Friday, September 24, 2010

An idiot at the Atlantic monthly

Michael Kinsley at TheAtlantic magazine, writes about the Baby Boomer generation and how they can make their mark in history. He pooh-poohs Joe Klein, writing in Time a year ago, for suggesting that legalizing marijuana would be a suitable mark.

So what do you give the country that has everything? You give it cash. The biggest peril Americans now face isn’t Islamo-fascism. It’s our own inability to live within our means. It would be nice to give our country the wisdom and self-discipline to stop running up the credit card. And we should try. But it’s unlikely that we can remake the national character (including our own) in 19 years. What we can do is offer a lecture and a fresh start. We should pass on to the next generation an America that’s free from debt.

What an idiotic thing to propose.

One would think that the need is for responsible money handling, which would have long-lasting impacts. Gifts, especially of cash, have the opposite effect.

Kinsley returns to the era of WWII and the Greatest Generation, and glosses over the massive use of mass media and deliberate government propaganda to manipulate a nation. This introduction to mass marketing became, after WWII, today's merchandising and marketing advertisement, and a consumerist culture who's bubble is bursting now with the current round of deflation. It is the lack of morals in advertising to create a perception of need in the target audience that most marks the legacy of the Greatest Generation that hinders today's world. Marketing designed to benefit makers of consumer products and consumer debt have little regard to endangering, as a nation, the discipline or values of the Baby Boomers.

The mark of the 1960's Boomers was the drop-out Hippie, in an age affluent enough that much of a generation could stop contributing to their own support and turn to drugs (crime) and indolence, without dying out completely. The Hippie movement ended as members were reabsorbed into a working - at the individual level - society. The mark of the Greatest Generation of the 1960s was a man on the moon, and Russian imperialism held at bay.

Bring home candy for the kids when you go to the grocery store. The next time you return home, what do the kids do? Right. Not greet you, but demand "their" candy. Kinsley's proposal to cash out the Boomers will merely give the next generation a free pass to continue living as if affluence were a virtue and a certainty - and guarantee the overspending continues but without an example of how to stop (which is to stop spending).

Death taxes or voluntary donations of estates result in money withdrawn from the economy, denied to heirs that might have been otherwise been ready to continue ongoing businesses and enterprises - like farmland. Snatching estates for government use rewards government spending (vote buying), while ruining lives for the people living on the ongoing business of living, related to that estate.

Lack of discipline is the problem, and gifts are not the answer.

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