The cacophony of discontent emanating from millennials towards Baby Boomers is cause for concern. In the interest of providing some balance to the postings on PolicyMic, this essay outlines some of the more important issues that are important to my generation.
The wealth that Boomers accumulated has been decimated by a series of financial crises beginning with the internet bubble and now with the Great Recession. Huge equity stakes in homes have been lost and pension fund assets are significantly lower, dramatically impacting the projected life styles of Boomers who are approaching retirement. Many would say it is the fault of Boomers who were duped during the housing bubble, but is it fair to criticize the optimism that was created by 1990s housing prices? And how can you blame Boomers for the performance of their pension fund assets?
The employment situation for Boomers has not been good either. Many have lost their jobs at relatively advanced ages during the recession just around the time that they were considering retirement. Seniors depend upon the income generated during the last years of their careers to set the stage for the ensuing “quiet years.” But, it has not worked out well for a large number of them. A growing percentage is looking for work. Quite few Boomers have resigned themselves to the fact that they must work far beyond the time they had hoped.
The retirement and other benefits many Boomers earned during their careers are under assault by the federal and state governments. Frankly, neither can afford to live up to the contracts they made in the 80s, 90s and into the new millennium. This, of course, is a tragedy, and Boomers are now not as secure as they hoped to be at this stage of their lives.
Social Security and Medicare are now the focus of government bureaucrats who seek to slash benefits, even after Boomers have contributed to them over several decades. These entitlements, that most thought were sacrosanct, may soon be reduced in a way that puts Boomers under great duress.
A very significant esoteric financial problem has emerged during the elongated period of low interest rates. No longer can a retiree buy safe investments and live off of the income. The rates are so low that investors must now dig into their principal to pay for daily living expenses.
When PolicyMic commentators decry the “performance” of Boomers, it seems ironic, as so many millennials are now once again reliant on their parents. They need supplemental financial help, money to pay for college, money to buy cars, money to vacation, and some even need a room to sleep in because they cannot afford rent. Where do millennials go during hard times?
To their parents, who else?
Most of all, Boomers are disappointed and saddened by the plight of their children. It is expensive to go to college and own a home. It is difficult to find any job, much less ones that are commensurate with one’s educational background and former experience. It will be difficult for millennials to equal, much less exceed, the financial success of their parents, a dream most parents have for their offspring.
Boomers also are very concerned about our partisan government, the environment that is poisoning their children and grandchildren every day, the federal government’s inability to walk away from conflict overseas and the cries among certain politicians and activists to emasculate our capitalistic system.
Our golden years are not so wonderful. Boomers share the pain of all those who were born into a world that is currently struggling with so many problems. We are responsible for many of the hardships our fellow Americans must endure. But, we have contributed a lot during our time that is unappreciated by a large number of those we begot.