It Isn’t Business as Usual

Barry Ritholtz put up an interesting post this past weekend. He attended some lunches and dinners with the heads of some start up companies. I am encouraged about what he had to say. Here is the money, italics mine:

The youth of America are full of ideas and energy. They don’t give a shit that their parents fucked everything up — they are going to steam roll over the old order and replace it with one of their own. They understand that future is not about the past. They know that they are a business of one, that no company or government is ever going to offer them economic security. They are their own team, brand and idea factory.

There are lots of things people are rightfully upset about — I lost my voice ranting last night about eejit economists who think the crisis was caused by “predatory borrowing” (it wasn’t). But that’s not what is going to be propelling us forward.

Don’t look to DC — the political debates there are laughable. Its like watching two different T-Rex debating who gets to eat the dead plant eater unaware of the the giant asteroid hurtling their way. Their argument gets resolved when the asteroid turns their summer into nuclear winter.

The old order, the political hacks and hangers on, the whiners and recession porn stars and permabears — the dinosaurs — all have no idea WTF is coming their way. They are going to be mowed down like so many extinct species before them. They cannot see the asteroid hurtling their way from the deep black depths of space.

The Future of America is coming. It is not being driven by Goldman Sachs or the GOP or Obama. That’s old school, the old order, yesterday. It’s coming, and coming sooner than most people imagine.

When you get run over, don’t say you weren’t warned . . .

While I think Rithotlz ignores some of the roadblocks along the way that will slow down and possibly derail this new breed, such as old school politics and the like, I agree with his thrust in general.

My generation – the Gen X ers, and those who are coming after us have received a pretty raw deal, perpetrated upon us by the Boomers. We realize that there will be no Social Security at this pace, even though our weekly paychecks are deducted for it. We understand that there are millions of people who have enormous salaries and benefits for pushing papers across the desk of a DMV, and we resent it. Now that we are starting to have kids, we are teaching them that there is NO REASON to rely on the government for ANYTHING and that they are on their own. And that we vote accordingly.

I agree with Ritholtz – some of the new tech and other things coming down the pipe are going to blow the old guard away. We can organize a rally very quickly with thousands of people with a simple Facebook page. This is just one example. The dinosaurs better get ready. Because it is coming. It may take a decade or two, but it will be here before you know it.

Cross posted at LITGM.

*the comments at the Ritholtz post are very good

29 thoughts on “It Isn’t Business as Usual”

  1. “We can organize a rally very quickly with thousands of people with a simple Facebook page. ”

    Zimbabweian politics – not a good thing. Popular revolutions (Z. politics) leads to Robert Mugabe (or Stalin, Napoleon, the Muslim Bhood (or Egyptian generalisimo)) or take your pick of any number of precedents that follow .

  2. @Lex – there needs to be an effort to not let the left co-op them as witnessed by the Occupy movement. But I think in the end that these kids will understand that it is a dead end. Hopefully.

  3. @Dan – a lot of baby boomers – myself included – don’t like the Status Quo either. Your generation IS getting screwed with social security – but it was always a Ponzi Scheme.

  4. Have you looked at the actual products being proposed? They’re all entertainment or marketing related. I thought the very last might be some practical innovation, but it turns out just to be another way to monetize one-ring-and-hang-up messaging with advertising. Oh, and there’s one charity. (Which, laudable as it might be, only moves money from one place to another, it doesn’t actually produce new value.) Not a single one of these even nibbles at the edges of the problems we actually have: providing for all the promises we’ve made to the Boomers. No medicine, no agriculture, no energy. It’s all fluff. Fluff designed mostly to herd humans into more sheeplike behavior. This is revolution? This is innovation?

  5. I hear you Bill, but the current mess is simply not Gen X’s fault or the generations following. Of course it isn’t like no Xers voted for Obama, but you get my drift.

  6. @Jason – Barry Ritholtz addressed that in the comments thread:
    When I read your post I thought you were talking about something good like new fuel cells or carbon nanotubes. Instead it was mostly about smartphones and the internet. While you might make some money investing in some of those they will do absolutely nothing for middle class America. Fail.


    BR: I was not talking about ANY of the specific companies, I was referencing the energy and the ideas and the future expectations. Its not about any app, its about possibilities.

  7. The ideas are inane, the energy wasted on futility. If anything, this just illustrates how easy it is for the status quo to neutralize potential threats. These inventors don’t want to overthrow the system, they want to get rich quick helping the system advertise. Thoroughly depressing.

  8. Well Jason I obviously disagree. Rather than taking on the status quo head on, I believe that the new breed will be making an end around, and that the dinos won’t know what hit ’em. That is my hope, at least.

  9. One of the main reasons there is such focus on social media, etc is that there is a lot more regulator constraint/complexity in the physical world than in the purely virtual world.

  10. “So what are they going to replace “it” with?”, Bill Brandt

    It’s not the whole answer, but the democracy meme needs to be thoroughly discredited. Our representative system works well if the voters have some skin in the game. Likewise the free-market system works when individuals are rewarded for assisting other people in some way. If people are rewarded for something else, dislocations of economy and will exist and prosperity will not exist.

    Not only will dislocations of economy exist but individuals being rewarded for something other than helping other people are essentially stealing from society and become alienated from the the larger group. This might be especially true for people who are rewarded simply for existing. Blocks of people voting for such rewards obviously make democracy untenable since they are trading their vote for value to the detriment of everyone not in their voting block. One change might be to limit voting rights to people who are not essentially wards of the state. If one is entirely dependent upon the rest of society, that person is, in ways that matter economically and politcally, like a child dependent upon her parents.

  11. As an aging boomer I must say that I resemble some of these boomer remarks. But Social Security came from FDR and Medicare came from LBJ; I don’t think those guys were boomers. Everything being griped about was a creation of the Left, long ago. As for the brilliant youth, these are the people who elected Obama, since McCain actually won the over-35 popular vote.

    In the book “In the Plex” by Steven Levy there is a section that describes how the Google gang went “all in” for Obama, and some of them were so infatuated that they left Google and took positions in the Obama Administration. There they quickly became disillusioned that Washington didn’t work quite the same way as the ol’ Google campus. Their response seemed to be “…poor Obama, this screwy system just won’t allow his (and our) brilliance to shine through.” All of these people had off-the-charts IQ’s, but when it came to real-world political systems they were appallingly, dangerously ignorant. And why wouldn’t they be, since their education was predominantly computer science not history, and they spent the vast majority of their time writing code among peers with the same group-think?

  12. Jason and Bill are right. A lot of self absorbed criticism of their elders with no substance. If they really understood the problems and how the economy worked they would see how foolish they sound. Do any of their ideas create real jobs or grow anything other than their own bank accounts? Or is their vision of the future one of ‘screw the country and everyone in it so long as I get mine’?

  13. “As an aging boomer I must say that I resemble some of these boomer remarks. But Social Security came from FDR and Medicare came from LBJ; I don’t think those guys were boomers.”

    This is true. But the Boomers had several decades to do something about the problems. They did not.

  14. My last comment doesn’t convey the right amount of disgust – “My generation – the Gen X ers, and those who are coming after us have received a pretty raw deal”

    Are you kidding me?

    Generation X has been handed a gold plated college education,a standard of living unparalleled despite the current problems, and virtually unlimited opportunity in the greatest land in the history of the world … compliments of an enormous price in blood and treasure paid by those who preceded them. Even the boomers left 50,000+ in Vietnam fighting communism.

    Gen Xer’s are in their thirties now – all grown up. What have they given back so far? Jack nothing – except complaints.

    And these self absorbed whiners think they have been handed a pretty raw deal?

  15. @Bill thanks for leaving us no problems, we really appreciate it. More seriously, like Ritholtz said, we really don’t care who screwed the pooch (could you give the Boomers just a little blame, duh?). Just know that we are going to fix it.

  16. Gee Dan, thanks for offering to cleaning up the mess the folks who created the Unied States, fought two world wars and defeated communism left you. Seems to me Gen X should be called Gen E – for the Entitlement generation.

  17. “Ritholtz said, we really don’t care who screwed the pooch (could you give the Boomers just a little blame, duh?). Just know that we are going to fix it.”

    Reinholtz should have said, ‘we are enormously grateful for the people who are handing us a championship bred pooch, even though it is a little beat up around the edges.’

  18. You go ahead and call us Gen E and other funny names while you are cashing your ss checks and we pay for it and receive a big fat zero in twenty or so years – unless we fix it. There are plenty of good Boomers out there that did great things, don’t get me wrong – no generation has all bad or all good folks in it. But the Boomers had their chance to fix domestic policy and just didn’t do it.

  19. Most generations of the last century could say they were passed a hand grenade by the previous generation(s). The boomers could say their childhoods & adolescence were scarred by the expectation of nuclear war. The WWII generation could say they were handed an international situation that led to…WWII…and an economic situation that led to the Great Depression. The WWI generation, certainly in Europe and to a lesser extent in the US, felt betrayed by their elders.

    The thing to remember is that leftists succeed by turning Americans against each other on every possible dimension of difference, of which age is only one.

  20. Dan,

    The degree to which this post and your comments take for granted the incredible gifts your generation has been given is nothing short of stunning.

    No one owed you anything, my Gen X friend. The freedom and opportunity you have been given is a hard earned gift – criticizing those who gave you that gift, saying that the gift isn’t good enough, should embarrass you.

    “They don’t give a shit that their parents fucked everything up” – a pretty low class thing to say about those who gave you everything you have.

  21. I didn’t say that quote – Ritholtz did.

    And I guess you missed this in my last comment – or are you simply ignoring it for argument’s sake?:
    “There are plenty of good Boomers out there that did great things, don’t get me wrong – no generation has all bad or all good folks in it. But the Boomers had their chance to fix domestic policy and just didn’t do it.”

  22. Dan, I don’t usually comment on these kind of posts, primarily because it just seems futile, but here goes……
    A generation is not monolithic. I’m a “boomer” (I guess anyway; DOB 1945). Like many others, I never identified with the anti-war, anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing hippy philosophy. I got out of college, immediately got married, enlisted in the Air Force (only to flunk the pilot physical and never start flying), got a job with a big corporation, had two children by the time I was 26, and worked in “corporate America” until I retired early thanks to some lucky investments (I wish I could say “smart investments”, but I’d be lying). Since then I’ve been active in various volunteer efforts, like the volunteer Fire Department in my little mountain community, and have traveled with my wife quite a bit. I collect Social Security, but I don’t feel bad about that, as I was forced to pay into it for about 45 years. Had I been able to actually invest that money on my own, I feel sure that I’d be a lot better off than I am today. I guess that I should be pissed at my grandparents who got Social Security, but never paid in a dime, but I’m not. When it became apparent that many of the benefits that are currently being paid are unsustainable, I actively did things like contact my political representatives to try to get them to listen to those who wanted to privatize the system. All my life I’ve been a “conservative” and have voted that way. There are many, many, many other “boomers” like me. You can’t blame us for not being pleased at being denigrated and lumped in with the liberals who really have put this country in the fix that it’s in today. It’s not “boomers” that the younger generations should be pissed at…’s the liberals of all generations. I don’t blame you for being unhappy, but you should direct your ire at the right people. Could I have done more to stop the rot…..probably, but I was working every day (long hours, by-the-way), raising two children, paying for a house, cars, etc., trying to save money for college for my kids and retirement. Like you, I was convinced that I’d never see a dime of Social Security, and that belief was a motivator. Heretofore, “conservatives” weren’t the type to march and scream and yell to try to effect change (that was for the hippies/liberals), but rather wanted to work within the system. We may have been wrong.

    I read the post by Barry Ritholtz. I like the fact that he’s optimistic about the future, but I don’t know that I can be (but it doesn’t have as much bearing on me, because I’m not going to see as much of that future as you and he are). I had opportunities that younger people today don’t have, but the barriers to those opportunities that have been put in place can be removed. A few examples: The power of the EPA must be curtailed (other Federal agencies, too). Credentialism must be rolled back. Lawyers have to be reined in. Schools have to be reformed. Public expenses have to be controlled. And so on. The answers to our problems really aren’t all that complicated, but having the WILL to do what’s needed is indeed a problem. It was a problem in the past and will be in the future. Maybe the younger generation can do what’s needed, but I won’t be holding my breath. What’s happening right now in WI is kind of a test.

    One man’s opinion.

  23. @Mike – thanks for the thoughtful comment. WI is certainly a test, but even if the forces of darkenss end up “winning” I think that the tsunami is starting. The current models simply cannot hold up to simple mathematics.

  24. Boo hoo, Dan. The boomers didn’t leave Gen X a perfect world – they gave you a world without the cold war and with an economy, no matter what recent events have done to set things back, that is far better than the one they started with, but you owe no debt of gratitude – just self-pity and insults because in addition to what the boomers accomplished they didn’t fix domestic policy?

    The real hoot is how the Gen Xer’s stand on the shoulders of the boomers who created all of the technology the Gen Xer’s beat their chests over their grandiose plans to exploit.

    Where are the thanks for all of the advantages your generations was born into?

    You got a “raw deal”(Those are your words)? Where did you get the idea the boomers or anyone else owed you any deal at all?

    I’m not ignoring anything for arguements sake. Seems to me you are ignoring my basic question – what gives you the idea your generation is owed anything, and that you have the right to insult boomers for not leaving you a world that is problem free?

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