Baby boomers are about to shoulder a heavy burden of blame.
Doctors have long warned, and still warn, that as boomers become seniors - the first wave turns 66 this year - their aches, pains and chronic illnesses will put a serious strain on the health-care system.
But boomers are in for another nasty shock, socially and economically. As they reach retirement age, they will realize their generation's youthful yearning for a just and egalitarian society remains unfulfilled, an improbable dream of the 1960s.
Economic inequality is going to hit a lot of boomers as suddenly as hip or knee pain. They will retire, look around and realize that their standard of living has instantly dropped below that of some of their peers.
Why? Because they don't have a public-service pension.
The recent Canada Post lockout can help put this situation into focus.
You can agree postal workers deserve a decent wage, benefits and pension, and that the Conservative government's back-to-work legislation was callous and ignorant, implementing a wage increase that was even less than what Canada Post's own negotiators had offered.
But there are broader, less apparent issues involved.
Typically, the NDP seemed oblivious to these larger issues, and predictably jumped on side with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers by staying up late for an all-night filibuster. It looks good in the next day's newspaper, but Union Jack - as one witty wag dubbed NDP Leader Jack Layton - should broaden his scope.
After all, it is possible to be leftist and pro-union and still point out that the demands of public-sector unions are leading to more inequality, not less.
Baby boomers, as they reach retirement age, are going to discover this dilemma quite quickly and bluntly.
There will be three classes of boomer retirees: at the top will be those who had government jobs, and have a public-service pension; in the middle will be those who worked in private industry and whose employer offered a pension plan; at the bottom will be the masses, the grey peasantry who toiled in private industry or self-employment and had no pension plan, and thus will have to survive on a meagre retirement income from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security.
A recent Statistics Canada report points to what is coming. Only 39 per cent of Canadian workers have a pension plan through their employer.
That number drops to 25 per cent among workers employed by private industry.
In contrast, 80 per cent of people on a government payroll - civil servants, postal workers, teachers, university employees, health-care workers - have a workplace pension plan.
This pension disparity is essentially a three-tiered system that will result is huge inequalities among retirees.
Strangely enough, the awful prospect of a two-tiered health-care system raises loud cries of opposition, but the current three-tiered pension system is accepted with eerie silence.
To add to the injustice, those on the bottom and middle tiers of the pension pile are paying for - and subsidizing - those who are in the top tier.
The union movement has long ignored the vast differences faced by public-sector workers and private-sector workers.
They prefer the comforting rhetoric that says what's good for one is good for all.
This is mere self-justification.
A raise and better pensions for postal workers will not do a whit for people working the counters at Tim Hortons or the floors of Wal-Mart.
To assuage their apparent guilt, the NDP is now - finally - pushing for improvements to the CPP, which even some Tories recognize is due.
The unions are lagging, especially those representing public-sector workers.
As George Orwell might say of the situation, all unions and workers are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Brian Jones is a unionized desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.