Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blaming Boomers for the Bail Out

The stock market crash provides more fodder for the generation wars. Becky C., a libertarian Arizona GenXer who blogs on "Just a Girl in Short Shorts," uses the occasion to engaged in some spirited Boomer bashing, putting a generational spin on the $700 billion government bail-out of the financial sector.

"In the last few months as their 401(k)s started slipping in value--- who would a guessed it—here come the Boomers. It instantly became imperative that the federal government bail them out. Who ever promised them that the stock market would go up in value for ever and ever? ...

"If you are a Boomer the operative word is entitlement-- and you will get all those things which you so richly deserve--even if it is necessary to mortgage the country and your children's future. Who cares about that—the kids and grandkids will pay the bill—and they will be happy to do it—because you are all so special."
As far as Becky C. is concerned, Boomers are pretty much the source of all problems. We Boomers are "worthless and hollow." We drive giant SUVs and suck up oil. We eat at McDonalds and get fat. Politically, we've totally sold out. Instead of saving the world, we're padding our wallets.

We've heard a lot of this before, and much of it is wildly off base -- even if it comes from a hot blogger in short shorts. Boomers, for all their flaws, are not the ones who set up the Social Security and Medicare systems to bankrupt the country. Those were creations of the New Deal and Great Society, with modifications by various presidents since then, and Boomers played little role in creating them. If Becky C. is looking for the guilty parties who have fought off every effort to put those programs on an actuarially sounder basis, she should take a drive through one of the massive retirement communities in her own state of Arizona, which she'll find comprised mainly of members of the Silent and G.I. generations.

Far from feeling entitled to an early, financially secure retirement, Boomers are the first American generation since... well, since forever... that has abandoned the dream of retiring at an earlier age than the preceding generation. The latest evidence, which reinforces numerous earlier reports, comes from a Sun Life Financial study. Nearly half the respondents said that they expected to work past 67 -- a sentiment that was strongest in the 50-59 Boomer age bracket. Only six years ago, the average retirement age was 62.

So, take that, hot pants!
(Photo credit: "Just a Girl in Short Shorts" blog.


Groveton said...

But Boomers were the people who elected politician after politician who was willing to buy votes by spending more than they take in. I'm a boomer but I am disgusted with my generation. From the hippies who stopped being hippies the day the draft ended to the disco and cocaine crowd to the Wall Street "Greed is Good" gang to the "oh, the government needs to bail me out" posse. This really is The Worst Generation.

Jim Bacon said...

I agree with you that our generation has been remarkably self indulgent. But I do give Boomers credit for this: They're not blaming their ill-preparedness for retirement on others. In survey after survey, they say they're willing to work longer than previous generations did.

Let me ask you about your retirement plans. Is your ambition in life to retire at 62 and never work again?

Groveton said...

I guess I'm lucky - I am 49 and well prepared for retirement - financially at least. I've spent the last 28 years getting prepared to retire. I certainly caught some good economic breaks over the years so I am probably the exception. I don't have to blame anybody for being ill-prepared to retire because I am well prepared to retire.

I don't need a government pension - I need something to do. And I think that's a trend for the future. Some Baby Boomers will keep working because they didn't save enough money. Some will keep working because they took too much risk in their retirement portfolios and lost their retirement funds. And some, like me, will keep working because we need something to do. As the Boomers get older and retire there will be a demographic vacuum. One way to help fill that vacuum is with semi-retired Boomers like me. I don't want to make a fortune, I don't want a second career. I just want to work at something I find interesting and have enough flexibility to do some of the things I postponed over the last 28 years. Maybe I'll become a blogger! Or, get an early start with the GenX Project. However, until then, if the Boomer Project ever figures out how to use the vast army of Boomers going into semi-retirement over the next 10 years let me know.

Lynn said...

One of the major reasons for the current poor economic meltdown is due to the collapse of the famous mortgage backed securities investments that almost every financial institution in America had invested in. They had historically been very safe investments.
It was the new creative forms of home financing that allowed less qualified home buyers to finance their home purchases. Then when their interest rates were adjusted upward they could no longer make their mortgage payments. Then the investments that held these mortgages began to fail as more and more mortgaes went into default.
Last but not least, many Boomers are choosing to continue to work into their late 60's due the retention of employer health insurance benefits. Health insurance premiums are very high when you get older. Budgeting your insurance premiums for retirement is a major consideration now.

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