Kevin Drum has a funny but also genuinely interesting post on how boomers are not really to blame for messing up America (he half tongue in cheek blames the silent generation). I don’t think the defensiveness is entirely an act. He does concede
Now, if you want to blame boomers for welfare reform, sure. Bill Clinton was (barely) a boomer. If you want to blame boomers for the Iraq War, I guess so. George Bush was (barely) a boomer—though the real force behind it was Dick Cheney (b. 1941). If you want to blame us for screwing up Obamacare, that seems sort of churlish, but whatever. Barack Obama was (barely) a boomer—though the real roadblock to a public option was Joe Lieberman (b. 1942) and his centrist pals.
One interesting thing, you list welfare reform with invading Iraq (and also the ACA but call that churlish) and admit that it was a boomer misdeed (blaming Cheney for Iraq and Lieberman for weaknesses of the ACA which was still a great step forward). This interests me, because our one point of regular disagreement was over how horrible welfare reform is (it is current policy so the present tense is necessary).
Oddly, I learned of the association with a sharp increase in deep poverty here (I think your second post of the series in which you briefly conceded that welfare reform was severely damaging). I never understood your motivation . Now I see how important 2 years can be (also this post makes me feel young — thanks). I was born in 1960 so late boom (or between boomer and gen X). I definitely do not consider Bill Clinton to be from my generation. Welfare reform is something old guys did to my country.
I wonder if there is actually something non-humorous and ironic on the square here. I do really find your discussion of the topic unreasonable. Here I comment that you depend on arguing that a 50% increase is negligible http://angrybearblog.com/2016/02/drum-on-drum-on-sanders-on-welfare-reform.html
I think you actually depend on our eyes perceiving 0.1*f(x) as more nearly horizontal than f(x) so they are deceived by scale. You discuss the murder rate often. Try adding percentage of Americans murdered to the graph with different definitions of “percentage of households with children in extreme poverty” and see how invisible the changes are.
OK “churlish” triggered me (you once mentioned that you think I don’t mind being churlish — don’t expect you to remember). I will try to unchurl. I think there is a very basic problem with US welfare policy. Hatred of welfare means there are some people in the USA much poorer than anyone should be. As you noted, the dollar cost of eliminating severe poverty is tiny. I am sure you believe, as I do, that the long run poverty trap culture of poverty effects are an advantage of bringing back more generous cash welfare. But we agree that “bring back old welfare” is political poison.
I think we can agree that welfare hatred is based on racism (racists being more open than they were 10 years ago). I think there is a political problem for how to get policy around the barrier of welfare hatred. I note that the left more candidates talk about giving to college graduates (forgiving student debt) more than about giving to children in severe poverty. I think even Sanders is afraid of welfare (and of course gun control). Finally I think all the tech bro talk of UBI and how everyone will be put out of work by the robot apocalypse so you, white man, will need welfare too is all an effort to get around welfare hatred.
It is a topic you clearly understand very well (I assume growing up in Orange county is relevant) and it is very important. I now ask for a post on welfare and welfare hatred.
Sorry to comment almost off topic and at length.
I don’t think Sanders is afraid of gun control. He’s from Vermont, I think he got his positions on guns honestly. Vermont is just that kind of state.
Yeah, because when people talk about gun control they always mean to take away hunting rifles.
Meanwhile, I think more attention should be paid to the ages of people that put these pols(Clinton, Bush, Cheyney, etc.) in office, rather than the ages of them.
Boomers screwed up this country and have led us to where we are now. And I am one of them..
Vermont doesn’t even have gun licenses…hunting rifles aren’t even part of the discussion. They passed some new laws last year, but I doubt they did much to change them from being the most libertarian state on the issue.
Vermont is just a different kind of place.
If I remember correctly, so called welfare reform among other things was part of a desperate attempt by Bill Clinton to keep Bob Dole from becoming president — by triangulating. With New Gingrich driving the congressional Republican lemmings over the social contract cliff, if Dole become president he and Gingrich would have torn off the contract going all the way back to FDR.
It seems to me (a boomer) that the substance of the complaints by millennials against boomers is that boomers are clearly doing well on various fronts where millennials are facing hardships. It seems there are three such areas: education costs, housing costs, and healthcare costs, although the latter affects everybody and more immediately hits boomers than millennials. But clearly the millennials are hurting income wise, with many coming into the job market during the Great Recession along with having all these student loans and facing high housing costs, especially compared to the conditions especially the front end boomers like me faces.
However, things get murky when we get around to assigning blame as in “who messed things up?” Higher ed costs have reflected an increase in overpaid adminstrators and alhletic coaches, with cutbacks in state aid for public unis during the Great Recession. This has been a highly decentralized process with no clear driver. This was due to baby boomers? Maybe, but the rising pay of top admins and coaches spins off of the rising wage inequality in the economy, especially the soaring pay of CEOs, with whom juni prezzes compare themselves. Are the baby boomers as a generation responsible for this rising pay inequality?
One area where I might be more willing to assign generational blame on boomers might be with regard to housing costs. Recent studies have been pinpointing heightened land use restrictions in growing cities supported by existing homeowners who enjoy the rising property values of restrcited supply. While some of that may be put on Greatests and Silents, it looks by timing to be more the boomers than those others, although again a higfhly decentralized process.
Something I do not see as a big deal is the Iraq War. Yeah, bad, and partly a boomer deal. But ten times as many Americans died in Vietnam, and that was boomers being done in by the Greatests, who gave us that one. And if one looks at birth dates of Cheney and Lieberman and some other questionable parties, we are talking about Silents, silently sneaking in to do damage with nobody noticing them because nobody has ever noticed them, the poor silent things.
The biggest issue for Millennials which is holding them back are student loans. When commercial banks started making student loans, servicers took over servicing the loans, and then for-profits arrived on the scene, the amount fraud and lack of information created much if not all of the problem. Then there is Joe Biden in the background making it more and more difficult to declare bankruptcy. In 1978 it was said less than 1% of students holding loans declared bankruptcy. That did not deter Biden in saving Delaware banks. From the seventies onward to 2005 when the last door was slammed shut on bankruptcy, Biden had his hand in it.
Here is Joe trashing Millennials:
“The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here’s the deal guys, we decided we were gonna change the world. And we did. We did. We finished the civil rights movement in the first stage. The women’s movement came to be. So my message is, get involved. There’s no place to hide. You can go and you can make all the money in the world, but you can’t build a wall high enough to keep the pollution out. You can’t live where—you can’t not be diminished when your sister can’t marry the man or woman, or the woman she loves. You can’t—when you have a good friend being profiled, you can’t escape this stuff. And so, there’s an old expression my philosophy professor would always use from Plato, ‘The penalty people face for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.’ It’s wide open. Go out and change it.”
Biden trashes them and then makes it worse by leading legislation making it harder on them to dispose of debt.
Even with the lack of funding to colleges, the situation could have been far better today. If student loans programs had been put in place offering low interest (less than 3%) in the beginning with ample forbearance just capitalizing interest to the loan (AND NOT SEPARATELY) and the same economic emergencies forestalling payment, this would have been far different outcome to the situation today. Having the servicers, commercial banks, and for profits around with there fraudulent actions has created this issue. Because of this, there has to be relief.
All of the young face hardships. The Silent Generation are the biggest losers of the bunch. They also were the original sexual depravity as well. Lets be clear, the sexual revolution started around 1900. It wasn’t a new thing and the bohemian wave had been going on for decades. But in terms of depravity that started in the 70’s, it was ALL them.
I do not know who started the sexual revolution; but if you watch the Outlanders, they were getting it on in the 18th century too. “Its good to be the king!”
Heartening to see your ignorance is not limited to just economics and politics.
See “Fanny Hill”, and then see a psychiatrist about your idea of sexual depravity.
Please note that Joe Biden is a silent, not a boomer. Trump is arguably a front end boomer, but Biden (and Vernie) are older than he is, up there with Cheney and gang.