The Baby Boomers are a plague of locusts that have effectively wrecked America and inflicted an incredible amount of damage on the rest of the world.
That is the theme of Bruce Canon Gibney’s excellent book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers betrayed America. Gibney’s work is absolutely frightening because it is not a piece of mindless punditry.
Instead, Gibney proves his thesis that Baby Boomers as a group have behaved in a destructive, nihilistic, selfish, and insensitive manner particularly at the ballot box and in political office. Gibney, a lawyer turned; venture capitalist, turned writer provides a vast amount of hard data to back up his hypothesis.
He also provides an answer for one of the great mysteries of the present age: explaining why Americans are capable of incredible accomplishments in many areas, but spectacularly ineffective in others. Gibney’s explanation shows why the United States can produce spectacular corporate successes; such as Apple, Google, Disney, Tesla, SpaceX, and Berkshire Hathaway, and have a government incapable of meeting many of the basic needs of its citizens.
Sorry Baby Boomers you have behaved Like Sociopaths
Gibney’s basic hypothesis is that many of the actions of Baby Boomers; those born between 1945 and 1965, meets some of the criteria for sociopathic behavior as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM.
Here are some of the criteria for antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy) as defined by the DSM-5 (2013 edition) and Betterhelp:
- “Persistent patterns of disregard and violation of the rights of others, present since the age of 15 and consisting of at least three of the following resulting in hurting, mistreating, and/or stealing from someone.”
- “Reckless, disregarding the safety of others and one’s self.”
- “Persistently irresponsible, inability to maintain consistent work behavior and/or honor financial obligations.”
- “Indifferent rationalization without remorse.”
- “Persistent deceitfulness, using aliases, and lying to con others for personal gain.”
- “Impulsive and unable to plan.”
Evidence the Baby Boomers in Washington are Sociopaths
Here are some of the Baby Boom generation’s “accomplishments” since taking control of the American political system circa 1990:
- Amassed a national debt of $14.70 trillion by 2017; that is expected to grow $28.7 trillion by 2028 according to Seeking Alpha Contributor Elliot R. Morss.
- Created a federal budget deficit of $630 billion that will grow to $1.08 trillion for the first time in 2022 and $1.14 trillion by 2028.
- The Boomer-dominated 114th Congress passed legislation that would cut federal revenues (taxes) by 4% over the next decade; while increasing federal spending by $1 trillion or 2%, Morss pointed out.
- The average Senator was 61 years old (born 1957) and the average representative 57 years old (born 1961) making Congress pure-boomer according to the Congress Research Service.
- That legislation was dutifully signed by Boomer President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) aged 71, born 1946.
- The United States has experienced two government shutdowns caused by the failure of Congress and the President to agree on a budget since Boomers took over in Washington D.C. in 1995-1996 and 2013. The nation came close to a shutdown again in 2017 and 2018.
- Underfunded infrastructure investment by $4.6 trillion according to the American Association of Civil Engineers.
- Made the United States the only country in the world to officially reject the Paris Agreement on climate change. Even bloodthirsty Syrian dictator Bashar Assad who; likes to use chemical weapons on his own people, has signed the Paris Agreement, The Atlantic noted.
- Made the United States the only industrialized nation without a single-payer health insurance system. This neglect is literally killing Americans; a 2009 Harvard Medical School study found that uninsured Americans are 40% more likely to suffer premature death. The same study estimated the number of Americans that die because of lack of health insurance at 45,000 a year.
- Two administrations headed by Baby Boomer presidents; Trump and George W. Bush (R-Texas), deliberately tried to suppress proven scientific data verifying climate change.
- Trump appointed; and the Senate ratified, Scott Pruitt, a notorious climate change denier as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In true sociopath fashion, Pruitt is now claiming that climate change might be beneficial to humans, The Guardian reported.
- Pruitt (unfortunately a Generation Xer like me born in 1968) announced plans to roll back emission standards for vehicles. Pruitt repealed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to which would have cut power plant emissions. Both actions will increase the amount of greenhouse gases America generates.
- Grossly underfunded education. When adjusted for inflation teachers in one state West Virginia had their pay cut by 11.2% between 2009 and 2018, Vox calculated. Disturbingly, five states pay their teachers less than West Virginia, Ed Week
Unfortunately, this is just a sampling of the sociopathic behavior of Boomers in power. Gibney’s expose of Boomer malfeasance is far more detailed but disturbingly he does not go far enough.
How America’s Baby Boomers are hurting the World
Gibney ignores or downplays three of the most destructive examples of Baby Boomer sociopathy.
He says nothing but the criminal neglect and systematic sabotage of international institutions like the United Nations; founded by far-sighted American statesmen, by American Baby Boomers. During the 26 years, it has been the world’s only superpower the Boomer-ruled USA has done absolutely nothing to bolster the United Nations. To add insult to injury a vocal segment of the Republican Party has waged what amounts to a systematic war on the UN.
Since the end of the Cold War, there has been no serious effort to expand the UN or its power. No US politician has even suggested that the UN implement Harry S. Truman’s sensible suggestion of the creation of a permanent UN military organization.
Compare that behavior to the leaders of 1945 who went out of the way to create the UN and base it in New York. Truman endured a vast amount of criticism for allowing the Soviet Union, America’s archenemy, to participate in the UN in an attempt to preserve the peace.
Contrast that to the Trump administration which as pulled out of UNESCO, (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Education) and wants to cut funding to the United Nations. Disturbingly, Trump was only formalizing a policy that has existed since 2011; the US has not paid its UNESCO bills since then.
Even more disgusting is Baby Boomer America’s refusal to pay for the damage it causes. The country of Iraq; devastated by 27 years of American military operations (ordered by four Boomer presidents), needs $88 billion to rebuild and the USA has not pledged a cent, The Intercept reported. Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to increase military spending in Iraq and Syria by $4 billion. The US war effort in Iraq has cost $2 trillion, The Intercept estimated.
Compare that with the 1940s generation which spent around $103.4 billion in 2014 dollars to rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan. Much of that money went to America’s former enemies West Germany and Italy.
Like a true sociopath, Baby Boomer America breaks stuff – then refuses to pay the bill. Harry S. Truman and George C. Marshall are undoubtedly rolling over in their graves.
Deconstructing Civil Rights
The other great example of Boomer sociopathy; which Gibney touches upon but fails to explore, has been the effort to reconstruct American racism and roll back civil rights.
Between 1945 and the early 1970s, the United States experienced tremendous progress in race relations and civil rights. That ground to a halt in the mid-1970s; when Boomers started gaining political power.
Since the Boomers gained full-power in the early 1990s efforts to disenfranchise and oppress people of color have grown dramatically. Examples of The Boomers assault on civil rights include; the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, Stop and Frisk, Zero Tolerance, “welfare reform,” gerrymandering of Congressional and legislative districts, failure to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants, and worst of all; voter suppression.
This rising crescendo of bigotry and oppression reached its apex in 2016 with the election of an unapologetic racist as President. That racist had the support; or at least tacit approval of large segments of American’s corporate and intellectual elite (most of whom are Boomers).
That president’s election was largely the work of boomers. CNN estimated that 52% of voters aged 50-64 (mostly Boomers) voted for Donald J. Trump. The Donald also received 52% of the votes of those over 64 (another Boomer heavy demographic).
One of Trump’s early acts as President was to appoint a commission that critics charged was designed to implement voter suppression policies nationwide. Fortunately, the commission was disbanded without achieving anything.
Democrats are not off the hook here; the winner of their 2016 Presidential Primary Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) has her own troubling racial baggage. Clinton’s husband Bill signed “welfare reform” (which stripped many black families of benefits) and Clinton herself promoted racist sentencing policies that stripped African-American men of citizenship.
The Madness of the Baby Boomers
“Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
The cause and extent of Baby Boomer sociopathy are obviously debatable, but its effects are clear and will be felt for generations. One of the worst side effects of this mass sociopathy is to overshadow the many good works of responsible Boomers; like Bill Gates (born 1955), who has devoted his life and fortune to philanthropy.
There is one certainty here a generational reset and new leadership in America is needed for the good of the world and the American people.
 Note: Gibney defines a Baby Boomer as somebody born between 1940 and 1965. I prefer the more common definition of those born after World War II. For a good definition of the commonly accepted generations see http://www.pewresearch.org/methodology/demographic-research/definitions/