The Pig in the Python

Years from now an author will write, in the style of Tom Brokaw, a book about this current generation of  ‘leaders’ and might title the scorching essay,  The Dumbest Generation. Brokaw’s book  was titled, The Greatest Generation, in reference to those born in the 1920’s and who fought both the Great Depression as well as the Axis Powers in WWII.  After the war, they helped move this nation forward into the so-called ‘American dream’ of middle-class living, suburbia and the automobile as the key to that new lifestyle. They were also the parents of the baby-boomers.

Ten years ago columnist Paul Krugmanmade reference to the baby-boom generation as ‘‘the pig in the python”: a huge bulge in an otherwise skinny age distribution, and he warned that there would be an economic storm gathering as this generation moved into the retirement years. The python is now done eating and only the wormcast remains.

Krugman wrote the article in June of 2000, before the Gore-Bush election.  He took note of both candidate’s ‘plans’ for dealing with the python issue- an issue that would be fact, not political banter, before either man would complete an 8-year term in office.

Here’s what he said if George W. Bush were elected:

Remember that Mr. Bush is also proposing huge tax cuts. Aside from eliminating a surplus that might have been used to help Social Security, those cuts will encourage the nation as a whole to consume more and save less, exactly the opposite of what an aging society should be doing.

Meanwhile the pig is still in the python, inching inexorably toward its destiny. Is anyone paying attention?

No, Mr. Krugman, no one was paying attention and, as a result, we, like inattentive students, are taking remedial courses to help us out of the bind in which we find ourtselves.  Little did Mr. Krugman know at the time that Machiavellian schemers would have the ear of the naive president and that a Treasury-draining war would subtract immeasurably from that much-depleted surplus.

Greatest Generation suffered through the Great Depression and a World War, yet found the discipline and strength to move our nation to the greatest economic boom the world had ever seen. Their children, on the other hand, like the prodigal son of biblical lore, spent it all and scorched the earth in the process.  Now, they come, empty handed, for their ‘share’ of the treasure- the treasure that is no longer there.

What is ironic about Brokaw’s Greatest Generation is that, after fighting and suffering through that terrible World War, they authorized and supported two more wars, in Korea and in Vietnam. Did they forget the lessons of war? And it was during that meaningless Vietman War, the war that asked the children of the Greatest Generation  to fight and die in, that arose the protest song with the haunting lyrics, ‘When will we ev-er learn?’

The Baby-boomer’s children were asked to fight and die in three subsequent wars, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War.

And now the Treasury is completely empty and I ask, ‘When will we ev-er learn?’


12 thoughts on “The Pig in the Python

  1. And, lets not forget a couple of “little” wars…Granada and Panama…Oops, just thought of another, the Balkans or Kosovo. And speaking of money, just in the news over the weekend was the visit of Sec. Clinton to Pakistan and the dropping off of $500 MILLION! “And the beat goes on.”

  2. Our multinational corporate board major share holder overloards and Murdoch don’t care at all about the US’s future. They have the most political clout because they can get a guy or gal elected. But the bottom line is, is that the USA is only a “market” to these folks and if the US flounders.. well then there is China and a new market to infiltrate. Like Emperor Palpatine.. these corporatists saw the “bulge” as you describe as a huge base of spenders and purchasers.. so a tax cut and free credit went “entirely as foreseen”. muhahahaha.. They laugh at the USA: “Young Fool.. Only now at the end do you see the power of the Dark Side!…”

  3. Hello Muddy,
    What a great posting and food for thought. Uptheflag also brings up good points of those minor little wars that still were charged to the U.S. citizens. Good points brought up by Steve with the Murdoch (who holds a Chinese Passport) having such a large influence on our elections.

    Gentleman…Keep up the good work.

  4. I agree that Krugman is genius…but he is a realist.
    There is a Jewish saying, “From silksleeves to shirtsleeves, in two generations” It refers to the immigrant ethic, working hard and making the neccessary sacrifices to ensure that their children could go to school and be successful. Then the children of the children, entitled with trustfunds, priveleged and spendthrifts…blowing it all.
    Sort of the story of the rise, triumph and destruction of America’s middle class in the course of 60 years.

    Regarding Murdoch, his greed seems to have blind sided his business sense. He put up “pay for content” firewalls on all of his News Sites…The London Times and the Wall Street Journal, only to see his readership drop by almost 80% in a few weeks.

    When will we ever learn? If we were capable of learning from the long term results of the wars we engaged in, we would realize that war is rarely if ever the solution to a problem.

  5. While at my nursing school clinical last night, my patient was an older gentleman that had been thru the recent Lake Twnshp tornado and had lost everything. He was a farmer, and all that was left standing was his tractor. But this guy was a WW2 airforce vet, a B17 waist gunner and had been shot down over Poland. He had survived a fall of 20,000 feet before his chute opened. He became a POW and was interned at Stalag Luft 4. Toward the end of the war as the Russians approached, the German’s roused the men of of the POW camp, and with 0 preperation, they were force marched out the prison gates. It it known as the “little death march”, or the “Black March”. It was a forced march lasting 3 months to escape the Red Army. My patient came down with trench foot and later frost bite. He was still in good spirits and joked a lot about the Tornado and the WW2 ordeal. When I come into contact with people and stories like that it renews my faith in America.

  6. Thank you, Steve….
    It’s just not America, it’s the inherent nobility and the ability to rise to the occasion that lies in all of us. Facing up to reality and hard knocks brings out the best in us, or inversely, refusing to face reality and becoming fear driven monsters bloated with hatred. The wheat from the chaff.

  7. Steve, please get a recorder and interview this man…very few left…we need their histories….If you don’t have the time to do it, contact the University of Toledo History Department

  8. Hello Uptheflag,
    I could not agree with you more. I stay in touch with my father’s youngest brother as he is the only male left of his generation. He was in London when the buzz bombs were falling in. He went ashore at Normandy on D-day, fought across France and when Paris was taken, they sent him and his company to a remote area to decompress as they were battle weary. Yes he was in the Arden Forest when the Germans pushed back at the Battle of the Bulge. He is one of seven in his company to survive and he almost lost his feet from the frost bite. He finished marching into Germany and secured the northwestern part of Germany.

    My mother-in-law got remarried to a man named Gibson after my wife’s father passed away. Gibson was on the Enterprise and out to sea when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was in the Battle of Midway, The Battle of the Philippine Sea (aka “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”) and was transferred off just before The Battle of Iwo Jima invasion.

    Neither would talk about their experiences before, but because I served and experienced some of what they went through, they would talk with me about what they lived through and I wrote their stories down so I may pass it on to my daughter’s generation. It is important to be able to put a face and story of what was done for their benefit.

    Maybe some day I will write about my life’s experiences in South America during Augusto Pinochet’s military junta that took over Chile where 3,200 Chileans were killed or disappeared and just the abuse to the citizens in general. The Military Junta that took over Argentina where it is cited a figure of 30,000 disappeared. Too many have forgotten these little dirty wars; especially those whom praised and enacted our own Patriot Act….It was something like this that started, and was all that was needed to start Chile’s and Argentina’s atrocities.

  9. Engineer- your experiences in Chile at that time need to be written down and given to a university as a first-hand witness account. Future generations may read only watered-down, politically-spun accounts of that terrible dictatorship and your account will provide the real story of the atrocities that went on there [under the sanctioning of the U.S. Government].

    Dirty little wars for sure and most were sponsored or encouraged by American business interests. That’s even more egregious and shameful- especially when our government cooperated and sent military aid, advisors and dollars for ‘the cause.’

  10. “Neither would talk about their experiences before, Engineer writes about soldiers telling their war stories. This is what many have done, and with a majority of them having passed on, it is incumbant that we attempt to have the remaining record the experiences.The clock is running out to gain this knowledge, and we have to try and record it when the chance comes up….

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