For some reason, in recent months there has been a rise of articles detailing the fact that Boomers are now a major factor in the decline of our economic well being.
We have the “chutzpah” to be living longer and will be tapping into Social Security and Medicare at an alarming rate. Of course, the government and politicians love to talk about “doing something”, but no one seems to have the courage to address the issue head on. I mentioned on our Facebook page a few weeks ago the statistics that baby boomers will not have enough money saved for our retirement. That was frightening enough. Now we are also dealing with the fact that our demographics will force hard choices to be made for legislators. We can either pay for war or pay for health care.
Thomas Friedman really put this in perspective in a recent NYTimes piece (July 29, 2012) entitled “Coming Soon: The Big Trade-Off”. He writes that we have “a new strategic doctrine coming: “US foreign policy in the age of Alzheimer’s. We do what we can afford and forget the rest.”
Friedman notes studies done by Jewish Federations of North America which reflect the challenges of our longevity. We are living longer, we have little savings to carry us through this aging; our health care costs and demands are outstripping our ability to pay for them; care-giving costs and demands (financial, emotional and spiritual) will only continue to grow and strap existing institutions. Friedman challenges the status quo: Nursing homes, nursery schools or nursing Afghanistan–these are the trade-offs we’ll have to make in this decade, unless we have a real growth spurt”.
One of the issues for our generation is realizing that these economic issue are very real and will impact each of us and our families. After all, it will be children and our grandchildren who will be “paying” for these programs — we hope. This also raises the need for our generation, in the institutions with which we are involved, to create opportunities for discussions on these issues. The price of ignoring these trends may be catastrophic, on many levels.
That we cannot afford.
Rabbi Richard F. Address. D.Min