PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Baby Boom Generation


Dear friends,


This Sunday we are talking about the baby boom generation. That means some us.


The big question is how can a generation be responsible for anything; isn't it a matter of individuals acting for themselves as free agents? Yes, but it was this generation that put individuality into real practice and to the test. But this generation couldn't have reached this sense of freedom without acting in unison as one organism.


I have my ideas about what happened next, but I hope we will know the truth this Sunday.


Take care and see you Sunday.

Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
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======================


(CORRECTED VERSION 5 May 2008)

The Baby Boom Generation

There is a good article on the Wikipedia* web site on Baby Boomers, even though I found it a bit short given the subject. However, it gives us the bare facts to get us started.

The term itself, Baby Boomers, is more common and relevant, in the United States than in Britain, and other countries. This is because the term originally referred to the high birth rate that took place in the USA after the war. The demographics for the UK were somewhat different as probably for the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, it is now an accepted term in our language and culture.

Equally important, is the period these babies were born. The article says that the common definition of Baby Boomers is those who were born between 1946 and 1964. However, Steve Gillon splits this in two; 1945-1957 as the Boomers and 1958-1963 as Shadow Boomers. Strauss and Howe take the period 1943-1960 as the Boomer years.

Now that we have established the terminology, we can briefly establish some facts. A modern term that has entered our language is ''peace dividend.'' In other words, what do we get from having peace and not war? What are the rewards for not fighting?

It seems that one of those dividends, for the Americans, and to a lesser extent the British and other allies, was that people had more time to have babies. And although we should be suspicious of self evident truths and reasonable assumptions, it is not irrational to believe that the end of the war had something to do with the boom in births. But if the end of the war started the increase in births what sustained the boom was in fact the economic growth that followed the war.

The consumer demand at home and the European market meant that the American economy was growing and expanding for the first time in many years. This meant that at least part of the population was becoming seriously prosperous and the other part couldn't wait to catch up. This economic boom happened much later in Britain, and the most visible legacy we have from this period is the National Health Service and a catch phrase, by the Prime Minister of the time, Harold Macmillan, who said, "You've never had it so good!" meaning that the population has never been as well off as now. The historic reality is more complex, but it will do for now.

The second important fact about Baby Boomers is the reawakening of the prejudices and misconceptions towards war. The second world war was supposed to have been the war that ended all wars, at least in Europe anyway. Actually, the first world war was supposed to do that, but something went wrong. As a result, I suggest, that there was a period, when people did feel and did go about their business thinking that wars were a thing of the past; at least for North America and Europe. Some might say they still do.

The third fact that concerns us is that today the Baby Boomers are the ones that are driving politics, the economy, our values and the beneficiaries of most of today's wealth. However, the values and value judgments we try to shape society with today are the values and value judgments we learnt in our formative years of the sixties and seventies. I say, we, because for better or worse, some of us fall into the category of Baby Boomers.

One of the effects of the economic boom of the late forties and fifties was the rise of the corporation. Although, big business institutions did exist before the war, we can safely say that what was left standing after the war was very much different. Of course, the war did play an important part in shaping the future model of the corporation.

The corporation model that was born at this time was promoted on the principle that if you gave the corporation your loyalty as a worker the corporation would look after you for life. Company loyalty in exchange for security. Today we know that this could not have been sustained not only until the end of the century, but not even for thirty years. The Oil crisis of the early seventies was the first structural shock to the system.

Today, it is unrealistic to imagine that someone can have a job for life with the same company. The question is who is responsible for our work opportunities and livelihood? The reason why this is a philosophical question and not an economic question or a political question or a legal question is because there is no one single right answer. The question requires a value judgment and different opinions do not necessarily imply that one is right and the others are wrong.

However, human nature does tell us that someone should be right and usually we think it is us. Of course, this does not necessarily imply any malice or aggression. Think what would happen if we all went around being indifferent to events and choices. If we didn't mind or didn't care about what happens around us very few things would get done. And if you want proof of this, just have a look at the abode of a bachelor. Hence, we are faced with a dilemma between our personal interests and the best possible model to share the communal wealth.

The Baby Boomers are accustomed to personal wealth. Or to put it in a different way, the Baby Boomers are accustomed to being free consumers: what we want, we have a right to have it. I'd say that the Baby Boomers are the first generation to put a solid backbone in the spoilt brat.

Earlier I said that part of society became prosperous and the other part couldn't wait to catch up. Where do we get this idea that we all have a right to be free consumers? The rise of the corporation also gave us the marketing executive whose job it is to make sure that we know we have this right. The other source is the war itself. We all made a sacrifice during the war and by definition we all have a right to the peace dividend. In fact, the sacrifice was done by our parents (the Silent generation), and their parents, but their children soon picked up on this. And that dividend included economic wealth.

Do we really all have a right to be free consumers? This question today, as it stands, is the equivalent to gross blasphemy in politics and economics. But, I submit, it does not take much to turn a blasphemy into a serious philosophical question. Do we still have a right to be free consumers even at the expense of others?

Don't forget, there is no bravura or philosophical challenge when identifying situations based on malice or exploitation. The real philosophical challenge is when there is good faith and honest beliefs. It is very easy to deal with the slave driver who puts a dozen children locked up in a room all day producing carpets for western markets. There is no place for people like that. But what about taking the same dozen children and give them a reasonable wage, by local standards, for the work they do in the morning and then provide them with schooling in the afternoon? The carpets, of course, still sell by a very large factor from what the child earns.

This second scenario is sometimes called ethical labour on the grounds that the children and their families can still earn some money to survive, and still get their education. In a few words the essence of this argument is better to have some work where one is exploited, but at the end of the day have some money to be able to put some food on the table than having no work and no food at all.

In spite of the good will of the people who support this sort of argument, it nevertheless shows some very serious absence of philosophical foresight. To begin with, this attitude accepts the status quo of the way people are remunerated and the way we meet basic human needs, without any ambition of finding an equitable solution to what is admittedly a very difficult philosophical problem. At best it is acquiescence and at worse it is a cop out. The issue is conceptual and of attitude rather than of money.

The argument that if people don't have work they won't be able to feed their families and themselves just does not follow. First of all, there is absolutely no excuse in the twenty first century for someone to go hungry. The world today produces or has the capacity to produce enough food for everyone. It might not be a five star gastronomic experience, but it is still food. We can also go a long way by reducing our wasteful use of food. And we can go even further by making sure that corrupt governments or parasitic local officials do not get their grubby hands on any redistributed food. Secondly, as I shall argue, the model for the distribution of food on a universal basis need not involve money transaction at the point of need.

Giving food for nothing might not go down well with some people (no pun intended). However, it might create economic and business opportunities that do not exist at the moment. For example, if people do not have to worry about their basic food needs they might have enough time to think about their future and act accordingly. It might give them enough time to stop and think about how they are being exploited and find opportunities to become real players in the open free market.

This idea of giving something for free is not alien in our society or economy, anyway. We have free education and free health service, at last in Europe. The internet is also a modern proof that giving basics for free to society is not incompatible with economic prosperity and personal wealth. The internet succeeded because it was and still is basically free at the point of need. Being free does not mean it does not cost money or that we don't spend money. Being free means giving away basics so that we can spend our income on more efficient (higher margin) goods from companies. In fact, you receive this email through Google's free email service, and as we all know Google is also one of the most prosperous companies in the world.

The point is that the Baby Boom generation was the first generation that saw free-consumption as an equal right and not a privilege of the few. However, that right cannot exist at the expense of others. What I have tried to show is that with some philosophical rigour and change of mind set we can reach an equitable balance between free consumption and real ethical labour conditions. Of course, as always, the devil is in the detail.

An intellectual, and ideological, debate was sparked off by the Prime Minister in the eighties when she suggested that there is no such thing as a society, but individuals. Of course, this is an old issue in philosophy, but because it was said by this person at this particular time, it became an ideological crises for a while. Since we are talking about a generation we have to accept, at least, as a working assumption, that there is such a thing as a society.

If our grandparents' generation were responsible for the second world war, then our parents' generation was responsible for the cold war. It is true that there hasn't been a world war after 1945, but that's very close to playing with semantics. Probably more blood was shed due to wars between 1945 and 1989, than the two world wars put together. The only difference was that the western powers were not supplying the cannon fodder, with the one exception of the Vietnam war.

With hindsight, we now know that the Vietnam war was only a battle which the US lost; the real war was the Cold War and that had a slightly different outcome. Don't forget that the Baby Boom generation is, strictly speaking, an American phenomenon, Europe and the rest of the world just made use of the term. The Vietnam war was the war that was fought with the blood of the Baby Boomers. And contrary to expectations (compare with Korea) they did not like it: they said so: and did something about it.

This attitude had a plus side: it gave people a sense of freedom and individuality, the protest songs, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the mini-skirt, flower power, mass media and later on the exposure of Watergate and bell-bottoms. In other words, the Baby Boomers were the first generation to hold their parents to their promise that the last war was really going to be the last war. The slogan, "make love, not war," was not devoid of rationale and logic. Today, it is the Baby Boomers who lead protest marches against wars and other shady adventurism. In fact, the Baby Boom generation is the first generation with the right mind-set and the necessary means to do something about such simple problems as world hunger.

On the negative side, this apparent arrogance of the Baby Boomers really pissed their parents off, to the extent that the parents became dangerously entrenched in their ways: look at the history of the time, all the continents were in turmoil in some form or other. The more people protested against the Vietnam war the more turmoil the politicians got the world into. Incidentally, the article refers to Andrew Smith's, novel "Moondust," where he wrote, "Baby Boomers have the unique distinction of pissing off both their parents' and their children's' generations." The worst thing that happened during this time, however, was that war was taken away from the military and handed over to control freak politicians.

The flower power and the protest marches gave the Baby Boomers a naive and somewhat disingenuous attitude towards war. The end of all wars has always been the promised land of countless generations. Although the Baby Boom generation was not the first generation to believe that they could bring an end to wars (think of the generation of the first world war), they certainly are the first generation to do something about it and to bring an end to their big war.

Earlier I said that the Baby Boomers generation reawakened the prejudices and misconceptions about war. What did I mean by this? I mean two things. The first is the reasonable, but irrational belief that we can live without wars. We have no evidence nor reason to suppose this can happen. We can change the nature and character of war but we cannot stop wars. You might object and point out that I have no evidence nor reason to suppose that we can do away with world hunger. You're right we have no reason to suppose that. But what we have is actual food to put on tables.

The second reason why I say misconception is that the just war is not about killing people but about preserving and protecting life. I'm not going into what is a just war suffice it to suggest you have a look at history and decide who was fighting to protect themselves and who was fighting as aggressors. The exercise is not easy, but it can be done.

The point is not that we should stop wars because people die, but a war should be stopped when we are safe from our persecutors. The option, no wars, is a non-starter anyway. In my opinion, we would be better off by honestly considering such questions as: are we really facing a serious threat? Or, do we have enough protection should the threat materialise? Think about it, would you leave your prized Picasso without security or a front door to your house? I don't seriously believe that society in general is really that concerned about people dying. If we did we wouldn't build cars that encourage dangerous driving or prepare foods full of dangerous substances or pollute our environment with toxins and so on and so forth.

The question, when are we safe?, is a practical question and not one of perception. When a war was stopped to satisfy perceptions the repercussions were even more serious. I am specifically thinking of two instances. First, the second world war. Ostensibly, the allies went to war in Europe to protect Poland. However, the end of the war did not bring about the liberation of Poland, nor the rest of Eastern Europe, but the start of the Cold war. In the 90's the 100 hour (storm) war in Iraq did not bring about security in the Middle East, but the unnecessary nightmare we have today.

My point about the war angle is that given the present attitude of some of the Baby Boomers in power and given the high propensity for those in power to interfere in matters which are outside their competence, does the future look that bright? David Ogilvy, writing in his biography, said, "Do not compete with your [advertising] agency in the creative area. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?" This is what politicians have been doing for many generations and they are still doing it with no respite. To make this clearer, politicians and leaders ought to busy themselves with the control of the military machine or holding the military accountable under the rule of law and not with the planning of military campaigns. Can we afford this discrepancy? And what are the consequences of this discrepancy?

Incidentally, my preoccupation with politicians interfering with war matters is because the Baby Boom generation is the product of a war and its decisive influence in the world was the result of a war. But today's politicians, and a good percentage of them are Baby Boomers, interfere in more relevant matters that affect you and me in our every day life. I'm thinking of education, where institutions are sometimes used as experiment laboratories for some really woolly ideas. Or health services, where in some countries patient records have become practically insignificant compared to balance sheets. Then there are the inactions or the half hearted efforts of some leaders and opinion setters, especially on such issues as the environment, human rights and local law and order.

But I want to focus on the actions of the Baby Boomers because this is the first generation as a generation that got things done. The Baby Boomers will be the first to show future generations that with enough will and sufficient resources things can be done and get done. Look at the advances in science, technology, healthcare, and the increases in standards of living and life expectations.

However, what seems to be missing is a sense or feeling of common purpose. Instant gratification does not make for common purpose nor even for visionary leadership. The future challenge is indeed to create some common purpose or establish some visionary leadership. The environment, universal human needs, security, or whatever, do not seem to cut the mustard. And the view from the moral high ground captured in the sixties and seventies does not seem to be that clear either.

Take care

Lawrence

* Which I will refer to as the article: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/

5



------original version----

The Baby Boom Generation

There is a good article on the Wikipedia* web site on Baby Boomers, even though I found it a bit short given the subject. However, it gives us the bare facts to get us started.

The term itself, Baby Boomers, is more common and relevant, in the United States than in Britain, and other countries. This is because the term originally referred to the high birth rate that took place in the USA after the war. The demographics for the UK were somewhat different as probably for the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, it is now an accepted term in our language and culture.

Equally important, is the period these babies were born. The article says that the common definition of Baby Boomers is those who were born between 1946 and 1964. However, Steve Gillon splits this in two; 1945-1957 as the Boomers and 1958-1963 as Shadow Boomers. Strauss and Howe take the period 1943-1960 as the Boomer years.

Now that we have established the terminology, we can very establish some facts briefly. A modern term that has entered our language is ''peace dividend.'' In other words, what do we get from having peace and not war? What are the rewards for not fighting?

It seems that one of those dividends, for the Americans, and to a lesser extent the British and other allies, was that people had more time to have babies. And although we should be suspicious of self evident truths and reasonable assumptions, it is not irrational to believe that the end of the war had something to do with the boom in births. But if the end of the war started the increase in births what sustained the boom was in fact the economic growth that followed the war.

The consumer demand at home and the European market meant that the American economy was growing and expanding for the first time in many years. This meant that at least part of the population was becoming seriously prosperous and the other part couldn't wait to catch up. This economic boom happened much later in Britain, and the most visible legacy we have from this period is the National Health Service and a catch phrase, by the Prime Minister of the time, Harold Macmillan, who said, "You've never had it so good!" meaning that the population has never been as well off as now. The historic reality is more complex, but it will do for now.

The second important fact about Baby Boomers is the reawakening of the prejudices and misconceptions towards war. The second world war was supposed to have been the war that ended all wars, at least in Europe anyway. Actually, the first world war was supposed to do that, but something went wrong. As a result, I suggest, that there was a period, when people did feel and did go about their business thinking that wars were a thing of the past; at least for North America and Europe. Some might say they still do.

The third fact that concerns us is that today the Baby Boomers are the ones that are driving politics, the economy, our values and the beneficiaries of most of today's wealth. However, the values and value judgments we try to shape society with today are the values and value judgments we learnt in our formative years of the sixties and seventies. I say, we, because for better or worse, some of us fall into the category of Baby Boomers.

One of the effects of the economic boom of the late forties and fifties was the rise of the corporation. Although, big business institutions did exist before the war, we can safely say that what was left standing after the war was very much different. Of course, the war did play an important part in shaping the future model of the corporation.

The corporation model that was born at this time was promoted on the principle that if you gave the corporation your loyalty as a worker the corporation would look after you for life. Company loyalty in exchange for security. Today we know that this could not be sustained not only until the end of the century, but not even for thirty years. The Oil crisis of the early seventies was the first structural shock to the system.

Today, it is unrealistic to imagine that someone can have a job for life with the same company. The question is who is responsible for our work opportunities and livelihood? The reason why this is a philosophical question and not an economic question or a political question or a legal question is because there is no one right answer. The question requires a value judgment and different opinions do not necessarily imply that one is right and the others are wrong.

However, human nature does tell us that someone should be right and usually we think it is us. Of course, this does not necessarily imply any malice or aggression. Think what would happen if we all went around being indifferent to events and choices. If we didn't mind or didn't care about what happens around us very few things would get done. And if you want proof of this, just have a look at the abode of a bachelor. Hence, we are faced with a dilemma between our personal interests and the best possible model to share the communal wealth.

The Baby Boomers are accustomed to personal wealth. Or to put it in a different way, the Baby Boomers are accustomed to being free consumers: what we want, we have a right to have it. I'd say that the Baby Boomers are the first generation to put a solid backbone in the spoilt brat.

Earlier I said that part of society became prosperous and the other part couldn't wait to catch up. Where do we get this idea that we all have a right to be free consumers? The rise of the corporation also gave us the marketing executive whose job it is to make sure that we know we have this right. The other source is the war itself. We all made a sacrifice during the war and by definition we all have a right to the peace dividend. In fact, the sacrifice was done by our parents (the Silent generation), and their parents, but their children soon picked up on this. And that dividend included economic wealth.

Do we really all have a right to be free consumers? This question today, as it stands, is the equivalent to gross blasphemy in politics and economics. But, I submit, it does not take much to turn a blasphemy into a serious philosophical question. Do we still have a right to be free consumers even at the expense of others?

Don't forget, there is no bravura or philosophical challenge when identifying situations based on malice or exploitation. The real philosophical challenge is when there is good faith and honest beliefs. It is very easy to deal with the slave driver who puts a dozen children locked up in a room all day producing carpets for western markets. There is no place for people like that. But what about taking the same dozen children and give them a reasonable wage, by local standards, for the work they do in the morning and then provide them with schooling in the afternoon? The carpets, of course, still sell by a very large factor from what the child earns.

This second scenario is sometimes called ethical labour on the grounds that the children and their families can still earn some money to survive, and still get their education. In a few words the essence of this argument is better to have some work where one is exploited, but at the end of the day have some money to be able to put some food on the table than having no work and no food at all.

In spite of the good will of the people who support this sort of argument, it nevertheless shows some very serious absence of philosophical foresight. To begin with, this attitude accepts the status quo of the way people are remunerated and the way we meet basic human needs, without any ambition of finding an equitable solution to what is admittedly a very difficult philosophical problem. At best its acquiescence and at worse its a cop out. The issue is conceptual and of attitude rather than of money.

The argument that if people don't have work they won't be able to feed their families and themselves just does not follow. First of all, there is absolutely no excuse in the twenty first century for someone to go hungry. The world today produces or has the capacity to produce enough food for everyone. It might not be a five star gastronomic experience, but it is still food. We can also go a long way by reducing our wasteful use of food. And we can go even further by making sure that corrupt governments or parasitic local officials do not get their grubby hands on any redistributed food. Secondly, as I shall argue, the model for the distribution of food on a universal basis need not involve money transaction at the point of need.

Giving food for nothing might not go down well with some people (no pun intended). However, it might create economic and business opportunities that do not exist at the moment. For example, if people do not have to worry about their basic food needs they might have enough time to think about their future and act accordingly. It might give them enough time to stop and think about how they are being exploited and find opportunities to become real players in the open free market.

This idea of giving something for free is not alien in our society or economy, anyway. We have free education and free health service, at last in Europe. The internet is also a modern proof that giving basics for free to society is not incompatible with economic prosperity and personal wealth. The internet succeeded because it was and still is basically free at the point of need. Being free does not mean it does not cost money or that we don't spend money. Being free means giving away basics so that we can spend our income on more efficient (higher margin) goods from companies. In fact, you receive this email through Google's free email service, and as we all know it is also one of the most prosperous companies in the world.

The point is that the Baby Boom generation was the first generation that saw free-consumption as an equal right and not a privilege of the few. However, that right cannot exist at the expense of others. What I have tried to show is that with some philosophical rigour and change of mind set we can reach an equitable balance between free consumption and real ethical labour conditions. Of course, as always, the devil is in the detail.

An intellectual, and ideological, debate was sparked off by the Prime Minister in the eighties when she suggested that there is no such thing as a society, but individuals. Of course, this is an old issue in philosophy, but because it was said by this person at this particular time, it became an ideological crises for a while. Since we are talking about a generation we have to accept, at least, as a working assumption, that there is such a thing as a society.

If our grandparents' generation were responsible for the second world war, then our parents' generation was responsible for the cold war. It is true that there hasn't been a world war after 1945, but that's very close to playing with semantics. Probably more blood was shed due to wars between 1945 and 1989, than the two world wars put together. The only difference was that the western powers were not supplying the cannon fodder, with the one exception of the Vietnam war.

With hindsight, we now know that the Vietnam war was only a battle which the US lost; the real war was the Cold War and that had a slightly different outcome. Don't forget that the Baby Boom generation is, strictly speaking, an American phenomenon, Europe and the rest of the world just made use of the term. The Vietnam war was the war that was fought with the blood of the Baby Boomers. And contrary to expectations (compare with Korea) they did not like it: they said so: and did something about it.

This attitude had a plus side: it gave people a sense of freedom and individuality, the protest songs, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the mini-skirt, flower power, mass media and later on the exposure of Watergate and bell-bottoms. In other words, the Baby Boomers were the first generation to hold their parents to their promise that the last war was really going to be the last war. The slogan, "make love, not war," was not devoid of rationale and logic. Today, it is the Baby Boomers who lead protest marches against wars and other shady adventurism. In fact, the Baby Boom generation is the first generation with the right mind-set and the necessary means to do something about such simple problems as world hunger.

On the negative side, this apparent arrogance of the Baby Boomers really pissed their parents off, to the extent that the parents became dangerously entrenched in their ways: look at the history of the time, all the continents were in turmoil in some form or other. The more people protested against the Vietnam war the more turmoil the politicians got the world into. Incidentally, the article refers to Andrew Smith's, novel "Moondust," where he wrote, "Baby Boomers have the unique distinction of pissing off both their parents' and their children's' generations." The worst thing that happened during this time, however, was that war was taken away from the military and handed over to control freak politicians.

The flower power and the protest marches gave the Baby Boomers a naive and somewhat disingenuous attitude towards war. The end of all wars has always been the promised land of countless generations. Although the Baby Boom generation was not the first generation to believe that they could bring an end to wars (think of the generation of the first world war), they certainly are the first generation to do something about it and to bring an end to their big war.

Earlier I said that the Baby Boomers generation reawakened the prejudices and misconceptions about war. What did I mean by this? I mean two things. The first is the reasonable, but irrational belief that we can live without wars. We have no evidence nor reason to suppose this can happen. We can change the nature and character of war but we cannot stop wars. You might object and point out that I have no evidence nor reason to suppose that we can do away with world hunger. You're right we have no reason to suppose that. But what we have is actual food to put on tables.

The second reason why I say misconception is that the just war is not about killing people but about preserving and protecting life. I'm not going into what is a just war suffice it to suggest you have a look at history and decide who was fighting to protect themselves and who was fighting as aggressors. The exercise is not easy, but it can be done.

The point is not that we should stop wars because people die, but a war should be stopped when we are safe from our persecutors. The option, no wars, is a non-starter anyway. In my opinion, we would be better off by honestly considering such questions as: are we really facing a serious threat? Or, do we have enough protection should the threat materialise? Think about it, would you leave your prized Picasso without security or a front door to your house? I don't seriously believe that society in general is really that concerned about people dying. If we did we wouldn't build cars that encourage dangerous driving or prepare foods full of dangerous substances or pollute our environment with toxins and so on and so forth.

The question, when are we safe?, is a practical question and not one of perception. When a war was stopped to satisfy perceptions the repercussions were even more serious. I am specifically thinking of two instances. First, the second world war. Ostensibly, the allies went to war in Europe to protect Poland. However, the end of the war did not bring about the liberation of Poland, nor the rest of Eastern Europe, but the start of the Cold war. In the 90's the 100 hour (storm) war in Iraq did not bring about security in the Middle East, but the unnecessary nightmare we have today.

My point about the war angle is that given the present attitude of some of the Baby Boomers in power and given the high propensity for those in power to interfere in matters which are outside their competence, does the future look that bright? David Ogilvy, writing in his biography, said, "Do not compete with your [advertising] agency in the creative area. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?" This is what politicians have been doing for many generations and they are still doing it with no respite. To make this clearer, politicians and leaders ought to busy themselves with the control of the military machine or holding the military accountable under the rule of law and not with the planning of military campaigns. Can we afford this discrepancy? And what are the consequences of this discrepancy?

Incidentally, my preoccupation with politicians interfering with war matters is because the Baby Boom generation is the product of a war and its decisive influence in the world was the result of a war. But today's politicians, and a good percentage of them are Baby Boomers, interfere in more relevant matters that affect you and me in our every day life. I'm thinking of education, where institutions are sometimes used as experiment laboratories for some really woolly ideas. Or health services, where in some countries patient records have become practically insignificant compared to balance sheets. Then there are the inactions or the half hearted efforts of some leaders and opinion setters, especially on such issues as the environment, human rights and local law and order.

But I want to focus on the actions of the Baby Boomers because this is the first generation as a generation that got things done. The Baby Boomers will be the first to show future generations that with enough will and sufficient resources things can be done and get done. Look at the advances in science, technology, healthcare, and the increases in standards of living and life expectations.

However, what seems to be missing is a sense or feeling of common purpose. Instant gratification does not make for common purpose nor even for visionary leadership. The future challenge is indeed to create some common purpose or establish some visionary leadership. The environment, universal human needs, security, or whatever, do not seem to cut the mustard. And the view from the moral high ground captured in the sixties and seventies does not seem to be that clear either.

Take care

Lawrence

* Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/






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