Generation X and Grandparents

Generation X fails again to learn from the past


After watching two segments of Adam Smith's National Public Broadcasting television programs on the economy, I must assume the generation in their 20s and 30s have declared war on my generation the generation of their grandparents

I wasn't surprised at Smith's revelations. Most of us old folks are a lot more savy than we're given credit for and we aren't all so busy sponging off the younger generation that we don't pay attention to what the young whippersnappers are saying about us in the media

We are also not so dumb as not to figure out who is seeding the minds of the younger generation to the effect that we old folks are the cause of all the woes of the United States from the deficit to the high cost of health care

As a wise old sage once said, when you declare war you should make sure you know your enemy. I don't think the grandchildren have done their homework. Surely they missed cartoonist Walt Kelly's "Pogo's" famous line: "We have met the enemy and he is US.'

One of the humorous comments on the Adam Smith show came when one of the young people being interviewed said people "in my generation didn't know how to sacrifice. Mind you, this person was talking about a generation that:

-Grew up in the worst depression in our nation's history

-Fought the bloodiest war in our nations history

-Bought food, gasoline, tires and even nylon stockings with ration stamps

-Lived with death and crippling diseases from smallpox to polio and conquered them all

We are the generation that knows how to sacrifice; this has made us mentally, morally and physically stronger than most. But we are not the enemy

We lived within our budgets and if we didn't there was no one there to bail us out. We started at the bottom and worked our way to the top. We bought fixer-up houses and after fixing them up, We kept them until we could afford a better one

We didn't have credit cards, but we did have savings accounts. What credit was used, we used sparingly. We had extended families and grandma and grandpa didn't live in a retirement home, but with us

Families helped families. Neighbors helped neighbors

We didn't have medical specialists. We had doctors who made house calls and neither of us thought about malpractice lawsuits

If we were constipated, or had hemorrhoids or a yeast infection we were very private about it. We even gasped when Rhett Butler told -Scarlet "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," in the movie version of "Gone With the Wind."

Salaries were not big and most of us grew up in one-income families where one didn't have to be Catholic to eat lots of tuna fish casseroles

It was not an easy life. To understand, you had to have been a parent who lived through summers with prayers on your lips that one of your children wouldn't fall victim to polio

We made mistakes. We thought if we gave our children more than we had, it would be a better world

It didn't turn out that way, did it?

Bill Duncan is a Capital Press correspondent in Oregon's Douglas County