Top Quotes: “A Generation of Sociopaths: How The Baby Boomers Ruined America”

Background: The author posits that most of what is wrong with our country and the world (inaction on the environment, an impending Social Security crisis, financial crime, less trust and investment in science, failing infrastructure and schools, a penal state, and much more) can be traced to the influence of Baby Boomers. He offers quite a bit of convincing evidence to that point and along the way I learned a TON about government policy and lots of topics I had only superficial knowledge about before. I don’t agree with all of his ideas (for example, he thinks the middle class should be taxed more and corporate taxes should be lowered), but I found myself nodding vigorously as well as having lots of “aha” moments as I read. Highly recommend if you want to feel like a more educated voter and citizen of the country/world. I feel like I wrote down half the book lol and am mostly posting this note for myself to look back upon in the future 🤓

Introduction

“The generation squandered its enormous inheritance, abused its power, and subsidized its binges with loans collaterized by its children.”

“Not all Baby Boomers are sociopaths, but an unusually large number have behaved antisocially, skewing outcomes in ways deeply unfavorable to the nation, especially its younger citizens.”

“In 1946, the U.S. was the richest, most dynamic nation the world had ever seen. There were setbacks like Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy’s assassinations, but America just kept leaping forward until it didn’t.”

“This is odd because every challenge after 1946 is minor compared to what came before; all should have been easily surmounted.”

“America suffers from its present predicament because a large group of small-minded people chose the leaders and actions that led to it.”

“A picture emerges of bad behavior and unchecked self-interest, occurring at the individual level and recapitulated, via the voting booth, by the state.”

“One of the few major studies of mental health issues in the 1980s found significantly higher levels of sociopathy in Boomer-age populations relative to other groups.”

“For purely selfish reasons, the Boomers unraveled the social fabric woven by previous generations.”

“Boomers were content, often enthusiastic, to vote for people who looked like them and showered them with improvident goodies, whose failures were often overlooked and forgiven because they looked familiar.”

“If the nation had been unblighted by Boomer sociopathy, how well could we have been doing? Shockingly well, as it turns out.”

The View From 1946

“The 1939 World Fair promised an America of convenient suburbs linked by interstate highways ending at plush homes. By 1964, it had all come true. The 1964 Fair promises of flying cars, undersea colonies, mass prosperity, and cities on the moon were therefore believable.”

“America is substantially richer in the 21st century than the 20th, but average (not median) income has increased. Boomers adjusted tax and fiscal policies to favor the accumulations of wealth during their lives, at the expense of the future.

“Living standards seem good, but that’s only because people tread water by borrowing — both families and the government. Eventually it will become impossible to sustain living standards by borrowing, but Boomers will be dead and the problem will belong to someone else.”

“Sociopathy is characterized by self-interested actions unburdened by conscience and unresponsive to consequence, mostly arising from non-genetic, contextual cases leading to egocentricism, lack of concern for others, risk-taking, and deceitful roles. These behaviors manifest in subtle ways — like depredations of tax policy and technical revisions to the bankruptcy code.”

“The Boomers were happy from the start and this conditioned them to believe effortless, affluent contentment was their due, and they behaved accordingly.”

“The Boomers’ first decades saw rapid and near-continuous gains in prosperity, education, health, technology, and civil justice, the products of revolutionary choices by earlier generations, underwritten by their saving and sacrifice.”

“After World War II, most other countries had to work hard to overcome tragedies of epic proportions, and they built functional and caring societies which were better than what came before. The Boomers, having seen tragedy as ‘over there,’ took a different course.”

“Very nice three-bedroom homes were available to buy at 2–5 times the average annual family income.”

“The GI Bill and National Defense Education Act of 1958 increased college enrollment from 9% to 33% between 1940 and 1970 for college age populations.”

When Social Security was created, life expectancy was 65; it was designed for the catastrophe of extreme age rather than the nearly universal assistance to cushion years and decades of retirement.”

Older generations at the time highly taxed themselves — the highest marginal rate in 1946 was 44%. By the 1960s, World War II debt had been reduced to a manageable size. Things were still in relatively good shape post-Vietnam.”

“The Boomers emerged as radicalized adults, rejecting so many of the policies that had given them so much, replacing a successful model with an antisocial failure.”

For most of human history, infant mortality was so high (20% died before age five in the 1800s) that parents saw no reason to invest substantial material or economic resources until it was clear a child would live. Should a child survive, parents would produce a miniature grown-up, conformed to adult notions of virtue and industry, ready for near-immediate employment.”

“64% of American moms read Benjamin Spock’s child care book released in 1946 that said parents should rely on their own instincts and accommodate children’s needs whenever possible. It meant to help parents understand what their children’s drives were, something that previously hadn’t mattered. Spock believed that all children grew up well so long as parents provided a good example.”

Before 1946, almost no American homes had TVs; by 1960, 90% did — a much faster adoption than the internet. TV now consumes 50% of Americans’ free time. The Boomers were not only the first TV generation, but the only one whose relationship with the box was unmediated by expert concerns and parental reservation that later swirled around TV.”

“Unlike media that came before, TV is at once ironic, emotionally rich, information poor, highly habituating, and demands a certain sense of suspension of disbelief. TV’s essential characteristics make it the perfect breeding ground for sociopaths, facilitating deceit and validating a worldview only loosely tethered to reality. People spend twice as many hours watching TV as they do socializing. TV sets the tone for all communication and what makes good TV is things like shouting matches at debates.”

“Under the 1949 FCC Fairness Doctrine, networks were obliged to present controversial issues in a fair and balanced way. But it was never enforced since broadcasters complied with the spirit of the rule and it was formally abolished in 1987 — Fox News and MSNBC started in the 1990s.”

“In an isolated Canadian town without TV, kids scored higher on reading comprehension and creativity than two nearby towns with TV; they become more aggressive and scores declined after TV arrived.”

Vietnam

During the 1960s, youth (Boomers) were the most supportive of the Vietnam War and aggressive strategies. They were the group least likely to view the engagement as an error. Less educated and affluent groups skewed more against the war, not least because they had the highest chance of being drafted.”

“The reason there are so many old photos of college protesters is because deferments allowed so many Boomers to be in college to protest rather than Vietnam to fight.”

Deferments for college allowed most middle class young men who wanted to to avoid going to Vietnam. Each student protected by deferment had to be replaced by someone else — and that someone tended to be poorer and less educated. The bottom 1/3 of the country provided 4/5 of the manpower.

“College in the ’60s wasn’t entirely free and it required students to forego years of full income while they studied. Students who deferred had at least some means and richer students were better prepared for college.”

“Conscientious objection was an easy way to avoid the war. But for sociopaths, conscientious objection was among the least desirable options because it required sincerity, effort, and a form of alternative service, usually low-paid and incommodious.”

“A criminal record was a ‘moral disqualification’ from the draft so less privileged men committed crimes instead [of going to college].”

“As it became harder to satisfy recruiting demands because of the large number of students protected by deferment, the military simply admitted unqualified candidates, who suffered two times the average death rate. Substandard recruits were 41% black.”

“Once shoved into uniform, Boomers’ behavior deteriorated further — indiscipline, drug abuse, insubordination, desertion, and war crimes. Soldiers routinely refused orders.”

“There were at least 551 fragging incidents where officers were assassinated by fragmentation grenades whose explosions made them difficult to trace — causing at least 86 deaths and 700 injuries. Nothing like this had happened before and nothing like it has happened since.

“Soldiers routinely showed up for duty armed and intoxicated.”

“Desertion ran rampant, tripling once Boomer draftees arrived in quantity.”

Boomers exhibited passivity after the war — there was no social movement for reconciliation and rebuilding in Vietnam, illuminating their true motivations during the protest era. As the threat of the draft abated, so did the Boomers’ furious energy.”

“When the government finally accepted 500,000 Vietnamese refugees fleeing reprisals, it did so over public objections. Jerry Brown and Joe Biden protested resettlement and demanded any bill allowing it gave priority to Americans (mostly Boomers) seeking jobs.

“Vietnam had one final lesson for Boomers: they could get away with their misdeeds. Jimmy Carter in 1976 issued a general pardon for draft dodgers.”

Empire of Self

The ‘Summer of Love’ stood against the middle class morally on drugs and sex and stood for very little else. But Boomers dressed up indulgence as a moral crusade. Young Boomers had notably higher rates of drinking and illegal drug use than preceding and following generations. Boomers have now pushed the rate of elder drug use substantially higher.

“Until 2010, most Americans did not agree that ‘premarital sex wasn’t wrong at all.’ Boomers had lower ages at which they lose their virginity than prior and following generations. Even as condoms and the pill became more accessible, levels of unwanted pregnancies increased during the period of Boomer fertility and have fallen since.

Divorce

“Spouses could and did collude to work the system with one alleging cruelty and the other admitting to it, a strategy that required perjury. The whole system was unworkable and in 1969, California pioneered ‘no fault divorce’ based on irreconcilable differences.”

“Easier divorce was a social good — but the frequency with which Boomer resorted to divorce proved alarming and generationally unusual. It suggested unwillingness to extend the effort necessary to make relationships work and a fundamental incompatibility between an antisocial Boomer culture and the state of matrimony, which is, after all, a society of two.”

Boomers divorced much more frequently than their parents and their children. There was a widespread belief at the time that children from broken homes were destined to experience permanent damage. Many Boomer divorces were therefore examples of self-interest trumping empathy.”

Saving

“Failures in impulse control also manifested in gluttony, causing the Boomers to eat too much and too poorly. Junk food had existed for a long time in America and abroad. What did not exist was a generation of consumers so susceptible to the joys of instant gratification. The pleasures were personal; the costs borne by the state and healthier taxpayers.”

“Surveys, songs, and books showed the use of ‘we’ declining since 1960 and ‘I’ increasing 42% since 1960, indicating a rising degree of self-focus.”

“Boomers often refused to pay taxes, like a temporary 10% tax during Vietnam.”

“The use of electronics at the dinner table, as it turns out, is more a Boomer than a Millennial habit.”

Science & Reality

“Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the story of the past 40 years has been a substitution of science, of fact, for feelings. That doing so deviated from the greatest expansion of knowledge and welfare ever seen mattered nothing to the Boomer personality.”

“It’s not that there isn’t science today — it just receives less deference. If climate change commanded reduced consumption, it would be denied. If basic accounting held radical and permanent tax cuts entailed a corresponding reduction in services Boomers enjoyed, Boomers would create a parallel reality furnished with a more convenient set of books. Boomers’ success in undermining reality and science has been tremendous.”

“The Founding Fathers put copyright protection in Article I of the Constitution to foster science progress. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson believed so deeply in the diffusion of knowledge that they refused to take any exclusive rights in their own inventions. The greatest politicians of the age toiled on experiments. Foreigners observed that this scientific inclination was only to be expected because the practical and the rational were (then) the natural frame of the American mind.”

“The original and almost exclusive focus of American universities was the production of young men for religious and legal life.”

“The Morrill Act of 1862 provided 17 million federal acres of land (larger than the area of West Virginia) for land-grant universities like Texas A&M and UC Berkeley. The South’s opposition to them because it didn’t fit with their conservative, religious plantation mentality (and in part because some funds were required to be used for facilities for black students) is a reason why there are so few elite institutions in the South. In the North, skyscrapers rose and train stations were modeled on Greek architecture.”

“Lectures on scientific topics, demonstrations of new inventions, and even public dissertations were must-see events [in the early 20th century].”

“Science and technology peaked post-World War II because science had brought victory and America returned the favor with lavish federal funding.”

“The last World Fair was in 1984, by which time the Fairs had lost enthusiasm and even a focus on science.”

As a percent of GDP, government-funded research and development has declined to 1/3 of its 1960s highs. The alarming decline in basic science seems to be translating to slower innovation overall. Public research and development is ¼ to ½ of the optimal level. Private company funding has gone up, but private companies do not usually engage in basic science, on which most innovations ultimately rely.”

“In the 1950s, 83% of the population said the world was better off because of science; only 70% agreed with that by the 1970s.”

“STEM degrees as a percent have held constant, but only because of foreign students, who are recruited because they pay more and then are often forced to return to their home country after. Difficult things like STEM subjects do not sit well with people for whom instant gratification and impulse control present problems (sociopaths).”

“Boomers developed the idea of constructivism, which held that science was dependent on an investigator’s belief and circumstances (i.e. climate science is dismissible because it’s done by biased tree huggers).”

“In a complex world, deference to experts should be rising, not falling.”

“From 1958 to 1964, 73% of Americans said they trusted the government to do what’s right almost/most of the time. By 1979, only ¼ did and faith in government never really recovered.”

In the sociopathic marketplace, politics has became just another service, and quality is measured by doing what a plurality of voters want in the moment, rather than what’s best for everyone in the long run. The highest compliment now payable is that a politician is ‘one of us’ (i.e. no more knowledgeable or trained).”

“Evangelical churches gained converts from traditional churches in the ’60s and ’70s and began becoming political and earned tax-free status in the ’70s. Many evangelical churches became less vehicles for Christian ministry than PACs organized by political ideology.”

Neoliberalism

“Liberalism says that the state needs not do anything but protect life, liberty, and private property against violent attacks — views Paul Ryan and Rand Paul have.”

“Neoliberalism depends upon key and problematic assumptions: that individuals are rational, prudent, and informed, and that they therefore can be relied upon to meet their own needs.”

“Nixon grew government to the point where almost no aspect of American life remained untouched — establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and a guaranteed minimum income for all. But heavy government spending on the war and social problems created inflationary pressures whose consequences would be the defining economic expense of the young Boomers.”

“Before 1971, the dollar was pegged to gold at $35/ounce, but the U.S. was running low on gold and the system destabilizing; so Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which meant the government could print just as much money as it wanted. The value of the dollar fell and inflation rose quickly. Oil was denominated in dollars, so a weakening dollar meant lower income for oil-producing nations, which repriced to gold terms. The liberated oil dollars were sent back to a limited number of financial institutions providing them with capital that would be deployed in the investment banking economy that has prevailed since the ‘80s.”

“Unions’ seniority rules preserved old workers’ jobs at the expense of the young, and this made the unemployment crisis among Boomers especially acute. The ’70s were the last decade in which the working class experienced meaningful wage growth. Nevertheless, for a generation habituated to fast growth and high employment, the last decade came as a shock.”

“Each succeeding election, the Boomer electorate pushed politics further down the neoliberal path.”

“Early deregulation under Jimmy Carter was generally good, especially when accompanied by vigorous enforcement of other standards — like deregulating the price of a plane ticket.”

“Carter’s last effort to cajole the American people into their former probity was in his 1961 Malaise Speech, which said that too many tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption, and grasping for themselves some advantage over others, and didn’t promise an easy solution to the nation’s problems. The very people exhibiting the sociopathy he described were the ones least receptive to his prescriptions.”

“Reagan’s new theory was that tax cuts would pay for themselves — the government would return dollars to the people, the people would use them more productively than the government, and the economy would grow so much that even at a lower tax rate, it would provide as much or more in total taxes paid. But this required a suspension of belief and magical thinking as the economy would have to double — not possible.”

Politics Of Self

“The critical factor in gaining an 18 year old voting age wasn’t logic or prudence but generational strength — the generation’s political identity was based not on gender, income, or race but age. The logic of ‘old enough to draft, old enough to vote’ was flawed because modern nations shouldn’t be in the business of drafting teenagers and the draft rate was much lower in Vietnam vs. World War II.”

“Because it was an amendment to the Voting Rights Act, it justified later amendments like stopping policing of states that had historically discriminated against minorities in the voting booth. It was the fastest constitutional amendment ever passed, showing Boomers they were uniquely powerful and especially deserving.”

“Democrats’ divisions and disorganization was an opportunity Republicans seized and white Boomers drifted rightward and stayed there because their platform included the disposite issues for many voters, best taxes, guns, cultural matters: Social Security. The sociopath’s personality guaranteed that this sort of pander-pick-and-choose politics would succeed because the free exercise of self was the only issue that mattered.”

“The drinking age was lowered in 30 states, as low as 18 in some, during the ’70s, but traffic fatalities rose so national law mandated it be 21 in every state…but after the youngest Boomers were over 21.”

“Clinton cut welfare and Bush II provisioned prescription drug benefits for seniors — inexplicable in conventional political terms but both benefited the Boomers, who had the political muscle to realize their preferences. The Boomers have continually trended to the right over time — which explains why Obama was less liberal than Nixon.

Taxes

“Boomers have consistently manipulated taxes to serve generational ends through 1) a lowering of tax rates 2) adjusting specific tax policies to favor the interests of Boomers as they moved through their financial lifecycle, lowering income taxes during periods where Boomers labored, reducing capital gains taxes as they became shareholders, and even briefly abolishing estate taxes when Boomers expected to inherit. Taxes were allowed to rise only when they benefited Boomers (like Social Security and Medicare). The system we have is the system the sociopaths wanted.”

“Taxes oscillate between moments of great passion (Tax Day and Election Day) and near-lethal boredom (every other day of the year) so politicians can always whip the electorate into a lather, winning a mandate for change, but rely on rely on dullness and complexity to obscure the true consequences of tax adjustments.”

“The income tax was illegal until the 16th amendment in 1913. Income taxes started low, but rose to 70–91% after World War II. Taxes today are too low to keep the government fully functioning or make essential investments for growth, at least without major revisions to entitlement programs of which Boomers are and will continue to be the chief beneficiaries.”

“The history of Boomer tax policy is not so much tax reduction as tax reallocation.”

“By the 1970s, there were 33 tax brackets that weren’t tied to inflation, so payers were driven into higher brackets even though their wages didn’t increase. These were problems that required redress but the tax revolt went far beyond its original justifications.”

“By 1981, all Americans but the poorest 20% paid less taxes and brackets were indexed to inflation in tax reform — trickle down benefits were promised. But the reform also allowed inheritances under $600,000 to be excluded from taxation (the maximum was previously $175,000).”

“Huge deficits followed tax reform so Social Security benefits for high earners were taxed for the first time — but the oldest Boomers were 20 years away from collecting benefits so this didn’t affect them.”

“Congress also raised payroll taxes which Boomers were ok with because they expected to recoup everything they paid and more.”

“In 1986, another tax overhaul reduced the 14 brackets to only two. The highest bracket decreased from a 50% rate to a 28% rate. Capital gains lost preferential treatment which was ok because the median Boomer was in their mid 30s without a large stock portfolio.”

“Reagan increased taxes several times — just in very targeted ways that happened to coincide with the needs of Boomers.”

“In 1986, the mortgage interest was now made deductible up to $1 million in indebtedness — thus the home equity line of credit was born.”

“Bush I’s tax increase was responsible, modest, and fell mostly on the rich. Because he violated his word on not raising taxes, he was voted out of office despite presiding over the very successful and popular Gulf War.”

“Clinton campaigned on tax relief for the middle class but repeated Bush’s mistake and raised taxes — mostly on the rich. From then on, the Boomers’ middle aged tax needs were catered to — a child credit, a rising estate tax exemption from $600,000 to $1 million, gains on sales of homes over $500,000 were exempted from tax, and capital gains taxes were lowered. Roth IRAs — of great use to middle-aged Boomers — were established, as well as educational credits. These all had strong bipartisan support and Clinton signed them.”

“In the early 2000s, all tax rates were slashed by 10%; with Boomers’ retirement fast approaching, it was essential to lower income taxes and cut capital gains taxes. The estate tax was lifted to $3.5 million by 2009 and then abolished altogether in 2010 — with Boomers’ parents having one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel.”

“Many cuts were set to sunset in 2010, by which time the median Boomer would be reaching eligibility for Social Security. Tax cuts might sunset, but it was a sunset Boomers could ride into.

“But the Democratic Congress extended almost all of Bush’s tax cuts in 2010. They were made permanent by Obama in 2013, only raising taxes on the wealthiest from 35% to 40%. Maximum capital gains rates were restored to 20% but dividend rates — scheduled to return to 40% — remained at a maximum of 20%. Because retirees prefer dividend stocks which are perceived as safer and provide current income, this was a direct giveaway to the rich and old.”

California limited property tax increases to 1% per year and the tax caps became more unrealistic and more valuable every year — a perk Boomers would never give up, forcing budget shortfalls onto the shoulders of non-homeowners in higher sales taxes and the like.”

“The effective corporate tax rates have fallen — for some large companies to $0. There’s a growing divergence between corporate profits’ share of the economy and the share represented by the taxes on those profits. In 2013, profits are 9% of GDP and the associated taxes are 2%. The beneficiaries were people who owned shares in the companies paying lower taxes. Decreasing capital gains and dividend taxes maximized these gains.”

The defunding of the IRS meant less likelihood of audits, authorizing less scrupulous taxpayers to adjust their payments to more desirable levels. The tax gap (between what the IRS believes is owed and what’s actually paid) ran over $400 billion annually from 2008 to 2010.”

“The government hasn’t responded to lower taxes with fiscal restraint, creating debt whose burden will be passed on to younger generations.”

“Taxes on the rich went up until 2000 and then did again starting in 2013. Middle class taxes have fallen consistently since the ‘80s.”

“75% of taxes paid come from the richest 1/5.”

Debt

“So far our huge debt has been manageable because there’s a strong demand for American bonds which are relatively safe and have high interest rates.”

“Early American leaders believed the national debt should be kept small and paid off promptly — Jefferson thought it was immoral to pass a debt to future generations.”

“In the 1780s, the U.S., Britain, and France had debt crises — the U.S. and Britain began repayment, organized their systems, and assured creditors they were low risk. France didn’t — once the market believed France couldn’t consistently pay, it was a self-fulfilling cycle where creditors ceased to provide terms, taxpayers refused to remit, and the government, starved of funds, collapsed.”

“This is the same reason Greece collapsed into chaos in 2009. A major component of Greece’s dysfunction was inability to generate tax revenue and reform its overgenerous entitlement system — Detroit, Orange County, and Puerto Rico have had similar problems.”

“For now, we won’t have a federal version of the Greek crisis because of eagerness to export money from less politically stable countries. Eventually, American debt and dysfunction will rise to the point where that ceases to be the case.”

“Since the ’80s, the U.S. has committed to stable-to-lower taxes and ever-higher spending leading to much larger deficits and national debt.”

“Reagan hugely increased defense spending while he did tax cuts.”

“The debt ceiling has been raised 16 times from 1997 to 2015 — something like a diet where the number of permitted calories grows the fatter the dieter gets.”

“The government spends Social Security payroll taxes immediately — no actual money is deposited.”

“Although total debt is substantial, its burden and sustainability are a function of interest rates because in normal times, interest is the only component of debt the government is functionally called upon to pay. As long as the bond market believes in the government’s ability to make timely interest rates, there is no problem; if it gets worried, it can inflict a huge price in the form of interest rates like Greece in 2009.”

“For each bond, the government pays $50/year and $1000 after a decade. What varies is how much you pay for the bond — your interest rate will be negative if you paid a lot.”

“Interest rates remain low because the U.S. is growing somewhat faster than other rich economies. Extraordinary circumstances allow the U.S. to essentially borrow for free, a situation that will almost certainly change in the long term.”

“If rates rise, the question is whether new economic growth produces enough additional tax return to cover the increased cost. A 2.5% gross increase in interest costs could double our debt — something that will likely happen decades down the line, post-Boomers.”

“Personal debt has risen steadily since the ’80s. It allows bankrupts the chance to reorganize themselves and perhaps create future value, while avoiding the medieval practice of debt bondage, where debtors became the functional slaves of their creditors.”

“It’s questionable whether a society in which bankruptcy is frequent is functional.”

“Congress has loosened bankruptcy laws — in 1898, 1965, and 1978. Throughout all of Boomers’ adult years, bankruptcies remained fairly easy to get and rose in frequency quickly.”

“A 2005 crackdown on bankruptcy abuses also made student debt fall into the same category as criminal penalties and child support, making discharging it difficult.”

“The national debt can’t and shouldn’t be repaid within the lifetime of any American living — it would cause a severe recession, if not depression, and still take decades. But Americans must provide the bond market with a plan for servicing and eventually retiring the debt. But Boomers have no personal incentive to do anything about the debt.”

Infrastructure

“Infrastructure spending has fallen from 4% of the GDP in the ’60s to 2.5% today.”

A 1988 report gave U.S. infrastructure a C and by 2003 it was a D+, in poor to fair condition with many elements nearing the end of their service life. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure.”

“Even a $3.6 trillion investment would only bring it up to a B. Bridges and waterworks take years to complete and often decades to return investments. So as long as Boomers control government, there’ll be no smart grid, no hyper loop, not even a proper maintenance.”

“The argument for infrastructure reduces to 1) we need it 2) it has a significant and positive return on investment. Because of this positive return, America can borrow the whole $3.6 trillion at forgiving interest rates without cuts to other services.”

The federal gas tax hasn’t risen since 1993 and its value has eroded steadily since then, even as the number of miles driven has doubled.”

“Average traffic delays per motorist rose from 18 hours in 1982 to 42 hours in 2014.”

“Maintenance would save lives and allow for tens of billions in additional taxable economic growth.”

The fault for our lack of high speed trains falls on Boomer landowners being opposed to intrusions into their suburbs and Boomer governments not being willing to use eminent domain to compel sociopathic constituents to submit.

“In 1982, Congress selected Yucca Mountain as the resting place for spent nuclear fill and spent billions over 20 years planning and constructing it until the plan was abandoned in 2008 due to Boomer NIMBYism.”

“96% of dams are operated by local governments — Alabama has 0 dam inspectors and 2,241 dams, with 600 having substantial ‘hazard potential.’”

“NYC needs a 3rd water tunnel — construction began in 1970 and thanks to budget cuts and lack of priority, it won’t be completed until the 2020s.”

“The present levels of water pipes, plants, and sewer funding is ½ of that necessary to keep the system in acceptable order.”

“Defense spending has fallen from 8% of GDP in 1950 to 4% now.”

“NIMBYism started in the 1950s and 1960s with Jane Jacobs, who saved some of the most charming parts of New York City from being bulldozed. But today a degraded version of her mantle has been assumed by Boomers who refuse to consider change to their personal quality of life as a matter of fixed principle. Boomer refusal to take the long view, engage with evidence, or measure outcomes other than through the tiny aperture of immediate self-interest has made large projects difficult.

Finance

“In the financial arena, Boomers’ reshaping of commerce combined an astonishing tolerance for risk with widespread dishonesty. Every time the system wobbled, the Boomers’ solution was more risk and more dishonesty.”

“A new regulatory framework post-WWII produced a calmer and more honest system with few and small bubbles and scandals. As Boomers took control of both the public and private sector, financial scandals grew to a scale never before seen and we now live in an era of permanent financial emergency.”

“It wasn’t just the work of isolated bankers or sloppy regulators — junk mortgages for example required consumers to apply for them often without any reasonable belief they could be serviced; banks to underwrite them; investors to buy them after syndication; watchdogs to look away; auditors to sign off on incredible accounting; legislators to gut remaining regulations; and a central bank to engage in the expedient facilitation of all of the above.”

“GAAP (general accepted accounting practices) from 1939 to 1973 allowed investors and regulators to understand firms’ performance, favoring truth over expedience and fact over subjective projection. More data helped the market discipline itself and regulators to make informed judgments. Boomer financial culture evaded, watered down, and gutted the regulatory framework established by their parents — the result has been a scandalous samsara of fraud, abuse, and bailout.”

“The degradation of words and numbers became an essential front in the war of deception — yesterday’s borrowing and debt became today’s credit and leverage. Wall Street assigned itself ‘compliance officers’ and ‘risk managers’ to pacify regulators, but their chief purpose was to expand portfolios to the maximum extent possible under the least plausible conception of laws. ‘Document retention’ policies’ chief effect was the disposal of inconvenient documents as soon as legally possible.”

“Off balance sheet (OBS) accounting created an alternate financial universe into which problems like large and disastrous liabilities could be dispatched. Enron used OBS and it was named by Fortune was the Most Innovative Company six times between 1996 and 2001. Enron’s 2001 collapse should’ve served as a warning about these practices. Instead, OBS liabilities grew dramatically. Of great utility to the practice was the creation of special derivatives which allow for huge amounts to be waged against very little capital. It’s like insuring a Camry at the price of a Rolls Royce and betting the car will get stolen before your next payment. The financial industry, accountants, and auditors (all dominated by Boomers) have signed off on this.

As Boomers took over Wall Street, the previously modest market of junk bonds exploded — these are debt securities with greater risk of default than conventional debt. Wall Street relied heavily on junk bonds to finance LBOs (leveraged buyouts), a process in which companies would be bought, slimmed down, and flipped back laden with debt to the public markets.”

“Synergies began in the 1980s as a justification for mergers that were supposed to boost profits but rarely did without the debt and transfer fees involved. Workers were fired in mass though.”

“By the 90s, Congress was firmly in the hands of Boomers and could be counted on to 1) water down regulations and 2) provide bailouts should anything go wrong.”

“The 1994 RN Act passed with broad bipartisan support and paved the way for financial industry consolidation over the next 20 years. ‘Too big to fail’ was now defined as controlling more than 20% of the nation’s deposits.”

“Glass-Steagall was repealed with support from Gingrich and Clinton to allow Citicorp to merge with Travelers without divesting the assets it acquired in 1998. Banks were now free to grow and take on increasingly speculative projects unrelated to their banking businesses (which was what Glass-Steagall prohibited).”

“In 2004, the SEC’s modification of the net capital rules allowed banks to take on increasing leverage and risk. In 2008, the SEC chairman said he had a ‘good deal of comfort about the capital cushions’ at the largest banks just before they collapsed.”

“While the deregulatory push from the 80s through 2008 had grounds in free market philosophy, the Boomer establishment was happy to ask the government for help when convenient. Bush and Obama each oversaw a titanic bailout.”

“Although the size of the bailed out banks made them ‘too big to fail’ and therefore the taxpayers’ problem, many surviving banks actually got bigger in the immediate aftermath thanks to mergers the government helped orchestrate.”

“Even as the need for greater understanding became urgent, the resources assigned to regulation and reporting remained insufficient. The Census privatized much of its data in 2012, making it harder to access and saving .00001% of the federal budget.

“In 2008, when capital regulations authorized banks to model their own risks, not one investigation was completed.”

“Boomer optimism allowed for variables in risk models and accounting statements to be adjusted for their most appealing settings, a parallel to the Boomer delusion that the stock and housing markets only go up.”

“The bailouts — which benefited Boomers who had many more stocks and deposits at risk than young people — created debt that will be passed to the young.”

“The role of the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy for the U.S., is to promote growth, ensure price stability, and regulate banks. These goals often conflict , given that the Fed can overstimulate the economy by tolerating high inflation or allowing greater leverage. The Fed is very secretive. It has a mandate to protect the economy overall and its tools work best in the short term, so it’s had a bias toward protecting the financial well-being of Boomers.”

“The Fed can restrain banks by adjusting interest rates, limiting leverage, and other tactics. It moves these levers regularly to benefit Boomers. Stocks were relatively cheap in the early 80s when Boomers were buying them and are now expensive as they’re liquidating them.”

The Boomers controlled government expanded housing subsidies during their prime home-owning years — property tax caps, mortgage interest deductions, tax exemptions on sales. Consumers came to view homeownership as a surefire investment — buying more expensive homes while rent control, property tax freezes, zoning restrictions, and other limits favored existing residents. Banks reduced down payments from the conventional 20% to 3.5% or even 0%, allowing leverage to increase. When the bets turned sour in 2007–2012, the Fed intervened by purchasing mortgage assets to hold the market together — allowing housing to almost entirely recover from the losses by 2016.”

The Boomers will soon become liquidators of real estate at these conveniently refreshed prices, harvesting substantial cash from credulous new buyers. The costs of the housing subsidies will be borne by the young in the national debt. The Fed used all of its good tools in the housing crisis, leaving less to fight whatever comes next.”

Retirement

“Low personal savings must be compensated for by a combination of government/family subsidies and strong returns on non-cash investments. This suggest to the anti-social which levers to manipulate. Given how long and expensive old age has become, unless people are willing to save more, work longer, or encourage population growth through larger families or immigration, mass retirement will be difficult to sustain without some uncomfortable trade-offs.”

The old age benefit (OAB) programs cannot be maintained much beyond the median Boomers die off. Every generation after will bear disproportionate costs while Boomers has disproportionate gains. We have a decade to rescue the system before the choices become very painful. 30% of Boomer households will have sufficient private resources to retire without major lifestyle changes (precisely the sort of sacrifice Boomers should but are unwilling to make).”

Between 1970 and 2011, the period of retirement has extended from 13.6 to 18 years. Bluntly, that’s too long.”

Because so many seniors don’t have sufficient private savings to sustain retirement, that task falls to the government through Social Security and Medicare.”

“40% of Americans on Social Security or Medicare didn’t believe they’d used a government social program. Entitlements like these are welfare, both factually and legally.”

“A median 2-income Boomer couple could expect $1.15 million in benefits offset by just $728,000 in payroll taxes. The excess money comes from taxes on the rich. For workers born post-1975, the ratio will be 1:1 or less. Income taxes will be increasingly not spent on road, schools, and science, but to keep old age benefits flowing to the Boomers by the 2030s.

“In 1983, Boomers allowed the Social Security retirement age to be raised only one year even though they had decades to adjust. Books have been written about how to maximize your Social Security benefits even though it’s a form of welfare and the same book about welfare would inspire outrage.

By the time the Social Security Trust Fund depletes in 1934, the median Boomer will be 82 and, per the actuaries, dead. Therefore, cuts will fall purely on people born after 1952. However, every single Boomer will already be collecting and it’s doubtful Congress would allow cuts to those already on the rolls. Yet young people, despite having low confidence that they will receive old age benefits, overwhelmingly support these programs, the empathetic counterpart to their elders, who view benefits with unjustified proprietorship and self-interest. The number of those paying into Social Security vs. receiving it will have fallen by 3.7 in 1970 to 2.1 by 2035. Reducing the generosity of inflation indexing and a ~3–4% increase in the 15.3% payroll tax would by itself solve the whole problem — if done today.”

Medicare

“The first right-controlled Presidency/House/Senate since 1955 added prescription drug coverage (Part D) to Medicare in 2003, just in time for the Boomers to benefit. Seniors now started collecting drug benefits without having paid for it, so almost the entire cost of Medicare Part D will be borne by future generations.”

“Part D also forbade the government from negotiating discounts with drugmakers. Hepatitis C treatment is so expensive and pervasive that the Medicare trustees attributed 2014 budget overruns to the therapy, which treats 75% Baby Boomers, most of whom experimented with drugs in college.”

Curbing fraud (given the sociopathic nature of the cohorts entering its embrace) would save 10% of the budget. Britain more explicitly rations care, leading to much lower medical costs. And we are expanding rationing because of depressed physician reimbursements that lead to an ever-growing body of doctors who refuse to take Medicare — making it less available.”

“The average beneficiary’s costs were $12k in 2015. It would take $3 trillion (about the entire federal tax take in 2014) to achieve financial balance in the hospital insurance portion of Medicare alone.”

“The gap between what Medicare and private insurance pays doctors may widen from 30 to 60%, at which time a majority of Medicare providers will, presumably, stop taking Medicare patients. The whole system is projected to start falling apart right as the Boomers pass from the scene.”

Prepping For The Future (Environment & Technology)

The U.S. established national parks 30 years before Europe. The National Forest System established under Teddy Roosevelt to 230 million acres. These represented a sacrifice for a nation obsessed with industrialization and expanding frontiers.

Before 1991, environmental bills passed with bipartisan support. As Boomers became Washington’s most lethal invasive species, environmentalism waned. The Clean Air Act, amended four times in its first two decades, hasn’t been meaningfully amended in 28 years.”

“In 1960, the U.S. was neither as rich or technologically advanced as today (and was more dependent on heavy industry), making the costs of environmental regulation proportionally higher.”

“The Clean Air Act regulated both visible and invisible pollution, at considerable cost to taxpayers who usually had no obvious or direct benefit.”

“The 1973 Endangered Species Act protected wildfire most Americans would never see.”

“Al Gore in the 1970s fought for an ESA exception for a protected fish in order to build a dam. He had strong ties to oil, coal, and gas companies.”

“Whether the young, especially those in developing countries, live somewhat better or dramatically worse depends in substantial part on whether America ever takes the lead on climate change.”

“It had been understood since the 1800s that humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels could eventually warm the environment. There was nothing like a scientific consensus, however, and few alternatives to fossil fuels existed. Less coal-fired industrialization in 1900 meant mass poverty, disease, and a shocking level of backwardness, weighed against the (then) modest consequences of warming.

“By the 1970s, 1) Total energy use greatly increased per capita and in total (2 billion people were added to the world) 2) Viable alternatives emerged 3) The problem became clear. There was a 1979 World Climate Program convention. But the point of no return is toward the end of Boomer lifetimes and consequences will start in the 2030s-2050s.

“Two impediments: 48% of Boomers in 2015 believed that humans were causing the planet to warm (vs. 60% for 18–29 year olds) and Boomers have more favorable views about fossil fuels. The influences of the Boomer cohort means the U.S. is roughly split on climate change and, given the bias on the status quo, little action can be expected in the near term.”

“The only absolute reduction in U.S. emissions came during the 2008 recession, hardly progress.”

“In addition to the U.S.’s own emissions, it imports goods from nations that emit quite a bit to produce those consumer necessities — exporting of pollution.”

“Thanks to fracking and other developments, the U.S. is now once again the leading producer of oil in the world. The U.S. has long sent coal abroad and starting in 2015 an Obama-era law allows oil producers to export other fossil fuels.”

“Boomer environmentalists in the 1960s and 1970s cried wolf about the world’s ability to feed itself and resource scarcity without scientific credibility. Warming deniers use this as evidence that scientists and environmentalists can’t be trusted.”

“During the 1970s oil crisis, D.C. began to quickly improve car efficiency through legislation, with standards rising regularly until 1985. But they didn’t go up again until 2011. Had CAFE standards kept up, Americans would be demanding 64–120 mpg today.

“To avoid a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (at which there’ll be severe consequences), humans can emit at most 1,000 gigatons of CO2 — the ‘carbon budget.’ More than half the budget has been spent and, without change, the rest will be exhausted within three decades.”

“Rising emissions in the developing world have long been a challenge, but had the U.S. acted vigorously, they might not be so bad. In 1998, the Senate voted 95–0 against the Kyoto Protocol because of potential harm to the U.S. economy. But Europe signed and didn’t plunge into a recession.

The U.S. has been able to force multilateral changes when it cares to — acid rain regulations, ozone depleting chemical restrictions. In these cases, the consequences of inaction — smog, scenic despoliation, and skin cancer — would be borne by Boomers. Plus, non-Boomers still controlled the White House when these passed.”

“Nuclear facilities haven’t had any accident like 3 Mile Island in 1979 in 40 years. Nuclear facilities have zero outgoing carbon cost but only power 1/5 of the U.S.’s energy (vs. 75% for France).”

“Biofuels are inefficient as the crops frequently consume more energy to grow than they ultimately provide.”

“Solar and wind require use of batteries with rare, expensive toxic materials because there aren’t enough consistently sunny or windy places.”

“When stem cells’ therapeutic potential was discovered, the Right saw an opportunity to score points with the dogmatists, whatever the lost opportunities for wellness. The Bush administration limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and many states banned it, but California and New York aggressively kept moving forward.”

“The false environmental movement of the 60s-70s against population growth still has influence in today’s opposition to genetic engineering.”

“AIs will begin to replace humans in many or even most tasks within our lifetime, but Boomers don’t understand it or think it will affect them. The government has essentially shrugged its shoulders and, by default, AI has been consigned to private hands, to private ends, to private gains.”

“Really robust AIs might render almost all workers redundant and we ought to think about what that sort of society might look like — will gains be transferred to displaced laborers and how will they fit into a world that doesn’t need their work? What sort of schools producing what sort of grads will we require in a future that no longer has much place for semiskilled labor?”

“The only technology besides weapons that could potentially kill the majority of humanity is not the emission of greenhouse gasses (that will only endanger 1 billion or so), but the creation of AI. AI will be responsible for essential systems like power plants, autonomous weapons, dams, and so on and could make mistakes that unleash catastrophe.”

Education

The corrections system would be America’s 36th most populous state. Many of its charges could have been saved by the schools Boomers failed, by social programs Boomers let decay, or by the exercise of empathetic clemency instead of automatic punishments that appealed to Boomers’ crudest Old Testament instincts.”

The educational crisis began in the 60s, The Boomers’ own school years, when American scholastic performance began a downward slide. By the time America realized Boomers’ test scores constituted a national embarrassment, the Boomers themselves were taking over the instruments of school policy. It was society’s great misfortune that responsibility for any educational renaissance was consigned to the hands of the generation whose underperformance had called for the reforms.”

“SAT scores were stable from 1952 to 1963, then fell continuously for two decades, a slide that began exactly as the Boomers first sat for the SATs and ended in 1982–1983, precisely when the last Boomers left high school.”

“There were compositional changes due to greater gender and racial equality adding folks who traditionally scored lower (due to historical discrimination) to the pool of test takers, but this explained only 70% of the 1963–1970 decline and ¼ of the even steeper decline after 1970 (when the median Boomer was 17). Improvement was before reforms of the 70s had time to take effect.”

“President Carter established the Department of Education in 1979. In 1983, ‘A Nation at Risk’ offered sensible ideas for reform, but three decades later, the problems remain the same — mediocre curriculum, grade inflation, minimum contemporary standards that didn’t incentivize anyone to go for the maximum, and going to the next grade being seen as a right, not something to be earned.”

“Boomers weren’t willing to tax themselves for education or push for longer school hours. Democrats didn’t want to go against teachers and Republicans thought it would mean more taxes. The sociopathic solution would be theatre without sacrifice (or results) and the constant shuffling of responsibility between federal and state governments, to ensure minimum accountability.”

“In the 80s, educational neoliberalism argued that the market would fix education, in the form of vouchers, school choice, charter schools, states competing against each other. Both parties and most states tried this philosophy without much better outcomes.”

“Teacher compensation remains moderate relative to better performing nations (in part because American teachers work less).”

“Budget limits consigned schools to physical decay — trailing from a D in 1988 to an F in 1998. It was a tad ungrateful of the Boomers — for whom about half of existing school capacity was built — to let their former schoolhouses languish in squalor.

“The U.S. ranks 27 out of 34 developed nations in education. Gaps between rich and not rich students have widened and as younger couples increasingly tend to pair with mates of comparable education and economical attainment, we can only expect these gaps to grow.”

“High school grad rates have increased but reading and math scores for 17 years haven’t increased so these high school seniors don’t possess the full benefit of a proper education.”

“No Child Left Behind was the perfect combination of Boomer foibles — anti-empirical fantasy (no society can make all of a group proficient — the goal), neoliberal federalist magic (Incentives! States’ rights!), and diversion of tax receipts from entitlement programs.”

“Obama’s Every Child Succeeds devolved many more powers to the states (tried before, failed before) but did not provide adequate funds, guidance, or accountability.”

“The Boomer educational machine used the same strategies as the financial machine: take what numbers you have, cast them as victory if remotely plausible, and adjust them to the desired level if not (i.e. fraud).”

“A parade of scandals ensued with teachers overwhelmingly focused on how to take tests instead of the substance, leaving answer sheets out, or simply fabricating scores.”

“For-profit colleges have increased enrollment by 270% by 1998 and 2008 — now hosting 1/10 of college students. Half of borrowers who defaulted on student loans attended for-profit colleges.”

“Many for-profit colleges are now accredited or functionally so. Because the U.S. hasn’t adequately invested in institutions like community colleges, for-profits have been absorbing the excess supply of the college bound.

In the 2 most significant public university systems (in California and Texas), public funding has only permitted the creation of one genuinely new campus during Boomer reign, Merced, which opened almost 20 years after authorized, accredited 6 years after inauguration, and with a decidedly unselective admission rate of 65%, it’s doomed to failure. California and Texas’ populations have grown significantly during Boomers’ reign — Texas’ doubled!

Over 20% of students arrive at college unprepared, wasting space and money. The job of topping off a high school education now falls to adjuncts, who represent 40–50% of faculty now. Adjuncts aren’t conventional, tenure-track positions.”

“The over $1.3 trillion in educational debt (as of 2013, up from $600 billion in 2006) burdens borne students and society, though Boomers last of all.”

It is time for Washington to intervene or set adrift states that refuse to take education seriously. If it could change states’ drinking ages by threatening to withhold highway dollars, it can and should do the same with state schools.”

Prisons

“Perhaps mass detention would be acceptable if prison served as an effective determent or society lacked alternatives; neither is or was true.”

“The spectacle of law and order was always more satisfying to Boomer psychology than any reality of justice or efficiency.”

“In the ’60s and ’70s, the argument for expedient incarceration had a certain reasonable dimension because the U.S. had problems with crime — young people and antisocial people have a higher propensity to commit crime and the U.S. was well-supplied with both: Boomers.”

Crimes rose until after 1991, after which Boomers had begun to age out of the brackets most liable to commit crimes. Notably, millennials don’t seem as disposed to crime as their forebears and had Boomers maintained fast economic growth, crime might have fallen without a need for a penal state.”

“Even with these failures, the prison population should have leveled off in the ’90s instead of growing. Prison growth in the ’90s had relatively little to do with the crime decline; the dramatic increases have had a limited, diminishing effect on crime. The correctional population rose from 0.8% of the population in 1980 to 2.5% in 2007.”

“In the ’90s and ’00s, Boomers were fed up with crime, which their own generation had helped drive to high levels and, rather than engage in self-reflection or a detailed study of humane alternatives, opted for crude and often indiscriminate punishment. 24 states passed 3 strikes laws.”

“Even as Boomer police forces grew, the offices of public defenders were slowly starved of funds. In 2007, the nation had the full-time equivalent of 15,000 conventional public defenders against a caseload of 5.6 million.

“1/4 of the world’s prisoners reside in U.S. prisons even though only 5% of the world’s population is American.”

“It would take the entire tax revenue of 4–12 middling taxpayers to cover the cost of one prisoner for a year.”

“California’s corrections system budget considerably exceeds grants to the entire UC system.”

“Once prisoners get out, most of them will be old, mentally ill, and badly educated, so they’ll be transferred from one form of state-subsidized living to another: welfare, Medicaid, etc. The costs will be disproportionately borne by current and future taxpayers, not the Boomers who presided over mass incarceration in the first place.”

Wages

“Money since the ’80s has flown to the top segment and almost nowhere else. Inequality has been driven by debt, speculation, lower taxes, lower social investment, redounding in the short term to the benefit of the rich (who are overwhelmingly old).”

In 1989, 50–64 year olds were 1.7 times wealthier than 35–49 year olds. In 2013, they were 2.5 times wealthier. OCED ranked the U.S. last among peers in intergenerational equity. Child poverty is 21% vs. 4–7% in Northern Europe.

Achieving lower rates of senior poverty at the expense of the young, present and future, has been a choice. Spending on the old outpaces spending on the young by 5:1, which will only get worse as more Boomers retire. The poverty young people currently experience will reappear in old age.”

“Senior poverty rates are lower than the general population and less than of youth poverty rates. Once the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted, benefits will be automatically cut absent drastic political action. The rates of senior poverty will resemble or exceed today’s youth poverty rates of 21% after 2034–2037.

Over the very long term, everybody wins from trade and immigration but no voter or politician operates on geologic time scales. In the short term, they benefit consumers in higher-income countries and workers in, or emigrating from, lower-income countries. Trade produces layoffs and works best if there are job trainings, research and development to support new industries, etc.”

NAFTA led to jobs leaving the Rust Belt for the South and Mexico due to looser regulation, union laws, and lower taxes. Prices of goods went down, but wages would soon follow; again, fine with Social Security on the way.”

“If millions of soldiers could be transitioned via the GI Bill, couldn’t something similar have happened post-NAFTA?”

Visas like the H1B for skilled immigrants are notoriously difficult to get — capped at 130,000 per year. These individuals receive training at the partial expense of American corporations and universities. In a move of stunning perversity, many are then shuffled back, laden with American intellectual property and skills, to their place of origin.

Whatever partisans said, Boomers wanted undocumented immigrants and the cheap labor they provided. Where there’s demand, there’s supply, so immigrants are here, legally and otherwise.”

Monopolies can provide short-term profits at low cost, with nothing more than quick change to the law, benefits redounding to the Boomer capital class. Monopolies are sometimes justified on the basis that America needs large national champions to compete against winning foreigners. But overseas wages are low so this logic guarantees that benefits won’t flow to workers.”

“Corporate giants don’t remit over much of their profits to the Treasury, given the decline in corporate taxation and the creation of megafirms to avoid taxes through inversion. Companies now sometimes experience better profit growth than revenue growth because they’re making easy profits, cutting costs, and buying backstock with the proceeds instead of innovating.”

“Wal Mart is within a 15 minute reach of 90% of Americans. 80% of beers are produced by only two companies. The few remaining independent farmers funnel subsidies upward to the four firms that by 2009 controlled over 50% of the market for seeds, pesticides, and equipment (up from 2% in 1994).”

The Myth of Boomer Goodness

“The Boomer decades haven’t been without moral advances, but Boomers don’t deserve nearly as much credit for those advances as commonly supposed. Gains came, but not as quickly as before, and were unevenly distributed, sometimes highly so. They arrived courtesy of mixed motives — like the expansion of disability rights — or over the opposition of Boomers, as in the case of same-sex marriage.”

“The intergenerational burden is not as overt or violent as other countries but it affects most Americans living plus those yet to be born.”

Adjectives and qualifiers to voting have started to return under Boomers. In Phoenix, voters in the 2016 primary had one polling place per 108,000 residents. Chipping away the power of other groups is a strategy with limitations, but all it takes is money and a willingness to tolerate the introduction of something artificial into the body politic.”

“Boomers reversed reforms of 1905–1975 that limited the power of money and corporations.”

“McCain-Feingold was sloppily drafted and far too late — the time to act had been in the 80s or 90s before there were billions of dollars on the ground, all eager to undo McCain-Feingold.”

“A Boomer politician used ‘everybody does it’ as a defense for corruption and unanimously won.”

“With even the youngest Boomers now past menopause, that generation can indulge in God — fearing anti-abortion regulations that will have no impact on them.”

“The Equal Rights Amendment’s momentum evaporated just as Boomers came into power.”

“Boomers Steve Jobs’ and Tim Cook’s subcontracted factories are so depressing that they feature suicide nets to prevent employees from jumping to their deaths.”

Asking other countries to improve their labor laws would not only be ethical, it would improve America’s competitive position. The only thing Boomers really ask for now, however, is that their purchases be cheap and the moral quandaries offshored.”

“The ’08 Bush expansion of the ADA extended to basic issues of aging just as Boomers were able to take advantage of Medicare-reimbursed scooters and other government subsidized aids.”

“The Patriot Act embodied the whole apparatus of 1984, with technology considerably more advanced. If Boomers and their hysterical policies had followed the internment camp timeline, we’d be done with the Patriot Act by 2003. But 10 years later, it was renewed.”

“Boomers didn’t make a real go of reconstruction in states like Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Much money was spent (some on dubious military contractors) but thoughtful planning and follow through were noticeably absent.”

“Partly thanks to forward thinking like the Marshall Plan, when Germans and Japanese arrive in the U.S. today, they don’t carry resentments about occupation, firebombing, and nuked cities; they arrive as some of our friendliest allies and tourists.”

“At best, Boomers failed to maintain the pace of gains prevailing before 1970. At worst, Boomers have begun to actively thwart progress.”

“The Boomers have failed on almost every important issue they had the power to control, and in many cases, they did so out of pure self-interest.”

What Should Be Done?

“Social Security retirement age should be raised by at least three years — early retirement at 65 and full at 70 or later.”

“The inheritance tax exemption should be lowered dramatically from its current $5.5 million.”

“Property tax cuts enacted since the ’70s assume the taxable value only increases 2% per year but new properties are taxed at current market rate. Revising these caps would be progressive and efficient as caps reduce labor market flexibility by encouraging people to stay put, which makes no sense in an era where lifetime employment has vanished and jobs migrate.”

“Rent control also favors seniors while constraining supply and forcing the price of unrestricted rentals upward.”

Rationing in medicine — avoiding costly interventions to drag a life out a few unproductive months is true to both left and right principles. Sweden spends 9.6% of its GDP on health care vs. our 16.4% and is doing fine.”

“For years, there’s been no real discussion of raising taxes on the middle class because 87% of the electorate views themselves as middle class. Tax breaks to them are one promise Boomer politicians usually keep and it’s shielded the vast middle class from paying its fair share.”

“Cutting subsidies to the poorest Americans (which are minimally functional currently) would create mass unrest without much fiscal gain.”

“The less wealthy, like the lower middle class, commits their own tax evasions like not reporting tips and the IRS lacks resources to take action. Proper funding could retrieve a significant fraction of the deficit by itself without changing a single tax rate.

“American corporate tax rates are high by global standards, which encourages evasion, of more and less legal means. Large corporations like Apple and GE have often paid nothing. Lower and more uniform taxation would be more fair to smaller corporations and encourage larger companies to remain based in America rather than using micronations.

“Raising consumption taxes would help reflect the true social cost of the good consumed.”

“As fuel has been relatively cheap recently, it’s a convenient time to raise fuel taxes.”

“40–60% of Americans consume, visa tax credits, entitlements, and other public services, more economic value than they pay in taxes.”

“To avoid creating another generation of sociopaths, we should add civics back into curriculum and introduction to financial literacy courses for the first time.”

“Inoculating society against the antisocial requires persuading people of what is palpably true: that society has value and everyone should contribute.

“Voters should self-study by looking at data and policy abstracts and rely on experts to figure out the details.”

“It’ll be necessary to reacquaint the public with nuance and ambiguity instead of demanding reductive sound bits like ‘no new taxes’ or ‘zero tolerance policing.’”

“The view that society has considerable positive value can be encouraged through reasoned debate, investing for the general welfare, and promoting the interests of society.”

I read non-fiction and take copious notes. Currently traveling around the world for a few years, follow my journey at https://peacejoyaustin.wordpress.com/blog/

I read non-fiction and take copious notes. Currently traveling around the world for a few years, follow my journey at https://peacejoyaustin.wordpress.com/blog/