I have noticed dozens of Baby Boomers bragging on the Internet about how hard they worked and how much money they have and how much they are enjoying their luxurious retirements.
There is a small element of truth to justify some of that boasting, but for the most part it is destructive and stupid and I will explain why.
The Just World Hypothesis states that people get what they deserve. E.g. work hard and you’ll get paid. Get paid and save and you’ll be able to invest. Invest for enough years and you’ll be able to retire in comfort.
For a lot of Baby Boomers in the USA, the Just World Hypothesis turned out to be true. A lot of Baby Boomers really did work hard and save money, and some of those who did got rich and have retired in comfort.
Here’s the first problem: survivor bias. A lot of Baby Boomers worked hard, lost their money unjustly, and are living in a van by the river without any computer, so they are not around to brag about their virtues on the Internet.
Here’s the second problem: the Baby Boomers were young at a time when youth was rewarded and economic competition was national, not global. Thus a young person in 2017 who acts like a young Baby Boomer in 1967 is not going to get the same results.
Here’s the third problem: nobody can audit enough people to test this hypothesis. Nobody can run a scientific experiment on personal financial success. We wait for a convenience sample of rich people to show up and say, “Yes, I worked hard, I deserve what I have, everyone has the power to work hard.” We can’t examine the personal finances of those self-selected advocates of the Just World Hypothesis. We can’t screen out the ones who actually did work hard from the ones who lied, cheated, stole, and inherited their way to wealth.
So here we stand. The young people don’t have enough money to get married, and the Baby Boomers are screeching at them, demanding to be worshiped for their diligence and wisdom. If the young people are stupid enough to believe that the Baby Boomers are as wise as the Baby Boomers claim to be, then the young people will destroy themselves and Western civilization.
It is not wise to get angry at the Baby Boomers, if only because anger accomplishes nothing.
It is not personally rewarding to engage them in debate, but it might be socially necessary. The Just World Hypothesis might end up destroying the Western world, so someone is going to have to shoot it down or else the West will go down in flames, clutching its favorite myth.
The Baby Boomers who boast of their personal financial success are much like Protestants who believe that they are saved and everyone who is not saved is contemptible. That might work for Christianity, but it doesn’t work for consumeristic capitalism. If only the rich have material salvation, the rest of society has no reason not to kill the rich and loot their corpses.
I doubt that the USA will give up the Just World Hypothesis willingly. I think the USA will push its delusions so hard that it will destroy the West, and China will walk in and sweep up anything worth salvaging.