Boomers: Take a Long, Hard Look in Your Financial Mirror

Boomers: Take a Long, Hard Look in Your Financial Mirror

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Boomers: Take a Long, Hard Look in Your Financial Mirror

I’m a card-carrying Baby Boomer, an offspring of the Greatest Generation. Our parents were remarkable. Their childhood experience was the Great Depression. They sacrificed their youth to march off and fight the most fearsome and devastating war the world had ever seen. They came back from the war and built the greatest nation and strongest economy on earth. Life was never about them; it was always about their work, their community and their kids.

My generation inherited the strongest economy in the world. Thus far, I don’t think we, Boomers, can be very proud of our stewardship of our economy. As an industry leader, business owner, father, grandfather and citizen, I am very concerned about our future. We know that the majority of the Baby Boomers can’t afford to retire and can’t afford the cost of post-retirement healthcare or a nursing home.

The nation has big problems to solve, and to do that we are going to have to change our behavior and the behavior of our leadership.

Most of us went to work building a lifestyle that our parents couldn’t have imagined. We also did something our parents never understood, if we didn’t have the cash, we borrowed it. The Boomers’ addictions became lavish homes, luxury cars, SUVs, vacation homes, boats, expensive vacations, private schools, luxury boxes and plastic surgery.

And the majority of our leaders in business and government are the best and the brightest of the “me first” and “I want it all now” generation. These are the same people who have eliminated pension plans, eliminated post-retirement health insurance, merged companies and eliminated jobs. These are the same people who got elected repeatedly, catered to special interest, gave out subsidies, welfare payments and special earmarks and did not raise taxes to pay for them. They did what we did in our personal lives: They just borrowed the money.

But what we have not done is far worse. We’ve delayed repaving the highways and fixing bridges so they don’t collapse. We’ve failed to ensure our public education system remains as the best in the world. And we’ve failed to fund our post-retirement benefits.

I would like to borrow a few of Dr. Martin Luther King’s words. I have a dream … that the Boomers decide to follow in the footsteps of their fathers and mothers who lived within their means, invested conservatively, eschewed greed and lived responsibly.

I have a dream … that the Boomers who wanted to change the world for the better in the ’60s and ’70s decide that it’s not too late—and that we do have the time, resources and energy to take personal responsibility for our nation’s future.

I have a dream … that the Boomers spend the rest of their days on earth sacrificing so that our children’s and our grandchildren’s future is the American Dream that our parents gave us.

I have a dream … that we spend the rest of our lives making a difference.

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