(CNN)Editor's Note: Generation whining has become nearly a national pastime. Millennials say they have it the worst. Generation X feels neglected. Baby boomers are tired of being called narcissistic. In articles and cartoons everywhere -- from CNN to The New York Times to Gizmodo and beyond -- critics call out this generation's sense of entitlement, that generation's self-absorption. We invited writers, activists and CNN contributors from different generations to hash it out.
Which generation has it worse?
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I belong to generation X, which might as well be called the interstitial generation. We're the cohort everyone skips over — the all-but-invisible slice of 50 million fortysomethings, jammed in between the self-satisfied boomers and self-indulgent millennials.
Yet, despite our generation's small size and overlooked status, we've nevertheless been handed the job of being America's cultural roadies, stuck with the grotty work of cleaning up a world-stage festooned with the detritus of decades of boomer indulgence, while simultaneously setting it for the triumphant arrival of the millennial headliners to come. (Plus we're raising the post-millennials to not be like their unappreciative grandparents and big siblings.) We gave the world the smartphone, the Internet and the social media revolution. In return, the world called us slackers. Is there any wonder we're bitter?
Jeff Yang is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal Online and contributes frequently to radio shows, including PRI's "The Takeaway" and WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show." He is the co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action."
Sixteen years ago I wrote in Esquire, "The baby boomers are the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history."
Nearly a generation later, I stand by every word. In fact, I'd like to double down on it. Boomers: Worst. Generation. Ever.
In the intervening years, George W. Boomer ran up trillions in debt. He and fellow boomer Dick Cheney sent hundreds of thousands of younger, better men and women into combat (a chore each declined to do in their youth). The bill for their misdeeds -- in blood and treasure -- has been handed off to generations X, Y, Z, etc. (To be fair to the boomers, the other boomer-in-chief, my old boss Bill Clinton, embraced the best legacy of his generation, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, while returning America to greatest generation-era economics: a budget surplus and a jobs boom.)
I'm at the tail end of the boom. Like President Obama, I was born in 1961. But the main boomer tsunami is hitting the shores of old age, the time in life when folks are most needy. They will need Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Meals-on-Wheels, nursing care and more. But they need not worry. Their children and grandchildren are more selfless, more service-oriented and far more committed to the common good. The irony is that while the greatest generation spawned the worst, it looks like the worst generation has given us another greatest generation.