Why I don't want to be tarred with the Baby Boomer brush

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Personally, I find it hard to summon the requisite rage to properly resent "Boomers", because I'm too busy being angered by millennials and their constant whining about how hard their lives are, but I can tell you that I don't like being bundled in with them.

Blaming Boomers for the ills of the world, and for having it too good, has been popular for a long while, but mocking them for being ignorant and too dozy to be a-woke-n is a more recent trend.

Unfortunately, the habit of saying "Ok, Boomer" spilled over its ill-defined borders, particularly in my house, where my resident teen seemed to find it amusing to use the phrase on me, every time I dared to question his boundless youthful wisdom.

why i dont want to be tarred with the baby boomer brush

It is at times like this that I truly mourn the absence of World Book encyclopaedias in the modern home, as I would have joyfully opened one at the page bearing a definition of "Baby Boomers" and then firmly closed said volume around each of his ears.

We'll get to that definition shortly, but what I've wondered is whether we are all being a little hard on Boomers. Did they really have it so good? Are the financial benefits they've grown up with, apparently accumulating great riches with no effort whatsoever, their fault?

And are they to blame, specifically, if the generations that followed them will not be as well off as they are, because they've somehow overseen, or even caused, a rise in property prices and the cost of living generally that's so steep that little snowflake millennials melt from the effort of climbing it before they're even off the ground?

You certainly don't have to look far to find people throwing bricks - or at least heavy books - at Boomers for ruining everything. As Helen Andrews - author of the cheery tome, Boomers, The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster, puts it: "Baby Boomers have been responsible for the most dramatic sundering of western civilisation since the Protestant Reformation."

She slams them for being "institution destroyers" who found the traditional family "too constraining" and "decided that churches could no longer put moral constraints on their parishioners".

Then there's Jill Filipovic's OK Boomer, Let's Talk About How My Generation Got Left Behind (there's that phrase again, even being used to sell books). Described as a "very nice encapsulation of the economic case for millennial rage", Filipovic's book blames Boomers for climate change and, more generally, being rapaciously greedy.

So who are these Boomers, and how awful are they? Helpfully, the internet seems to agree to a very specific definition - Boomers are those people born from 1946 to 1964, although that can be broken into two Boomer "cohorts".

The lucky ones seem to have been born between 1946 and 1955, and thus got to relish the riotous good times of the 1960s, while those born in the second half of the strictly defined time period came of age in the 'malaise' years of the 1970s.

Now look, it's easy to be jealous of anyone who lived through a revolution with the word "sexual" in it, but I feel genuine sympathy for those 70s Boomers who "eschewed anything that women traditionally wore to make themselves attractive" and "preferred love to money, feelings to facts, and natural things to manufactured items".

All that and being forced to endure the rise of disco music? It's a wonder they survived at all.

Yes, I'd agree that it's mildly absurd to splash so many billions of people with the same brush as regards their behaviour and attitudes, but there are clear themes that leap out of the internet, some of them entirely contradictory. They were lazy hippies who could diss capitalism because they didn't need it, but they were also greedy pigs with their noses in the trough for too long.

Without doubt the most scathing line on the internet for Boomers is this mocking-toned classic: Boomers "grew up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time".

What fools.

The sense that life was not only cheaper but easier in the 1960s is perhaps some source of the resentment towards Boomers today. At a more micro level, younger generations seem to hate the fact that they're all effortlessly rich because they bought their houses for $10,000, paid them off by the age of 30 and are now sitting so pretty it's as if their couches are made out of Emma Stones or Ryan Goslings.

Mind you, they didn't get to give iPhones to their kids and ignore them for most of each day.

Boomers will argue that they had higher interest rates, millennials will point out that they didn't have to come up with $200,000 in cash as a deposit on their first homes.

It's the kind of argument that can go on forever, and, as someone who was born after the Boom, I get the ill feeling, I really do. But I still don't think I'd want to be a Boomer, okay?

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Stephen Corby used to sit next to the staff of Money magazine, back when he was the editor of Top Gear Australia magazine, and he really wishes he'd listened to all of their helpful financial advice, instead of revving his engine and pretending he couldn't hear them. Stephen likes to buy and sell shares, has bought and sold several properties and believes that negative gearing is a very good thing, but that stamp duty is evil, particularly if you live in Sydney, as he is blessed to do.
Comments
Ria Young
May 1, 2021 7.11pm

What the milleniums seem to ignore is that the boomers were on much lower wages, and very high interest rates, and it was virtually impossible to get a mortgage unless you could get a parent to sign up for the contract. More to blame is government with its first home buyers grants, and Reserve Bank interest rate changes being used to stimulate or depress the economy. Low interest rates, like today, are a stimulant to get more people to buy a house. Also a problem for first home buyers are they are competing buying a house with investors working on a negative gearing tax incentive.

Richard Jordan
May 2, 2021 9.23am

Every generation seems to think they had it tough and that those that came before had it easy.

Every generation left stuff ups for the next ( stollen generation or climate change).

Those that did well usually took big risks, some won others lost.

Not every baby boomer is rich or every millennial poor.

People need to get over it and enjoy what they have and try to leave the world a better place for them having been in it.

Karen Richardson
May 2, 2021 4.32pm

I was born in 1960, that makes me a baby boomer. The younger generation should take a harder look at what a baby boomer had to give up to buy their first home. For example - I had to buy where I could afford, not where I wanted to live. I sold my car to go towards my house deposit. I had 15% interest on my mortgage. I had to budget my pay ($105p/w). I didn't go on overseas holidays or any holiday, I stayed at home on my annual leave. All I can say to the generations after me - sell your car, motorbike, jetski. Stop going on overseas holidays. Stop buying the latest iPhone, gadgets, expensive clothes and start saving. Start budgeting and going without for a few years. Then and only then will you start to understand what us baby boomer gave up to buy our first home.

The woke, snow flake, climate change, gender and political correct generation, need to get over themselves and start enjoying what they have and stop blaming the baby boomers for their own selfishness.

Richard B
May 5, 2021 1.59pm

Like Karen above, born 1960. Here goes; missed FHO grant, 17 1/2% interest rates, 1 car shared, low wages, kids expenses, high child care costs, no defined benefit super, sandwich generation expectations, unexpected grey divorce, homeless period, post divorce restart costs, health challenges, still working at 60+. Not complaining just stating the facts. What a grind - OK Boomer they keep saying?

Karen D
May 8, 2021 7.53pm

Also Karen born 1960. Married at 21 ... husband and I moved around with work and could not afford to buy or put down roots until we were in our 40s. Only then buying with government grant help. We still have a mortgage at age 61. Husband still working...retiring when? I needed to retire to help elderly parents. Life happens...even for boomers!