AmericaBlog has a post about the difference in attitude between Baby Boomers and those who come after them. Rather than the traditional whine about the youth of today lacking commitment, it points out that employers aren’t willing to offer the assurances those heading toward retirement have enjoyed, so why should we offer them loyalty in return.
Whether conscious or not, society consists of bargains struck. X give up Y to get the assurance of Z, where X = pensioners or motorists or children, and both Y and Z are generally money or the things that money can buy. One of the assumptions inherent in these trade-offs is that my group is OK with other groups getting theirs, so long as we get ours. I don’t mind paying health insurance when I don’t really need it to keep your premiums, for example, but in due course someone will do the same for me.
This system can break down when one group doesn’t want to help another out, though in most cases a mixture of numbers and inertia prevents this from holding sway for long. The bigger threat is when a group gets so big that its desires can overwhelm those of smaller groups, but it isn’t big enough that its largesse can handle the needs of lesser collections. That could be the case with Baby Boomers in the next 20 years (until their numbers start to dwindle); the worries that they have over their futures could translate into demands that set unsustainable expectations for future generations, winning them the distinction of being the real ‘me’ generation.