RUSH: I want to tell this story again. If you’ve been with me for a long time, you’ve heard it and I beg your indulgence. Understand we have gazillions of new audience members who may not have heard this. I was having a conversation 15 years ago with a broadcast engineer friend of mine at WABC in New York, Frank D’Elia. We’re the same age, 61. We were sitting around discussing why we didn’t feel our age. We were 50 at the time this was happening. Why we didn’t feel our age. I’ve always said that I love getting older. I look back at when I was a kid. The old people were the ones having fun. They’re the ones that were in control of their lives. They’re the ones that had power over themselves. They’re the ones who had self-determination. They’re the ones who had freedom.
They were self-reliant. It’s what I wanted for me. And I figured I had to get older for that to happen. And every year I got older, of course, my life did improve. Still is the case. We were talking, why don’t we feel 50? When my father was 40, he looked it, he lived it. When he was 40, that was it. Frank and I began to throw theories around back and forth as to why we still felt 20, in terms of how much life was still ahead of us. When my dad was 40, his life was, you know, whatever he was at 40 was what he was gonna be the rest of his life. This is not a criticism. It’s just the way it was. He was not unhappy about it in the slightest. It’s just the way it was.
So we started comparing our lives to those of our parents and grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Let me start with my grandfather. My grandfather was born in the 1890s. He grew up on a farm in Missouri. They didn’t have running water, electricity, for many of his early years. They ate what they grew, what they raised. He was the first in his family to go off to school, all the way up to college, law school, and so forth. Look at the things he saw. He died at age 102. He’s born into a world where there are no automobiles; there are no telephones; there’s no electricity. At the time of his death we’d been to the moon, the space shuttle was common, computer technology and communications technology were what they were.
Look at the things that he saw and experienced in terms of invention, technological advancement, lifestyle improvement. Profound. But then look at what he and my father and people their age went through. Why was my father at age 40 settled? Well, my father was born in 1918 and the most formative event in his early life was the Depression. He was too young to be sent off to the Great War in World War I, but World War II he joined the Army Air Force, Army Air Corps, and was assigned the China-Burma theater. He flew P-51s. He was an instructor on B-25s, I think in Alabama. But World War II was a major, major event in his life. It’s where he met my mother.
The existence of the United States of America was on the line. The country was hanging in the balance. We had two enemies, one to the west, one to the east, which sought to wipe us out. And that threat was treated as real because it was and it was dealt with. After World War II, because of the postwar agreements drawn up, the Soviet Union came into existence. The next thing after the Depression and World War II, the next thing that happened was Nikita Khrushchev showing up, United Nations, banging his shoe on the podium and promising to bury everybody’s grandchildren. “We will bury you.”
Now, my grandparents, my father’s parents, my grandparents did not take that lightly. That was another call to arms. That was the creation of the Cold War, and then, again, citizens of this country were asked to fork over a lot of their money and earnings in order to fight. The Great Depression and World War II, then the Soviet threat, so by the time my dad was 40… he grew up and became 40 at age 18 in terms of the responsibilities that his life demanded of him. My mother, too. Everybody in that age. They had no choice. They didn’t have time to think about or worry about themselves and their creature comforts and their hedonism because the country was on the line.
All of those things were profoundly formative. My brother and I growing up, we kept hearing about the Great Depression, what we had to do to avoid it if there ever was another one. Of course it was all empty talk to us. We’d known nothing like that. All we had known was prosperity, the results of all of this commitment to seriousness on the part of our parents and grandparents. Of course, when we were young we didn’t look at it that way. We weren’t old enough to understand. It’s why Frank and I were talking about it at age 50, why we still felt 20 on Friday nights. Why we still do.
And what it all boils down to is that our parents and grandparents had to grow up with no choice in the matter at a much earlier age than Frank and me. In fact, if we wanted to we never had to grow up. About the only thing in our lives that was remotely similar was the Vietnam War. That was about it. Yeah, we had oil embargoes, and, yeah, we had wage and price controls. I remember Nixon slapped wage and price controls when inflation was at 3%, which got up to 14, 15% with Jimmy Carter, but the point is it wasn’t that bad. A crisis was not that bad then compared to what a crisis today is, in a sense. But still, we didn’t have any of these tough mountains to climb. We didn’t have any of these hardships. We didn’t even have to take seriously the country was in peril. They did all that for us.
They took it seriously during World War II; they took it seriously during the Depression; they took it seriously during the Cold War. But we, just by the accident of our birth, never had to take any of that stuff really seriously. They did it all for us. So we had all kinds of freedom. We could focus on ourselves. The Baby Boom generation could become “me, me, me.” And guess what? We had to invent our hardships. In order to tell ourselves how tough our life was because everybody wants to think they’re overcoming great obstacles. And things that we invented were real. I mean everything’s relative. Stress is stress no matter how it comes to be. But you need a sense of proportion and perspective in looking back and making these comparisons. And my point is that my generation has had it so easy compared to my parents and grandparents, and, of course, every generation prior to them, people that tamed this country, discovered it.
RUSH: Yep, we had to invent our traumas.
And guess what?
For every trauma we invented (or for most of them) there’s a pill.
There’s a pill to get rid of the stress. There’s a pill to get rid of the problem, whatever we’ve had to invent. Thing is, my parents and grandparents, they knew when they were teenagers that life was about much more than them, that things were much bigger than they were individually. There are people my age, alive today, who still haven’t figured that out. They have had it so comparatively easy… They don’t think so, by the way. Their invented stress is real.
But they’ve had it so comparatively easy in real terms that they still have time to make themselves the center of the universe. They have not learned that there are things bigger than themselves. They’re self-important, never had to grow up. It’s patently obvious. And I think these are all factors that, to one degree or another, explain various political realities today. Obama’s not technically a Boomer, but he has all the worst characteristics of the Boomer generation. All of the worst.
But he’s technically not one. He doesn’t have the excuse of being a Boomer. There are other things that created it, led to it. But these people think the world resolves around them and that everybody’s thinking about them and that everybody cares about them. And, of course, look at Obama. In the press, everything is about him. He almost has an excuse. We can’t change any of this, and I wouldn’t want to. That’s not the point. And, by the way, don’t misunderstand me here.
I’m not denying that there are real hardships in life today. They’re just not the same ones. I don’t know how many; I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on it. Well, look at 9/11. Look at 9/11! There were more people killed at 9/11 than at Pearl Harbor. What did we do after Pearl Harbor? We all mobilized, and we didn’t stop until those people surrendered. Now what do we do? We want to build a mosque at Ground Zero! We want to let the people who participated in that destruction build a mosque there.
A lot of our citizens think that’s a good idea!
It is profoundly different, in a lot of ways that are not helpful.