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When generation X went to war against the baby boomers

Decades before the brush-off "OK boomer" became popular, members of generation X may have been first to express their resentment of baby boomers.

'Where would the young people be today if it wasn't for the baby boom?'

"Where would young people be today if it wasn't for the baby boom?" he asked in 1995. 1:03

In case you're just catching up with the "OK boomer" craze, CBC Kids News has a handy explainer.

As one vendor of "OK boomer"' merchandise explained it, the phrase is a way to say "whatever" instead of getting into an argument with an older adult.

It's a dismissive brush-off directly calling out members of the so-called "baby boom" generation anytime they criticize a younger person. 

But generational discord directed at baby boomers didn't begin with millennials or those that came next, often referred to as generation Z

It started with generation X.

'They got the jobs'

"God love the baby boomers, eh? Where would the young people be today if it wasn't for the baby boom?" asked Rick Mercer, then a burgeoning CBC personality on This Hour Has 22 Minutes. 

"What would the future hold? God knows, but maybe a job for starters. Never mind a hope in hell of ever seeing a pension." 

It was 1995, and Mercer was a 25-year-old who also filed short rants on the CBC Halifax news program 1st Edition, usually pacing angrily with a gritty outdoor backdrop.   

"The baby boomers ... got the jobs, they kept the jobs, and when they leave their jobs, their jobs are cancelled, leaving: no more jobs," Mercer went on.

Discord began in 1989

The boomers aren't going anywhere in 1989, and younger people who form generation X find it frustrating. 1:33

Mercer wasn't the first gen-Xer to call out the boomers.

In 1989, CBC's The Journal aired a documentary by Montreal's Josh Freed, probing generational resentment against baby boomers.

"Most [boomers] are firmly ensconced in various positions in the workplace," said pollster Allan Gregg. "Generation X recognizes that there is a real blockage, a real impediment in terms of their aspirations."

Pierre Gaude, a young newspaper writer working on a series of contracts, gave his perspective on the boomers that came before him.

"If you happen to land in a particular job at a particular time ... you've got a job for life," he said. "It's like winning the lottery."

But Gaude said once his generation entered the workforce, things were different.

"My turn comes around — 'Oh, sorry. Sorry. Gosh, it's over. The game ended. You came too late.'" 

Mercer's rant six years later expressed the same sentiment.

"And now, with the longest life expectancy rate of any group since the beginning of time, they're going to gallivant along and collect a pension until the funds are all gone or they're all 106, whatever comes first."