A cri de coeur against baby boomers, who “unraveled the social fabric woven by previous generations in the interests of sheer selfishness.”
Having made a fortune in social media (PayPal, Facebook) and leveraging other people’s property (Airbnb, Lyft), venture capitalist Gibney is now ticked at having to shoulder the debt of that vast population—75 million, at last count—born between 1946 and 1964, “a swaddled youth [that] fostered sociopathic entitlement.” So what did these now-old flower children do to provoke the author’s barrage of epithets? For one thing, they took all the benefits of the New Deal welfare state and added on to them, piling on generational debt in the trillions of dollars. (Boomers, of course, complain that the Greatest Generation did the same to them, especially with respect to health care.) Moreover, they “dominated political and corporate America—squandered its inheritance, abused its power, and subsidized its binges.” A little Thomas Paine goes a long way, and the endless, broadest-possible-brush harangue gets uglier when one substitutes, say “Jew” or “African-American” for “baby boomer.” That said, Gibney does have some points, all of which would have been better made without assigning damning agency to them: of course health care has to be restructured, and of course taxes have to be raised if the nation is to escape insolvency. His prescriptions on those fronts are sound, though some are surely controversial; he has already decided that boomers would fight his suggestion that the retirement age “be raised for anyone reasonably able to work, including the younger Boomers, by at least three years.” Gibney also suggests that the IRS be funded to go after the evaders and the newly dead, advocating a stiff estate tax that the Republican establishment—who are, of course, all baby boomers—would never go for.
“This is a deeply negative portrayal, but a certain negativity may be what’s required.” Maybe so, but if this polemic makes wounded millennials feel better, it likely won’t reach older ears, who may be more sympathetic than Gibney imagines.