Until I was about 16 years old, there was one station in Des Moines that played rock music: 94.9 KGGO, Des Moines’s best rock and roll. By “best rock and roll,” they meant classic rock. If you were unfamiliar with radio programming terminology, you might think the classic era of rock was the mid to late sixties: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, et cetera. Although these artists occasionally played on KGGO, the station’s wheelhouse was the mid to late seventies: Bad Company, Foreigner, Kansas, Journey, Boston, Rush. These are the worst bands in the history of music. I know, because I have studied their top singles, against my will, for 30 years.
The good news is that 54% of Americans now believe global warming is caused by human behavior, the highest percentage yet reported in a New York Times/CBS News poll. Among survey respondents who identified as Republican, however, 18% said global warming didn’t exist, and another 42% insisted it was caused by “natural patterns in the Earth’s environment”—an impressive 60% who believe there’s nothing we can do. But maybe the most exciting statistic has to do with age:
More than seven in 10 of those 65 and older expected to see no impact from global warming in their lifetimes, but many younger people did, including 50 percent of those under 30.
That’s the beauty of believing that scientists are lying and we don’t have to do anything about the most serious environmental problem in human history: if you’re wrong but also old, you’ll never have to pay for it.
As anyone who saw me gallivanting around Missoula with my mother will tell you, many Americans are much older than us. Some might argue that age is a continuum, with several Americans in fact younger than even we are, but that seems far-fetched. It ignores the monolithic concentration that is the Baby Boomers—those people who invented rock and roll, who ride around the farmer’s market on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, who can be found at the post office screaming that Social Security is unconstitutional. Sorry—everything but Social Security is unconstitutional. The increased conservatism of the Boomers accounts for much of the country’s rightward shift over the last few years, as David Leonhardt suggests in his excellent Sunday Times column.
Around here we occasionally take swipes at the Baby Boomers, alleging that they have, for example, constructed a culture around catering to their own narcissism that they now blame for everything. But the real objection to the boomers is that there are so many of them. That’s why so much TV in the 1980s was about the 1960s—or simply about being thirty—and why in August we declared that a 66 year-old had the best body in the world. It’s also one reason why it’s so difficult for a person my age to buy a home, and probably why half the country insists we cut all functions of government except Social Security, and maybe why the financial services industry dominates the economy and Congress. The Baby Boomers bought all the houses and made all the money and voted in all the congresspeople already, and now they are enjoying a well-deserved lockdown on society after five hard decades of mere dominance. If all this sounds like unsourced complaining to you, consider the news from the Pew Center that, in 2009, the gap in wealth between young and old reached an all-time high.
Hank Williams, Jr. appeared on Fox and Friends yesterday morning to offer his opinion of the 2012 GOP field and managed to compare President Obama to Hitler within the first 90 seconds. To be fair, he was explaining why it was a bad idea for John Boehner and Obama to play golf together—a move he called “the biggest political mistake of all time.” Those of you familiar with his hit song “Don’t Talk to Me About FDR’s 1937 Court-Packing Plan” know that it’s futile to argue with Bocephus about such matters. Hank Jr. did not directly compare Obama to Hitler; he merely said that the joint outing between the Speaker of the House and the President was like “Netanyahu playing golf with Hitler.” Then he added that “they’re the enemy.” When asked who, exactly, he shouted “Obama!” and then immediately endorsed Herman Cain. It makes sense that Hank Williams, Jr. is a Republican. His dad did make him a millionaire. Video after the jump.