Anniversary Irony: How the Woodstock Generation is Sabotaging Health Care Reform

I’m too young to really know about Woodstock but my parents aren’t. What happened? From what I can see, they’ve checked out and don’t care what happens with the environment or public education and health, because they’re going to be dead soon , nothing has made them sick yet, or they don’t have children, so whatever ails society doesn’t affect them. Its frustrating trying to engage with them because they just counter my concerns with “its better now” or they survived a similar experience. It doesn’t mean it was right then just as its not right now. As we learn things and become wiser, we should work to make it better and easier for future generations not more complicated and difficult. As far as I am concerned, its my responsibility. How long do we have to wait for their attitudes to change and for them to check back in and help future generations? Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.


Indeed, the boomers consume health care in the same guzzling fashion that they bought homes and cars and electronics and designer everything. And they’re worried that their God-given right to consume often and endlessly is being threatened by the Obama plan.


Can we blame them for this expectation of everything? From the time they were born, and their Spock-trained parents catered to their every whim, boomers were spoiled and privileged. Society existed to dandle them and indulge their fantasies.


They also grew up as children (and adults) during the largest expansion of employer-based health care in history. Corporations may have been boring (and sometimes evil), but they were generous. Boomers’ white-collar and blue-collar parents had great benefits. They never had to deal with scarcity, with limits, with tough resource decisions. They always had plenty of toys, plenty of jobs, plenty of choices. So when opponents of reform use trigger words like “rationing”, boomers get all twitchy and shrill.


Then there’s the “Unplug Granny” distortion. The reason it’s so contagious is that it strikes at the essence of boomer anxiety, the inevitable march to mortality. They want to go on forever. They see themselves as adolescents, they dress like adolescents,they listen to oldies music that suspends them in adolescent amber.


The free-love, communal mud-spirit of Woodstock has wizened and twisted into an forever young ideology that is making it difficult to have any intelligent conversation about end-of-life decisions. If it’s going to cost a million dollars to keep me alive for another month, that’s my boomer right.


Of course, there are yowls of protest about health care reform from the generation that precedes the boomers. But I haven’t seen any meaningful segment of boomers talk about the need for reform, even if it means some degree of sacrifice. Talk to physicians in any area with a high concentration of those on Medicare and you’ll hear the same refrain: every little ache and pain is an occasion (even a social occasion) for a trip to doctor, since Medicare pays anyway. That’s the boomer ontology.


Gen X and Gen Y, as we know, have very little patience with the boomers. They see them as a self-involved generation that’s leaving them a sick planet and a distorted set of values. Health care reform is the last chance the boomers have to live up to the promise of Woodstock, but it seems like they’re still stuck in the mud.


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