Everyone’s familiar with Tom Brokaw’s publications that idealize the proverbial “greatest generation,” referencing the generation of Americans who won the second world war, reshaped the world’s political order, built the American middle class, laid the interstate highway system, integrated our schools, passed the civil rights act, challenged us to put a man on the moon and to build a great society, all while generating untold sums of wealth and making America the economic envy of the world.
Over the last eight years, the baby-boom generation of our national leadership lead by such political figures as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Ashcroft — along with business leaders in the mold of Madoff, Paulson, Thain, O’Neal, Fuld and Grasso — can be conversely characterized as our “worst generation.”
The worst generation enjoyed all of the fruits and plenty of the labor, hardship and sacrifice of those that came before. They were raised not knowing the yearning of want, never feeling the misery of destitution or the hardship of poverty. They’ve never seen the absence of opportunity; they’ve never angst from threat of hunger.
Despite that privilege, they’d indulged this nation in social values that should make us all cringe: a greedy pursuit of unlimited individual financial accumulation, mocking of collective rights and responsibilities, militarism over intellectualism, and war in the name of democracy. To that worst generation, I ask: please stop squandering our future.
At a time when the national debt soars to unprecedented dangerous levels, we give this current worst generation more tax breaks and corporate bailouts in hope of economic stimulus. These tax breaks and giveaways add to the national debt. You are borrowing money from your children so that you can live over-indulgently now. Tax breaks equate to generational theft. Shame on you.
My generation is already going to have to pay your social security (a system itself not far from the brink of insolvency) and your Medicare (a system already running huge state deficits). The absolute very least that you can do is craft a stimulus plan void of tax breaks and comprised entirely of transportation, education, energy and technology infrastructure, from which my generation will benefit. If we are going to be the ones paying for this stimulus, we damn well better derive value from what we pay for.
What generational ignorance to think that tax breaks (paid for on the backs of your children) would be a good idea — how short sighted and selfish.
At a time when less than one-in-four people have a college degree! How dare you! A time when over 50 million Americans have no health insurance! A time when 12 million people are unemployed, with another 8 million underemployed, and counting! When 30 percent of American families are working poor! At a time when inequity has never been so stark in our lifetime! When one-in-four teen girls has an STD, with increasing rates of teen pregnancy! When 250,000 homes enter into foreclosure every three months, with millions more projected to be on the brink! How dare you? Your blatant stupidity and selfishness insults me.
In addition to rebuilding dated bridges, crumbling schools and an energy grid that simply doesn’t meet the demands of the new century, we need to lay the foundations of an economy poised for growth rather than ensuring its long decline. Imagine an interstate high-speed rail system linking the nation, transporting people and products from city to city at 250 miles per hour. We need tens of thousands of wind turbines and rooftop solar panels. We need dozens of new nuclear power plants. We need tens of thousands of miles of light rapid rail in our nation’s mid-sized cities, and commuter rail and subways in our nation’s largest cities. We should be building a dozen new top-tier research universities in the 12 poorest cities in the country. We should commit billions to curing cancer, AIDs, malaria, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a long list of other afflictions. We should commit billions more to developing new technologies from which entire industries will emerge.
Don’t squander our future; don’t mitigate our promise or potential. And certainly don’t give yourselves tax breaks (or anything else your generation simply does not deserve) on our backs.