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The Globe's Public Editor, Sylvia Stead

On Saturday, the centrepiece on the front page of The Globe and Mail pointed to an excellent series called "The Boomer Shift" in Report on Business.

The articles weren't just for baby boomers but for society at large. The stories were about how this dramatic shift in demographics will reshape our economy and whether governments and Canadians are really ready for the expected economic downturn. The series continues this week.

A column by Barrie McKenna looked at the "looming threat of intergenerational inequality" and warned of the "future burden [that] will fall heavily on a smaller generation of younger workers. These younger workers may have to pay more in taxes, and get less back in services."

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The main headline certainly tapped into that intergenerational issue.

"So long, suckers. Good luck with the next couple decades," the smiling boomer couple said, fists in the air.

A handful of readers were offended by the words, calling the treatment flippant. "I mean who were the slap-head, knuckle-dragging headline writers who gratuitously subverted what was supposed to be a serious look at an economic issue stemming from a demographic reality? It was a cheap shot designed to stir up inter-generational conflict which, in my experience, does not exist," said one reader.

One wrote to say it sparked an intergenerational debate in her own family. The first e-mail said: "My husband and I are boomers, those lucky people soon to retire. But we are NOT the callous, in your face boomers depicted on your Saturday front page. 'So long, suckers' and 'Good luck with the next couple of decades' – what were you thinking?!.… a better representation of our generation would go a long way toward public discourse rather than cheap and easy opportunities as depicted on your front page."

Then she heard from her children who told her they had no problem with the treatment and saw the photo as tongue-in-cheek. "Ours is a case of different generations, different perspectives… perhaps," she said.

Gabe Gonda, The Globe's Head of Features and Weekend, said the words were "meant to be a bit cheeky and distill the anxiety and frustration that Canadians feel about this looming fiscal challenge that so many didn't help create and have little power to control or benefit from."

As a boomer myself, I was not offended, and while I found the words both provocative and cheeky, the display pushed me, as it was meant, to go straight to the series. I have no doubt it sparked a good debate in some households and that's probably a good thing.

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