Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blaming the Baby Boomers

After a couple years of watching the baby boomer generation turn out to Tea Party rallies on Medicare-provided scooters to protest Democrats' attempt to provide health insurance to people who don't have the benefits of single-payer government health insurance, it's pretty easy to be angry at the boomers. But Aaron Renn gave me another reason:

I don’t see any signs of the older generations getting through the grieving process [for the Rust Belt cities of old] and moving on. This makes me think that for us to fully embrace a true urban policy, even in city government itself, it is going to take generational turnover. The baby boomers are already starting to age, but they’ll be with us a lot longer. Alas, they have historically been the most suburban generation, and not shy about imposing their values, so I suspect we’ll be dealing with that legacy for a while.

I think this does cast something of a shadow over the recent resurgence of urbanism in the US. As we saw clearly through the rise of the Tea Parties over the last couple years, old white people are more than willing to get out and protest (and vote!) when they care about something. In this case, that something will be any attempt at a reversal of the large system of subsidies and regulations that overwhelmingly benefit the suburban middle-class over poorer urban dwellers.

It does make me wonder what will happen as these suburban boomers age to the point where the suburban lifestyle is no longer feasible. At some age, driving is no longer a good idea, or even possible. In the suburbs, driving is the only option, however. There are going to be some serious problems in aging car-oriented suburbs. It will be interesting to see how they are addressed.

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