Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Candy Store Generation, Part 3: Even the Corporations

The Baby Boomers, who I'm calling the Candy Store Generation, could also be called the Instant Generation. Instant food, instant prosperity, instant news, instant answers, instant replay, instant resolution. Things moved fast for us. En-mass, we entered grade school mostly in the 1950s, high school in the 1960s, college in the late 60s and early 70s, the work force in the 70s, toiled under old codgers in the 80s, and finally entered management in the 1990s as the "Greatest" generation had almost all retired.

By the 2000s we were running the corporations; we were stockholders--sometimes major stockholders; we ran the mutual funds; we called the shots. Among the worker bees who filled the ranks of corporate employees, while the next generation had begun to join us, most of the workers who produced most of the good and services were being produced by Baby Boomers. So we made the products, provided services, managed the companies, received the dividends, and benefited from stock price increases. Or, if we weren't yet to the point of being stockholders, our parents were, and they would soon be assuming room temperature and those stocks would be ours.

So what did we do with all this influence? As the instant generation, we expected instant results for our money. Stockholders demanded dividends each quarter and rising stock prices. Corporate boards, being of the same mind themselves, were quite happy to oblige the stockholders. CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and all the other C--Os, being of the same mind themselves, were quite happy to manage the businesses that way. So the focus became extremely short-term, only to the end of the next quarter.

I wanted to develop this train of thought more, but suddenly I'm out of ideas or words. Hopefully I have painted a clear picture. We, the Baby Boomers, being in the candy store, ran our economy with such a short-term focus that long-term success was improbable if not impossible.


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