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The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers are Screwing Up America

The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers are Screwing Up America

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The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers are Screwing Up America

168 pages
1 hour
Jul 15, 2012


The financial condition of the U.S.A. resembles a sinking ship. Excess of spending over revenues as far as can reasonably be predicted. Debt being piled up year after year. Interest payments poised to soar when the unsustainably low rates of 2012 return to normal levels.

At the helm of this ship of state are the Baby Boomers. They dominate the electorate, our legislative bodies, our corporate leadership, even our workplace. They seem unaware of the problem of enacting a new entitlement program every ten years, by which they guarantee that their pleasant retirement will be paid with other people's money. They are children in a candy store, on a sugar high, and without concern that they are stealing their children's retirement and their grandchildren's college funds.

In THE CANDY STORE GENERATION: HOW THE BABY BOOMERS ARE SCREWING UP AMERICA, David Todd analyses the political and financial leadership of the Boomers—his generation—and finds them wanting. Using a mixture of research, how own recollections of living through it, and financial projections from the Congressional Budget Office and other sources, Todd shows how the Boomers' expectations of what government should do for them is causing a disaster for our nation.

This is not a call to arms, but rather a warning shot across the bow. Others have written this very thing, and political commentators have shouted this from their platforms, yet the Baby Boomers remain children in a candy store, still oblivious to the harm they are doing. Perhaps it takes a common voter saying it to nudge the ship on a different course.

Jul 15, 2012

Despre autor

David Todd is a civil engineer by profession (37 years), a genealogist by avocation, an environmentalist by choice, and a writer by passion. He grew up in Rhode Island, where he attended public schools in Cranston and then the University of Rhode Island. In his adult life he has lived in Kansas City, Saudi Arabia, Asheboro North Carolina, Kuwait, and now northwest Arkansas since 1991. Along the way he acquired a love for history and poetry.He currently works at CEI Engineering Associates, Inc. in Bentonville, Arkansas. He is Corporate Trainer for Engineering, which includes planning and conducting training classes and mentoring younger staff. He is the senior engineer at the company, and hence gets called on to do the more difficult projects that most of the younger engineers don't feel confident to tackle. He has recently worked on a number of floodplain studies and mapping projects. He is a registered engineer in three states, a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, and a Certified Construction Specifier (certification lapsed).He has been actively pursuing genealogy for fifteen years, having done much to document his and his wife's ancestry and family history. He has been writing creatively for eleven years.

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The Candy Store Generation - David Todd



Published by David A Todd at Smashwords

Copyright 2012 by David A. Todd

License Notes

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Graphs not attributed to an organization are based on graphs or data from the Congressional Budget Office

Cover by Victoria Nicks: http://www.victorianicks.com

Cover photo by Evan-Amos as a part of Vanamo Media

Photograph is modified from the original

Interior design by Rik Hall: http://rikhall.com

Graphs not attributed to an organization are based on graphs or data from the Congressional Budget Office

Chapter 1


Those who are old enough, think back to September and October, 2000. We were in the middle of the presidential campaign. Vice President Albert Arnold Gore Jr. of Tennessee vs. Governor George Walker Bush from Texas. As part of the campaign, they took part in three televised debates. Many of us watched them, and may remember something of the proceedings. The first of those three debates is the one that sticks most in my mind more than a decade later.

It was October 3, 2000. The backdrop was the winding down of the Clinton presidency, the last six years of which were with Republican majorities in Congress, both House and Senate—majorities large enough that Clinton could not pick off a few disgruntled Republican moderates or liberals (yes, the latter existed back then, as Rhode Islanders know too well) and get his preferred agenda passed into legislation. He had to deal with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole, later Trent Lott, who set the economic agenda. Fiscal responsibility was in, and "the era of big government was over." Not because Clinton wanted it to be, but because the Republican Congress insisted it was.

Nearing the end of those six years, the budget was more or less balanced, and, thanks more to Congress than to the president, the Congressional Budget Office was projecting surpluses as far as could be forecast, perhaps totaling a trillion dollars over a decade. These were conditions not seen for a generation—or two—or maybe three.

So the presidential debates took place amid economic good times, and a key topic was what to do with the surplus. This was especially so in the first debate. Gore's solution: bold new social programs, and pay off the national debt in twelve years, rather than continue to roll it over. As a taxpayer who expected to be in twelve of his peak earning years during that time, I wasn't sure why I should be called on to obliterate in twelve years what a procession of Congresses created in forty, but that’s another story. No relief for tax payers was included in Gore’s plan. Bush's solution: bold new social programs, coupled with tax reductions that paid lip service to the notion that the surplus would truly come to be (remember, it hadn't actually happened yet; it was just a projection, though small surpluses in the previous three years looked promising). Bush’s plan did not include accelerated pay down of the national debt.

The excess of government revenue—taxes and fees—over government needs, was the people’s money according to Bush, the government’s money according to Gore. I agreed it wasn't the government's money; it was the taxpayer's money. My money. And the candidates were fixin' to spend all or most of it on social programs, programs unthinkable a generation before, rights suddenly discovered as possible through prosperity, not endowed by God.

The press coverage of that first debate kept going back to Bush’s fuzzy math statement and Gore’s childish body language when Bush was speaking. I saw or heard almost no coverage that gave expert analysis of the promises being made. Would there be a trillion dollar surplus over ten years? Could the prescription drug benefit attached to Medicare be had for five hundred billion, and over what time frame? Could the debt be eliminated in twelve years? Could both Medicare prescription drug benefits and tax cuts be funded from a surplus that hadn’t yet happened? Concerned voters wanted to know, but instead we got fuzzy math and irked sighs.

At the office coffee pots, in the grocery store, in the church halls, the focus was on what to do with a surplus that hadn’t yet happened. Should we pay down the national debt? Should we give tax cuts? Should we add the prescription drug benefit? I heard no discussion of whether we should even be making plans to spend what we did not yet have. No one said, Let's wait a couple of years, and see if we really do have a surplus, or Put the surplus in the bank; let's wait a few years and see if this surplus can be maintained. The seniors had earned this social program, said the young and old alike. We have this big surplus. Why shouldn’t we create the program, and make life easier for them? We have this big surplus coming. All their years and our years of hard work were finally paying off. And, hey, some day we’d be that old and on Medicare and would have the government pay for our prescription medicines. We have this big surplus. No one ever said, "We are about to have this big surplus, or We think we will have this big surplus, if nothing goes wrong."

I was struck by the idiocy of it all, and how everyone running for office, everyone in the media, everyone around me listened to the rhetoric and lapped it all up. Searching for some way to describe the mood, an image came to me. I saw myself in a candy store, watching the customers around me. Gore and Bush were children in the candy store, there with their daddies. Daddy, who came of age during the Great Depression, was a frugal soul, and on a normal day grudgingly gave each child a few pennies and told them to buy as much as he could. But on this day, as I watched, their daddies gave each of them $100 and turned them loose. Children, expecting Daddy to give them a few pennies, when he instead gives them ten thousand, are dangerous. Do not get between them and the candy counter. They went crazy, created havoc as they purchased a full hundred dollars worth and made themselves sick on the confections.

Members of Congress who have lived on years of scarcity, while spending as if they had oodles of money, are also dangerous when presented with true abundance. Or actually, not true abundance, but the threshold of true abundance. Don't get between them and the national treasury. When historically they found a way to spend $1.00 for every 82 cents they took in, what would happen when they didn't have to borrow, when revenues had increased by that 18 cents? I would not want to be between the candy counter and members of Congress when they made that discovery.

Besides the election of Republican majorities in 1994, Congress changed in another way between that year and 2000. In 1981 when Ronald Reagan took office, with a Democratic House and Republican Senate, he was able to make headway toward fiscally responsible government because Congress was still composed of a majority (or at least a sizable contingent, including the leadership) of the Greatest Generation—those born in the late teens and 20s of the 20th Century, who weathered a long depression, fought and won a world war, had parents who had won a previous world war, drove the nation to post-war prosperity, and faced their own racial prejudices and enacted public policies to offset what their bigoted hearts felt.

But by 1994, the balance in Congress had begun to tip, a process partially completed by 2000, from that generation to its progeny—the Baby Boomers, a generation raised on privilege and ease, coddled by our televisions and indiscriminately drinking words of the information age, accepting of big government—my generation.

In the coming chapters I'll explore this concept of the Baby Boomers being the Candy Store Generation. This will be my thoughts, as one who lived through and closely observed it. The leadership they are providing in politics, business, finances, and culture will be covered.

And who am I that I should offer my opinion, and that anyone should care what that opinion is? I’m not a scholar, nor a participant in political campaigns, nor an economist or sociologist, nor an office holder. I don’t run a business. I’m a salary earner and a taxpayer. I'm an observer of politics, a voter for forty years. I have strongly held opinions which I believe are rooted in common sense.

This book is not a scholarly work. While I have done some research, it has not been exhaustive. When I needed Federal budget figures I relied mostly on such sources as the U.S. Treasury Department and the Congressional Budget Office. As I’ll say more about in the last chapter, I could be wrong in my informal methodology and my conclusions. Just about every Baby Boomer with whom I've shared the concept of the book is convinced I'm wrong. I'm a Boomer, they say, and I'm not like that, thereby forgetting that anecdotes are not statistics. I anticipate getting a lot of mail from irate Boomers.

Maybe it’s not the Baby Boomers who are screwing up America, but all generations have equal blame for what’s happening to us. Perhaps so, but I’ll show that it’s happening on the Boomers' watch, while they are in charge of government and business. They are the ones currently in power, who can fix it, but who seem either blind to it or incapable of solving the problem.

And what is the purpose of this book? To chronicle salient history? To issue a call to arms? To predict a turn-around? To take an opportunity to scream from a soapbox? I think the real purpose I have in mind is to fire a shot across the bow of my generation, and hope they come to their senses. Not expecting that to happen, it is to hope the generations sailing behind us note that shot, and pay attention.

Chapter 2


The Greatest Generation. The Baby Boomers. Gen X. Gen Y. The Millenniums. The Silent Generation.

We love to put labels on generations. I read an economics book once that put labels on generations based on a leading personality of that generation. The Bob Hope Generation was the one who made up the foot soldiers in World War 1. The Henry Ford Generation was the one who led the country during World War 1.

Yet, can generations be labeled as such? With a constant progression of births and deaths, of aging, of making of families and breaking up of those to make new families, how can you label a generation? When does one generation end, and another generation begin? Yes, it is sort of easy to take note of the Baby Boomers. After World War 2, our nine million men in the armed forces returned home. These men returned to their wives, or took wives, and we saw an explosion of the birth rate. From 1946 to 1964 the birth rate remained high, in contrast to prior and later decades.

During the years of the Great Depression, an already declining American birth rate sank even lower. It began to increase as Europe went to war in 1939 and the Depression ended, but then with so many men away from their families, either fighting overseas or manning bases in the USA, away from their families, not as many babies were being made.

The beginning of the Baby Boom Generation, commonly called the Boomers, is considered to be 1946. That's a good benchmark year. The war was over in all theatres, and most of the troops were home. Men and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends were reunited. This group of people started having children. The birth rate increased, the number of live births increased, and the population began to grow quickly.

But there has to be something more to distinguish a generation than just a change in the birth rate. Obviously children born in 1946 or later had a few things that they didn't experience, things that had been fundamental in their parents' experience.

- They didn't experience the amazing events associated with World War 2. Sociologist Dr. Margaret Mead called World War 2 the biggest generation gap creator ever.

- They didn't experience the Great Depression. Their parents did, and brought certain experiences forward from that, but

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