The late-season comeback that Boomers need.

Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, July 22, 2011.

The 1978 season was going badly for the New York Yankees. Coming off a World Series win the season before, nothing was working by July. Individual members of the team were at each other’s throats. Owner George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin were feuding in public. On July 19, the Yankees were in fourth place, 14 games behind the Boston Red Sox. They were, for all intents, finished for the season.

In what came to be called The Greatest Comeback Ever, the Yankees pulled it together in the second half. Billy Martin was replaced by Bob Lemon. Lemon was able to get the players to stop acting as individuals and come together as a team. Good things began to happen.

From July 20 through the last day of the season, the Yankees went 51 and 21, a winning percentage of .708, to erase the Boston lead. In a single-game tie-breaking playoff in Boston, trailing 2 – 0 in the seventh, Bucky Dent hit a three-run shot over the Green Monster at Fenway Park to give the Yankees the American League East. The bombers would go on to win the World Series in six against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The oldest Baby Boomer was 32 years old that summer. The youngest was 14.

I lift up The Greatest Comeback Ever in the hope that it might inspire us Baby Boomers. Because we need a comeback of our own. We are on the cusp of becoming the first generation in American history to consume more wealth than we created. Put less than delicately, we have pissed away our inheritance.

And such an inheritance it was. The bridges, the highways, the telephone system, the electric grid, the energy industry, the auto industry, the banks, the airlines, a man on the moon, the streets, the great public buildings, our schools, our churches, our symphony halls and quite literally almost all the things we take for granted – built through the hard work and thrift of our parents – were left to us in the greatest generational bequest in all of history. Our folks left us a proud, successful, solvent, functioning country.

We, for our part, are about to leave our kids the crumbling remnants of what our parents built, together with an overdrawn checking account and a stack of unpaid bills.

Which is why I bring up the 1978 New York Yankees. The 1978 Yanks prove that late season rallies happen. We need one.

The debate over raising the debt ceiling is our opportunity for a late-season save. It is time for us Baby Boomers to stand up and admit that we have been spendthrifts. While we still matter, it is time for us to take the lead in demanding actual, tangible reductions in federal spending and dramatic, meaningful modifications to entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.

It is time to admit that we converted massive equity into massive debt and to accordingly, swear off debt.

This is our last shot to save the Baby Boomer season. Come together as a generation, as the 1978 Yankees came together as a team, and insist on a new national ethic of fiscal responsibility and restraint, and we Boomers will be remembered for our late season comeback.

Fail to do these things, and we will go down as a generation of self-indulgent, self-absorbed wastrels, worthy of posterity’s contempt.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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3 Responses

  1. Linda E. Montrose says:

    It is time to take off the rose colored glasses and see the glare of reality. The robbing Peter to pay Paul has caught up with us. It is time we stop spending like there is no tomorrow. Tomorrow is here…NOW.

    The other day I got something in the mail from a credit card company telling me that they had good news, my credit limit had been raised. Now I could enjoy more purchasing power. I put it through the shredder. This has been the problem for our generation since credit cards were the rage. Put off tomorrow and spend today. Don’t worry, just a small down payment and spread the cost out over time. Soon this becomes a mountian of debt looming over us. We boomers have been spoiled by not having to do without as our parents did and their parents did. This created a generation of greedy wastrels instead of a generation of savers. The rise of technology has contributed to our free flowing spending by allowing us to spend by just a click of a key to satisfy our heart’s desire.

    It is past time that we step up to the plate, suck in our large guts, and do what we need to do in order to win this debt war. It is going to take some willpower to take those enticing notices we are bombarded with daily and put them where they belong…IN THE SHREDDER! We need to take away the temptation of over spending and restructure the spending we are already doing. We need to stop thinking of only ourselves and think of what we are leaving our children and grandchildren…and if it keeps going, our GREAT-grandchildren!

  2. katt says:

    WHY, when AMERICA is broke, and seniors and military are threatened with loss of benefits, does the GOP not “call obama out” for giving raises to whitehouse staff – some as much as 8%
    WHY is even one dime being sent as foreign aid, with obama’s promise of more as needed – when AMERICA is broke –
    WHY does CONGRESS and obama and his minions, appointees, czars, etc not have to cut back or contribute or whatever “ordinary” people are required to do – are obama, etc ABOVE or BETTER THAN or MORE ELITE than the “ordianary” people – you know, the ones who actually work and PAY taxes and do not get large handouts for doing nothing (bearing in mind that SS used to require work and tax paid in for 40 quarters BEFORE it started being given to illegals, druggies, lazies, irrisponsibles, etc – who usually vote FOR anyone who will promise to give them more freebies)

  3. Tom King says:

    I wonder if we have the character to make the comeback. Perhaps age and experience has taught us some values after all. Solomon said that if you train up a child in the way he shall go, when he is OLD he will not depart from it. Solomon never said we wouldn’t go over fool’s hill somewhere in our teens or middle-age.

    Well, we are OLD now. We’re part of the over-30 group we once believed we should not trust because of their vast age. Perhaps it is finally time for the training we received in our youth to kick in. Let us hope enough of our parents taught us the sorts of things we’ll need to make that comeback you’re talking about, Paul.

    Tom King

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