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Some baby boomers I know (and like quite a lot!) who are able to respond well to discussions of sexism and racism are really struggling with the concept of generational privilege. I'm getting a lot of, "But I had to work hard to get where I am! I'm not responsible for how things are!" Often accompanied by a deer-in-the-headlights expression.

And I tell them, yes I know you had to work. But it's the same as with other forms of privilege: the advantage of when you were born has meant that the work you put in was more meaningful. Hard work was necessary, but also a sure bet most of the time.

If you're a white male Boomer and you worked hard in pursuit of a thing, chances are you got the thing! Whereas that's been less and less true for younger generations. We work hard ... and don't get the promotion that was vaguely alluded to when we were hired. We work hard, and get laid off anyhow. We go to college and work hard to get good grades ... and graduate with massive debt and only marginally better job prospects. (I did not graduate with massive debt myself; I got lucky with regard to scholarships and college being cheap enough to work my way through, and us Gen-Xers were I think the last generation to find that kind of luck.)

I was talking last night with one of my best Boomer friends, and he was reminiscing about the time he worked for CompuServe: "They paid tuition for staff. If you got a college degree while you were there, it meant an *automatic* promotion and pay increase!"

And I replied, "That's cool. That sounds really nice. Contrast that with my being an adjunct creative writing instructor. I got my MFA in creative writing while I was working there, with no help from that particular university. I figured it would at least solidify my position there? Maybe open up other opportunities? But they don't seem to care. If anything things have gotten worse for me there in terms of the money I make."

He blinked. "They don't care that you got a terminal creative writing degree? But that makes you a better, more knowledgeable instructor! How can they not care?"

Me: "Apparently it's very easy to not care about adjunct instructors!"

And that cuts to a lot of the things that get a response of "OK Boomer": the assumption certain Boomers make that any financial predicament suffered by younger folks is the result of just not trying hard enough.

And it is so, so frustrating to have someone who's pulling down a six-figure household income from a single job that they were able to land without a college degree tell you that when you're working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and making maybe a third of what they are. And then you try to explain that, and then they start talking about "well when I was young I had to pay my dues, too." And then you just want to flip a table.

I feel like I've been paying dues for about 25 years now. My day job resume is a series of jobs that require a high level of knowledge -- tech support, content editing, network operations -- that were nonetheless considered "entry level" and had no path to advancement. Or they've been contract gigs like my adjuncting job where you're always contingent and fundamentally disposable. There is no end of that in sight. I've been hitting not just glass ceilings but glass walls. And I know it's even worse for people younger than me. Like, a lot worse, in particular because of that crushing college debt I was old enough to avoid.

Are systems improving or degrading? What criteria do we use to answer the question?

I will attempt to answer the above questions, using modern and traditional agriculture for food production as an example. To that end, the accepted agricultural practice of striving for maximum yields without much regard to the impact on soil seems to provide an intriguing thought experiment.

The key driver in this example seems to be economic competition. If a food producer is to compete in the free market, they are forced to use every technology available to maximize yield, even though they know it is degrading the soil! Is soil an important factor in agriculture? Ask a farmer. So why is this continuing? Economic competition. A farm that doesn't compete in the capitalist market doesn't produce a profit, which means, like any business, it will eventually fail.

Small farmers understand this conflict and some have come up with impressive ways to achieve the (seemingly impossible) goal of competing even while improving the soil. Problem solved? There's at least one problem with that solution. What is happening to small farms? Are they on the increase or are they going the way of the dinosaur? The answer for most of my lifetime has been the latter. Large corporations have been forcing many small farmers out of business for a couple of generations.

Recently there appears to be a countertrend that is small but rapidly growing. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, the answer seems to lie in getting smaller. We're talking really small here. Somewhere between the huge corporate mega-farms and the traditional small commercial farm a new paradigm is emerging. The new systems are often overlooked simply because they are almost ridiculously small. How on earth can a farm that is less than an acre in size be economically feasible? The answer is a bit beyond the scope of this thought experiment but one name comes to mind. Curtis Stone, urban farmer, is teaching people how to produce a decent income by producing crops on as little as a quarter acre of land. This means that the "farm" can be a patch of green that used to be called a yard. I'll provide a link below for those who want to explore this further.

I never said it was easy. There is some investment required, less than $10,000 if land is available (Stone used his own yard and other yards nearby). The point is, the system is already profitable and it can be replicated. Enough people are applying themselves to improving methods and tools that the system is becoming more and more efficient. This business model for vegetable production gives me hope because it not only grows abundant food, it does so in a way that improves the soil, rather than degrading it.

The video I selected is one in which Curtis is visiting one of his students who farmed part time on less than a quarter acre of land for the past two years. He is now farming full time, still on less than a quarter acre of land. Key point: Rather than increase the amount of land under cultivation, the emphasis is on making the system more efficient. With this video we are skipping past most the basics because I think it's important to hear them discuss some of the mistakes made and some of the steps that are being taken to improve the process. The basics are thoroughly covered in Curtis Stone's book (not a sales pitch, just access to information) and in a ton of other videos on his channel and many others.

Video: Crushing it solo on less than one quarter acre!

Definitely not a good day. During the evening my granddaughter was bit on the face by a dog. She was with her mom and her little brother at Mom's Friend house when it happened. Turtle (my granddaughter's nickname) was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where they had to put in eight stitches on her lip. She'll have a scar, poor thing. While it could have been worse, it still sucks.

I was reading the first post by Lucy-S and I can definitely see where she's coming from. I'm much older than she is (and one of the last of the Boomer generation), and I have experienced a mix of Boomer and GenX issues, particularly since I also used to teach as an adjunct in several colleges. The educational scene was the first one where I noticed that no matter how one improved themselves or how much work they put into the job, it was like being in quicksand where the rewards were always just out of reach. I was also in the technical field (hardware and networking), but I always had a better-paying position most likely because I was an older dude. An Italian older dude, which is now considered caucasian. I know I had things easier, so I always tried to pull along and supported folks who worked hard and had a good tech mindset. This almost bit me in the ass when I was teaching electronics repair in Thailand and told the company to have a woman be the supervisor for the group. I had to fight with them to get her that position but she not only had a Master's but she aced the entire series of courses. The position came with a hefty pay bump, which I also had to fight with the corporate drones to make sure she got it. Grrr...

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