The National Journal has just published a provocative cover story by economics correspondent Jim Tankersley called "The Case Against Parasitic Baby Boomers." The magazine's cover line: "Leeches."
Tankersley frames the piece as a conversation with his father Tom, a 63-year-old attorney, over a week at the family cabin in Oregon. He writes:
I love my dad fiercely, even though he’s beaten me in every argument we’ve ever had except two, and even though he is, statistically and generationally speaking, a parasite. …The facts as I see them are clear and damning: Baby boomers took the economic equivalent of a king salmon from their parents and, before they passed it on, gobbled up everything but the bones.
Tankersley told told MSNBC that he wrote the article because "it's a really important issue for America, this… long-held idea that every generation passes on a better life to the next and it's stopped. The baby boomers have done three really egregious things… they have presided over an economy where economic opportunity has shrunk for people coming along now; they've run up a huge national debt both by voting themselves lower taxes and by voting more generous benefits with no plan to pay for them other than have their kids and grandkids pay for them; and they've filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide burned cheap fossil fuels and left the rest of us the tab for cleaning that up."
But Tom Tankersley counters with solid arguments of his own, noting the advances made by women, minorities and the disabled on the boomers' watch, as well as the expansion of trade that has helped to lift developing countries out of poverty (22 percent of the developing world’s population lives on $1.25 or less per day, down from 52 percent in 1981, Tankersley writes.)
"Right now Barak Obama and Mitt Romney are trying to figure out how to solve these problems on the backs of future generations, not on the backs of current retirees," Tankersley told MSNBC. (Hey Jim, here's why: They're trying to win an election, and as of 2011, voters 45 and older make up a majority of the voting population. They're 119 million strong, and people 55+ represent the majority of that voting block. A pledge to slash current entitlements isn't going to win them any fans.)
Post 50s, what do you think of Tankersley's argument? What do you feel is the generation's biggest accomplishment?