return to the past and threatening unending war has imperiled their future as well as the prospects for survival of the human species.
Post-Boomers and Contemporary Youth
We grew up as America, in many ways, fell down." Rob Nelson and Jon Cowan
Ultimately, it will be up to the contemporary generation to define itself, and it is time for youth and critical social theory to reflect on the Gen-Next that follows the "post-boomer" generation. While the term “post-boomer” helps indicates the experience of coming after the boomer generation and entering the postmodern adventure and living out the drama of the "post," the new millennium produces novel social conditions for today’s youth who are engaging innovative and challenging cultural forms, and a dramatically worsening economic and political situation, and ever more complex and unpredictable life. This generation faces the challenges of forging careers in a declining economy, surviving the threats of war and terrorism, and overcoming the conservative hegemony that threatens their future.
There were earlier signs that post-boomers were coming to resent the elderly, the "G.I." and "Silent" generations, born respectively between 1901-1924 and 1925-1942, who, through various federal programs, have grown richer as youth have grown poorer, and today's youth are bracing for a shock when 56 million boomers retire in 2010, seeking social and medical benefits that are becoming increasingly costly and scarce.6 Moreover, the post-boomer/postmodern generation has been stuck with the highest federal deficit in history that it will be forced to pay off. Despite efforts of the Clinton administration to cut back on the federal deficit, future youth faced paying off a $6 trillion debt by the year 2000, more than twenty times what it was in 1960. This enormous mortgaging of the future is arguably the product of unwise and unfair government spending that benefited upper and middle classes over lower classes, and the middle-aged and elderly over the young (Nelson and Cowan 1994: 20). During the two Reagan administrations, the national debt doubled and the Bush I administration managed to further double the deficit in one term. Further, Bush Junior is wracking up record $304 billion dollar deficits for 2003 while $307 billion-plus deficits are projected for the following year, and a staggering trillion dollar deficit is projected for the next five years.7 Consequently, future generations will be forced to pay for the parties for the rich and greedy thrown by Reagan and Bush administrations and will have to clean up the mess.
And so the post-generations share in common a difficult future. As Holtz realized (1995), whatever new freedoms and possibilities are available to contemporary youth -- from education to jobs to housing --, the opportunities to enjoy them are vanishing. The post-boomers are not only the largest and most diverse of all American generations, they are "the only generation born since the civil war to come of age unlikely to match their parents' economic fortune” (Holtz 1995: 7). The brief exception of the dot.com boom put Holtz’s analysis in temporary question but unfortunately his subsequent comment seems appropriate where he