American Austerity

The boomers are aging in huge numbers.  The ratio between working-age tax payers and retirees is slanting rapidly toward the retirees. The government programs that provide care for the aged are already unsustainable.

The seemingly obvious result of this reality is that boomers can expect significantly less government support than the current generation of elders.  As boomers look at the institutions into which they place their 80+ years-old parents with distaste and, at times, disgust, I wonder what they think will be waiting for them.

Reality check: Today’s care options may well seem luxurious in comparison to what the boomers can expect in another decade or two.

What’s more, the elders of today were savers and have had some resources of their own to supplement what the government provides.  That is not the case for most boomers, who have lived beyond their means, and relied largely on credit to enjoy a lifestyle they never could afford.  Many have almost no savings, some are in debt.  In large part, boomers enter these fragile years relying almost exclusively on what the government will provide.

One might see an ironic twist in the situation: The typical 80+ year-old lived a modest life, took few vacations, eating out was a treat.  One might say they embraced austerity and were comfortable with it.

I recall my mother telling me about getting an orange in her Christmas stocking and thinking that was wonderful.   How quaint that seems, but how remarkable when we compare that to the world the boomers know.

Boomers travel the world, stay in luxurious resorts, eat out often, toss out leftovers, and lavish themselves and those around them with holiday gifts – gifts they often don’t need and never use.  Now they enter their fragile years with the prospect of having austerity forced upon them.