Defining the ‘O-Generation’

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  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 04:54am

    #11
    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

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    A looming generational war…we hope not.

[quote=exomatosis]

Exactly!  Those who fan the flames of generational divisiveness are being played perfectly as dupes by those who benefit from such thinking.  Whether based on age (i.e. generation), gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic systems, religious or spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, wealth (or lack thereof), etc., such polarizing thinking is exactly what has historically created conflict, oppression, and misery in the world.  Isn't it time we stop falling for such foolishness?

[/quote]

To this and several of the comments above, I can say that I know Joshua personally and he is as conscientious and hardworking, and intelligent as anybody you'd care to meet from any generation.  The point I took from his writing was not one of generational blame, but rather one of generational realities.

Naturally some will seek to sever the conversation into one of blame and shame because that serves other purposes, but that is never ours here at PP.com.

With that said, I think one angle of this generational conversation needs some crisp framing and I think it goes like this: The boomers have everything to gain by preserving the status quo, the millennials have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo.

And poor generation X is stuck between those two positions probably feeling something Van Damme in the Volvo commercial.  They can't really move to either truck at this point.

Instead, what I want to have here is the realistic conversation that needs to be had which boils down to this; neither party is going to be able to get what they expect.  I loved the description in an earlier thread on the site that had this equation:  Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

To simplify that equation, if your expectations are zero then Happiness = Reality.

The problem being (so well) articulated by Joshua is that the millennials have already down-shifted their expectations to very low levels.   But have the boomers?  No, not really, and that's the angst in this conversation.  There seems to be an expectations gap.  One party seems to be the one being asked to give more than the other.

The art of really good negotiation is to have both parties walking away equally pleased or equally displeased, depending on the circumstances. 

Well, the circumstances as they applied to the boomers and as I understand them are that what was possible with half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy included such awesome things as single income families and several decades of retirement following several decades of work.

And for millennials the deal is that the globe has twice the population and steadily falling net energy such that at least two incomes are now required  to support a basic household, no such thing as retirement seems broadly possible, and there's an entire world of crumbling infrastructure and weakened ecosystems with which to contend.

I am 100% convinced that the millennials would have done no better in their parent's or grandparent's stead.  Humans of every generation are just the same.  Faced with (seemingly) endless resources  our perspectives are shaped towards the present.  

So hopefully we can dispense with the blame game.

Instead, let's have a reality based conversation.  Boomer's expectations are onerous and unrealistic and decidedly ungenerous.  Millennials are unable and possibly (or probably) unwilling to meet them.  Gen X is left standing between the two extremes.

So the conversation I am hoping to have here around this subject is around what's right, what's fair, and how we can begin to close the expectations gap which, if we want to avoid becoming Southern Europe, has to involve more than having the youngest workers eat all the losses.

Time remains, but not a lot.

 

 
  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:19pm

    #12

    Wildlife Tracker

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    Time remains, but not a lot

We all know this ends in equal financial destruction, equal environmental destruction, equal social destruction, etc. That is when the expectation gap ends and not soon before.

Its terrifying to think how bad that that day will be. My jealousy towards boomers and xers is that of time. They had more time to situate themselves into the best position they could have to support themselves, their family, and their community.

The best I can do is own physical wealth and firearms. Land is a few years away….

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:50pm

    #13
    exomatosis

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    I would take issue with some of your comments

[quote=cmartenson]

[quote=exomatosis]

Exactly!  Those who fan the flames of generational divisiveness are being played perfectly as dupes by those who benefit from such thinking.  Whether based on age (i.e. generation), gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic systems, religious or spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, wealth (or lack thereof), etc., such polarizing thinking is exactly what has historically created conflict, oppression, and misery in the world.  Isn't it time we stop falling for such foolishness?

[/quote]

To this and several of the comments above, I can say that I know Joshua personally and he is as conscientious and hardworking, and intelligent as anybody you'd care to meet from any generation.  The point I took from his writing was not one of generational blame, but rather one of generational realities.

Sorry if you misunderstood my statement and intent.  I was not accusing Joshua of generational blame.  I wrote the above to prevent this conversation from going down this path, as so commonly happens when this subject is raised.

Naturally some will seek to sever the conversation into one of blame and shame because that serves other purposes, but that is never ours here at PP.com.

With that said, I think one angle of this generational conversation needs some crisp framing and I think it goes like this: The boomers have everything to gain by preserving the status quo, the millennials have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo.

As a boomer, I would take issue with this statement.  I would like nothing more than to see the status quo end.  I think you need to be careful about stereotyping any group and/or its perceived beliefs.  Lumping diverse individuals into a group of supposedly likeminded beliefs is a path fraught with pitfalls.

And poor generation X is stuck between those two positions probably feeling something Van Damme in the Volvo commercial.  They can't really move to either truck at this point.

Instead, what I want to have here is the realistic conversation that needs to be had which boils down to this; neither party is going to be able to get what they expect.  I loved the description in an earlier thread on the site that had this equation:  Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

To simplify that equation, if your expectations are zero then Happiness = Reality.

I would also take issue with the accuracy of these "equations".  Do you really belief Happiness = Reality?  Sorry, but I find no validity in that equation.

The problem being (so well) articulated by Joshua is that the millennials have already down-shifted their expectations to very low levels.  

Some have but some haven't.  I know a number who have sky high expectations.

But have the boomers?  No, not really,

Again, I find this statement to be patently false in my circle of contacts.  The majority of boomers that I know have most definitely down-shifted their expectations. 

and that's the angst in this conversation.  There seems to be an expectations gap.  One party seems to be the one being asked to give more than the other.

The art of really good negotiation is to have both parties walking away equally pleased or equally displeased, depending on the circumstances. 

Well, the circumstances as they applied to the boomers and as I understand them are that what was possible with half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy included such awesome things as single income families and several decades of retirement following several decades of work.

Energy is obviously a limiting factor but it would appear to me that politics played a substantial role in the changes that we see.  When 85 individuals have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest on the planet, I think more than just the 3Es are involved.

And for millennials the deal is that the globe has twice the population and steadily falling net energy such that at least two incomes are now required  to support a basic household, no such thing as retirement seems broadly possible, and there's an entire world of crumbling infrastructure and weakened ecosystems with which to contend.

Again, more than just the 3Es are involved.

I am 100% convinced that the millennials would have done no better in their parent's or grandparent's stead.  Humans of every generation are just the same.  

These statements I agree with.

Faced with (seemingly) endless resources  our perspectives are shaped towards the present.

So hopefully we can dispense with the blame game.

Again, I agree.  Let's stop the type of thinking which encourages divisiveness.

Instead, let's have a reality based conversation.  Boomer's expectations are onerous and unrealistic and decidedly ungenerous.  

You would serve the conversation better by avoiding these stereotypes.

Millennials are unable and possibly (or probably) unwilling to meet them.  Gen X is left standing between the two extremes.

So the conversation I am hoping to have here around this subject is around what's right, what's fair, and how we can begin to close the expectations gap which, if we want to avoid becoming Southern Europe, has to involve more than having the youngest workers eat all the losses.

If I'm not mistaken, is not inflation (the biggest tax) eating away at the savings and investments of the older generations?  I would put that down as a loss.  It's not just the youngest workers eating all the losses. 

Time remains, but not a lot.

 

 

[/quote]

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 01:25pm

    #14
    FreeNL

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    wildlife tracker..

You dont know how much time remains so i would not dwell on that. Beyond that, how many older folk would give up their riches for your youth? Don't give up just yet.

You can either look at the changes unfolding as depressing or exciting. I like to think they will be exciting as despite the material comforts we currently enjoy i see the world as dishonest, stagnant, decaying and dead, and i see new life getting ready to take hold in ways that were not expected.

In many ways this is a great time to be alive.

The things that torture you are also the things that make you strong and define your character. Some people are so pampered these days that they find that difficult to comprehend. A strong mind and attitude will always be your best preparation regardless of what comes next.

 

 

  

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 03:24pm

    #15
    treemagnet

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    What he said.

 

I mean, Charles Hugh Smith – read that last short paragraph.  Twice.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay13/generations5-13.html

The reason any comment from a guy like me (Xer) and a millenial, not just those posting on this thread, ruffle some feathers is that our views and opinions challenge the status quo. The generational conflict theme is held up as a no-go view in these parts, but, the problem is still there.  Denying that reality isn't the truth, it won't go away and it'll only grow.  Its a topic I'm interested in, but I'm not even registering on the temp. gauge of pissed-off'd-ness thats brewing out there.  If you've read The Fourth Turning, no doubt you've had to remove yourself from certain generalizations (hi Jan….thats why it cuts both ways at times) such as not growing up in a major metro, etc.  If you're one wants to run a silver bullet through all that is ailing us, as a nation – good luck.  We're in the 'Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of misery store' these days….as far pushing the existing model goes.  Local solutions, decentralization, resiliency are what I'm learning from this site, and others.  But to deny the deep seated anger, and the justification for it, as a passing personal 'storm-in-a-teacup', a fault that needs to be overcome with a couple of good discussions to redirect those negative non-constructive emotions……..yeah, good luck with that, history ain't on your side.  Whether your a child playing a game, a young man in a bar, a soldier in battle….or an aging citizen – at some point you've got to realize who, exactly, is in charge and who isn't. 

As I stated earlier, the more money you have and/or the older you are – the more 'set' you feel, the less likely you'll be able to help with these issues – or want to.  I stand by that.  Anyway, love the topic –

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 04:09pm

    #16

    jtwalsh

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    Generations

There is a generational divide aspect to the present economic situation.  Many generation Os are having a difficult time finding a way to establish economic security.  If this situation continues there will be conflict.  You cannot shut out a large group of people and expect they will sit back and watch their lives be marginalized.

At the same time many boomers have already been hard hit by changes they never expected.  Loss of jobs in late middle age, loss of pensions, homes, careers has been driving many boomers to life situations they never thought they would have to face.

In this respect there are many in both generations who have been pushed aside by the present system.  While certain groups within the baby boomers (bankers and politicians come to mind) have made the situation worse, I am not sure that the baby boom generation alone is to blame.  As said in one of the posts, the roots of the present situation began to evolve a long time ago.  It is also possible, as West Coast Jan posed, that this is one of the turnings, part of a generation cycle, over which none of us has a great deal of control.  

It will be an even greater tragedy if we let this become a generational  war.  It is going to take the will power of people from all stages of life to get us through the coming changes.  As a middle of the pack baby boomer (just turned sixty) I agree with the comments that I have more resources financially.  What I no longer have is the strength and resilience of a younger person.  I cannot physically do what will be necessary to stay alive.  I cannot learn to be a good marksman with my lack of training and poor eyesight.  I will not be as quick to respond or adapt as a twenty, thirty or forty year old.  Without the cooperation of younger people I will quickly be a statistic.

There is another divide we need to understand and keep in our sights. It is more a divide of perception then one of age.  There are those who see and react to what is coming. There are those who through ignorance, denial or fear, refuse to look at what is happening.  Anyone, young or old, who sees and understands is far better off than the vast majority who are going to be taken totally by surprise. 

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 06:08pm

    #17
    Doug

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    stereotypes

Many of the stereotypes about various age groups are misleading, as are most stereotypes.  As an early boomer (born '46) I had children relatively late in life.  I was 44 when my first was born, so both my kids are millenials and I am painfully aware of what they are going to inherit.  One promise I made to myself was that I would get them through college (bachelor degree) debt free.  I have done so with one and am able to do so with the other, although it is becoming more challenging as time passes.

As has been repeatedly pointed out in many different forums, a lot of those kids are still living with parents long after their formal educations are complete.  I do not expect that trend to reverse any time soon.  It seems fair to me to think that parents should expect to help support their kids probably up to about age 30.  Getting them established in a career and/or financially independent could easily take that long.  So, many of we greedy boomers are, in fact, sacrificing far more for our children than our parents did for us.  My support ended with graduation from high school.

So, what are our responsibilities, and by our I mean everyone's.

1. Figure out how we can make it to the end of our lives without becoming burdens on society or our children.

2. Stay fit and healthy, able to maintain ourselves and our homes as long as possible.

3. Model the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that we want our children to absorb.  By that I mean developing sustainable life practices fiscally, socially and environmentally.

4. Take joy from each other and what we accomplish and build.

If we can do those things our lives will be well lived.

Doug

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 06:33pm

    #18
    Chris Martenson

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    An Emotional Topic, Which Makes It Essential To Discuss

Yes, this generational issue is fraught with emotional baggage and is obviously a hot-button topic.  And so our media and culture generally avoids it.

I do have to reject the idea that unless we talk about each individual boomer, or millennial or X-er's experience we are somehow making sweeping generalizations that have no utility.

As a cohort the 76 million boomers led their lives, put away for retirement, and have a sense of having earned their retirement.  I cannot fault that from anybody's individual perspective, as it would be mine.  

But from a collective perspective, it is simply not possible to meet all of the boomer's individual expectations.  Medicare & SS cannot be paid off under current terms and the only options are to (1) debase the dollar and pay them off under badly reduced terms, (2) cut the benefits, (3) increase taxes on current and future workers by onerous amounts.

What we are discussing here is that option #3 is actually deeply unfair.   So are #2 and #1.  To me these are not sweeping generalizations, they are statements about reality as it actually happens to be right now.

If we cannot discuss the options and how we are going to address them because they are too emotionally challenging, they will resolve themselves all on their own, under terms that I think everybody will find onerous and regrettable.  

The big picture view I hold is that this modern idea of 'retirement' where one can put in two or three decades of work and then enjoy an equal amount of time simply consuming is simply an artifact of cheap and abundant energy.

Nobody retired before the fossil fuel age took off and we are struggling back towards that condition as net energy declines.  Retirement as my parents understood it may be a two to three generation long idea.  A lovely but very temporary condition.

To the extent that boomers as a 76 million strong cohort are seeking to retire, and receive SS and medicare, and live in their 2,500+++ sq ft houses, and generally receive everything they think they deserve, is the extent to which they are asking the generations behind them to pay for it all.

Whether this is fair, or unjust, or not actually applicable to each individual boomer/millennial/Xer does not change the macro calculus of the situation.  

We fashioned a set of expectations under one set of circumstances and now those circumstances have changed.  So what are we going to do about it?

My observations are that pretty much nobody in Washington DC, or Tokyo or in Europe, has even the slightest political interest is dong anything other than preserving the status quo.  Those currently in 'leadership' positions are overwhelmingly boomers.   That they are seeing to preserve the status quo at the expense of future generations is, to me, a statement of fact.  

And I understand completely why that would be the case, especially since nearly 100% of them are lacking the context of the role of net energy as the primary enabler of everything they assume to be true about 'how the world works.'  Further, it's just human nature to resist change and seek to preserve the status quo, especially as one ages.

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 07:05pm

    #19
    Thetallestmanonearth

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    Multi-generational households are going to be the new black

It's only in the last 2-3 generations in the richest countries in the world that people move out in their late teens and early 20's and live alone into their late life. My wife and I both have grandparents in retirement homes and the monthly cost is jaw dropping.  That will not be possible for the boomers. Period. 

I think a more likely outcome is that the lucky ones with family who can take them in will move in and take over some of the child care, cooking, etc allowing the my generation to focus on providing for the family.  The kids will pitch in too taking care of chickens and weeding the gardens.  Not everyone is going to have their own bedroom and private bath.

Everything else being equal I see this at a really positive move. The first and most important step in rebuilding communities. It's going to coincide with a lot of difficult events and probably result in resentment from people who are unprepared for the idea, but all in all I think this will be a positive change during a time of trouble.

The key to community and cohesion is dependence. I agree with Chris that at the macro level there will have to be generational winners and losers. I think the younger generation is loosing first. Eventually the tables will turn and we will all loose together. In my experience the strongest bonds are built in times of adversity so hopefully we can all work together to build new social security systems to offset the loss of the nanny-state.

  • Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 07:29pm

    #20

    Boomer41

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    Generations working together

When I read Joshua's post, I was aghast at the difficulty of his life compared to mine at that age. I was born during WW2. I grew up in post war Europe where shortages and rationing kept our life less than bountiful. However, it was never difficult to find a job, even as a schoolboy working weekends, and after graduation from college, well paying jobs were plentiful.

My generation were really fortunate to be born into what Chris describes as "half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy" and we enjoyed a few decades of prosperity the like of which the world had never seen before. However, we expected that the good times would roll for ever (if we thought about it at all) as we worked hard and raised families.

Meanwhile the world changed around us. Modern technology has made readily available to everyone things which were only science fiction when I started my career in electrical engineering.

But by far the greatest change I have observed during my life has been the growth of government and bureaucracy and their interference in our lives. The second greatest change has been in the scope and power of the banking system.

I do not apologize for my role in the development of the present situation. In fact I can reasonably claim to have created more than my fair share of jobs and useful technology. If I am to be blamed for anything it is for being oblivious to the growth of a debt based economy and creeping statist government.

The present situation is what it is. The O generation have very serious problems but, if Joshua is typical, they seem to be coping with that in their own way. My generation are watching the ongoing prosperity we believed to be inevitable melting away before our eyes. Many of us are going to outlive our savings.

Community is important because it is only in a community that all generations can work together to make best use of our various characteristics. The energy, strength and enthusiasm of young people supported by the skills, experience and knowledge of old geezers like me can be a powerful force. I only hope I will be able to contribute for many more years.

 

 

 

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