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

November 8, 2009

Update to Intro

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-31

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

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One Response to “We’re Here. We’re Angry. It’s About Time Someone Listened To Us.”

  1. Linda King Says:

    Ellen,

    I don’t know how I missed it, but I was not aware of how nasty anti-Boomer propaganda has become.

    I am among the displaced within the financial services industry. Along with many others who have spent 20+ years in this sector, my layoff last year was my third – all as a result of mergers within the industry.

    I was laid off in 2009 shortly after B of A acquired Merrill Lynch. The lay off was not a big surprise, since I worked in Merrill’s Americas Bank Group rather than in the financial advisory network that Ken Lewis had long coveted.

    Shortly after being laid off, I fell down stairs, resulting in multiple fractures of my tibia, and recovery delayed active job hunting for several months.

    My job-hunting efforts in recent months have been difficult, which is not surprising, given the limited hiring within the financial services sector.

    What you will find interesting is that I am relatively certain that my limited success in getting interviews and lack of success in getting a job as a result of interviews has been in part age discrimination.

    I sense that a job applicant in their 50’s is viewed as “too near retirement” and/or not “young and hungry” enough to be worth hiring.

    As you pointed out in your article, I am still several years from the now-typical retirement age of 72.

    In addition, there is no guarantee that a younger job applicant would stay in a job for longer than I will continue to work.

    Finally, my husband I embarked upon parenthood in our late 30’s and are therefore still financing our daughter’s college education. That being the case, we are not in the position to retire and “get out of the way” of younger job applicants.

    Instead, we are trying to insure that a young adult gets the training to productively participate in the economy in the future.

    I would also like to address the issue of any lack of innovation or resourcefulness on the part of Boomers. During my unemployment, I have become very active in volunteering within the not-for-profit sector.

    This volunteering activity has served the purposes of productively utilizing my time and making many valuable contacts. As it turns out, it has also resulted in my desire to begin a second career in the not-for-profit sector.

    Now comes the innovative part. Many not-for-profit jobs I have encountered are part-time, and I really need to make more than a part-time salary (particularly in view of lower pay in the not-for-profit sector.) At the same time, it could be difficult to find two part-time jobs that are complementary in terms of the times I would be asked to work.

    After a fellow Columbia University alumnus mentioned the availability of grants to support “financial literacy,” I have spoken to a couple of the agencies I am involved with re: writing a grant to support offering financial literacy counselling to their clients.

    Given the number of individuals in our economy who took mortgages and/or made investments that were riskier than they understood, financial literacy counselling seems to me to be needed. Even household budgeting is a skill that many people lack.

    If my grant proposal is successful, I hope to use my substantial financial services background to provide financial literacy counseling. I hope that this counseling, in addition to a more structured part-time position with a not-for-profit agency, would allow me to make enough money within a second career in financial services.

    The success of this plan is still uncertain, but I do think it exhibits resourcefulness that detractors seem to feel we Boomers lack.

    In any event, I am finding your series re: Boomers interesting and look forward to further installments.

    Linda


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