Did Woodstock hippies lead to US financial collapse?

A conservative activist says hippies-turned-boomers are responsible for excessive spending, the mortgage crisis, and recklessness on Wall Street. He tells the story in his film, 'Generation Zero.'

By , Staff writer

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    A couple sleeping on their car as fans go to the Woodstock music festival in 1969.
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A new film is gaining traction among tea-party followers for suggesting that the collapse of the US financial system has roots dating back 40 years to the Summer of Love.

“Generation Zero,” a film set to premiere in March, examines what producer David Bossie says is a “historic perspective on a generational change” that led to the September 2008 bank collapse. Mr. Bossie says generational narcissism, as represented by the 1969 Woodstock Festival, is responsible for the excessive spending, mortgage crisis, and recklessness on Wall Street.

“The people who were at Woodstock turned into the yuppies of the '80s and the junk bond traders of the '90s and the Wall Street executives of the 2000s,” he says. “They went from Woodstock to driving a Jaguar.”

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Defending baby boomers

Quantifying baby boomers as yuppies is a familiar position taken by conservative groups, says Leonard Steinhorn, author of “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy.”

Mr. Steinhorn says it is common for boomers to become a target, because their generation helped “reverse the social order of the '50s” by creating civil rights for blacks, women, and gays, and by helping address issues such as environmental pollution.

“Not every boomer was a hippie, but the normative structure of the baby-boom generation has been for a more inclusive, equal, and free society, and so if you have problem with that, you’re going to have problem with boomers,” he says. (Monitor op-ed on boomers as volunteers here.)

Citizens United, Bossie’s company, is no stranger to controversial topics that take aim at liberals or their causes.

The company was at the center of a recent US Supreme Court case involving “Hillary: The Movie,” a documentary it produced that showed then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in an unfavorable light. The high court overturned a provision of the McCain-Feingold law that barred the use of political advertisements created or paid for by independent parties. (Monitor analysis of the Supreme Court decision here.)

Before his tenure at Citizens United, Bossie was a chief investigator in the Whitewater hearings and he also led investigations into alleged finance abuses in Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

'Tea partiers' love the movie

Early this month, a screening of the film was warmly received at both the National Tea Party Convention and the Conservative Political Action Conference. From there, it was the subject of an hour-long special on FOX News hosted by Sean Hannity.

Bossie says the attention may mean an eventual theatrical release. At the moment, it is available only via DVD from the movie’s website.

The film, which features commentary from conservative pundits such as Charles Krauthammer, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Morris, offers no concluding message other than a plea to control government spending. Bossie adds that blame is shared among both Democrats and Republicans for failing to do so.

“The political correctness of not wanting to say ‘no’ took hold not in 1999; it started in 1969,” he says.

Steinhorn, who also teaches at American University's School of Communication, says that type of position is unfair and has ulterior motives.

“As a conservative, if you can trivialize what boomers have done, to create a false hippie-to-yuppie paradigm, then your goal is to trivialize all these remarkable changes to our society in the last forty years,” he says. “Changes that made us a far more equal, free, inclusive, and environmentally conscious society than we’ve ever been before.”

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