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Convincing the Young to Blame the Old, Not the Rich


Convincing the Young to Blame the Old, Not the Rich

Dean Baker

The Washington Post‘s Catherine Rampell devoted a column (12/24/15) to a popular Washington pastime: trying to get young people angry at their parents and grandparents so that they are not bothered by the enormous upward redistribution of income taking place in this country.


The vast majority of people react to whatever the "rules" are at the time. The "rules" are set by the government, heavily lobbied by the rich. The young know this and are pissed. This is why net neutrality scares the rich into soiling their satin-lined depends. The rich won't get away with intergenerational divide and conquer. Blood is thicker than money...


I love Dean Baker! He consistently explains the more arcane economic issues for us commoners, and without dumbing down his explanation. Yes, he is progressive in his outlook and analysis, if that means he roots for the majority, not the 1 percenters' interests. Who made the wealth of the U.S.? The majority, those who work; the children coming up in the ranks will make our country, we need to invest in their lives and futures, not take on the trope of 'blame the elders.' (Though, blaming, and trying, Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush is ok with me).


Catherine Rampell dismisses the trillions of dollars of war spending for more than a decade as just a “scapegoat for fiscal profligacy.”

No, madam, it is fiscal profligacy.

During the Bush administration, the wars were costing us seventeen million dollars an hour. God knows what the hourly rate is today. I’m sure somebody has a more up-to-date calculation.

What has actually been accomplished after this gargantuan outlay of resources?

Instead of blowing up communities in far off lands and killing hundreds of thousands of people, think of what could be built if we spent seventeen million dollars an hour here at home. We could start with funding universal health care, replacing crumbling infrastructure, and putting people back to work doing something constructive.


Very prescient analysis, Mr. Baker.

Think tanks manicure minds that are expert in manipulating apparent conditions to satisfy the goals of their high-paying sponsors. And when problems are widely spread, an obvious scapegoat always provides for a solid decoy.

The Generation Resentment meme is very useful because many families carry inter-generational resentments to start with.

This focus takes the heat off the real causes of financial frenzy: the corporations.

In the same way that Donald Trump sets up a rationale for blaming Mexican Guest Workers for the dearth of good-paying U.S. jobs and brutal attacks on Hispanics (or Muslims) follow, the rationale of a Catherine Rampell can well ramp up violence against seniors.

The U.S. has no shortage of its own version of Fourth Reich Little Eichmanns. Ms. Rampell certainly qualifies!


The "rules" are set by far more than the government.

The corporations who sponsor said government representatives play a MAJOR role in defining the values of the modern era.

And of course, the religious community--primarily the Religious Right--plays a huge role in defining cultural mores. More and more, the church-state wall is being worn down and away so that religious theocrats (a few who currently sit on the U.S. Supreme Court) get to define the RULE OF LAW for what should be a non-sectarian population pool.

Another thing missing from your superficial analysis is that you assume that one set of rules serves as a standard for all. That is not so.

The "rules" inside of the inner-city are hardly the same as those shared among rural country folk.

The graphic depiction of soiled "depends" seems like a covert attack on the aged... in spite of the rest of your comment.


Also curiously NOT mentioned are:

  1. The failure to tax Wall St. Transactions
  2. The massive fiscal bail-outs to the big banks (who then rewarded their employee partners in crime with obscene mega-bonuses)
  3. The vast reserves of money off-shored so as to enable major corporations to avoid their tax obligations
  4. The inversion of a formerly Progressive tax system so that these days, the rich and/or the corporations pay ridiculously small percentages of income tax
  5. The Cap on Social Security's taxing system (set at $108,000 annual income, I believe... or something in that ballpark)
  6. The incredibly profligate subsidies given to corporate criminals like Exxon
  7. The net loss in real estate taxes due to churches (even when they use their pulpits to push political candidates) getting a FREE pass in that otherwise lucrative tax-generating realm

In lieu of all these financial lapses, Ms. Rampell would rather throw Grandma under the bus. It takes a special (lack of) conscience to pen a screed of that nature!


The idea that the older generation is ripping off the younger generation is a right-wing lie I remember being told in my 20's over 30 years ago. They keep trotting it out for each new generation that hasn't heard it before, and it's just as untrue now as it was then. The major difference this time is that it is being told by what was once an institution that helped bring down one of the biggest lying crooks in U. S. history (Richard Nixon), and now is owned by a big, lying crook (Jeff Bezos).


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DAC: Divide And Conquer. Expect anything more from these weasels?


It very much the same argument made about the poor , who living in hovels or sleeping on the streets orbegging for change are BLAMED for the tax burden being so high and the "Middle class" seeing their own standard of living erode.

Generally those doing the finger pointing at the poor are part of that 1 percent who will sprinkle Gold dust on their ice cream cones just because they can. Upon coming out of the restaurant serving these 1000 dollar ice cream cones they express their disgust if they see someone rummaging through a dumpster because they hungry.


Let's see - who put in the systems which forced the expenditures to be allocated as now? Oh - that would be the rich.

Who causes all the planetary problems? Oh - that would be the rich. Don't believe me?

2 yrs ago the richest 85 INDIVIDUAL people owned more than the poorest half of humanity combined. Last year it was the richest 70 individuals together owning more than the poorest half. You have NO CONCEPT of that statement and what it means. So look at it this way.

Take a US Football field - 5,000 sq yds, or 6, 480,000 square inches. The rich people would average owning more than 71 square yards - more than 92,500 square inches. That's about a modest, sixteen hundred square foot house in size. Picture that.

Now the average poor person - they would own slightly LESS than 0.0018 square inches. You again can't picture this - so grab a sheet of paper - say your 20# bond from your printer. That skinny edge - not the 8.5 inch, or the 11 inch, but that thickness dimension - that is FATTER than 0.0018 inches - so if you took that skinny dimension of that paper and squared it - that is significantly MORE than the average person from the poorest half of humanity would own.

Less than the squared edge of a sheet of paper. A 1600 square foot home footprint. Ironically, the rich person COULD NOT BE WEALTHY AT ALL if they did not have those poor workers. No billionaire makes their own product, makes their own sale. Delivers their product, etc. They are basically: functionally worthless.


In addition, the wealthy 5% owning all the corporate CONTROLLING SHARES and running the boardrooms, CEO positions, etc - make the decisions which cause ALL THE ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS ON THIS PLANET which we can remediate.

The result of this farce of a "civilization" being run by rich people and their political whores is that EVERY system on this planet which keeps you alive at all - is DYING. At and accelerating rate. DIRECTLY because of conscious decisions, made by rich people, in corporations.

So don't give me this "parental blame" crap. You aren't smart enough to pull the wool over everyone's eyes Ms Washington Post.

ALL problems of significance are caused by rich people. There may be a few good rich people out there, but not enough to stop the destruction of your oxygen supply, is there? Your breath contains at best 65% of the oxygen it should contain. There aren't enough good rich people to straighten out the economy and bring hope to billions of people's lives, are they? The rich are wealthy enough that they could fix the entire PLANET'S economy in a few weeks if they chose to. They choose to continue the assault.

One could continue until they cried....


I'm a Boomer and yet enjoyed your essay--you have many valid points I agree with. I would, however, encourage you and other Millenials to also examine the historical basis of "individualism' and the manner in which its narratives influenced Boomer thinking--and that of your generation as well. I teach young adult Americans. With few exceptions they are walking talking models of American exceptionalism promoting individualist frameworks very much tied into "me-first" and "why should I be responsible for 'the other'?" It's more of a cultural/societal problem than an age issue, methinks.


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"In lieu of all these financial lapses, Ms.
Rampell would rather throw Grandma under the bus. It takes a special
(lack of) conscience to pen a screed of that nature!"

I may be very naive, but I can't imagine what sort of person would do this. How do they think? What do they believe? What made them what they are?



Reply as linked Topic


I am 72--born in the middle of WWII. I have not been much of a success. Part of the problem was being timid to begin with, Part was from so very much not getting along with my mother that I ended up losing whatever self-confidence I might of had if I had not gotten an almost constant stream of complaints from her that I was failing to live up to her expectations. I blame the rich more than the generation before mine.


for starters, they don't think-- not critically. they parrot what they've been taught to accept as belief. many in the professional sector have been unknowingly and assiduously trained to adopt and earnestly defend what the controllers want them to think and then regurgitate with abandon.


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So what. He's a common sense economist with a gift for skewering bullshit.


I, too, spend time fantasizing about how soon I can die. There's 7 BILLION of us that this beautiful Earth Mother is carrying. That's too big of a burden for Her. I believe that I live far more simply than many but not as simply as I would like. I protest against war, write letters to the editor against TPP, send letters to politicians, bank with a local credit union, work for green energy. I am vegan and compost and grow much of my own food and never bore any children. And yet every day, I wish I were old and closer to death so that the Pachamama could be relieved of some small part of Her tiresome burden called the human species.