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Greatest Generation the Most Entitled
Townhall.com ^ | March 7, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 03/07/2013 5:44:14 AM PST by Kaslin

One thing nearly everybody agrees upon is that the "sequester" is a silly sideshow to the real challenge facing America: unsustainable spending on entitlements. Ironies abound. Democrats, with large support from young people, tend to believe that we must build on the legacy bequeathed to us by the New Deal and the Great Society. Republicans, who marshaled considerable support from older voters in their so-far losing battle against Obamacare, argue that we need to start fresh.

Perhaps it's time for both sides to consider an underappreciated fact of American life: The system we are trying to perpetuate was created for the explicit benefit of the so-called greatest generation, the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history.

I don't mean to belittle or demean the heroic efforts and sacrifices of those who served in World War II. But the idea that a whole generation deserves credit for what only some did is little more than an attempt to buy glory on the cheap. One of the egalitarian precepts that all Americans are supposed to subscribe to is the idea that one citizen isn't more worthy than another, simply by accident of birth. If you stormed the beaches of Normandy, you are due praise and honor. If you were simply born the same year as those who stormed the beaches, you're no more deserving of praise than someone born of any other generation.

Moreover, government was bending to the needs of the greatest generation -- for good and ill -- long before they did anything great. Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe made this argument in their famous 1991 opus "Generations." Before Tom Brokaw dubbed them the "greatest generation," Howe and Strauss called them the "GI Generation."

"The initials GI can stand for two things -- 'general issue' and 'government issue' -- and this generation's life cycle has stood squarely for both," they wrote. "The GI life cycle has shown an extraordinary association with the growth of modern government activity, much of it directed toward whatever phase of life they occupied."

When GIs were children, the White House held its first Conference on Children, and Congress created the first U.S. Children's Bureau and passed the first federal child labor law. They benefited from government-run schools in large numbers, and after the war from the aptly named GI Bill. And when the first wave of GIs approached old age, Howe and Strauss noted, the White House held its first Conference on Aging. Congress created the National Institute on Aging and passed the first federal age discrimination law.

"The entire modern growth in government spending has coincided with the duration of their adult life cycle," the authors noted.

Also, the GI Generation was deferential to authority long before anyone was asked to fight the Nazis. It was the most "uniformed generation" in U.S. history, the historians wrote. Nearly all the scouting organizations -- Boy Scouts (1910), Girl Scouts (1912), 4-H Clubs (1914) -- were launched to accommodate the GI.

Despite nostalgia for the New Deal, people forget how militaristic it was. President Franklin D. Roosevelt conceived of the New Deal as a "moral equivalent of war" effort and promised to use the tactics of World War I to fight the Depression. Nearly all the New Deal agencies were modeled on the war agencies of the Wilson administration. The Civilian Conservation Corps turned 3 million men into a paramilitary "tree army."

The National Recovery Administration, run by former general Hugh "Iron Pants" Johnson, aimed to organize the economy along the lines of war mobilization. On Sept. 13, 1933, he organized the largest parade New York had ever seen. Tens of thousands of workers marched in military fashion celebrating the mascot of the NRA, the "Blue Eagle." Similar militaristic pageants were held across the country.

FDR explained the purpose of the Blue Eagle in a fireside chat: "In war, in the gloom of night attack," he crooned, "soldiers wear a bright badge on their shoulders to be sure that comrades do not fire on comrades. On that principle, those who cooperate in this program must know each other at a glance. That is why we have provided a badge of honor for this purpose."

I have neither the space nor the inclination to pronounce on what was good or bad about all this. But as Washington grapples with the legacy costs of the "greatest generation" -- including the unsustainable burden of paying the retirement bills for the GIs' supremely entitled children, the Baby Boomers, perhaps it is at least worth recognizing that the government and the culture designed to benefit one generation has come at the cost of those that come after it.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: entitlementprogs; greatestgeneration; socialsecurity; welfare
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To: ansel12

You keep raising irrelevant points. So what if they vote GOP overall? They are still blocking reform on entitlements.


101 posted on 03/13/2013 5:35:39 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

Weird, you just don’t make any sense at all.


102 posted on 03/13/2013 5:40:38 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: ansel12

way far second


103 posted on 03/13/2013 6:27:24 PM PDT by Chickensoup (200 million unarmed people killed in the 20th century by Leftist Totalitarian Fascists)
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To: Chickensoup

The US only slipped to number two, two years ago, they were number one until then, so this is brand spanking new.


104 posted on 03/13/2013 6:39:23 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: ansel12

Calling somebody weird is not an argument. It gets us nowhere.

Look at it this way. Winning elections is simple — strengthen your base while attacking the opposition. Paul Ryan and his colleagues should hold town halls for the Greatest Generation, to persuade them that we must save the entitlement system now before it is too late and it all comes crashing down. Nobody but the most profound idiot could oppose that sort of outreach.

Meanwhile, some of the undecided voters, and left-leaners, might be persuaded to join this crusade to save the finances of our nation. If the lefties are not willing, then you can attack them to your heart’s content.


105 posted on 03/14/2013 5:02:55 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

Outreach to what? That age group already voted overwhelmingly for Ryan and is the most republican voting age group in America.

You are a psycho that can’t come to realize that fact, and you have no idea what age group voted against Ryan and the republicans and which needs the outreach.

You must be some kind of troll.


106 posted on 03/14/2013 5:09:15 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: Kaslin

This is BS. So what the hell is wrong with our Government doing something for its citizens instead of dying and spending money on the rest of the world to fight for their agenda and to provide nation building? Screw them, Americans come first and if that is an entitlement Americans merit it. Cut all foreign dollars spent before taking one cent from Americans.


107 posted on 03/14/2013 5:20:40 PM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: ansel12

The outreach would be for the whole-hearted support of the elderly for entitlement reform. Without their support, reform will not take place.

During the Tea Party rebellion in 2010, Tea Party activists told reporters that Social Security and Medicare were not big government programs. They evidently thought the money they paid in through Social Security taxes was equal what was paid out in benefits. Wrong — it had become a soon-to-be bankrupt program where little was paid in compared to what was received.

Once we can persuade the elderly how big government has bungled the program, we can make progress on saving Social Security. That would help us get votes and win elections, too.


108 posted on 03/14/2013 5:46:45 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

Wouldn’t it be more effective to just count the votes you already have on your side and seek outreach to the people who are voting against you?


109 posted on 03/14/2013 6:13:17 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: ansel12

Entitlements affect everybody, so you need to reach out to both sides. Everybody has to be brought along as much as possible. Or else there would be animosity and distrust.

Yes we do have the general election votes of the Greatest Generation versus Democrats - but that only goes but so far. We don’t have the votes for reform on our side. Not even conservative Republicans will bring any serious entitlement reforms to the floor of Congress. Therefore the need for outreach.


110 posted on 03/15/2013 7:25:38 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

First off the “greatest generation” is what, older than 88 or 90 years old?

I think your problem is convincing the age group that won’t vote republican to start voting republican.


111 posted on 03/15/2013 7:35:39 PM PDT by ansel12 ( August 29,2008 A Natural Born Reformer inadvertently unleashed within palace walls, change ensues.)
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To: ansel12

I include the very old greatest generation, plus other oldsters, plus people who think old. Some eighty-plus percent of Americans say government is too big and let’s cut. But when asked about entitlements, the lion’s share of spending, they say don’t cut my precious entitlement.

So just persuading some more independents to vote our way won’t be enough. To reform entitlements, to even get a decent bill on House floor, we need to go after 85 percent of the voters! We’ve got to get some truth inside the thick heads of the oldsters, Dem, indy or Repub. Everybody.


112 posted on 03/19/2013 4:57:09 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

Well, someday you may look into it and find out that the most republican voting age group in America is 65 and over, and the most anti-republican voting age group is under 30.

Then you may realize what your challenge is.


113 posted on 03/19/2013 5:05:42 PM PDT by ansel12 (" I would not be in the United States Senate if it wasn’t for Sarah Palin " Cruz said.)
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To: ansel12

So what? Regardless of what party they vote for, old people still oppose entitlement reform. We need their moral support and their votes for this crusade. Can’t we at least ask for their support? Why can’t we do that?


114 posted on 03/19/2013 5:17:56 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: heye2monn

Good luck to your effort to win the republican voters to the republican party.


115 posted on 03/19/2013 5:30:51 PM PDT by ansel12 (" I would not be in the United States Senate if it wasn’t for Sarah Palin " Cruz said.)
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