Friday, January 18, 2008

Open Thread

So I was at a Marin middle school today. The teacher in one class was lecturing to a classroom of mostly 13-year-olds. The topic was global warming and its anticipated effects -- loss of habitat, changing weather patterns, flooding, extinction of polar bears and other creatures, human diaspora, famine, disease, etc.

One of the students raised her hand and, after being called on, said "So your generation caused the problem and my generation has to deal with it?" The teacher was dumbstruck. God bless the honesty of children.

Needless to say my mind immediately started enumerating all the ways the generation currently in power has encouraged courses of action, laws, and policies that allow them to reap huge benefits/profits now, with little to no immediate cost to themselves, while passing the burden on to our children and our children's children.

How will the baby boomers be remembered?

This is my first "open thread". Talk about what you want.


Blogger Max said...

Been wondering the same thing..Brokaw's Greatest Generation eclipsed by the excesses of the "Me Generation". Just look at Hilary as an example...God!!! The sense of entitlement is almost as bad as our current President.

Well...the generation that gave us Punk has given way to E.D. commercials. If I could get off my slacker a** that is synomynous (sp) with my generartion, I'd start an MC5 cover band and I'd call it E.D. (Erectile Dysfunction for those wise enough NOT to watch American Idol commercials). An "ironical" reminder to the baby boomers that they sold out (or grew up).

As an "X'er" I am wondering how long until we get involved. Or I just might turn on the TV and wait to do as I am told (consume, tune out and watch the ongoing video of the decline of Pax Americana 3,000 times just like 9/11).

Authors Note:
Too much sake induced vitriol and not enough coherency. Will try better next time.

Jan 18, 2008, 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger beebs said...

Social Security. The "intergenerational" Ponzi scheme will soon run out of money.

They can't force the suckers, I mean Gen Xers to pay for it forever.

The trust fund is filled with IOUs.

Jan 18, 2008, 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger see me said...

Fuck the baby boomers and there hedonistic "me" ways. You reap what you sow. In other words just in case you don't get it What You Do Comes Back To You!

Jan 18, 2008, 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Westside Bubble said...

Hey, I'm one of them. Pretty sad to see the idealism of (at least some of us in) the 1970s turn into the greed-is-good hyper-materialism of the 1980s-on.

Jan 18, 2008, 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm a baby boomer, and I'd classify our generation as generally grabbers and whiners overall with some sprinkles of mavericks, helpers and innovators thrown in… there is no shaking the results of where we are today..

Some of the ugly things…

$9T + in national debt
Global warming out of control
Divided Congress w/the religious right mainly in control
Stretched military
Loss of international prestige and leadership
Massive consumer debt
Financial armageddon and massive fraud
Lack of a long-term, sustainable energy policy
The housing bubble and all the hell it's unleashed
Real TV

Some of the good things…

Innovators in business & the world
Inventors of the silicon chip, PC and many other things
Unleashors of the internet(s) w/Google etc (sorry GWB; couldn’t resist)
Space exploration
Helpers of the oppressed
The voice of democracy around the world
The Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007
Seinfeld and the Simpsons

Overall, I'd give us a C+.. we (somewhat) squaundered a golden opportunity since the fall of the USSR to do more around the world from our leadership perch... much of that was because of our reliance of foreign oil and our divided Congress I'm afraid.. not sure that will change anytime soon..

Jan 19, 2008, 5:52:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Response to the Mortgage Broker in last thread (last post)..

I say BS and show me on all the buying being done at the upper end by the wealthy.. I'm not saying some properties are not moving. I'm saying your post was meant to leave others to believe that it's a fluid and relatively hot market up there in the high end and I say BS to that claim.

Warren Buffet sold his CA coastal home in 2005..

Marin has always been a nice place to live, relatively speaking, so why has the median price around here increased by 2-3 fold since 98-99? Fundamentals ? Ya, right..

See one of my earlier posts on the realities of what's driven home prices since this bubble started.. fundamentals (location, demand) was at the bottom of the list... fundamentals certainly explains the stickiness going down in Marin, but won't support these inflated prices over the long-term... sorry, the math just doesn't work...


Jan 19, 2008, 6:08:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"Marin has always been a nice place to live, relatively speaking, so why has the median price around here increased by 2-3 fold since 98-99? Fundamentals ? Ya, right.."

Amen. My first home in Fairfax was brand new, two stories, 1700 sf, purchased at just under 3x my gross income. And I do NOT make a lot of money. If you made even $75K - $100K, there were plenty of starter homes and condos for a first time purchase.

Flash forward to 2008. The median is around $800K? What happened? Global securitization, that's what happened, which enabled banks to toss lending standards out the window.

But now no one wants our junk mortgages, so guess what, over the next few years, home prices will fall. Even in our oh-so-special Marin.

And this county took a beating in the last downturn in the early to mid 90's. I was dating a guy who lived in Ross at the time, who had his property taxes adjusted downward by a whopping 20% in the three years that he had owned the house. Bought for $500K and the county revised his tax base to $400K. In Ross, no less -);

Jan 19, 2008, 9:37:00 AM  
Blogger Grandis said...

I commend you for bucking the trend and admitting that the Bommer generation, the generation that you are apart of is, in a sense, the reason for the [possible] end of the US dynasty. Maybe you didn’t say those exact words, but let’s look at what’s happened over the course of the last twenty years and what my generation, Generation Y, has to look forward to.
To quote Gordon Gecko, or maybe just Michael Douglas from Wall Street, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” To that I say, “Is it?” Greed is the essence of capitalism and an ingredient in innovation. Greed leads to riches and ultimately wealth. These are good things. It’s great to live in a country where you can work hard, take risks and become wealthy. Let’s not forget that. I say, for lack of a better word, that makes us “better” than a lot of countries. So where did greed get such a bad rap and how have we fallen into such a mess? The answer, which is always the answer, is follow the money, and who has the most to gain. We’ve created a very incestuous system that rewards cronyism and short-term gains over long term growth.

Notable points since the Boomers took over.
• 1992 – NAFTA - US Corporations move vast amounts of manufacturing jobs to boarder towns. Who wins: Corporations vastly reduce labor costs and improve profits. Upper management wins big time. Who loses: Thousands of manufacturing workers, many unskilled and many will never make a decent salary again. Many human rights violations are documented in Mexican border towns. Therefore Mexico looses too.
• 15% income tax for the Leisure Class. Those who have never lifted a finger in their life, never had a sh%&y boss to deal with, never stuck with a job strictly for the benefits, these people pay less than half the taxes that the rest of us do. Fair? Right? I think not. But they do through some kick ass parties in the Hamptons and do know the right people to through money at. Quid pro quo.
• At present the national debt is $9,191,579,776,447 and counting. Check back at to see what it’s risen to since posting this. What is truly frightening is to realize that there will come a time in the not too distant future when China, among others, begin to view our bonds as junk bonds and decide to get out of the dollar buying business; unless we get a President who knows how to balance a check book.
• And finally the housing crisis. To that I say, “What crisis?” It’s true that Greenspan turned a blind eye to the mortgage industry to help the economy grow [in the short term], and thus his legacy, and thus Pres Clinton’s legacy as well. But unless we are talking about gross predatory practices, most people know what they were getting into. Some people choose to believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause and a housing market that only goes up. God bless them and to each their own. In the end Adam Smith will have his way and once again supply will equal demand. Because in the end it always does. Boomers will be fine because they bought their dream houses in the 1980’s at roughly $150k and watched their American dream’s appreciate to over a million. Only those sad hard workers, or lawyers ; ), who only recently bought in will be hurt. But again, it’s their fault for believing in the Easter Bunny.
• In the end payback’s a bitch. The meek shall inherit the earth. Don’t expect social security or Medicare to be there Boomers. I predict a return to a balanced budget. I predict a world where dudes can marry dudes. I predict a world where human rights are more than just a talking point. I predict a world where pundits and politicians discuss more than just recent gaffs and one’s stance on abortion. I predict a world where Gen X and Gen Y get fed up with the status quo and demand a return to the golden rule whereby having a certain moral flexibility is no longer a good thing.

*On a side note. I was living in Texas two years ago. I made $35,000 annual and got approved for a $160,000 loan without a co-signer. My payment would have been a little over $1350 a month. My take home monthly salary was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1650 a month. That would have left me $300 for food, car payment, credit card payment, utilities, etc. I didn’t need a calculator to know that buying a home wasn’t a good idea. Maybe the real reason people are in trouble is there aren’t enough calculators in this country. Just a thought!!!

Jan 19, 2008, 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger W.C. Varones said...

Ron Paul took second in Nevada. That's pretty cool.

Jan 19, 2008, 7:42:00 PM  
Blogger brazos605 said...

Yes, Ron Paul takes second in Nevada, besting McCain and Huckabee. Yet, no headlines, or even discussion in the articles about the primary. You can't tell me there isn't a huge bias against him in the mainstream media. Even if he'd won, they'd be downplaying it.

Jan 19, 2008, 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Hate to say it, but Ron Paul is still from Texas, so he's still got a few issues... I'm in alignment with him on most monetary and fiscal policy issues, but not on some others..

Still, no perfect candidate out there IMO.. what's the lesser of 2 or 3 evils is what this amounts to for me... still deciding..

Democrats have a golden opportunity here, but I can see them blowing it with too many promises to too many segments of society as this campaign continues to heat up. They need to get tougher on a few things, including illegal immigration, but won't unfortunately. Too close to call at this point, but I think Hilary will get the nod in the end, which will keep Congress divided unfortunately if she's elected..

Republicans are still trying to figure out their message and lead horse.. I think McCain takes it in the end with Romney conceding after Super Tues despite a valiant effort..

Overall, I think Romney might be the best of the remaining field, but I don't see this country electing a Mormon... sorry, I don't.. we ain't there yet, esp in the south and bible belt..

Rudy needs to take his 3rd wife out on a dinner date and leave the running of this empire to someone with a vision beyond retribution for 911...

Fred Thompson’s good old boy act didn’t cut the mustard where the populace is fairly well educated.. He needs to head back to Hollywood with his young hottie there and make a few more movies. It was just a show for him anyhow..

Jan 20, 2008, 8:41:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

For the record, I am a boomer (a "shadow boomer" or "late boomer" to be more precise).

Jan 20, 2008, 1:10:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

And BTW, if it wasn't already clear enough in my comments in the post, my biggest gripe with boomers is the mentality of getting what we want now and not having to pay for it, to push off paying for it to some later date (and more often some later generation). I am thinking of things like Prop 13, the continual tendency in California to issue bonds to "pay" for what we want now, etc.

When will the younger generations finally say enough is enough? When will they revolt and just refuse to pay?

Jan 20, 2008, 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

The "Boomer" classification sounds as racist, excuse me ageist, as any other "lump them together" concept.

Yeah, the boomer homeless guy who returned from war and is on the street is the reason for your woes.

Yeah, the boomer artists who said no to the crap and did their art are the problem.
Or anybody of that age span who tried to live a good life and do good stuff in the world.

Give me a break!

We are talking about individuals.

Individuals and their actions.

I would submit that there are as many greedy, money-grubbing A=holes in every generation XYZ.

This is the bad side of "human nature".

How about trying to do some good now?
If you have a generous, winning solution please share it and show it in the world.

Pardon my vitriol, but I think the blame game is a lame game.

Jan 21, 2008, 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

Individuals and their actions.

Yep, and in aggregate. Part of the social milieu. We are talking about the aggregate behavior of individuals and the policies put in place by the aggregate. Thought that was plain enough.

Jan 21, 2008, 9:51:00 AM  
Blogger brazos605 said...

If anyone's interested in generational differences, you should read a book called "The Fourth Turning," by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Its basic thesis is that history runs in 100-year cycles, driven by four generational archetypes.

The book's authors are boomers themselves, yet they argue that roughly every 100 years, when the boomer generation takes on the leadership role, they lead the country into a crisis (e.g., Great Depression & WWII; Civil War; American Revolution). The next generation behind them works as their "management" during the boomer-created crisis (think Eisenhower), and the next younger generation gets slaughtered on the battlefield.

Each generation impacts the other one. While the boomers were "finding themselves," they left their kids home to fend for themselves. In turn, the Gen-X'ers, having experienced abandonment, are more protective of their children, making them a focus.

You ultimately may disagree with the book's thesis (especially if you subscribe to a linear view of history), but it's some pretty interesting stuff. I first read it in 1997, and re-read it again in 2001. I think it's time for another read right now.

Jan 21, 2008, 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

I think the debate over the boomers is actually more simplified. Admittedly, I've been pissed in the past over many of the same reasons as others my age over the world in which we must now take over.

But in their defense, I don't think it fair to blame them for the messes we now face. The single biggest overarching issue is that there's simply SO MANY of them. When they did anything, like enter the job market, have kids, buy homes, and now retire, it sent shock waves through the country simply because there were so many of them.

Is it entirely their fault? Well, perhaps it is the fault of their parents. But is that a fair assessment either? Their parents survived the depression and WW2. Afterwards they gorged themselves on cheap tract homes which were in many cases government subsidized. They gorged themselves on huge cars, TV sets, and other junk simply because they had done without for so long.

The US economy was in near-perfect condition, with lentiful jobs, a true middle class that allowed most people middle class-dom( house,stay-at-home-wifey, car, etc) We fueled the needs of a war-ravaged world. California and much of the West was stampeded by outsiders from the East.

All in all, a period of total excess. On top of that, most of those returning GI's partook in sex on a massive degree ( because they'd been fighting the war before) and therefor- the MASSIVE baby boom.

On top of that, the parents of those boomers protected their kids from the horrors that they experienced: fridges full of food, happy-dappy make-believe TV shows depicting the perfect American life, and enemies that had to be dealt with: the USSR and the cold war.

So in my mind, boomers were protected and given the better lives that their parents wanted them to have.

With that said, I don't think we can blame them for simply acting en-mass. Besides, one thing is certain: they're all going to downsize and sell their homes all at once, which on top of the current housing bust will further steepen the fall in prices.Perhaps we should be thanking them instead.

Anyhow, I'm pretty confident and comfortable with the housing market's future, which for bubble-sitters like me looks ripe and dandy. Don't worry about the boomers. We're entering a new beginning and affordability is on the horizon.

Jan 21, 2008, 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger SacramentoCrash said...

Fools and liar bailout courtesy of the DC Nut crowd

Why oh why must it always be the little old lady with her modest portfolio of CD's and safe dividend paying utility stocks that is made to pay the price for the deadbeats who take out loans they cannot make good on and the bankers that lend it to them?

Deflation is good for the frugal with cash, inflation is good for the fool with $25,000 in credit card debt, a liar loan and a $750,000 house he had no business buying in the first place.

This country has become a nation of whining parasites demanding the few who live responsibly bail them out again and again.

Give me the recession and let the fools pay the price.

What you will get is:

High oil prices
Spiraling inflation
Devalued dollar
LESS consumption by boomers and seniors because their savings account income and dividend yields were hacked by the Fed.

Depression like 1929 which was also caused by a hyperbubble.

Jan 23, 2008, 7:17:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

I too was highly irritated by the huge cut yesterday, which is made worse by the mention that even MORE o are the way.

I think it's safe to say that most of us here are probably playing the same rational ballgame that we have been for 4-5 years: Wait for the crash, wait for the prices to fall, wait for a small recession, then buy at the bottom when everyone else is going to hell in a handbasket. I admit that I too am sort of in the line of thinking. Wait for the the majority of the population that acted like sheep and bought beyond their means to be effectively disarmed from their credit and suddenly the world becomes more affordable to those who practiced frugality.

But the cut yesterday... that makes thing a bit more interesting. There is such a thing as too much of a 'good' or bad thing, depending on how you view a possible recession.I imagine that the Fed is going to keep right on cutting and subsequently make our currency worth nothing.

What that means for even those of us who saved is that we will have less purchasing power. I'm not sure how severe things will get, but I don't feel great about it one bit. I will say that as of yesterday, I shifted 20% of my investments to international and might move more. The US is going down the wrong path. Save as much as you can. I get a feeling that even if houses get slashed 50%, borrowing ANY money is going to be extremely costly.

Jan 23, 2008, 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

Re the panic rate cut of 75 bp:

It was a panic move by the Fed. Yet, at the same time, their press release says "business as usual". Here is the relevant excerpt:

The Federal Open Market Committee has decided to lower its target for the federal funds rate 75 basis points to 3-1/2 percent.

The Committee took this action in view of a weakening of the economic outlook and increasing downside risks to growth. While strains in short-term funding markets have eased somewhat, broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households. Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets.

The Committee expects inflation to moderate in coming quarters, but it will be necessary to continue to monitor inflation developments carefully.

Appreciable downside risks to growth remain. The Committee will continue to assess the effects of financial and other developments on economic prospects and will act in a timely manner as needed to address those risks.

If this doesn't qualify for the Bagdad Bob award, nothing does.

Jan 23, 2008, 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

And for those of you who think the Fed's rate cut matters to housing, think again. We've been over this before ad nauseum on this blog... but anyway, Japan did the same thing when its "immune" property markets declined and it made no difference. The US is just acting in the same, mindless programmed way.

Jan 23, 2008, 1:50:00 PM  

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