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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 / February 25, 2010

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.

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“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.”

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.)

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