Are baby boomers taking too much from everyone else?

A key question came up in our email the other day; it came from BoomerCafé’s Ranter-In-Residence, Maryland resident and author Carrier Slocomb. But he’s not asking the question; he’s hearing it, and not liking it. The question is, Are baby boomers taking too much from everyone else?

You’re a boomer so you’ve heard the question being asked yourself. But while it seems extreme, we should take the question seriously, because it suggests that boomers consume more resources than any other age group on our planet.

Carrier Slocomb

Carrier Slocomb

Dateline Maryland:  Our son’s friend reports that he lives in his parents’ basement, has a mammoth college debt, can’t find work to justify his degree, and is so under-employed that he and his girlfriend can’t begin to dream about settling down. He adds, “Know what bugs us? That you old farts have such a death-grip on everything.”

Younger people aren’t the only ones saying this; so are many of our peers. What’s your opinion? Are we taking more than our fair share from those generations coming up behind us?

Worldwide, there are about 450-million boomers, making us a hefty generational group. Politically and commercially we’re a powerhouse, and we will be until the day we fade away. Criticism against us remains unapologetic though; in fact we’re often compared to enormous deer herds stripping bare everyone else’ range. I guess when your worldwide birth-group matches the current populations of the United States and Russia combined, you’re bound to do damage.

We baby boomers achieved things in our lives.

We baby boomers achieved things in our lives.

Yet there’s this nagging feeling that everything was fine and everyone was fine with us while we were part of the workforce. We earned paychecks, bought stuff, and paid our taxes. Now, we’re retiring; leaving towns, cities, states, and the nation to roll elsewhere. Is it possible that with so many boomers leaving the workforce, tremendous shortfalls are felt in tax bases everywhere -– federal, state, local, property, wages, and sales? This means that essential services, stable home prices, roads, new factories and schools can’t seriously be allocated for, right?

And because every one of us sees life most clearly at the local level, people everywhere are making large, pardonable mistakes about who boomers are. Not to mention, what we’ve contributed. So the question is: Are we parasitic deer, doing in everyone’s precious rose bushes? Or worse, are we noxious grubs tunneling into what’s left of the world’s social net?

carrier_watch-money

The world economy is stressed out with or without our efforts, but are stressors, like massive tax shortfalls, happening because we’re retiring and shedding our assets? Aren’t many of us doing the only thing we can, relying on Social Security and Medicare to get us through? This might be the heart of the debate -– that we boomers are eating into social funds during less affluent times, and because we’re such a massive group, everyone’s certain we’ll destroy their future funding.

carrier_note

Admittedly fortunes have changed — America’s, ours’, and the world’s. It’s no secret that we boomers came up during cheaper decades. This gave us years to buy what we have and to build equity, something young people can’t do easily in this costly era. Does this make us a huge, ravenous herd possessing an economic death-grip?

America is an amazingly dynamic place -– you can still bank on US. Of all the countries in the world, the U.S. still remains the best place to build a business. It’s also important to remember that down economies always reverse themselves. So please don’t go culling us old farts out of the woods, not just yet.

7 Comments

  1. No, I don’t think baby boomers are “taking it all.”

    What’s happening is corporations are squeezing workers harder and harder. The Great Recession hit, they’re doing better, but they aren’t hiring back workers to pre-recession levels. They learned they could get more work out of people, so they aren’t hiring more workers or paying workers more.

    It’s what corporations have done for decades, set workers against each other.

  2. I think every generation including ours has probably tried to claim we deserve more than we really do. And I think every generation, including ours, has blamed the one before them for screwing up the world. As for being “noxious grubs” (I love that description!), until, we can all start looking at ourselves and quit pointing fingers at who is to blame for the economy, the environment or whatever, we’ll just keep going in the same circles, maybe each one a little more high tech than the one before, but the same core issues.

  3. I think much of the criticism (yes, I’ve heard it) is misguided and uninformed. That said, as the generation who came of age in the disposable diapers, paper plates, plastic bags and a plethora of other landfill-stuffing items, while in many cases idly watching as our corporations polluted our waters, land and air (yes, I include myself in this corps), I do believe we have a responsibility to give back to the planet that has sacrificed so much for us. Good, thought-provoking post.

  4. Thank you all for your own provoking comments. I like the various angles you’re coming from. Good to know we feel something for the issue but not so great knowing that it’s the next generation or two that writes our definitive history.

  5. One thing to remember is that it’s not that there are too many of us, it’s that there aren’t enough of them. In our infinite wisdom, we chose not to have as many children, believing that the planet’s and mankind’s destruction could be forestalled by reducing the number of people. We’ve also instilled them a sense of entitlement, promising that they would have everything we had and more and not being able to deliver. Our politicians have chosen to kick the problem down the road repeatedly, putting their selfish desire to maintain their grip on the reins of government ahead of doing what needs to be done to ensure that future generations get to enjoy at least what our generation got.

    The biggest corporation and the greatest threat to our way of life is government at all levels, local, national, and international.

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