“Baby boomers gave themselves a happy period on the backs of their children”

FIGAROVOX / MAINTENANCE – For François de Closets, author of Boomer parentheses, the policies have been implemented to the detriment of young people. The individualistic logic of this generation must be replaced by a new social cohesive force that will make it possible to respond to the challenge of aging, says the journalist.

François de Closets is a journalist and essayist. He is the author of about twenty books, including Always more!red. Grasset, 1982, France to stop or doublered. Fayard, 2015, and Boomer parenthesesred. Fayard, 2022.


FIGAROVOX.- In your book, you criticize the policies pursued by the children of the baby boom between the late 1970s and 2020, which, according to you, caused France to fall back. Why would you make this review?

Francois DE SKABE.- France went through a period that I call the “boomer bracket” in which it experienced neither war, famine, epidemic, disaster, nor major economic crisis. This parenthesis, during which the Booms ruled France, is unique in the history of France. The story is usually tragic, short from one disaster to the next, and peace is never anything but an interwar period. During the “boomer bracket”, the French believed that they had an acquired right to live in this dormant history, and in this news are subject to the dangers of small fluctuations. They believed they had an acquired right to growth, an acquired right to peace. But what happened during this happy period? France has accumulated nearly three trillion in debt. This debt on the backs of our children is not equivalent to investment because public investment has fallen since France has a deficit, but is only comfort and consumption expenditure. I have condemned this scandal in my books for decades and I say it again today. France had never been indebted in its history except in times of war. That this indebtedness was constituted in the absence of any particular restriction is abominable, and the silence on this subject is unbearable.

While that was enough to sustain this situation, the boomers gave in to the convenience of credit and deficits.

Francois de Closets

How do you explain this historical turn after the years of post-war reconstruction and the Gaullist years?

There are twists and turns caused by disasters. This historic turnaround was caused by the absence of disaster. This generation of spoiled children has fallen into the trap during this extremely favorable period. Everything seemed acquired, everything seemed dilapidated. In 1970, France was the most dynamic and prestigious country in Europe. While that was enough to sustain this situation, the boomers gave in to the convenience of credit and deficits. Gaullist France had the strongest finances in the world, prompting bankers to offer credit. Under these conditions the French lived on credit, unwilling to make the slightest effort to maintain what had been given to them.

You criticize the boomer ideology based on individualism and selfishness. In order to pursue a policy in favor of the country, is it then necessary to rediscover the notion of the common good?

General de Gaulle had imposed civil liberties in the service of society. He had thus put the French in the service of France. The country came before individual and immediate satisfaction. The French were reluctant, but followed the Gaullist policy. In 1968, young people who took eternal growth for granted rebelled and crushed this system. Society at the time had the ultimate goal of respecting individual freedom and instant gratification, no longer of ensuring continuity. We must return to the notion of civil liberties and put an end to this supremacy of individual liberty. The only absolute must be the common good.

Our society is being turned upside down by a major change that we did not want to see, which is getting older. Never in history has a society experienced this phenomenon. In the past, life spanned three generations: children, adults, and old people who barely existed. In 1945, the life expectancy of the French was a little over 60 years. Suddenly, we have to insert another 25 years into our society. The boomers have decided to make these years the best time of their lives where they are kept idle by their children. If retirement at 60 for workers was necessary, retirement at 60 for everyone is a scandal. At the age of 60, a person has an average of fifteen years of healthy life ahead of him and has no good reason to put himself completely at the expense of the next generation. It is shocking to see that Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are today proposing to retire at the age of 60, that is, to add two years’ pension to pay. This represents tens of thousands of billions at their expense, while our country is the only one where retired seniors live better than working people who pay pensions. It is the first time that taking from those who have the least, giving to those who have the most, has been presented as social progress.

The problem that arises is to organize the twenty years of extra life that in the coming years will result in a colossal increase in people in a state of addiction.

Francois de Closets

You mention in your book the issue of aging, which leads to addiction. In order to respond to this increasingly current challenge, should we redefine the links of solidarity?

We must reconsider the balance between generations and think that each generation has a duty to prepare for the next. In the family world, everything is done so that the young people can take their place in society. Parents see it as their duty to help their children integrate into society. Similarly, generations have a duty to those who follow them to help them move forward and find their place.

The problem that arises is to organize the twenty years of extra life, which in the coming years will result in a colossal increase in people over 80 and a very significant increase in people in a state of addiction. The boomers have given themselves a happy period on the backs of their children, the period for seniors between 60 and 75, but have nothing planned for the future and are unable to cope with it. So we have to rethink everything.

Cohesion is mutual help from generations, each in their role. There are five ages in life today: children, teens, adults, seniors and the elderly. Seniors and seniors are not in the same category or in the same condition. The former need money to live, the latter help. This assistance can not only come from the staff, because neither the staff nor the sufficient resources are found. It must be the seniors who have a duty to take care of this social activity in addition to their pensions.

Every Frenchman and every Frenchman from the age of 50 must prepare for old age as a child prepares for adulthood.

Francois de Closets

At the end of your book, you provide a forecast advice. How would that work?

In this book, I suggest concrete things. Today, there are scientific studies on aging and we have an example of society that has faced this problem. From this we know what to do. The parentheses boomers is a book with proposals to reconcile the generations, and not a book of condemnation that should lead to the war of the generations.

I propose a system in which every Frenchman and every Frenchman from the age of 50 must prepare for old age, as a child prepares for adulthood. He must be informed, have a personal diagnosis according to his heritage and his way of life. From the age of 60, he must choose between continuing to work or performing a social activity in order to obtain a full pension. People who want to stop working in the sixties must have a supervised activity with responsibilities and services to be provided. This activity should be more than volunteer work and provide an opportunity to take care of the aging generation who need help. It is not up to the working people who are already paying pension to perform this work beyond the family framework. It is up to seniors who are between 60 and 80 years old to go to 80-100 year olds so as not to leave them alone. Such a system works in the Scandinavian countries and in Denmark.

François de Closets, The boomers parentheses, ed. Fayard, 25/05/2022, 320s. Fayard

ALSO SEE Millennials vs. Boomers: Are the Guardians the Heirs to the Boomers?

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