Stop Blaming the Baby Boomers

From my blog on US News & World

Sometimes it feels like many of the problems in the world are being blamed on the baby boomer generation. The consensus seems to be that the 75 million of us born between 1946 and 1964 are the root of our current woes. Here are a few examples of problems the baby boomers have supposedly caused:

[See 10 Ways Baby Boomers Will Reinvent Retirement.]

  • Retiring baby boomers are going to adversely impact manufacturing. Some 55 percent of senior executives recently polled by Neilson say the deficit of skilled employees caused by retiring workers will cost them $100 million or more through 2016.
  • Kids cannot count on an inheritance. According to a recent survey of millionaires by U.S. Trust, less than half of wealthy baby boomers feel it is important to leave money to heirs. Many parents hide their worth from children to avoid possible conflict.
  • Baby boomers may cripple the stock market. When baby boomers sell off equities to finance their retirement lifestyle, big problems will occur on Wall Street. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, we should all be concerned that this massive stock market sell-off might depress equity values.

But are all of these ills really the fault of baby boomers? Don’t forget about the incredible growth of creativity and business that we are instrumental in driving.

[See Baby Boomers Reveal Biggest Retirement Fears.]

Baby boomers have been categorized as a bit me-centered. We are perhaps slightly more focused on the here-and-now versus the long term. But we put in an honest day’s work, love our family, and always strive to succeed.

If manufacturers would create a work environment that supported older employees and encouraged them to keep working, maybe that pending shortage of skilled workers could be addressed. Jobs should be designed to better accommodate older employees with flexible hours, job sharing, and part-time work. Employees are often forced out after a certain age regardless of their ability to continue effectively in their role. With modern advancements, we are living longer and more productive lives. Given the option, many boomers would prefer to work rather than retire.

Do kids deserve an inheritance? Rather than an entitlement, shouldn’t this money be viewed as a gift? Until our children begin struggling to make ends meet today while simultaneously saving for tomorrow they will not understand the sacrifice required. I personally encourage my parents to enjoy their lives with the money they have earned and saved. Whatever is left, if anything, I will consider a bonus.

Wall Street has had its bubbles and recessions for decades. Baby boomers have played a major role in fueling the meteoric growth of the stock market. Is it fair or reasonable to blame us for selling some of our investments to fund our retirement life? That is why we weathered the volatility and invested in the first place.

[See 7 Tips for Baby Boomers Turning 65 in 2011.]

With 10,000 of us reaching the age of 65 each day, it is time to stop blaming the boomers and instead find more ways to incorporate us into the future. We have proved ourselves a force to be reckoned with and are going to be around for a long time.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.