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November 30, 2012

When Francis Fukuyama wrote his book on the End of History, he was essentially stating that mankind had somehow stumbled into the winning organizational formula, Liberal Democracy, which could be redefined as Social Capitalism. Thus, history had ended as there will be no more titanic struggles between mankind that usually resulted in wars, death, and destruction. Capitalism won over socialism, fascism, and my favourite, religion, as the most effective way to organize ourselves for the future growth of our species.

By the way, I do not think Capitalism is perfect, but that is a subject for another day.

Did he mean that we should just stagnate, as some comments the blog has received suggest ? It is interesting that Boomers now seem to be listless, focusing completely on our navel, glazing intently downward, with few items getting through our tunnel vision.

This need, guilt, call it what you want, is starting to eat away at me. When I ask my friends who are in the same life cohort, they express it in many ways. Some who are not yet retired ignore it altogether, as they are focused on the retirement goal line. My retired friends also search for a description, in the hopes that defining something will trigger a solution.

After all, that how we have been trained for our working life – cause and effect. So, define something, and work on a solution. The trouble is, this is a new problem, one I call the greatest riddle of our generation.

Perhaps another definition is that boomers do not have a To Do list today. We are all focused on retirement today, Freedom 55, “we made it” advertising, and do not want anything that will upset our plans. Can it be true that we were focused just on a 30 year date, and now what ?  The first day of your retirement should be fun, but what then ?

Perhaps we really feel a large gap between our wants and our needs. This hole is definitely individualized, but easily could bubble up into a cohort issue.

Is it as easy to say that we lived on speed of culture, but we now want to slow down, and just can’t stop this trend that our kids have been trained to use successfully ?

Could it be defined as a focus on a life mid term report card, so don’t get too upset with a lack of future – lets enjoy our progress to date ?  Is this really a rush to judgement ?  Doesn’t everyone still get the nightmare where they are unprepared for a test ?

Please comment and better define your best view of this issue. A favourite visualization so far seems to be that Boomers have a want vs need discrepancy, a gap that we see, and can not jump over, yet. We want lots, and have confused our needs with a funding crisis.

One example of a want and need delta is on Health care. Boomers get the government we want, and we are successfully dividing our governments to be unable to do big things. This is a longer conversation, but the point is that we are looking at a fiscal cliff economically, and health care is a major piece. It needs to be changed, or funded, and we seem to be 50/50 on this.

While spending the last 2 weeks getting a hip replacement, I was exposed to the health care system Boomers have been funding our whole lives. My broken hip would have meant a 6 month convalesce, with 3 months of that spent in a wheelchair. Today, my hip replacement means 6 weeks in convalesce, and I was walking the day after surgery. Unbelievable. We all want the progress that health care has given us, and we need to continue to fund this system. After all, just look at our parents, and suddenly health care, or better said, quality care, is a need. It must be funded, and letting our parents be the experiment is something I can live with.

The guy in the next bed to me had another amazing story. I listened in as the doctor listed off the treatment options that this 69 year old otherwise healthy man had with cancer eating through his leg. 20 years ago, we would have just cut off his leg near the hip to ensure that the cancer was eliminated. Imagine his quality of life then. Today, in a 12 hour operation, the infected bone and muscle would be cut out, a tube would be fitted and inserted into the area where the bone was extracted, muscles would be taken off his back, and replanted into his thigh, and excess skin would be taken off somewhere to sew closed the big hole that would be the result. With major physiotherapy, the man would be able to walk again. Unbelievable.   Who even knew there were extra muscles that could be harvested for these types of fixes !

This system has to be saved – someone just tell me what I need to do to accomplish this and stop telling me stories about black babies filling up our emergency rooms. That is not the argument at all, and why aren’t our politicians telling us this ?

The fiscal cliff is the perfect example of the Boomer collective denial. We want everything, and don’t want to pay for it. Personally, I hate the argument whereby Boomers want everything because we already paid for it. Not even close. Again, our politicians don’t seem to want to explain that most Boomers paid for the leg amputation, not the replacement. MRI’s were not funded by people in their 50’s ! Yes we need it, so if the argument can be reframed as who pays, great.

The real answer is more growth, but in the interim, higher taxes are needed.

Next time, admitting that our wants drastically overwhelm our needs, and what we could start thinking about doing, on Boomers… WTF !

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