Americans Under Sixty; You Have My Condolences

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Yes, you have my condolences and my apologies. You see, the youngest of my generation (pre-boomer) and the eldest baby boomers … well, we lived the American dream and while we were doing that, we unintentionally put the screws to you. We did this by buying into the meme that bigger is better: bigger city governments, bigger state governments, bigger federal government, bigger government programs, bigger pension plans for government works, banks so big we can’t allow them to fail, and worst of all we bought into using bigger and bigger debt to pay for all the goodies we wanted our bigger governments to provide for us. We allowed ourselves to be conned by our politicians  into believing it was okay because you younger Americans wouldn’t mind paying off the debts we ran up. Now it’s clear that you won’t be able to pay our debts. We have left you an economy where you have little chance to get ahead. In fact many of you are losing ground. I feel particularly bad for those of you have reached the age where you are beginning to think about retirement. I sorry that most of you will have to forget about that. You can afford to retire. If there is any Social Security left for you, it won’t be enough by a long shot. Most of you have no savings and you’re in debt up to your eyeballs. For those who are fortunate enough to have put away a small nest egg, your money is earning no interest and inflation, which is much worse than what the government wants you to believe, is eating away at that nest egg. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you; but your days of “shop til you drop” are long gone. No, your new meme must be : Work Til I Drop. Those younger than you who are hoping you will soon retire so they can have a shot at your better paying job will just have to suck it up until you croak ( another 20 to 30 years).

Monty Pelerin has an excellent article up titled, Retirement Impossible for Many. It’s a good read. Pelerin is not as magnanimous I. In fact he had some harsh words for the “Me” and the “Now” generations and he puts much of the blame on government, which I’ll let you read for yourselves. This quote from his article sums up fairly well his views:

This is the environment that government has created for the country. The young don’t understand the implications. The government is no better than the pimp used by a loan shark. Get em’ hooked while they are young and you will have them for life.

We are at least a generation into this foolishness. There are consequences beyond the occasional defaults and bankruptcies declared along the way. Much of society has been corrupted by the belief that debt is normal and necessary to live the good life. Few understand that a good life cannot be borrowed; it must be earned.

Now the consequences for those who followed the siren’s song are becoming evident. As these people approach retirement, they have wasted the most productive years for saving. They have put themselves into a box from which there is no escape. Many are oblivious to the mathematics and to the retirement poverty they have consigned themselves. Many are unaware that Social Security, as presently constituted, will be broke when they count on it.

Pelerin also provides this table of retirement account balances for people ages 50 to 64 sent to him by one of his readers:

average retirement account americans

If you are under sixty, try to look on the bright side. It is said that people who stay active live longer.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

Original Post: Asylum Watch

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Baby Boomers: The Selfish Generation

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Let me preface this piece with a few necessities.  First, I grew up being told that my generation (X) was the worst.  We were lazy, the television generation who expected everything to be given to us.  No doubt every generation before mine had to deal with the same “when I was your age”, self-absorbed and forward blaming rhetoric.  Never mind that we are the product of our parents (how did we become the television generation?).

Second, this isn’t an unthoughtful whining or a blind pointing at my parents for all of the world’s woes.  I always found it somewhat sickening that my parent’s generation (not necessarily my parents) were willing to place their life struggles on the “greatest generation” that preceded them.  It took a lot of reflection to make sure I wasn’t simply following suit.

Lastly, obviously not all baby boomers fall into the stereotypes below, but those who shaped their generation tend to and those who dominate their politics have few exceptions.  Being a baby boomer doesn’t make you wicked.

That said…

“The Baby Boomers are the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history,” Paul Begala

There’s a strange dichotomy when it comes to the “Worst Generation” (the Baby Boomers); they stressed individual freedom from the social cohorts (“If it feels good do it”) but couldn’t stretch that ideal to fit into their economic philosophies.  Champions for drug use, sexual liberation, and a no-consequence society understood on some level that their imprudent practices didn’t bode well for economic stability.  No need for responsibility – the commune would supply.

The problem is that nobody in the commune had anything to supply and, eventually, those who became successful became miniature Ayn Rands.  Greed for this generation was either evil or righteous and no equilibrium was found.  Selfishness flourished on both sides.  Baby boomers are the generation with the most tied up money in our nation’s history and also the generation who demands the most in entitlement.  No wonder we constantly hear clamoring about the income gap.  The gap isn’t so much the problem, it’s the mentality of this generation and their refusal to accept arithmetic’s conclusions.   

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For instance, Third Way, a Democratic think tank found that in 1962 about 32 cents per dollar was invested and only 14% on entitlements but by 2030 we are projected to have less in investments and entitlement spending above 60%.  Such math should move the populous to implement major reform so that generations after aren’t bankrupted at the expense the previous generation’s entitlements, but that’s not the case.

Baby boomers not only overwhelmingly vote to protect their sacred cows (Social Security and Medicare) they have a history of voting for expansions.  Every baby boomer president we’ve had has expanded entitlements; most recently Bush’s prescription drug plan, and of course, Obamacare.  Every reform attempt made has been completely destroyed by the largest voting bloc in the nation – the baby boomers.

Another baby boomer dichotomy exists that takes selfishness to a completely different level with illogical conclusions pulled from every philosophy to support their venal greed.  While hippies and bohemians criticized corporate or individual greed, they fancied their drug-induced sexual orgies.  Responsibility be damned; they aren’t hurting anyone – they’re all about peace and love.  Meanwhile 30 million voices were never heard or asked of their opinion.

The actions that lead to the decision of Roe v Wade may be the most selfish taken by that generation.  While they sneered at corporatists for hoarding “unneeded” money, they were willing to deny life to a person for the benefit of sidestepping responsibility and at times worse, in order to cut ties with a financial burden.  They made a barbaric evil a mainstream badge of courage.

Today abortion is less popular in America than it has been since the absurd ruling of Roe v Wade.  Polls over the last 20 years have shown a steady decline in support among the younger age groups; the baby boomers have remained steady in their creed.  In fact, the baby boomers are the only group that support it – those 70 years old and older don’t, nor do the 30 and younger.  These generations X and Y are even being called the “pro-life generation” in some circles; something that would have undoubtedly been more prevalent had 30 million been allowed an opinion.

Hopefully the next generation can move beyond their partial extermination and correct the folly of their parents.  That folly has created the greatest debt in our nation’s history by astronomical and incomprehensible measure, destroyed an infrastructure given to them, shipped a large portion of our best jobs overseas, wrecked manufacturing, ruined our good name internationally, and currently fills the chambers of the most pathetic congressional body this nation has experienced, ignores Constitutional law and the list goes on.

So…we have a lot to do.  Let’s start by removing this generation from all political offices.  What say you?

Original Post:  The Sentry Journal

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Your Government At Work…Who Is Responsible? Who Will Fix It?

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Take a look at these three snippets from recent news articles.

From Breitbart:

Reports indicate U.S. soldiers and British Royal Marines have been urged to show “courageous constraint” by not shooting Taliban members spotted planting IEDs.

From Fox News

A Mexican telecom mogul who holds the title of world’s richest man, and one of President Obama’s top donors are both getting even richer from the U.S. government program that supplies so-called “Obamaphones” to the poor.

Also from Fox News

The U.S. government paid a Chicago consultant hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on diversity training workshops that, according to one watchdog, included an exercise in which employees were told to chant “our forefathers were illegal immigrants.”

So, we have our brave young men and women in uniform being put in harm’s way in the name of political correctness. We have the richest man in the world benefitting from cronyism and we have the USDA spending your tax dollars to have their employees chant “our forefathers were illegal immigrants”. Is this what you elect your officials to do? Is this what you want from the bureaucrats that your elected officials put in place to do? Of course not! Yet these types of things have gone on for decades or longer, haven’t they? Let’s think about that.

Who Is Responsible? Who Will Fix it?

I came across a really fun read by Jim Tankersley in the Atlantic. The article is written in the style of a mini-novel, which makes it interesting reading. The subject, however, is serious. One of the protagonist in this mini-novel is the author himself. I will call him the Younger. The other protagonist is the author’s father. I will call him the Elder. The Younger and the Elder love each other very much. The Younger has great respect for the Elder and knows that over the years that he (the Younger) can count on the fingers of one hand the times he has bested the Elder in a debate. Both the Younger and the Elder are lawyers; but the younger also is interested in economics and has often pinned articles on economics.

The primes of the story is that the Younger is planning to publish an article damning the baby boomer generation for being the first to pass off an America to their children that is worse than the one they inherited from their parents. The Younger and his four-year old son are joining the Elder for a long weekend at the Elder’s cabin in the woods to enjoy some fishing and enjoy some time together. But, the Younger has something else planned, as well. Knowing the article he is planning write about the baby boomers, he decides to engage the Elder in a debate over the baby boomers. He, the Younger will prosecute the case and the Elder, who is a boomer, will  play the role of the defense attorney.

Because the this article is written in the style of a novel, the Younger makes his arguments early in the day and then they go about enjoying the country side or fishing and other things that father, son, and grandson would do. The Elder mulls over the Younger’s arguments during the day and in the afternoons presents his defense of the boomers. After two days the Elder has made a very good defense of the his generation and the Younger is feeling like he is losing his case.

The next day the Elder takes his grandson off on an adventure and the Younger stays in the cabin with his computer. He puts together a number of graphs and charts that show just how bad things have become during the years the boomers were in charge. Later when the Elder had returned,  he passes him the computer and asks him to take a look. Paraphrasing, the Elder’s reaction went something like this: “Damn! You’re right. My generation has really screwed things up. My friends and I use to talk about what was going wrong and complain; but we didn’t do anything about it. We kept on electing the same kinds of politicians.”

Later, the Younger was sitting at the table and reflecting back over the few times he had bested the Elder in a debate and he was feeling pretty good about himself on this latest debate. Then he noticed the the Elder was at his side and had just stuck a knife in his ribs (figuratively speaking= and was beginning to twist it. Again paraphrasing, the Elder said to the Younger: “Well, has your generation learned anything from the mistakes of my generation? Is your generation ready to step up to the plate and make the hard choices that need to be made?” The Elder turned his head toward his grandson, Max, and said; “Or, will Max be having  this same conversation with you in thirty years say “ Dad, you knew what was wrong, You wrote an article about it and, yet, your generation did nothing and things today are so very much worse,”

So, what do you think? Do you think the baby boomers are responsible for passing on an America that is worse than the one they inherited? Technically I am a tad too old to be a part of the baby boomer generation. But, not so much that I don’t feel as though I am a part of that generation. Personally, I think my generation did a pretty lousy job and our children and grandchildren are the ones who will have to pay for our mistakes.

What do you think about the generation of the Younger? Have they learned from the boomer’s mistakes? Will they be willing to make the hard choices? Having lived the last twenty years outside of the country, I don’t have a good feel for the Younger’s generation. If I look at was is happening in countries like Greece and Spain and italy and France and other European countries, I would have to conclude that the generation of the Younger has not learned much and is not likely to make the hard choices. However, Americans have a different history from that of our brethern across the pond.  So, I still hang on to a thread of hope that the Americans of the Younger’s generation will find a way to pass a better America to their children than my generation did to them.

Well, now you know what I’m  thinking. What are your thoughts?

Original Post:  Conservatives on Fire

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Scary Numbers and Data: Record Number of Americans Take More Than They Give

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Anyone who has been paying attention already knows that about 50% of Americans pay no federal income taxes. That number alone should give us all pause. But, according to this Fox News articlethe situation is much worse.

“Right now about 70 percent of Americans take more out of the tax system than  they put into it, according to the Tax Foundation,” Brooks said.”That’s  something that should really alarm a lot of Americans.” (Bold added)

So, if the American Enterprise Institute is correct and 70% of the people take out more than they put in, then only 30% of the people are carrying the load of our federal government. Is that possible? Yes, it is. For example, our tax code allows some people to get refunds from the IRS far greater than what they paid in. These people are not doing anything to screw the rest of us. That is just the way the tax code works. Also, many people who are retired and receiving Social Security benefits have other income; such as pensions, that cause them to pay some income tax; but, far less than their SS benefits. On top of that we have more and more people living off of our welfare system. So, I suspect the American Enterprise Institute is correct when they say 70% of the people take more out of the  tax system than they pay into the tax system. That, my friends, is worrisome.

Let’s look at some more scary data in graphic form. This  graph I borrowed from Inform the Pundits blog. This is a graph of the percentage of people over the age of 16 who are actually participating in the workforce. Note that our current participation rate is as low as it was in the late 1970s. That’s bad but what is worse is the trend.

Labor Participation Rate Put Into Perspective

There is a graph at Zero Hedge that I am unable to embed that you must see. This the authors entire post on the graph

The comedy continues: the April “Not in labor force” seasonally adjusted print:88,419,000. And yet, the maximum reading permitted by St Louis Fed Not in Labor Force (LNS15000000) graph: 88,000,000. The data has now officially dropped off the chart. No further commentary necessary.

Again, look at the trend of that graph. That is alarming to say the least. Our government keeps reporting that unemployment is dropping; but that is only because fewer people are trying to enter the workforce. These trends are not sustainable for a viable economy. When Obama says the rich are not paying their fair share, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. If these trends continue, there will less and less people paying to support this monster we call government. Now, as the baby boomers retire it will make room for others to find work and that is good but don’t expect the workforce participation rate to improve.
If these trends are not worrisome enough, let me tell you about something else I read recently that I find even more worrisome. I apologize that I did not save the article and, therefore, can not give you a link. It was from a main stream media source is all that I recall. The article said that US businesses were producing goods and service at the same level today as they were before the financial collapse of 2008. That is very good news for American businesses, however, it is not good news for those that need a job. Our businesses are producing at 2007 levels with far fewer people. This means there has been a structural change in terms of productivity. I have to wonder that if this is true for America, might it also be true for Europe and Japan and Korea and others?
So, where are the desperately needed new jobs going to come from? This humble observer sees two possibilities.
  1. Unless there is a dramatic pent-up demand for products and services our companies already produce, jobs are going to have to come from new businesses producing new products and services that we don’t yet know that we need. In other words, jobs will come from innovation. But, we know that innovation flourishes best in free market economies. Therefore, we know that is not going to happen if Obama is reelected.
  2. Another way jobs will be created here and in other developed countries is if or when the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries become more consumer oriented. In other words, the world needs more customers;i..e., more wealth.

I believe both of these things are going to happen. The problem is that  these things take time; possibly decades. In my opinion, many people in the developed countries, who are not accustomed to doing without, are in for a very difficult period of time.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

Original Post:  Conservatives on Fire

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The Revenge of the "Worst Generation"

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I have often said to my mother, who is a baby boomer and liberal, that my generation (Gen X), would have to clean up the mess that her generation left behind.   As time wears on, that statement rings more and more true.

Remember the polling that CBS did last summer?  It showed that the Tea Parties are not slack jawed rednecks that hate people with dark skin.  It showed that the average Tea Party participant is in their early 40s’, makes slightly more than median income, and is more educated that average.  Frankly, that fits me rather nicely, and if you go down the CH 2.0 blogroll, you will see many blogs with owners that fit in that demographic like a glove.

I claim no gift of prophecy regarding my statement to my mother.  I would, instead, think that it nothing more than a grasp of the obvious.  My parent’s generation spent the wealth that was so painfully earned by their parents.  Then, they created failed program after failed program, all paid for with trillions of borrowed dollars.  And when the programs were clearly failures, and, in fact, made things worse, they plodded on.  The kept following the leftist narrative, and never-ever cut their own benefits, no matter how unsustainable they were.  They also rejected the spirit of their parents, who had endured the great depression, and survived WW II.  Their parents had sacrificed, but the boomers wanted what they wanted, and they wanted it immediately.

I was reminded of that statement when Hot Air linked this editorial from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

We baby boomers have been called, with good reason, “The Worst Generation.”

Our parents survived the Great Depression, then donned uniforms to fight the Good War and save Western Civilization. We call them “The Greatest Generation.” We use capital letters to honor their achievements and spirit of uncomplaining self-sacrifice.

But they gave birth to us, the cohort born between 1945 and 1964, and they gave us everything they never had. Since fate has demanded little of us, we spoiled “baby boomers” are, as former Clinton adviser Paul Begala (born 1961) has written, “the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation” in U.S. history.

That epic selfishness is on full display in Wisconsin’s budget battle.

Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin’s government, unions and schools, led mostly by boomers, are trying to stem a tide of red ink. Unlike the federal government, Wisconsin can’t just print more money or borrow from the Chinese.

So the rest of America is closely watching Wisconsin: Will the boomers finally step up, as their parents did, and do what’s best for the next generation?

In “The Worst Generation,” Mr. Begala’s ridiculously partisan but still insightful 2000 essay, he quotes a Georgetown University professor’s explanation of America’s greatness. It derives from “Future Preference”: the belief that the future can be better than the past “and that each of us has a personal, moral obligation to make it so.”

But are we fulfilling that obligation when we demand things for ourselves without regard for the cost to our children or our less-privileged peers? That’s the question at the heart of the Wisconsin budget battle.

In the past 10 years, says the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, taxpayers paid more than $8 billion for state workers’ health care coverage, while the workers put in only $398 million. And from 2000 to 2009, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, taxpayers spent about $12.6 billion on public employee pensions while the employees contributed only $8 million.

It would seem that the spirit of those petulant, spoiled boomers is alive and well in the current labor disputes.  It is a sense of entitlement-that one is owed something by another, which is at the root of the current difficulties.  The over indulged, the demanding, the entitled, and the petulant classes will act out whenever the adults attempt to reign in unsustainable pensions and benefits.  Reality will never enter into the equation, and they don’t care how many heads they’ll have to break.  They will keep up their efforts.  And, so will we.

 

So, mom, we’re working on it, but the mess keeps fighting back.

Disclaimer: Not every boomer was a petulant brat.  Let’s just say that petulant brats are over-represented in that demographic.

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Baby Boomers Bombed

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Many of you have probably figured out by now that Jon Hayward (formerly  Doctor Zero  and now writing full-time for Human Events) is one of my favorite conservative writers. He has written another thought-provoking article titled “The Boomer Bust” or “Boomers reap what they didn’t bother to sew”.  It’s well worth reading the entire article, which isn’t very long.

Although I am arguably John’s biggest fan, I’m compelled to differ with his depiction of the Baby Boomers in some aspects. But, before I get into that, let me share the initial part of his essay. Then I will add my comments.

The Associated Press reports on the grim financial future of the Baby Boom generation: “Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they’re hoping to retire.”

“Bad timing?”  You want to know what “bad timing” was?  Riding at anchor in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The Boomers screwed themselves.  The factors combining to ruin their retirement are the result of policies they support, promoted by politicians they insisted upon.

The AP lists a few of the top reasons for the Boomer predicament: the disappearance of traditional pension plans, falling stock prices and home values, inadequate Social Security income, and a predilection for spending instead of saving.

John takes each one of  the reasons that AP listed for the predicament of the Boomers and, without pulling any punches, tells us how the boomers made the bed in which they must now lay down . Here is final right-cross to the jaw of the Boomers.

Welcome to the future you made, Baby Boomers.  If you think retirement is tough now, just wait until Generations X, Y, and Z arrive in the future you made for them.

I don’t disagree with anything John said. In generic terms, yes, the Baby Boomers are guilty as charged. The problem I have with Jon’s essay is that he treated the Baby Boomers as a monolithic group, which, of course, they are not. Politically the Boomers are made-up of conservatives, moderates, and liberals. Once you recognize that they are not a monolithic group, some additional issues beg to be explained.

My guess is that conservatives have probably always out numbered the liberals but the moderates were the largest segment of the Boomers. If I’m right, one has to ask, how did we get into this mess? I think part of the answer is that the liberals became the vocal minority and the conservatives and moderates became the silent majority. This began in the 60s, The liberals within a few years took control of the Democratic Party. The have been a fairly cohesive group and they have been steadfast in promoting their ideals. The liberals gradually took over MSM and they also took control of the education system. Their allies have always been the unions. Being the vocal minority, they more often than not were able to convince a majority of the moderates to go along with them.

Meanwhile, the conservatives continued to be part of the silent majority. They may have believed that the Republican Party represented their interest but the truth has been that the Republicans have always been a centrist party ; made up of mostly moderates, a few liberals, and fewer still true conservatives. Because conservatives, until very recently, were not vocal, they in fact contributed to the liberal designed mess in which we now find ourselves. In other words, the conservative Baby Boomers never were active participants in bringing America to the precipice; but,yes, we have been passive participants.

Original Post: Conservatives on Fire

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Is my Children’s Future Being Ruined by Democrats?

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The election of Democrats to Congress in 2006 and Obama to President in 2008 has caused the federal budget deficit to explode. While George Bush and the Republicans ran deficits too (about $400 billion a year), those deficits grew steadily in 2007 and 2008, and exploded to record highs in 2008, set new records in 2009, and according to the White House, will set records again this year and next.

Democrats are spent a record $1.4 trillion last year, and will spend more than $1.4 trillion that they don’t have this year, and plan on spending another $1.4 trillion that they don’t have next year. This reckless and immoral spending of money that they don’t have to provide goods and services to people today is an attack on the futures of my children and grandchildren.

The spending of today will mean that my children will have to massive amounts of interest to pay back so that hippies and baby-boomers don’t have to cut back when they lose their jobs. My children are going to be holding depreciating dollars because their parents didn’t pay for health care insurance but now are old and want it for free. My grandchildren are going to be faced with security challenges when bossed around by the other nations that lent their grandparents money so that they could have nice smooth roads and shiny schools and fancy monuments.

My children’s future is being ruined by Democrats and their irresponsible spending habits right now in Congress. Any member of Congress who has voted for these large spending bills deserves to be thrown out of Congress. Times are tough right now, yes, but it is immoral and wrong to borrow money from your children and grandchildren to provide goods and services today, especially when you have no intention of ever paying it back.

The election of Obama and the Democrats was indeed historic- it has destroyed the future and hope of our nation.

PS: Don’t be a sucker either- these numbers will be revised again when tax receipts continue to fall due to continued Democratic legislation, and once the 2011 tax increases go in, expect a crashing economy to create ever more debt. My children are going to owe something closer to $2 trillion for 2011 and 2012, meaning that my grand kids someday are going to have to pay back the $7 trillion Barack Obama experiment in hope and change.

Original Post: A Conservative Teacher

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