Mixed Messages

Good Morning Boomers,

While the economy continues to struggle, we seem to be caught in a negative spiral that is proving very difficult to overcome.  Our leaders seem helpless, hapless, and clueless while meanness, fear, and spite abounds from those who have jobs, from those who want jobs, and from those who think anyone without a job is lazy or a bad employee.

The pundits, the bloggers, the politicians, and the smug continue to point fingers and lay blame.  Solutions and logical, legal, ethical ideas are as scarce as bank loans today.  

One theme that seems to be a constant is us – Baby Boomers.  We seem to be everyone’s favorite punching bag and the solution to all of our problems lies in doing something about our generation.

But what?  We routinely hear that we must work longer so we don’t bankrupt Social Security yet no one will hire us.  Unemployment for our generation is very high and the length of time spent unemployed is longer for Baby Boomers than for any other age group in the workforce.

We are often admonished to “get out of the way” so younger people can have their chance to take the leadership reins while others caution that our mass retirements will cause a brain drain of historic proportions that will put our economy at risk.

We often hear that we have not saved enough and will run out of money in retirement if we don’t get serious and aggressive about saving yet our current focus on saving rather than spending has contributed to our economic woes.    

We are told that our collective aging and resulting health problems will overwhelm the health care system while displaced workers are encouraged to pursue careers in the health care field because of all of the jobs that will be created to care for aging Boomers.

We are told that our downsizing will create massive turmoil in the real estate market as we unload our “too big” suburban houses while some cities and states are planning for and embracing smaller, senior friendly urban housing options and the growth, the jobs, and the increased taxes they will provide. 

So the messages are mixed.  Should we retire or continue working?  Should we save or should we spend?  Will we overrun the medical system or will we drive demand to create new jobs?  Will we further deflate housing prices or will we create a Senior housing boom?  

The only thing that seems to be certain is that everyone you ask believes that everything is all our fault, all of the time.

Boomers have received mixed messages for years.  It started when we were kids.  At least at my house the conversations often went like this:

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!”   “Lower your eyes!”

“Stop crying!”   “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

“Answer me!”    “Don’t talk back to me!”

“What do you have to say for yourself?”   “Be quiet when I’m talking to you!”

Perhaps the conversations were the same at everyone’s house.  Perhaps that’s why no one finds any problem in these mixed messages.  Perhaps that’s why few even recognize these contradictions, this see-sawing “advice” as problematic. 

But just like when we were kids and our folks were delivering mixed messages, Boomers today not sure what “they” want us to do.


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