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BROKAW REPORTS: BOOMER$!: Where is the $? Two hours not enough for 20 years.

After seeing Brokaw’s special on Baby Boomers I have more questions than I do answers. It’s a tease not a well-delivered package. I love the fact that he started and ended with Boomers in the middle of the country – Michigan. It grounded some of his perspective. He failed to acknowledge that this is a 20-year cohort, so the “duck and cover” reference means nothing to the Generation Jones segment of the Boomer cohort. The approach was blanket—no subtlety, insight or drill down.

While well produced, there was no acknowledgement of the sheer buying power—through every life stage—of this cohort. Entire industries and institutions were transformed by this birth boom. Think about baby formula; school districts; cars (the station wagon, then mini-van, then SUVs); housing—the creation of the suburbs, then retirement communities; and so much more! Often too much emphasis on the angst and not on the contributions.

Tom Brokaw loves the “Greatest Generation”. He is a member of the so-called “Silent Generation” – forever sandwiched in between two incredible generational cohorts. While we call them silent, they spawned JFK, Martin Luther King and many of the other icons of the early boomer movement.

At the end of this very shallow review, we need to remember some important points. First a huge generation of young people found their voice and expressed themselves—regardless of where or how they served. This was a first for the country, and because we were raised by depression-era parents we were given the gift—NOT THE EXPECTATION—of optimism. They told us we lived in the greatest country on earth—they fought for it—and we believed it. If we were spoiled, this was the spoiling!

This generation dealt with the rise of women, racial equality and sexual emancipation. This was dealt with by 20 somethings. We made mistakes. We made progress. We learned. Bill Clinton typified it, “I like rock and roll, I had long hair, was liberal, and opposed to the war…We were raised by the WWII generation; how could they be the worst parents and still the greatest generation?”

At the end of the day I believe the Boomer generation is, as Brokaw elicited, “unrealized.” The oldest of us are in our 60s and the youngest in our 40s. If we live to be 85-100—as longevity studies suggest we might—we have a lot of time to tell the world what our contribution and legacy will be. Stay tuned.

If you missed it: TOM BROKAW REPORTS: BOOMER$! will re-air on CNBC on Saturday, March 6th at 7PM ET/4PM PT, Sunday, March 7th at 9PM ET/6PM PT and Monday, March 8th at 8PM ET/5 PM PT.

These extras were posted to the CNBC site. Enjoy!

Slideshow: Growing Up Boomer: A Generation’s Joy and Angst

Quiz: 1960s Boomer Culture

Video Extras:Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$!


  1. Lori Bitter : May 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Great summary of the Brokaw report!