CNBC recently aired a program entitled Boomerangst about the trials and tribulations of the baby-boomers. For me it was love at first sight of the word boomerangst I love words with multiple analyses and this one is a world-class prize-winner.
The word was not original with the writers at CNBC. It was taken from the title of a wrenching, almost black comedy of a novel by Margo Phillips that was published in 2000. I love the word because, behind the straightforward analysis of this word, boomer-angst, lurks another, even more telling one: boomerang-st. If this word is used to refer to a phenomenon that came back to bite us, it is lexical jewel nonpareil.
I think it could be interpreted in this light. The baby boom after World War II was a key factor in the economic recovery not only of North American, but of Europe and the Far East, as well. American productivity shot up as these men returned to work while at the same time buying cars, buying and furnishing houses, and returning to colleges that made them even more productive.
But all the profit generated by the baby-boomers (I could do an article on this word, too) is, in fact, now boomeranging as we struggle with ways to meet our social security obligations to them. They are beginning to come out of the workplace and, as a result of the even greater productivity created by computers and robots, the are being replaced by fewer and fewer workers expected to shoulder the cost of their (the baby-boomers’) social security.
Because of its dual analysis, boomerangst can be used: (1) to indicate the angst of the baby-boomers in a weak job market and (2) the nation’s angst at the social security problem. In fact, because the two templates of this word merge, it is difficult to separate the two senses. Congratulations, Margo Phillips, for an intriguing entry, however ephemeral, in the English vocabulary.