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Generation X Faces a Bleak, Impoverished Old Age
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In 1991, demographers Neil Howe and William Strauss published their awkwardly titled tome “13th Gen,” about Generation X — the Americans born between 1961 and 1981. If Xers had paid attention, they would have committed suicide.

“Child poverty, employment, wages, home ownership, arrest records — in every category, this generation, the 13th since the American Revolution, is doing worse than the generation that came before,” New York Times book critic Andrew Leonard wrote at the time. “Indeed, for the first time since the Civil War, the authors of ’13th Gen’ keep reminding us, young people are unlikely to surpass the affluence of their parents.”

Tellingly, the Times titled Leonard’s review “The Boomers’ Babies,” as though their relationship to The Only Generation That Mattered at the time was their status as offspring. Which, equally tellingly, was incorrect. Most Xers’ parents belong to the silent generation, which came of age in the 1940s and 1950s, not the boom.

As Gen Xers passed through each stage of life, Messrs. Howe and Strauss predicted, they would find themselves living through the worst possible time to be whatever age they happened to be. They attended secondary schools turned threadbare by budget cuts. As they entered young adulthood, the government restored draft registration and abolished financial aid grants for college. When “13th Gen” came out, the oldest Xers were in their late 20s, in the middle of a deep recession that decimated their job prospects and made it impossible for them to pay off their student loans or save for retirement.

The trend continued. The oldest Xers are in their late 50s, but 47% have nothing saved for retirement; only 13% have more than $100,000.

Though frequently mocked by corporate journalists, Howe and Strauss have proven prescient, not least because they coined the word “millennials.” If anything, demographic fate has become even unkinder to Gen X, now ages 36 to 56. Under “normal” circumstances, these Americans would be dominating businesses and cultural institutions.

Instead, political power and cultural influence have neatly leapfrogged from the ubiquitous baby boomers to their actual children, the millennials.

Silicon Valley is one barometer. Tech is the nation’s most dynamic sector. The Valley wields influence disproportionate to its quarter of a million employees. Tech is militantly, brutally, cartoon-villainously ageist. People over 35 — the “olds,” millennials call us — need not apply.

Five years ago, I wrote: “The median American worker is age 42. The median age at Facebook, Google, AOL and Zynga, on the other hand, is 30 or younger. Twitter, which recently got hosed in an age discrimination lawsuit, has a median age of 28.” Silicon Valley hasn’t done anything to reverse this dismal record.

Google just settled another age discrimination lawsuit. But they haven’t learned anything.

Brazen ageism sticks out even more in a P.C. culture where discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA people and others prompts horror, as it should. Young people who don’t tolerate ethnic slurs call older folks slow, out-of-touch and stupid — remarks all the more baseless because they increasingly segregate themselves into dormlike apartment complexes and hipster bars where they don’t encounter anyone older than 40.

“Google in 2014 began publishing diversity statistics and vowed to hire more women, minorities, and LGBTQ workers. But Google didn’t include diversity statistics for age in its diversity report, or even reference age. Incredibly, age remains invisible in Google’s 2019 diversity report,” marvels employment discrimination attorney Patricia Barnes.

Meanwhile, coverage of generational issues in mainstream media has deteriorated beyond the Howe-Strauss model of consistent discrimination to downright Orwellian: being “disappeared.” In articles and broadcasts, conflicts between age groups list the combatants as boomers versus millennials or, more broadly, boomers and millennials and the generation after, Generation Z. Gen Xers aren’t mentioned. They — we — no longer exist. Which, considering Gen Z’s name — first came X, millennials were Y, and then came Z — is really weird.

True to “13th Gen” the book, America’s invisible generation is heading into its final chapter, old age, at yet another awful time to be that age.

The boomers will shuffle off into the sunset, Social Security and Medicare benefits intact. Gen Xers stare into the abyss, bleakly contemplating starvation and dying of diseases for which they can’t afford medical treatment as the political system moves closer to granting corporate conservatives one of the dearest items on their agenda: abolishing or privatizing — which, if you’re poor, is jargon for eliminating — Social Security.

“Out With the Old, In With the Young,” an opinion essay by 40-year-old Gen Astra Taylor in The New York Times, provides a glimpse at how the ruling classes plan to take away government entitlement programs from Generation X: by disempowering them politically.

Taylor makes some good points. “From age limits on voting and eligibility for office, to the way House districts are drawn, to the problem of money in politics, our modern political system is stacked against the young,” she writes. Unlike adults, teenagers are forced to learn about the politics and history in school. They should be allowed to vote. Why should someone be able to drive, vote and join the military at age 18 but have to be 30 or older to serve in the Senate?

But Taylor’s piece is riddled with ageist assumptions, such as the notion that younger people care more about climate change than older people do. She promulgates the disappearing of Generation X: “The boomers who came of age in the 1950s and ’60s benefited from boom times while millennials and Generation Z have been dogged by the aftermath of the mortgage meltdown, an underwhelming recovery and Gilded Age levels of inequality.” “Generation X” does not appear in her piece. Yet we’re the post-boomers who got screwed first.

“Age-based inequities “and “the geographic biases of the American electoral system,” Taylor complains, hasten “the coming gerontocracy.” What she fails to see is that the gerontocracy is already here. The “olds” control power over big business and its pet politicians now — not because they’re elderly but because they’re boomers.


The fortunes of an age group ebb and flow as different generations pass through it. When I was a kid in the 1970s, many older people were so poor they ate pet food. Now they are boomers. Boomers are many, so they have power, thus they are rich. As throughout human history, the rich and powerful make things work for themselves.

The corollary is, Taylor doesn’t understand that as boomers die and Xers replace them in nursing homes — or not, since they won’t be able to afford them — the elderly will become a dispossessed, disadvantaged, consistently screwed-over age group, just as Xers were as kids, as young adults and during middle age. Taylor and her millennial allies will be killing a gerontocracy that will already be dead.

As millennials ascend and age into their 40s, they’ll join the call to get rid of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid so they can save on their taxes. Propaganda like Taylor’s will support the movement to disenfranchise the elderly.

Used to be that the olds voted in vast numbers to protect their political interests. Xers will be wandering the streets, dumpster diving and dying a dog’s death, with no address to enter on a voter registration card.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Poverty 
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  1. [Confine Global Warming comments to Global Warming threads.]

  2. I’m Gen X, too, so I know exactly what it’s like. The only main point where I disagree is the idea that the Millennial have it so much better than we do. If anything, their situation is probably even worse. Otherwise, how would it be so easy to get them to resent all of us older ‘takers’ if they were doing well? And don’t fool yourself: there is a strategy underway to get these Millennials so angry at the older generations that they would be willing to do something stupid like vote away Social Security. (Not sure if that strategy will … just sayin’.)

    Neil Howe and William Strauss published their awkwardly titled tome “13th Gen,” about Generation X — the Americans born between 1961 and 1981.

    I was always told that the Baby Boom lasted from 1946 to 1964, and that our generation started in 1965 and ended in 1979. Interesting how they keep changing these things around. (Not that it affects me much in this case–I was born in ’71.)

    As they entered young adulthood, the government restored draft registration …

    C’mon, Ted! Don’t exaggerate. Selective Service is not quite the same thing as having an actual draft.

  3. While adding narrative to the demographics, the simple fact is there are as many gen x and millennials as there are boomers, while the economy hasn’t expanded to accommodate them, rather it has accommodated depression era wealth and income inequality, as the article points out. At the end of the day, repeal and repudiate is the way forward. End the fed and repudiate the national debt. Declare bankruptcy and show the bankers the door. All interest is usury. Allow state banks to make zero interest rate loans, and grow prosperity the old fashioned way, earn it. If the government didn’t steal half of what we earn, and the banks the other half, there wouldn’t be any need for public assistance, and charity can make up the difference.

    There’s no one else I’d rather have in the white house than someone who has experienced success and failure on an international scale, and PDJT is proving his value in office every single day. God bless Donald J Trump and God bless the USofA.

    • Agree: Digital Samizdat
  4. Jeff Stryker [AKA "GO"] says:
    @Digital Samizdat

    If you were born in 1971 a few years before me than you remember that the seventies lasted until about 1981. Someone born in 1981 is still sort of culturally part of the seventies.

    People born in 1965 who were 30 years old when Kurt Cobain died and Reality Bites was in theaters and Friends hit NBC and Green Day ruled the radio waves are not really Gen X. They may have owned a flannel shirt but you really had to be a teenager or college-age in the nineties to be Gen X.

    We could actually divide Gen X into two generations. Those born from 1965 to 1970 who came of age in the eighties during the Reagan era and those born from 1970 to 1980 who came of age in the nineties.

  5. I was always told that the Baby Boom lasted from 1946 to 1964, and that our generation started in 1965 and ended in 1979. Interesting how they keep changing these things around. (Not that it affects me much in this case–I was born in ’71.)

    IMO, a good rule of thumb for the X/Y cusp is that if you were allowed to jump around the car unrestrained as a toddler, you are Gen-X. If you had to ride in one of those stupid-ass safety seats, you’re a Millennial.

    • Replies: @Adam Smith
    , @sasu
  6. Miro23 says:

    “Age-based inequities “and “the geographic biases of the American electoral system,” Taylor complains, hasten “the coming gerontocracy.” What she fails to see is that the gerontocracy is already here. The “olds” control power over big business and its pet politicians now — not because they’re elderly but because they’re boomers.

    I would rate the boomers as the worst plague to hit the West since the Black Death.

    They were the ones at Woodstock, while the West need to get serious about education and industry (to meet the new post-war challenges from rebuilt Asia and Europe).

    Instead, they got into debt, exported the industrial base of the US (with the jobs) and discovered their “freedoms” – LGBT, multiculturalism, radical feminism, globalism and the whole free market neoliberal package whereby a tiny elite (with a copyright on “radical leftism”) raped the poor at home and globally.

    Also, they have always been the biggest unquestioning supporters of Israel, bringing on a host of other problems.

    • Replies: @bro3886
  7. Every aspect of living in the wake of the boomers has been bleak. It is as if one is continually witnessing the remnants of a raging party that just swept through leaving behind a trail of debris and destruction.

  8. @Ray Huffman

    If you had to ride in one of those stupid-ass safety seats, you’re a Millennial.

    If you had to wear a helmet to ride your bicycle, you’re a millennial.

    if you were allowed to jump around the car unrestrained as a toddler, you are Gen-X.

    Remember when wearing seat belts was optional and not a pretext for raising revenue.

    Remember when Americans were less afraid of freedom.

    • Agree: Ray Huffman, TTSSYF
    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
  9. The US has been getting steadily more poverty stricken since the late 1960s. Cities back then found themselves technologically obsolete, unable to compete in shipping, transshipping, and light manufacturing (such as clothing manufacture). Containerization, the Interstate, and computer/communication improvements destroyed their basic economy.
    The cities simply shifted their money source to taxation, and shifted their population from an employed population to an unemployed population large enough to retain urban political dominance on a national scale. This happened throughout the West.

    The result was a massive unproductive use of capital from productive capital assets to immediate consumption. The shift was hidden by propaganda and every trick that could be found, from inflation to currency seigniorage [1]. Among other tricks, China was induced to supply low cost supplies in exchange for the entire capital of American manufacturing.

    So now our capital goods are mostly gone (that includes the universities, which have been restructured so that they no longer produce graduates that help can produce goods), the things bought by the cities are worn out (e.g. PG&E electrical grid, Baltimore electrical grid, NYC electrical grid), the cities have no money and are trying to install an authoritarian government to continue their cash flow. But the city hinterlands and professional classes are so badly treated that the suicide rate is up significantly; there just isn’t that much more to be squeezed out of the countryside and the professionals.

    And, as a result, the current generation just coming of age finds itself poverty stricken to such an extent that it has a high suicide rate.

    Well, guys, welcome to the club. Back when I graduated, the US was in a life-or-death with the USSR (15 minutes from launch to boom, we were told), young people were being drafted into a meatgrinder, and the media was playing “always look on the bright side of life” plus “always take drugs”. The Boomers you see today are the survivors; not everybody survived.

    And, in any case, _nobody_ (surviving Boomers included) has enough money to recapitalize. You can try to take money by political action, but you’re just as much out of luck there as the cities and the various POC: nothing left to take. Same as _almost_ everybody else.

    You might consider Houseman [2]:

    And carried half way home, or near,
    Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
    Then the world seemed none so bad,
    And I myself a sterling lad;
    And down in lovely muck I’ve lain, 35
    Happy till I woke again.
    Then I saw the morning sky:
    Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
    The world, it was the old world yet,
    I was I, my things were wet, 40
    And nothing now remained to do
    But begin the game anew.

    You are going to be poor and getting more so as long as capital is diverted to unproductive ends (you get poor, I probably get dead, if you want to compare cases). Look at China — stopped pouring resources into socialist smoke and started industrializing. Rapid success, as such things go.

    Or look at Venezuela: _Started_ diverting their capital expenditures into _un_productive activities, and now are much more poor than before the change.

    Right now the young are being drafted into a fight to continue the current unproductive capital flow, just as they were drafted into the “children’s crusade” of the late 1960s. Tell the people trying to recruit you to learn to breath water and try to find something productive to do and somebody to lead who wants to do something productive. Nothing else is going to work out to your benefit.




    • Replies: @Stebbing Heuer
    , @SFG
  10. Muggles says:

    I would note that a real defining construct is digital versus non digital. While “digital” existed pre 2000 most information was conveyed in hard print. Screens didn’t show pictures (until late 90s).

    Obtaining information pre-digested by others via digital format greatly reduces the universe of possible information you receive. For one thing, reading long works digitally is biologically inferior to hard print due to your eye/brain rejection of invisible flickering on screens. It tires you out and limits in most the time they can productively spend reading. Yes, you can read long things, but few do. At some point your brain tires of the invisible assault.

    With the “social media” infection where everyone is told they too have brilliant thoughts in small chunks, and thus can attract “likes” or “followers” like actual thinkers, you have a flood of garbage constantly touted as trendy by social media promoters. Important stuff is immune to short cutting or truncation by digital means. It isn’t that digital is bad per se, but highly limiting. So few millennials read books. Screens dominate eyeballs with visuals and short mostly inane comments. Don’t think, view! This is mental junk food with the same dismal outcomes. Junk thinking. This infection is due entirely to ad sales by people like Zuckerberg and the Google monsters.

    Hello Bernie Sanders, et. al. and “free” everything for everyone! Don’t think, just “follow.”

    One can only hope there will be a strong counter reaction to this at some point.

  11. U. Ranus says:

    Gen-X being disadvantaged due to a lack of direct blood relation to the rich and powerful Boomers is an interesting theory. Somewhat uncomfortably, it would weaken the idea that “muh IQ” is all it takes to succeed, lending at least partial support to the progressive “privilege” narrative.

  12. unit472 says:

    Nonsense! If you were born in the sixties you arrived at the zenith of the United States. You were not drafted and no Okinawa or Tet Offensive awaited you. It was war free. You landed on the ground floor of the biggest economic expansion in world history.

    In the US the IT/PC internet-cellphone revolution was just beginning. Just as Japan stalled Deng Xiaoping set China on its meteoric growth path. Interest rates began a 35 year slide. How could you not make money if you bought property in California?

    Sorry if you folks missed out but you had your chance.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  13. Be careful of reading too much into these classifications.

    Almost all of the strong statements in the comments are not reflecting the data that is there.

    If you chose drugs and easy credit and then your life turns out bad, you can try to blame it on others but really you could also look back and see that if you had stayed out of trouble you’d be better off.

    If television shows caused you to want to display your wealth rather than keep it safe you can blame it on TV or Hollywood but you also know what you could have done to have more dough in your pockets now.

    If you become bitter because you see boomers had some statistical edge on your age cohort you can unbitter yourself by reviewing the state of the age cohorts prior to The Boom.

    We have a bigger problem. The US federal government is going to default. Where will you be when it happens? Are you choosing more debt, large amounts of alcohol and a drug habit? Or, are you giving the universe your best game to do well for yourself and for others?

  14. The best thing that could happen to everyone and the worst thing that could happen to government would be if SS was privatized. I’ve been filing a schedule C and paying self employment taxes of 15% to the elected pinheads my whole life. Had that gone into a 50%bonds/50%S&P index fund I’d have way over $1M sitting there. Instead, what do I have coming from SS? A pittance that I cannot leave to my family if I happen to get run over by a bus tomorrow, and 50% of which is taken away before I even see it every month for the miracle of socialized bullshit called Mediscare.

    Those jerks in DC have already spent all the $ they took from everyone. Good ol Al Bore and his “lockbox” – what a crock. If you look at the structure of SS it was set up to take your money for as long as possible and pay you for 10 minutes and then you died as the life expectancy at the time was about a year after you got SS, and then they get to keep the rest.. What screwed up their plans (remember the huge ‘surplus’?) was that we all started living too long – oops.

    12.5% of $70K a year or 2 people @ $35K a year invested from age 20-60 @ 8% = over $1M. Then who needs a handout from “Government” ? you can give them the finger instead. Can’t have that, They have to foster dependency – Get a clue.

    Luckily for me I saved part of my income on the side in an IRA and a Roth, so I’m not under a bridge.

    Maybe the reason Generation unknown is doing so poorly is because they forgot to “Question Authority” and totally suck at math?

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  15. @Jeff Stryker

    No, all Gen Xers paid the price for crap the Boomers did and got away with. Your timeline mentions the early 80s, about the time that bankruptcy law was first changed so that you couldn’t declare bankruptcy and get out of student loan payments for grad school, like law school. If you figure you graduate law school at 25, then people born before 1958 were the ones walking away from student loans.

    The point of Gen X is getting the short end of the stick. If you’ve not read The Fourth Turning, do so. It explains how and why Gen X is a screwed generation, and also brings a little peace about it: you’re not crazy to think that this actually was done to this entire generation.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  16. @Digital Samizdat

    Yeah, the Millennials and Z’ers are worse off, but they have the demographic heft to do something about it. I hope they do put an end to this society that absolutely crushes the young to serve the Boomers. I don’t care if they screw X in the process.

  17. @unit472

    Very wrong. To take advantage of that zenith economy in the 60s, you needed to be born 20 years before.

    It was rather difficult to afford housing in 1981, when the first Xers turned 20, because interest rates were high, as was unemployment. Of course, if you bought in 1972 with a 30-year mortgage, inflation paid more of the balance than you did.

    In the adult life of anyone born after the assassination of JFK, the only truly booming economy was 1995-2000. (The 80s Boom was 83-87, too early for all but the very earliest Xers). I made hay while that sun shone, and I cannot complain. But if your minor wealth comes from work, not investing, those five years were all Gen X got.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  18. @Adam Smith

    I can remember riding in a car with my state trooper uncle driving with no one wearing seat belts and all the adults drinking beers.

    I can’t count the trips we made to town with all the kids riding in the open bed of a pickup.

    • Replies: @Adam Smith
  19. Jeff Stryker [AKA "GO"] says:

    The first Gen X turned 20 in 1985. And the last Gen X turned 20 in 2001. The cohort ran from 1965 to 1981.

  20. Jeff Stryker [AKA "GO"] says:

    The earliest Gen X were able to make money during the roaring nineties economy. Someone born in 1965 was in their thirties in the nineties.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  21. Ruprecht says:

    I’m a Gen-Xer and I say “good”!

    Xers were mostly pussified hippy wannabes who had a chance to rebel against the paisley New Left losers of the Baby Boom generation who took over our society after the 60s.

    Instead of rebelling, they wallowed in their suburban cocoons. When they weren’t busy watching Star Wars (well into adulthood), playing video games, and listening to self-pitying grunge stars, they were too busy play-acting hippy while vandalizing McDonald’s outlets at anti-globalization riots in Seattle, Quebec, and Prague, all while collecting worthless degrees in Women’s Studies, Sociology, Climate “Science”, and Fine Arts.

    Complete, spoiled, decadent twits.

    This Xer is going to enjoy his retirement sitting on a beach watching his contemporaries languish in soiled diapers while living out of shopping carts in back alleys.

    The above pretty much says it all! Good night Western Civilization. Don’t wait up for Gen-X to come riding to the rescue.

    • Replies: @OscarWildeLoveChild
  22. Excellent analysis. I am 100 % generation X, 100 % generation screwed. Babyboomers betrayed their parents and betrayed us their children, destroyed every sense of decency and introduced the age of absolute narcissic anarchy. The economy did the rest.

  23. bro3886 says:

    Actually the so-called “Greatest Generation” was in power when most of those things appeared.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  24. bro3886 says:

    Third-world population = third-world dump, with a third-world government. This sort of article is laughable in the face of that tidal wave. You’re going to be a hated minority in a third-world hell-hole, that’s what yoots should worry about. Imagine the economy under President AOC in 20 years.

    • Replies: @Laurence Whelk
  25. @Jeff Stryker

    Agreed, as I stated elsewhere. There was only a booming economy for the period from early 1995 to early 2000, in the sense of the booming economy from 1983-1987, and from 1946-1973. Older Xers had the chance to do well in that time, and as Plunkett would say, I seen my opportunities and I took em.

    Of course, if you had assets in the stock market, 1995-2000 was a tremendous boom, exceeded only by the asset bubble from 2009-2018 (and maybe continuing.) only a few Xers were able to take advantage of the 95-2000 asset boom; if they managed to scrape together some 401k funds, then they’ve done really well the past 10 years.

    If, by contrast, their wealth is primarily their skill as laborers, they’ve been screwed all but 95-2000. I think nothing other than this dynamic explains Trump.

    • Agree: houston 1992
  26. Serious suggestion” If you are a Gen-Xer, join the Mormon church. They take care of their own and will watch out for you when you’re in that nursing home.

  27. @aBoominBoomer

    Dunno when you were born, but the earliest Boomers paid into SS, if they started working at age 18 in 1964, at a rate of 3.625% on the first $4800, or $348 total between employer and employee. With the 1964 wage index at 4576, that was $331.76 paid in that year. In 2017, the wage index was 50,322, and your struggling Xer paid 15.3% in total on that, or 7699. According to an inflation calculator, from 1964 to 2017, prices increased 7.9 times. So, if that Xer in 2017 was still paying payroll taxes, in inflation-adjusted terms, what the boomer in 1964 were, he’d be paying about $2621.

    The system really scammed late Boomers and every later generation to pay expanded benefits to
    Silent and early Boomers. The Silents, as a generation, will wind up paying no net taxes to the Feds; anyone born in 1926 could go until 1966 and not pay into Medicare, but by God they’re entitled to it.

    It’s a lot easier to save money, of course, when 8% less of your total income is taxed away and thrown down a rathole. Do keep that in mind as you admonish Xers and after; since 1990, the rate has been 15.3% of most folks’ wages, and that means Xers had only a few years paying less than that rate; Millennials and Zers have NEVEr paid less, except two years under Obama when the rate dropped to 13.3%.

    That having been said, I don’t pay SS. I work for a state that forces me to save about 10% of income, and matches a little over 4%, so I get 14.5% of pay set aside in an account in MY name. As you point out, if everyone did this from age 22, everyone would be rich at 65.

    • Replies: @aBoominBoomer
  28. @TomSchmidt


    That was my larger point, that the SS system is not designed to benefit the payee, but the Government. It’s the biggest Ponzi system ever created in the world. It’s pretty sad that 99.98% of country is so illiterate/brainwashed and/or math challenged that they cannot figure it out.

    I had my first W-2 job in 1970, but had “schedule C” type jobs since 1968, so I’ve watched a lot of $ get pissed away over the years.

    Just think how rich everyone would be if they invested 15% every year and at the end of their working career 100% of whatever that had become was actually theirs to do with what THEY saw fit?

    A land full of financially independent people is quite a different one than one full of dependency like we have now. If was into wearing tinfoil I’d speculate that the latter is what they (.Gov) were looking for..

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  29. @aBoominBoomer

    Social Security seems to have a pro-poor bias. The benefit formula is far more generous to minimum wage earners than the wealthier payers. Of course you need to live longer to collect. And that’s really the pernicious part of the system: it drains assets from poor and rich alike, and redirects those assets to the genetically lucky and the wealthy. It means that the poor cannot accumulate riches to pass along. Died before 62? Too bad about those thousands youCOULD have left to your children.

    It’s partially a Ponzi (see: Ida Mae Fuller) and partially a tontine.

    • Replies: @Justvisiting
  30. IvyMike says:

    Here is the difference, in 1972 tuition and fees at UT Austin for an 18 credit hour undergraduate semester cost a total of 365.00. We lived off campus in old rent houses that no longer exist for 400.00 a month, 4-6 people in each house. A six pack of PBR was 1.85, Mexican pot was 10.00 a bag, and the best Tex-Mex meal you ever had at the old El Arroyo on East 6th was 5.00 plus a tip. Vietnam was rapidly going away and the only thing we had to survive was the Sexual Revolution. Cheap and plentiful fun should have been in the Preamble.

  31. nickels says:

    Good. I’m Gen X and I have cash set aside.
    More dumpster divers means the money I saved will be more valuable.

    • Replies: @Laurence Whelk
  32. @TomSchmidt

    There is an interesting feature of Social Security that is _really_ bad for poor people.

    If you are capable of future planning (which most poor people are not) and you don’t need the money immediately (which most poor people need) and you have a reasonable likelihood of a long life (again, which most poor people do not), then you can wait to collect until you are 70 (will be shortly raised to 71) to start collecting and have a much larger benefit.

    If you annual benefit is the maximum and you collect at 62 your benefit for the rest of you life is B.
    If you wait to collect until 63 it is 1.08 x B
    At 64 it is 1.08 x 1.08 x B
    At 65 it is 1.08 x 1.08 x 1.08 x B
    This continues to compound at 8% per year until you reach 70, more than doubling the benefit for the rest of your life compared to starting to collect at age 62. (The breakeven life expectency is 85 if you wait until 70 to collect.)

    Since most people collect as early as possible, this works out well for .gov.

    Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren won’t touch _this_ one….the well-to-do elderly vote and contribute to political campaigns in large numbers–and will be particularly hostile to any candidate who messes with their social security.

    This is just one of so many examples of why .gov will need to bloat and explode at some point–it is systemically impossible to gently reduce long-term liabilities.

    • Replies: @eD
    , @TomSchmidt
  33. Jeff Stryker [AKA "GO"] says:

    The social security system was set up with the understanding that most citizens would behave like white people did in the fifties.

    Lower middle class whites would be poor but would not have five kids out-of-wedlock and people would marry and hold some sort of job with the real wasters simply living in church basements and going to soup kitchens.

    Also, in the fifties, anybody could get a job at a factory.

    Today you have millions of people having five kids between the ages of 15 and 45. They’ll never hold a job and are unemployable in any event. They cannot read, write, do basic algebra or anything other than lift a 40 ounce of Colt 45 to their lips.

    The US government also did not foresee the immense underground economies like drug distribution and gangs. They did not anticipate that many males will spend their entire life either making a living from crime or in prison.

    Which simply means there will be little social security. Too much of it has gone out the window to worthless uneducated young people doing the horizontal all day and pumping out one kid after another kid after another kid.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  34. @U. Ranus

    “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

  35. There is one missing point in this Gen X analysis. It’s the AIDS crisis. Babyboomers left home rather early, experienced “sexual liberation”, Gen X got AIDS instead. Generation Y was indoctrinated into believing that sodomy is the best way for procreation, provided you are married with the same sex of course.

  36. @Jeff Stryker

    Never thought of it that way. Having been born in 1970, I always considered Gen-X to basically ONLY be people who were legit teens during the 1980s. Basically, someone born between 1965-1975. To me if you weren’t a teen for at least a couple three years (preferably more) during the 1980s, you are not Gen-X. The entire feel of the cohort is defined by being a pre-teen, and teen when movies like Karate Kid, Top Gun, Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Back to the Future came out. When Ronald Reagan was the “main” president that you knew of, and when lots of people still smoked in public, gays were in the closet and you lived with the possibility of war with Russia. You would remember when you were younger, the gas lines, and “keep your thermostat at 65” Carter Years. You played Trivial Pursuit, and remember the day when your parents brought home this “microwave” thing (around 81/82) that only rich people had…same with Betamax or VHS. You remember watching re-runs of Star Trek with your siblings, and old black and white TV shows were still on TV all the time (Andy Griffith, Father Knows Best, Twilight Zone). You remember the day you first saw a Fiero parked in the school parking lot and it belonged to your hot teacher. Which is why you liked the Van Halen song. You saw Star Wars when it came out, 1977, and remember you were too young to see Jaws, but your older sister did with a friend and told you all about it. And you were wondering if sharks could be in large swimming pools.

    I could go on…but these firsts and impressions are NOT those of teens in the 90s…They are Gen-Y as they used to be called.

  37. Jeff Stryker [AKA "GO"] says:

    I graduated from high school in 1992 and was 16 in 1990 and I am certain that I am Gen X even if I was only 10 when I saw the Karate Kid in 1984.

    Actually back in 1994 when Friends premiered when I was 20 I remember thinking how phony it was because Kudrow and Cox and Perry were all way too old to be post-grunge Gen X slackers hanging around a coffee shop. I just didn’t buy it all. Not one bit.

    • Replies: @Onebelowall
  38. @Digital Samizdat

    I was always told that the Baby Boom lasted from 1946 to 1964, and that our generation started in 1965 and ended in 1979. Interesting how they keep changing these things around.

    Deck chairs on the Titanic: The point is that the Tail-end of “The Greatest Generation” started America down the Road to Serfdom with things like the Hart-Cellar Act, and the Boomers picked up the mantle by whole-heartedly embracing “globalism” and the outsourcing of American industry and a ramp-up of unconstrained immigration to undercut America’s wage base.

    Now, the poor Gen X’ers are the ones who will be smothered in their sleep in hospitals and ratty old folks homes by the Third-World “talent” their predecessors foisted upon us all as the people we needed to do the work our own wouldn’t do because … college and shit.

    It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for them, though, because too many drank the Kool-Aid® of open borders and Land of Unbridled opportunity for the whole world and Exceptionalism. Don’t weep for them, nor for Gen Y, Z, AA, etc., because these were the idiots standing outside airports and ICE facilities with “No Person Can be Illegal” signs.

    Crime and Punishment now means we are punished for the crimes we allowed, even encouraged.

  39. @OscarWildeLoveChild

    You provide a description that is accurate for many people of that age.

    How pathetic, though, that so much of the alleged culture and memories involve nonsense, television shows.

  40. eD says:

    As a side note, median life expectancy in the USA is currently reported as 79 years (actualy 78.7 years, its easy to google). Its not 85 years. I’m not sure what the base amounts are that we are dealing with, but you almost certainly have to beat median life expectancy for delaying social security until 70 to be a better deal as opposed to collecting at 62, and by a fair margin. In fact, you will probably be senile once you benefit from the bigger payouts if you do live that long.

    Now for starting at 65 instead of 62, based on back of the envelope calculations, the break-even point seems to be at 77, right about where median life expectancy currently is. Funny that it works out that way. So if you are 62, in good health, and doing fine without the three years of additional income, waiting until 65 probably makes sense. Otherwise its better to start at 62. But delaying until 70 is stupid unless you come from a family with a history of long longevity and no history of dementia.

  41. MJS says:
    @Digital Samizdat

    Actually, when I was growing up, I read that the Boomers were always those born between 1946-60, and that’s how I always understood it. This 1943-1964 stuff came later, and it makes no sense to me. Most Boomers came of age in the 60s and 70s. If you were born in 1964, you come of age in 1982, a very different time politically and socially from the wild years of the previous two decades. I think Howe and Strauss got it right, putting the Gen Xers from 1961-81.

  42. @Jeff Stryker

    I graduated in ’92 as well. I’m pretty sure that puts us firmily in Gen-X territory and at the beginning of the Alt-Rock explosion of the 90’s, which is a big Gen-X marker.

  43. Exador says:

    Gen X’s biggest handicap is that a lot of us bought houses during the boom of the late 90’s/early 00’s, and MANY of us were greedy enough to buy way too much house and pay way too much for it. The crash crippled a lot of X’s, from which they haven’t recovered. Cutting our 401k’s in half certainly didn’t help either.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  44. @eD

    The overall mean and median life expectancies include people who die from accidents, from homicide, and from suicide. The mean and median expectancies for the rest of us is much higher.

    For people who survive to age 65, the remaining average expected life expectancy jumps well into the 80s.

    Beyond the stats, I’d generalize that anyone who is not obese and does not smoke (has never smoked) who makes it to age 70, will usually live to be 85-90 (with some medical intervention) barring an accident.

  45. @Exador

    My 401(k) was drastically cut as well, yet it has fully recovered and then some, well beyond the rate of inflation since the crash. Why would someone of any generation be unable to do what tens of millions of regular (non-wealthy, non-expert) people did and just ride it out.

    A person had to go out of his way to NOT have his stock portfolio fully recover in these intervening years.

    Moreover, it would make sense to look beyond stocks. Look into investing in a real estate investment trust. I’ve had whole years where my stock portfolio dropped in value, just like you apparently did. But I’ve never had a year where the REIT didn’t pay a meaningful dividend (easily enough to surpass the rate of inflation when applied to the amount invested).

    As for buying at the peak of the housing boom, There are many metro areas where prices have recovered to the level they were at then, even adjusted for inflation. How about California, where one in every eight Americans lives: if you bought here in any of the years you’re referring to as the latest national housing price peak, you can sell for a tidy profit now.

  46. @eD

    Check out this analysis by the Social Security folks:

    If you make it to 65, the average life expectancy is 84 for men and 86.5 for women.

    It is greater, of course, if you are healthy and for example, have both parents still alive when you reach 65.

    A reasonably healthy lifestyle increases the odds in your favor as well.

    Then we have the technologies that will continue to improve to meet the needs of aging baby boomers.

    The majority of reasonably well to do boomers will live to be old boomers (barring political ah intervention… 😉 ).

    So, if you wait until you are 65 to make your decision, you will have some good data that will tell you whether your best bet is to collect immediately to to wait to max out the payments.

  47. @Counterinsurgency

    Well said. Thanks.

    (I am of Gen X).

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  48. sasu says:
    @Ray Huffman

    If your party parents sent you to the store to buy them cigarettes when you were 8, you’re Gen X

    • LOL: Laurence Whelk
    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
    , @Ray Huffman
  49. @sasu

    If you grandparents lit up in front in cars on family trips…you are Gen X.

    If your high school had a designated smoking section…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when anti-drug people all smoked two packs a day but thought that marijuana was the Devil’s lettuce…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember brands like MERIT, SALEM, VANTAGE, PALL MALL…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when sneaking/experimenting with cigarettes in junior high was a rite of passage and a bonding experience…you are a Gen x.

    If you can remember when tobacco was socially acceptable and anyone who smoked pot past college was a loser or a burnout…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when restaurants had no smoking sections because people lit up wherever they wanted…you’re a Gen X.

    If you can remember when store clerks sold cigarettes to 14 year old kids…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when more people’s grandparents smoked than didn’t…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when most people’s grandparents died from cigarettes at the age of 60 and every kid had a grandparent dead before 65 from lung disease…you are a Gen X.

    If you can remember when people identified themselves by cigarette brand-cops smoked Malboro, blacks smoked Newports, white women smoked Salems, hippies smoked Camels, old people smoked Pall Malls…yep, you are a Gen X

    • Replies: @TurnipHead
  50. @Stebbing Heuer

    Gen X was the generation when the white electorate and economy moved from the cities to the suburbs.

    Jimmy Carter was the last President to be elected by urban whites. Reagan the first to be elected by the suburban voter.

    By 1980, white flight had made cities irrelevant. Elections were decided by the suburbs.

    Reagan himself understood this. Morning in America was an appeal to the suburban white. And Reagan’s presidency was the one where black ghettos really became semi-deserted wastelands because by 1980 all whites were leaving the inner-cities.

    • Replies: @Stebbing Heuer
  51. @sasu

    Yes, with a note. And I forged a note to buy some for myself.

  52. @Jeff Stryker

    All of the above applies to this boomer, 60+.

    Generational talk is the outcome of marketing.
    Like everything, Capitalism has side-effects: one is the marketing mentality. ‘Talking About My Generation” sang the wankers known as The Who. Thank you marketing.

    Every generation has been ‘spoiled’ since we left the farms. Used to have kids so that they would work on the farm. Why do you think people used to have so many kids?

  53. What a crock of stupid shit from the hysterical, stupid, America hating Rall.

    My kids are Gen Xers and they’re doing great.

    I expect my grandkids to do even better.

    The future will be one of incredible wealth, increasing longevity, and freedom.

    Fortunately, President Trump is changing the direction of the U.S., all in positive ways.

    Rall is a commie. He’s stupid and evil. The kids are going to be fine.

  54. @Chris Mallory

    I can remember riding in a car with my state trooper uncle driving with no one wearing seat belts and all the adults drinking beers.

    I can’t count the trips we made to town with all the kids riding in the open bed of a pickup.

    I miss those days too…

    Simpler (better)(easier) times my friend….

  55. I’m Gen X but I dispute that the older Gen X are in their late 50s. Gen X STARTS AT 1965, NOT 1961. This whole article is worthless. I expect better from Unz. But you can’t win them all. Just stop publishing this retard.

    I am only in my early 40s. We are not that old yet, you retards.

    And we’re not doing well, that is for sure. The square, mindless automatons are doing all right, but the thinkers, the creators, the outside of the box people, we got screwed bigtime. And NO ONE HAS BEEN SPOILED, YOU REALLY HATEFUL OLD FUCKS. No one in America is spoiled. America is a third world shithole. Doesn’t even have basics met. America is a disgusting disgrace. No one person or group should be blamed for America’s steaming pile of shit failure. You outsourced all the work and now want to blame Gen X? Go seriously fuck yourselves.

  56. Dani says:
    @Digital Samizdat

    I have also noticed the varying years of the generations. I understood GenX as 1965 to late 70s/early 80s. There seems to be some wiggle room. I am as GenX as it gets, September 26, 1970 and graduated high school at 17 in 1988. I have met people born in 1960-1962 who have a much stronger identification as GenX in opposed to Baby Boomer and I also saw them in this way. On the other hand.
    People put too much emphasis on this crap – how relevant is it, really? I love that it was pointed out GenX has Silent generation as parents. It never ceases to amaze me how many people get it wrong. These are mostly younger folks who get it wrong because they are too lazy to look it up and seem to think anyone born before 1945 is not only dead, but never existed.
    I find this whole “Boomer” bashing thing stupid, disrespectful and most importantly, totally orchestrated. I have read countless remarks from dopes, boomer bashing and it was clear they had no clue what they were talking about but merely bashing boomers because they see others doing it. Some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life are Baby boomers and I sure as hell can’t say the same for Millennials. More carefully crafted Divide and Conquer, and stupid Americans fall for it every damned time. We whites are already in enough trouble, the in-fighting needs to CEASE!

    • Agree: TTSSYF
    • Replies: @Pontius
  57. El Dato says:

    Brazen ageism sticks out even more in a P.C. culture where discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA people and others prompts horror, as it should.

    Why should it “prompt horror”? When did it come to the point where a furrowing of the brow was no longer sufficient? When Twitter shrieks became a valid discourse element? When hating onto standard and white people and weirdo/gangsta adoration became the official policy? Strange days indeed.

    Anyway: Not exactly Gen X, but … meanwhile in the UK:

    Electoral euthanasia in the UK: The Grim Reaper of liberalism is stalking (by George Galloway)

    But another meme out of the very same stable is that we – the Brexit-supporting, economically radical, socially ‘conservative’ voters – are ‘Old.’

    Full disclosure: I am 65 but I have four children under 12, so not quite typical. It is offensive to be described as old when it is used as a lazy explanation by people who have failed to convince us. One of the reasons seriously advanced for re-running the Brexit referendum was that more of us than them had died!

    This extraordinary mindset has now taken an entirely logical step forward: ‘Take the vote away from us at the age of 70!’ A kind of euthanasia from the ballot-box for Britain’s pensioners. Never mind it could get worse!

    An opinion poll published last week found that almost HALF of all 16-34 year-olds in Britain supported stripping their own parents and grandparents of the right to vote on major constitutional matters. The poll then became a talking point in phone-in shows and on social media, with deeply depressing results.


  58. Pontius says:

    Absolutely true! It sounds like they all had the same _____-studies prof or read the same textbook. At any rate, it shows how easily lead people are. Weaponized nobodies, a perfect product of a useless academic class who will never again know what it’s like to have to compete for a job, or fear lack.

    I also never bought into “generations” as anything other than an easy way to classify people for marketing purposes. I am early Gen-X but I come from a large family, so I would say the influences of my parents and Boomer siblings had way more influence on me than my birth date. At worst my cohort was prevented from moving up any corporate or property ladder by the glut of prime-of-their-lives boomers filling pretty much every position imaginable, yet it never once occurred to me to blame them for being born when they were or into the circumstances they were, for any lack of traction I had. I think being born into a perennially weak economy in a place far removed from mainstream North America played a much bigger role in any economic challenges I faced. I can only read in awe whenever Steve recounts growing up in SoCal during the 60s and 70s. It may as well be another planet.

    Some young people are kind of like that mental kid in class whose asshole behaviour made it impossible to have any sympathy for him. They are graduating into a broken, totally rigged economy, and they are blaming a bunch of white guys who are just trying to get the kids raised and cobble together a retirement before their jobs vapourize.

  59. @Justvisiting

    I think waiting until 65 makes sense; your benefits get withheld and taxed before that age if you do other work. Also, that age is really 67 for most people alive now, no longer 65.

    The idea of waiting until 70 doesn’t hold for me. Basically, I take a bet that by waiting until then I will get more money. If I die before then, the government keeps all the money I don’t collect. So my strategy will be: collect full benefits at full benefit age, and don’t spend the money but let it earn interest of some sort (if they’re still paying interest then.) When I hit 70, supplement my SS payments with the interest from the saved money.

    Last time I ran this calculation, I’d need to live well into the 80s until it was a financially worse deal. All the while, the government has no free option on keeping all my marbles if I die early. That free option is counted at 0 by the government in calculating whether YOU should give it to them, but they know its value.

  60. @eD

    There are a lot of taxes for people who take early. You really have to be poor and earn no other money before 67 to make it pay off. It does take a long time before you’re worse off, and for the poor 62 is probably a good call, assuming they won’t make it past 77.

  61. @Jeff Stryker

    On paper I’m a boomer, and indeed am a middle child with two older and two younger. But the basic experience has been the classic X one, with only the oldest of us, born in the late 50s, having the classic Boomer experience, being handed a trophy (house, money, retirement, all the prizes) for just showing up. The rest of us have struggled and being blamed for being poor etc so the resentment goes pretty deep.

    I’d say the rottenness started with the Silents. Too young to serve in WWII and young and thus pretty resilient during the Depression, they got showered with everything their parents could give them and thus developed into truly awful, narcissistic people.

    • Replies: @TTSSYF
    , @Dani
  62. TTSSYF says:
    @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    As Dani said above, the in-fighting among whites needs to end. Quit falling for the marketing gimmick of pitting generations against each other with sweeping generalizations. This country is the frog being boiled slowly, and all of us are to blame in some measure for where we are now, and not just the “Silents”, nor just the “Boomers”, nor just “Gen-Xers”, nor just the “Millennials”. Yes, this latest generation to come of age, the so-called “Millennials”, share some blame, with their herd-like attraction to socialism and ignorance of its history of political corruption and failure.

    • Replies: @Laurence Whelk
  63. SFG says:

    Well said, but the end of the poem has value as well:

    Therefore, since the world has still
    Much good, but much less good than ill,
    And while the sun and moon endure
    Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
    I’d face it as a wise man would,
    And train for ill and not for good.

  64. @bro3886

    You’re going to be a hated minority in a third-world hell-hole, that’s what yoots should worry about.


    I am not rich, but I am an early Gen Xer who has managed to prepare a comfortable if not luxurious retirement. As I get older, what worries me more is not Social Security, or National Debt or Inflation – it’s a random Jaquan or Jose or Achibé murdering me for the $40 in my pocket or my iPhone or just for spite or sport. It’s already starting to happen to the Boomers, the vibrant suffocating them in their assisted living facilities or pushing them off train platforms or “knockout game” sucker-punching them with full force in the face leading to brain damage or death.

    You may say good riddance because you think they are evil Boomers, but it’s only gonna get worse as the country gets dingier.

  65. @nickels

    Good. I’m Gen X and I have cash set aside.
    More dumpster divers means the money I saved will be more valuable

    This spiteful attitude is part of why the White race is doomed.

  66. @TTSSYF

    …the in-fighting among whites needs to end.


  67. Excellent article!

    I live in Canada and never read anything on my generation (X).

    I can confirm that all l i’ve read here on the Xs is true:

    – The lack of decent jobs since the 1990’s when the Zios began their ”crusade” (PNAC invasion of seven countries) in Iraq.

    – Our salaries did not increase since Y2k. The tax increased constantly so about 75% of our income is now robbed by our provincial, municipal, and federal governments in exchange of poor or inneficient (or often not inexistant) services due to epidemic corruption.

    – The egocentrism (egoism) of the Boomers and their refusal to take the Xs’ opinion into consideration.

    – The Zs and millenials centered on their tech shit and addicted to the internet who enter the workplace with zero knowledge of history, unable to write a clear and accurate text, unable to do mental calculation, unable to locate countries on a map, unable to talk or speak a second language, hostile towards the X’s, prompt to form gangs of Pros and Cons and thus easily manipulable by political parties. They usually want ALL IMMEDIATELY at the press on one button. Their creativity is null since they can have anything they want at the shopping center with the cash of Boomer GrandPA – MA…

    I believe that your conclusion is accurate. We the Xs will die like dogs in streets surrounded by schizos and zombies glued to their pads.

  68. Anonymous[186] • Disclaimer says:

    Gen Xers had the misfortune of coming of age at a time when the world labor supply doubled as Chindia joined the world economy. The overnight doubling of the supply of labor depressed wages (impoverishing workers) and increased the return on capital (spawning plutocrats).

  69. Dani says:
    @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    Alex in San Jose, your comment is a perfect example of how sweeping generalizations can wreak havoc, as in your case, I can refute much of what you have said with many I know personally where your ‘givens’ could not be further from the truth. My parents, both of whom are still alive & kicking at 78 and of the “Silent” era, could not be more foreign to your “showered with everything their parents could give” and “truly awful, narcissistic people”. My parents are only two of many I know (and have known) of the Silents who do not at all deserve the praise you hold for them. I couldn’t imagine making such generalizations if I thought even a handful of people do not fit a particular narrative – that goes for praise as well as ridicule, by the way. I prefer to keep it real because it seems to fall in better with honesty policy. I guess that’s why I was never much interested in politics.
    Incidentally, I know many born in the late 50s who must be freaks of nature, as they sure as hell didn’t have the “classic boomer experience” and while they were ‘handed’ many things “just for showing up”, most of these were things I wouldn’t want dumped in my lap. The late 50s folks I

    born in the late 50s, having the classic Boomer experience, being handed a trophy (house, money, retirement, all the prizes) for just showing up. The rest of us have struggled and being blamed for being poor etc so the resentment goes pretty deep.

    I’d say the rottenness started with the Silents. Too young to serve in WWII and young and thus pretty resilient during the Depression, they got showered with everything their parents could give them and thus developed into truly awful, narcissistic people.

  70. @Jeff Stryker

    Am Australian but I get what you’re saying.

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