A gift of days with the extended family stretching from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday inevitably invites reflection on the fields of folly where we find the rising generations at work and play. Youth, beautiful in its blossoming, arrives with predictable attitude, often illustrated by various piercings and tattoos. They're adolescents forever in search of a way to make the "meaningful" statement, as elusive as the maturity that lies ahead.
Babies, naturally, are exempt from criticism, gurgling and sucking their thumbs, blissfully unaware that the Brobdingnags around them are blowing their inheritance on big-government deficits. But as the seniors say, leaving on a cruise to the Caribbean, they made a deal with Social Security a long time ago, and they're not going to apologize now for living long enough to collect on the bet.
Between those who crawl and those who walk unsteadily, often with a cane, the sisters and the cousins and the aunts of the generations ranging from baby boomers to millennials come with a mixed bag of aspirations and motivations. The easiest target, because it's so big, are the 75 million boomers born after World War II. P.J. O'Rourke, one of the self-appointed, self-flagellating spokesmen for his cohort, concedes that his generation has a one-sided approach to all problems, whether economic, social or psychological. "We won't face them," he writes in The Wall Street Journal.
Why should they? There's a website for solutions, support groups for commiseration, exercise classes for pain and gain, alternative medicine that does no harm, and lots of celebrities famous mostly for being famous and who boast of surviving it all on gluten-free cupcakes, free-range chicken and gourmet kale.
"History is full of generations that had too many problems," Mr. O'Rourke continues. "We are the first generation to have too many answers."
Nevertheless, time marches on, as the World War II newsreels once portentously reminded us. Many of the babies of boomers are now boomerang children, returning to their old rooms at home after college, seeking subsidized health care "just like their grandparents." Only they want it before lumbago and arthritis, when they have to order new knees, hips or hearts. They rightly worry that the inefficient processing of Obamacare is proof of an inefficient program. Why shouldn't the digital delivery designers have the wizardry of those college dropouts named Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who smoothly expanded their networks online without having to offer humiliating apology after embarrassing excuse?