Entitled One-Percenter Bill Keller Wants Baby Boomers to Give Up Social Security and Medicare

Smarmy former NYT editor Bill Keller

From today’s New York Times: “The Entitled Generation.”

The notion that our generation has been spoiled rotten is not a terribly new thought. A dozen years ago Paul Begala (of Bill Clinton and CNN fame) published in Esquire the classic of boomer-loathing, “The Worst Generation.” “The Baby Boomers are the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history,” he declared. It’s a sturdy genre. Perhaps while Googling yourself you have come across the blog Boomer Deathwatch (“Because one day, they’ll all be dead”), a checklist of famous boomers who hit their actuarial sell-by dates. Even Barack Obama, who styles himself post-boomer though he was born in 1961, complained in “The Audacity of Hope” that today’s hyperpolarized political discourse began with the “psychodrama of the baby boom generation.”

Yeah, we’re all evil just because our parents returned from WWII and proceeded to have lots and lots of babies. Supposedly not one of us ever did a decent thing in our pathetic, useless lives, right? I’m sick to death of hear this crap–and I’ve been hearing it since I was a kid.

See Keller says it’s our fault that the government isn’t rebuilding the infrastructure. He says it won’t do any good to tax super-rich guys like him–we’re going to have to take it out of the hides of old ladies who are trying to eke out a living on $1200 a month or less.

Guys like Bill Keller don’t even have to pay into Social Security on the bulk of their income, but he doesn’t even mention the possibility of changing that. So what does super-rich one-percenter Bill Keller think we should do about it besides learning to loathe ourselves and wish we’d never been born?

So the question is not whether entitlements have to be brought under control, but how. The Republican plan espoused by Mitt Romney and his fiscal lodestar Paul Ryan would cut the cost of entitlements largely by moving toward privatization: personal investment accounts for Social Security, vouchers for Medicare. And it’s not at all clear the Republicans would assign any of the savings to investing in our future.

At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements. Centrists like those at Third Way and the bipartisan authors of the Simpson-Bowles report endorse a menu of incremental cuts and reforms that would bring down costs without hitting the needy or snatching away the security blanket from those nearing retirement. They include gradually raising the retirement age to compensate for the fact that we now live, on average, 14 years longer than when F.D.R. signed Social Security into law. They include obliging those of us who can really afford it to pay a larger share. They also include technical fixes like aligning the automatic cost-of-living formula with reality.

At least now we know which candidate Keller will be voting for in November. So much for the supposedly “liberal media.” Oh, and about that “technical fix” Keller brushes off so dismissively, Matthew Yglesias explains why it isn’t a “technical fix” and “doing the switch comprehensively would constitute a de facto tax increase.” Furthermore, there was no “Simpson-Bowles report,” because the two co-chairs were unable to get a majority of members of the Catfood Commission to sign off on one.

Judith Miller with patron Bill Keller

I have a terrific idea. Let’s hold Bill Keller responsible for his choice to assign Judith Miller to help the Bush administration lie us into the Iraq War. Let Bill Keller pay back the trillions of dollars of taxpayer money those lies cost us. That ought to provide some funds to invest in infrastructure here in the U.S.

Here’s what Dean Baker had to say about Keller’s lying op-ed:

That is really brave for Mr. Keller to stand up and call for sacrifice from his age cohort. Does Keller know that the typical near retiree has total wealth of $170,000. This includes everything in their 401(k), all their other financial assets and the equity in their homes. Another way to put this is that the typical near retiree (between the ages of 55-64) could take all their wealth and pay off their mortgage. After that they would be entirely dependent on their Social Security to cover all their living costs.

Does this situation describe Mr. Keller’s finances? My guess is that it doesn’t. If that is true, how does Keller claim to speak for people who are in a hugely different financial situation than him? Is he really that ignorant of the issues that the NYT gives him a column to write about or is he dishonest? Readers will have to debate that in the months and years ahead.

Baker says the real problem we have is the increase in income inequality over the past thirty years, but he’s not holding his breath for Keller to “appeal to his fellow one-percenters….He probably doesn’t have the courage or integrity to do that.”

I saved the best review of Keller’s op-ed for last. You guessed it, it’s by Charlie Pierce: “The Things Bill Keller Doesn’t Have to Worry About.”

I defy Bill Keller to last a week living only on those benefits available to the greedy boomers, especially after the Simpson-Bowles cargo cult — to say nothing of the zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan himself — are through with them. I defy him to make it for a day. The “we” sprinkled throughout this bag of pus is probably the most noxious thing about it. Look around, Bill. You and Mitt Romney have far more in common than do you and the overwhelming majority of your “fellow” boomers. One catastrophic illness, and many of our families die on the vine. This is not hyperbole. This is how it works in the world. And, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Keller signs on with the clowns at Third Way, who assure us that the real problem is that the elderly moochers are the ones keeping us from building new bridges, or flying to the moons of Neptune. Jesus H. Christ on a Lipizzaner, we’ve had forty years of demonized government, and 40 years of quack economics, and tax-cuts until hell won’t have them, and the reason our infrastructure is falling apart is because some retired ironworker gets $1200 a month? How much of a courtier do you have to be before the taste of caviar makes you nauseous?

If we want to invest in infrastructure, which we desperately need to do, then we should just borrow money at the current historically low rates and fix the damn infrastructure…. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money. Bill Keller never will have to worry about the last two, so I think he should shut up about the first.

32 Comments on “Entitled One-Percenter Bill Keller Wants Baby Boomers to Give Up Social Security and Medicare”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Fuck Bill Keller and the dressage horse he rode in on.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Ditto…..Fuck Bill Keller!!!!!

      I’m so damned sick of the “bad boomer” meme I could spit. Most of us were conned by our employers to invest in 401k’s that were drained by two markets bubbles/busts in 10 years. Most of us have little to nothing but our homes, which we struggle to care for, and small SS income. Mr. Keller and his ilk make more in investment interest every year than most boomers made in an entire lifetime of work. FUCK Bill Keller!!!!

    • Fannie says:

      Double Ditto – Fuck em

    • northwestrain says:

      Keller has his head so far up his own ass — that he has no real perspective on what the real world even looks like.

      How many pension funds have been looted the parasites of Wall Street and major corporations according to Ellen E. Schultz who wrote: Retirement Heist. I’m guessing that a whole lot of that money has been stashed in offshore accounts. A whole lot of baby boomers followed the rules and saved and invested for their “golden years” and they will soon discover that the 1% want to turn them into Soyent Green.

    • Delphyne says:

      That’s the first thing I thought of when reading this – fuck him. The other place you used to frequent has something blaming the boomers pre 1955. It really makes me ill.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “The other place you used to frequent has something blaming the boomers pre 1955. It really makes me ill.”

        Did the person/author at “the other place” give a clue as to how that conclusion was reached? Let me guess, the author of that opinion is a post 1955 baby boomer. 🙂

    • dakinikat says:

      This just makes me really really mad. My grandfather paid into social security for six months and collected it for 11 years. He’s not alone in that. The BIG deal is this. The Legacy debt from the first ins … no one is saying they were selfish or anything. The man should just get on a boat and move some place with the rest of the fascists.

    • womanvote says:

      Normally I don’t swear, but YEAH! F’ Bill Keller, it is their money and the money their employers matched for helping to keep America great. On Media matters this Sunday they finally admitted, that yes, China isn’t hold our debt, it is US, the money borrowed from Social Social Security Fund….Remember Gore and that lock box!

      So, yeah, and as an ‘Ole’ saying goes…Bill Keller will have to rob us clean another day, because we are waking up to their ROBBERY! Now, let’s get busy with that LOCK BOX and demand that they pass a WAR tax for their unfunded wars and that they pass real health care reform HR 676 the Public Option for the well being of our country and our economy.

    • womanvote says:

      Oh, it’s me…I got tired of not being able to like posts and so had to go with WomanVote (I still can’t get into my Woman Voter Account… 😦 )

    • Yeah, Fuck Bill Keller!

      What is it with these jacknugget assholes? Damn!

    • janey says:

      Amen, he wants us to give it up after we have paid into it for 50 years!!! Is he going to write each of us a check??

  2. pdgrey says:

    Lord I love Charles Pierce. To bad you have to join Facebook to comment.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Pierce is great. Every time I read his column I marvel at how colorfully, humorously and succinctly he sums up our screwed up society, and how easily he nails the plutocrats to the wall.

  3. HT says:

    As a fellow boomer, BB – I endorse this column wholeheartedly. I’m sick and tired of having everything blamed on the boomers. Most of us didn’t create this climate of winner take all. Most of us were trying to be good citizens, raising children, contributing to the general good (and by that I mean the good of all) and most of us, unlike people of Keller’s ilk, were not trying to screw our fellow citizens of whatever country in which we happened to be born. Most of us, those who actually had parents who fought in the war effort, had to do with very little when they returned from the war, as they didn’t earn very much. I still wear recycled clothes and donate all my old furniture to various charities, although to be honest, that doesn’t amount to much because most of my furniture and keepsakes were handed down, generation to generation. And I’m not unusual. Most of my “boomer” friends are exactly the same. Penny wise or pound foolish as my gran used to drill into us. I paid into our version of SS since it was brought into being – every single year, as I’m sure most people who are coming to pensionable age did in their own plans. It’s not an entitlement, it was an insurance policy and now the insurer doesn’t want to pay out.
    I’m in a better place than most retirees, yet after 40 years in management $2500 per month does not go far in today’s climate, so those who are living on less than $1200 per month? Frankly I think people like Keller are so totally out of touch they should be relagated to the garbage dump of irrelevance.

    • Fredster says:

      Now I know where you hang out. 😉

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “I think people like Keller are so totally out of touch they should be relagated to the garbage dump of irrelevance.”

      What HT said!

      • HT says:

        darn it all, I misspelled relegated. Another boomer trait; by and large most of hate misspelling and grammatical errors because we had teachers like Miss Emory that banged our knuckles with a ruler when we did! Darn, I hated that ruler.
        Mouse, we usually agree which makes us commie pinko, marxist, socialist trotskyite facists. Did I miss an ism?

        Fredster, I hang out here and at Widdershins. Rarely comment either place, but BB’s post touched a raw nerve. Now I’ll go back to sipping warm milk in the luxurious retirement home that my pension benefits have allowed me – the basement of my home that is paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of 50 years of my working and saving. Sadly I don’t own it outright yet, because I remortgaged many times in order to allow my children to have a foot in the door, so to speak, as so many of my contemporaries did. However according to Keller and his ilk, I’m a vampire on the teat of their success, despite the fact that people of his ilk paid me .73cents to every dollar that a male earned and never once without coercion gave me a well earned promotion. Guess I’m bitter.

      • Fredster says:

        HT: You know I was teasing with you. 😉

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “Mouse, we usually agree which makes us commie pinko, marxist, socialist trotskyite facists. Did I miss an ism?”

        Nope HT, I think you named all of the applicable “ISM’s”. 🙂

      • womanvote says:

        They think because they have three pensions, couple of million, well…why can’t people give up their money to allow MORE and MORE for THE 1%! As the Rock would say…ASShat! …Oh, my did I just swear again…not too therapeutic there…ooopsie!

    • bostonboomer says:


      This isn’t well known, because the media loves to blame baby boomers for everything, but our generation was actually the first that as a whole did not do better than our parents.

      • HT says:

        Yes tis true.
        I must apologize for my bitter tone tonight. Just found out that my cousin died yesterday and after my brother’s death earlier this year (both of them just 60 years old) it came as a shock. Mea Culpa.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m so sorry for you losses, HT. I didn’t think your tone was bitter though.

      • Oh HT, so sorry for your loss. My sympathies to you and your family.

  4. apishapa says:

    Baby Boomers were the kids who protested until the Vietnam War finally ended. Baby Boomers also fought in that War. Baby Boomers marched for Civil Rights. Baby Boomers fought for equal rights. Baby Boomers moved this country forward against the wishes of the Greatest Generation.

    My mom who lived through the depression worked to give me a better life, and I did my best to make her proud. And us boomers worked our asses off to give our children a better life. It is not our fault that they are having trouble achieving what we want for them

    Some Spoiled Rich Baby Boomers are causing a lot of pain in this country, but rich “greatest generationers” and “genXers” are in on it too. It is not that our generation is greedy. The rich are greedy and the are selfish, and they want to put the blame on us. We worked and we earned what we need to survive. We paid for Social Security, we paid more in than the previous generation, because we knew there were more of us. There was a deal made that we would pay more for a while, then the wealthy would pay us back by kicking in their share. We did our part. They are trying to weasel out of paying their fair share. Maybe Mr. Keller (master journalist) forgot about that. Convenient since he is probably one of those wealthy who wants out of the bargain they made with us poor middle class workers.

    And if the younger generations would get off their asses and do a little protesting, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  5. Beata says:

    Excellent post and comments!