Dr. Richard Cirulli, Ph.D., delves further into his growing body of work regarding societal evolution, known as the “Boomerang Series,” in his most recent article, “Boomers: From Blue Collar Roots to Blue Pinstripe Suits?”, https://www.yonkerstribune.com/?p=39932, on Friday, June 8, 2018th, at 10am EDT, on the Westchester On the Level Internet radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink — http://tobtr.com/s/10805055 to listen to this segment from 10:30-11am.
Boomers: From Blue Collar Roots to Blue Pinstripe Suits?
As Boomers enter the retirement phase of our lives, some of us are taking a reflective retrospective view of our lives to see how far we have strayed from the ideologies of our youth. The Sixties were a turning point in our country in many ways. It was during this era, that for the first time in American history there were more college students than farmers, and there were more service jobs than manufacturing jobs. With this boost of national intelligence, the author, like so many first generation Americans, found those times to be our opportunity to escape our blue-collar roots, to seek the pinstripe suits, power ties, and white collar shirts of corporate America, in our search of the American dream. This era was also the zenith and halcyon days of America’s economic dominance, prosperity and upward mobility. The sixties was also an era when the youth questioned the unequal distribution of wealth, and found it virtuous to fight for the underdog and the disenfranchised.
Regrettably for some Boomers their moving up the corporate ladder and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs made them easily forget their humble roots, and the sweat of their parents’ brows laboring to build a better world for their progeny.
Now in the autumn of our lives, and for the first time viewing our setting sun on our horizon. We existential types now look back upon our life project to ascertain how much of our humble origins and humility we have carried with us in life. Or how much we have abandoned it for the sake of promoting our self-elitism. Alas, many Boomers have dropped humility from their vocabulary.
Sadly the inspiration for this article was the result of a number of similar conversations I found myself engaged in with my generational peers over the past few months. To be forthright, these observations were based on empirical observation, and not intended to be broad brush statements. Rather to make the point of how some boomers today view the acquisition of wealth to be reserved exclusively for their white collar “professional” class, and not to be shared with manual laborers. Over the series of these conversations, what was evident is, these elitist views are being passed down to their children and grandchildren via parental narcissism, or parental pride, a fine line to straddle.
While finding myself in the company of a generational acquaintance. This proud parent shared with me his story about his son’s completion of his executive MBA, and his recruitment by a Fortune 500 company offering him a very generous salary, with bonuses, and all the perks. And, with the most sincere and genuine intentions upon hearing this good news, the author extended a litany of compliments to the parents for having raised a son truly living the American “dream” — to say the least, having obtained such an impressive life achievement.
No sooner had the congratulatory words faded, he responded by saying he had concerns about this stalwart company, on the grounds that they have given their union employees raises. To paraphrase his sentiment, his concern was that these un-American union workers were taking money away from the company with their “hefty” salaries?
And “these” people were only concerned about themselves, and would take company money that should be going to his son instead. After taking a very reflective and long, deep breath, the author, simply replied, “Did you not send your son to school with the intention he secure the “American Way”, in the hope of earning as much as possible? And is not, his high salary and benefits (proportionately much higher that the union wages of the company’s manual work force) also take away from company profits?. Would you admonish your son in the same way, that is, to not take a raise or bonus in order to give it back to the company to be shared and to be disbursed to the shareholders? Would this not be an equivalent un-American act as well? I suggested he may want to ponder his thoughts for a moment? Maybe we should not lose sight that you are fortunate to have had the means to send your children to earn degrees that easily translated into lucrative salaries. For the more fortunate, their degree is their passport to the American way of prosperity, for others, it is via the sweat of their labors and union card. Do they both not share the same agenda? And, have you lost sight of your parent’s humble blue collar roots that paid for your free ride to college? Earned as they labored in quarries, factories, sweat shops, and etc. in a foreign land?
After a long pause, he responded, and to my surprise said, “You know I never looked at it this way? I am rather disappointed in my elitist and selfish view of life. The author makes no judgement nor implies bad character or virtue on this proud father. Rather it is merely an observation over how distant we have traveled from our fellow-humanity, while walking (at times unconsciously) deeper into our egocentric world.
In closing, we do not have to just look to Wall Street in search of greed. It is easily found at our dinner tables, social settings and in our thoughts. For Wall Street is just the collective results of our individual intentions.
The author would be quite remiss, for not taking this time to say Thank you to all those upon whom this column was made possible by the sweat of their brows, and calloused hands.
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired Professor of Business, Consultant, Writer, Playwright, Author, Columnist, Innocent Bystander, and Critic-at-Large. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org