wonder when, not if, the loathing for my generation  turns into violence against us.  Every revolution has at least one scapegoat. The “Boomers Suck” meme is paving the way towards acceptance of  our destruction, should it go that far. How does one change such a person’s opinion?? But, there are folks out there who have yet to decide if they shout hate/blame Boomers for everything.  I hope this article reaches those.

I also hope this does not come across as either making excuses or rationalization.   It’s just my story, and I assume it’s similar to millions of others in my age group unfortunate enough to be labeled a Boomer. All I tried to do is tell it as it is … yes, as I see it with my Boomer-tainted goggles … and in the telling I know I barely scratched the surface.  

One thing I know is they we are ALL in this together. When I see a homeless man in NYC, he may be a Boomer … or, very well be a more recent generation. I often drop a few dollar bills, but I don’t first verify his age, because I don’t see a GenX or Boomer … I see only a homeless person, a human being who is worthy of compassion because I realize “there but for the grace of God go I”. 

I think it’s a fact that most of us Boomers have seen our savings, our assets, our net worth dwindle before our eyes and most of us are not well off. I think it’s a fact that most Boomers still work, and probably will need to work —- either until we die or the ravages of age incapacitate us.  And if we are incapacitated … and if the timing is such that all the Free Shit is no longer available … then don’t worry about killing us, as I believe many will commit suicide.

Lastly, I am fully aware I have my own biases, and as we discussed in another thread from last week, “total honesty” in the trillion plus connections  organized by our highly fallible brains may not even be possible . Not only might I “not know” the truth, it is conceivable “I don’t even know that I don’t know”.  In other words, yeah, I could be full of shit. (If so, I’m sure you will inform me thereof. Lol ) But, I doubt it.

Peace

Herr StuchenBoomer

WHY THEY ARE THE GREATEST GENERATION

26 comments

Posted on 22nd February 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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They are rapidly dying off. There are very few Greatest Generation members left. What they did is being forgotten by todays generations. This is how Turnings in history happen. This is why history is cyclical. This is why we are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past. The five week battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 marked the very end of the last Fourth Turning. Without the sacrifice of these men, there would not have been a new High. Fourth Turnings require tremendous sacrifice and a spirit that doesn’t seem to be present today. In the space of five weeks more American soldiers were killed on the tiny volcanic island of Iwo Jima than were killed in eight years of fighting in Iraq. The Japanese did not believe in surrender. These young marines had to slaughter 18,000 Japanese to take this rock. They did it. I can’t even imagine the horror of those five weeks in hell.

This event took place in year 16 of the last Fourth Turning. We are presently in year 5 of this Fourth Turning. Do horrors of this scale or greater await our Millenial generation? Will they meet the challenge. Will we all meet the challenge. There is no guarantee that a new High will occur. There are many challenges, risks, and battles ahead. Will the American people make their ancestors proud or will we shirk our responsibility to future generations? The choice is ours.

 

Anniversary recalls grim toll of Iwo Jima

Bruce Bender remembers the Marines’ bloody fighting for the Pacific island in 1945. Breaking his silence over World War II, he recently wrote his memoirs so his children would know what happened.

Iwo Jima anniversary

Bruce Bender, 88, was in the first wave of U.S. Marines to land on the beaches of Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. He was with the 4th Battalion 14th Marines and has written a book about his experiences during World War ll. (Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot / February 16, 2012)

 
By Lauren Williams, Los Angeles TimesFebruary 21, 2012
 
Although his memories of Iwo Jima are more than 6 decades old, Bruce Bender remembers the volcanic ash, the pungent smell of sulfur and oppressive heat with vivid clarity.Bender was one of the first Marines to set foot on a desolate island in the Pacific in 1945 in what became a turning point in World War II. The offensive began calmly enough, but it didn’t stay that way for long.The barrage began when the third wave of Marines hit the shore. It didn’t end for two days.”They were shooting at us — we were digging holes,” Bender said, a faint accent reflective of his native Pittsburgh still in his voice.Of the 29 men who came ashore together, Bender was one of three to survive the bloodshed, and the only one to leave unscathed.

Sunday marked the 67th anniversary of the storming of Iwo Jima. Bender, who’s 88 now and lives in Costa Mesa, is one of a shrinking number of World War II veterans who have survived to share their memories.

The marching orders were straightforward: Ascend Mt. Suribachi and eventually make the island safe for U.S. pilots to use as a stopover en route to the Japanese mainland.

But the planned five-day mission turned into a bloody commitment lasting more than a month. More than 6,000 Americans lost their lives and about 18,000 of the Japanese defenders were killed, according to the U.S. military‘s estimates.

Before the storming of Iwo Jima, the U.S. Navy led a three-day bombardment that stripped the island of its vegetation, leaving the Marines exposed as they came ashore. The heat and the stench of sulfur were oppressive. and Bender said he found it amazing that the Japanese soldiers had been able to live on the island.

Suribachi was pockmarked with caves and other well-concealed hiding places where the Japanese would shoot at the advancing Marines. It was nearly impossible to determine where the shots were coming from, Bender said.

Amid the chaos of the battle, Bender received a combat promotion to first lieutenant because of the escalating fatalities.

Bender said the smell was nearly impossible to forget. Men on the island were barred from using water for anything other than drinking. They faced a possible court-martial if they used valuable freshwater to bathe, he said.

After a month without bathing, the men reeked.

But the Battle of Iwo Jima took place as the war was winding down, and before long, Bender was recuperating in Maui, Hawaii.

He eventually graduated from USC on the GI Bill. While there, he met his wife, Jeanette, 83, in what she describes as a “whirlwind romance.” Married for 62 years, the couple have three children, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Over the years, like many veterans of his era, Bender has remained silent about his experiences.

“He said, ‘Why should I be the one to be here to tell the story?’ ” Jeanette Bender said.

It wasn’t until about five years ago that he saw the value in telling his children about his life during the war. He later opened up enough to start writing it down.

Last December, each of his children found a hardcover copy of his book under the Christmas tree.

“I promised my children over the years that I would have it done and completed, and I finally did,” he said. “It was just, well hey, instead of buying junky things for our kids, we tried to give something they could pass on to their own children when they have children.

“We wanted to put money into something that would last,” he said.



THE GREATEST GENERATION

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Posted on 14th November 2010 by Reverse Engineer in Economy

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JimQ’s recent moving and eloquent eulogy “Until We Meet Again” for his father got me to musing on the lifetime of the Greatest Generation, of which my parents were also a part.  My own father died a couple of years ago at the age of 82, and like Jim’s dad also served in WWII, enlisting at the age of 18 right at the close of the war and serving only briefly in the Navy as a cook on a Submarine.

This generation was born right at the close of the last 4 Turnings cycle into the maw of the Great Depression, but for those who survived that transition; for those who got on the bandwagon in one form or another, they enjoyed an ever increasing level of general prosperity in the FSofA where the horizons seemed limitless and where any boy could grow up from humble beginnings to become the CEO of a Multinational Corporation. Of course, MOST boys did not grow up to be that, most boys grew up and hitched a ride on the bus in one form or another at a fairly average wage in a fairly average job.  For Jim’s dad, he got a Lifetime Job with Atlantic Refining earning a decent Wage driving a truck for some 40 years or so, up to the age of 59.  For my dad, he went to Pace College in NYC on the GI Bill for his few months of service cooking on the sub and got a Bizness Degree, hooked up with the Republican Party for a while and through those connections and a knack for mathematics got selected for the Executive Training Program at Chase Manhattan.  Of the three guys selected for that program, one of them eventually became CEO of Merrill Lynch, another started his own Bank in New Jersey.  My dad remained a middle level apparatchik for Chase, spending his Glory Years in the 60s down in Brasil acquiring small Banks to bring under the umbrella of Chase.  After that he did a similar thing Down Under in Australia in the 70s, and came very close to becoming a Big Cheese CEO himself down there in the acquisition of one of the Banks, but he made one of his many marital mistakes and got dragged back to the FSofA by his wife of that time, declining the position.  He moved back to the US and took charge of the Systems Department at Chase in the main office, the precursor to today’s IT departments. He had a fairly magnificent office 2 floors below David Rockefeller on the same side of the building, which I got to see on the alternate Weekends he had custody of me in the Divorce Settlement.

Anyhow, as the 70s came to a close, many of the loans made to SA countries came back to haunt the balance sheets of TBTF banks like Chase Manhattan, and they went through a period of Downsizing.  My dad was offered a Golden Parachute to take an early retirement at the age of 50, which he took, along with many other middle level executives at the bank at that time.  Nothing like the multi-million dollar parachutes Pigmen get nowadays of course, but still a nice comfortable 6 figure Lifetime Annuity for giving approximately 25 years of his life for the greater glory and profit of Chase Manhattan and the Rockefeller family (members of which I met on many occasions through my boyhood years in Brasil, when my dad would host the visiting Elite for conferences with local Brasilian Banksters.    My  Pigman dad was very good with languages as well as math, and became fluent in Portuguese with just a few months of study prior to moving down there, so he served as interpreter for the Rockefeller group).

Anyhow, for both Jim’s dad and my own, they both got to retire in their 50s, though the Group Think here now seems to think that the French Rioting over their Retirement age being pushed back from 60 to 62 makes them unrealistic and greedy.  Times change, eh?  Here in the FSofA, we are certainly on the cusp of the retirement age being further pushed back from 65 to 68 or 70 to try to keep Social Security and various insolvent  Pension Funds solvent a bit longer, if that even works and they don’t collapse altogether.  I am already 3 years past the age my dad retired at, and I NEVER expect to retire.  I expect to pretty much work until I am completely unable to do anything productive.  After that, I’ll be taking that last Kayak trip out to sea or be giving myself up to the Bear as my ticket to the Great Beyond.

For Jim’s dad, upon returning from WWII he was able to buy a nice little house in a new suburb of Philadelphia, and by living through the growth years following WWII and maintaining a Lifetime Job with Atlantic, he was able to pay off that mortgage in 1985.  My mom (dad’s first wife) also paid off her mortgage on the house he put a down payment on as part of the Divorce Settlement back in the early 70s.  He bought that house on a 25 year mortgage for $30K, which at the top of the RE Bubble sold for around $300K, but mom missed that top and sold it for $200K in the late 90s.  She took that money and put it into “safe” CDs, eschewing the big returns possible in the Stock Market through the last decade for Safety. She lost nothing when the market crashed in 2008, but on the other hand she made nothing while the market exploded from 1998  to 2008.  Basically a wash there. She lives now on what little interest she gets from that, her Social Security and a Pension from her years of working for the CA State Franchise Tax Board as a Secretary in their NY office, her last job she held after the divorce for about 15 years until the age of 65.  While married to my dad for the first 15 years of her adult life, she was just a Homemaker in the Ozzie and Harriet paradigm of the 1950s-60s.  She was nowhere near as educated as my dad, nor anywhere near as smart as he was either.  She was however an extraordinarily beautiful girl at the age of 19 when they got married.  Going to work nearing age 40 with only a HS education was for her a very difficult transition, but a necessary one if she was to be able to keep the House, because the Alimony alone would not make all the payments.  She managed to do it, and she managed to pay off that house.  She is finishing the last days of her life at the moment still barely independent in a small apartment she rents near my sister in Springfield, MO, though my sister and I talk about moving her to a retirement home, even though decent ones would suck up most of the money she has in CDs, along with her Pension and SS .

My mom often told me stories of the Great Depression.  Her parents were immigrants from Poland in the early 1900s, Polish Jews who were fortunate to leave before the Holocaust came in the 1930s-40s. They lived on the Lower East Side of NYC, on Delancey Street.  In the worst years of the Great Depression, when my Maternal Grandfather could not find any work at all, they survived running a Rag Shop selling used clothing, the store in which my mother grew up.  He died long before I was born, a broken man, and like my mom did later after the divorce from my father, my Grandmother on that side of the family kept four kids dressed in rags alive through the worst years of the Great Depression on her own, running her Rag Shop.

My father’s parents also were immigrants, not from Poland but from Ukraine and Russia.  They weren’t  Jews, they were Gypsies. They also manged to avoid the Holocaust, where Gypsies went down in numbers quite close to the Jews of the time.  They were both young acrobats, part of a traveling Circus which was in Spain in May of 1917.  That for those of you who do not know your history this is when the Bolshevik Revolution went down.  They resolved not to return to their homelands, but to emigrate to America.  My Paternal grandmother was only 14 at the time, my grandfather only 17 and they weren’t married yet.  My Grandmother was with her family, who were also part of the Circus, and they had enough money saved up to be able to book steerage on a Freighter bound for America.  My Grandfather was on his own, no family,  and he did not have money enough to book passage.  He told my Grandmother he would come and find her in America when he could get there.  She BELIEVED him.  She told him she would wait for him FOREVER.  She was 14 years old and in love.

It took my Grandfather about a year to make it to Lisbon from Barcelona where he bid Goodbye to his true love, walking most of the way.  He worked odd jobs as a farmhand and did street performances throwing backflips to keep going. He stole food at markets and broke into shops and warehouses, climbing walls during the night and cutting through roofs and skylights to break and enter.  He was a criminal for that year, but he never got caught.   He was 100% on his own, and he had only one goal in his head.  Make it to AMERICA to find my Grandmother.  He slept in Barns with the Cows and along the side of many roads in a small tent.   He had been told by friends that ports in Lisbon were very lax in security, and that there were many freighters leaving that port bound for America you could stow away on. In the middle of the night, with just the clothes on his back and some dried meat and a bag of flour held with his teeth, my grandfather the acrobat climbed the anchor chain of an American Freighter and stowed away for two weeks on the voyage to America in the Anchor Locker.  He swam ashore in the middle of the night also, bypassing Immigration at Ellis Island.  He was an Illegal Alien, in addition to being a Criminal Burglar.  He wasn’t ashamed of it either.  He did what he HAD to do to SURVIVE, and to make it to America and fulfill his PROMISE to my Grandmother.

It took my Grandfather another 2 years after that to find my Grandmother. He talked to every Gypsie and every Jew he found who had some connection to Circus.  Circus families are a relatively small group, and eventually he found one who knew where my Grandmother and her family were living.  He knocked on the door of the Tenement building on Delancey Street they were living in, my Grandmother answered the door, and they were married a week later. IMAGINE THAT MOMENT.  Imagine it.  That is the CRUX of the Fourth Turning, a Rebirth from the Depth of Despair.

How much of this story is true?  I don’t know, but it’s the way my Grandfather told it to us when I was a boy.  Knowing my Grandfather had the same tendencies toward Romanticizing life that I do, I expect it wasn’t quite so Cinematic as he made it sound, but I do believe most of it.

My Paternal Grandfather did better through the inter-War period between WWI and WWII than my mother’s parents did.  Despite having no Papers, he was able to easily hook up a job as a Construction Worker on the Skyscrapers being built up in NYC through the Roaring 20s.  He was young, strong and utterly FEARLESS.  He had been walking the Wire from the time he was 5 or so, and walking the High Steel was no problem at all for him. Nobody wore clip-on belts in those days with carabiners, you either had the guts and balance necessary to walk free on the girders or you did not. Many men fell to their deaths from the High Steel.  High Steel workers at the time included many Navajo and Lakota, it was a dangerous profession and Native Americans were more comfortable working at great heights than most White folks.  I first got to know Native Americans from friends of my Grandfather from his early days in the FSofA. They all came to visit at the house in Westchester County he built in 1945 on 10 acres, complete with High Wire and Trapeze in the backyard.  I learned to flip and twist and get chucked around by my Aunts and Uncles in that backyard.   I landed on my head more than few times, which might explain why I am so deranged these days. LOL.

The house Grandpa built most recently sold for $3M in 1997.  Not money anybody in my family got, it was sold when Grandpa died in the mid 60s.  Not sure what it sold for then, probably less than $100K.   He made a good living in his time working the High Steel, and saved his pennies. He used that money to open a Speak Easy in Brooklyn in the Prohibition years, and used the proceeds from that to buy the land in Westchester to build his house on.  My dad grew up in his Speak Easy turned Bar during the Great Depression, getting to know the local Politicians, and that is how he came to work for the Republican Party after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Pace College, which later got him the job with Chase Manhattan after WWII came to a close.

Looking backward in time at the Greatest Generation and the Generation that preceded them through both Jim’s genealogy and my own, you can see the 4 Turnings and their outcomes in vivid relief. In the time of our Grandparents, they managed to survive through their own Wits and Inner Strength and with much Luck through the great turmoil of History of their 4th Turning. Jim’s Grandpa had 2 horses shot out from under him, he easily could have been hit by one of those bullets himself and Jim would not be here.  My Grandad easily could have taken a tumble from the 50th story of Skyscraper, and I would not be here.  For our parents, they were lucky enough to be born at the very BEGINNING of the cycle, to have the succor of their parents through the harshest years of their childhood in the Great Depression, and to board the Great Train of Prosperity through their Adult Years through the next 3 Turnings.  They got the benefit of a VERY long period of retirement as well.  Good grief, my dad was Retired for more than 30 YEARS, more than 1/3rd of his lifespan. This is NEVER going to happen again.  It was an artifact of the accessing of the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil through that cycle, and nothing like this is likely to ever again present itself to Homo Sapiens.  Prior to Oil NOBODY besides Hereditary Rulers or Illuminati could live for 30 YEARS without working, and even that wasn’t too likely. Yet many people believe this is a God Given right, to retire at age 60-65 or so.  It is highly unlikely that most of us who manage to make it to 65 will be retiring in the future.  What the Greatest Generation got was a One Time Gift from the thermodynamic energy of Oil. Jim’s Dad and my Dad were extraordinarily LUCKY to have been born precisely at the time of the last Fourth Turning, precisely at the time the therodynmic energy of Oil was being accessed. Nothing like their lives will EVER exist again.  It was an anomaly, and is not reproducible under any current technology.

The IMAGE many have in their minds if they were born much past 1960 or so is one of ever increasing Prosperity, where the pain and sacrifice made by those who lived through the last 4th Turning has gone out of their living memory.  Really, even amongst Baby Boomers who had parents and grandparents alive to tell them stories of this time, the ever increasing prosperity made those stories seem like Old Wives Tales, such things could NEVER happen again, certainly not in AMERIKA!  But of course they can, it’s a very regular mathematical function based on Compounding Interest, and now we are faced once again with the very same situation my Grandfather faced back in 1917 and Jim’s Granddad experienced in WWI when he got two horses shot out from under him.  The DIFFERENCE here is one of Emigration Possibilities.

Jim’s Grandad emigrated from Ireland, my Grandad emigrated from Russia, both arrived on the shores of America, a land still open for much Growth as the Oil Age came to pass.  Jim’s father hitched a ride as a Truck Driver distributing Oil product, my Dad hitched a ride distributing Illuminati Money as a Bankster in South America. We both got very good educations as a result, though of course our Politics are very different these days because of differing ways we reacted to and lived within the 3rd Turning of the cycle.  Jim followed the Path and became what he is, a financial officer for the UofP.  I rejected the Path, walked away from Wall Street on one cool September Morning in 1981 and eventually became what I am, a Teacher living on the far edge of Human Civilization here on the Last Great Frontier.  Neither one of these choices is incorrect, they are just choices you have to make based on the parameters you are faced with.   Of course, as things spin down here, my expectation would be the choice to remain nearby the Big Shitty of Philadelphia and the 30 Blocks of Squalor isn’t quite as sustainable as the choice to move to the far edge of human civilization in the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley of Alaska, but I could be wrong on that one of course.  I’ll live with the choice if I am wrong. As it goes so far however, things look a good deal better up here in Alaska than they do in Philadelphia. LOL.

For the Young People, this time is DIFFERENT than the last 4th Turning, when Jim’s Grandad and my Grandad ESCAPED from Europe and built new lives for themselves and their families in the FSofA.  In 1915-1925 the Industrial Revolution was just taking hold, and the FSofA had a HUGE supply of easily accessible Oil to tap within its boundaries. Where would the Young Person of today seek to escape to?  No place is really growing anymore, no place readily will accept Immigrants, no place is a haven for the poor and disenfranchised massed yearning to be FREE.  The best you can do is travel out to the far edge of human civilization and hope not to be a near term victim of the conflagrations to come.  Freedom will be near to non-existent in the foreseeable future as the Police State expands.  The only REAL freedom remains in your mind, and must wait for the Collapse of the Conduits before it can grow again in the real world.  The final collapse is quite some ways off still, the collapse of the monetary sytem will only bring on an even more onerous period of neo-feudalism that supercedes the current corporate fascism of Capitalism. A very ugly period of history that will be tough to survive for most people.  You may survive it by becoming very meek and acquiescing to rules laid down upon you, or you may survive by exiting as far as you can to the periphery, but in either case to survive you will have to make compromises until the Conduits fail epically, which they will.  When they do, all bets are OFF. Take No Prisoners time.  Get MAD, then get EVEN.  The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth.  Right AFTER the Meek get very, VERY Angry.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE