ANNE K. WILLIAMS
Generation X, remember us? We’re hard to see, sandwiched as we are between the baby boomers and their tattooed offspring. The boomer’s non-stop narcissism tends to drown us out. Plus, we’re all very busy trying to secure for ourselves and our children a middle class life that aspires to the one the boomers still treat as a post-war birthright.
Even though we are younger than the boomers, we are actually pretty old already. I’m in my mid-forties; not a kid. But since the boomers insist on overstaying their welcome in middle age, and refuse to move on to senior citizenship, we’re perpetually stuck behind them on the highway of life. Maybe Mick Jagger is still rocking at 70, but that doesn’t mean 70 isn’t OLD. Move along, people.
The forever-young attitude of the boomers still defines our politics, as they continue to hash out the tedious culture wars like some never-ending late-night dorm discussion somewhere in the Ivy League circa 1968. Take a look around the Senate. These guys are a whole generation behind. The average age of senators at the start of the 113th congress was 63. A 63-year-old was born in 1951, smack in the center of the boomer storm. Half these guys either served or deferred service in Vietnam.
According to Harper’s, federal yearly spending per child is $3,822, while spending per senior is $25,455. That’s almost 7 dollars for seniors to every one dollar for kids (this in a society where 22% of children live in households below the poverty line). The kids with the measly buck? they’re mostly Gen X’s kids. My youngest is 10; what’s college going to cost when she gets there?
Sure I’m a little jealous. I was an 80’s era hippie, “born too late” to experience the real counterculture, but greedily embracing what remained of it. Believe me I have a huge appreciation for the cultural contributions of the era. But still. Lots and lots of stuff has happened since this navel-gazing generation came of age. They say if you can’t remember the 60’s then you weren’t there. Well, I can’t and I wasn’t. And I am, as I think I may have mentioned, over 40. Which is more than 10 years older than the 30 beyond which no one was to be trusted back then.