Because I know you like it, let me lay some demographics on you. We are looking at two groups of Americans: one has lost 13% of its net worth since 2005; the other lost 37% over the same period. Since 1984, the median household worth of one has increased by 42%, while the worth of the other has declined by 68%. One has seen its share of the workforce increase since 2008. The other suffers unemployment at a rate 50% higher than the national average. And one of these groups claims to have invented rock and roll—no, not white people. We are talking about the differences between people over 65 and people under 35. All these fun statistics come from this article by Joel Kotkin, cheerfully titled “Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?”
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.