Whenever I get together with my Boomer friends, the conversation inevitably turns to a discussion of the nation’s economic stability. To be blunt, we don’t feel good about it. But it’s hard to quantify that feeling. It reflects the collective subconscious of those of us hit hard by the 2008 Great Recession and a generation raised on stories from parents who lived through the Depression of the 1930’s.
Perhaps our concerns reflect the harsh reality we experienced after seeing much of our hard-earned savings and home equity evaporate just a few years ago. The economic exuberance of today echoes the ambiance of the early 2000’s and is setting off physic alarm bells.
Boomers find it difficult to discount this feeling. Collectively, we have a lot of knowledge and experience, and it’s hard for us to justify today’s stock market highs. It appears that Wall Street is just churning money. Where’s the substance?
And unemployment rates are a joke. If you don’t count the people who have given up on finding a job, what’s the point? Also, a good portion of the jobs being created today are low-paying service-oriented positions which are not going to generate sales of big-ticket items like cars or homes. Add the economic servitude placed on college graduates by student loans and the long-term outlook is gloomy.
Well-paying manufacturing jobs are never coming back to America in sufficient volume to grow the economy. Most jobs done manually today (like truck driving, auto assembly, etc.) will likely be replaced by robotics over the next ten years. Yet no one in government is proposing national programs preparing workers for growth technologies of the future. Nor do we have programs for training young Americans who are not college-bound for the good-paying trade jobs that will remain. Where are the national priorities?
On top of this, we live in a country where 43 million people depend on food stamps and 20 percent of our population needs welfare programs to survive. This is an unstable situation that undermines the economy. Add to this the inequity of wealth distribution in America where according to the NY Times the “richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.” Why is “too big to fail” still part of our national lexicon? Is it any wonder why many Boomers feel uneasy about the national economy?
The Bottom Line for Baby Boomers
Boomers have gained a lot of wisdom over the years and we’ve learned to listen to our gut feelings. We are uneasy about the economy. It appears that Wall Street and the government is manipulated for the benefit of the wealthy. Armies of well-paid lobbyists flood Washington while average citizens no longer have a seat at the table. Nor do we see any long-term national priorities to carry America into the future. It’s no surprise that our mental radars feel the country is neither as healthy nor stable as newscasters and government agencies would have us believe.
No one is suggesting stuffing your retirement savings under a mattress. But our Boomer alarms are going off. Our collective wisdom is concerned. Enough so that many Baby Boomers are asking themselves, “How prepared am I to survive if the economy crashes again?” It never hurts to have a backup plan, my friends.