Each Generation is Worse than the Last

Last night I was reading the news before going to sleep. Counter-intuitive, I know, but it actually works. I hit on program on PBS where some interviewer was talking to a Millennial and a Gen-Z person about why they hate Baby Boomers. As I read through some of it I had to laugh. Here is the program: And since I didn’t watch it all or read the whole transcript (because I don’t care) I can’t speak with 100% knowledge and/or competence about it, but I when I read a section how these poor younger people had to rent a house not buy one, I kind lost it laughing and thinking,

“Poor you guys. Sorry you have to rent a house (in Northern California!!). My mom was born and spent her early childhood in a log and sod house on the high plains of Montana with no running water, no well, no electricity. Yeah, once my aunt was old enough to work, they could move into town, but the house wasn’t a lot better and they slept 4 or 6 to a bed. And yeah, I own a house. Here’s how THAT happened. The Good X had a friend who owned a house in a bad neighborhood and found out it was inhabited by drug dealers. He evicted them and decided to unload the house. We got it for the work we did to make it livable. I lived 17 years in a part of San Diego most people wouldn’t even visit. And YEAH, I’m lucky I got to retire with an income I can live on, but that’s only possible because I live somewhere most people wouldn’t live. Lucky for me, I love it here.”

The article was a pretty hostile, but it reminded me of Goethe’s point that much of our destiny is determined by where, when and to whom we’re born.

P.S. The title of this post isn’t my feeling about things. It’s a quotation from a short story by Lu Xun, who was an important early 20th century Chinese writer, and, sadly, I don’t remember which story. The old grandma — the father’s mother who lives with the family — has a habit of bopping her grandson on the head with her thimble and saying, “Ay-ya. Each generation is worse than the last.”

I’m having a good time with the new blog. I don’t know where it’s going to go ultimately, but it’s something I know other bloggers do and that is write a blog centered on a theme. As I’ve added posts (and written a couple that are completely new) the theme has emerged and it’s been wonderful for me to see things from the orientation that has evolved. At first I thought it would just be about painting but it’s turning into kind of an autobiographical blog about traveling, art in general, and painting. If you are curious, this is where you can find it. https://marthakennedyartandpaintings.wordpress.com

34 thoughts on “Each Generation is Worse than the Last

  1. Love this post.πŸ’š As a Gen X I definitely “fit” better with the Babyboomers than I do even the younger Gen X’ers. All because of how I was raised. I shake my head sometimes. I have a couple near me that find it absolutely tragic that they can’t afford the boat slip for their new boat. Hmmm. The teachers I hired in the last 5 years of my career had more at “home” than I did in the home in which I was living. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”-Loenardo da Vinci….P.S.-I love your new site! πŸ€—β€πŸΆ

    • Thank you. I love my new site, too. πŸ™‚ You know, I wondered how the kids of my peers would grow up. If I’d had kids, they’d have been Millennials. I remember my colleagues setting up play dates, soccer dates, ballet lessons, and driving kids everywhere, buying mini-vans — their entire life was centered on their kids like they were the kids’ servants. I’m not really judging or criticizing because I didn’t do it and have no idea about the imperatives of child rearing, but I’m glad (for my own future and the way it turned out) that my mom didn’t drive, and that my childhood was pretty autonomous and also, now that I’m older, that my parents grew up in times of real adversity and told me about it, tired though I got of those stories. πŸ˜€

      • My sons, ages 29 and 26, rode around in a mini-van for a while. They really despised hearing all the stories of adversity in the family. They “suffered” from having to do chores and work for their vehicles. They both joined the military and have a strong sense of responsibility. It was just the 3 of us for several years and life was not easy. Adversity is not a bad thing. BUT, I had it WAY easier than my family before me…you could tap my head…;-)

        • I think the generalizations around the generations are really stupid. Obviously Boomers are not either fascists or hippies. Gen X is not a bunch of disenfranchised slackers. Millennials are not all entitled and whiny all that is just dumb and doesn’t do much to foster understanding between individuals or groups of people. Stereotyping is a normal human thing we do without thinking, but at best it’s only a theory of how people are. And, as it happens, my grandma did tap my head with her thimble once or twice. ❀ πŸ˜‰

  2. Your mom grew up like my birth family. they did have electricity but lived in a shack cobbled together, no running water, wood stove heat. Dad never had a driver’s license, much less a car. He did dray work — hauling — with his two horses.

    • My grandparent’s two horses were a source of income for them, too. Grandma drove the school bus — a wagon — and also used it to pick people up to take them to church. Of course, that was back in the 1920s and not everyone had electricity in the rural areas of the US.

  3. The 50s – 60s really spoiled a lot of people. It was a time when most blue collar workers could afford 2 cars, a house, a wife, and 2 kids. It also had its downsides. Felt like everything went to hell in the 70s but then the 80s were really kind to me. The 90’s and early 2000s sucked for various reasons but since the late 2000s life hasn’t been too bad.

    But a kid fresh from school can’t just step into a job anymore. That has as much to do with a huge increase in the percentage of college graduates and the elimination of blue collar work for non graduates as anything else. A single income family has to be pretty well off to be in the same relative position as the same family was in 1965. But that has as much to do with the employed work force being almost twice the percentage of the adult population it once was as anything else.

    We can fix this by returning to 1960 culture, 1960 population, and 1960 technology. I don’t think we want to do that even if it were possible. (Well, maybe Trump supporters would.)

    Population increase also adds to the problem. Twice as many people, same amount of country, real estate prices are going to climb. Technology adds to the problem. It deletes manufacturing jobs while not really creating new work for the former blue collar workers to perform. The new jobs are all low paying service sector work and pretty soon that will all be eaten by technology that sounds and looks like like real humans.

    None of this is anyone’s fault but it is human to try to find fault rather than to accept the new reality and move on.

    • This is all true. 😦 But my point is that there has never been a generation that didn’t have to work with and around the ambient problems of their time in the world. In my profession people 10 years older than me were still able to get tenured positions in universities and colleges. In the meantime (because of the expanded population AND the discovery that part-time teachers were cheaper) that ended. Anyway, in the sixties, many of us baby-boomers were children and our parents had lived through a lot of hell before they found their house and car and kids. ALSO their houses were 1000 square feet or so. The little house my parents bought when I was 2 just sold for $350k. They bought it for under $10k in 1953. It seems to me that people today want MORE than my parents’ generation were happy with. And people forget what a dollar bought in 1975 vs today. I could fill up my VW on $5, but we also lived pretty well on $560/month.

      So much happens within a generation.

  4. Another comment on the previous ones. I should have said, in the 50s-mid 60s my birth parents lived in a situation most people here on the prairies had left behind, including the aunt & uncle who raised me. Still, I grew up on “Sally Ann” stuff, not the designer labels kids expect today. No music lessons, sports teams, etc.

    So yes, today’s youngsters do indeed expect more — though there are likely kids living in poverty that have as little as we did. Parking at high schools never used to be an issue; today the lot is full of students’ cars and they head to the malls for lunch breaks.

    As to jobs, a stroll through the local mall and a glance at the tags will soon tell you why jobs aren’t waiting anymore. We’ve been importing people and exporting (especially manufacturing) jobs for a long time now. The country can only have so many professional jobs, and people could once earn well at blue-collar jobs. So many of those needs are filled overseas now. Here in Canada it’s the trades we’re needing at present, since so many secondary school grads are headed for University.

    • We’ll see. I’m halfway thinking right now that this blog will phase out, but maybe that’s just because now I think it’s fun to write about travel I’ve done in pursuit of art and my own painting. Maybe it’s just a crush and not the real thing. But this blog may have run its course except for the people like you I feel a connection to and would miss if I went away.

  5. I dont remember when it became fashionable to bash baby boomers but its annoying. If you want to blame someone for the ills of the world, look to the politicians who continually make catastrophic decisions without asking any of us. That would be a good place to start!

  6. Whingers! Their woes will be temporary. They just have to wait for their parents to drop off their perch. Seriously though, I do have some sympathy for them. There is a shortage of rental properties in Australia and it is very expensive.

  7. Martha, I too watched this on PBS, but distractedly, I admit. I think I even said to myself, Oh Poo. Who cares? It’s great to think it’s someone else’s fault – the state I’m in. But that does not solve whatever problem that you perceive happened to you. My mother – who lived through the depression and two world conflicts had a saying, “Pull up your socks!” By that she meant you have to do it yourself. Quit whining. πŸ™‚ Thanks for letting me watch it undistractedly but I still feel the same way. And thanks for getting me to remember Mom. — She thought praying was good but action was much more useful.

  8. Great quote here. Yes, the generational divides carry on…and the beat also goes on (so to speak). Remember we weren’t supposed to trust anyone over 30? Like 30 was So Old. What a difference a few decades make. I will visit your new blog again soon, but hope you stay on this one too. Now that you’ve done the big purge. πŸ™‚

    • I’ve been having problems maintaining interest in this blog for several months now. I keep veering into politics which I don’t want to do. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen with it. I downgraded it to the free plan so in a month or so it will have ads. Rising prices and the need to travel have messed a bit with my little budget, too. I guess a person could have a mild identity crisis at age 69 as well as at age 19! And yeah, 30 was ancient. We were so much older then… πŸ˜€

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