“It took all the strength I had not to fall apart…” from “I Will Survive” Recorded by Gloria Gaynor
A young acquaintance, just graduated from college, recently chided me about what a complete financial failure my generation is compared to others.
Some of that criticism is probably warranted. Many of us fell in love with credit cards and created a new genre of individual debt. When Baby Boomers were young adults, our standard of living and level of consumption were incredibly high. As author Bill Bryson says in “Lost Continent,” “That is the great, seductive thing about America-the people always get what they want, right now, whether it is good for them or not. There is something deeply worrying, and awesomely irresponsible, about this endless self-gratification…”
During our watch American economic power receded for the first time in a century. And soon,
Well, that’s one perspective. I tend to look at Baby Boomers as the generation who were asked to pay when the bill finally came due.
Yes, we overspent our credit cards. But we also subsequently cut them up and downsized our consumption habits, so much so that government was forced to step in and replace declining levels of consumer spending with creative economic stimuli.
In the 1960’s, cities like
We suffered the OPEC oil crisis and lived our entire adult economic lives under the shadow of dependence on foreign oil. Somehow we survived, though not without several painful recessions along the way. Folks forget how bad the
The internet has eliminated many brick and mortar enterprises. And outsourcing and automation have also decimated the job market. But it’s inappropriate to blame global economic competition and new technological innovations on a particular generation. The job losses created by these changes are simply by-products of progress.
Due to difficult economic circumstances, we’re also the first generation that has been forced to sometimes support three generations: ourselves, our parents and our children, and to do so during a terrible job market. And as a result, Boomers are also the first generation in American history to live less well than did their parents.
Boomers have also battled wage stagnation for longer than any period of time since the Great Depression. Perhaps as a result, the Baby Boomer generation leads all others in the number of start up enterprises currently entering the market place. We’re nothing if not tenacious.
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 — www.arborwealth.net), a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin. This column should not be considered personalized investment advice and provides no assurance that any specific strategy or investment will be suitable or profitable for an investor.