By Larry Teren
Why do younger people think that baby boomers are acting selfish about upcoming entitlements? There has been a recent outcry by those who have outgrown diapers and nose rings to demand that the federal government cut back on social security and medicare to those of us who will be entitled to them in a few short years. After all, government spending is getting way out of hand.
Our grandparents- the first wave of recipients- put less in but received more social security (but no medicare) benefits. Were they more deserving than today’s senior citizens? No, but it benefited society to help them out financially.
Some Americans under the age of 40 look and see a certain percentage of retired wealthy senior citizens with vacation homes in another state and wonder why they get any social security at all. Hey, it’s because we do not discriminate in this country- that’s why. Just because somebody is smarter than me and figured out how to succeed and put away a lot of money for his or her future doesn’t mean that he or she should not get his or her fair share. They paid into the social security fund just like everyone else.
The social security act was designed as a supplement, not as THE retirement fund for an individual. Many of us who are self-employed have self-directed IRA’s or 401k plans. Some collective bargaining employees have pension plans that are partially funded by their employers. Despite these various nest eggs, many of us will still get a piece of the social security pie. Baby boomers do not need to apologize.
It is the nature of our modern living experience for the younger generation to not hold the same priorities and lifestyle attitude of their older counterpart. It is no different for we baby boomers who grew up on television and an expanding economy as well as the perfection of the birth control pill in the early 1960’s. Our parents dealt with being denied extravagance by their parents because of the Great Depression. Our parents spoiled us by letting us watch television to our heart’s content instead of doing homework. They ignored our emerging liberation in other areas as we grew up from teenagers to young adults.
During our first years of trying to establish careers, baby boomers didn’t think twice about the social security amount withheld from our pay. We didn’t relate to something we didn’t need for another forty years. If anything, we figured it was helping our grandparents pay their expenses. There was no medicare in those days that I am aware of. Each state of the union had a welfare board that took care of indigents.
The direction of this country in government spending is headed into a situation of super inflation. It may be possible five or ten years down the road that social security no loner will be considered a supplement but the safety net that will allow retired folk to buy food and pay for their medicines.
Maybe part of the displeasure of younger folk is the fact that social security and medicare are lumped together in the mind’s eye. It used to be one tax withholding category on the paycheck. Medicare is essentially socialized medicine for the elderly. Nothing wrong with that. It should be extended for all ages. Hospital and doctor costs have skyrocketed to being out of hand. The typical senior citizen cannot not afford to buy a regular health insurance policy based on age health actuarial experience. It is getting to the point that the rest of us are almost in the same situation.
I may be too decrepit or senile in thirty to forty years to know what the new batch of retirees will be doing to stay afloat financially. One thing for sure, though- they will be grabbing their social security checks with a smile and hoping Medicare coverage include Viagra pills .