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Should Entitlements be the new Ebola ? Vol 54

October 24, 2014

If you don’t have a favourite Simpson’s episode, you must be a Boomer !

When you look around at our world today, Boomers see different geographies fighting over resources, like in Syria and California. We see religious conflicts in the Middle East, we see ideological issues with Russia and China, and we ponder the latest race and sexist challenges. All disturbing, but minor in relation to the potential historical context. I hope !

What we do not see, or better said, probably want to ignore, are the intergenerational and inter species conflicts that are growing in importance. These issues include the transference of our debt to our kids, money we are borrowing to maintain our lifestyle, safety, health. These conflicts include stoking the fight over equality, both sexually and racially. Finally, these points of contention center on the liberal versus conservative value system.

As a Boomer with some assets that are needed for retirement, charting the future was supposed to be easy. Work hard, buy a large house, pay off the mortgage, and life is taken care of. It is amazing, looking at the world’s population, how screwed most people are as they face their bleak retirement prospects. Governments will be counted on to provide some type of income supplement to all seniors ( all denoting the 95% not otherwise financially well off ). Yet, our governments are debt heavy already, paying for our health care, our myriad of social programs, the public pensions, with no new monies available. Remember, taxes just come out of our pockets, to be returned in government envelopes. The entitlement culture is warping our economics, especially now that there are more takers, and less payers.

Granted, I am talking mostly about the West, a small portion of the planet’s population that bought into the capitalist dream. The majority of the planet’s Boomers will not have a retirement as we envision it, Subsistence living, family care, and tribal rules will govern their existence as they age. You just have to look at Liberia as an example of a poor country, without a health care system, responsible government, or economically driven wealth generation, to see a bleak future. Living in the West, I get upset about how Freedom 55, a marketing ploy meant for us to build up false hopes ( Freedom 85 ? ) stoked our dreams. It really is our fault that we Boomers are in the predicament, there being no one else to blame.

So, to sit there either close to retirement, or just starting, and believe that you are set financially for your lifetime is naïve at best. Yes, you will vote with other Boomers to increase your entitlements, the current fad being a universal income supplement, but at some point that will end. Lets hope our kids take mercy, and don’t blame us for our Me Generation. Just think about how the Woodstock generation became so unequal ? What happened to us ?

If that chain of thought gets you starting to ask what you can do the change things, then Great. Do some thinking, incorporate your beliefs, and decide on doing some good. An example, if you believe in the environment, is to take some time and clean up the neighbourhood. Don’t look for a payday. you already had that. Just do it. If you want your grandkids to get the best education possible, volunteer at the local schools. There are many such events worth living. Not all of us can go to a foreign country and build a school. There is lots to do here.

Personally, it is amazing to me that we enabled the Entitlement culture without spending any money, for decades, on our infrastructure. Take the pipes that deliver the water to our homes, or the electric grid that provides the power we need to live our current lives – these physical pipes and wires are over 50 years old. What happens when they break, and most of our cities have to be dug up to replace them. Imagine the chaos ? Whole neighbourhoods without water, for a year, if not longer. Power outages as transmission grids fail. It would have the look of Gaza where, if you are lucky, you might get power for a few hours per day.

In olden time, in Mesopotamia, archeologists have found ruins where whole cities were abandoned, when the lands surrounding the city got polluted. The problem became too expensive to fix, so the whole city had to be abandoned. Kinda sounds like California today, doesn’t it ? Its also like fixing up New Orleans. What happens after the next disaster ? Look at Miami today, which is slowly becoming an Atlantic Venice, as the water rises and covers the city streets.

So, there is no retirement, no beach condo, no ride into the sunset for us Boomers, at least not yet. We are too young to sit forever. Don’t get mad about it, get involved. Some Economists believe that we are on the verge of the 3rd technological age, which follows the industrial revolution and the computer age. Both previous times had a huge impact on us. One has only to remember how all those farmers took to the factories, as innovation meant less people were needed to feed us all. Kinda like what China is going thru today, though accelerated for sure.

I suggest, as we make our future plans, we remain active, to keep the brain diseases away, to maintain our quality of life. We tried quantity already, right ? In my last blog, I asked what our credo should be, and postulated that perhaps ” there but for the grace of god … ” might be appropriate. We Boomers will discover our own individual brands, but I think I may change my credo to ” Use it, or lose it ” !

Next on Boomers – WTF !, what’s your credo ?

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