Government Spending

Baby Boomers Screwing Younger Workers, Private Sector Edition


Note: I'll be discussing the August/September Reason cover story "Generational Warfare" on C-SPAN tomorrow from 9.15 a.m. ET through 10 a.m. ET. Go here for more info or to stream it live.

Over the past couple of weeks or so, Reason articles about generational warfare have generated a lot of traffic and chatter. 

My July 11 piece, "The Real Class Warfare is Baby Boomers vs. Younger Americans," argued that the very boomers who hated their parents are now screwing over their own kids through runaway entitlement spending, calls for a new draft, and other stupid ideas.

The Reason cover story I co-authored with Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center, "Generational Warfare" has been described as "long but spectacular" by new favorite Twitter person. It lays out in detail (spectacular detail) why it's time to get rid of old-age entitlements that are not just bankrupting the country but (in the case of Social Security) paying out crummier and crummier returns.

For younger people: If you care about your future, read the story and call your Congressthing and tell 'em what-for. For older people: If you care about your kids' or grandkids' future, call your Congressthing and tell them to cut your entitlement pay—and your kids' current and future taxes.

But that's all the public sector, right? Has to do with taxes and gummint and all that. Well it turns out that boomers in the private sector are also screwing younger, newer workers. Take the United Auto Workers UAW) and GM, for instance. In an analysis of the rotten bankruptcy proceedings the government engineered for GM, the Heritage Foundation's James Sherk and George Mason University Law professor Todd Zywicki note in passing that the haircut to employee compensation isn't equally shared:

The UAW made some concessions during the 2009 bankruptcy. The union allowed GM to expand the use of entry-level "Tier 2" workers making half as much as regular workers. This was a significant concession—by current employees on behalf of future employees.

Tier 2 workers don't just make less money than their Tier 1 counterparts; their benefits are seriously reduced as well (check out page 23 in this 2007 labor agreement, which has Tier 2 people making less than half as much per hour in compensation as Tier 1 folks). So younger, newer workers can expect to earn substantially less than the current and past employees who helped drive the company into bankruptcy (along with awful management, to be sure). GM spent decades building cars that were deemed too expensive by consumers, so they obviously have to cut its costs, including (or especially) labor costs. But those that got fat in the good old days won't share in the pain very much, if at all.

It remains unlikely that—despite early, unfollowed-up-on hype to the contrary—that GM will ever really pay back its government bailout. And while there's no question that wages needed to come way down, it's still galling that in yet another context, the boomers have managed to skate past problems.

NEXT: Surveillance Fourth Amendment Violations Admitted by Feds

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  1. Awesome! SUCK.COM cartoons! I miss those!

  2. I used to enjoy screwing younger workers.

    Then the boss implemented the “No Office Relationships” rule.

  3. Sorry about that, but you forget, being a Baby Boomer, I paid taxes all my adult life and supported my parents and other elderly. It’s time young folk ante up and step up to the plate like we do/did (I still pay). It is the job of the parent to care and nurture the child, then it is the turn of the child to return the favor unless you don’t care. When you get older you will figure it out, until then Viva la’ Revolution! (We had ours already), keep the torch burning my friend!

    1. And sorry to say its this attitude right here that will be this state’s undoing.

      1. No, the undoing is the younger generations’ refusal to do what is right. Looks like we are stepping back into the self-indulgent micro-focused thinking of the 80’s, me, me, me. Maybe if you had grown up in the 50’s or 60’s you would understand. It takes time to learn wisdom, knowledge is easy.

        1. The right thing to do would involve major changes in the way we do things – something the boomers are not willing to do. After all, they got theirs.

        2. This is such horsecrap.

          1) You are going to pull more money out of Social Security than your kids ever will (if they get any money at all).

          2) You KNEW that this was a problem for 30 years and you and your ilk did nothing to fix it. Indeed, you did everything you could to motor on in, and collect yours- assuming that your kids would have to be the ones to bite the bullet.

          It’s like all the Baby Boomers were sitting in line outside a burning pub, itching to get their booze. Now they are inside getting drunk and shouting out the door “Hey kids, when are you gonna get some buckets and put this shit out…It’s HOT”.

    2. I paid taxes all my adult life and supported my parents and other elderly

      Yes, and yet only a fraction of the taxes you paid which were “earmarked” for that purpose ever went to that purpose. The remainder were then used to fund general govt expenditures during that period in lieu of actually saving them for your elderly years. Therefore, no sympathy from me. You and your generation should have demanded that govt trim itself to a level that could be funded by general revenues instead of borrowing against your old age pensions and the money you paid into SS/MC should have been set aside for that very program.

      Since it wasn’t, the program is completely insolvent absent significant tax increases on a generation that is much poorer than yours and unlikely to ever achieve a comparable level of net worth courtesy of your generation’s inability to balance books.

      So fuck you, you won’t be eating alpo and don’t be disingenuous scumbag and claim you will. But you’re not gonna eat beluga while I struggle to afford top ramen.

    3. I can see one redeeming feature in this otherwise loathsome belch of statist madness: At least it’s honest enough to not recycle that bullshit we Boomers have spouted for decades about it being “for The Children.” The reality is that Boomers have been all about fucking those same children for every one of those decades. We’ve spent all the money, we’ve eaten all the seed corn and we’ve mortgaged everything else to the hilt, all the while lying to ourselves and our kids and grandkids that it was all for them.

      So congrats, SOB, you’re an honest shitheel.

    4. “It is the job of the parent to care and nurture the child, then it is the turn of the child to return the favor unless you don’t care.”

      Physically, maybe, but I don’t know about financially. Back in the day, people often left an inheritance for their kids, which is one reason the kids put up with wiping grandpa’s ass in the first place.

      Tell you what, how about we take that money we were going to use to take care of you, and instead use it to pay off the massive debt that you voted for over the past few decades, either in support of social programs or the military-industrial complex. I think that’s fair.

    5. I paid taxes all my adult life and supported my parents and other elderly.

      Yeah… The Greatest Generation kicked off the con with Social Security and added Medicare, but they understood the game. They made a lot of babies – the Boomers – so it is/was relatively easy for us to pay off their benefits. We Boomers expanded Medicare and added prescription benefits, but we’ve barely made enough babies to pay for it. Still, thanks to the Millies, it looks like we may squeak through and get most of our payoff (well, at least us early Boomers). The Millies can take credit for piling on the additional ObamaCare benefits, as they are the ones that elected him. But they are just not making enough babies to have any hope of securing their entitlements from the next generation. The cold hard fact is that we Boomers will be extracting the remaining potential winnings from their paychecks for as long as they are working. I think this generation needs a new name. I submit for your consideration – The Dumbest Generation.

      Like P.T. Barnum almost said… “There’s a Millennial born every minute, and two Boomers to take ’em.”

      Oboomercare and the Dumbest Generation

  4. Oh, btw, my parents paid in way before me! *lol*

  5. I think the main thrust of his piece, which hints specific agenda by Baby Boomer generation to enrich itself on the backs of the young, is inaccurate. The older generation were “the beneficiaries of good timing” in everything from a strong economy to a long rise in housing prices. In contrast, quick prospects for improvement are dismal for the younger generation. Overall the young suffer stubbornly high unemployment rates?and an even higher incidence of underemployment. The unemployment rate for people between 18 and 29 is 12 percent in the U.S., nearly 50 percent above the national average. That’s a far cry from the fearsome 50 percent rate seen in Spain or Greece, or the 35 percent in Italy and 22 percent in France and the U.K but well above the 8 percent rate in Germany.

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