(Anti-Boomer Propaganda, Update)

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

If you don’t think there’s a highly-organized propaganda campaign being waged against Baby Boomers, perhaps they’ve already messed with your mind and spirit. The fact that it’s bad politics doesn’t seem to deter our detractors. Maybe ridicule will help.

Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge how pervasive, malicious – and essentially silly – the determined propaganda effort against the Baby Boom generation has become needs to look at the popular and by now infamous Mashable story on Boomers and Technology that came out a few weeks ago. (I’m not going to link it, because they don’t deserve it. But the title is “Users Over 55 Quitting Facebook: The Baby Boom Times Over?”)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Boomers turn 46-63 in 2009. So if you’re talking about Boomers 55-63 only, you’re leaving out exactly half of our generation. Moreover, grouping the half you’re leaving in – Boomers 55-63 – with the fairly vast population over age 63, including Boomers’ parents and, in the case of some younger Boomers, grandparents, is, to say the very least, extremely poor logic. A 55-year-old Boomer, in fact, is as close in age to a Millennial of 25 as (s)he is to a Greatest Generation American of 85.

Even worse, propaganda-wise, than the implication that every American over 55 is part of the Baby Boom, is the downright frightening photo Mashable, in all its wisdom – NOT! – has used to illustrate this purported article about Boomers. It’s a stock photo of a fellow in a plaid shirt, with a baffled expression, looking at a laptop computer.

I’m sure the model who posed for this shot is a very nice elderly gentleman. But he’s as much a Baby Boomer as the Jonas Brothers are! I won’t just guess the man is over 80. I’d say he’s over 90, unless that’s too young. In fact, he looks a lot like the average Centenarian I’ve interviewed for stories on extreme old age.

“Oh, Ellen,” you may say. “It’s truly funny, but why should we care?” We should care, Dearest Reader, because there seems to be a fairly significant slice of the younger population, some of them even part of the media, the business world, or – Goddess help us! – government, who have now been brainwashed into identifying Boomers as frail, decrepit, and over-the-hill, when we are, of course, mostly vigorous, fit, in the prime of our lives and at what are normally considered the peak ages for productivity, creativity, and earnings.

While it’s clear this photo upsets me more than the story’s theme, I’m not too happy with the premise of this oft-quoted Mashable article, either. In the guise of talking about a supposed drop-off in the use of Facebook – and presumably other social networking sites – by mature customers, the 20-something author boldly states that the reason older users log into such sites is different from why people his age log in. His generation, says the self-appointed guru, use social networking “as a means of daily communication,” seemingly about important things that need their and the world’s immediate attention. Meanwhile, we poor older folks see social sites “as a replacement for email to keep in touch with family and old friends.”

Actually, if you think about it, there is precisely zero difference between “a means of daily communication” and “a replacement for email,” anyway, since most people who use E-mail, whatever their age, tend to check it not only daily, but every few hours, if not every few minutes.

The more subtle reading of the Millennial writer’s argument, though, is that the very young have seamlessly integrated computer technology into their worklives and social lives, while other generations, particularly those Luddite Boomers, have not. If you’re reading this story, you know that’s ludicrous.

The whole concept of a “digital divide,” as anyone up on recent history knows, was coined to promote computer usage in Third World countries, if such exist anymore, positing the theory that the inexorable spread of computers would also spread literacy and general knowledge and help lift the poorest of the world up to the standard of the Western democracies. Which is undoubtedly true.

But in the last – oh, I dunno, six months? – we suddenly see the term “digital divide” used to promote a far different theory, if one can dignify it as such: That today’s teens and new college grads use computer technology more, better, and smarter than Those Who Aren’t Them, therefore making them better prepared to do this, that, and the other great enterprise than all those Old Fogies and Fogiesses, especially the Evil Boomers.

To me, this is such a lame and ludicrous theory, it makes me want to scream. I’m not particularly techie myself. But I still have my TRS-80 Model One, which I use as a paperweight. Not only has every single Boomer of my acquaintance used computers as long, essentially, as there have been computers on the mass consumer market, which is – what? – 35 years? but so have we Boomers’ elderly parents, if those elderly parents were professionals in a very wide range of jobs, from physicians, engineers, attorneys, and accountants to teachers, salespeople, retail managers, and small business owners.

As for the social networking sites, it’s clear there is no essential difference in the way any age group uses them from the way any other age group uses them. In fact, if we’re talking about using social networking effectively as a business tool, the Mashable guru should note that Linked In, the large site considered most helpful in a purely business sense, now skews very significantly towards members over 40, with Baby Boomers possibly the single largest generation of Linked In users.

Twitter Thugs and Other Charming Crazies

The Mashable article well illustrates one kind of lately prevalent Anti-Boomer propaganda: Boomers are behind the times technologically, no longer capable of being in charge of our complex world. A couple of illustrations from social networking sites themselves highlight other themes.

On Twitter, pure know-nothing thuggery has been quite popular. Perhaps the most-Tweeted – reiterated, for non-Twitter members – posts is the elegantly-worded “Yikes!!! Baby Boomer nearly craps his pants as his secure financial nest egg is cracked!!!” Actually, there are variations of this post. Sometimes, the Yikes is replaced by a Wow or even a Zowie. And the number of exclamation points varies from three to ten.

I don’t go to Twitter very often, but I’ve seen this post at least a zillion and a half times. I have never clicked on the accompanying link, nor do I want to. And lately, there are two other reiterated-to-death thug posts: “Are Baby Boomers Ultimately Doomed?” – which I guess could come from a strange religious cult, although somehow I doubt it – and “Laid-Off Baby Boomers Seek Entry-Level Jobs.”

In fact, Baby Boomers are forming the majority of new entrepreneurial ventures in the US and Canada right now, meaning we are the ones creating entry-level jobs for others. But all three of these “popular” Twitter posts are, in fact, meant to intimidate readers, not inform them, along with the stray Tweet from disgruntled individual users, virtually all of whom seem to be males in their early 20s, often with photos wearing watch caps, who say delightful things like “Boomers – Retire Now or Else” or “Don’t You Wish the Boomers Would Just Die?”

I’ve been specifically singled out as the recipient of sentiments like these even before introducing my Angriest Generation series. My favorite social networking site is Linked In, where I have a large and superb network of Connections, mostly over 40 and all extremely interesting people. My pet peeve at Linked In is the sheer number of obviously planted discussion posts from obviously planted Left-leaning operatives, doggedly glomming onto – and into – every discussion lending itself to their favorite theme, which is “Boomers Must Get Out of the Work Force Now and Hand Over All Remaining Paying Jobs to Obama Election Workers – Excuse Me, Younger People.”

Foolish Rabble-Rouser that I am, I have cheerfully waded into far too many of these “debates” in the past four or five months. But one was so incredibly striking, I saved excerpts from it for my files and am pasting some of them here.

The discussion started with a topic broached by a man identifying himself as a journalist asking: “As Boomer management consultants move towards retirement, will that open up new opportunities for younger business experts to move into the field?” This was a possibly loaded question to begin with, but the initiator dropped out of the discussion at this point.

A management consultant, now in my network, said he thought the opposite was true, that with the recession, Boomers were moving into consulting in greater numbers than ever before. And I chimed in with what is now my mantra: “Boomers turn 46-63 in 2009, and we are not retiring anytime soon.”

Another fellow agreed with me, saying “Boomers who have lost . . . their retirement funds must continue to work to rebuild the losses,” while the first consultant came back in to talk about “financial dislocation” for Boomers creating “major structural change.”

In other words, this little discussion was suddenly heading in a direction the Boomers-Retire-Now bunch wouldn’t care for. You would think – and hope – that every little topic discussion at a Linked In Group wouldn’t be of much interest to Propagandists Who Watch Over Us Constantly. But it seems to have come to somebody-or-other’s attention, because what happened next was truly extraordinary. And No, I don’t think I’m being paranoid, because several members of the Group sent messages to one another after this incident, basically saying, “What the Hey?”

For into our peaceful and happy little conclave waltzed someone who was not only a brand-new Group member, but – as of that moment – a brand-new Linked In member. I kid you not! This identity – female, although it could actually be male, beast, or political collective – was attached to a name, but had no details whatsoever in its profile, no Connections, no other Groups, no anything. The identity was apparently formed just for the purpose of coming to this Group and participating in this particular discussion.

Ms. Nutty Operative – let’s call her Nonie – at first said she was “close to 40″ but quickly scotched that and identified herself as “part of the younger generation.” Her first major argument was that it was “a waste of time and money” to train anyone over age 35 on unspecified “software packages,” because only the younger generation “has lived with e-mail and text messaging prior to joining the professional world” and “new business models are just being created for the younger generation’s opportunity.”

Besides the unforgivably stilted and barely literate phrasing, this “argument” is almost breathtakingly silly. As we’ve already said, Boomers have been using computers for business as long as there have been computers for business. And if you use computers for business, you certainly know all about E-mail. As for “text messaging” being either difficult to use or the primary basis for “new business models” – Goddess help us!

But at this point in the discussion, Nonie really dives off the deep end. She claims that “leaders’ inability to adapt to changing times” have caused the declines in “countless numbers of businesses . . . over the past two decades, starting with the Big 5 accounting firms, along with the nation’s car manufacturers” and that “the older generation” – which she identifies as Baby Boomers – have spurned “new technology,” embraced “negativity,” and stifled “innovation.”

Does one know where to start refuting this nonsense? First of all, Dear Nonie, there were originally the Big Eight accounting firms, not the Big Five, and they, along with the auto manufacturers and numerous other declining sectors, were run during these long declines primarily by the Baby Boomers’ parents’ generation, not by Boomers themselves.

These are mere quibbles, however. Because very few would say that it was refusal to embrace “new technology” – let alone E-mail and text messaging, which is Nonie’s singular definition of such technology – which was responsible for structural sector declines. Apparently Nonie hasn’t heard about things like outsourcing or immigration flows or misallocation of capital. Surely, she hasn’t heard of the accelerating scramble for rare resources, the “hollowing out” of the US manufacturing base, or the number one reason for sector dislocations: the relentless rise of immense, often centralized, formerly Third World economies, hell-bent on catching up to the West.

As for Boomers “embracing negativity” and “stifling innovation” – does that really deserve an answer, other than “Are you crazy, lady?”

Well, the others on the Group discussion board plowed into Nonie and pointed out some of her errors. Undaunted, she changed tack and started accusing us dastardly Boomers of betraying our 60’s ideals – by refusing to get out of the way and handing the country over to Millennials:

“What happened to your peace, love, and civil rights attitude?” she wrote. “President Obama is a ‘flower child’ in every sense of the definition. . . It is everyone’s job to recognize everyone’s potential. . . And being from the peace, not war, generation of the 1960’s, I would hope you would not prevent our nation’s youth from realizing their potential.”

Well, Kumbaya, and I am glad that Mr. Obama likes flowers – after all, he is from Hawaii. But are we to understand, Dear Nonie, that if we Boomers do not retire immediately, despite none of us actually being at the typical retirement age and, more importantly, despite the fact that by some estimates, 3/4 or more of us have had our retirement savings completely wiped out over the past few years, we are not only “preventing youth from realizing their potential,” but are also acting in a non-peaceful way?

Well, Yes, that is exactly what Ms. Nonie – and by extension, those who think like her, are saying! We Boomers “have focused on the negative of the younger generation,” Nonie continues. We have “made the business world more discriminatory than it should be.” And we have “created war” – yes, she actually said this! – by “segmenting the population.” Therefore, “it is time to retire (those) who ignore an entire group of people.”

Do you understand the progression this rhetoric has taken? You should, because silly as it is, the Anti-Boomers think it sounds good, and to them, sounds good seems to equal the truth.

I’m getting sick of Ms. Nonie even as I write this, so let me dismiss her last astounding wrap-up “argument” as quickly as I can: Who, precisely, is being “discriminatory” and discriminated against these days? Are Millennials – any Millennials – being refused jobs because they lack experience, or is the discrimination overwhelmingly aimed at older workers, who have been laid off and “downsized” in droves?

Or have Boomers, the generation that pioneered moving women and minorities and Vietnam vets and the disabled into managerial positions, been “discriminatory” in that regard compared to younger workers? Certainly not! And we have “focused on the negative” of younger workers how? – and when? Personally, I haven’t heard a peep from Boomers saying nasty things about Millennials, other than a few managers griping that they’re a tad opportunistic. It is younger workers who are overwhelmingly complaining about us – not us complaining about them.

Mommy, Mommy, An Operative Is Attacking Me!

I’ve used Ms. Nonie and the Linked In discussion thread she dominated as an example of the propaganda blitz Boomers are reeling from now. But such attacks are occurring regularly not only at social networking sites, but also in articles, blogs, and virtually everywhere else one turns.

If you’re faced with an Anti-Boomer barrage, how should you handle it? Here are some of the most common kinds of attacks I’ve encountered and how I think it is best to respond to them:

Baby Boomers are elderly, unfit, and over-the-hill.

The basic question of exactly who is a member of our generation keeps coming up, even among some in the media, who certainly should know better.

Whenever Boomers are “innocently confused” with those in our parents’ – or in the case of some younger Boomers, grandparents’ – generation, as with the infamous Mashable Boomer-as-Centenarian photo, be sure to speak up and knock the propagandist off his heels!

Baby Boomers turn only 46-63 in 2009. We are not remotely “elderly.” We tend to be extremely healthy and fit. And we are in what are commonly thought of as peak years for intellectual performance, productivity, creativity, and earnings power.

Baby Boomers are technological Neanderthals, out-of-touch with evolving technology.

As we’ve already pointed out, this is the canard to end all canards! Unless you fall back on Ms. Nonie’s “argument” that skill in text-messaging – at a party? in traffic? walking down the street and bumping into people? – is the “technology” which global business revolves around, Boomers are generally as adept using computers and computer technology as the generations behind them. And we have been at the forefront developing and/or managing every other “forward-looking” technology one can think of, including the “green” technologies Millennials seem to think is their special province.

As high or higher percentages of Boomers have science, engineering, or advanced business degrees as younger generations. And Boomers have had an exceptionally keen appreciation for entrepreneurship, still forming new small businesses at record rates.

Since the two most recent former presidents – Clinton and Bush – were Boomers, the Boomer generation is to “blame” for our nation’s current problems.

At any time, in terms of any generation, less than one-tenth of one percent of individuals within that generation are in positions of such power – whether in government, finance, media, or business – that they can actively make policy or directly influence historical circumstances.

To “blame” the 99.9 percent of all Boomers who have not had such power for the policies or actions of either the Clinton or Bush – or for that matter, the new Obama – administration is incredibly unfair and incredibly unhelpful. And I have never heard this kind of generational “blame” applied to any other generation except Boomers, literally proving it is a form of propaganda.

Moreover, there is always the tacit corollary to assigning “blame,” i.e. “You are to blame, and therefore you deserve to be punished.”

Baby Boomers are only in financial trouble now because they have spent so extravagantly the past several decades.

Once again, an attempt to place “blame” and to tar the many with the actions – in this case, the habits – of the few.

As even those with limited economic sensitivity can guess – purely by following popular culture – the gap between the Richest of the Rich and what I like to call “The Rest of Us” has widened substantially in this country the past few decades. Some of these Richest have been Baby Boomers, while others have been members of generations older or younger than Baby Boomers.

If you remove the inflationary effect, which distorts every generation’s spending habits more or less equally, there is little evidence that the average Baby Boomer has been more extravagant in his/her spending habits than previous or younger generations. In fact, many, if not most, Boomer-led households have managed to amass a smaller total of non-financial assets than their parents amassed – although some of this is due to the continued trend towards smaller family size.

Baby Boomers are only in financial trouble now because they haven’t saved enough.

Savings rates for the Boomer generation are not appreciably different than those of other generations.

Overall savings rates appear – and I stress appear – to have been declining the past couple of decades. But many believe this is a structural change reflecting where actual savings have gone and which kinds of savings show up in statistics.

For instance, with the low interest rates banks and savings and loan institutions have been granting recently, even on once-popular certificates of deposit, Boomers, along with everybody else, have placed less of their savings with such institutions.

At the same time, Boomers – again along with other generations – have been urged to put more and more of traditional savings into home ownership, a strategy that seemed sensible and prudent up until quite recently. This form of “savings” does not show up as such in government statistics.

Nor do many forms of “investment” that Boomers – along with everybody else – have been fervently urged to make during the past few decades. Various forms of derivative investments, for instance, do not get into the “savings” statistics categories, nor do many kinds of currency, commodity, or margin-based investments.

Some of these investments have been extremely hard-hit by recent events, of course, wiping out the true “savings” of an extremely large proportion of Boomers. To deny that such investments were ever “savings” to begin with is to add (great) insult to the (great) injury a large proportion of Boomers have experienced.

Literally the classic “kick a man when he’s down” ploy.

Baby Boomers have hoarded their wealth and are reluctant to share it with younger generations.

Amazing! At the same time some are accusing Boomers of not having saved enough or of squandering our life’s earnings on extravagant spending sprees, others are accusing us of holding on to vast hoards of wealth in Evil-Bond-Villain fashion – undoubtedly in undersea vaults guarded by private security forces adept in the martial arts. Selfish and self-centered as we Boomers are, we are preventing this wealth from being “shared” with kind and deserving humanitarians from the younger generations.

Those who spout this particular form of Anti-Boomer propaganda are basically playing with statistics. On a collective basis, Boomer wealth still looks impressive, simply because there are so many of us .

Factor out the few mega-rich Boomers and look at average assets, and our “hoarding” looks very much like “surviving.” And so much of our accumulated wealth consists of real estate – i.e. the homes we live in – viewing it as a “hoard” now seems a very cruel joke, indeed.

Baby Boomers have simply been running things too long. They need to retire gracefully.

Again, 99.9 percent – conservatively – of all Baby Boomers have been “running” nothing other than their own lives, their households, and their families.

Not a single Boomer has reached the “old-style” retirement age of 65, let alone the “new-style” retirement age of 70 or 72.

The youngest Boomers turn only 46 this year, and the majority of Boomers are in their 40s and 50s.

Those “theorists” who had hoped extraordinarily large numbers of Boomers would retire early should have theorized instead how to prevent the vast majority of us from losing all or most of our life’s savings in the events of the past few years.

Any (wealthy) Boomer capable of retiring early and “gracefully” has my blessing and that of his/her fellow Boomers, I’m sure. The rest of us (non-wealthy, and now possibly downright poor) Boomers may not have the luxury of retiring ever, the way things look right now!

We may see some light at the end of the tunnel when we’re 95 – or maybe 105.

Boomers voted for the Obama administration. If the Obama-ites are attempting to sweep you offstage now, you’re just getting what you voted for.

First of all, I sincerely hope the rash of Anti-Boomer propaganda is not coming directly from the Obama administration. I prefer to think it’s a rogue effort perpetrated by those who are so hell-bent on getting jobs for the very young election workers who helped Obama to victory, they don’t care whom they stomp on to get them – and the main Stomp-ees seem to be we Baby Boomers.

Moreover, while much Anti-Boomer sentiment is coming from the Far Left, I’ve heard some of it from those in other parts of the political spectrum, too, as well as from media mavens who are either prejudiced, uninformed, or both.

The last election turned out the way it did for numerous reasons, most having nothing whatsoever to do with sentiment favorable or unfavorable to Boomers. And I don’t think a single Baby Boomer would have voted – or will vote in the future – for any political party or group which comes out openly against our generation’s interests.

Which, of course, is exactly the point. Anti-Boomer propaganda is not only distasteful and unfair, it’s horrendously bad politics.

Boomers make up about one-third of the US population. Many of us feel we’ve been hurt. We’re mad about being hurt. And we’re not going to sit around and let ourselves be dissed on top of it!

Our hearts and souls and spirits are up for grabs now, emotionally and politically. Gurus, mavens, and politicians of all stripes would do well to keep that in mind.

For the Intro to the Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation series, please go to: http://wp.me/pxD3J-2V

For the next story in this series, “Will Boomers Return Full Circle to Sophisticated Communes?” http://wp.me/pxD3J-x

For Ellen’s popular “serious humor” piece about Malice on the Internet, see: http://wp.me/pycK6-5


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

Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

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

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.


You’re Decrepit, Greedy, Narcissistic Luddites – Plus You Have Cooties! Play Golf, Bake Cookies, and Turn Over the Country to Us

If you don’t think there’s a highly-organized propaganda campaign being waged against Baby Boomers, perhaps they’ve already messed with your mind and spirit. The fact that it’s bad politics doesn’t seem to deter our detractors. Maybe ridicule will help.


Back To Sophisticated Communes – Will Baby Boomers Come Full Circle? Scott’s Story

After lifetimes of aggressive independence, Boomers may seek a sense of community as we age. The co-housing movement looks back to the free-spirited hippie communes of our youth but forward to a Utopia of health, learning, and productive work – without skimping on material comfort.


Re-Engineered to Smithereens – Art’s Story

Once upon a time, when Baby Boomers ventured into the business world, those who could manage operations were Kings. But the ascendancy of financial re-engineering changed all that. Along with product lines and business units, even the most talented individuals turned into Pawns – and thereby became expendable.


Will Boomers – and the GOP – Save Twitter?

The twin forces which could destroy Twitter are immature game-playing and political correctness, both taken to unreasonable – and sometimes illegal – extremes. The antidotes? Maturity and a renewed sense of inclusiveness.


No Gold Watch – Nor Golden Parachute – When You Work For Pariah Corporation: The Story of Melissa and Phil

With close to 65 years of big-company experience between them, this perfect corporate couple kept their noses to the grindstone and their feet on the ground – until they lost a million dollars one very bad afternoon.


A Chance For Romance – Annie’s Story

The Good News: More than half of all Baby Boomers are single. The Bad News: Hey! there isn’t any! If you’re a Baby Boomer, and you want to find new love or companionship, you can do it. And the current sea change in our national and personal value systems makes it easier.


A Daughter Among Daughters Reaps Scorn – Suellen’s Story

When her elderly parents became ill, she gave up her job, her security, and her comfortable middle-class existence. If something isn’t done soon, she says, Baby Boomers will become the New Poor.


Who’s A Boomer? (And Who’s Not?)

Many people from other age groups – and even some members of the media – seem to have a rather fuzzy idea about who is and is not a bona fide member of the Baby Boom generation. Here’s the beginning of a helpful guide to some prominent Boomers among us.


by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

1. John McCain, most recent GOP candidate for President, is not a Boomer. He’s about ten years older than the eldest Boomer, in fact, aged 73, born August, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone. But wife Cindy, nee Cindy Lou Hensley, is a Boomer, at age 55.

2. Sarah Palin, most recent GOP candidate for Vice-President, isn’t a Boomer, either – though she’s close. She’s 45, born February, 1964, in Idaho. Neither is Todd Palin, born in Alaska in September, 1964, making him seven months younger than his wife.

3. Glenn Beck, political pundit and possible future candidate, isn’t a Boomer. He’s exactly one day older than Palin, also born February, 1964, in the state of Washington.

Some commentators have classed people born throughout 1964 as Boomers. Officially, though, the generation ends on the first of January of that year. We are willing to welcome 1964 babies as honorary Boomers, if they so choose, because we Boomers are magnanimous!

4. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 69, born March, 1940, in Maryland. All five of Pelosi’s children are members of Gen-X, ranging in age from 38-44.

5. Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada and US Senate Majority Leader, isn’t a Boomer. He’s also 69, born December, 1939, in Nevada. The eldest of Reid’s five children, Rory Reid, a Clark County, Nevada, Commissioner, is a Boomer, at age 46.

6. Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, isn’t a Boomer. He, too, is 69, born March, 1940, in New Jersey. Frank’s long-time former boyfriend, Sergio Pombo, 45, a bureaucrat at the World Bank, and current boyfriend Jim Ready, 39, a shopkeeper, are both Gen-X’ers. So Frank seems to have skipped the Baby Boom generation completely.

There must be some significance to the fact that the Democrats’ Holy or Unholy Trinity, depending on your viewpoint – Pelosi, Reid, and Frank – are all the same age, but I have no idea what it is it.

7. Joe Biden, Vice-President of the United States, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 66, born November, 1942, in Pennsylvania. But wife Jill, nee Jill Jacobs, is a Boomer, at age 58.

8. Ron Paul, member of the US House of Representatives and doyen of Libertarians, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 74, born August, 1935, in Pennsylvania. But the three eldest of Paul’s five children, Ron, Jr., 50, Lori, 48, and Randal, 46, are all Boomers. Randal, an opthamologist, has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for the Senate seat of Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, who is retiring next year.

9. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana and a rising Republican star, isn’t a Boomer. The youngest US governor is 38, born June, 1971, in Louisiana. But his Dad, Amar, a civil engineer, and Mom, Raj, a computer scientist, are Boomers.

10. Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor of Pittsburgh, and a rising Democratic star, isn’t a Boomer. The youngest mayor of a major US city is just 29, born February, 1980, in Pennsylvania. His Dad, Robert, Jr., a judge, and Mom, Cynthia, are both Boomers.

11. Tom Brokaw, former NBC anchor and ubiquitous media personality, isn’t a Boomer, although many think he is. At 69, he’s actually six years older than the eldest Boomer, born February, 1940, in South Dakota. Brokaw’s three daughters are all Gen-X’ers.

12. Bret Baier, Fox News host, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 39, born August, 1970, in New Jersey. Baier’s predecessor at Fox’s Special Report, isn’t a Boomer, either. Brit Hume is 66, three years older than the oldest Boomer.

13. Martha Stewart, ex-convict and media mogul, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 68, born August, 1941, in New Jersey. Only daughter Alexis, who hosts both radio and cable television shows, is just shy of being a Boomer, at age 44. Stewart’s Mom, also named Martha, lived to be 93.

14. Rachael Ray, whom many call the mini-Martha, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 41, born August, 1968, in New York. Neither Ray’s parents, Elsa and James, nor her husband, John, are Boomers. But her culinary protegee, Daisy Martinez, whose Food Network show she produces, is a Boomer, at age 51.

15. Angelina Jolie, acclaimed actress and mother of many, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 34, born June, 1975, in California. Jolie’s father, actor Jon Voight, is five years older than the oldest Boomer, at age 68. But her late mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, was a Boomer, born in 1950. Two of Jolie’s three husbands, actor Billy Bob Thornton, 54, and actor Brad Pitt, 46 in two months, are also Boomers.

16. Jennifer Lopez, actress, singer, and producer, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 40, born July, 1969, in New York. Lopez is the middle of three sisters, all Gen-X’ers, as are all three of Lopez’s husbands, Ojani Noa, 35, Cris Judd, 40, and Marc Anthony,41.

17. Tyler Perry, comedian, writer, and media phenomenon, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 40, born September, 1969, in Louisiana. It is likely that his most famous character, Mabel “Madea” Simmons, is also not a Boomer.

18. George Lucas, director and producer whose films are often associated with Boomers, isn’t a Boomer himself. He’s 65, born May, 1944, in California. Lucas’s film American Graffiti, 1973, was widely seen as being a group coming-of-age portrait of the Baby Boom generation, and most of its stars were, indeed, Boomers, including Richard Dreyfuss, 61, Ron Howard, 55, Paul Le Mat, 63, Cindy Williams, 62, and Candy Clark, 62.

19. Martin Scorsese, director and screenwriter, isn’t a Boomer. He’s about to turn 67, born November, 1942, in New York. Friends and fellow wunderkind directors of the 1970’s Brian De Palma and Francis Ford Coppola are also pre-Boomers. De Palma is 69, Coppola 70.

20. Queen Latifah, singer, composer, actress and model, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 39, born March, 1970, in New Jersey. Latifah recently appeared as a spokesperson for the Jenny Craig diet program, saying she’s lost 35 lbs. on the plan. Weight-loss mogul Craig, you may be surpised to hear, just turned 77 – 14 years older than the oldest Boomer.

21. Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computer, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 44, born February, 1965, in Texas. But Dell Computer’s former CEO, Kevin Rollins, whom Michael Dell replaced as CEO in 2007, is a Boomer. He’s 56, born July, 1953, and is now Chairman of the American Enterprise Institute.

22. Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, isn’t a Boomer. He’s 36, born August, 1973, in Moscow, Russia. But both of Brin’s parents, Michael, a math professor, and Eugenia, literally a rocket scientist at NASA, are Boomers.

23. Larry Page, the other Google co-founder, also isn’t a Boomer. He, too, is 36, born March, 1973, in Michigan. Neither Page’s Mom Gloria nor his late father, Steven, both computer science professors, were Boomers, both being a few years older.

24. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, isn’t a Boomer. Amazingly, he’s only 25, born August, 1984, in Texas. Mullenweg is theoretically young enough to be the grandchild of Boomers! But both his parents, Kathleen and Chuck, are Boomers. His somewhat unusual surname, by the way, is Swedish.

25. Paris Hilton, famous for being herself, isn’t a Boomer. She’s 28, born February, 1981, in New York. Both of Paris’s parents, Richard, 54, a real estate developer, and Kathy, 50, a Home Shopping Network host, are Boomers.

And 26. Tinkerbell Hilton, Paris’s teacup chihuahua, born 2001 in California, while 8 in human years, is 56 in dog years, making her a sorta kinda Boomer.

For the beginning of this story, please click here: http://wp.me/pxD3J-1Q

For the Intro to Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, see: http://wp.me/pxD3J-2V

For Ellen’s hard-hitting story on Anti-Boomer propaganda: http://wp.me/pxD3J-31

Who’s A Boomer? Part 3

October 14, 2009

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

51. Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and current candidate for Governor of California, is a Boomer. She’s 53, born August,1956, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Whitman’s last corporate job before joining eBay was overseeing the Playskool and Mister Potato Head brands for toymaker Hasbro. When she joined eBay as CEO in 1998, it had only 30 employees. It now has over 15,000.

52. Jim McNerney, CEO of the Boeing Company, is a Boomer. He’s 60, born August, 1949, in Rhode Island. Biographical Tidbit: Raised in suburban Chicago, McNerney honed his leadership skills as president of his high school’s boys’ service club, called Tri-Ship. One of the club’s coups was getting Jerry Lee Lewis to perform at their annual dance.

53. Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, is a Boomer. He’s 54, born April, 1955, in Washington, D.C. Biographical Tidbit: A Ph.D. and accomplished hands-on engineer, while at UC-Berkeley, Schmidt designed and implemented a network linking the campus computer center to the computer sciences and engineering departments. He’s also been a professor at Stanford.

54. Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, is a Boomer. He’s 55, born September, 1954, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Blankfein comes from a modest family background. Son of a postal worker and a housewife, he was born in the Bronx and raised in a publically-subsidized apartment complex in Brooklyn, New York. Valedictorian of his high school class, he won a scholarship to Harvard, where one of his housemates was Ben Bernanke.

55. Jamie Dimon, CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase, is a Boomer. He’s 53, born March, 1956, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Dimon was fortunate to have been born into the money business. His grandfather, an immigrant of Greek origin born in Turkey, became a stockbroker in New York and passed the business on to Dimon’s father, Theodore. Dimon worked summer vacations alongside his Dad and Granddad.

56. Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO of Alcoa Inc. and former CEO of Siemens AG, is a Boomer. He’s 52, born November, 1957, in Bremen, Germany. Biographical Tidbit: A former marketing man, Kleinfeld is said to be more energetic than anyone has a right to be. He has finished the New York Marathon several times, once running in the race the morning after a transatlantic flight. He courted his wife, Birgit, after losing to her in a high-school election.

57. Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam, the Russell Simmons Music Group, and clothing line Phat Farm, is a Boomer. He just turned 52, born October, 1957, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Simmons’s two daughters, Ming, 9, and Aoki, 7, are frequent models for his Baby Phat Kids clothing collection. Enthusiastic about Transcendental Meditation, he helps fund a foundation that provides financial assistance for any child in the US who wants to learn the technique.

58. Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO of A T & T, is a Boomer. He’s 49, born April, 1960, in Oklahoma. Biographical Tidbit: Even top executives can be victims of malicious Script Kiddies. A couple of months ago, a fake press release popped up all over the Web, saying that Stephenson had succumbed to a drug overdose in his “multimillion dollar beachfront mansion” after a night cavorting with male strippers. The attack was said to have been revenge for A T & T’s decision to deny access to a controversial website that hosts raucous discussions about Japanese anime and manga comic books.

59. Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel Corporation, is a Boomer. He turns 59 in a few days, born October, 1950, in California. Biographical Tidbit: Otellini’s brother, Steven, has had success in a far different field. He’s a Monsignor in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park.

60. Ellen Kullman, President and CEO of DuPont, is a Boomer. She’s 53, born January, 1956, in Delaware. Biographical Tidbit: Kullman was center and captain of her high school basketball team and has encouraged her own three kids to participate in athletics. She told an interviewer that team sports is excellent preparation for corporate life, where you can’t choose whom you work with, but you can choose how you interact with them.

Music, Sports, Miscellaneous

61. Madonna, singer and trendsetter, is a Boomer. She’s 51, born August, 1958, in Michigan. Biographical Tidbit: Call it foolhardy or very brave, but Madonna came to New York as a 19-year-old college dropout with only $35 in her pocket. She immediately got a job at Dunkin Donuts and started trying for jobs with dance troupes. She later became part of two bands, Breakfast Club and Emmy, before starting to make it as a solo performer.

62. Stevie Wonder, singer and composer, is a Boomer. He’s 59, born May, 1950, also in Michigan. Biographical Tidbit: It sounds like a fairytale, but Wonder was quite literally discovered singing on a street corner at age eleven by a relative of Ronnie White, a founding member of Motown stars The Miracles. The man introduced him to White, who in turn brought Wonder to see Motown boss Berry Gordy, Jr. By age 13, Wonder had the number one hit in the nation, “Fingertips.”

63. Amy Grant, singer and composer, is a Boomer. She is 48, born November, 1960, in Georgia. Biographical Tidbit: In 1990, Grant sued Marvel Comics to stop the use of her likeness on the cover of a comic book she claimed featured “occult subject matter.” She charged a photograph from her 1986 album, Amy Grant-The Collection, was copied for the cover of Marvel’s “Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme.” The case was settled out of court.

64. Jon Bon Jovi, singer, composer, and actor, is a Boomer. He’s 47, born March, 1962, in New Jersey. Biographical Tidbit: Bon Jovi inherits his good looks from his Mom, nee Carol Sharkey, who was a teenaged model and one of the first Playboy bunnies. She then joined the US Marines, where she met and married fellow Marine John Francis Bongiovi, Sr.

65. Chris Evert, former tennis champion and sportscaster, is a Boomer. She is 54, born December, 1954, in Florida. Biographical Tidbit: Early in her tennis career, Evert was signed to endorse a line of sportswear for Puritan Fashions Corporation, which did very well for the company. Puritan’s sports-loving owner Carl Rosen had purchased a promising thoroughbred filly and decided to name it “Chris Evert” in her honor. Chris Evert, the Horse, won the 1974 US Filly Triple Crown and a coveted Eclipse Award, before eventually being inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame.

66. Dorothy Hamill, ice skater, coach, and author, is a Boomer. She is 53, born July, 1956, in Illinois. Biographical Tidbit: In 1993, a study by a major marketing group named Hamill the Most Popular Athlete in America, tied with fellow Olympian Mary Lou Retton, but beating out such male superstars as Michael Jordan, Troy Aikman, Wayne Gretzky, and 800 others.

67. Glenn “Doc” Rivers, head coach of the Boston Celtics, is a Boomer. He turns 48 in a few days, born October, 1961, in Illinois. Biographical Tidbit: To say Rivers comes from an athletic family is an understatement. He’s the nephew of former NBA star Jim Brewer and cousin of ex-NBA guard Byron Irvin and ex-MLB star – and current sportscaster – Ken Singleton. Rivers’s oldest son Jeremiah played basketball for Georgetown and Indiana; daughter Callie plays varsity volleyball at the University of Florida; and son Austin, also at Florida, is considered a top future NBA prospect.

68. Jamie Moyer, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, is a Boomer. He’s 46, born November, 1962, in Pennsylvania. Biographical Tidbit: The oldest active player in Major League Baseball, Moyer is also a noted philanthropist. He and his wife Karen, daughter of former Notre Dame basketball coach and current sportscaster Digger Phelps, are devout Catholics and have seven children, the youngest adopted from Guatemala. Their Moyer Foundation supports over 170 separate charities for children, including Camp Erin, a nationwide network of bereavement camps for children and teens.

69. Cindy Sherman, photographic artist and film director, is a Boomer. She’s 55, born January, 1954, in New Jersey. Biographical Tidbit: In response to the controversy over the National Endowment for the Arts funding works by Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano which some thought prurient, Sherman produced her “Sex” series in 1989. The photographs feature pieced-together medical dummies in risque poses.

70. Judy Pfaff, doyenne of installation art and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grantee, is a Boomer. She’s 63, born May, 1946, in London, UK. Biographical Tidbit: Pfaff’s former studio, in Kingston, New York, was located in a converted tugboat factory, with access to a canal leading into the Hudson River. In many of her works, the flow of water represents the flow of life.

71. Ken Burns, king of PBS documentaries, is a Boomer. He’s 56, born July, 1953, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Burns is sometimes chided for the pure massiveness of his projects. In a recent episode of the cartoon series Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy’s class has to sit through a “97-hour documentary on Egypt” by Burns.

72. Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer and TV host, is a Boomer. He’s about to turn 48, born October, 1961, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Although more sedate lately, Mizrahi didn’t fare too well in a one-time stint as red carpet interviewer for the Golden Globe awards in 2006. Reviewers said he ogled Teri Hatcher’s chest, groped Scarlett Johansson, and asked some celebrities whether they were wearing underwear.

73. Rick Bayless, master chef, is a Boomer. He’s 55, born November, 1953, in Oklahoma. Biographical Tidbit: Bayless was widely criticized for appearing in a 2003 commercial for Burger King’s low-fat chicken baguette sandwiches. But he’s been praised for his Frontera Farmer Foundation, which offers capital improvement grants to struggling family farms.

74. Elizabeth Strout, the most recent Pulitzer prize winner for fiction, is a Boomer. She’s 53, born January, 1956, in Maine. Biographical Tidbit: Strout is an eighth-generation daughter of Maine, and most of her novels and stories take place in the small towns and cities of that state, although she currently lives in New York. She recently told an interviewer that her Mom helped spark her life as a writer as early as age 4, giving her a series of notebooks and encouraging her to jot down her impressions of places she went and people she met, a practice she kept up throughout childhood.

75. Sara Paretsky, creator of the V.I. Warshawski mystery novels, is a Boomer. She is 62, born June, 1947, in Iowa. Biographical Tidbit: A dog lover, Paretsky takes her golden retriever, Callie, with her nearly everywhere, even to public appearances. She recently told an interviewer that Woman and Dog start their days together in their back garden and frequently go swimming together in Lake Michigan.

For the next section of this story, Who’s Not A Boomer, please click here: http://wp.me/pxD3J-1Z

To return to the beginning of this story, click here: http://wp.me/pxD3J-1Q

by Ellen Brandt. Ph.D.

When her elderly parents became ill, she gave up her job, her security, and her comfortable middle-class existence. If something isn’t done soon, she says, Baby Boomers will become the New Poor.

Many Boomers are devoted to their aged parents. But my friend Suellen stands out as a model of filial dedication. Five years ago, when her Dad became too sick from Alzheimer’s disease for her mother to cope alone, Suellen quit her full-time accounting job and moved into her parents’ apartment.

“Dad was lucid enough to be adamant about not leaving home,” she tells me. “And Mom absolutely refused to shut him away from her. Unfortunately, she was getting progressively more frail, too.”

While Suellen, who is in her mid-50s and single, was not only happy but proud to put her life on hold to make her parents’ lives better, from Day One, she heard from a variety of busybodies who loudly disagreed with her decision. Distant relatives, people in the neighborhood, and “friends” of all shapes and forms chided her for a decision they felt was “unrealistic” and “destructive of her life.”

“The general message was that in the United States, the proper way to handle this kind of situation would be to put your Dad in a nursing home, tell your Mom to learn to live with it, and go back to earning as much money as you can to pay for it,” Suellen says. “Some people said I should bite the bullet and take two or three jobs, if necessary, which would have meant I never saw my parents at all.”

She stuck to her guns and kept her family together, losing emotional support from the naysayers in the process. When her Dad died two years ago, even some of his closest relatives refused to visit Suellen and her Mom when they were “sitting Shiva,” the Jewish custom of mourning at home. “Yes, it was pretty shocking,” she says, in what sounds like a big understatement.

Suellen’s stubbornness – and courage – are characteristic of this feisty Brooklyn girl, whose compassion and intelligence are apparent in every word she utters. As an only child, she was the apple of her parents’ eye. “Of course, I wanted to return their love and caring when they were the ones in need.

“In nearly every other country in the world,” she goes on, “sons and daughters are expected to take in and lovingly care for aged parents who become sick or helpless. That’s what you do. And it benefits all involved – the parents, the children, any grandchildren in the household. Only in America are we actively encouraged to give Mom and Dad the heave-ho.”

Attracted to the Tropics

Over the past decade or so – even before her parents’ health crises – Suellen became attracted to the idea of joining the growing community of Boomer ex-patriates in the Caribbean and Latin America. This reverse emigration is occurring, she believes, because in many cases, it is much cheaper to live abroad, while the intangible “quality of life” may actually be more appealing abroad than on the Mainland.

When her Dad became seriously frail, she made a trip to Panama – a popular ex-pat haven – and tried to persuade her parents to relocate with her there. “My mother was reluctant,” she explains. “She thought the environment would simply be too foreign. But lately, she’s changed her mind, telling me, ‘You know, Sue, maybe we should have done it.’ ”

Back home in Brooklyn, Suellen and her mother, a former secretary – her Dad owned a limousine service – are struggling to survive. For one thing, they could get evicted. “My parents were renters, because they loved their classic Brooklyn building. With recent inflation and a limited income, though, it’s tough keeping up.”

There are also problems with utilities. The electric company, for example, touts its “senior discount” to all and sundry. But they won’t allow Suellen’s mid-80’s mother to have one, because her monthly Social Security check is too high. “It’s under $1400. But to them, it’s a king’s ransom,” she quips. “These so-called authorities are living in La-La-Land. They don’t understand that there are all sorts of health and other very basic expenses that the standard programs just don’t cover. My Mom has to visit some kind of health practitioner nearly every week, for instance. Just the transportation to and fro is a burden.”

Suellen herself can no longer afford private health insurance, and she is too young to be eligible for government programs. A long-term breast cancer survivor, she should be going in for regular check-ups but hasn’t been able to do so for over a year.

A while ago, she applied to a religious-based charity which was widely touted as helping out those who were “falling through the cracks” in terms of healthcare protection. “It was a humiliating experience,” she reports. “The representative they sent to visit us commented on my Mom’s ‘high’ Social Security income, as well as the general attractiveness of our apartment and our dress. Then she demanded to know what we were eating, as if we must clearly be squandering our meager income on lobster, caviar, and champagne.”

Needless to say, the charity turned them down.

We’re Here, We’re Angry, We’re Compassionate

Suellen is outraged at what she calls a “Culture of Meanness” permeating the US right now. “Income disparity is becoming too striking to be ignored much longer,” she feels. “There are the few who are obscenely wealthy and the many who are struggling to make ends meet – a large proportion of whom are Boomers.”

Our generation, she believes, has to acknowledge that if we do not unite and act together, we could be in big trouble just up the road. “My family’s story is anything but atypical,” she says. “What happened to me could happen to nearly any Boomer with elderly parents. One day, you’re comfortably middle-class. The next day, you’re part of the New Poor.”

Although a lifelong Democrat, Suellen is so far unimpressed with either major party’s approach to what could be a coming healthcare crisis for elderly Americans and those who take care of them. “Instead of rabid partisanship, we need honest discussion and compromise on this issue,” she believes. “And we have to consider not just the situation today, but also the situation twenty years from now, when Boomers themselves will be elderly.”

Suellen finds herself moving more and more towards the center of the political spectrum today, where she believes the majority of Baby Boomers now are. “Very few Boomers are on the fringes,” she says. “We are Centrist Republicans, Centrist Democrats, or Centrist Independents – but they key word is Centrist.”

She’s also disturbed and concerned by the ongoing propaganda campaign which seeks to brand the Boomer generation as a whole as inward-looking and selfish. “I think the exact opposite is true,” she says. “There are exceptions, of course, but most Boomers are concerned, compassionate, and caring. Look at our record on civil rights, women’s rights, volunteerism – or pure political activism.

“In fact, Boomers have possibly cared too much about righting every wrong in the country except those wrongs directed at us. It’s high time we demanded some reciprocal compassion towards our own generation.”

What Do You Think?

Have you had to decide whether or not to place a frail, elderly parent in a nursing home or assisted-living facility? Tell us your story.

What do you think of Suellen’s decision to put her career on hold caring for her parents?

Do you agree that most other countries in the world respect and revere the elderly more than we do in the US?

Are government agencies and charities all wrong when they evaluate which elderly people need help and which don’t?

Do you agree with Suellen that those of different political opinions need to compromise to ward off a healthcare crisis caring for our aged population?

Are Boomers not only the Angriest Generation right now, but possibly also the Most Compassionate?

For the Introduction to Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, please go to: http://wp.me/pxD3J-3

For Ellen’s take on activities for the elderly, Summer Camp for Seniors: http://wp.me/pycK6-t

For Ellen’s idea of a University for Elders: http://wp.me/pycK6-v

For “Recession? What Recession? Not in the Senior Services Sector,” go to: http://wp.me/pycK6-p

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

The Good News: More than half of all Baby Boomers are single. The Bad News: Hey! there isn’t any! If you’re a Baby Boomer, and you want to find new love or companionship, you can do it. And the current sea change in our national and personal value systems makes it easier.

“Even I am surprised at the statistics – and I’m a professional,” exclaims Ann “Annie” Robbins, the glamorous Boomer who heads LifeWorks, a matchmaking service with most clients over 40, in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida.

She’s referring to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, which confirms that more than half of all Baby Boomers, who turn 46-63 in 2009, are now single. The stats are somewhat affected by the fact that gay people, who may account for 8-10 percent of the Boomer population, are generally grouped with the “never married,” while the big spurt in “widowed” among Boomer women over 55 reflects the fact that some of them were married to older men.

Nevertheless, over 40 million of the 80 million or so Boomers in the US – the proportion is similar in Canada – are now officially absent from the ranks of the married. That is fabulous news, of course, for someone like Annie Robbins, who makes her living counseling and aiding those looking for “significant others.”

But it’s also terrific news for Boomers themselves. “If you’re open to new love, you can find it,” says Annie. “And increasingly, we Boomers do.”

She’s living proof. Engaged a few months ago to former adman, current salesman, and sexy widower Steve Gordon, Annie is getting married a few weeks from now, about ten years to the day she suffered the tragedy of her life, becoming a widow at age 47. Husband Richard, an athlete and avid runner, who jogged 30 miles a week, was stricken, seemingly out of the blue, with asbestos-related cancer, possibly linked to his job in the hotel business, where he often supervised new construction. He died less than three months after his diagnosis, entering the hospital on daughter Angela’s 17th birthday. Younger daughter Jessica was only 12.

Annie was too much in shock to think of dating for about three years. A consultant in the human resources industry, where she specialized in executive coaching, career transitions, and sales and leadership training, she finally decided to seek out romance when she turned 50 – and promptly made every mistake in the book!

“I was scammed by fly-by-night dating services. I had terrible experiences with amateur on-line sites. I attended all the wrong mixers and singles groups, where I had nothing in common with anyone there.”

You Don’t Have To Kiss Frogs – Unless You Want To

She recalls one particularly unappetizing encounter with a man a supposedly reputable dating service hand-picked for her. “We arranged to meet in a wine bar in Orlando,” Annie relates. “My date was almost a half-hour late, so I was just about to leave in disgust, when the door swept open, and this strange individual walked towards me. I remember inwardly praying like a small child, ‘Please, please, don’t let it be him.’ ”

The dating service’s perfect match was a very large man in khaki shorts, a soiled tee-shirt, and rubber flip flops, with a bushy beard down to his waist and two teeth missing. His tardiness provided the perfect excuse for Annie’s claiming another pressing appointment and leaving posthaste. When she told me this story, I wondered aloud if Mr. Flip Flop might have been a quirky zillionaire computer guru – possibly Paul Allen – but she pooh-poohed the suggestion.

After several years of dismaying dating experiences, Annie started dabbling in the matchmaking trade, which she decided should be based on similar principles to the useful and compassionate counseling she gave executives switching careers. She left her day job to become a full-time matchmaker two years ago.

“If you truly wish to connect, you should approach it seriously and honestly,” she observes. “Do some heavy soul-searching before you start out. What mistakes have you made in past relationships or marriages? How are going to avoid them going forward? What are the the non-negotiables – values and characteristics your compatible match must have? And which things are less important?”

While Annie met Steve through mutual friends, there are many other ways to meet your match. But you have to decide to do it. “You’re not going to meet anybody living in a cave,” cautions Annie. “Get out in the world and shake up your usual routine.”

Even small variations in daily activities can place you in the path of Ms. or Mr. Interesting. “If you tend to patronize a certain coffee shop, make a conscious decision to go to another. Instead of walking in the same park every lunch hour, try a different park – or bowling alley or restaurant or grocery store – tomorrow.”

Doing what you’re really passionate about – even if you haven’t done it lately – is a tried and true formula for connecting with like-minded people. One 50-something woman Annie knows was a superb ballroom dancer, but dropped dance completely after a bitter divorce. Last year, she took some inexpensive tango lessons at a community center, met a charming man who also loved to dance, and the two have been tripping the light fantastically ever since.

A successful but shy attorney in Annie’s neighborhood, who’s a passionate runner, wanted to meet a wholesome and physically fit woman. But he had trouble finding one through his running clubs, because – well, you’re moving too fast. He decided to join Habitat for Humanity, on the theory it would attract those who were both fit and spiritually-minded. Sure enough, he found a lovely, athletic high school teacher, with whom he’s building a relationship, as well as houses.

Can following the shared-interest route ever backfire? “Yes,” says Annie, “I have a friend who had always had an interest in hunting. She bit the bullet, as it were, joining a rifle club, only to discover that she was too scared to pull the trigger. Terrified, actually.”

Tough Times, Tender Boomers?

I have to ask: What does Annie think of the mesmerizing, horrifying hit show, The Millionaire Matchmaker, on Bravo TV? Personally, I quite like the Matchmaker herself, Patti Stanger, because she’s both funny and media-savvy. Her average client, though, combines the sterling ethics of Gordon Gekko with the tender conscience of Cruella de Vil and the pleasing personality of Hannibal Lecter.

“There are firms down here in Florida which actually brag about matching ‘millionaire men’ with ‘supermodel women,’ ” Annie says. “It’s not only pretty silly, it’s a major turn off for most clients. I’ve had many clients who said they visited one of these firms, were dismayed at their shallowness, and then came to me.”

Does that mean men and women, particularly Boomers, are returning to sensible – and healthy – standards for choosing the Loves of Their Lives? “We may be experiencing a sea change in this nation’s – and our generation’s – value systems,” says Annie – and many agree with her. The cumulative effect of the dishonesty, greed, corporate scandals, and political inertia of the past several years may have finally taken their toll. In these suddenly hard times, the vast majority of Boomers seem to be concentrating on the things in life that are truly important – security, family, relationships, achievement, and spiritual values.

In terms of romance, we’re turning away from an emphasis on the superficial and transitory, and seeking partners who are intellectually and ethically compatible and share our long-term goals.

“Steve and I are good examples of that,” says Annie. Widowed after a happy marriage, Steve was not interested in meeting much younger women. “I wanted – and needed – someone at the same stage of life, who had gone through similar experiences,” he says.

Annie, meanwhile, realized she had no real interest in great wealth or in dating captains of industry. She chose Steve, because he’s “kind and caring, with a terrific sense of humor.” Soon after they’d first met, she kept canceling date after date because of a series of business and family crises. “Many other men would have dropped me then and there,” she says. “Steve’s first thought was, ‘How can I help her get through some difficult days?’ He was unbelievably considerate and thoughtful.”

(For Annie and Steve’s engagement photo, click here: http://wp.me/pxD3J-W )

Annie believes the characteristics that have distinguished Baby Boomers through the years will serve us well if we choose to pursue later-in-life romance. “Boomers are organized, energetic, well-educated, and entrepreneurial,” she says. “If we apply those traits to the pursuit of lasting relationships, we have a good chance of getting what we want.”

Add in the shift to kinder, gentler values and demographics that suddenly favor the mature dater. In our love lives, at least, the Boomer outlook may be downright rosy.

What Do You Think?

Are you surprised so many Baby Boomers are single? If you are currently single, does it change your outlook on whether to seek new love and companionship going forward?

Is dating easier or more difficult now than when you were younger? What advantages do you think you have as a Boomer seeking a mate? What obstacles do you think you face?

Do you agree with Annie’s contention that Boomers’ strengths as business people and entrepreneurs can translate into romantic success?

Is the United States embracing traditional values again, finally eschewing the glorification of greed and superficiality? Will this have a major impact on Boomers, particularly in the realm of relationships and romance?

For the Intro to Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, please see: http://wp.me/pxD3J-3

For a story on a Baby Boomer couple who suffered a million dollar loss when “Pariah Corporation” imploded, see: http://wp.me/pxD3J-N

A Chance For Romance also serves as an Introduction to a new series called Love After 50, jointly written by Matchmaker-to-Boomers Annie Robbins and Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation publisher Ellen Brandt, Ph.D. For more, please see: http://wp.me/pxD3J-Y