The Consumer Generation Lives On…and On…and On…

The Baby Boomers, that generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 (according to Wikipedia, the irrefutable source and verification of all that is right and true), might better be termed The Consumer Generation. Daddy survived WWII, mummy made it through Daddy being away for several years and both likely grew up during the years of The Great Depression.  Daddy and Mummy wanted their children to have. Have? Have more, dude. More money, more education, more lifespan…virtually more of everything.

They do. Unfortunately for the generations that followed, the Baby Boomers departed from the path commonly followed by their progenitors, that of retiring after having paid for the house, the car, and so on, then enjoying a bit of quiet time until they went away leaving a small golden egg for the children and grandchildren. Sounds like a paradigm of Soylent Green, doesn’t it? Possibly Eating Raul would have been a better solution. Well, the Baby Boomers had (and have) no intention of going quietly into that dark night nor do they intend to truncate their spending habits before remanding their mortal coil for renovation at the coil shop.

Observation made while shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in the upscale part of north Tucson recently: today’s old folks don’t drive old cars. In fact, old folks don’t tend to drive sedate cars. I watched a series of Q-tips, the white-haired ones, parking their sparking new SUVs. BMW, Porsche, Lexus, Cadillac…all the impressive and expensive marques were represented. Tucson is not a high-dollar retirement area, either. When I sneak past the gate guards at Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, the Biltmore corridor and such places in the Phoenix area, this trend of expensive cars driven by geriatric cases is multiplied exponentially with the exception that Phoenix has more old fogies who sport extensive bodywork on their own bodies, too.

Gramma is no longer a plump little blue-hair who attends bingo at the church. Now she’s a cougar. Botox injections plump her lips; silicon enhances her boobs, her perfectly straight, white teeth are a prostodentist’s dream-work (and likely paid for the several semesters of a DDS’s kid’s tuition). She’s blown more 20-something boys than Madonna, Britney and PeeWee Herman combined. Granddad isn’t waiting in the parking lot in the black, 4-door Buick, either. He’s parked his ‘vette outside the country club lounge, inhaled a couple lines of ground Cialis and is inside putting moves on young lovelies who don’t come from families in the high-dollar retirement range.

So it goes.

Unfortunately for the younger generation, so it goes…and goes…and goes on seemingly forever. Paying for the Baby Boomers has, whether we really like to acknowledge it or not, saddled the US economy with a significant debt. Not all, likely not even most, of these retired folk are living on the income from wise investments. Many of them are drawing steady pensions, often in the six-figure range, that come from jobs that had guaranteed retirement. What industry provided such extravagant benefits? Government, of course.

Instead of younger people, recent college graduates reaping the rewards of their educational achievement, entering the consumer market, many of the new graduates are looking for jobs that pay enough to cover the student load obligations. Back on the homefront, mom and dad are holding onto their jobs because their investments tanked and that re-mortgaged McMansion is under-water. On the third hand, granddad and grandma are out partying…or are crossing the nation in that $200,000 RV they bought a couple of years ago.

So, the consumer generation, the baby boomers, rolls along with the benefits of guaranteed pensions, social security benefits that are sacrosanct regardless of how much other income is in the account, and limitless medical care that extends into the infinite future while many young people are burdened with paying the costs for minimal health upkeep.

Answer: don’t really have any. Answers for such complex problems tend to be simplistic, much as the generalizations I made above are also simplistic. I’m merely making observations, most of which are seen through rheumy eyes, heard with truncated auditory senses and occasionally touched with palsied hands. Disclaimer: I’m not a boomer. I was born before they were. I am, admittedly, a Q-Tip. I have long, white hair…a pony tail and a beard. I’m an old hippy. I still play guitar renditions of Woodie Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Huddie Ledbetter and some other guys from the folk days. I ride a fancy bicycle that I built up myself. I lower my flabby buttocks onto the saddle of old motorcycles that I maintain myself. I drive a 15 year old SUV that I keep running with bailing wire and JB Weld and a 30 year old VW van that harkins back to my real hippy days. I think the cougars look silly…and the sugar-daddy in the bright red Porche cabriolet is a fool.

But that’s me. With a dollar and my observations, you might find a cheap cup of coffee.

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