Baby boomers – here’s why (some of) our kids hate us

By Neil Patrick

If you want to know how some of the gen Yers see us, then this piece by Australian blogger Mark Fletcher is an example. If you’re a baby boomer, it’s tempting to simply go into denial and rebuttal when you read his fiery rhetoric, but I think if you can see past the rage, he makes some valid points about for example the failures of government institutions to lead effectively.

But overall, I think his arguments are naïve and driven more by anger than understanding. You cannot hold a whole generation corporately responsible for anything. We didn’t hold the whole of Germany accountable for the crimes of the Nazi regime; if we accept Mark’s reasoning, it would follow that we should have done…and presumably murdered every surviving German person in 1945. It’s ironic therefore that one of his ‘recommendations’ is the removal of voting rights from everyone over 40 years old. Isn’t that a bit erm..fascist Mark?

It also conveniently fails to mention what the gen Yers have done which is really any different from what the boomers have done. They have just whinged a bit more and are seeking out culprits for their angst. If you want culprits Mark, I think you are looking in the wrong place.

Perhaps though this inter-generational blaming attitude highlights one really important point. If we have failed as a generation, we have failed because we put our trust in the wrong leaders and the wrong economic policies. And because of that error, we have failed to win the trust and respect of (some of) our own children.

What do you think? I'd welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here’s Mark’s post:

The Baby Boomers had their chance to create the society into which they wanted to retire and they dropped the ball. They don't deserve our help, writes Mark Fletcher.

By Mark Fletcher
Back when I was a kid, old people had fought in a war. They could tell you stories about growing up in the Great Depression, about the spread of mass manufactured cars, and about personally trying to shoot Hitler. When they retired, they looked back on a long life of hard work, of securing our freedoms, and of not understanding how to programme the VCR.

Today, old (sic) people are rubbish. They’ve never done anything worthwhile. They happily took handouts from several economic booms and completely failed to invest in infrastructure like their parents’ generation had done for them.

In Australia, they crafted a completely nuts housing market where housing prices head steadily upwards (which will be paid for by their children’s generation); meanwhile, they enjoyed free education (again, paid for by their parents’ generation) which they subsequently denied to their children. The media companies they own write article after article about how ‘Gen Y’ has a bad attitude and feels entitled to jobs and conditions of employment. Now they have the freaking audacity to claim that they want to retire and have my generation pay for it.

Sod ‘em, the lazy swine. If you didn’t fight a Nazi, you don’t get to retire. You certainly don’t get to retire on my dime.
Boomers only ever cared about themselves?
Credit:  Alfabille (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0
The problem with my ‘Let them become Soylent Green cake’ attitude is that, one day, I shall be old and I will want to retire. With a bunch of old people currently hogging all the political power making the sort of short-sighted decisions that you’d expect from people who won’t survive to see the consequences, the future doesn’t look bright and rosy for my retirement (which apparently will be in the year 2105).

The Per Capita think tank released an awkwardly phrased report last week called Still Kicking:

The ageing of the population will see the number of people aged 65 to 84 years more than double, and the number of people aged 85 and over more than quadruple. As a result, the proportion of people who are of working age will decline as a proportion of the whole population.

Clearly this conclusion doesn’t follow. The sentence ‘The number of people who are of working age is not expected to increase by as much’ is missing, which is weird given that the rest of the report is dedicated to increasing the number of people who are of working age.

Per Capita gives us the usual handwaves typical of Australia’s think tanks. We could change the working age to include more people and ‘reconceptualise’ retirement. We could tinker with superannuation. We can gear our health system towards making sure that people are economic cogs for longer. And so on and so forth. All the low-hanging fruit was dutifully picked.

Not to be outdone, the number-crunchers at the Grattan Institute got out their sliderules and abaci to put together a chapter in their Balancing Budgets report about retirement:

Increasing to 70 the age of access to the Age Pension and superannuation (the ‘retirement age’) is one of the most economically attractive choices to improve budgets in the medium term. It could ultimately improve the budget bottom line by $12 billion a year in today’s terms, while producing a lift in economic activity of up to 2 per cent of GDP.

What both Per Capita and the Grattan Institute are saying is that previous generations have screwed up the general revenue base so heinously that everybody needs to work more to pay for the retirees.

Further, both organisations are setting the policy gears to resolve the problems of today’s old fogey. They let the health system deteriorate and now health care is expensive. Shock. They let the infrastructure deteriorate and now they don’t have the labour mobility that they need to get a job. Horror. They let the education system collapse and now they can’t reskill into new industries. Surprise. They let general revenue get whittled away on pork barreling and now there’s no money left.

As a result, intergenerational policy is being colonised and dominated by economic, labour, and health policies. How can we afford to keep old people? How can we unlock the potential labour of old people and translate it into GDP? How can we manage the health needs of the elderly?

It is an approach that conceptualises homo senilis as if they had sprung out of the earth and suddenly (like mushrooms) come to full maturity without all kind of engagement to each other.

There was society and it was functioning and then - completely by surprise - there were all these old people who had special needs and who needed things.

A better, more sophisticated, approach is to work out what sort of society we (that is, people under the age of 35) want for our retirement and then set the policy gears now to achieve it. Do we want a society of lifelong learning? Then we need an education policy to gut the current education system which considers education over by age 25 and de-link technical education from the research sector. Do we want a society of non-manual labour? Then we need an industry policy to let the manufacturing sectors crash, a research policy to invest in better industries, and a legislative policy to improve protections for intellectual property. Do we want to enjoy a retirement like our great grandparents had? Then we need a fiscal policy to diversify the revenue streams of the Government so it relies less on income taxes. And so on and so forth.

The easiest way for us to achieve this utopian future is to rescind the voting rights of any person over the age of 40. The Baby Boomers have made it clear that we’ll have to take the reins of government from their cold, dead hands, but they’ve demonstrated that they can’t be trusted to manage themselves. They’ll live longer and they’ll vote longer; and they’ll vote for parties that promise to stamp out ‘Aged Discrimination’ (which is code for forcing the rest of us to pay their indulged way).

They had their chance to create the society into which they wanted to retire and they dropped the ball. Our policymakers shouldn’t be putting out the fires of yesterday, and we definitely shouldn’t develop policies which exonerate their hideous mistakes.

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based blogger and policy wonk who writes about conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. He blogs at OnlyTheSangfroid. This article was originally published


  1. I guess everyone has a right to their own opinion, and I'm thankful that I'm a little more optimistic than Mr. Fletcher. Old people? Hate? Not my style. Besides, this baby boomer didn't raise kids for the purpose of friendship, so I really don't care if they hate me! Blame can go both ways.

    1. I agree Marcia. Hate never solved anything. I hope that Mark discovers that someday soon :-)

  2. Sir,

    Thank you for your interest in my piece, although quoting the relevant parts and linking to the rest would have been better etiquette.

    Your comment is interesting and supposes that it must have come from a place of 'rage' and 'anger'. I admit to being surprised by this characterisation. Over the past day, here are some of the responses I've had from Baby Boomers:

    'Mark Fletcher is an angry nasty piece of work. How dare he condemn an entire group as if we were some organised bloc.'

    'you are nothing more than a disrespectful fool.'

    'wow, this poor guy has clearly had no inspirational elders in his life and is painting all bb's with the same brush.'

    'how dare you or anyone like you state that i am underserving of my right to vote or support in my old age should i ever require it. Go live life a little more and then rewrite this article.'

    'what a pathetic lot of ignorant drivel from Fletcher. Why have you published this crap ?'

    'mark fletcher alan jones hmmmm'

    'Of course it is Calculated and Inflammatory, I could find nothing constructive in there..'

    'A simpleton's argument.'

    'well fk u mate, what is this crap, put proper news on here or shove it.'

    'sour grapes Assole!! We made this country, and had it laid for you with our hard slogging sweat and tears!! We were not brought up in an era full of drugs ..those are the ones many are paying for today the addicts ... and so manyof them. What a load of rubbish..reflects the mentality of who ever his name is who wrote it!!! What did his Dad say??'

    'Fletcher is a yuppie, who epitomizes Gen Y, smoking and abusing substances with alcohol on the weekend, wants a McMansion to start off with where he can park his Lexus or BMW!'

    'well you will get older one day maybe firing squad for Mark Fletcher'

    Meanwhile, comments from people from my generation have been entirely different. They have thanked me for using humour and satire to draw attention to different ways of thinking about intergenerational policy -- particularly the point about gearing the system to fix the problems of previous generations.

    It is interesting that comments about 'anger', 'hate', and 'rage' have only come from your generation, along with savagely personal comments about my life and how I should face a firing squad.


    1. what I find interesting, is that baby boomers had gen x kids, and as usual their isn't 1 single mention of gen x. That is why your children hate you. Gen x was inconvenient to baby boomers use of drugs, swinging, and basically dismantling our entire society during the late 60's and 70's, with the sex revolution, and divorce. I don't know a single person my age who's parents stayed together. Then boomers decided that they "wanted" kids, so you have boomers having kids late which is Gen Y, but Gen Y were spoiled rotten, treated as dress up dolls, and given everything. Gen X hates, Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and Millenials, because even as Gen X is ignored, we are the ones who have to fix it all because Gen Y is incapable, and Millenials cant look away from their phone, and the baby boomers are to busy trying to suck every last dollar they can out of the govt, again because they are greedy and lazy, and have zero intention of leaving anything for their children.

  3. Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your response which I am pleased to publish here. I chose to show your original post in its entirety for the simple reason that using selective extracts can create distortion and lead to accusations of ‘quoting out of context’. And I didn’t want to do that.

    And I am happy to share the entirety of your response for the same reason.

    As E B Hall said, 'I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it'.

    If this proves anything, I think it is that anger begets anger. And we all know that sectarianism, tribalism and hate never solved anything. On the contrary, they create artificial boundaries between groups of people that increase tension.

    Neither I nor many others it seems could detect the ‘humour and satire’ in your piece. And the responses you received and provide here I would humbly suggest are no more inflammatory than some of your original statements.

    Perhaps you’d like to highlight which parts on your post were meant as jokes and then we’d all be clearer about what you really think?

    I think it is wrong to make personal attacks on anyone on the basis of their beliefs. Even if we are outraged by their opinions, and clearly some people have been outraged by these.

    But unlike many people in the world, you have the freedom (which I support unreservedly) to express your opinions and the right to publish them (and in so doing discover what others think about your opinions). This is a privilege that I think we should never take for granted.

    Thank you Mark for providing this response. I sincerely hope that we can move the discussion forward from here in a much more positive direction.


  4. There are good points and bad about each generation and as a Gen-X-er, I have always had more enthusiasm for business ideas from the boomers than from my own generation, who quite frankly are short on ideas and have always needed a firework behind them. My main criticism of the boomers is a) the fact they have always spent too much on stuff they don't need to the degree that the consumption is quite gross, and b) they don't like either having kids/ the idea of having kids (even though many of them have them) so the following generations always feel as though there was something missing - they've expended relatively little energy on childcare or family relations since it was all too much hard work, but at the same time have wildly unrealistic expectations from their children as a reflection of them. Put it this way, we could be a film star, internationally successful trillionaire, 10x Nobel Prize winner and it still wouldn't be "good enough" for them - they look down on modest living but this is what subsequent generations have had to do. So if we are wise we will focus on pleasing ourselves (after all, this is something we have learned from the boomers), but implement everything at a vastly lower budget. The spend spend spend thing was perpetuated by the boomers and many subsequent generations are still buying into the illusion that they need to have it all and indeed must have it all because their parents did. From what many of us have observed of the boomers a lavish lifestyle does not necessarily make one happier, it could all collapse tomorrow and it is unaffordable anyway, so we have to do things differently.
    I wouldn't blame them for everything, though. Who was in power when they were young, and who invented/ provided all the stuff they bought into??

  5. Thanks for posting your thoughts here. I share your views about excessive greed, material aspiration and endless consumption. Boomers perpetuated but were also victims of this. My take on it is that this was predicated upon a questionable economic model which prioritized consumption growth. The problem is that infinite growth is impossible if based upon the consumption of finite resources. But business and economic policies blindly followed this goal for centuries with no care for the long term consequences. That's why I am a supporter of green policies and ethical corporate behaviour. I just hope it's not too late...

  6. The baby boomers false altruism was a show and especially only counted when it went beyond their nation/group of people, etc. A boomer was more likely to care a about a starving African child (due to race) than a European troubled within their country. They are less tribalistic in a world where no one else is and are willing to forgo their own nation/etc to help those because loyalty means nothing.

    The baby boomers are hedonistic bunch that squander what their ancestors created more so than any other generation. The sexual revolution and what society can do for them is what defines the baby boomers. All generations of America are degenerate to some degree but the boomers exemplified such qualities of degeneracy to the ninth degree.

    The previous generation was admired more for their sacrifice to greater ideal than themselves, to better their country (some vague understanding of supremacy), etc. This generation created what is called the "golden era" of America (which was short lived) in the 1950s after WW2.

    The baby boomers radicalized liberalism further and live on the notion of radical individualism and humanitarianism (civil rights, Feminism, etc) is best. Although there is a communitarian aspect of the boomers, it only goes to economics and class struggle (anti oppression rhetoric/slave morality [see Nietzsche] narratives). The boomers are highly idealistic in the Utopian sense. Any responsibility is that of society to the whole and people should do whatever they want "as long as it is not hurting anyone (they have a simplistic reductionist view of harm)." If something is wrong, society is the to blame. This isn't unique because liberalism and democracy dissolves any sense of duty from individuals, however the baby boomers heightened this. Radical deconstructionism is pen and parcel to the baby boomers who sought to destroy the society that their fathers built out of some sense of morality (even if that means the society in which they live).

    It should be quite obvious why the baby boomers are most despised.

    I'm from 90's generation Y (and yes my generation is shit but they are the byproduct of the baby boomers).