“Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper.” – Ayn Rand
The baby-boom generation, of which I am a less-than-proud member, blew it.
There was a time long, long ago when the mention of the word “baby-boomer” evoked a sense of pride of membership. Amidst the prosperity of the post-WWII era, birth rates in North America soared while the sons and daughters of many men and women that fought in the war became the dominant demographic force by the year 1966. When I was in Grade 10, I wrote an essay that pointed to the defining moment where the excitement and unbridled optimism of the Space Race, advances in modern medicine, and unparalleled economic growth was snuffed out forever by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas in the autumn of 1963. With the end of Camelot, the boomer generation suddenly began to question things. They threw away the Beach Boys “Surfin’ Nirvana” lifestyle to the darker messages of Bob Dylan, CSNY, the Doors, and Hendrix as they watched while the Viet Nam war claimed over 58,000 U.S. servicemen and caused massive civil unrest to permeate the inner cities and the campuses of America.
Through the unwillingness of the baby-boomers to accept the garbage spewn out by the radio and print media as well as the fledgling television industry, young people rose defiantly to implement an end to a war that had become a national embarassment and political nightmare. I arrived in Saint Louis in the fall of 1971, a mere four years before Saigon fell and by then, the historically-conservative (pro-war) city of Saint Louis had seen a demographic shift in camps as the campuses and high schools were filled with long-haired radicals heavily recruiting the youth of the era to “tear it all down” in order to effect the much-needed political and social changes that were so overdue by then. On the other side of the demarcation line were the rednecks, the police, the National Guard and, of course, the military. The sidebar to all of this is that the boomers also took down a president in the form of Richard Nixon so to say that the boomers had serious “stroke” is an understatement. The medium was FM radio, Rolling Stone magazine, and weed and that was all that was needed to effect change and it mattered not where. We, as a generation, were a FORCE.
However, and very sadly, ending the war in Viet Nam by non-violent protest and by their sheer numbers (it was nothing to see 20,000 young people at anti-war rallies), that was just about where the great metamorphosis ended. We, as a generation, as we had done with the Beach Boys, threw away the old protest albums of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s and opted instead for a different type of optimism from that which empowered our parents in the ‘50’s. A former movie star arrived on the scene in the form of Republican Ronald Reagan (nicknamed “Ronald Ray-Gun” by Country Joe at Woodstock) in 1980 and despite the non-violent, intellectual approach of opponent Democrat Jimmy Carter, they swept Reagan into power with the largest popular vote in history. From that moment on, my generation shifted focus from morality to money and with that shift, the largest voting demographic in world history has continued to act in a self-serving, sycophantic mode of behaviour most foul to those that dare try to recall the ethical bravery of the 1960’s. Famous cofounder of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Jerry Rubin, went from bell-bottomed blue jeans to blue pin stripes by taking a job on Wall Street and that punctuated the generational sentence of the boomer tribe.
We boomers now look at our offspring and we cry for their future. We don’t lament for how THEY are voting or why they are voting or even IF they are voting because deep down, we all know – every one of us – that their decisions are the ones crafted for them by their forbearers. The parents of we boomers were were indelibly etched by the Great Depression of 1930-1933. I recall my father’s tales of delivering “Day-Old bread” to houses up in Rosedale for “a penny a loaf” in 1931 and what hit me was that after he passed at the grand age of 89, as I was sorting his affairs out, there were countless cubby-holes and bookshelves filled with all sorts of coins and currency. They might have totalled perhaps $1,500 but the fact they were stashed away, insulated from the thievery of Depression-Era desperation was a testimonial to the imprint it left upon that generation. By contrast, the newly-empowered Millennial Generation has no compassion nor comprehension as to why any human being would need to store anything; they are most comfortable in storing all of their net worth in the digital vault of the cyber-world. That may (or may not) be sound thinking but the point remains that the boomer generation had a chance to restore fiscal sanity by bringing Bretton Woods back with a vengeance. We didn’t. We opted for the status quo. We voted for our short term wealth and voted against our long-term health. We sold out.
There has never been a time when “hoarding cash” ever resulted in an enhanced lifestyle. Theoretically, had you gone to cash in 1928, you at least had a few years to activate that cash as asset prices collapsed so perhaps the Great Depression might serve as a one-off. However, I urge you all to join me in celebrating the legacy of what we boomers have bequeathed upon you all. Your savings (if you have any) are going to have minimal purchasing power as time passes and your expectations of the same are going to be worth the same as the paper one finds in public lavatories. However, the financial media celebrates and rejoices every time one of the averages hits a new high but the astounding fact remains that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Stocks are rising because their replacement value is running for its life from debasement and while it would appear to be a “good thing”, it is not. Wealth gravitates to proper treatment; it flees abuse. Wealth is gravitating to gold and silver; it is fleeing cash.
“Historically, the Zimbabwe Stock Market reached an all time high of 773.06 in June of 2019 and a record low of 93.39 in June of 2016.” – Bloomberg