We’re Here. We’re Angry. And It’s About Time Someone Listened To Us

July 13, 2009

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.
 
Turning 46-63 in 2009 and making up about one-third of the US population, America’s vast Baby Boom generation may now be the angriest cohort in recent US history.
 
If Demographics is Destiny, that fate seems to have turned violently against us recently, as our generation has collectively borne the brunt of a seemingly unending series of social and economic events, from outsourcing and the hollowing out of America’s manufacturing base to the collapse of home equity financing and the recent drop in home prices to last year’s stock market crash and its demolition of a lifetime of hard-earned savings.
 
Now, a well-organized – and often heavy-handed – propaganda campaign seeks to push Boomers off center stage in our nation’s political, economic, and cultural life, while we are still very much in our prime and in the age range normally considered the peak of one’s capacity for achievement, productivity, and earnings.
 
Nearly every Boomer I know is angry about this state of affairs – angry at our government, at both major political parties, at the economic and media Establishments which are trying so desperately to marginalize us at the very moment our problems and concerns need to be taken more seriously, if this nation is to regain its footing as the Land of Promise and Plenty it used to be.
 
This series, Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, will attempt to make sense of what our still powerful and influential, but deeply troubled and perplexed generation is feeling right now.
 
We will seek to hear from, talk to, and present the stories of Baby Boomers from every region and from a range of educational, professional, and political backgrounds – those who believe they’re doing well and those who think they’ve hit a brick wall; those who think things are getting better and those who think they’re getting worse; those who are hopeful and those whose hope has fled.
 
Some stories in the series will be humorous, others dead serious. We’ll hear from experts and pundits of various kinds. But we’ll also hear from your neighbors, your friends, your colleagues, your brothers and sisters – and maybe from you
 
If you’re a Baby Boomer living in the US or Canada, I’d love to talk with you. I’ve set up a new Internet E-mail address just for this series: angrygeneration at optonline.net.
 
We can correspond by E-mail only, or we can talk over the phone. And while I must be able to confirm your identity and that you’re a Baby Boomer, I will identify you by name in future articles only if you give me your permission. If you care to comment anonymously, I will honor your request to the letter.
 
I’d be especially interested in talking with people with these specific backgrounds:
   
     **Engineers and others whose jobs and/or manufacturing companies were lost or destroyed because of the “hollowing out” of the US manufacturing base the past couple of decades.
 
     **IT professionals and others whose jobs and/or small to midsize companies were lost or destroyed, as large parts of their sectors were “outsourced” to other countries, either earlier in this decade or within the past few years.
 
     **Anyone believing their jobs or small to midsize businesses have been either hurt or helped by the influx in immigration within the past decade.
 
     **Those whose professional lives and/or life’s savings have been badly impacted by the recent market crash. I’d like to hear from both “passive” investors and from active traders or managers of small funds which have been hurt.
 
     **Financial sector professionals, including attorneys and bankers, whose careers have come to a temporary grinding halt.
 
     **Anyone hurt by the housing debacle, including employees in the real estate, mortgage, or construction sectors.
 
     **People coping with rising college costs, medical emergencies, or the contingencies of aiding aging parents.
 
     **Nonprofit managers, social workers, and local political leaders, coping with the effects of economic distress in their own communities.
 
If you belong to none of the above categories, but would like to have your voice heard, you are very welcome!
 
As this series develops, I hope that we will begin to hear The Voice of a Generation, telling politicians and others in positions of influence that far from being willing to settle for less than is our due, Baby Boomers are already fighting back hard to regain our prominent position in national affairs.
 
We already make up the greatest proportion of US small business owners, and a new burst of entrepreneurial spirit among Boomers is now at hand.
 
Far from playing second fiddle to younger Americans in technological matters, Baby Boomers are in the forefront establishing companies based on new technologies.
 
We still dominate managerial positions in sectors crucial to America’s future, from environmental protection and urban planning to senior services and education.
 
And Boomer politicians hold the majority of legislative and executive positions at the national, state, and local levels.
 
This last statistic makes the anti-Boomer propaganda push the last several months particularly surprising. For Boomer legislators, Boomer corporate executives, or Boomer media pundits to push for their peers, their brethren, and possibly their former colleagues to retreat to low-paying “encore careers,” so that what they fear is a shrinking economic pie can be served up to the clamoring younger generations behind the Boomer mass . . . Well, to say this is a misguided and cynical effort is a vast understatement.
 
We cannot and should not accept an intragenerational split between a very few Haves and many Have Nots, particularly if the instigators of this split are working against their own generational peers for what seem to be purely political motives.
 
Moreover, perhaps it is the very idea of a shrinking economic pie that needs to be turned on its head. Perhaps it is time to embrace a new optimism about this country’s possibilities. And perhaps the best way to do this is by allowing the Generation in its true prime of life – the Baby Boomers – to regain its footing and its prominence as quickly as possible.

Start letting your voices be heard!

For the second article in this series, which focuses on Anti-Boomer propaganda, please go to: http://wp.me/pxD3J-8

For a story on the co-housing movement, which may return Boomers to “Sophisticated Communes,” see: http://wp.me/pxD3J-x

For a story on how Financial Re-Engineering is Turning Erstwhile Corporate Kings into Pawns: http://wp.me/pxD3J-B

Advertisements

56 Responses to “We’re Here. We’re Angry. And It’s About Time Someone Listened To Us”

  1. Lucille Force Says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with all the points you address in your article. Born in the early 50’s makes me a card carrying member of the Boomer generation.

    Our life experiences is the glue that educates all generations and for this, we should be appreciated and respected.

    Lucille Force, RN MSN

    • John Scheifele Says:

      Ellen,

      Totally agree with you. The Millennials are bright kids who’ve yet to learn when to keep quiet. I say to them: Pick your battles and never try to win the war with your single-shot platinum bullet.

      Be cool. The mark of real “total coolness” is good judgment.

  2. Tom Boyle Says:

    Ellen,

    For Boomers, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

    My wife and I were lucky enough to be “downsized” in the early 1990’s. We were both engineers, so we can analyze things in great detail.

    We were lucky to spend some time in our “hold pattern” at a 50+ community in Florida, although we were only in our 30’s. There we found many widows from the previously exploited generation, the WW II generation.

    They did all the “right things.” They fought the great fight. They worked the key jobs in industry. They moved at the company’s request – leaving the support of their extended family to meet the needs of their particular industry . . . etc, etc, all with the hope of one day “retiring to Florida” to spend time on their boat, fish, golf.

    Then about 2 years after the Nirvana of retirement, their husbands passed away from the maladies of lifelong stress, and the ladies were left alone, estranged from the extended families they had left behind and the grandchildern they wished to see each day.

    They had the “Florida retirement” they had sought, and many still had the big boat in the harbour, even after their husbands had gone. The honest ones would tell us “kids” – my wife and me -that if we had known this was going to be the outcome, we never would have allowed our husbands to “do the right thing.”

    We were so lucky to get this advice in our 30’s.

    If our generation is angry – no doubt correctly – it is my opinion it’s because of the “fool me twice” – or maybe 32 times! – syndrome setting in.

    We have been fed so many inputs counter to our personal interests, we are just now awakening to the fact that it didn’t work.

    Pay off those high-interest credit cards with your lower-interest home equity loan . . . binding your home for short term expenses. Perhaps that is why they call it programming.

    My mantra since the 1990’s has grown into, Think independently – i.e. for yourself – but act jointly in the interest of those around you, as well as yourself.

  3. Ramsey Says:

    This series is vey much needed.

    Boomers were victims of the bursting of the Internet bubble in the early years of the 21st century. A few years later, we’ve become victims of irresponsible lending practices and the credit crisis. Many have filed for bankruptcy, their credit in shambles.

    Now, we are victims of this recessionary economy. Many have lost their jobs, lost their homes, seen their retirement funds amd credit rating shrink.

    Who will hire us Boomers? How will we afford health care? Will we be able to retire EVER?

    What will happen to our public entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid? What lifestyle will Boomers have in our later years?

    These are all valid concerns. I have thought about them. Have you?

  4. Stuart Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I have mixed emotions about the points you bring up.

    On one hand, I, too, am disappointed at the failure of our political establishment and economic leaders to recognize our generation’s distress.

    One of the drawbacks of our political system and culture is that it allows for greed, dishonesty, and contempt and dis-incentivizes people from doing what we might otherwise call “the right thing to do”.

    I have seen my career hit several roadblocks, felt the full effect of the recent home valuation drop, and now see many Boomers struggling to survive instead of being able to retire.

    What is the bottom line? Some say our generation allowed this to happen. But our generation can also fix what’s wrong. The question is who has the will to fight back, and who has the resources to make changes?

    The slate must be wiped clean and reset with the vision the Founding Fathers had.

  5. Mark Borkowski Says:

    Dear Ellen,

    A brilliant article with deep insight. You are absolutely correct. Let’s voice our opinions loud and clear.

    Mark Borkowski, President.
    Mercantile Mergers and Acquisitions Corporation

  6. Paul Says:

    Ellen,

    Baby Boomers – The Angriest Generation – What a catchy and most appropriate title. I’ll be following the series and the comments with interest. Thanks for raising this issue’s visibility.

    • Elizabeth Jalali, M.A. Says:

      I believe the most sytemic, pervasive problem lies within our Elder-Healthcare system.

      The U.S. needs more geriatricians who understand that tomorrow our parents will need them, and in a few years we will need them to care for us.

      General Practicioners and Internal Medicine specialists, however skilled, do not have the comprehensive understanding of aging patients, and their specific needs.

      My father resisted seeing a geriatrician, until his health was in crisis mode. Fortunately, one of my closest friends is a geriatriciation. She examined him and admitted him the next morning for a comprehensive evaluation.

      He had had a series of strokes, over time. She saved my father’s life and treated him as if he were her own father. He is here with us today! That is what really matters to me.

      Be Well!

  7. Ellen Dunnigan Says:

    Ellen, thank you for your initiative and forethought in putting such a series together.

    I agree with much that has been said and am concerned even more with the state of our nation’s “readiness” for our aging Boomer population (even if we don’t want to think of ourselves as “aging”) and our physical and mental health.

    And, you’re right, it’s about time someone listened.

  8. Christine Williams Says:

    Who will listen, and will we Boomers get the respect we deserve?

    If they do listen, will it be for only a moment and then dismissal?

    Yes, I am very angry at what is going on in this country. Enough is enough, but the real question is “How do we change this creeping destruction?”

    I may not be on this planet forever, but my descendants will pay the price of this craziness. We are in serious trouble and don’t even realize it.

  9. Rita Lawrence Says:

    The positive thing about being older is that one gets wiser. Uncertainty is a challenge that every generation is experiencing.

    Most of us prepared and planned, but to no avail. But we have power in numbers, and that is another positive thing.

  10. Scott Adams Says:

    Baby Boomers marched against a war and for desegregation, went to college, married, raised a family and now care for their aging parents. Idealism and being responsible are their virtues.

    Meanwhile job security and retirement plans disappeared, and half have divorced. They are now reaching the “golden years” and somebody stole the pot. Uncensored greed has always been around and it is again taking its toll.

    Tired, aging, and sinned against, Boomers should be angry. Just don’t count on us riding into the sunset without a whimper . . . if we act collectively.

  11. Tom Says:

    Some say, Yes, but what can WE do …?

    I learned the answer to this while living in Tobago in the West Indies.
    My wife and I were walking down the street in the main town and a scruffy-looking guy affronts us. From across the street I hear the booming voice of my friend, Dave.

    “Hey you, you get away from those people! Those people are my friends and you will not bother them!” . . . and he comes across the street to ensure his wishes are met.

    The moral of this story is that when you see something going wrong, ACT!

    Do not walk by. Do not turn your head -or a blind eye. Do not think “I better not rock the boat” or any other excuse for not acting.

    ACT! It really is the only option we have left.

    Tom

  12. Alan Mendelsohn Says:

    Good for you, Ellen.

    It’s about time that somebody spoke up for a generation who changed the world.

    It was the Baby Boomers who turned political feminism from a movement to a total change in consciousness and transformed the workplace.

    It was Baby Boomers who accepted that gays should live lives like everybody else and not remain hidden.

    It was Baby Boomers who changed the music we listen to , the movies we see, and the television shows we watch.

    We Baby Boomers opened the doors and now we are being asked to vacate the premises.

  13. Bob Stover Says:

    Ellen,

    I will be 55 next month, and I have absolutely nothing to show for a lifetime of hard work.

    I’ve started over 2 or 3 times and all I have is debt, heartache and job insecurity.

    I lost out in the shrinking of the U.S. steel industry back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Despite being a college graudate, I went back to school and became a paralegal. The paralegal profession was the ballyhoo of the 90’s and this decade.

    What they don’t tell you is that paralegals are underpaid, overworked, and have no job security. Law firms come and go, partnerships change, firms disappear and are reinvented and the support staff are just so much throw away baggage.

    I’ve been married thirty-three years. My wife and I had a severely handicapped son who died at age 25 in 2004. She stayed home to raise our child, took in foster children and we adopted a couple along the way.

    I’ve been through bankruptcy twice, once due to the crushing burden of medical debt and once because I fell prey to the euphoria of sub-prime lending.

    At age 55 (my wife is 60 and disabled), we live in a low-rent, one- bedroom apartment and have no savings and little hope for the future. My credit rating is in a shambles, and I have no hope that things are going to get better any time soon.

    The Baby Boomer generation was sold a bill of goods by corporate America and the conservative political revolution of the 90’s that caused mass hypnosis and seduced us into voting against our own best economic interests for the benefit of the super wealthy in this nation.

    We allowed our children to be raised by a generation of pre-schools and day care centers. We indulged our children to the point of ruin and we stood idly by while the social experimenters in the nation’s educational system totally dismantled and made a mockery of what was once the finest public school system in the world.

    Personally, I think it is too late for our generation to reverse the course that has been set. Most of us will work well into our retirement years.

    Our generation created most of the wealth in this country. Unfortunately, it is concentrated in the hands of the few.

    We bought into the whole work ethic thing that if we worked hard, kept our noses clean, and paid our dues that we would be rewarded. Unfortunately, those in the boardrooms of America’s corporations worhip at the altar of greed.

    The only thing that matters in this country anymore is maximizing return on investment. If that means that hundreds of thousands of Americans have to be displaced every few years as they outsource more and more of the middle class work that once supported this nation, well that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

    Forget national healthcare. Even though most of us no longer have employers that offer retiree health care or defined benefit pensions, the overwhelming political climate is against national health care with coverage for all, and everyone thinks that the way to fix Social Security is to reduce benefits for our generation and the ones to come without any clue about how we’re going to replace our lost savings and survive on curtailed benefits.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Bob,

      I just love blogs within blogs! And you really write very well.

      I’d love to interview you for the series and will be in touch.

      You are right about income inequality. But you could not be more wrong about it skewing to the Right. For the past couple of decades, it has skewed to the Far Left, or at least into the hands of short-oriented hedge fund managers who tend to spout Far Left views, whether or not they’re true believers or merely hoodwinking their mostly young followers.

      Most traditional conservatives have, in fact, been big losers in terms of wealth accumulation the past couple of decades, along with those of us in the middle class – which theoretically is where ALL Americans are supposed to be.

    • Bob Stover Says:

      I think that the Far-Left leanings of the super-rich is just a throwback to the days of country club Republicans in the Rockefeller mold.

      Fueled by guilt at their great good fortune, the super-rich engage in philanthropic activities and advocate Far Left ideology as a way of saying, “Hey, I’m I’m really one of you. I just got lucky.”

      Hollywood is a typical example, as are professional athletes. These people are ashamed of how much money they make in exchange for meager contributions to the good of the
      whole.

  14. Tom Says:

    Having been through the downsizing thing back in the 1990’s I saw it coming this time. On Linked In, I started a group called “Downsized – Congrats!” to help those who are affected.

    The reason for the unusual name is that time allows a “re-invention”‘ of yourself and your life!

    You are the painter on the canvas of you life, with complete artistic license. Whether you were in the corner office or in a cubicle, you had little or no “license” in your life, but now you do.

    • Sandy Smith Says:

      Former senior marketing writer here, laid off at 50.

      I’ve discovered from many of my colleagues in the viewpoint-promoting field that when business heads south, the marketing budget is often the first to go. It’s a cost center, although what it does is prepare the ground for the revenue generators and should therefore be as useful as a revenue generator itself.

      I strongly suspect that, like my previous two bouts of unemployment, this one, too, will end sooner or later. I also agree that the instability inherent in this situation is profoundly unsettling, just like the undermining of all the assumptions on which we – or anyone else- base our lives.

      We as humans appear to be programmed not to be comfortable with a state of constant uncertainty – hence religion, for instance.

      I really don’t have a good answer or solution to the stresses this condition produces. As for placing it in the Left-Right debate:

      What the Right gets right is that government cannot create wealth, and without wealth creation, we cannot pay for the various programs we’ve set up to look after one another in time of need.

      What the Left gets right is that we do all have an obligation to one another -sorry, Ayn Rand – and that a moral society works to meet those obligations.

  15. Bob O'Toole Says:

    Dear Ellen and Angry Baby Boomers,

    I am intrigued by this discussion and intend to continue to follow it. Both your article and the comments in response are timely for many reasons.

    I am, however, always puzzled by how frequently journalists and others use the term Baby Boomers, as if the 76 to 80 million or so Americans that happen to fall into this age group are a monolithic blob, who all think alike and have had similar life experiences.

    Some Boomers marched against institutional racism,while others were supporting segregation. Most Baby Boomers sat on the sidelines and were simply not active in the Civil Rights movement at all.

    Many Baby Boomers marched in protests against our invasion of Vietnam, while many other Boomers -approximately 2 million – served in the armed forces from 1964-1972.

    I served in the military during that period.

    Some of us were in uniform during that period and then came home and protested against the War.

    A majority of Baby Boomers did not “graduate from college, march against a War and for desegregation.”

    They did “get married, raise a family and now care for their aging parents.”

    But “idealism and being responsible are their virtues” is not a trait that is owned by any generation.

    How often have you heard or read about the Baby Boomers as “The Woodstock Generation,” as though that concert, or even the “psychedelic music” it exemplified was embraced by everyone that came of age during that period.

    I would remind you that a majority of Baby Boomers voted for Ronald Reagan for President against Walter Mondale in his landslide victory in 1984.

    Mondale said, “if you vote for me I’ll raise your taxes”, while Reagan said “iIt’s morning in America, we don’t need to pay taxes.”

    Well, now it’s evening in America, the Baby Boomers are fast approaching the age of Medicare eligibility, there is not enough money in the Medicare Trust fund to pay for the healthcare needs of this huge age cohort. . . because we didn’t put enough aside when it was “morning,” our “evenings” look to be very dark indeed.

    The discussions that have been raised in response to your article are important and need to be discussed by all of us – including our kids and our grandkids.

    Don’t fall into the trap of inter-generational warfare by labeling any particular age group as though they are a like minded interest group.

    I look forward to the continuation of this lively discussion.

    Bob O’Toole

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Bob,

      I’m approving that, but there are some incredible inaccuracies in your statement, based on your not recognizing the age range of today’s Boomers, which is only 46-63 in 2009.

      First of all, the oldest of the Boomers were very active in the Civil Rights movement, although even the oldest were simply too young to be active in the early years of the movement. The year Dr. King was assassinated, the youngest Boomer was only four years old!

      Ditto with your Vietnam statement. In 1964, the oldest of the Boomers turned 18 and was just graduating from high school. The youngest Boomers were born that year.

      College attendance and graduation rates were, indeed, the highest for Boomers among any generation in US history. And, I believe, so were incidences of advanced degrees.

      Certainly, ours was the first generation in which female college graduates outnumbered males and in which an extraordinary number of women became attorneys, physicians, college professors, and went into virtually every profession in significantly higher numbers than ever before.

      The oldest Boomers may be caring for aging parents. The youngest are not as yet.

      The Reagan-Mondale election you talk about was one of those landslide years that happens every so often, and I don’t believe the demographics of that vote show Boomers voting at all differently from the population as a whole. The youngest Boomers turned only 20 that year.

      But what is most inaccurate in your beautifully-written little essay-within-a-blog is your statement that Baby Boomers are suffering now, because we didn’t save enough during our working lifetimes up to this point.

      Our savings rates were, I believe, as high or higher than any other group in the population.

      Unfortunately, in the case of the oldest Boomers, decades upon decades of savings were, in many cases, wiped out in what seemed like a few hours during the recent market crash.

      People lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in days, and both political parties – for different reasons – countenanced this financial slaughter of our generation.

      This series will feature the voices of Baby Boomers across the regional, occupational, and political spectrum.

      It will not feature the voices of those who are not Baby Boomers, although other generational commentators are more than welcome to initiate similar series of their own.

      As for “intergenerational warfare,” guess what is spurring it? Could it be the heavy-handed and in many cases totally malicious propaganda campaign being waged against Baby Boomers now?

      As far as I know, we Baby Boomers are not going around the Internet and elsewhere urging Gen-X’ers and Millennials to cease working en masse, go live in tent cities, and subsist on grubs.

      Or as some charming little notes I’ve already received say, “You old people should just die and leave the planet to us.”

      If Americans aged 46-63 this year are “old people” who deserve to be exterminated, Goodness knows, Bob, what these sweet and delightful little zealots think of those slightly older, like you, or of the many wonderful Americans in their 70s, 80s, and beyond.

  16. Peggy Duncan Says:

    Ellen, this is wonderful.

    This whole thought process is going to be a great ride. Thanks for getting it started.

  17. Peter August Says:

    I don’t know about others, but this last 8 years has been a knockdown punch for me.

    Downsizing, immigration, and loss of fruitful jobs has drained my bank account and my saftey net.

    I started an Internet business 8 years ago to suppliment income that I wasn’t earning. I am a freelance writer too, to make some more on the side,but even that is not enough.

    I’d like to join the fight, but I’m too busy playing “catch-up”. I’m also too beaten down and tired out by all the corporate greed. I just don’t have the evergy to keep up fighting. Survivng is my mantra now.

    My internet business is growing slowly and in better times may be the saving grace. Working for others is no longer the way to be “safe.”

    I’m doing my own thing to survive. After all, I’m the only one I can trust to maintain my income.

    Yeah I’m mad – and dissapointed that the liars, cheaters, and crooks seem to have won.

  18. Tim Colling Says:

    Hi – This will be interesting!

    I am a fifties-something CPA and software engineering manager who had to re-invent himself a few years ago in order to adapt to the changing world of software engineering, which constantly shifts more and more work offshore and which doesn’t tolerate dissent from within unless it’s coming from twenty-somethings.

    My wife and I now own a firm that provides expert home care and advice to older adults and their families, and we’re doing well at that.

    I could be angry about the way that our country and our culture are changing but that doesn’t do any good. I’d rather try to anticipate change, make well grounded speculations about the new opportunities that change will create, and adapt accordingly.

    Best,
    Tim

  19. Victor Escalante Says:

    Ellen, I concur with your sentiments.

    You and I come from Old Media, which is now in deep trouble.

    Keep up the good work. You learned well the art of buzz.

    ~Victor

  20. Bob Brewster Says:

    I agree with everything except the use of the term “angriest”.

    As a small business entrepreneur, I have risked everything over the years to earn a living and create new jobs. I have employed hundreds who paid for their families, homes and savings through an idea I created that became a business, which created jobs.

    Anger is not the correct word. “Frustration” is more the way I feel as I watch the opportunity for free enterprise dry up before my eyes.

    People who launch businesses take big risks and devote inordinate amounts of their time. I had eight mortgages on my home to fund my businesses. I worked a schedule that most people find hard to believe. Seven days a week with most days between 12-15 hours each.

    Why? Because, we live in a system that rewards people for taking initiative and risk. This is why I am frustrated. Today, the reward for taking initiative and risk is being replaced by government dole outs and controls.

    I see the word “wealthy” becoming a dirty term, and I see the term “business entrepreneur” becoming a synonym for someone who takes advantage of other people.

    Anger is not in my vocabulary but frustration is. Now, is the time to do something whether you are a senior, a boomer, Gen X or Y. It’s the American system that is being eroded and slowly destroyed.

    This is the best system in the world for allowing people to become all that they will allow themselves to become. But we do not have much time.

    The forces of control and limitation have made deep inroads over the past 25 years. In the past 2 years, we have seen more lost in terms of business freedom than our country’s entire previous history combined. This erosion is accelerating. With the rise of government healthcare, government controlled financial institutions, government managed industries and the ever invasive, “we the government must make all your decisions,” we are not far from losing our ability as individual citizens to make a difference.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. Mike Edson Says:

    At 41 I’m not a Boomer – so not quite as interested as I might be.

    It’s an interesting topic though – and your article makes me wonder what the repercussions of how the Boomers move forward will be for those just following.

  22. Ray Gulick Says:

    No doubt there is much the Boomer generation can rightfully complain about (for the record, I was born in 1953).

    But “suddenly” finding ourselves not valued by corporations? C’mon! Anyone who didn’t see that coming in the early 90s either was numbing themselves with a controlled substance or television and its primary side effect, consumerism. Or they had their heads in a place that should be, anatomically-speaking, impossible.

    Boomers have bought nearly everything corporations have sold them since the late 70s, including the message that corporations have their best interests at heart. Critical thought has never been taught in US schools, and it shows.

  23. Andrew Says:

    Ellen,

    Falling just outside the low end of the Boomer generation or the high end of the Gen-X crowd, I definitely find myself leaning towards the former demographic much more than the latter.

    My life is one of memories of the 70’s and shaping by the 80’s. (People quail when I dress myself!) Beyond the lack of proper style-management, I find myself grateful for the double helping of experience. My Boomer roots provide me the crucial skills of patience, dedication, listening and incredulousness. The last being the inability to take things at face value. I have to question what people say.

    What I receive from the later generation is the lessening of guilt in enjoying life. Not feeling the overt pressure to conform to the desires of others, whether they be peers or family. I can listen and understand, but I still feel confident in choosing my own path towards happiness and not what someone decides is “the right thing to do”.

    Many younger people take that too far and abuse the “freedom” they feel and change this into solely selfishness. I think that is the core of what anti-Boomer sentiment is out there. The desire not to work and build, but to take and exploit.

    I cannot help but feel our newest generation is like a spoiled child spending their parents’ wealth on short-term hedonism while not recognizing the sowing of their own failures in their actions.

    I don’t look for the government to give me anything. Only to not take from me to give to others who have not applied themselves to improving their own selves.

    What we are witnessing is the greatest fire-sale on self-determination in the history of the human race. Sold only for empty promises which are truly the only thing the government can guarantee to provide.

    Hugs
    Andy

    • Maryann Says:

      Well said, Andy!

      I also fall in the on the edge of BabyBoomer and Gen X. Your statement in the last paragraph especially speaks volumes to me : “What we are witnessing is the greatest fire-sale on self-determination in the history of the human race.”

      Such individual self-determination sets the US apart from other countries. The US is on a course to become just like all of the other countries in the world, unless each and every one of us speaks out to save it.

      Maryann

  24. rnewbold Says:

    Ellen,

    You have finally tapped into a raw nerve, and I applaud your courage to take this string to an enlightening conclusion.

    I agree with your comments about how wide ranging our experience as Baby Boomers can be, and yet it’s exactly that breadth of experiences and ages that should make our voices politically important in a time when we are clearly finding our livelihoods and economic circumstances challeged.

    My professional career in architecture has never faltered and been one good project after another until the end of this last year, when I and other senior architects found our jobs gone overnight.

    As the new year developed, it became abudantly clear that our whole profession was going to be massively affected by the economic collapse and that there was very little prospect for any recovery in even the mid-term.

    Your subject is is timely, and I will be following it closely.

    We should be concerned that as we begin to climb out of the economic abyss, good job opportunities for experienced senior professionals will still be available.

  25. mikehenrysr Says:

    Don’t call me a turncoat, but weren’t we the “younger generation” not so long ago? Didn’t some of us hope we’d die before we got old?

    Our generation was one of the first to really put “youth” up on a pedestal.

    It doesn’t particularly bother me that a lot of the national conversation focuses on the younger generations.

    The more secure we are about our abilities, impact, and influence, the less we need to assert it.

    Let the new media and the current trendy generation have their “buzz.” If we can be content in our own lives, accomplishments, and influence, we don’t need their recognition or appreciation.

    I’d rather use my energy making a difference than being angry that no one notices. The people who matter will. We will.

    Please do recognize Boomers and their accomplishments and their importance, but let’s not be too angry about it.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Kumbaya, Mike!

      Except it’s not just a matter of some in the “new media” ignoring us. It’s a matter of their actively trying to push us off center stage in this nation’s – and the entire Western world’s – economic, political, and cultural life.

      You have obviously managed not to lose your career, your home, your life’s savings, or your hope for the future. Good for you!

      But I am hearing from so many of our fellow Boomers who have lost one or more of those things. They not only have a right to be seething mad, they have a right to do something about it, hopefully in a positive and constructive fashion.

      You’ll hear from some of them – and hear more of my take on one of the nastiest and most malicious propaganda campaigns against any generation in US history – in future stories.

  26. Bob L. Says:

    GREAT Post!

    “Angriest” may be a bit extreme, but I can agree with most of what’s already been written to some extent. I find many people are disillusioned about what life holds in store for them.

    It’s extremely challenging and disappointing to find oneself struggling in their mid-50s to replace lost income, lost retirement monies, and still pay for college-age students.

    The most saddening fact is that in order to get work today, many Boomers are forced into “underbidding their worth” against oftentimes younger, lesser qualified people who are also struggling.

    Business proposals I present are now being scrutinized and “nickeled and dimed” to death, and in some cases, there are 5 or 10 times the number of bidders compared to several years ago.

    We moved to Florida, because we wanted to, and it was a good place to use as a base for my work, which sometimes requires travel. We focus more on our quality of life, opposed to some arbitrary earnings figure, and as long as work continues to flow my way, we’re fine with that.

  27. Robert DiLallo Says:

    Angry? Maybe.

    I’m a Boomer. My three kids are all Millennials, and I could not ask for better, more hard-working, generous, respectful children. Of the handful of accomplishments I have, that is my most important one.

    In a year or so, the economy will turn around, and there will be more opportunities. Personally, I’m too young for the Golden Year thing right now.

    Life and work and succeeding have always been tough. Remember the early to mid 70s? The fuel shock, stagflation, etc.? We’ve seen this before.

    That some people feel they are competing with newly-minted grads says more about their confidence in their skills than it does about the system.

    I would abandon the idea of retiring by 65 altogether and think along the lines of: How can I remain productive until I am too feeble to work? Enjoy it. . . life is short.

  28. ellenbrandtphd Says:

    Allan,

    You sentiments are lovely.

    But you are not a Baby Boomer.

    Baby Boomers turn 46-63 this year. The younger Boomers are as close in age to the so-called Millennials as they are to people in your age range.

    It’s important that we interact with people in all age ranges and have colleagues and friends in all age ranges.

    And that we don’t abandon our central place on the world stage to the vociferous generations behind us, just because a certain political cadre is now having problems keeping the promises they made to their young supporters.

  29. Ginny Lee Says:

    I am a Baby Boomer, and I feel blessed to be alive!

    I live close to the beach in Naples, Florida, and I thank God every day for all I have been given. . .It is a lot better than the alternative!

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Ginny,

      I’d love to interview some housing industry vets, including your fellow realtors, for future stories in the series.

      Your industry’s recovery will depend largely on how well Boomers as a group recover.

  30. Ellen Schultz Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    You and many of your other readers have addressed many of the issues I’ve been thinking of for the past few years. Actually, in my case, I started thinking about moving out of the country in 2000! I saw the handwriting on the wall and knew I could live in a more affordable country, a place where I could live very comfortably and peacefully for the rest of my life. As I’ve always had wanderlust this seemed like a natural extension of my nature. It frightened me a little, but not as much as seeing the direction things were going here in my country.

    Unfortunately, just as I was beginning to make my preparations for the move abroad, my father started to get sick. As my mother wasn’t able to care for him in the way he needed, I assumed more and more of the responsibility for both of them over the next few years, at the expense of my own small business, my earnings at the time, and of course, projected Social Security benefits.

    Five years ago, I became the full-time caregiver to my parents. My father was in the end stages of Alzheimer’s, and my mother had numerous health problems which were escalating. I’ve tried to continue to work at home, but it became increasingly difficult to find clients and to juggle the care for two elderly parents with the needs of clients.

    My mother and I have had a very difficult time financially since my father’s death in late 2006. We’ve gone through all of our money and have struggled to stay afloat. We’ve asked for assistance, but have been turned down by everyone because mom’s Social Security is too high. I no longer can afford health insurance and I’m not eligible for Medicaid. I’m a breast cancer survivor who hasn’t been to a physician for a checkup in more than a year.

    I strongly believe the worst is yet to come. We need to prepare ourselves for it, and it’s a global economy. Let’s take advantage of that and secure our own futures. Obviously no one else has our backs.

    Thanks for this forum, and thanks for addressing the many issues we’re facing today. I’ve been noticing we’re at the beginning of what I call an “Age War” for some time now. Let’s get through the war with our lives intact. It requires lots of strength and fortitude and an ability to put our fears and skepticism on the back burner. It’s obvious to me we only have ourselves to rely on now.

    Good luck with this project.

    Ellen

  31. Bill Taylor Says:

    Ellen is correct, but this is not only a problem in the US, it’s in Europe, too.

    There was a recent story about an 84-year-old Baroness who’s saying that old people have a duty to request euthanasia to save money.

    I think there wil be severe shortages of medical care as Mr. Obama’s plan kicks in. Our ruling elites are covered by Congress’ gold-plated plan. THEY have no worries. No sacrifices for them!

  32. Amy Sherman Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Great article. As a Boomer and a mental health counselor, you’d think I’d be busier than ever, with people out of work, depressed about their financial security, and other sordid aging issues.

    However, it’s just the opposite. With many on unemployment, getting personal help seems not to be their top priority. Rather, it’s day-to-day survival they are focusing on.

    I’m definitely feeling the slump, and because of that, I’m working on reinventing myself. What can I do to keep myself as positive and as forward- thinking as possible? With my new-found free time, I’m writing a book, working on my website and making as many connections as I can and being as proactive as possible.

    I firmly believe that we, Boomers, can turn things around if we start working on this personal level. Then maybe our government peers will see we are something to be reckoned with.

  33. Eric Says:

    It’s interesting that I read a handful of comments smacking our political system for our distress.

    While we may be angry at the system or the politicians themselves, we must remember that we, too, put these politicians into place, failed to hold them accountable, then elected them to subsequent terms.

    As much as the current administration and current sitting Congress would like to think it was elected by the younger generation, that simply is not true. We helped put them in place, and they are systematically putting programs and debt into place that will make our elder years a living hell in more ways than one.

    As a veteran of the media industry – newspapers in particular – I am seeing Baby Boomers as the last generation that truly cares about the world outside 10 feet in any direction of their own bodies. Today, what many others perceive as “news” is little more than gossip, rumor, and innuendo.

    Our younger generations have become so self-absorbed that as they grow (notice I did not say ‘mature’), real news will disappear for a time and we will see government corruption run rampant at all levels, from the feds down to the most local, because there will be no one keeping an eye on their antics.

    But true news sources will be revived as these generations finally do mature, and not simply grow older. The need – the demand, in fact – will rise again.

  34. Andrew Says:

    Eric, I enjoyed your post very much. I agree that everyone must take responsibility for our current crisis and realize our choices have a very great impact in the direction we find ourselves going.

    Thanks again all for contributing. I find the viewpoints interesting.

    Andy

  35. Maxine Radner Says:

    My husband and I are Baby Boomers (58 and 59 respectively) and agree with you comments. We are not Socialists by any stretch of the imagination, but we do believe that the key priorities for all governments are:

    (a) HEALTH – to ensure that the entire population is healthy. We must fix our current insurance industry and turn it Iinto a healthcare system. We also have to be honest with people. The country cannot under any system fund limitless access to all procedures. We need a fair and balanced triage system based on medical need and not on the ability on abilty to pay, who you know, or who you work for.

    (b) EDUCATION – to ensure that the population is educated. We must give power to schools and remove unnecessary school disrtricts and bureaucracies; address student (and parent!) discipline; increase attendance; and attack performance shortfalls in teaching staff. We have lost the passion for education and dumbed it down to a point where being able to answer trivia questions deserves a qualification. Let’s talk education up. Life is competitive. Let’s teach our children to cope with it, to win and to succeed, not to avoid every test life will throw at them.

    Healthy, educated people simply can contribute to the country and their own success – much more than sick, uneducated people!

    (c) SAFETY/SECURITY – to ensure that the population is safe. We need more community-focused police on the streets (and perhaps less who are proud of their power rather than their contribution). We need to reestablish trust and belief in law and order and we need to establish this through simple actions that people can understand. The average person simply does not understand global terrorism and security issues.

    Safety also comes from reducing teenage violence, which is on the increase. It seems outrageous that we control nudity yet almost worship extreme violence in all forms of entertainment. No wonder we see so much of it on the streets and in the schools.

    (d) CITIZENSHIP AND LEGAL RESIDENCY MATTERS – to look after our citizens first. It is a very touchy subject, but we have to control immigration and regain the respect of the legal citizens whom the government is suppoed to represent.

    I have an excellent track record of recruiting an extremely diverse (but legal) workforce, so am in no way racist. But we cannot afford to have an uncontrolled flood of immigrants, no matter who they are!

    We are in grave danger of those who do not share our values and culture outnumbering – in both activity and volume terms – those who do. Mere political correctness should not be allowed to turn the crime of illegal entry into something to be celebrated. I fear it is already too late to solve, but it is never too late to try.

    (e) WORK TO ENABLE PEOPLE TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES – to manage the balance of trade to secure jobs. We have allowed, even encouraged, practices that are net detrimental to our economy. Too many companies are outsourcing jobs to the detriment of our workforce, our culture, our economy, and only to the benefit of shareholders.

    We have also encouraged consumption of cheap imported products in the belief that this will make our lives better. We need to educate people in the indirect consequences of these actions, so they can understand that they pay a long-term and very expensive price for some short-term material gains.

    I apologize for the length of our response, but we share your frustration and see nothing but rhetoric from those who could change things, were elected to change things, but who clearly have a vested interest in the status quo.

    If something does not change soon, we will be witnessing the start of the decline of the USA and of democracy itself.

  36. Bob Stover Says:

    “The Reagan-Mondale election you talk about was one of those landslide years that happens every so often, and I don’t believe the demographics of that vote show Boomers voting at all differently from the population as a whole.”

    I have to agree with the author on this point. Most elections are very close, but Johnson-Goldwater and Clinton-Dole are other examples of large margins of victory that have not left indelible imprints on election history. The country seems to swing back towards the norm after any landslide election victory.

  37. Mac McKinley Says:

    Hey Ellen,

    Great topic. I noticed a number of the replies mention how much collective power Boomers enjoy over the other generation groups in terms of sheer numbers.

    Boomers represent one of every three adults in this country and collectively spend $400 billion more on products and services than any other generation group in America.

    If we can bring together even 10% of the American Baby Boomers (7.7 million) and let their collective voices be heard by local, state and Federal government officials, then maybe. . . just maybe. . . we could impact policy-making in our cities, states and Washington.

    Mac
    (Boomer Insight)

    • Bob Brewster Says:

      Mac, great point!

      For the first time in U.S. history, the people leaving the workforce are more educated than those entering it. The power of experience, education, and a strong work ethic makes the Boomer generation extremely competitive.

      I would like to see more people speaking out for keeping Boomers working and productive. Our country needs this contribution to increase our invention and innovation of products for world distribution.

      Boomers have a powerful chance to make a big difference in their world and the greater world at large.

      Bob
      (Over60Exchange)

  38. Victor Escalante Says:

    Some look at the way things are and ask why? Others look at the way things could be and go out and work at making it happen.

  39. Bluegrass Pundit Says:

    I wasn’t angry until a socialist was elected to the Presidency. Now, I am not so sure.

  40. John M. Says:

    Dr. Brandt,

    I am a few years older than the oldest Baby Boomer, but my generation’s experiences are relevant here.

    Among your suggested topics for discussion, you touched on job loss. When I retired, I’d worked a bit over 20 years as a typesetter/proofreader/ computer guru in a small printing plant that handled most of the major medical journals. We were considered to be at the “cutting edge” of the printing industry.

    In the course of those 20 years, our technology advanced incredibly . . . and our pride in our work very nearly vanished. Efficiency and production volume took the place of accuracy and craftsmanship. The “bottom line” became the ruler by which our work was judged.

    At the end, most of our work was being sent off-shore to typesetters who could barely speak English (if at all). The same article was set independently by two or more typists, then fed into computers that compared and assimilated the work into typeset copy by algorithms.

    The plant folded shortly after I retired, and most of my friends were faced with the necessity of learning a new trade.

    I suspect the same gremlin — the “bottom line” — has visited every production industry in America. Wages cannot compensate for the loss of pride a worker must feel in his work, for the sense of self-worth is replaced by cynicism and contempt for one’s fellow man.

    This cynical attitude could well be endemic in our legislators, whose actions these past few months are blatantly contemptuous of their electorates. Their “bottom line” is not our bottom line.

  41. Mike Says:

    My spouse has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, had started career-life as a cancer-drug researcher, and now has numerous years of experience in the research and development of biopharmaceuticals.

    Do not imagine that this sort of background makes one immune from being laid off – it’s already happened twice.

    Also do not imagine that my own background (including stints as a epidemiological bacteriologist, medical microbiologist, and intelligence analyst for a Federal agency), in any way means that the insurance company fatcats see one as anything other than a depleted cash cow, too old to be any good as a source of huge profits.

    Although I try to remain dedicated to rationality and analysis, what I increasingly feel emotionally is the following:

    You get no “points” in sociocultural terms for having worked to accomplished career success, starting from the bottom, without benefit of even one nickel of government money.

    Currently in the USA, once you pass the age of 45, or especially 50, the High Priests of the Almighty and All-Holy Dollar and their political foot-servants see you as a liability.

    They are, as I type, even working to pull Medicare out from under your feet – after all, since us dried-up old husks couldn’t afford any health insurance plan that the Great Lords of the Mega-Corporations might deem to grant us, we’ll die off faster, leaving the population with a larger percentage of young cash-cows to duly serve the Entitled Overlords of Wall Street and Washington.

    There is, for those of us in the “unwashed, unentitled masses” category, no more human value, but only price-cost ratios.

    We like to pretend that we are citizens, with equal rights under the law. But laws are bent by capital the way light is bent by the gravity-well of a black hole. All we are is “consumers,” potential sources of either profits or losses.

    And our Lords are laughing themselves all the way to the bank, as they watch us succumb to their machinations and manipulations and fall prey to the delusion that the US is on the verge of a sort of “conservatives versus liberals” civil war, baring our teeth and snarling, while nobody seems to stop long enough to think and ask:

    Just who stands to profit from this – or from any – war?

    Certainly not We The People.

    So yes, I am angry.

  42. Dorothy Says:

    A fantastic concept Ellen. I applaud your efforts. Something needs to be done. At first I was put off by the “angriest” generation because I can’t help but feel that it was our responsibility to do things differently and somehow we quit shortly after we emerged from the 60’s. Did we sell out? give up? think the world had changed and we could get on to bigger and better things? I don’t know. I’ve been puzzling over that one for years.

    My husband and I both born in ’51 have every bit of economic bad luck we could have encountered throughout our lives. There’s not enough room to tell our story here but we spend most of our time and effort just trying to stay afloat. Not at all the way we thought it would be. We have owned our own small business since 1990 and we get from all sides financially.

    I will watch your progress and offer any help I can. It’s a worthwhile cause.

    Thanks for taking it on.

  43. Scott Says:

    I am wondering if perhaps the Baby Boomer generation might be best described as the “responsible” generation which would explain their anger.

    1.Boomers stopped the war and marched for civil rights in the sixties, they raised a family in the seventies and eighties, and paid for college educations in the nineties and now take care of their aging parents.

    2. They have made the modern world we know to day. Maybe not alone but a major player.

    3.They joined the Peace Corps and cared for others, taught school, and worked hard for corporations that have abandoned them.

    The response I hear time after time is “now you will just have to take care of yourself.” Some say we had it all, as if we deserve to be punished, but I don’t remember having as much as my parents.

    Kind of hard to take such comments, considering our economic system has striped our retirement plans and our other assets, our corporations have lied to us, government is not listening to us, and our society treats aging like a disease where the only cure is takng unnecessary and expensive medicine.

    Got to get back to my four careers!

  44. scott adams Says:

    I would like to correct one word I previously wrote.

    The corporate world has not “lied” but rather “misled” us to believe our effort would result in long term employment and a secure retirement, be it a 401K, company stock, or pension fund.

    I do agree we will just have to take care of ourselves, and I know it must be a collective effort.

    I am reminded of the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1967, when the anti-war Boomers faced the police and National Guard and was heard. Being there was a proud moment for me.

  45. Stuart Rosenberg Says:

    All I have to say is, “Thank goodness someone is stating our case!”

    I am a middle Baby Boomer – born 1953 – but by the time I finished college in 1975, there were only five years left to America’s prosperity.

    It was the early 1980’s when manufacturing in this country started to be sent overseas, leaving otherwise middle-class Boomers with nothing.

    The ‘Me’ (Gen-X) and ‘Y’ generations cannot and never will understand the decline of America.

    They were raised on the false profits and promises – glass/mirrors do eventually crack and break – of Wall Street.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: