Shafted! #5: Generation X
When you’re a kid you want everything to be fair. I can remember, on a long car ride from Massachusetts to Miami, my dad went into a gas station and came out with a Sprite for my brother and nothing for me. He may as well have taken a knife and stabbed it in my heart – how dare my brother gets a Sprite and I get nothing! This was a travesty! What sort of father would do this to a child?
Well, the older I got the more I learned life was anything but fair. Indeed, from the minute you’re born the playing field is already unlevel. Whether you’re born on a rice paddy in Vietnam or in a mansion in Silicon Valley is beyond your control – it’s just life. Whether you’re butt ugly or shockingly beautiful is basically predetermined the minute your parents copulate (sorry for the visual image there).
When you were born also has a lot to do with your advantages and disadvantages in life. The Boomers certainly didn’t have it great and wonderful – the minute they were of age, they were shipped to Southeast Asia to fight an unpopular war. They also had to contend with the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation, and a 1970s economy that was nothing like the Land-O-Plenty their parents were able to enjoy after WWII.
That being said, Gen X (and you could easily argue the following generation(s) as well) has been completely, incontrovertibly, wholly 100 percent shafted. Let me count the ways:
In terms of economics...
By the time the Gen Xers reached adulthood a single income home was no longer the norm. Most families need two incomes to get by.
The gold standard had been abolished and the country is trillions in debt; the flourishing economy of the 80s and 90s is a long time gone
Social Security will most likely be tapped out by the time Gen Xers are senior citizens
Given the anti-materialist mantra of the hippie generation, it is a tad disconcerting to see the money-lust that exploded on Wall Street of late. Certainly not all the culprits were Boomers, but the big players in the game were primarily from the same generation that preached so convincingly against greed thirty years before.
In terms of lifestyle...
In the wake of the excesses of the Boomers in the seventies, all the debauchery seems to be played out. Now that Boomers are much older and “wiser”, drugs are suddenly verboten and the Sexual Revolution is a distant memory.
In other words, we missed all the fun. By the time Gen Xers were old enough to enjoy it, the discos and the hot tub parties were extinct; replaced by a more politically correct and "healthy" environment.
In terms of the workplace...
The workplace has become much more rigid and stress inducing. Hence the Starbucks on every corner and 5 Hour Energy Drink in every desk drawer. The number of hours worked per week has increased significantly and company loyalty has all but disappeared. Where I work, employees used to drink martinis during their breaks; now, you’d be fired for that.
Small businesses, bustling downtowns, and restaurants with character are becoming rarer and rarer as franchises and super centers homogenize every McCity and McTown in McMerica. Yes, the previous generation has given us a country that has been royally Starb***ed.
I could go on, but you get the picture. It certainly wouldn’t be right to place the blame solely on the shoulders of the Boomers. You could argue that these changes were inevitable, and that “The Greatest Generation” was no shrinking violet in this whole mess. It wasn’t the Boomers who elected the president that would chunk the gold standard, for example.
You could argue the rest of your life as to the real cause of the situation we’re in; however, life isn’t that simple – it’s a multitude of factors. In the end it doesn’t even really matter because, as I said before, life is not fair. Your brother gets the Sprite, not you.