Looming generational showdown? | June 6, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- June 6, 2014

Looming generational showdown?

In Stanford talk, author parses diverging attitudes, voting patterns of old and young

by Chris Kenrick

With widening gaps in wealth and attitudes between young and old, is America in for a war between the generations?

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Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

"With Baby Boomers ... turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day"

In olden times age 65 may have been a milestone, but what is its significance today?

Like this comment
Posted by Tokyo Rose
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

This happened in Japan about 25 years ago, and it was indeed ugly. Basically, the younger generation felt they should not have to work as hard as their parents and grandparents had to to make all the same economic gains.

It doesn't work that way, younglings.

Like this comment
Posted by History student
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

This report left me wondering how much relevant context the speaker omitted (or didn't even know about).

'smaller cohorts of working adults financing the retirements of larger cohorts of older ones — represents "uncharted territory, not just for us but for all of humanity."'

What about existing parallels like Belgian unemployment policy, famous for unemployed workers receiving longtime benefits that rise with age. This leads to older workers effectively disincentivized to work, while younger ones resent the burden of supporting them through taxes.

'[The US went from] 16 workers supporting every Social Security beneficiary in 1950 to just three today.'

But -- wasn't this mentioned? -- exacerbating that issue, the US, in the same interval, also went from Social Security as last-resort retirement safety net (largely self-sustaining, benefits linked closely to contributions) to far more generous payouts. That was partly a political move (starting in earnest with the Johnson administration) to buy elderly votes. The increased payout magnitudes continue to be seen emotionally as entitlements, something "earned," though that has long been inaccurate compared to past generations. Today's retirees see potential payouts far out of proportion to anything their grandparents did, and the taxes to fund that situation keep rising.

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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I wouldn't say it going to be a "showdown", but its going to be a rough transition for all, dealing with 40 years of deficit spending, lack of investment in infrastructure, and NIMBY based housing policy, though at least we're starting to fix the problems now that they've come to a head.

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Posted by Fred B
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm

His comparison of millennials to boomers seems off, especially in the number of workers per retiree.

It appears there are slightly more millennials than boomers in the U.S.

From Wikipedia:

William Strauss and Neil Howe projected in their 1991 book "Generations" that the U.S. Millennial population would be 76 million people.[43] Later, Neil Howe revised the number to over 95 million people (in the U.S.). As of 2012, it is estimated that there are approximately 80 million millennials residing in the United States.[44]

The generation can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts: The Leading-Edge Baby Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1955, those who came of age during the Vietnam War era. This group represents slightly more than half of the generation, or roughly 38,002,000 people of all races. The other half of the generation was born between 1956 and 1964. Called Late Boomers, or Trailing-Edge Boomers, this second cohort includes about 37,818,000 individuals, according to Live Births by Age and Mother and Race, 1933–98, published by the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics.[12]

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Posted by CKadakia
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

The lack of financial security for the future is combated by a strong sense of entrepreneurship and an attitude of 'my future is in my hands' in the Millennial Generation. Despite many critics who regard the Millennial Generation as lazy and entitled for moving back in with parents, in reality, it's much wiser than spending beyond your means as many Boomers found out in the real estate crisis. In many cultures, young people live with their parents until they can make it out on their own. In my speaking about the Millennial Generation, I have found quite a few other Millennial leaders who would like to work with all generations to create a more sustainable future. I hope that the media and generations start working with us and taking us up on those offers where they come.

Crystal Kadakia
Gen Y Speaker, Millennial Speaker

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 1:23 am

The fallacy in this argument is that it is by numbers of workers and not by money brought it.

The Social Security tax is regressive and if they would just fix the tax system putting it back to its original progressivity and tax all income the same based on the total income of the person from all sources - problem solved.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 1:29 am

Robert, a resident of another community
said: I wouldn't say it going to be a "showdown", but its going to be a rough transition for all, dealing with 40 years of deficit spending

The deficit spending was really the top 1% refusing to pay taxes and rigging the system by getting Reagan elected who started all this deficit spending. After Reagan trying to push the tax burden down on the lower income levels while corruption and greed went ballastic at the higher levels has

1. corrupted government
2. killed any idea of reducing poverty
3. created one of the most unequal societies on the planet now
4. also corruped media and journalism
5. been a big motivator toward dumbing down our schools so the masses of people do not understand what is going on.
6. reduced educational and work opportunities.
7. put private money - most of which is in the hands or control of about 30,000 people in this country in charge of everything, and in order to sustain and protect this system is pretty much killing anything that might challenge or change it.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.