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Inequality, thank you 1% ‘ ers ! Vol 35

January 24, 2014

If your idea of a loaded dishwasher is a drunken wife, you must be a Boomer !

A reoccurring theme of this Boomer blog is the environment of herding cats. We Boomers want what we want, no matter what, and have been catered to for so many years, this life view is ingrained. It is thru this lens that Boomers look at the world, and make judgements.

We are severely over governed, as an example, because Boomers do not expect our politicians to make decisions for us anymore. Just give us a few facts, and we will decide. A father figure, a Regan or a Roosevelt, is no longer required, or listened to. This “me first” view makes Boomers unable to sacrifice, unless the effect or damage starts to effect them directly. Global warming is an example of this NIMBY protocol in action.

Social security, really all of our entitlements, loom as problems because Boomers believe that all these goodies have been paid for. All they had to do was work for 30 years, and voila, they can retire early and are covered for life. This out gave free reign to all the excesses of our generation, is crowding our medical system and bankrupting our pension plans. Think Detroit, many parts of California, and your plans for a secure future are evaporating. The one real truth is that Boomers are fucked financially, are living on internal organs that have been abused for decades, have decimated the planet for cheap resources, and now have trained the rest of the planet to follow our example.

Even the old ways of training Boomers is no longer effective. Woman’s breasts, as an example, have ruled the airwaves, in our shows and advertising, for both sexes, but not for long. As female Boomers age through menopause, watch the decrease in make-up and body image products. Yes, anti aging stuff and various supplements rule the consumer today, but they too will fade as the reality of older women in yoga pants as unsexy grows. For men, beer consumption is dropping worldwide. This iconic advertising home of the Breast will start to diminish, as they realize that, for now, its wrong to look at someone that could be their daughter.

Again, I am not trying to be negative, but we must continually spell out the current landscape, understand what shaped it, and understand how we got here, if we are to chart a different course forward.

So, what has our attention today ? Inequality dominates the discussion, both as a issue that, if fixed, will solve some of the problems mentioned above, and as a philosophy to follow, so that we can refine our liberal democratic systems in a capitalistic framework.

This is not to infer that capitalism is perfect. Its just the best system we have. I am very thankful that we live in a capitalistic system whereby 85 families control a large portion of the wealth on the planet. It was this system that has quadrupled our standard of living over the last 50 years, doubling it in the last 25 years. This wealth has allowed our society to have rights and privileges that we all take for granted now. Perhaps having 185 families control that much wealth would sound better, but the fact is every pyramid has a top. So, thank god for the 1% ‘ers.

Many would take my position as somehow being one sided, like I am against equality. This could not be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that inequality, as a defining part of capitalism, even allows us to ask the question is a positive. Try that in Syria today !

The Boomer discussion on inequality is what is needed now, the sooner the better. While we do not need to burden the engine of our prosperity, some tweaks may be in order. When I have this discussion with my wife, she jumps to the 85 families stat as a fairness problem, a sharing issue that is decimating the middle class. How can we share the wealth appropriately, she asks, before the poor and newly poor revolt ? I share some of her anxiety, as we all dream of looking up the economic ladder for our future and for our idea of personal success. If too many look up the ladder and see many rungs missing, hopes may be dashed. Nothing good will come from a society that stagnates.

As an aside, it was instructive to listen to Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame and the Gates Foundation, as he exploded some myths on Poverty. One was that there were less countries that were poor today, versus the myth that we are keeping most of the world down economically. His point was that inequality between countries was decreasing, and to his reckoning, there may be no poor countries 20 years from now. I realize that there are many definitions of poor, but lets let Bill’s reflection stand. Secondly, Joseph Stiglitz, an award winning economist, recently pointed out that the industrial revolution produced great wealth for a few countries, causing great inequality around the world. Recently, however, this inequality has shrunk, as countries have slowly learned the lessons of capitalism, thrown off their ruling family despots, and put policies in place that grew their economies. Stiglitz’s point was that inequality was a choice, not necessarily an endpoint.

So, we return to Boomers and the question of what should be done to solve the inequality issue. Its up to us. Demographically, we have the numbers. Politically, we are part of the 99% who are affected, or will be affected. Economically, we have the most to lose if someone else decides for us. After all with the DAVOS meetings now underway in Switzerland, it is easy to understand that inequality, while a panel topic, is not really an “bone deep” problem for those CEO’s and political leaders flying around in their private jets.

Whatever your view of all this, lets agree that our circumstances are pretty much set, and that the only next step revolves around our individual behaviour(s) going forward. Thankfully, Boomers have the time and skills needed to fix inequality, whether you are part of the Romney 47%, or not.

Next time on Boomers – wtf !, Ted Cruz and some solutions.

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