Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How The Baby Boomers Sold Us Out

I'm angry. It's not often that a youth culture has the kind of power that the Baby Boomers wielded. For years during the 80s, Baby Boomers used TV and movie platforms to push the positive contributions they made to our society; Ending war, lowering the voting age, pushing one schmo out of office. But as dawn rose on the 21st Century, that power-to-the-people attitude of the Baby Boomers seemed to fade into the distance.

With apologies to my parents, here is a list of the biggest baggage ever left a modern generation:

The Telecommunications Act of 1996
Thanks, Bill, for signing this one into law. It overhauled the infrastructure of America's airwaves, opening the floodgates to corporate ownership of every small market media venture in the country. Thanks to this act, there's not such thing as local radio and TV or, in most places, newspaper. With this kind of consolodation, it's much easier for radio stations and record companies to decide who will be a big hit. Newspapers can better control what we read and TV stations can better reflect the corporate agendas. I miss the days of actual local programming and local commercials. The push to digital-only signals was the final death-nail to any local airwaves.

Cable TV
Who let this get so out of control? Companies owning multiple networks, showing trash shows owned by companies trying to make a buck by creating and perpetuating marketing trends through their specialty channels and we pay to have this in our home? And even paying for it doesn't get us out of having to watch commercials? What a lousy idea.

The Corporate Culture
Thanks to this one, everything from restaurants to electronic stores to gas stations are standardized over much of the country. Too bad those hippies were so into homogenization once it came with a paycheck. Not only that, but it opened the floodgates to materialism being the all mighty god of the country. House sizes have doubled since the 70s just to accommodate more stuff! Stuff sold by corporations!

No Child Left Behind
This is another great tool for coast-to-coast homogenization. There's nothing like having a bunch of kids sharing experiences on TV and the foods they eat and exactly what they learn! It's nice to know that future generations won't be able to retain any cultural uniqueness beyond the weather.

Credit
Credit is out of control these days. The credit card companies prey on the worse debtors, knowing they're the best customers. The credit market is easily seen as responsible for post-capitalist serfdom, where it is possible to have a great job, make good money, and never afford to send your kids to college.

That Whole Environmental Thing
With all that peace and love going around, you'd think they'd stop to do a thing or two about combustion engines and fossil fuels. Using hindsight, this all becomes obvious with the rise to power of OPEC. And while I'm not personally a global-warming alarmist (not that there's anything wrong with that), I do hate smoggy air in cities and crappy gas prices.

Thinking Drugs are Cute
They thought they were playing with drugs, but drugs played them. The kids smoking pot today are smoking something 50 times more potent than what the hippies smoked in 1968. Besides the endorsement (or perceived endorsement) of something that wastes time, money, energy, and is illegal, their inability to handle the epidemic they started helped to promote the use of harder drugs and create a market for illegal substances, providing underprivileged youth with a direct route into the penal system. It's not a pretty picture.

I realize that our strong economy (it is still strong) and our high quality of life to the Boomers, too. But while they were busy changing the world, it would have been nice if they thought a little harder and longer about what they were changing it to and who would have the power when the dust settled. For a generation that was so powerful and had such lofty ideals, why did they have to become corrupt and and ditch those ideals for the pragmatism of being seen in a Lexus?

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