Labor Oct 21, 2022 at 3:20 pm

My Generation Is Too Flaky About Unions

Gen X paradise in Renton... Charles Mudede



Before we get on with the comments defending The Stranger's greying core audience, it should be noted that Gen X votes Republican these days, and by a hefty 60-40 margin (other recent polls confirm this).

In other words, yes, we do suck, and there's data to prove it.


@1 that’s pretty much every generation. It’s easy to vote for more taxes when you have nothing and aren’t paying for them but once you grow up and have your own money things change a bit. The millennials and Zoomers won’t be any different.


@2 you are so wrong. boomers and gen x never gave a shit about anything but themselves the whole way along. Its not about asset protection but about persistent identity. Millenials and Gen Z may shift a little over time but honestly I wouldnt be surprised if we dont shift a little farther left over time rather than the direction you think.

You think its normal to be more a dick as you age because you have always been a dick and just kind of settled into it over time. Its not a new state of affairs.


@3: Insults and and superlatives don't add credence to your arguments.


“Couple this development with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the forms of socialism it represented, which were not that different from the social democracies of the West,”

Aaaaaaand THUNK, the other shoe drops! Those states were one-party totalitarian hellholes, every last one of which collapsed completely once the coercive threat of force was removed. Watching people dance in the streets of Berlin as they tore down the wall is one of the signature memories of us in Generation X, as was Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island shortly thereafter. Even apartheid South Africa was closer to “the social democracies of the West,” than were the states Charles lies about here. And you know what, Charles? We Western kids of Generation X demanded, and got, the end of apartheid and the start of full democracy in South Africa.


Generation bashing is so tired. Humans suck all around. Since they walked out of the slime thousands of years ago they have done nothing but hasten the destruction of the planet. Whining about it won't change it. One can easily say that every generation sucks and find "proof" to back it up. Jeff Bezos is a baby boomer. Mark Zuckerburg is a Millennial. Generation X is the smallest generation and yet it's blamed for everything? Please. If we're going to parse out blame by generation, sheer numbers mean all other generations have wrought and will bring more destruction than Gen X.


@2 The poll I linked to suggests otherwise: Boomers are split 50-50, i.e. they're less Republican-leaning than the next generation younger than them.


@6: Such refreshing commentary from you. Now please extend your sentiment on generation bashing to include race bashing.


@race bashing? you mean being anti-racist and sick to fucking death of white supremacist terrorism? in a country built on genocide and the theft and enslavement of other humans? in a country where white supremacist policies and white privilege continue to support and perpetuate a society of inequality and violence based on a structure that doesn't exist in nature, but was made up by white people? nah. you REALLY love false equivalency, don't you?


ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Did anyone actually read the entire article? As I have said, friends don't let friends read Mudede.


Gen-X lefty from Western Canada here. I'm not sure if we're paralleling the United States on this but something to keep an eye on. I DO personally know Gen-X anti-vaxxers despite my ruthlessly maintained social bubble, which suggests there's a lot more out there past my fences. And I'd think anti-vaxxers, if they vote, vote Conservative.


@10: it’s quite a word-salad, yes, even by the standard of Charles’ drunken ramblings on economics. Other than an attempt at rehabbing failed totalitarian police states, it such a mess it’s hard to say it even qualifies as wrong.

How To Tell You’re Reading Mudede, Part III of MMCLXVI: Paragraph FOUR starts with the line, “Before exploring the aim of this post…”


@9: Because you've never been able to talk about racism in an intellectual manner without rage induced generalizations that only raise eyebrows about your ethics, much less grasp of reality, all your commentary on this subject is essentially superfluous.


Having worked at a variety of occupations for many years I know that Unions are often a really good thing for communities and the workers employed in those work places.

It has been shit for the past thirty years or so without them.

14 Slavery and the racism can be rage inducing and can be generalized dear. Give the woman a break or are you having problems with women?

Solutions are the answer to inequality, working conditions and the incredible homelessness many people are facing in this century.

Worker run Unions are one solution to the fantastic greed and profits that have caused the tailspin into destitution for half the population of this country.

History is proof and we must go forward never back. Thank you.


It is a healthy sign that workers are rising up and ordinary people are speaking up.

This is clearly upsetting those that value the status quo.


I was born to "Greatest Generation" parents, my sister (1959) is solidly Baby Boomer, and I am theoretically the first year of Gen X (1965). Does this mean I can hate and resent myself?

There are a lot of people my age who are deplorable. About half my high school class, for instance, but just one of my college friends, and she is a truly horrible person (an objectivist!)


@17: Nobody should hate or resent themselves to appease stupid people who live by stupid generalizations.

@15: Okay sure. Xina, take a break!


It was bad enough to live in the shadow of the Boomers and constantly being shat upon by those selfish narcissistic bastards and have to listen to how great they were and how their parents were the greatest generation, to be brought up in the toxic masculinity and rape culture of the Silent Generation because they had to over compensate because they tied instead of won their war, and I hoped that the Millenials wash away the Boomers and just leave me the hell alone.
But no, please kick us again because we are an easy target. The key to unions is powers in numbers but we never had them because most of us never existed because of the accessibility of birth control and abortion. Yeah, so be glad we aren't any more fucked up and greedy than we already are.


“And what displaced union ideology in the 1980s? The widespread idea that they represented a social order that had run its course.”

Which it by and large had, not because of the jumbled fairy tale Charles concocts immediately after this quote, but because unions, legislation, and the New Deal had delivered on higher wages, benefits, and protections for workers.

Government protection of workers continues to this day, making unions less desirable. Recent examples from Seattle include a high minimum wage, mandatory sick time, and the end of “clopen” shifts at bars.


@20 "Government protection of workers continues to this day, making unions less desirable" BWAHAHAHA what world do you live in? Not the real one. Not the one where corporations have gutted worker protections and their shitty minions walk all over workers all the time because people have no idea what worker protections actually DO exist. You are also not living in the world of the Janus decision. The minimum wage in Seattle is not a living wage. Do you own a home in the area? How long have you owned it? Do you make minimum wage?
By the 80s worker protection was already in the shitter and corporate greed was in full swing using its money to lobby its way to full citizenship. You live in a past that never really existed. But it makes you feel good.


@21: Yes, hand-waving, sneeringly groundless denials, and making it personal are just like a logical argument with examples, only faster and less knowledge-intensive. Because SLOG.


@21 You know what makes unions stronger? Reduced illegal immigration, higher tariffs on imported goods, and allowing industry to dig up and dispose of waste regardless of the environmental impact. Also you need a homogeneous population that is inclined to buy things only made here out of patriotic pride. That and having the rest of the world blow itself up so you can flood market with your goods as they try to rebuild their manufacturing. Otherwise they will make it themselves for cheaper or buy it from China instead of you and put tariffs on your stuff.


I'm not sure what Gen X has to do with the wavering power of unions. The possible reason Gen X may vote more Republican is because they received terrible educations, as Republicans decimated public education on purpose after the boomers, who were well educated, nearly took the country over. Another reason is they see themselves as having been cheated of the job and housing bonanza of the boomers, even though Gen Xers, with brains, could've flourished far more than the generations after them. Unions had great power that we've missed ever since, but they were also corrupt as hell, and infiltrated with the mafia, which didn't exactly make them great for the country, but they were a physical force facing down raw corporate power, that we now desperately need.

America is so stupid now, though, and it so badly wants to repeat past dalliances with fascism that decimated Europe and Latin America, that it very well may do it. The younger generations are the ones that are going to have to physically stop it, and I wish them luck and preparation in doing so. Don't hate all older people though. That's not the route to victory.


This Gen Xer was fooled by the promise of technology and the internet in particular. I remember my first exposure to it, in 1990 (a momentous year in my life, also the year I came out of the closet). I remember the optimism. I remember the joy of discovery in that first decade I was online. Hell, I remember when Amazon was an awesome bookstore where you could find everything.

But my politics have always been left of center. Usually very left of center. It helped having a father who was an old school socialist (in other words, one focused on economics and class). It helped being Canadian as well as American (and I’ve proudly supported the NDP almost my entire adult life).

The one exception to this was my time in the military. It represented my brief flirtation with libertarianism. It didn’t take long to see how unworkable that was. What can I say? I was young and idealistic and not particularly wise.

But I bitterly repent of my youthful enthusiasm for the internet. Whatever gains it has offered us, few are truly unalloyed goods. As someone who’s spent time in academia, access to primary sources online does perhaps qualify as one of them. And I enjoy reading this article even though I live nowhere near the northwest.

But on balance, the internet has been a mistake. We’d be much better off without it. Hell, the social and psychological effects it’s had alone, the conspiracies, the FOMO, the depression and anxiety, the lie that virtual “friends” are just as good as real ones, these alone should have us ripping out every fiber optic cable in the country and would have us doing so if we weren’t addicted to its dopamine hits.

The principle tactic that capital has used in this country to foil labor is “divide and distract.” Divide us with squabbles over social issues, conspiracies, and tribalism. Distract us with ever more elaborate circuses, video, games, and of course the latest shiny thing, the metaverse.

Meanwhile the planet burns and children starve.

I no longer am an optimist. I don’t believe that things will get better, even with the return of guillotines. If the 20th century taught us anything it’s that the revolution merely replaces one corrupt oligarchy with another.


@25 Love the Chick tract avatar.
I don't know if we can call the Internet a failure yet. I feel like television news was the main catalyst for tribalism. Obviously it started with Faux News but when Obama was running Jon Stewart and Colbert went into full cult mode as well which became the model for almost every show to follow. Instead of laughs they went for claps. I am not sure what the hell John Oliver's last show was.
The news just made everyone adrenaline junkies where the need to be scandalized was like a hit of dopamine for the viewers. The demagoguery and dehumanization of the other tribe so you don't have to think about how illogical your point of view might be.

P.S. Every man child dabbles in Libertarianism when you are at your peak physically but still struggling to figure what it is to be a man.


Isn't slicing and dicing the population into age-segregated groups a tool of marketing, and thus capitalism? Age-segregated groups are studied to better SELL things to that group. I am stunned that Mudede and pro-socialist TS buy into it hook, line and sinker. It is also further proof of how desperately we need to belong to a 'tribe' so we can shit on other 'tribes'.


raindrop and district13 are the most insufferable people lol. Please please idle your cars in your garages. Do the world a favor.


"… Boomers, whose white population was largely fooled by the myth of stagflation into blaming US economic decline

not on financialization and globalization

but on unchecked union power—or, put another way, high wages."

once again
the Common man
ripping off the fabulously-well-to-do.

that's why our corporate
Profiteers Hate people
too picky to take
shitty jobs

we need a Profiteerings Tax
Corps are making out
like fucking


Maybe my GenX peer group was different. We saw the end game of tech as ultimately an economy destroyer. Essentially, the elements of economic activity would collapse down to three roles - Own the Machine, Feed the Machine, Sweep Around the Machine. People are useless. They are inefficient. They are prolific resource consumers. They are not the future. Us kids with Commodore 64s could figure that out.

We saw Reagan. His direct attack on labor. His direct attack on underfed kids (ketchup is a vegetable). His direct attack on taxes. His direct attack on government. Really, his direct attack on the people of the US. And all the adults that supported him. We knew we were screwed. And from every angle. We knew we were on our own and our parents had no clue what was coming. We were alone, but we had to move on.

Our student loans were still scary. Yeah, public university tuition could be paid for with a modestly sized paper route (I just showed my age). Tuition costs still were going up double digits each year I was in college. Same with room and board costs. The loans, along with two major stock market crashes and major recession, made it difficult to get into a first starter home. A rationally sized and priced home that cannot be built today, I might add.

Yes. We are registered republican. We joined the side we believed would prevail. As kids, we saw the shameless acts of republicans then and went with the flow. Not that we agreed with them, but for survival - greed, and its actions, were/are predictable. Mel Brooks said it best - 'Good is dumb.' It is also disorganized and unpredictable.

All that said, we haven't really voted republican for 20 years. Bush/Cheney and Trump/Pence still show us the republicans are still on their insane, but ultimately winning trajectory. But we bailed on them after 9/11.

We are the RINO's the MAGAs speak off. We had no idea things would get this crazy, but we did pay attention in high school AP history classes and were not so close minded to believe that the past could not happen here. We anticipated calamity - but we did not know it would be a pandemic. We knew someone would eventually behave like trump on US soil, but we didn't know it would be trump. We figured the nation would collapse eventually - we just hoped we wouldn't be around to see it. We really want to leave the US behind - it's over - but we can't afford the price of citizenship anywhere in the world. 2016 was the failsafe year. We are stuck.

To those older than us - a big F YOU. Like, oh my God, you ruined a great thing and levered it to the max.

To those behind us - good luck, we can't help you. We know you need to throw us under the bus to survive and we see you coming.

Who cares? Never mind.


@5: Do you vote RepubliKKKan, tensy? A good deal of commentary in this thread suggests that a lot of GenXers posting seem to lean conservative. Just sayin'.
and @13: And yet you're still here, reading and commenting, tensy. Why?

@6 and @8 xina: All generations of humans have indeed, conscious of the outcome or not, played a part in the destruction of this planet. I find that devastating. I don't have any answers to our worsening local, state, national, and global problems but live in hope that I am contributing more good than harm.

@7 robotslave: I'm among the tail end of the Boomer II's and have known since I cast my first ballot to vote Democrat, and always will. There is no productive, safe, or sane alternative--especially now that the GOP is the bootlicking Party of Trump, marching in lockstep.

@15 and @16 Ivy R. Nightscales: It's about time the younger generations speak up about slowing climate change and preserving union wages and benefits, constitutional rights, voting rights, affordable healthcare, and protecting women's health decisions. Bravo to those who are.

@17 Catalina Vel-DuRay: So you were born to "Greatest Generation" parents in 1965, and among the first of the Gen Xers. Aha! You are NOT old! I'm among the last of the Boomer II's, born in 1964, so I'm older than you are. In my perspective, we're both kids, and lucky to have lived through the eras that we did. How tragic that future generations won't be as fortunate to see, hear, taste, live, and experience what we did. One thing is for sure: I certainly don't hate or resent you. Your comments are so consistently spot on. It's comforting to have you among commenters.

@24 Antinet and @25 Corydon: I share your concerns. And Corydon, thank you for your time in service. I'm a veteran, too.

@28: They're among the original Rain City Jacks with nothing better to do.

@29 kristofarian: Amen.

@30: Okay, well, a big F YOU right back. I'm a Boomer II and unlike you, I didn't purposely "ruin a great thing and lever it to the max". I have phoned and written my legislators about numerous statewide and national concerns. I have marched in the streets. I have doorbelled, canvassed, and phone banked. I vote. I recycle. Do you? I conserve energy. Do you? Do you rely heavily on your car and sit in long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic 5+days a week? I don't. I have a car but drive seasonally in good weather, and walk or take public transportation when not driving. We don't drive on smoky wildfire days because we don't want to add to the hazy air quality. If you're among those shrugging this off and calling it "the new norm" you're part of the problem, not the solution. We avoid I-5 because of traffic congestion and irate drivers. Are you among them? Then we're not missing anything good.
News flash, Transplant: Friends, regardless of their generation, don't vote or let their friends vote RepubliKKKan. You bought Ronald Reagan's profiteering capitalist bullshit in vengeance for Richard Nixon's demise. You played GOP frat boys and trophy debs, laughing at anyone giving a shit about preserving the environment, livable wages, affordable housing, or any effort to stop making the U.S. military into global police just to protect Bush oil interests in the Middle East. Why do you think Bush's overblown wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were so long? To protect Bush oil interests. Period. Cop to it, fer chrissake. Your woeful ignorance will place you among those paying a hefty price for your claim on "owning the libs".


@19: Um, gee. Do you hate women who are concerned about remaining in control their bodies and health decisions, too?


I'm genuinely confused.

As a liberal Gen X voter--haven't we ALWAYS known my generation was conservative?

Because while it doesn't make me happy--I remember reading about this trend at least twenty years ago.


Seriously--can anyone point me towards any statistical info that says we've EVER been a very liberal/progressive generation?


@31: What did I write @5 which makes you ask about my voting record? That I cheered when the Berlin Wall fell? That I watched with relief as Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk combined to put South Africa firmly on the path to pluralistic democracy? I wasn’t aware either or both of these suggested any partisan voting record. What in my responses to these events prompted your question?

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