A Boomer Challenge for New Year

I am a Baby Boomer. If you were born between 1946-1964, you join me as a Baby Boomer. Back in the day, we had our challenges including the cold war, Vietnam, Watergate, assassinations of RFK and MLK, and the recession of 1973.

We also had a lot of good stuff. Building of infrastructure. The Civil Rights movement. Great music. Time of long hair and peace and love which sadly did not take. The sexual revolution took place when I was in college. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, I went to a conservative liberal arts college and did not find out about the sexual revolution until I watched a documentary on it in the early 1980s. I cried for days.

For years I have others from our generation tell me we had it so much harder then today’s generations. When I care enough to comment, I always say I respectfully disagree. We, Boomers, are the weakest of all the generations.

Like many if not most Boomers, I have grandchildren and anyone who knows me knows that I am a combination passionate and obnoxious grandparent. They have many of the challenges we did, but some that are unique and much more difficult.

Federal Deficit
When I was born in 1951, the country was a few years out of WWII. The Federal Deficit was $235 Billion and the top marginal tax rate was 91%. When I graduated from college 1973, the Federal Deficit was $458 Billion and the top marginal tax rate was 71.7%. Today the Federal Deficit is $34 Trillion and the top marginal federal tax rate is 37%.
*If you think this is the result of Democrat policies, GROW UP. The federal deficit went from $5.7 Trillion in 2000 to $27.5 Trillion in 2020 and Republicans controlled House, Senate and Presidency the majority of those years. From 2000-2008 under Republican leadership, we started two wars and cut taxes. That’s insane. Former President Trump increased the federal deficit by almost $8 Trillion and cut taxes. Even more insane. Because of their unwillingness to raise taxes and fees, the Republican policy for years has been charge it and send the bill to the kids and grandkids.

Unless we change are ways and increase Federal Revenues, our grandchildren will be paying for our debts for their entire lives and it will affect all parts of their lives. We did not have this burden and neither should they today.

Work was valued and meant something. For example, when I went to college, minimum wage was $1.60. At that time, a college student who worked a 1,000 hours and earned $1,600, could pay tuition, room and board at the state university in my state. If you work a 1,000 today at minimum wage of $7.25, your homeless. [For the record, my Sophomore thru Senior years I worked more than a 1,000 hours and earned more than $1.60 an hour.]

Putting oneself thru college today by working is virtually impossible. That’s not fair and it gets worse. From the end of WWII until the 1970s, income gains were similar on a percentage across various income groups. From 1979 through 2016, the wages of the middle 60% of income earners increased 47%. During the same time period, the top 1% increased 226%. In 1965 CEO pay was 21 times a typical worker. In 2022 CEO pay was 344 times typical worker pay. In today’s world, workers do the work, and CEO’s and top executives take the income.

Gun Violence
When we were growing up, none of us worried about being killed as part of a mass shooing at school, or a mall, or anywhere for that matter. Today, I doubt if there are very many K-12th graders who are not aware and stressed that there could be a school shooting at their school at anytime or anyplace else. Boomers need to own and change this policy.

Climate Change and Cost of Natural Disasters
We did not know that there was climate change taking place and there would be consequences. In the 1980s there were 28 billion dollar Natural Disasters for a total cost of $127.7 Billion. That increased every decade with the last decade coming in at 119 billion dollar events for a total cost of $802 Billion. Extreme weather events, massive fires, urban flooding and sunny day flooding in coastal areas are taking place now.

This has and will continue to have financial consequences in affected areas including a loss of personal wealth, increased insurance costs and overall economic decline. If mortgage insurance companies decide to price in climate change in their risk management models which I believe will happen, this may be the end of the 30-year mortgage in some parts of the country.

Women’s Rights
When I was in college, Roe vs Wade was made the law of the land by the Supreme Court. This law protected women’s individual health care rights. For me, the decision made sense at every level. I could not then nor now understand why anyone should think that women should not have the right to make personal health care decisions. I studied theology in college and knew that Jesus never said anything about abortion in the four Gospels or homosexuality for that matter.

If you have granddaughters like me, the movement in our country by some against women’s personal health care rights is not acceptable. For the last fifty years, women knew their personal health care decisions were personal and protected. We need to restore this.

We never worried about the end of our democracy from internal strife. After January 6th, that all changed. The Trump inspired attack on our Capital and overall democracy should make every Boomer take action against any or all who supported Trump and his continuing attack on our democracy. The past Presidential election was fair and accurate and Trump lost. Any vote for Trump or his supporters is a vote to end our democracy. Period.

The Good News, Youth and Others Are Fighting Back
*Greta Thunberg is an International climate change activist. On a state level, a youth group ages 5 to 22 in Montana sued the state on climate change and won. The judge ruled that the state’s failure to consider climate change when approving fossil fuel projects was unconstitutional.
*There are youth led groups like “Team ENOUGH” which are against gun violence and lobby against elected officials who are unwilling to change gun laws. Check out their website.
*Women of all ages across the country are fighting to restore women’s health care rights in all states.
*People of both parties and Independents like me are fighting against the election of Trump and his supporters at every level.

I am not saying we had it easy back then. We did not. But anyone who thinks it was harder back then than now is living in a bubble. We boomers cannot put our heads in the sand. We need to active on all the above issues not for us, but for our grandchildren. We have one last chance to be great.