Shelly’s At It Again

By Shelly Scriba

This morning I read a cute little post from a 20 or 30 something who had a brilliant idea on how to solve the current unemployment problem.

She contends that the reason we have such high unemployment is not because we have too few jobs.  No, it is because we have too many workers.  Her solution?  Induce Boomers to retire by giving them full social security at 62 instead of making them wait until 65.  That way, nearly 4 million boomers will retire each year for the next three years, and we will have almost as many jobs to fill as we have lost.   Oops, sorry….I forgot.  We haven’t lost jobs, we just had way too many Boomers entering the workforce lately….Oh yeah, that isn’t right either.  Wait, oh, never mind.  Don’t confuse me with facts!

She goes on to do some math.  According to her calculations, the government would need to throw $20,000 a year at each Boomer to get them to retire at 62 instead of  65.  She thinks that $20,000 annually would be necessary to get us to jump early.  

What must she think our social security checks are going to look like?  I know people who, after having worked their entire lives at mid-level jobs, will be lucky to get $24,000 each year when they retire at full benefits.  So I can almost guarantee that if the government starts offering us $20,000 apiece for the next 3 years, many will happily jump and our unemployment problems, as she imagines them, will be over! Voila!  Fewer older workers equals more jobs for younger workers.  Problem solved, right?  Not exactly.

More math and we see that she is even more out of touch than we thought.  She believes that employers would be happy to hire twice as many workers to do the same amount of work that more experienced, loyal, and diligent baby boomers were doing.  Her descriptors.  Honest.  So in her mind, employers would happily make unemployment a thing of the past by hiring twice as many workers as they used to need to get the job done.  

Has she never heard of outsourcing, downsizing, right sizing, going offshore, etc.  Do any of these terms ring a bell…at all?  Has she never been impacted by them?  She needs a reality check if she really believes that employers will keep jobs here if they must hire twice the number of employees to get the work done – no matter what the cost in wages, training, or benefits.   

Let’s drink the sugar-water and assume – just for a second – that employers would be happy to provide all of those jobs to keep unemployment low.  How would they justify it to their investors?  What would be the tradeoff?  Two for the price of one comes to mind!  Can we assume that younger, less experienced workers will be willing to “split” the annual wages of one newly retired Boomer to make this plan work financially for employers?  Perhaps they can take turns utilizing health care for surely the costs of two family insurance plans (even for younger workers) likely exceeds the costs for one family plan for a Boomer?

Maybe she thinks that training all of those newly hired younger workers is free?  Stats show that the training costs for new workers often exceeds 1/2 of their first years income.  So if the boss has to train two new workers instead of one, he will have spent double in training to achieve the same output.  I don’t know too many businesses who operate in such a fiscally irresponsible manner but  I don’t know everything. 

Maybe businesses will agree to do this if they can recoup their training expenses by requiring workers to stay on the job until the investment has been returned in a new twist on the indentured servant system.  Younger workers won’t mind that will they?

She waxes poetic about all of the taxes that the younger newly hired workers will be paying in contrast to the taxes now being paid by higher wage boomers.  I think perhaps we need a refresher course on how income taxes work here. 

They are progressive.  It’s a big word, I know, but it  means that those who earn more pay a higher percentage of their incomes to Uncle Sam, less any deductions, and those who earn less pay a lower percentage of their incomes to the government, minus their deductions.  Many boomers in two income families are likely in a higher bracket while many younger workers, even in two income families are likely in a lower bracket.  Some of that is due to the deductions available to the two age groups as well as to combined income totals. 

Boomers often have few deductions left beyond property taxes and what the government lets us put into retirement savings.  Younger workers have those same deductions but also likely have deductions for dependents, child care, mortgage interest, etc.  So younger workers often stay in a lower tax bracket even if their wages rise because they have more  deductions than Boomers.    So two younger workers sharing one job that a boomer used to pay taxes on is not likely a winning scenario for Uncle Sam.      

Then she opines about how GOOD this will be for our economy because younger people spend much more than older people do.  It would seem so since younger people are buying homes, having kids, and spending more of their lower incomes every year than older people who, according to her, don’t spend money on anything except  medicines and taking vacations! 

Only one problem.  She is totally clueless about the many pages of research done by various entities that show Boomers control most of the disposal income in the country and actually spend about $10,000 more each year on consumer goods than younger people.  Perhaps the lower expenses and our higher incomes allow us to actually spend more on consumer products, cars, remodeling our homes, and yes, even vacations and medicine.  I guess maybe that is why everyone with a product to sell chases Boomer bucks.   

She ties this all up in a nice tidy package by saying that it is time for Boomers to get out of the way so that younger workers like her can take the good jobs that boomers currently fill.  Boy, just think of the benefits of having great thinkers like her in positions of power and authority, making decisions, running your company.  Gives you nightmares, doesn’t it?

The unemployment rate is too high.  Not just for Boomers.  Everyone is suffering.  But when you hire someone for your business there are more things to take into consideration than just the wages, the benefits, or the training costs.  The argument could be made that to really boost the economy, you should hire Boomers.  Not just for their experiences, their loyalty, their problem solving capabilities, their common sense, or their work ethic.  But because unemployed Boomers cannot continue to spend an extra $10,000 per year on products, perhaps yours.  

As Boomers, all we ask is that you don’t dismiss us as too expensive, as too old, as too anything, and that you give us the same consideration as you would a younger, cheaper, less experienced candidate.  Let’s be clear.  I don’t advocate discriminating against any age group when choosing an employee.  I advocate looking at the benefits of hiring each applicant individually.  Do you?

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3 Responses to “Shelly’s At It Again”

  1. Bryn Evans Says:

    Could we have a link to this genius’ post? It just cries out for comments.

  2. Sheila Dentice Says:

    Bryn,

    The myboomer2boomer policy has been to not give credit to the perpetrators of such drivel by sharing their link.

    We will rethink and perhaps revisit that policy in the future.

  3. Bryn Evans Says:

    I understand. On the other hand, the Romans said, “silence means assent.”

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