Posts Tagged ‘Generation Gap’

Douglas Adams’ rules of technology

March 15, 2016

1.  Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2.  Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3.  Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Source: Stumbling and Mumbling

The generation gap

September 29, 2015

CPzZcoaVEAAdArVSource: Wayne Dahlberg on Twitter.

Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist.

The generation gap

July 8, 2013


All too true!   When I attended high school in the late 1940s and early 1950s, we all took for granted that anybody who was willing to work hard could get a job of some kind, anybody with a high school diploma could get a good job, and anybody with a college degree could get an excellent job.

Now the vast majority of Americans have high school diplomas, and more Americans than ever before have college degrees, but this isn’t enough to guarantee them good jobs, or even jobs at all.  All it has done is to raise the bar.

Click on Master’s is the new Bachelor’s to read about the next step in degree inflation.

Source of the graphic: quickmeme

Wedge issues and generation gaps

May 24, 2011

I’m 74 years old.  I’m a member of the most fortunate generation in American history so far.  Like almost everyone in my generation who was willing and able to work, I held reasonably secure jobs at reasonably good wages.  Between my discharge from the Army and my retirement, I had only two employers.  Now I enjoy a secure retirement, based on Social Security, a company pension and my own savings and investments.

Few people under age 55 enjoy are so fortunate.  They have typically experienced layoffs, downsizings, flat wages (in inflation-adjusted terms) and diminishing pension and health benefits.  During the late 1980s and the 1990s, when I reported on business for the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, some companies in Rochester negotiated two-tier wage contracts, under which existing wages and benefits would be maintained for the existing union members, but newly hired workers would get less.  The assumption was that people will fight to keep what they have, but accept being denied what they never knew.

Labor unions are based – or should be based – on the principle of equal pay for equal work, and the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all.  Besides being morally wrong, two-tier contracts are short-sighted.  The newly-hired second-class workers will direct their justified resentment not at the company, but at the union leaders and members who sold them out.  If sacrifice is necessary to preserve jobs, it should be shared by everyone, including management.

Now Paul Ryan, Alan Simpson and others propose a two-tier retirement system.  People of my generation would get to keep our Social Security and Medicare at current levels, but the new retirees would have to retire later and receive fewer benefits.  We current retirees would be foolish to fall for this.  The wrath of the generation behind us would fall not on those privatized Social Security and voucherized Medicare, but those of us who still enjoy retirement security.  I don’t believe that the proposed cutbacks are necessary, but, if they are, they should be shared equally by all.

You already see this in the split between union and non-union workers.  Some non-union workers, seeing the better wages and job security that union members get, do not conclude that they should have unions of their own.  Rather they think of the union members are enjoying special privileges that should be taken away.


Tales of the generation gap

April 15, 2010

I must have been an old grouch for most of my life.  The benchmarks in my memory of the history of my times is  my complaints about the younger generation and their historical amnesia.

First it was –

“These kids – they think history began with the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas.”

Then it was –

“These kids – they think history began with the Watergate scandals.”

“These kids – they think history began with the election of Ronald Reagan.”

“These kids – they think history began with the impeachment of President Clinton.”

And finally –

“These kids – they think history began with the 9/11 attacks.”

A friend of mine who teaches a college philosophy class told me a good example of this. He had a visiting lecturer who compared Socrates to Lieutenant Colombo. He said Socrates. like the Peter Falk character, asked seemingly naive questions to get at uncomfortable truths.  After the visitor left, my friend asked by a show of hands how many knew who Lieutenant Colombo was. Not one knew.

This is nothing new. Fred W. Friendly, after retiring as head of CBS News, taught a class at the Columbia Journalism School.  He told a student who was wearing a “Make Love, Not War” button that it wasn’t appropriate to wear in class. She replied, “Oh, Mr. Friendly, you’re so old-fashioned that you think ‘making love’ is the same thing as ‘making out.'”

Later Friendly told his friend, Walter Lippmann, about the exchange. Lippmann asked, “What the hell is ‘making out’?”  Friendly thought that was pretty funny, and told his CJS class about it. The reaction was, “Who the hell is Walter Lippmann?”

The story was told by Don Hewitt, who started the CBS 60 Minutes series, and of course the response was, “Who the hell was Fred W. Friendly?”

And maybe there are those who wonder: Who the hell was Don Hewitt?

So this is an age-old story.  I only hope I live long enough to be able to say, “These kids – they think history began with the election of Barack Obama.”

Or maybe even (anything is possible) –

“These kids – they have no memory except of peace and prosperity.”

The economic generation gap

February 23, 2010

One of the promises of American life is that each generation should have a better material standard of living than the generation that went before.  That was true of me and my parents.  The house I live in alone is larger than the house in which my parents raised my brother and me.

But this is not true of the generation coming after me.  Younger people face a more restricted world than the one I grew up in.  When I was in high school and college, anybody could get a job of some kind.  The high school graduate got a better job than the high school dropout, and the college graduate got a better job than the high school graduate, but nobody who really wanted to work went without work very long.

Education at a state university was affordable for the middle class, and working your way through college was do-able for poor students.  Nowadays students graduate with a crushing burden of debt that can take decades to pay off; it is a form of indentured servitude.  Yet the need for educational credentials is greater than ever.

When I became a business news reporter for the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle in 1978, my qualification was that I was a capable reporter and that I wanted the job.  By the time I retired in 1998, we were getting job applications from young people with MBA degrees.  I often remarked in the 1990s that if I had been applying for the job I had, I would never have been able to get it.

Labor unions accepted two-tier (and sometimes three-tier) wage contracts, in which younger workers started at a lower wage rate than their seniors did, and would never catch up with the older generation.  We see a similar philosophy with proposals for so-called Social Security reform, in which the reductions in benefits are supposed to fall on those still in the work force while existing retirees such as myself were “grandfathered” in.

All these things have been going on for a long time, but the current recession makes things much worse.  The economy is still bleeding jobs, and it is not clear when, if ever, this can be made up.  It is no joke to be middle-aged in this economy, but it is tough to be young and competing with middle-aged people for entry-level jobs.  No matter so many young people are living at home.

All the things that are necessary to wean the country off debt will mean a slower-growing economy and less opportunity for young people.  It will not be possible to bring the federal budget under control without reducing military spending, and the military is a major employer of young people.

There is a good article on the impact of the recession in the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly.  The author, Don Peck, points out that many members of the younger generation are psychologically unprepared for the harsh world they will face.  I came of age in the greatest economic expansion this country has ever known, but remembering the admonitions of my parents, based on their experience of the Great Depression, to work hard, save my money and be prepared for the worst.  The generation coming of age now has been taught to expect the best, but faces the worst economy since the 1930s.

[Update 9/5/10]  This infographic shows how college students are being exploited by lenders.