Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, January 2nd, 2011.


Who’s “Self-Absorbed”?

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Obama Administration

Is there a rule in newspaper stylebooks that says reporters cannot write about Baby Boomers without calling us “self-absorbed”? Because that’s the only way this headline makes sense —

Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone: Age 65

Is the headline writer saying that we’re getting older only because we’re selfish?

The article writer, Dan Barry, continues,

Though other generations, from the Greatest to the Millennial, may mutter that it’s time to get over yourselves, this birthday actually matters. According to the Pew Research Center, for the next 19 years, about 10,000 people “will cross that threshold” every day — and many of them, whether through exercise or Botox, have no intention of ceding to others what they consider rightfully theirs: youth.

Mr. Barry is a 1980 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Wikipedia says, which suggests he was born at the tail end of the Boom, in the group that was too young to have watched Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show or appreciate Woodstock and the Summer of Love. Jealous, are we?

This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this country’s population, will be redefining what it means to be older, and placing greater demands on the social safety net. They are living longer, working longer and, researchers say, nursing some disappointment about how their lives have turned out. The self-aware, or self-absorbed, feel less self-fulfilled, and thus are racked with self-pity.

So, then, to those who once never trusted anyone over 30: Raise that bowl of high-fiber granola, antioxidant-rich blueberries and skim milk and give yourself a Happy Birthday toast.

Yeah, and you can stuff your high-fiber granola where the sun don’t shine, Barry.

The real reason we Boomers are being made out to be selfish, of course, is that the oldest among us are eligible for Medicare this year. There have been an epidemic of stories about how us selfish, self-absorbed Boomers are about to drain Medicare, which is awfully self-absorbed of us.

We were socked with big increases in FICA taxes, in particular during the Reagan years when most of us were still early in our careers, and now we’re being told we’re selfish for expecting to receive benefits. The Beltway Bobbleheads are telling us to suck it up and do with less, for the good of the country.

The real issue is not just that there’s so damn many of us, but that on the whole we are getting older without all the pension benefits most of our parents had. Some of us are quite well off, of course, but many of us are not, and the safety net already has shrunk an awful lot from what it was when our Greatest Generation folks retired.

So if you want to see real social problems, just kick the rest of the props out from under us and watch several million older people sink into poverty. I guess then we’ll be told we’re selfish if we don’t voluntarily strand ourselves on ice floes — if there still are ice floes — or march off to the Soylent Green factory.

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