Baby boom generation
The baby boom generation was a direct result of the end of World War II. As millions of service men and women were discharged from their military service, they faced an economy almost completely controlled by the government. A few economic management strings had been let loose during the final stages of the the war, but the real exogenesis occured during the next two decades. The release of pent up skills and demands created the first global economy. More than 20 million workers re-entered the economy over a fairly short period of time. They were, for the majority, young men who had been trained in the discipline of war. They expected and responded to a regimented work process. They were nascient consumers with a driven demand. The perfect storm of real income increases and the availability of new products and services drove the U S economy. It had not seen such demand and technological driven 'supply side' economics since the decades following the end of the Civil War. For nearly thirty years the economy grew with rare, small, intermittent gasps for breath.
These young men and women consumed - and produced. They also spawned. Between 1946 and 1964, 78 million children were 'entered' into the new economy, myself among them. We struggled and prospered like never before. Our parents provided us with a good educaton right ideas and a firm sense of morality. This morality was universal for us. Lying cheating and stealing occurred, on the fringes of a very structured society. They were not accepted, praised, condoned or excused. These excuses came to pass much later in our lives. The economic results of our moral compass were: a fear of debt (our parents had suffered through the Great Depression); a work ethic that accepted the responsibilities of lifelong emplyment; a concern for our fellow man (witness the extraordinary concept and results of the Marshall Plan); an awareness of our individual personal responsibility. The latter is, perhaps, our most important legacy to future generations, a legacy today more conspicuous by its absence than its observance.
We worked hard, expected a good wage, had little debt, helped one another and shouldered the load of our individual decisions. No excuses were offered or expected. You work, you get paid, you share some with the community, you live in the grace of good works. As we approach our own retirement years, we do so in a world quite different from that within which we were born and raised. Norms have become less important than excesses. Excuses give riot to odd behavior - on Main Street and on Wall Street.
Yet our strengths have set us up to prosper during our 'golden years'. We have little or no debt. We have saved during our working years. We have helped our fellow man. We bear the fruit of our labor. Our expectations remain realistic. We support and are supported by our community: family, church, society and friends. Technology and our attitudes have, generally, inbued us with a sense of heathful living.