Steven Brill writes in Time that baby boomers broke America. (Getty Images)

< Go to Homepage

Why Is America Struggling So Much? Blame the Baby Boomers

Steven Brill, author of 'Tailspin,' looks at how the post-World War II generation broke America.

Over the past few decades, life in America has faltered. There has been, of course, process on several fronts. There are more opportunities for women and minorities than ever (though they still lag behind white men), researchers are making amazing scientific discoveries every day, creativity abounds on stages and in record studios and technology is quickly advancing. But, Steven Brill, author of Tailspin, writes in Time that “key measures of the nation’s public engagement, satisfaction and confidence—voter turnout, knowledge of public-policy issues, faith that the next generation will fare better than the current one, and respect for basic institutions, especially the government—are far below what they were 50 years ago.” He says that in some cases, these measures have reached historic lows.

Income inequality has soared. The chance of adults in their 30s earning more than their parents dropped to 50 percent from 90 percent just two generations earlier. The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. Automation and outsourcing have increased. Household debt had grown higher in 2017 than the peak reached in 2008 before the crash. America has the third highest poverty rate among the 35 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). America’s airports are an embarrassment, roads and rails are crumbling, and health care and student achievement rank in the middle or worse globally.

So how did we fall so low? Brill writes that we should blame the baby boomers. According to him, the most talented and driven Americans used what made the country great—the First Amendment, due process, free markets and free trade, etc.—to win the American dream. But they won it for themselves, and themselves alone. Then, “in a way unprecedented in history,” writes Brill, they consolidated their winnings, outsmarted the forces who tried to rein them in, and “pulled up the ladder” so they could not be challenged, and the generations that followed could not join them.

Read the full story at Time