Bruce Cannon Gibney is a writer and venture capitalist and who has authored the forthcoming book “A Generation of Sociopaths: How The Baby Boomers Betrayed America.”
His book is an indictment of baby boomers, that vast generation of Americans born in the first two decades after World War II. In an published editorial piece, Gibney, claims that boomers were conditioned by their upbringing to be dysfunctional and exhibit certain sociopathic inclinations. “Boomers weren’t genetically predestined to be dysfunctional; they were conditioned to be. They were the first generation to be raised permissively, the first reared on television and subject to its developmental harms, and the only living group raised in an era of seemingly effortless prosperity”.
He writes in detail about what he sees as the deceit prevalent in this generation of Americans “the unusual prevalence of sociopathy in an unusually large generation. How does that disorder manifest? Improvidence is reflected in low levels of savings and high levels of bankruptcy. Deceit shows up as a distaste for facts, a subject on display in everything from Enron’s quarterly reports to daily press briefings. Interpersonal failures and unbridled hostility appeared in unusually high levels of divorce and crime from the 1970s to early 1990s. These problems expressed themselves at generationally unique levels in boomers, to a greater extent than in boomers’ parents or children at comparable ages”.
“The boomers’ sociopathic inclinations might be of sociological, but not political, interest except for one fact: Boomers have a lot of voting power. Although boomers peaked at just over half the voting age population in the early 1980s, their influence kept growing as they voted more frequently, unleashed a flood of political money, and elected ‘co-generationalists’, all in reckless pursuit of the sociopathic agenda. In the 1970s, the older establishment had already begun bending to boomer power, though not always cravenly enough, a problem boomers resolved by becoming the establishment itself. Boomers’ notable early achievement was electing Bill Clinton, who began the long saga that meandered through Bush II and ends — well, who knows how exactly it will end”?
Gibney asserts that, by the late 1990s, ‘boomerism’ had “expressed itself most forcefully as scandals and disasters arose: “financial scandals, economic infirmities, mounting debt, unaddressed climate change, a growing entitlements crisis, and more. Since it was politically untenable to locate blame in obvious places, other explanations were manufactured for the nation’s woes”.
The only agenda that defined boomers was one which they could exploit for their own benefit. “Benefits, at least for the boomer middle class, were to be expanded — period. Taxes, for the same group, would be cut or reallocated. This dynamic illuminates otherwise inexplicable deviations from orthodoxy practiced by a machine supposedly seized by ideological gridlock. It explains why Reagan lowered taxes on income while raising them on capital gains (when boomers had salaries but not portfolios), why Bill Clinton lowered taxes on houses and stocks (when boomers owned those in quantity)”.
“All these giveaways had consequences. The rich got richer, as we know, but the rich are old. That is, they’re boomers. The patterns of general boomer gains mirrored those of the very wealthy. From 1989 to 2013, wealth gaps between older and younger households grew in the same way as those between the top 5 percent and the bottom 95 percent. Today’s seniors (boomers) are much wealthier relative to the present young than the seniors of the 1980s were to then-young boomers. All those tax breaks, bailouts, easy money, deregulation, and the bubbles they spawned supported that boomer wealth accumulation while shifting the true costs to the future, to the young”.
Gibney believes that “boomer overconsumption, underinvestment, and appetite” is the key reason for “America’s prolonged economic mediocrity”. Thanks to boomer policies, the new normal is 1.6 percent real growth, well below the 2.5 to 3.5 percent rates prevailing from the 1950s to the 1980s. For the young, the price will be incomes 30 percent to 50 percent lower than they could have been”.
Mr Gibney ultimately concludes that the best solution available to combat the evil wrought by the baby boomer generation is to “dispense with ideas that aging flower children have substantial claims on goodness. Let us turn boomers out from offices high, corner, and otherwise, and keenly assess boomers’ contributions to society against their demands for interminable subsidy.”