In the wake of the U.S. getting sucked into yet another crisis in the Middle East SUV cheap gasoline supply area, it occurs to me that Iranians and Americans have the same problems.
Each are being ruled over by a generation that thinks of itself as the generation, the Americans who came of age in the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, and the Iranians of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and 1980.
Each of those generations is obsessed by its particular culture war, in part sex-driven, tribalist issues, and those of at the top in politics seek legitimacy based almost exclusively based on those “people like us vs. people them” issues. They don’t want to talk about anything else.
At the same time, however, these aging generations, in their own self-interest, have left the generations to follow worse off than they have been, by cashing in the future. And despite having done so, they still think they have the right to dictate the terms of that future to those following, and stifle their aspirations, rather than allowing disadvantaged later-born generations to find their own way through the mess they have inherited.
The dictating the future aspect is more obvious in Iran, where I would probably be in jail (at best). But you see it in the United States too, every time those over the age of 60 show up to protest against a bike lane being added or a multifamily housing development being approved (and, of course, Obamacare). “We don’t need it,” they say, “it will change things and benefit outsiders!”
U.S. Millennials get paid 25 percent less, on average, than Baby Boomers had at the same point in their lives, despite higher educational attainment on average and, frankly, less socially destructive behavior. And yet those Boomers want to force the Millennials to live the same way. To buy their houses at inflated prices, in places where it takes one car per adult just to live.
The Boomers, while running up public debts and grandfathering themselves into richer benefits and lower taxes, claim that later born generations can deal with higher taxes and diminished old age benefits, because they have “time to adjust.” But that doesn’t mean the Boomers feel compelled to allow those adjustments. They seek to foreclose alternatives and shut down discussion, just like the Ayatollahs in Iran.
In olden days, the passing of the wise elders was a loss those following had to overcome. But as I look around the world, and see the tribalist geriatrics in charge, sometimes I think the Grim Reaper is the best hope for everyone on the planet.