Dec 23, 2008

Shifting generations: Boomers out, Cuspers in

Posted by: Marian Salzman In: Boomers| Cuspers| sightings from the zeitgeist| thought leadership| trendspotting

Rarely has there been a year when so many things went out of style in such a short time: not just investment bankers, gas-guzzling cars, corporate jets, conspicuous consumption and political polarization, but also a whole generation. After strutting and tub-thumping and preening their way across the high ground of politics, media, culture and finance for 30 years, Baby Boomers have gone from top dogs to scapegoats in barely a year.

As Baby Boomers lose their authority and appeal, generational power is shifting one notch down: to Cuspers (born roughly 1954-1965), who arrived in style in 2008 with their first truly major figure, Barack Obama (born 1961).

George W. Bush, born in 1946 at the start of the postwar baby boom for which his generation is named, will leave office with the lowest approval ratings since Nixon was president. As Thomas Friedman has written, Bush epitomizes what’s now seen as “The Greediest Generation.”

Who’s to blame for the economy going into serious decline? The short and easy answer is: Greedy Boomers. This is the generation that knew better than their cautious, fuddy-duddy parents, the generation that protested, that had ideals and marched to the beat of defiant music (“Street Fighting Man,” “We want the world and we want it now,” “Hope I die before I get old”). It’s the generation that pursued pleasure, proclaimed “I can have it all” and refused to grow old (“50 is the new 30,” etc.). And now, after years of taking credit for changing the world, Baby Boomers are taking the rap for the reversal of fortune that’s shaking the world.

Whatever history may decide, today’s commentators and pundits of all ages have decided that Boomers—the dominant cohort in many developed countries—are guilty. And whether or not they’re really to blame, what counts is that they look like they are. Their profile fits. Like a big-name Hollywood director who’s lived on the edge too long, caused one too many scandals and made one too many turkeys, suddenly the Boomers are the generation nobody wants to be associated with.

Cuspers, the age cohort that has been living in the shadow of the Boomers, now have even more reasons to stake out their own separate identity and values. It’s taken a long time for this rising demographic to be recognized as a distinct generation in its own right. They’ve been called Late Boomers because they were missed the formative Boomer experiences of the ’60s, such as civil rights and anti-war protests. They’ve been called Tweeners or Cuspers because they straddle the divide between Boomers and Gen X. American social commentator Jonathan Pontell has worked hard to establish their identity as Generation Jones.

There’s still debate about whether Cuspers are even a generation apart from Boomers and where the generational boundaries lie. But those arguments miss the key point, which is that Americans want change. In Obama, they see the hopeful prospect of a new generation taking over. And in these dark days, they’re hoping against hope that his generation can usher in new, better values to guide the nation. His victory has variously been portrayed as the end of Vietnam War politics (heroes vs. draft dodgers, etc.) and of the 1960s “culture wars” in which ideology counted for more than competence.

About half of those Obama has named to major posts in the new administration are also Cuspers (including the proposed energy czar, education secretary, treasury secretary and UN ambassador), and the generation may have another poster child if Caroline Kennedy (born 1957) is named to the New York Senate seat that Hillary Clinton is expected to vacate.

Obama himself has made it clear he thinks in terms of generational difference. He’s spoken of carrying on the work of the Moses generation (the Martin Luther King generation), whose successors he’s referred to as the Joshua generation. His activists rallied under the banner of Generation Obama , and his campaign’s ability to mobilize the youth vote proved decisive in his victory.

Whether we call them Cuspers, Generation Jones or Generation Obama, there are enigmas and paradoxes within this generation and its fans. They respond to Biblical imagery, but they’re not dogmatic in their faith. They value traditional notions of family but see men and women as equals in parenting. They hark back to older American values (civility, community, responsibility) yet keenly embrace technology and use the Internet naturally.

In fact, embracing digital technology is one of the telling dividers between Boomers and Cuspers. It’s no coincidence that leading-edge Cuspers such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim-Berners Lee (all born in 1955) helped create the digital universe that Cuspers and younger generations now inhabit as a matter of course. (It’s also telling that Gates and wife Melinda, also a Cusper, are the parents of philanthro-capitalism.)

For marketers and brand specialists, Cuspers are a fast-emerging challenger brand that’s fascinating to watch as it defines itself and attracts brand fans. The brand attributes that were once seen as disadvantages—living in the shadow of Boomers, a lack of major formative experiences, no “heroic” narrative—have turned out to be advantages as the Boomer brand loses its sheen. The Cusper brand can define itself by what it’s not: greedy, selfish, confrontational, hung up on past battles.

The Cusper generation is as much an ideal as it is a demographic cohort, and that appeal extends well beyond the birth years that define it. Watch out for Tweets that proclaim “Ich bin ein Cusper.”

  • Tom Hintz
    Get a REAL job girl then grow up.
  • What a clear and concise picture you paint Marian. One of the wonderful things about the "cuspers" is that they have taken the values and concerns of the pre-boomers (like me) and refined, polished, and reconstituted the issues important to my generation. Ethics, caring, responsibility, activism (albeit via technology and not so much in the streets), etc. and changed the landscape of all of it. I haven't been this hopeful for a very long time. And in these economic times, hope is difficult to come by - but the "cuspers" have provided it for many of us.
  • David
    I have been saying it for years now - the greatest generation was followed by the least generation. Boomers will ultimately be credited as the first and only generation that left America in worse shape than when they inherited it. It is the one thing liberals and conservatives will agree on. To liberals, they took (tax cuts) when they should have been giving (social security trust fund, universal healthcare…). To conservatives, they maintained and even added on (prescription drug medicare) to entitlements they new would burden future generations. Born in 1967, when I look at my future, I see a bleak task of endless sacrafice just to cope with the problems my generation is inheriting from boomers and a monumental task to clean it up so my daughter (1998) and son (2001) won't have to. Boomer's vanity and self absorbsion will be rewarded with disdain for generations to come.
  • j
    Cuspers? I thought we were called "Generation Jones"
  • David
    I have been saying it for years now - the greatest generation was followed by the least generation. Boomers will ultimately be credited as the first and only generation that left America in worse shape than when they inherited it. It is the one thing liberals and conservatives will agree on. To liberals, they took (tax cuts) when they should have been giving (social security trust fund, universal healthcare…). To conservatives, they maintained and even added on (prescription drug medicare) to entitlements they new would burden future generations. Born in 1967, when I look at my future, I see a bleak task of endless sacrafice just to cope with the problems my generation is inheriting from boomers and a monumental task to clean it up so my daughter (1998) and son (2001) won't have to. Boomer's vanity and self absorbsion will be rewarded with disdain for generations to come.
  • Jiles Samson
    Marian, cute piece. Being born in 1961 I have never felt part of the boomer generation. However, PLEASE don't call me "generation Obama." Most of my Cusper friends are Evangelical Christians and firmly still believe in free enterprise instead of socialism and therefore disagree with Obama on almost everything.
  • Mondo
    Thanks for this, which I've been saying for a long time. Statistically the birthrate started to increase just after WW2 and actually began declining in 1955. Grouping everyone from 1945 to 1965 together makes as much sense as saying there's no difference between a bull and bear market!
    Fact is that I was only 9 when Woodstock happened. At that age I was more in tune to kids TV than war-protest, and I'm tired of being bullied into romanticizing that debacle as some generational cultural milestone. I know folks who were there and they said it was more like a natural disaster than a free-love festival. People were wading through mud and feces and could never get close enough to even see the bands. At any rate, Boomers burned out everything they touch and left us to clean up after their excesses, and I'm tired of it. CUSPERS UNITE AND REVOLT!!!
  • And let you and your fellow "cuspers" keep paying into my Social Security for at least the next twenty years....

    HO! HO! HO!
  • MohawkChieftain
    And let you and the rest of your "Cuspers" keep payin' into my Social Security for at least the next twenty years....

    HO! HO! HO!
  • pete
    Since my first post didnt show up--Marian when were you born???1960? how convienent absolve yourself and your metrosexual friends from the fact that by reading your posts you come across as the epitome of what you are criticize. selfish --did you fight in Viet Nam? did you end the draft? did yu go to the streets for civil rights--no you just reap the benefits and then look down your nose at the folks who fought for womens rights (which you use everyday). What kind of car do you drive a VW beetle or a hummer?? How many square feet is your house?? How many homes do you have? What are your anthems?? Disco?? Please give me a break George bush is as much you as he is part of everyone else in this country.

    Finally, you trivialize what Obama stands for
  • CMon
    Nice Mohawk, nothing productive to say, just great at being an annoying jerk.
  • MohawkChieftain
    Jeez, CMon: so you're a 'name caller'... I guess that makes you 'productive', huh? I wish I'd had you in a foxhole in 'Nam with me; I'd have shown you just how 'productive' I could be! Heh, Heh....
  • Howard Bowler
    What has more value, substance or rhetoric? An excerpt from the above column may answer that. Here's the quote:

    "And whether or not they’re really to blame, what counts is that they look like they are."
    What counts is that they LOOK like they are? What does that mean? That sounds like someone's bigoted relative.
    I'm glad the author is not a judge or we'd all be in trouble.
  • Pam
    You can say what you want about the Baby Boomers, but to call my parents' generation 'fuddy duddies' shows your ignorance. Are you aware of the sacrifices they made. I'm a teacher - were paying attention in US history class?
  • pete
    What a crock!!!

    You forget that it was boomers who fought the Viet Nam war highly unpopular yet it was we that answered the call. It was we who then protested
    the war and got your generation out of the draft. It was we who fought for civil rights and it is our music you listen too--I noticed you know our anthems.

    Barack is a boomer yes late but a boomer you change long held identity to bash someone you want to hold responsible for the loss of retirements--who didnt fight for them you didnt who voted for Reagan (the beginning of this mess) you did.

    And if by some chance you were not born between 1946-64 then you ought to keep silent about what you know nothing about.
  • GB
    It is not the baby boomers generation who drive gas guzzling SUVs, nor is it that generation who stupidly bought houses they couldn't afford because they had to "have it big and now." Sorry Marian Salzman - take another look. While cuspers may think they have high ideals, they are very much the "me" generation who demand instant gratification. They must drive SUVs to cart their two kids and dog around. I carted my three kids and dog around in a Toyota, and raised a family in an 1800 sf townhouse. We all did just fine and were grateful for what we had - with no debt other than an affordable mortgage!
  • hebegb
    I am an early boomer (1947) and I find the broad brush used to paint all of us as greedy, selfish and confrontational to be absolutely true about many (certainly not the majority) of us, and also a whole lot of cuspers too. However, I will add the following adjectives for a lot of cuspers to chew on that seem to apply more to them than to us;
    Lazy, uncaring, unthoughtful, egotistic, class conscious and unwilling to learn from history (Big Mistake)..
    Without the confrontational part of our nature the young folks today would be speaking either German, Japanese or Russian.
    As for MohawkChieftain's comment, that just helps enforce the point of the article. Doesn't he understand that SocSec is now in the hands of the cuspers?
  • MohawkChieftain
    Gee, didn't I tell those little "cuspers" to keep on workin', so they could keep on payin' into my Social Security? Didn't they teach you people how to read, or wasn't that part of your school's curriculum?
  • Gen-X (born 1970)
    I don’t think “cuspers” in recent years have acted any differently than the rest of the Boomer generation of which they are still apart. This article does a good job of pointing out the fear that boomers, who have not yet retired and still in the workforce, have of being marginalized and thought of as they have been acting… greedy! They recognize the frustration Gen-X and later generations have with Boomers and these “cuspers” simply want to separate themselves and avoid that angst. In other words, this is just the remaining boomers still active in society trying to re-brand themselves and avoid the criticism due to them!
  • Seanie
    Excellent article. True, so true. I am one of those early Gen Xers (41) who over the years have both in business and personal life seen how the technophobic, high on themselves yet desperate for incessant meetings, group sessions and smile fests, back patting and mutually congradulating for diddly squat Boomers coast around claiming how great they are yet screw up left and right.

    I am so so tired of them.
  • Pete
    Dear Marian,

    I am 31 years old and a proud "Child of the Eighties." For years I was ridiculed as a bitter Twixter with "Mommy and Daddy" issues. Your article (read it on validates what I've been ranting about for a long, long time. Until Nov. 4, the marquee players on the world stage were Boomers all: George W. Bush, the Clintons, Osama bin Laden, Michael Milken, Donald Trump, Hugo Chavez, the list continues. The petulant protesters of the '60s wrested power from the Greatest Generation in the aftermath of Watergate and have held our collective sociopolitical consciousness slave to their ideology of self-serving hypocrisy ever since. Until now. Kudos to you, madam, for your insight; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. (Note to the Cuspers: you're up now, and we're watching.)
  • raymondo
    Thanks for this, which I've been saying for a long time. Statistically the birthrate started to increase just after WW2 and actually began declining in 1955. Grouping everyone from 1945 to 55 with those from 1956 to 1965 together makes as much sense as saying there's no difference between a bull and bear market! The boomers burned out everything they touched and left us to clean up after their excesses, and I'm tired of it. CUSPERS UNITE!!!
  • Robin from Washington
    Thanks for this insight, i'm a 1958 child, and it makes alot of sense to me and my life experience, orientation and lack of "fit".....I'd suggest the book "Boomeritis" by Ken Wilbur. Apt description of the boomer generation.
  • NotABoomer
    Being born in 1965, I've never thought of myself as a Baby Boomer, regardless of when that generation ended. I was glad to read this piece and I think it's right on the money.
  • grania
    Thanks for the insight, makes sense to me and my experience (1958). Try reading Boomeritis by Ken Wilbur, you'll be annoyed and entertained.
  • Tom
    Regarding "Shifting Generations: Boomers Out, Cuspers In". I'm a boomer, born 1946. According to your timeline my wife, who is German-born and raised, would be a cusper, born 1954, but she considers herself very much a boomer; Ich bin kein Cusper. Your Cusper generation is a Fig Newton of your imagination.
  • Boomer65
    How can you be in both generations? Baby Boomers are said to be from 1946 - 1064. Now you are saying that "cuspers" are 1954-1956.

    Which is it?
  • Rombus
    This article is the most important telling of "what is happening" in America today. The legacy of the baby boomers is one of broken homes and institutional dysfunction powered by Napoleonic ego without constructive purpose.
    It's no small wonder the children of this generation have a high statistical suicide and abortion rate.
  • I agree. I'm born in 1957 and have never felt connected to boomers. I have been delighted by technology and have founded The Digital Film Academy in NYC. I feel like the evolutionary step between the stone(d) age and hi tech.
    I think we are socially more comfortable with the younger generation without a need to be them. The present and future belong everyone.
  • iwillbecauseiam
    I'm a cusper but have some shocking news for Marian. In the same way that you criticized your parents for their faults and your children will criticize you and on and on, your generation will take much criticism from the ones following you. I notice you left out the accomplishments of the Boomers and the Cusp generations, just in the same way the groups behind you will conveniently leave out your accomplishments when they flame you. What goes around comes around Marian.
  • mappy
    Gee, Marian, sorry but you sound pretty envious and darn right jealous of the boomers. If boomers don't look or act old, more power to us!
    And, ridiculous that you blame Us for the 'serious decline'. We have been funding SS for your life time and then some. Where's the gratitude? We have been working all these years to make sure we CAN have it all. And, you're even more dead wrong about technology. WE have been the leading edge of all of it.
    So, please, Cusper, (kind of an ugly name for you, huh?) grow up and give us the credit we have earned...
  • Larraine
    Gee, thanks! I love being branded as greedy. We're no greedy than anyone else. This same scenario played in the 20's and 30's.
  • Greenly
    Wow. I do wish you had done a bit of research before publishing this. Not only have you lumped an entire group of very individual people into one massive whole (something we have disliked ever since we were young), you have also ignored any good that members of "our" generation have accomplished.

    I was never a hippie. I was never a yuppie. I was never rich, though we have probably lost most, if not all, of our our retirement fund, thanks to those who are not only rich, but also greedy. I am much more typical of my generation than those people in charge of war or who run the economy.

    I never liked Bush and did not vote for him. (I suspect, however, that if a few more members of your generation had actually voted, he would never have been elected.) I voted for Obama, in spite of my "apparent" (to the media) "right-wing" religious beliefs. I also use a computer (and have done so for years) and a cell phone. Big deal. Most people my age do. (And I was born in 1948, a "true" boomer of a returning soldier.)

    People are not so simple as the media in general and your article specifically would have everyone believe.

    You see, in spite of my not being a hippie, I did, like many of my generation who were also not hippies, march for civil rights, for women's rights and even later for disability rights. I still write letters in support of environmental and disability issues and also financially support, in spite of meager funds, micro-loan organizations across the world.

    And there have been large and worthwhile accomplishments by members of "my" generation too numerous to name here.

    You need to understand that my generation only had a name because the name fitted the moment - we came along suddenly when our fathers returned from war. Why writers from that time to this have tried to name every generation to follow (and, thanks to Tom Brokaw, even one preceding us) is a mystery to me. Our generation alone needed a name to quickly explain the need for more classrooms and teachers and the tremendous surge, as we grew older, into whatever other effect our simply being there in such massive numbers precipitated.

    The truth is, our being here in such numbers is certainly not our fault. The truth is, we are simply individuals caught in a tide of many more people than is usual, or even healthy. And individuals of our population cannot take credit for the heroic and sometimes awesome accomplishments of its gifted few members anymore than we also cannot be somehow branded by the bad behavior of some other few individuals of our generation.

    So get a grip. And stop with the gross generalizations and labeling.
  • Ian
    Obama is smack dab in Generation X. Over the last 15 years, it seems the age rang for it keeps slipping forward (being born in '71, I was once at the end, now I am at the front. ???). Contemporary generations are most easily demarcated by their music. If someone was in their teens or early 20's when punk and hip hop started (Gen X-er's contributions to pop music), they are Gen X. Obama was 15 when the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop" came out and 20 when Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" came out. If this keeps up, in another 15 years Obama, the Ramones and Hip Hop will all be Boomer artifacts. Please don't steal my generation.
  • Yoshiyahu
    I was born in 1965, and have always felt myself a Gen Xr. But I'll happily embrace the 'cusper' label if it catches on.

    I feel an affinity with Obama, because, along with other reasons, I grew up for many years outside of the US, one parent was from a longtime American family, the other a foreigner, and don't fit in with either of my heritages.

    And while I've always been passionately involved in politics, I have always been distrustful of ideology and 'go team' politics I've always valued pragmatism and finding common ground.

    And this is definitely a commn sensibility to people my age that distinguishes us from the Boomers I know, who are far more likely to be happy to stake out a position on one side of an issue and stay there. For them, it's more important to take a stand. For us, it's more important to come to a resolution.

    And while I agree that it's foolish to lump everyone the same age into a group and pretend they are identical, I think it IS true that these generational groupings have validity and utility.
  • Juan
    How absurd to continue to come up with ways to separate the people of this country rather than unite them. And for what, the bragging rights of a prize for being a "trendspotter"? I call that "pathetic". It goes everything people like Barack Obama stand for.
  • Pippin
    FYI - The baby boomer generation is defined as born 1946 to1964 - maybe your definition should be "middle-boomers".
  • raymondo
    FYI the people who actually COINED the term 'BABY BOOM' defined it as a spike in the birth rate, such as what happened in the decade following WW2 when the US Census recorded an annual increase in the birth rate until 1955. This was follwed by a yearly decrease until the mid 1960s. Therefore children born in the late 50s and early 60s, by definition, are NOT baby boomers. Read here:
    Anyone saying anything else is trying to re-write statistical history, but as the saying goes "a lie repeated often enough and loudly enough will come to be accepted as the truth".
  • Randall
    Thanks for the uplifting Christmas Eve article on we greedy boomers....I was born in 1953 so I guess I am a "pre-cusper"!!..let's see...I have lived in the same small house for 26 years.......I have paid off my car is 12 years car credit card I guess that makes me a greedy boomer.........what a worthless commentary.....Merry Christmas.
  • cecile
    My Dear Lady,

    I think you need to retake Stataistics 101, assuming you already took it. If nothing else because there is strength in numbers and because of the economy boomers are retiring "whenever" honey... Forget the 65 age thing. So tell the Cuspers to take a number and get comfortable.
  • Kevin
    This is one of the funniest articles I've read in a long time. Funny in the sense that it must be sad that a so-called marketing genius needs to come up with the next "metrosexual." Feeling a little irrelevant Ms. Salzman, are we?
  • Dinos
    Babyboomer are greedy as well as down and out? What pathetic nonsense. You're just hoping the ignorati will take your BS seriously and keep you in a pay check.
  • Robert
    Absolutely, totally, wonderfully right on. Goodbye boomers, thank you so much for leaving us your mess, again... Now would you please get out of the way?
  • Barry
    There is an interesting truth in what you say about baby boomers but consider this without the self interested, selfish, invigorating power of the boomer generation the world would have turned out a very different place. What you are commenting on is the age old dilemma of generational friction which wends its way back to dawn of time. Each generation makes its mark and whether it is boomers, cuspers, or generations X or Y each thinks the previous generation was wrong. Whether baby boomers lose their authority remains to be seen but what is an undeniable fact of life is that until the last boomer expires they will remain a voting bloc that cannot be ignored by politicians; cuspers or otherwise. And trust me when I say boomers will not enter old age with a whimper but rather with a bang. I liked your article it was well thought out.
  • Mary
    I was born in 1949, the year that has a nearly vertical increase baby births. Please do not judge all babyboomers by George Bush. I do find it incredible that it looks like we will only have two presidents - Bill Clinton and George Bush. But we are hardly down and out yet and we vote in heavy numbers so we will still have a significant influence. We are the ones who picked Obama.
  • FB
    Labels, labels, and more labels

    Shut up and live
  • Sandra
    As a boomer myself (born in 1950), I find it mildly amusing that once at again, as it as gone my entire life, all the world's problems are my fault.

    Thank you.
  • benjagirl
    I also do not consider those born between the late 50's and mid-60's as baby boomers. They had a very different experience. Also, Boomers will rule until they die out..
  • loisstar
    I guess you would call me a "Boomer" because I was born in 1949. However, I and many others I know never bought in to the whole "boomer" thing. It can be very unfair to classify people just because of the year that they were born. Many of us never stopped fighting for the things we believed in; being independent from foriegn oil, national health care, the raping of our national forests, protecting endangered species, etc. I started following Barack Obama back in 2004 and was right on the front line with many, many others of my age group in campaining for him in the election. In all fairness, there are people of all age groups that voted for Bush and others like him and there were people of all age groups that voted for Obama. While working on the campaign I worked with people as young as 18 and as old as 85. Personally I believe it's not the age but it's the person. Some people don't care or don't take the time to find out or get involved in what is going on around them, then there are others that do care and do take the time - regardless of age!
  • A very thoughtful and welcome analysis of my generation's zeitgeist - and its challenges.

    A good many Boomers have distinguished themselves by shouting down the best of the Cuspers and co-opting their ideas. But every generation has its Waterloo. Perhaps the Boomers' will be, in addition to a legacy of ashes, being ajudged sufficiently irrelevant as to be not worth fighting with.
  • loisstar
    This article is so full of bull**** that it's hard to know how to respond. I and many many others lived through the assasination of President Kennedy, "Tricky" Dick and Vietnam. I lost half of my male classmates to Vietnam. How dare you downgrade that experience. It was a very awful time in a lot of peoples lives. And just because I was born in 1949 doesn't mean that I was "greedy", "wanted it now", etc. Also, an awful lot of us are not "technologically inept". I did not and did not take my daughter to the solon to have her hair frosted at $75-$125 or have her nails done 2-4 times a month. We lived within our means and did not run up credit card debt. We purchased what we could aford even though most of the girls at my daughters high school were buying "brand name" this and that. But I see a LOT of younger people who would just "die" if they had to drive "that beat up car" or couldn't have their hair or nails done. Talk about "wanting it now"! A lot of the younger generation won't be able to cope with this new economic reality. It realy ticks me off to be put into this "class" that you speak of in this article. What you are doing is blaming everything that went on in those years on a few people. Your article is just so UNFAIR and so WRONG!!!!!
  • I would expect just this sort of thing from another aging Obama supporter! No, you are a boomer! Obama is a boomer, just like President Bush. The fact that you are aging, or trying to distance yourself from the Bush years, does not change that. And yes, you priviledged child, the "enhanced" photo picked by by CNN is not fooling anyone.
  • Sosueme
    "Marian’s proven expertise in brand-building is exactly what our organization needs to help [s]ell its story," -- Gary Stockman, Porter Novelli CEO.
    You see what's going here don't you folks? Don't let this shill shake you folks. She's only trying to push product. Stimulate the economy by stimulating interest. Marketing.. marketing.. marketing. We boomers gotta learn to let this stuff roll off our backs, cuz there's a whole lot more of it coming our way. It's the good life.
  • Matt
    Funny math here.

    So let's get this straight: boomers are now '45 - '55, yet have been in power for "30 years".
    "Cuspers" are '55 - '65, should we expect them to be in power for 30 years? Why the late onset of "cuspers"? When will Gen X come into power, when they're 60 - 70? Will they be also in power for 30 years?

    Weird stuff.
  • Jamey Magowan
    Thank you! I have long felt that I was in a different group that the boomers, from the social to the financial to the culteral aspects of my generation. And Obama is our true first hero, much as Jack Kennedy was to his generation. Even though he has a long road to travel, the inspirational value to a "Cusper" will make the journey worth the difficulties that lie ahead.
  • Jo
    Don't you have anything more important to write about? Why does it make a difference what we are, it is just a name! We are all living in the US and faced with the same economic problems as everyone else. The only difference is you have more time to make up the money we have lost in this down turn!
  • Jane
    Interesting. I am a war baby - born July 25, 1943. Do you ever hear about the war babies? No. For some reason I, and my cohort, get lumped in with the baby boomers. I do think there is some truth here but I also don't think an entire generation can be judged in this manner. I, for instance, am grateful to those feminists who made it possible for you to have the education you have and the job you have. I am grateful to those boomers and your generation for setting the tone for what a 65 year-old-woman may do. As a result, I am in graduate school - something unheard of in my mother's and grandmother's day. So why don't you consider balancing your negative message with all of the good the boomers did. And while we're at it, let's thank our parents and their parents and their parents and so on for attempting to make the world a better place for each of us. Each generation makes mistakes. Let's learn, be grateful and move on.
  • Bill Mosby
    Just what we need. More arbitrary class divisions to fight about.
  • Clamb
    Just what we all need--another way to classify and polarize people. This article is full of over-simplistic and inaccurate stereotyping. The writer makes short shrift of a whole generation of major accomplishments. My support for Obama is not because he's a member of a particular generation but because he seems to have the intelligence, equanimity and fair-mindedness to recognize the need to go beyond the culture wars that have divided this country. Why propose new ways to divide?
  • For the record, when were you born?
  • Lindsay
    I feel so validated. I've never felt like a Boomer but was so close to being a Boomer -1962. I definitely identify with the Cusper that you have described. Perhaps this is why I feel as though I so keenly received Obama's message.
  • Dr. Steven Thompson
    "Cuspers" what an absolutely stupid article and complete waste of the written word.Thank goodness Ms. Salzman has a regular job.
  • dogphart
  • I find it interesting that the boomers were so into consumption & "more is better" - yet their parents were always teaching them when they were kids that they need to be frugal. Perhaps they had a knee jerk reaction to be anti their parents views - for the sake of asserting their independence - and felt a need to be "superior" over their parents (meaning - bigger house - more stuff etc.). Of course - the media brainwashed everyone with more is better - and if you buy X - you'll be happier. The reality is - hypercompetition from disintermediation (the Internet) & globalization caused people to work harder and longer for less - and creates more uncertainty (no one's job is safe.) Coupled with their desire for more (meaning even more work hours) - people had no life and no good relationships & no balance. And they wondered why they weren't happy. They were sold a bill of goods. Less is more. Less strips complexity from your life - and gives you more relationship time with others - which is the true source of happiness. Some of the happiest people I've seen are people in Mexico who have nothing. But they have their friend and laugh with them.. They aren't working for a holy grail They are living.
  • pdidpassword
    Reponse to article by Marian Salzman
    Special to CNN Published on December 23, 2008

    Ms. Salzman: This is one of the most divisive articles I have ever seen on and I am apalled at CNN online editors for allowing it to be published. I was born in October 1955, just like Bill Gates. Most of the categorizations of modern generations that I have ever seen who the Post WW II Baby Boomers extending from January 1946 through December 1964. In these perilous economic times where many of us are realizing that our retirement plans are woefully inadequate, many fellow Boomers lament that we will be working until our mid-70s, if we last that long. Then along comes a bunch of Gen-Xers, who will read your article, and think, "You know, she's right! Time for the Baby Boomers to go..." I don't have the time of the patience to list the repercussions of such a GroupThink phenomenon, but I can tell you that your article is deeply flawed and smacks of a smugness I have not ever seen on I hope's Campbell Brown pulls you aside and talks some sense into you. Better yet, I hope she uses you for the subject of one of her video essays. By the way, as a long-lived IT professional, I have worked unceasingly to acquire the knowledge and skills to remain current, productive, and relevent in the workplace. So I am especially insulted by your article, and I have to wonder how you would feel if someone lumped you into a category, and then justified the removal of that category from the workplace, condemning you to meager earnings for the remainder of your life at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or McDonalds? (By the way, visit and you will see I adamantly suppported Barack Obama's election to the office of U.S. President in 2007 and 2008. Wasn't he supposed to bring us all together? I think he too would decry your article as an example of attempting to drive deep wedges between generations and other groups?)
  • I am very sorry that you found this trendsighting so offensive. Whether you call them Generation Jones or Cuspers, the folks I am referring to (born roughly 1954-1965) are different from Boomers but have an instinctive grasp of the Boomer mind-set, because for much of their lives, they were lumped in with the Boomer identity.

    They’ve absorbed the “improve the world” agenda of the Boomers but they’ve been far more adept than Boomers at tuning in to the viewpoints and technologies of younger generations. They've been somewhere in the middle for decades (and this explains some of their centrist tendencies). Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, a Cusper himself, noted that Cuspers have typically been swing voters, caught between the loose idealism (and narcissism) of the ’60s, and the pragmatic materialism (and cynicism) of the ’80s. The generational shift won’t necessarily mean Cuspers taking over the commanding heights of power everywhere, and I'm not talking about one generation burying another.

    But, my prediction is that the near future will see Cuspers increasingly setting the style and tone in politics and business; they'll define agendas according to their own formative experiences, which weren’t the same experiences as Baby Boomers. It’s going to be a time of self-discovery and self-definition as Cuspers find out what they stand for. I apologize if this trendsighting seems divisive; in fact, my hunch is that Cusper style will be to count in (and count on) anyone (of any age) who wants to make a positive contribution.
  • Santa Fe Annie
    It isn't helpful to label people nor to categorize a broad spectrum of people simply because they are the same age. Your analysis of Boomers and Cuspers is lame. You called Boomers the greediest generation of all. How totally ridiculous and untrue. Boomers performed in school - that was before bend-over-backwards-water-it-down so no child is left behind. Boomers were active in the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Movement. They fought for peace, fought against Vietnam, against the military-industrial complex. They questioned government's power and wanted accountability. They were on the cutting edge of recycling and living green until no one seemed to think it important until recently. Boomers grew up able to deal with disappointment. They didn't have to invite everyone in their classroom to their birthday parties. They weren't all alike and they learned to survive without their parents' running interference for them. Compare them to successive generations - you can't say, "Swing batter swing" because it might damage some kid's self-esteem. Kids grow up now under the parentage of generations younger than the Boomers - their kids are soft, much less resilient, less driven to achieve, expecting to have everything they want and a sense of entitlement that should shame their parents. Your article is nothing but divisive and serves no purpose other than to alienate people. You are not an expert, you are not the final word - I shall refrain from stating what you I think you are....
  • Steve
    Don't count the boomers out just yet. It was boomers who led the way in the Civil Rights movement, and, it was the boomers who gathered for the first Earth Day in 1970, and, it was boomers who have led the way in research and innovation these past 30 years. The so-called "cuspers" have also contributed a great deal so I see no need to try to divide the group.

    Let's see, who started the trend of greed? Who began the slide toward injustice by damaging the unions? Who led the way in reducing health care benefits? Oh, I was Ronald Reagan and, trust me, he was not a boomer. His "voo doo economics" began the destruction that was carried on by Bush I and then Bush II. Boomers and Cuspers will need to work togethet to restore what has been destroyed instead of being encouraged to dump on one another.
  • c.e.
    I was born in 1968. I saw the boomers go from hippies to disco to power 80's to plastic surgery and now to God. I've been saying what you posted on CNN for the past few years. I don't dislike the boomers but one extreme to counter the other one rarely works. Hopefully Obama's middle of the road stance, and if he sticks with it, may be a help. Right now, I'm looking to see what my generation can do as we Flower Children are hitting our 40's and hopefully the 20 yr olds will realize that the computer, cell-phone and other gadgets are meant to improve life and not be our substitute. I say that because, it seems the world is in the same place when my grandparents used to tell us about the war and the Depression. They said EVERY generation came together. This generation was the same one that the boomers fought against and maybe that change was needed, I wasn't there. But, I know I can't rely on Obama alone for that change. However, I'm not one to chick it all in. I'm very curious to see the next 40 years. Thanks for the blog.
  • c.e.
    I was born in 1968. I saw the boomers go from hippies to disco to power 80's to plastic surgery and now to God. I've been saying what you posted on CNN for the past few years. I don't dislike the boomers but one extreme to counter the other one rarely works. Hopefully Obama's middle of the road stance, and if he sticks with it, may be a help. Right now, I'm looking to see what my generation can do as we Flower Children are hitting our 40's and hopefully the 20 yr olds will realize that the computer, cell-phone and other gadgets are meant to improve life and not be our substitute. I say that because, it seems the world is in the same place when my grandparents used to tell us about the war and the Depression. They said EVERY generation came together. This generation was the same one that the boomers fought against and maybe that change was needed, I wasn't there. But, I know I can't rely on Obama alone for that change. However, I'm not one to chick it all in. I'm very curious to see the next 40 years. Thanks for the blog.
  • sarnold
    Don't count the boomers out just yet. Born in 1948 I am a rather early boomer who has never bought into the greed syndrome and I have consistently been an environmentalist, so, please, do not lump me in with Bush/Cheney. Boomers are a very diverse group. But, remember, it was boomers who led the way in the Civil Rights movement, it was Boomers who led the way in the Peace movement, it was boomers who were at the first Earth Day in 1970 and who have carried on the fight against corrupting the earth. Boomers don't give up easily so don't rule us out just yet. We have lot's of energy. The cabinet may have cuspers but WE have AARP.....hear us roar!

    Let's see, when did the climate of greed begin? When did we start a tax system that favored the rich and took from the poor? When did we start taking power away from working people by destroying the unions? When did we turn our society over to corporate chiefans? Let's see.....I believe that was under Reaganonmics (voo doo economics if you will) and was continued under the Bush I and Bush II. Reagan was not a boomer.

    Clinton was a boomer. Let's see, under Clinton.....balanced budgets....paying off the national debt......welfare reforms.....advancement on health care.....advancement of the environment. Don't count the boomers out.

    It is time for all of us to work together. We are in a deep mess and only by working together can we get out of it.
  • Your comments actually made me very hopeful. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and thank you. I am amazed by how much anger and negativity there is, and probably for good reason. Your tone and thoughts are good food for thought. Thanks.
  • matthewselah
    "the old guard dies but never surrenders"

    generation's define themselves relative to the previous one. the ww2 crowd imposed the logic of war and victory on their children and it didn't work. vietnam wasn't a righteous war of survival. the austerity and hardwork of the ww2 crowd created more than enough for their children and made austerity and hardwork unnecessary. full circle, forward turn.

    "live for today, gone tomorrow" - on the run, pink floyd

    in its prime the reigning generation's logic is supreme - during the depression and later in world war 2 hard work, thrift, and the will to fight were essential.

    then the generation aged. new generation came

    60s early 70s, no fight, peace everybody. no reason for it. no danger. we left vietnam and still everybody in the country survived. tune in drop out, all that jazz - fine in a system that doesn't need work, doesn't need to fight.

    obama represents the logical extension and the end of the baby boom generation - the culmination of civil rights, no fight vietnam, no fight iraq, no fight no fight, come together right now, unity everybody please.

    whether or not this or that iraq and whatever politics aside people want to fight these days. look at obama's cabinet - these are not peaceniks. rahm emanuel, tom daschle, hillary - you got pelosi and reid in the wings - and the republicans are hardened too. and that's inside government! outside blacks are angry and tired of their friends and family being put in jail and mexicans are tired of being arrested simply for existing. abroad we have intensely committed jihadists and frostbitten russians if you know what i mean, and god only knows with the east asians.

    a unity held together by one person, barack obama, is fragile, and that is an understatement.

    the logic of the forthcoming "generation" will be entirely different than what it is now and until then there is no discernable change (other than what the market and marketers like the author of this original article can parlay into some loose change). which is exactly the point - consumerism (selling us what we want over what we need [since what we need is taken for granted] has been kicking since the 60s and if anyone hasn't noticed it is still doing pretty damn well these days. have people lost money? sure. but they're still smiling in the advertisements on tv.

    we're talking paradigm shift. like when the sun's rays change polarity. 180 degrees.

    forget what you want. the next generation will be about what you need, and you and i will be fortunate to get it.

    worst case scenario (are we going to be honest or not?) is suffering, major loss and bloodshed

    we've accumulated too much and we haven't paid for it all. we will. we've gotten very comfortable and comfort breeds vulnerability.

    the question we must be asking ourselves now is how do we balance this equation and remain alive?

    maybe it is a moot point. maybe a supernova will dissolve all our problems

    if so, our anxiety was only growing pains. we will twinkle

    "no pressure, no diamonds" - thomas carlyle
  • Mel Stricker
    I am a boomer. I am none of the things you suggest. Where did you get your information? When you write please repeat this over and over in your head. "I have the right to my own opinion but not my own facts'. It is too bad there are people that have a forum for their OPINIONS for which there is no ability for a dialogue. Also, sometimes I feel these comments are a vehicle to vent but are never actually read by the person to whom they are written.
  • Keith_La_Rioja_Spain
    Ms. Salzman: your very wide brushwork in which you attempt to bracket too much into too little, ends up not being very much. That there are "generational changes" no one can deny, but this is a gradual process which defies being categorized into blocks of years, and anyway can change vastly in different parts of the world, and even within the United States itself. Such that these woolly notions of yours are rather naïve outlines at best.
    I know plenty of people twenty years younger than me who are very definitely retrograde, backward, even innocent if you like; and so many youngsters today have got to the mobile (cell) phone - and stopped there.
    It depends - as another contributor says - on specific persons, not on broad paint-sweeps encapsuling people of age-groups into categories.
    However, I must admit to recognizing factors describing "cuspers" as being something to which I can identify without shame nor glory. And I was born in 1945.
    But do not let that date put you off: I was working on "global warming" in 1962 - before John Hansen made it to NASA. Among other things I will not preach. It depends on individuals' abilities to "up-date" as time progresses, technologies change, etc.
    Politicians in general are rather inclined not to adapt - and therein lies, perhaps, the blame for the situation in the world today, confronting us for 2009 and beyond.
    Hopefully Mr. - oops: President - Barack "Cusper" Obama will be able to "up-date" mentalities among the American masses and thus the rest of the world.
  • mesquite
    I was born in 1951 and have no doubt that Obama and his team will be status quo. Not much will change nor should it.

    Who did Obama select for his SECDEF? The same guy BUSH did! Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State! Why? Well, Obama knows he needs a person as SECDEF who knows what is going on and Gates is the man. As for Hillary, he owes her political favors and she and Bill would have caused Obama trouble if he had not given her some type of plum job.


    I worked for the executive branch of the Federal government for 21 years in Washington DC. Every 4 to 8 years new people came in vowing to change DC. Not much happened. And the US is still the best country in the world.

    One thing that did happen, though, way before, was an end to the draft, something probably all boomers have experience with. I have no sympathy for those who did not have to face the possibility of being sent to war against their will. "Cuspers" as you put it, as well as Gen X'ers don't have a clue as to what that is all about. Video games and belly aching about having to pay Social Security (as everyone before them has done) is really their claim to fame. They want someone to take care of them.

    I like goofing off and playing video games as much as the next person. I never liked working, but I did it. "Cuspers" will do the same.
  • Dana
    I think that this article and the "cusper" classification is not so much about focusing on the mistakes of the Boomers but rather noticing and correcting the mistakes of the mentality of consumption. Still, Boomers need to accept that they every statement in this article regarding the majority of them is true. Most of it stems from an attitude of "gimme, gimme now" with little regard for the future. When my husband and I started making all of our purchases with cash, our Boomer parents (on both sides) said: "Why don't you just charge it?" It's that attitude that sums up most of the generation to me - buy/party now, maybe pay later.

    Regarding the "activism" of that generation. I think it was Paul Begalia who wrote a wonderful article on how the actual civil rights leaders were not Boomers but rather the generation that preceeded them. Furthermore, the majority of Boomers were not actively involved in the movement. Afterwards, the Boomers consumed and voted for Regan (not very idealistic, really). When many of us GenXers were concerned about the environment before it was trendy, the Boomers laughed as they continued to spend and consume. Politically, they voted against pro-environment legislation because of profit.

    It's not too late to leave a selfless legacy of sustainability and true compassion. Let's all work together to actually improve the world, however painful it may be for consumers. I think this is what the Obama ideals represent, or the "cusper" classification represents.
  • bob
    Lady I think you better get your head out of your ( A) baby boomers were harder workers then these 1960 brats. Today all they want is money but stay at home and do nothing, but still get payed. The baby boomers that you are talking about, are the wealthy who want more, this country would not be in the shape it is in today, if the wealthy were put in their place, but no it is generation today that is so lazy they can't be bothered about it. They want a government hand out and big pay, but not the work. So don't blame the baby boomers, they at least payed their dews and need better consideration then they are getting in to days lazy complainers, who would not like the work of the past.
  • world traveller
    Your broad brush stroke article is both offensive and inaccurate. George Bush is hardly representative of the Boomer generation. You have ignored all of the philanthropists and world-changers in that generation and tarred them with a false and undeserved image. The truth is, based on a recent study of charitable giving: " Boomers out-donated 'Post-Boomers' as a percentage of the respective cohort population in every category. For organizations 'that help needy Americans,' 73% of Boomers contributed versus 57% of Post-Boomers. For organizations 'that fight diseases,' 69% of Boomers contributed versus 43% of Post-Boomers. For 'church or faith-based causes,' 53% of Boomers contributed versus 45% of Post-Boomers." You also got it backwards when you blamed the Boomers alleged "greed" for the current economic crisis. In fact the investment bankers, financial "gurus", hedge fund artists, mortgage bankers, and speculators (all Cusper computer wizards) who led to this economic debacle. You talk about a trend -- and it is true that because of their age, those born in the 50s will now rise in power in business and politics -- but your stereotypic depiction of each generation is simply incorrect. If I wanted engage in stereotyping like you do I could say your style of reporting is typical of your superficial do-nothing generation and their inflated view of themselves.
  • bmarkley6
    The baby boom generation has always been defined as those born 1946 through 1964. I think that definition comes from increased post World War II birthrates. Of course that may be itself arbitrary and somewhat meaningless but has a real rationale. I take it the writer must have been born sometime between 1954 and 1965. I am curious about what is special about 1954 and 1965 that makes those useful markers?
  • Preston Wright
    As a trend spotter, Marian, you are right. The age of people at the top of their game is shifting, though I wonder if this was predicted anyway by the original designation of Generation x starting in 1961. It was later moved to about 1965, but people born in the early1960s shared cultural differences that would help define them as a generation -- they were old enough to witness civil rights, war protests, television, yet not know a world without them-- much like those born in the 1980s will never know a world without computers. For baby boomers, they thought they were being revolutionary and changing the world -- for me born in 1965 the world already seemed integrated. I grew up with women in good paying jobs, gay pride marches down the street, Seasame Street on TV with Latinos and Blacks humming along with white shopkeepers. That we elected and supported a half-white half Kenyan man for president seems normal. It does for everyone younger than me too.

    There is nothing wrong with the baby boom generation, but rather those of us just younger do experience a huge cultural divide from those just 10 years older -- we had computers in college, so we were young enough to make them essential in our lives. We had MTV which moved video and music into a new realm of multimedia. We had video on demand. All of this set cuspers up for the internet revolution as a logical progression, yet it seemed foreign to a baby boom group who has only embraced the E-mail portion (they can relate to the postal part but not the multi-media, mass-information part.)

    Also, because of the downturn in numbers of births, baby boomers left in their wake school closings, down sizing over capacity of resources. I remember being in high school where there was a big push to get everyone to join tons of clubs because they were all going extinct from lack of members. People my age where encouraged to be well-rounded rather than specialized to fill the number gap. These skills are now coming to light as baby boomers start to drift into retirement.
  • Shadow
    Ms. Salzman,

    I found your article to be consistent with what I have believed for years. While there are exceptions to every classification, I believe that you are accurate. Some boomers are different while some cuspers are just like the boomers.

    As a Gen X'er (1979), I identify more with the WWII generation of my grandparents and their values than with the rampant boomer materialism of my parents generation. I think that since Obama isn't a baby boomer, the youth vote was pretty much a lock for him.

    To some of the other comments,

    While it is true that the boomers had Nixon, Vietnam (LBJ), and the assassination of JFK, we have/had Clinton/Lewinski, Iraq, and terrorism to deal with. Each generation is faced with different challenges and each generation should respect the accomplishments and challenges of the others.

    Cuspers, if you can get the clean up ball rolling, I'm pretty sure that Gen X will close ranks and work with you shoulder to shoulder.

    Merry Christmas Everyone.
  • 4mainstreet
    I think you better get your fax straight I was born in 47, and all I can see is the wealthy who has had a silver spoon in their mouth from birth, and your comment sounds like you were to. It is people like you that went out and were buying thing that you could not afford.
    The baby boomers worked for what they got and most of them are still living in the same home, they had to work 10 & 12 hours a day to make a living, can you say that of to days lazy complainers who live off borrowed money and never pay it back. Can they go out and work 10 to 12 hours a day on a pick & shovel, or push a wheelbarrow that long I don't think so.
  • Pat D
    Many who you call "boomers" were NOT a part of the greedy "me" generation that you paint my generation out to be. I was very disheartened by your article and I think it is full of BS and your own personal opinion which does not reflect reality. I was born in 1950 and I have been fighting my entire adult life for the lofty spiritual values that ALL of us should be living by. I am by no means greedy. I fought against the stifling social conventions of my day with all my might. More than anything, you have taken a very small approach to a very large situation. Please take some time to look at the bigger picture of life before you spout off and show your ignorance.
  • caveofcreation
    I think this article shows your ignorance of the larger picture of life. I was born in 1950 and have never been one of the greedy ones you talk about. There were many of us who worked behind the scenes to elevate the vibration of the planet in a spiritual sense. What you see is not all there is to life, and I would advise you to delve into metaphysics for a deeper understanding of the purpose of the boomers, and of the larger purpose of this earth life. You might learn something and begin writing posts with more accuracy and of more interest to your readers.
  • Source:

    Here is a blog someone sent me earlier today, which quotes from this posting, as it appeared on CNN, but which ties the pushback against boomers to prime angst. (See our trend paper on that topic in Publications.) This blog is reproduced without any proofreading, fact-checking, or editing.

    Greed, Excess and the Real Estate Meltdown
    December 25, 2008

    The housing market continued to show extreme weakness according to reports out this Christmas Eve. Prices dropped by the largest amount in over 40 years. Existing home prices fell 13.2 percent, to $181,300 from $208,800, the largest drop since data started being collected in 1968 and likely the largest decline since the Great Depression. Sales of existing homes fell 8.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 4.49 million units in November compared with October and were down 10.6 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The Commerce Department reported sales of new single-family homes fell 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 407,000 in November. It was the slowest sales rate in 18 years and down 35 percent compared with a year earlier.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Tom Brokaw’s book “The Greatest Generation,” that classic about our parents and their incredible sacrifices during World War II. What I’ve been thinking about actually is this: What book will our kids write about us? “The Greediest Generation?” “The Complacent Generation?” Or maybe: “The Subprime Generation: How My Parents Bailed Themselves Out for Their Excesses by Charging It All on My Visa Card.”


    Entitlement Programs, Rip-offs and Bailouts; Oh My!
    It amazes me the youth of this country isn’t in all out revolt. They pay into programs that have $60 trillion in obligations beyond the current funding with a promise there will be some left for them. Some are just now graduating college in the worst economy since the Great Depression. And why? Because the spawn of the Greatest Generation didn’t realize that debt has to be paid. What’s next? Are we going to subsidize their retirements? I bet they will expect us too.

    The Real Estate Meltdown; What Happened?
    In short, the perfect storm. The government was hell bent on making home ownership available to all Americans. This started with President Clinton and was expanded by President Bush. The lack of government regulation along with new investment vehicles opened the door for enterprising scammers. Low and behold, mortgage companies could approve mortgages on un-credit-worthy purchasers while pocketing huge profits and then selling the paper as “mortgaged backed securities”, thereby assuming zero accountability. Beyond belief, the rating agencies (Moodys) rated the paper as AAA (it should have had junk status). This caused “false demand” which drove real estate prices up (supply demand). Eventually, even conservative companies joined in because stockholders were wondering why the conservative (smart) companies weren’t producing returns like the “jet setters”.

    Still the watchdogs (Congress) slept and the risk taking increased. As real estate prices soared, so did the crazy lending practices. Soon, loans were being made on properties with over-inflated values at 100% LTV to people with Beacon Scores of 550. Then came the no income verification loans. Prices continued to soar due to false demand. As prices continued to skyrocket, even those with good credit stepped up to larger and larger homes. Others kept refinancing and buying toys with the proceeds. The belief was this real estate appreciation was never going to end.

    Option ARM & ALT-A Loans
    These were loans designed for good credit risks that also assumed real estate values would soar forever. Loans designed to allow people with solid credit to upgrade with very small introductory payments. Some of these loans were made as low as 1% interest to entice unsuspecting buyers into the low payments on homes they couldn’t afford. Of course, these loans reset at a predetermined time and a predetermined rate making refinancing mandatory. This is the next wave of bad housing news coming. There is know way to refinance these loans due to falling housing values. These are not sub-prime loans. These loans were perpetuated on unsuspecting/uneducated consumers. The default rate is already high on these loans (50+%) prior to resetting. Almost all of these loans reset from 2009-2011. The estimated default loss is as high as $1.5 trillion.

    Money for Nothing Get Your Checks for Free
    Dire Straits. That is what we Americans find ourselves in now. The government is shooting every bullet they have available. Unfortunately, the government realizes the only way out of this is for Americans to assume more debt. Our economy is not going to grow without you going deeper into debt. Some countries in the world can actually afford items, they pay cash. Paying cash is the definition of affordability. I doubt Americans are now willing to assume an ever increasing debt load. I dare believe we have learned our lesson. And that is why we are headed for the Great Depression II. The American economy is mostly based on consumerism. We are the world’s great consumers. At least the “Baby Boomer” generation has been. I now wonder if they are “has been”? How much longer are the younger generations going to be willing to finance the “boomers” follies?
    Unfortunately, America’s “Greatest Generation” spawned America’s “Worst Generation”.

    Who’s to blame for the economy going into serious decline?
    The short and easy answer is greedy boomers. This is the generation that knew better than their cautious, fuddy-duddy parents, the generation that protested, that had ideals and marched to the beat of defiant music: “Street Fighting Man,” “We Want the World and We Want It Now,” “Hope I Die Before I Get Old.” It’s the generation that pursued pleasure, proclaimed “I can have it all” and refused to grow old — “50 is the new 30,” etc. And now, after years of taking credit for changing the world, baby boomers are taking the rap for the reversal of fortune that’s shaking the world.

    Whatever history may decide, today’s commentators and pundits of all ages have decided that boomers, the dominant cohort in many developed countries, are guilty. And whether they’re really to blame, what counts is that they look like they are. Their profile fits.
    Marian Salzman

    And tha… tha… tha… that’s all folks!!!
  • Mark
    I am part of this generation (1957) and I know how screwed up, selfish, and greedy this generation is and they make the Viet Nam generation look good because the greatest majority of the cuspers do not know what real sacrafice is as they did not have to give several years of their lives to serve and protect this great country. They are the youthful drug experiments or the result of mom and dad's drug experimenting in the 60's. Who knows what their self indulgence did to their children and future generations. My mom a nurse made me go to UC Davis hospital and see the drug babies born on acid trips and it was not America's greatest thing.
  • timeout
    Wow! The Blame Game is afoot. 454 four-barrels with four on the floor vs SUVs of today, both gas guzzlers and from two generations. Fighting to end wars vs fighting to end poverty in the world? Again, two different generations. Every generation will do good and wrong in someone's eyes, each generation will undoubtedly find something to complain about in every other generation. Today there is more texting and chatting on-line than talking in person, what effect will that have on future generations. I think we have to keep the bridge between each generation rather than burning them all down. If we are going to survive, we have to get along. Yes, this is all very idealistic, but true. There are people in every generation who are greedy and giving, lazy and hard working .To say one generation is lazy or greedy, you might as well say they all are!
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