“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
“The main source of good discipline is growing up in a loving family, being loved and learning to love in return.”
On which end of the disciplinary spectrum does your philosophy lie? First published in 1946, The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care, sold 500,000 copies within six months. In the half century that followed, its sales were only surpassed by that of the Bible. Dr. Spock’s thinking, would for better or worse, infuse that of an entire generation of parents, those who emerged from the ravages of World War II, and had families in a big way, spawned the Baby Boomers. A poll taken around the time of the release found 64% of American mothers had read the book. Suffice it to say, Spock was all about the freedom of any choice you could imagine, from impulsive behavior to potty training.
Without choices, creative juices are stanched. Few among the generation who were there personally, or the generations that have followed and watched Woodstock documentaries in disbelief, would ever argue that the Boomer generation was bereft of creativity, or freedoms.
More even than Spock, a member of the Silent Generation, would validate the Boomers’ need to indulge. Upon assuming the realm of Chairman of the Federal Reserve, one Alan Greenspan, born in 1926, reveled in “being loved.” Consider this excerpt from a Wall Street Journal review by Randall Krozner of Sebastian Mallaby’s 2016 Greenspan biography:
“‘Greenspan’s cult status had come to depend upon continual growth, exuberant finance, and miraculously low unemployment.’ The problem is moral hazard. If the Fed responds when markets turn down but doesn’t suppress exuberance when markets are up, private actors will have an incentive to take on more risk than they otherwise would. This can undermine natural market discipline. Mr. Mallaby believes that in his responses to negative shocks, Mr. Greenspan crossed the line from being the ‘guru’—’the man who knew’—to becoming the ‘guardian angel.’”
It’s impossible to overstate the effect this one man had on the Boomer generation, and of course the Yuppies, those ‘young urban professionals’ who lived high but even higher when you tacked on the credit card debt their parents eschewed. You should be familiar with my recounting: In the weeks and months that followed the market crash of 1987, Greenspan sanctioned the New York Fed’s leaking to bond desks the Fed’s intent to inject liquidity into the financial system beforehand. This initial move gave Boomers their first taste of moral hazard. Shockingly, as the crash passed as fast as it had arrived, the taste was a delight to the taste buds.
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Danielle DiMartino Booth is founder and Chief Strategist at Quill Intelligence
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