Sunday, February 17, 2019

‘I can’t get no satisfaction.’ The travails ahead threatening Generation X and what you can do about them.

April 7, 2013 by  

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. It is unquestionably one of the greatest rock songs ever written, skewering as it does (with infectious beat) a culture unrelentingly focused on endless, deadening commercialism, no place to avoid the deluge, none whatsoever. In such an environment you are what you buy and only what you buy, and it better be the right brand, too, or your fragile social station plummets:

“Well he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.”

This is, of course, the 1965 zinger by The Rolling Stones, the first tune to take them to the top in the Great Republic, the lyrics that made it clear they had Something To Say and were going to say it no matter how offensive, insulting or irritating as they could be, which was plenty. They weren’t going to take any guff, and they urged the rest of us to get guff-less at the earliest possible moment.

Now, boys with what high school coaches call “bad attitudes” may be able to get away with such irksome behaviors, especially if they’re as rich as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but the rest of us who live in the “real world” can only imagine a universe where we can actually say whatever we want, whenever we want to say it. The members of Generation X cannot even imagine it…

Meet Generation X, the first cohort in our history destined to be less wealthy than their fathers. Oh, my!

Sadly of all the generations going back to the live wires (masters of lese majeste’) who fomented and executed the revolution of 1776, the members of what advertising executives like to call “Generation X” (a phrase invented in the 1950s by Magnum photographer Robert Capra) will have to be the most patient, accepting and resigned of all… because they face a sea of troubles ahead, including a far less ample lifestyle than Mom and Pop. They are the first generation in the history of the Great Republic to be so afflicted

Nobody wants to break the bad news to them… nobody that is but the perennially adolescent Jagger whose unparalleled ability to deliver the most jarring and socially affronting comments was proven long ago and continues bright into a green (albeit aging) maturity. After all, he’s expert at getting satisfaction…

Generation X, the good news.

With its members born between 1961-1981 Gen. X (as it is usually referred to) may, as a cultural phenomenon, be far more interesting and influential that their notoriously influential parents, the Baby Boomers. This will strike some members of my Boomer cohort as a horrifying deduction, especially when I add this: that Boomers too often have been defined by what they were against, including parents, authorities, Vietnam, abortion and sexual restrictions of any kind, and the merest hint of cutting back Social Security (or raising the age to get it) and other government entitlement programs.

Our expertise is on seeing, wanting and grasping… then gloating over how clever we are at manipulating the system to get more than our share. Yes, we have learned how to get satisfaction, that’s what I say.

Boomers have been called many things but one designation consistently appears and that is “selfish” and all its related descriptors; spoiled, self-aggrandizing, and always manifesting an undue regard for self. “Living well is the best revenge,” and no one lives better than Baby Boomers (as their charged up credit cards attest.) Ours is the Louis XV of generations: “Apres moi le deluge”. This ultra-cynical policy certainly worked for His Most Christian Majesty, who enjoyed himself immensely (think Madame de Pompadour), whilst just managing to miss the guillotine. Cool.

Understanding Gen. X.

As you may imagine with the fate of the Great Republic, not to mention the world at stake, interest in Gen. X and what its members are all about is acute, though conclusions are by no means unanimous. Scholars, after all, must differ since their promotions are dependent upon exquisite, incessant nit-picking which is what defines the Academy. Here, for instance, is what Professor Christine Henseler, one of the most perceptive and sensitive of Gen. X observers, wrote in “Generation X Goes Global: Mapping a Youth Culture in Motion,” a collection of essays. In it she defined

“a generation whose worldview is based on change, on the need to combat corruption, dictatorship, abuse, AIDS, a generation in search of human dignity and individual freedom, the need for stability, love, tolerance and human rights for all.”

Nobody but nobody could ever have written such a celestial Valentine to the Baby Boomers who would have been too busy indulging themselves to read it anyway…. “Apres moi….”

More insight into Generation X.

In 2012, the Corporation for National and Community Service ranked Generation X volunteer rates in the United States at 29.4% per year, by far the highest compared with other generations. The rankings were based on a three-year moving average between 2009 and 2011.

What’s more, compared with previous generations Gen. X. represents a more apparently heterogeneous generation, openly acknowledging and embracing social diversity in terms of such characteristics as race, class, religion, ethnicity, culture, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Additional insights about this generation under a microscope include the following:

Item: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Generation X statistically holds the highest education levels when looking at current age groups.

Item: The 2011 publication “The Generation X Report” dispels the materialistic, slacker, disenfranchised stereotype associated with youth in the 1970s and 80s. (Who could they mean?) This same study finds X-ers active, balanced, happy and famly-oriented.

But here’s the source and the quote that best sums up these astonishing paragons, each apparently issued a societal tool-kit and infinite calm at birth; “X Saves the World — How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking,” deep insights and saintly reflections in 2008 by “Details” magazine editor-at-large Jeff Gordinier.

Baby boomers mess up and stay safe and warm. X-ers cope with the perfect storm but love us anyway. What’s not to like?

Ok, so the Boomers have been battening on the X-ers since there were X-ers to batten upon. We like it that way; we’ll kill to keep them that way, even in face of the perfect storm already assailing our little buddies, a storm a new study from the Urban Institute, a nonprofit Washington research institution, lays out in merciless detail.

1) X-ers up to age 40 have accrued significantly less wealth than their parents did at the same age, even as the average wealth of Americans has doubled over the past quarter century.

2) The collapse of the housing market has hit X-ers hard. X-ers too often overpaid for properties which are now underwater and may never return to their purchase prices. What’s more tougher credit market standards will lock many out leaving them marooned, impecunious, and miserable, thereby producing lots of unhappy X-ers and broken marriages.

3) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these younger workers have faced a brutal, punishing job market for the last five years. The unemployment rate is 7.8 percent for workers between ages 25 and 34. For workers ages 45 to 54, the jobless rate is 5.5 percent and peaked at 8 percent in 2010.

What’s more, those who held on to their jobs through the 2008 “turbulent days” are often actually worse off. Wages, adjusted for inflation have stagnated for a broad swarth of workers for over a decade; moreover, wages have actually declined for millions of workers through the recession and the sluggish economy.

Problems, what problems?

Let me tell you how these problems will be solved. Ignore them. That’s right, pull that ol’ ostrich head in the sand number. Or re-enact the crowning achievement of those three cute monkeys, the primate “think, hear, say” no evil trio. You see my ever resourceful Boomer generation has already solved this muddle. Years ago when we first became aware of the insoluble mess we were creating, we experimented until we developed the perfect generation to follow our great and abiding glory.

And so we invented Generation X and populated it with progeny who would get next to nothing, leave us with everything, and be glad they have us to cater to. No, they’ll get absolutely no satisfaction… but they’ll never miss it. “Hey, hey, hey, that’s what I say.”


About the Author: Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a published author with 15 print books to his credit, several ebooks and has penned over one thousand articles. His articles cover topics including marketing, home business, US history and US politics. As a noted historian he is also considered an expert on the British Royal Family and European history. Republished with author’s permission by Patrice Porter Check out Shoe-In Money ->

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