A new lens

I readily admit that I view everything through ideological lenses. Some lenses wash out too much contrast, keeping me from seeing a difference that I either do not notice, or write off as a meaningless or even false distinction. After I begin missing too much, reality taps me on the shoulder and suggests that I try new lenses. It is not an option to remove the lenses entirely. No lenses, no filter, too much glare pours in.

Libertarianism has been my most trusted lens for perhaps fifteen years now. The prescription has needed adjustment from time to time, and now it seems that I need to do close-up work with one scrip, driving with another, so to speak. But it has done well for me, I haven't driven over a cliff or failed to heed a product's warnings or nutritional tables. The lens of libertarianism rarely leaves me feeling as if a large part of the real world is escaping my notice, nor that it shows me things that others dismiss as hallucination. It has withstood the tests of these 15 years. But it alone will not show me everything I need to see. I'm always open for others.

Im pleased to report that I've just found a new, very interesting lens and have not yet finished trying a pair and navigating with them. RKBA readers, stay with me, this isn't some maudlin fatherhood post. Gun content below.

William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generations. Hat tip to Jay Manifold writing at ChicagoBoyz.

I'm cheating by reading the closing chapter. It slices, it dices, it prognosticates:

  • p. 403: "Boomers will force a dramatic turn in the politics of Social Security. In the 2010s, they will lay the terms for an entirely new intergenerational 'deal,' snapping the chain of ever-rising benefits that G.I.s insisted would never end." Yup, that's me.
  • p. 405: "Unlike their G.I. fathers, Boomers will have little interest in a continued U.S.-Soviet rivalry." Written in 1991, dawgs.
  • p. 406: "Great peril might arise if Boomers find themselves confronting old religious fundamentalists whose inner zeal matches their own." Are they talking about religious fundamentalists in the US, or elsewhere? On one side of the political fence, I see the hostility to domestic fundies, but a curious moral-relativistic baring of the nether cheeks to the foreign ones. On the other side of that fence, our Boomer President surrounded by Boomer and Silent staffers, unable to articulate in harmony exactly why the foreign fundamentalists are so bad and we must kill them. Is it a war against Terror, or a war against Islam, or against Islamic fundamentalism, or against a metastasizing Arabic imperialism concealing itself in Islamic fundamentalism? This has implications for how we fight them (and yes we must), so we better get all that cleared up and sing from one page of music, y'all.

  • p. 407: "Make no mistake: Faced with crisis, this generation of onetime draft resisters will not hesitate, as elder warrior-priests, to conscript young soldiers to fight and die for righteous purpose." From where I sit, conscription is a non-starter. Only a minority of Boomers is calling for it, and many more Boomers are shouting it down.

  • "It is easy to picture aging Boomers as noble, self-sacrificing patriarchs---but just as easy to see these righteous Old Aquarians as the worst nightmare that could ever happen to the world." Who floated the conjecture of torturing captured Al Qaeda members?

  • p. 400: "A Boomer jury will resist making the community pick up the tab where it deems an individual to be at fault." Would be just if the evil-gun-marketing lawsuits would dry up and blow away. Real soon.

But this lens is not without its, er, chromatic aberrations. Some of what the lens tells me I will see, I don't believe. I'll give it time to prove itself, as all prognostications require:

  • p. 399: "Like all Idealist generations entering midlife, Boomers will mount a relentless attack on all forms of subsance abuse. They will strike blow after blow against tobacco---taxing, restricting, and humiliating anyone involved in its production and use. The alcohol industry can expect its sternest challenge since Prohibition. The firearms industry will fare better thanks to the fact that the Boom will not dislike violence per se, just meaningless (read: '13er') violence." Emphasis in original. I can see the treatment of tobacco and ecstasy, but not alcohol. And bad evil guns? Pleeease.
  • p. 398: "Boomer-run corporations will keep relentless focus on the 'bottom line'---not just profits, but principles about what companies should mean to their owners, employees, customers, and neighbors. . . Even well-performing companies will downsize staffs, defer dividends, or shift marketing strategies to achieve values-related goals." All of the values-based investing I've heard about has dried up, blown away, and been rolled over to, uh, tobacco.

Most important to me as I examine this nifty new lens, is how the writers who crafted it appear to have no political axe to grind. Had they sounded even slightly lefty or righty, I would have dismissed this book and returned it to the library at once. I haven't seen any bias of that sort yet and I will be watching.

Any other folks who have read this work or related ones (several other books are dedicated to specific generations) please comment or email me.

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