Over the last month or so, the phrase ‘Ok Boomer’ has made its way into popular usage. I first saw the phrase used by a New Zealand MP to dismiss a condescending remark by a detractor. The term has come to represent a dismissal of old ideas, essentially a version of ‘Ok, you had your turn running the show, step aside’. In light of the current state of affairs, with corrupt politicians ruining the environment, society and everything else they touch, this does not seem unreasonable. But I want to encourage nuance in the use of the phrase. Is this a version of #notallboomers? Yes. Generalising is not a useful technique of argumentation, no matter how many clicks it gets. Rather than pointing the finger at an age group, we are better served by targeting the class who has caused the trouble: the greedy and corrupt oligarchs
#NotAllBoomers: They Are Not All to Blame (But Some Are)
It is true that many in the so-called Boomer generation grew up with many advantages: medicare, free university and so on. But they also worked very hard for what they have, and this should never be doubted. The crime came in the late 1980s when a Labor government introduced a partial payback of the cost of university, which had previously been free. They had their free education, you see, so this was no longer necessary. What should never be forgotten is that there is footage of Joe Hockey protesting for what he called ‘our right to free education’. One wonders what the current Prime Monster would have to say about that. However, what is interesting is that Hockey was right!
Bob Hawke’s decision to introduce the partial payback paved the way for John Howard to sabotage the economic participation of all future generations by making the payback 100%. Once again, they had their free education, so the policy was now redundant. The key point is that this had nothing to do with the Boomer generation (Howard was too old), but rather was the political class saying ‘for me and mine, not thee and thine’.
The Usefulness of ‘OK Boomer’
The phrase does have its place: dismissing the old and failed ideas of these corrupt kleptocrats who petulantly cling to power. We should set these failed ideas aside: tax cuts for the rich, coal as the only viable energy source and so on. These ideas have been tried and the last forty years of reality has shown that they do not work. If we are talking about ideas here, then yes, Ok Boomer has its place: failed ideas of generations past should be left in the past. But let us not forget why these failed and regressive ideas remain part of the ether: the oligarchs. Media moguls and the ultra-rich who, in the case of Clive Palmer (who is a boomer) quite literally tried to buy the election by spending tens of millions of his own money.
A Pattern Emerges: Class over Generation
I hope the examples of Clive Palmer, John Howard, and Bob Hawke have generated a pattern. Specifically, it is class rather than generation that is the cause of our current problems. While you might argue that I am generalising the rich as the cause, I have targetted specific examples. The point is that the problem is members of the Boomer generation, who, to paraphrase George Carlin, happen to be rich. It is, as I said above, these kleptocrats who petulantly cling to power despite being wrong for forty years who are the problem. Perhaps ‘Ok Wealther’ might be a more accurate term.
Conclusion: Debunking a Myth
It used to be said that people became more conservative in their political outlook as they aged. This was a sort of conventional wisdom, and like many forms of conventional wisdom, it is a load of crap. The reality is that age often correlates with the accumulation of wealth, which usually generates less uncertainty, and with it less need for change. I am doing just fine, thank you, nothing needs to change. This is, once again, an example of class over generation. Typically, each generation winds up better off financially than their parents were, and successive generations of this increase in wealth, and the associated tory turn that goes with it, generated this myth. Once more, it is not generation, it is class.
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