“The Greatest Generation … stormed beaches in places like Normandy and Okinawa,” says today’s lead editorial in USA Today. “Their children, by contrast, stormed places like Woodstock.
For the Baby Boomers — people born from 1946 to 1964 — the prosperity their parents built was never good enough. In later years, they embraced the materialism they ridiculed as youths and failed to save adequately for the retirement that they now face.
That’s reaped some bitter consequences for America, says Heritage Senior Research Fellow Chuck Donovan in this morning’s USA Today “Opposing View”:
The people of the Greatest Generation viewed their kids as their crowning achievement. But too many of us did not inherit their greatest virtue: an ability to sacrifice. Instead we embraced instant gratification and self-infatuation. We arrogantly thought we had invented sex, when all we did was invent new ways to trivialize it. We mistook wants for needs, borrowed too much, saved too little. In the process we helped our proud and productive nation recast itself as a consumption-dependent economy. Ours became the Age of Appetites.
Appetites have consequences. Out-of-wedlock births are up more than 600% since the 1960s. Household debt is soaring. Our sense of middle-class entitlement is soaring, too.
As a new Congress wrestles with the challenges of unsustainable federal deficits, entitlement outlays, and welfare spending, the Baby Boom generation has some choices to make, too. Donovan writes:
We Boomers have run the race poorly, but we can finish strong. We enter our last laps with difficult decisions before us. We can demand flush retirements and lavish health care, board gaudy cruise ships, and foist today’s deficits on the next generation. Or we can relearn the meaning of sacrifice and the virtues that gave us birth.
Though the hour is late, the choice is ours to make.
Read “The Car-Wreck Generation.”