An interesting story in this month’s Atlantic with an upstate N.Y. setting (specifically, Newark in Wayne County). The author argues that, as America’s Baby Boomers age, they can look forward to a modest but happy old age much easier than their parents and grandparents faced, and that Americans should not be terrified of such a future, since Newark is (in her view) gently decaying but pleasant.
Well, that’s great for Boomers… but what about my generation, which is expected to take care of them? (The article notes that 50 years ago, there were 42 workers for every one retiree; soon, there will be only 2-3 workers for every retiree.) I don’t ask this question peevishly: I guess I’ve pretty much accepted that one’s generational lot in life could be to look after one’s more numerous elders and that any future-oriented personal productivity will be purely lucky or accidental. However, my generation – I don’t know what they call it now (I never understood what was meant by Generation X) – still has an existence to eke out, despite being apparently destined to be caretakers for a much larger, older group. (Maybe we’ll be the Greatest Generation that Tom Brokaw Never Noticed?)
I’m not too sure I could be as content as this author with a future made largely of Wegmans artisanal cheese and a lot of Boomers sitting around telling stories about the past, but that’s what walks in the woods are for. (And fortunately, our region has some of the most beautiful woods in the country.) There’s still a world out there which an older generation of Americans may never know anything about.