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Newsnight

Baby boomers and the Huffington effect

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Aug 06, 12:46 PM

huffington203.jpgAll week the BBC has been looking at the impact of the baby boomer generation in the run-up to the 60th birthday spectacular of the archetypal boomer Bill Clinton on Saturday.

The political, cultural, industrial and academic worlds on both sides of the Atlantic are currently dominated by baby boomers. This post-war generation has changed our world and are still in charge of it. But have they changed it for the better or worse? When we come to take stock, when the next generation take power, what will the legacy of the baby boomers be?

Are you a baby boomer, or someone who resents their domination of Western politics and culture?

Tonight we’ll be discussing baby boomer's impact with – amongst others - one of its most vocal members, Arianna Huffington. What do you want us to ask her and the others?

Comments  Post your comment

The Baby Boomers are those that were born between 1946-1964. I must be the next to the last so we will probably be dominating US Politics for some time. Unfortunately, we still have this problem of aging gracefully, myself included. Will we be able to turn over the reins of power to the next generation or will be going back to the 60's mantra of "Mine, Mine, Mine".

  • 2.
  • At 05:09 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Ozoda Muminova wrote:

Baby boomers may be dominating the 'traditional' world, but the virtual one has been overtaken by their children. And given the influence, which the web has been having on politics, culture, business and lives of ordinary citizens in the past 3 years especially - it is obvious which generation will get it all. The Rupert Murdochs of this world may be buying myspace.com and other digital entities, but they do remain 'digital immigrants'. And the future (the very near future in fact) belongs to the 'digital natives'.

  • 3.
  • At 06:13 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

It’s another Newsnight LeftyFest with Arianna Huffington! Let the Bush/Blair baiting begin! Please don’t let the show transform into a bully pulpit for AF’s left wing views. Not all viewers of Newsnight are big Lefties.

  • 4.
  • At 10:23 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Isn't it odd to be discussing babyboomers like this, like in review, when the oldest at just approaching 60 and the youngest are only 40?

Especially strange on the UK side of the Atlantic, where most babyboomers have been excluded from much power, sandwiched between those who made their name as the first "teens", and the "angry" young people and radicals of the early 1960s and the brash young entrepreneurs and radical-right of the 1980s. Perhaps babyboomers here got subsumed into the sheer numbers who entered the new universities.

Perhaps in the USA, with a far shorter and reduced "gap" in childbirth during WWII the effect was not as pronounced.

Anyway, can anyone explain why Arianna Huffington is so quote worthy, and has been for so long? Let's remember, please, when, with another surname, living in London, she was the muse of Bernard Levin, for years, in his columns in The Times. He thought her wonderful, but never said why. Now she's a "left" bete noir of the US neocons. But what did she ever DO?

  • 5.
  • At 11:36 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Peter Robson wrote:

It was a strange juxtaposition of a piece on morality with one on babyboomers. What is the Moslem world trying to tell us babyboomers if not that the hedonism which is our defining motive is evil?

  • 6.
  • At 11:40 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • rose gallagher wrote:

Has anyone heard about Heyday?
Its a brand new organisation - check out www.heyday.co.uk They are in the forefront of recognising Baby Boomers! Its really a brilliant way to work together under one umbrella - 50% of the population will soon be over the age of 50! And Heyday allows you to come together and discuss burning issues it also offers lots of deals and discounts.
If you are reading this, you should at least check out this website, I think it really does target us correctly. Its new - and its funky - and its about time!

  • 7.
  • At 01:38 AM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Hugh Waldock wrote:

I think a bit of peace and love and the odd free festival wouldn´t go amiss in England nowerdays

As a young English person, with a difference thankfully in certain parts of Germany it is still possible to live the life of an extreme rebel.
I have always been called that as well.

Participating in Anti-facist protests, and lots of young people in Berlin at the start of 2003 for the anti war protest, going there on a cheap rail ticket for 5 euros on slow trains 12 hours there 9 hours back, sleeping rough on Minden Station with three mates and a girlfriend half way there only to be woken up by an announcement that the 3 o clock train was 5 mins late (typically German), living in a flat with four people who´d opted out of school in favour of some serious rap music and a LOT of partying, getting way out of sync at electro parties going on holiday to Holland, smoking a couple of joints for my father who is buried at sea and sleeping in the Bush getting woken up by rabbits and nightingales.

Yes I have a lot of sympathy with the baby boomers, down with the pesky thatcherites, bleaach

  • 8.
  • At 06:44 AM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • M. Fernandez wrote:

Why does anyone take Arianna Huffington seriously? She was just as nutty back when she was a Republican. I can still remember when she was the dutiful housewife to her (gay) millionaire Republican husband and trying to literally buy a Senate seat here in California. Is Britain this desperate for celebrities?

  • 9.
  • At 12:13 PM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

Vis-à-vis my earlier post #3. I knew it! AF couldn’t help taking the opportunity to do some Bush baiting even though the topic had nothing to the WOT. She defended Clinton’s moral authority by asserting that Bush took us into an illegal war. She should know that Clinton took us into an “illegal “ war in Bosnia, “illegally” fired hundreds of cruise missiles at Baghdad, and “illegally” destroyed an aspirin factory in Somalia all while ignoring the threat posed by OBL.

Here we are fast heading for retirement and what does a baby boomer 'pensioner' look like? And how do they behave? There are 20 million people over 50 now in Britain - 11 million over retirement age and people over 60 now outnumber those aged under 16. So we will still be calling the shots but, add to that, how many of us will be living on our own, so what kind of support will we be needing and what can we provide for ourselves? Our experience of retirement and old age will not be the same as our parents.This is where boomers can choose to be active citizens. We can use the benefits of more free time and life experience to make a better future. Later on, age and illness may stop us working in the formal economy but employment is not the only way we can still contribute to society. One answer to the pensions crisis and the dependency culture is to blur the distinction between work and retirement, to broaden the definition of our 'jobs' and embrace a new ideal of lifelong 'usefulness'.
This is not about changing the words we use but about changing the way we think about the contribution we make throughout our working life - whether we are formally employed or whether we work in the invisible economy that makes up 40 per cent of our nation's wealth. This is where time banking comes in - time banking is a tried and trusted method to harness people's idea, skills and energies. By investing in a time bank through exchanging skills and earning 'time credits' we can grow the support networks which provide our mutual insurance policy for ageing well. For more information see www.timebanks.co.uk

  • 11.
  • At 04:20 PM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

Interesting that the most important baby boomer of all last night - if age is the criteria (though I suspect what part of the world you come from is given vastly more importance by BBC) - was given a right going over by Liz McKean,
for actually giving a damn,
in such condescending tones:

LMcK: "Why this conflict? Why has it driven you to take a stand?...

LMcK: When you look around the world - Chetchnya Darfur - two current, difficult conflicts. Why is it this one that's taken your attention?...

LMcK: In the few weeks before the ceasefire, do you think Israel overreacted?...

LMcK: So given that action had, was initiated by Hezbollah in the taking of the two soldiers, you don't think that Israel was justified to respond in the way that it did...


AJS: Actually, they were captured not within Lebanon itslef, but on the border... [not necessarily so if we listened to reporters other than our own home-grown ones]

LMcK: In the weeks before the ceasefire, would you like to have seen the British government calling for an immediate end to the hostilities?... Should our government?...

AJS: I don't see why they didn't... I haven't found any reason why that wasn't done...

LMcK: You've cancelled your holiday so that you could conduct this week's[what sounded like 'farce'] fast... and I wonder whether you think Tony Blair should have cancelled his holiday, given the seriousness of this situation...

AJS: ...One think I do know though that when he comes back, he's got to face a question by some people - 'prime minister what was the reason?' and I think he's got to explain to parliament because some people wanted it to be recalled - 'what were the reasons for not actually declaring a ceasefire, please explain to us why were planes, taking arms into an already inflamed situation, landing in Britian.' These questions are going to have to be answered at some point.


MK: "Do you think it's right for such a senior churchman to be involved in such a deeply political issue..."


TOO RIGHT I DO - they should be comming out in their droves in every possible public space to challenge the morality of people in this country for letting TB and his gang get away with the most obscene double dealing, profaning the name of christianity in the process.


  • 12.
  • At 04:23 PM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Marc Dale wrote:

So this was all about celebrating Bill Clinton's forthcoming birthday, eh? The BBC really love that guy don't they!!
And how unfunny was Stephen Pound on last night's programme? Stop trying to play the comedian Mr Pound - you were not funny, just annoying!

  • 13.
  • At 07:03 PM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • The Fly wrote:

I thought that this review was effectively rewriting history, ignoring the many wars post WW2 that britain and the U.S have been involved in, ignoring the many people who had to fight against the status quo to cause political change, and the subsequent countrywide depression of the masses for the benefit of the elite in the 80's. And all this while consumerism expanded and conquered the irrational elements of the human psyche for the profit of a few, enslaving us to an endless pursuit of unachievable happiness whether it be a youth addicted to drugs that have been proved by certain scientific studies, most often those funded by multinational pharmacutical companies, to alliviate a newly constructed idea of depression, or an aspirational white anglo saxon male who is being persuaded to buy an even better razor that, suggested by the advert, will get you an attractive women and a fast sports car.

This review is another example of a placebo intended to divert peoples attention away from other events and to alter the truth to induce an opiate like effect on society, reinforcing the general ideologies that keep the elite in power and suppressing critical thought.

The media is the opium of the people.


  • 14.
  • At 09:19 AM on 19 Aug 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

I thought it was funny that Christine Hamilton condemned Bill Clinton for being "immoral" (I assume referring to the Monica Lewinsky affair) but then declared that she was appearing on stage with the "Bangkok Lady Boys"!

  • 15.
  • At 08:03 PM on 20 Aug 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Someone who didn't sign their Blog entry wrote: The political, cultural, industrial and academic worlds on both sides of the Atlantic are currently dominated by baby boomers. This post-war generation has changed our world and are still in charge of it.

And not one of us ever yet became Prime Minister of the UK. Some error in the narrative there, surely?

  • 16.
  • At 03:54 PM on 22 Aug 2006,
  • DavidM wrote:

Am I alone in my distaste for the kind of lazy sociological labelling represented by the term "baby boomer"? The notion that there is a large homogenous grouping of people with sufficiently common purpose and values to be described collectively in this way is, to me, quite absurd.

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