Baby Boomers Collision Course with Reality
There’s cause to be Restless. Is having enough money to see you comfortably through retirement years increasingly weighing on your mind?
Assets like homes, condos, 401ks’, IRAs’, stocks, bonds and investment properties, coupled with pensions, healthcare, Social Security and Medicare were once thought to guarantee comfortable Boomer retirements. Unfortunately, Treasury and Federal Reserve policies have placed assets under severe stress and many have taken huge hits these past five years. The carnage isn’t over. Worse yet, when adjusted for inflation and taxes, the damage is much worse than many would like to admit.
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities).
• Asset Deflation: The financial crisis is just getting started for Boomers. Americans have so far chosen to avoid making the difficult decisions that will ultimately be required to restore financial stability, purchasing power and prosperity to this once great nation. Instead of reducing debt, politicians have used increased spending along with Treasury and Federal Reserve policies to raise debt levels substantially during the present crisis, causing many to fear that our already fragile system will experience additional shocks that could depress Boomer asset values even further.
• Inflation of Basic Necessities: These same policies are being used to generate inflation in basic necessities such as food, energy and healthcare. Politicians have historically relied upon this double whammy of deflation in assets and inflation of life’s necessities to allow continued reckless spending being demanded by constituents, lobbies and large corporate interests. This process pushes the true cost of running huge deficits below the surface, concealing their effects at least for awhile.
40% of every dollar in federal government spending is now borrowed. Trillions more are being printed out of thin air. Interest must be paid on this ever increasing and unsustainable mountain of debt. 68% of Americans say they want such reckless spending to stop, but fully 82% insist they don’t want their entitlements reduced.
While Boomers depend upon interest income, pensions and other fixed income scenarios to make ends meet; our government must push interest rates to historic lows in order to make interest payments on such a large debt appear sustainable. This dichotomy puts Boomers squarely at odds with their government as well as the needs and aspirations of younger working Americans with families to raise and assets to accumulate.
Massive social discontent is building, especially among the young. The Occupy Wall Street movement, now spreading exponentially, will prove more than just the passing fancy of spoiled, overindulged university students. Individuals of all stripes, ages, backgrounds and experience are disgusted with extreme financial inequity, growing authoritarianism and a perceived lack of opportunity and are demanding their share of society’s fruits, liberty and freedom.
Change and revolution are upon us and there’s no putting this genie back into the bottle. Boomers usually end up bearing the lion’s share of asset deflation and inflation of life’s necessities. Buckle up because this time around will be no different. Government policies already in place ensure that Boomer financial pain is ‘baked into the cake’.
• Decreasing Government Services: Healthcare, Social Security and other socialized services have largely been captured by powerful politicized groups and are exploding at unsustainable rates. Healthcare consumed 13% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000. Today, it’s 17% of GDP (twice the average of other industrialized nations) and by 2020 is projected to consume a whopping 32%.
16 working Americans supported each Social Security recipient in 1950. Today only 3 workers support each recipient and this is rapidly declining to just 2 workers. Healthcare, Social Security and other entitlements cannot and will not be sustained in their present form.
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Many believe they can ride out the coming storm, but is such thinking realistic, responsible or wise? How many can afford to pay property taxes, association dues, assessments and other fees when federal, state, county, municipal and association bureaucracies are vehemently resisting change even as they become increasingly desperate for revenues to support old, crumbling paradigms. Agencies continue to discover ingenious ways to increase taxes, assessments and fees, while Boomers experience inflation and plunging asset values. Don’t expect these powerful bureaucracies to get religion. Their mission is to pick your pockets clean.
America remains on a collision course with reality. Unfortunately, the approaching storm and accompanying malaise is occurring just as Boomer retirements loom on the horizon. Ending careers, declining earning power, deflation of assets and inflation of life’s necessities spells serious trouble ahead for all who choose to remain unprepared.
Adapt, Adopt or Die: Dinosaurs were unable to adapt to changing circumstances and became extinct. Adapting, adopting, changing and morphing are characteristics that have allowed humans to move from cave dwellers to urban dwellers. Becoming comfortable with today’s technology is not negotiable. You can’t compete in tomorrow’s world using yesterday’s tools. It may not seem like your cup of tea, but once fully on board, it will become second nature. You’ll see. Don’t put it off any longer.
We must each take increasing personal responsibility for our well being instead of relying upon an outmoded and failed model where government provides solutions and salvation. To do otherwise puts you at risk of becoming a foot note in history, an anachronism left behind in the dust stirred up by a whirlwind of change, evolution and revolution.
This challenging but necessary shift in Boomer thinking won’t be easy for some and may appear daunting at first. It is however imperative to understand that there is absolutely no other way. Boomer status quo cannot and will not be maintained. The only safety net left is You.
For those breathing a sigh of relief because they’re fortunate enough to have a company provided or public employee pension, your easy breathing is premature. Future issues will detail why government policies all but guarantee that pensions will go bust.
While serious challenges confront Boomers, it’s important to remember that we also live at a time of unparalleled opportunity. The Internet has brought endless dreams and possibilities right to our doorstep. As always, some will thrive and others wither and die. We each have a larger voice than ever to decide our individual destiny. The choice is Ours.
We Boomers are especially fortunate to be living at a time when life extending technologies are coming at the speed of light and major advances in the treatment of once deadly diseases are being announced almost daily. Longevity and quality of life have never been more promising or available. The Internet also provides cutting edge information than we can use to help ourselves instead of continuing to rely upon over burdened doctors or healthcare providers.
Unfortunately, along with such opportunity comes challenge, for we must secure and maintain the financial resources necessary to take advantage of such opportunity. This will prove especially challenging on a societal basis, as too many have become used to feeding at the public trough and our cupboard (the national treasury) is now bare. More and more, it’s going to be up to Us as individuals.
Opportunity waits right on your doorstep. Open the door now. This is the greatest time ever to be alive.