Monday, June 15, 2009

I Apologize--NOT!!

My youngest son Scott recently sent me an e-mail with a link to a Wall Street Journal article. Scott added a personal comment: "I accept your apology."

Apologize? Me?? For what? So I clicked on the link.

It was an article about how college commencement speakers, mostly notable baby boomers, were apologizing for the collective behavior of their generation. Some excerpts from the article:

--"Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 60 years old, told the graduating class of Butler University last month that boomers have been "self-absorbed, self-indulgent and all too often just plain selfish."

--"New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, 55, told Grinnell College graduates in Iowa that his was "the grasshopper generation, eating through just about everything like hungry locusts."

--"Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado College commencement, May 9, 2009: "We have limited the potential of future generations by burdening them with our poor choices and our unwillingness to make tough ones."

Of course, my son knows how to push my buttons. It doesn't take much to get me involved in an argument over politics. So I e-mailed back:

"There's certainly another side of the story. We're the sandwich generation, supporting both the lifestyle of our parents who are generally living comfortably on pensions and benefits that we will be lucky to see (as pensions are disappearing and social security/Medicare will soon be under attack) and the lifestyle of your generation with its Ipods, cell phones, and generally carefree attitude towards debt and personal responsibility.

Remember, your mother and I had to live on a strict budget when we were young. We had to count pennies to save enough money for a down payment on a house, if we ate out it was mostly at McDonalds, we made sure we paid our credit card bill in full monthly so we wouldn't have any debt., etc. How many young families do that nowadays?"

Ha, I told him. But the more I think about it, the more it rattles me. We're from the generation where mothers were expected to work outside the home to support the family, rather than stay at home. Is that something I should apologize for too? We're the generation that has had to deal with hordes of shoddy imported goods from overseas, while good jobs in this country are getting exported there. Should I apologize for that too?

We're the generation that has had to deal with sharply escalating costs in health care, education and housing. My parents bought our family home in a nice Bay City neighborhood for less than $10,000. Our family home cost more than $100,000. And unlike the value of homes in previous generations, the value of our home is going down fast. We just paid it off last month and now can start putting some of those funds towards our own retirement.

I know where this is going . . . all this rumbling about baby boomers allegedly crashing and burning the economy. It's politicians and their cohorts trying to guilt us into accepting a big tax increase, or several big tax increases. We need to work longer in life, for less money, with fewer government benefits so to share with others who more than likely don't contribute as much as we do, never have and never will. Retire? Don't even think about it.

But speaking of retirement, I paid a visit to the company that handles my pension funds. I was surprised to find the heavy plexiglass door locked. You had to be buzzed in. I wonder if that had something to do with a lot of folks angry that the stock market crash cleaned out their 401K. Anyway, the pension adviser strongly suggested I contribute more out-of-pocket to a new, separate retirement account in order to keep pace with the expected sharply rising costs of basic necessities in my golden years..

And taxes too, I guess.


Blogger jan said...

Good for you. Well written. i am more than incensed at people apologizing for the behavior of groups that include me.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

You go, Guy..... You said it perfectly.... You are absolutely right: Our parents were savers and didn't know what a 401K was... My husband and I worked hard to save up a down payment for a house that we could afford.... We are still paying on it but we are out of debt otherwise...... We didn't take fancy vacations and waste money...Don't let that younger generation make you feel guilty... I don't feel guilty.

Our kids do know how to hit our hot buttons, don't they Dave.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

JAN--Thanks. I don't like to rant but sometimes it does feel good.

LUCY--After visiting the outfit that holds my 401k, I'm learning more about 401ks myself. Like they're not as worth as much as you think.

6:33 PM  
OpenID caroldee said...

WOW locked doors that sounds pretty spooky. Of Course we are talkin MICH here and there are a lot of angry people living here. I agree with what you said.. Rant all you want it is your Blog after all and what's a blog for if not to voice your opinions.
Take care : )

9:37 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Well done, Dave. Your last point about taxes, albeit brief, is one I often wonder about. The way we're going nowadays, a future president is going to have to raise taxes to pay for everything. To me, the question is not if, but when.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Great post and don't feel guilty. We didn't have all the things the young ones have now, SO WE INVENTED THEM. What have they done? Thanks for your comments and No Peter wasn't the old farmer with
the crocodile in his pond. Just a coiincidence we had similar posts
Maybe great minds think alike !!
Take care my friend, Regards, Merle.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CAROLDEE--It's tough being a Michigander right now. I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon either, with the troubles in the auto industry.

FRED--Government is good at making us feel that higher taxes are inevitable. They have a lot of practice in that regard.

MERLE--I'm not surprised that you and Peter both posted about crocs, seeing that you're both from Australia there. Plenty of crocodiles there, right?

9:29 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

You are right on all scores Dave, even on the number of Crocodiles we have in Australia, but they are all in the Northern part of the country.... the bit with the least people.
Most Australians have never seen a croc in the wild... and never will... a bit like our deadly snakes, I get around a fair bit (you may have noticed) and I haven't seen a sake in more than 10 years.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I also haven't seen a snake in over 10 years.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put Dave. :o) Belated congrats on the wedding.


12:12 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

wow, Dave, I guess my rib/grandchildren and the bathrooms and all my writing made me not read your post until now!

I love this post-I agree with how and what you said.

You were right when you said that a rant is sometimes the best blogs to read

6:33 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

I'm glad that you are refusing to apologize. I don't understand those commencement speakers. What's with all the boomer bashing? It seems to me that before long, those bashers will have reason to recant, as retirement becomes a luxury of bygone generations.


7:22 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

PETER--I guess many of Yanks think of crocodiles when we think of Australia because of the "Crocodile Dundee" movies. The poisonous Australian snakes I remember from my lessons in school though.

DEB--Thanks, Deb. The newlyweds have already been married over a month. So far, so good.

CARINE--I like it when people write with emotion, whether it's happiness, anger or sadness.

BETTY--I still think all this boomer bashing has something to do with making us feel guilty so that we will willingly pay more taxes. Not happening with me though.

6:14 PM  

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