"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Boomers make their bed, must sleep in it

The image shows a peace sign, such a symbol of the boomer generation.
People between the ages of 52 and 70 are "baby boomers." It's like a tsunami wave for America's entitlement programs: Social Security and Medicare. All this happens while the Republican Party is being given the keys to the car. Republicans have taken over Congress, the Senate and the presidency, and this is the party that does not believe much in entitlements.
If boomers voted in substantial numbers for Trump, they may have been creating adversity for themselves. Republicans may have their beliefs but they are fundamentally incapable of handling the reins of government. That's because a chief tenet of their beliefs is that they don't believe in government. It's always dangerous when they get the majority.
One can argue that Republicans are at their best when they're a minority striving to impose proper discipline in government. But the Republicans now have those proverbial "keys to the car." Personally I'd mutter "heaven help us all." Here's a party that decries entitlements and government oversight of things, taking over at a time when the U.S. population is aging and ever more people are living beyond their productive years. Seems odd.
I would suggest that many people fall prey to to the rhetoric of conservative media, rhetoric which on its surface appeals to an impulse within many of us. It's an impulse that seeks to affirm self-reliance and a mistrust of those seemingly impersonal government forces.
We in the Midwest have a sense of self-reliance inherited from our forebears. We think of those "cowboys" paving the way for westward advancement, affirming good vs. evil. We grew up watching myriad "westerns" on TV. They presented moral conclusions all over the place. Boomers saw through a lot of that.
We knew the world was full of injustice and needless tragedy. The TV westerns gave us a template that didn't want to acknowledge a lot of the uncomfortable truths. They clung to a superficial world where all the answers seemed so readily at hand. Let's not get too excited about Jim Crow laws. Let's not get drastic or excited about pronouncements that the Viet Nam war was necessary.
Can the youth of today possibly put themselves in the shoes of America's youth when military conscription was in effect? When young men were forced over to Southeast Asia where the odds of death were considerable?
Maybe we have forgotten how the Cold War cast such a depressing shroud over us. Our public schools once put tremendous academic pressures on kids so we might "keep up with the Soviet Union." Communism crumbled over there. It had nothing to do with our military efforts in Southeast Asia. People found their footing over there because they wanted a better way. The transformation was organic, the way it should be. Not the result of young men being given guns to shoot at other men who shot back.
The boomers enter their twilight years with the Cold War having faded to a distant memory. We have a president-elect who has actually developed affinity with Russia. His conservative followers don't seem distressed by that at all.
Allow me to predict that America is on the verge of very troubled times given our new political landscape. People have taken over power who reflect all those screaming voices from the conservative media. They cannot govern because they're not interested in governing. Some terrible things could now happen. Mark my word.
But what about our "self-reliance," our apparent birthmark as Americans? Rugged individualism. Well, how do you think the desert Southwest got developed? Undeterred pioneers? Cowboys with guns blazing? No, it was the government, specifically with construction of the Hoover Dam. The government!
Conservative screamers in the media simply have a racket going.
I recently wrote song lyrics focusing on the boomer generation. These are tailored to a quite pleasing melody, IMHO. I don't know if I'll have the song recorded. I write lots of poetry and lyrics. My song is called "Baby Boomer." Here are the lyrics:
"Baby Boomer"
by Brian Williams
World war was over
Ashes in its wake
Greatest generation
Showing what it takes
They were our dear parents
Getting on their feet
We fulfilled their mission
finding life so sweet
We adored the Beatles
And their Mersey sound
They gave us a message
That we rendered loud
We believed in cultures
Meshing as if one
As we heard John put it:
"All you need is love"
I was born a baby boomer
Getting old is just a rumor
Through the storms we always endured
I was born a baby boomer
We unleashed our voices
Toward a better world
Breaking down each barrier
Going 'round each curve
Though it would take patience
We would not desist
We were like an army
No one could resist
Through it all our elders
Never really changed
They just knew their values
That their lives ordained
So much pain behind them
They were feeling fine
Thankful for their bills paid
And for every dime
(repeat chorus)
We respected NASA
And the men who flew
Racing through the heavens
In a small capsule
Finally we could see them
On the moon so real
JFK would smile
As we sealed the deal
Some of us were hippies
That was a tough sell
Some of us had placards
Saying war is hell
Civil rights was pressing
Women sought their place
We were building bridges
For the human race
(repeat chorus)
We got Richard Nixon
He just didn't work
He was left imploring
"I am not a crook"
We moved on to disco
Interest rates so high
It was like a world
Far beyond the sky
Movies gave us Star Wars
So we could escape
We loved Carrie Fisher
Fantasy first-rate
We were so resilient
Always glass half-full
Moving to the future
Like a raging bull
(repeat chorus)
We bemoaned our elders
Getting up in years
Had they not been faithful
We would not be here
They gave us the wellspring
For our every task
They turned back the Axis
What more could we ask?
Yes we will discover
Our mortality
Though we won't acknowledge
Even one frailty
We exuded chutzpah
As we did our good
We will live forever
Please just knock on wood
(repeat chorus)
(repeat chorus again, then repeat the last line)
© 2016 Brian R. Williams

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