Author is Bruce Cannon Gibney.
The title’s equal parts red meat and a direct summation of Gibney’s thesis, and that thesis is well served.
There’s a bit of bullshit sprinkled hither and yon of the generally Libertarian flavor but besides some mild eye-roll reflex his stats are pretty damn solid.
Here’s Gibney’s CV according to his Amazon page:
“Bruce Gibney is a writer and venture capitalist and the author of “A Generation of Sociopaths,” about Baby Boomers and their role in American stagnation. He also wrote of “What Happened To The Future?”, an influential essay about the origins of America’s technological stagnation.
Bruce has worked at a hedge fund and as a partner at one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture firms, Founders Fund. His personal and fund investments included early stakes in PayPal, Palantir Technologies, now one of the world’s biggest start-ups, Lyft, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, AI pioneer DeepMind and others.”
Here is a short interview with the author.
In the abbreviated interview, he cites two numerical statistics to back up his claim. First, that the national debt held by the public has increased from 34% of GDP in 1976 to a projected 105% in 2026, the “end of boomer tenure.” (Currently it’s about 75%). Evidence, he claims, of the boomers’ selfishness.
Second, that the divorce rate among baby boomers was 23 per 1,000 people among boomers, but only 3 per 1,000 people among the children of boomers. This, he contends, is evidence of an inability to form lasting relationships, another sociopathic trait.
I think the first claim can probably be better explained by circumstance rather than sociopathy. The US manufacturing edge after WWII (the period of “American Exceptionalism”) was lost as other countries rebuilt their infrastructure. This resulted in a gap between what voters had come to expect from their capitalist economy and what the economy could provide given the ever-increasing trade deficit. Debt filled that gap, as described by Wolfgang Streeck in his essay, The Crises of Democratic Capitalism.
I think the second claim can also be explained by circumstance. The roles of men and women, in marriage and society as a whole, changed pretty significantly during the boomers’ tenure. I don’t think it’s surprising that the experience of marriage during these changes would differ from what people were expecting. Men might reasonably expect marriage to be like it had been in the past; women might expect it to be something completely different. When the actual experience fell short of expectations for one or both spouses, they’d tend to get divorced.
Another factor to consider is decreasing rates of marriage. Fewer marriages per capita mean fewer divorces per capita. That doesn’t explain all of the difference, but it’s a contributing factor. A better statistic might have been the ratio of divorces to marriage rather than divorces per 1,000 people.
Having said that, the argument could be made that even so, the boomers failed to rise to the challenge, so to speak, of changing circumstances. There’s little question in my mind that in lots of ways, the boomers are leaving the place in worse shape than they found it.