Many of us like to imagine things that will end the world. We are drawn to apocalyptic scenarios like a moths to the blue light of a bug zapper. We amuse ourselves with schema that will most likely cause the end times. Asteroids. Artificial intelligence. Anthrax. Which are all very cute. But the real threat lives amongst us. They are known to us. We interact with them every day. We might even be fond of some of them. But these people are the walking, breathing embodiment of the end times. I’m talking about the greatest danger to continued human existence to ever walk the earth, I’m talking about the Baby Boomers.
And their stubborn refusal to die.
Apparently seventy is the new fifty. My old man is turning 70 in two months. He is the walking embodiment of the problem we face. He is healthy, strong and certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the decrepit ancient person he should be by now! There is literally nothing wrong with him, besides the fact that he’s annoying… his doctor gives him a solid thumbs up once a year when he does his full medical. He’s even learnt how to use an iPhone. Which I find mind boggling. He comes from a generation of telex-machines, stock brokers and post cards.
The old man is anomalous in so far as he did the much vaunted retirement thing ten years ago. He contributed dutifully to his retirement fund. Did the whole living annuity thing which pays him out until he’s 99. Which he might actually reach. That’s 29 years away. His mother reached the venerable age of 99. (she was still driving at 90)
This is problematic for two reasons. Well maybe more. Lets see how we go…
Not all Baby Boomers planned for their retirement. Which means they have to carry on working. Which means they stubbornly occupy higher order positions in a company that should be cycling. Only its not. Because they’re not retiring… and they’re not dying. So they’re causing this strange bottle neck which cascades down the chain of command. Suddenly the middle manager is in position longer than his predecessor… the bottom of the barrel guys can’t move up the chain either… because the middle managers can’t move up.
Imagine starting out at a company… instead of up cycling every couple of years, YOU occupy the bottom tier for double the amount of time. More importantly your salary stays the same. ie. LOW. You dare not quit, because there are twenty five graduates with MBA’s and a mountain of student debt waiting outside for your job.
Your twenties and early thirties are supposed to set you up financially. But now being stuck at the bottom for longer means a whole bunch of things. One, if you have student debt… thats gonna take longer to pay off. And two… less disposable income. Why less disposable income, because old people aren’t dying, plus normal population increase means a lack of affordable housing. Just paying your rent in an area where it won’t take you two hours to get to work in the morning is half your salary. Plus medical aid. Old people are going to put tremendous pressure on health care. The fact that cancer is now treatable makes Discovery sad. They used count on cancer culling the population. Now people carry on living. The longer they live, the more expensive they become to maintain. Old people fall… break a hip, spend five weeks in the hospital… AND RECOVER. You know how much that costs Discovery? Lots. Suddenly the pool is getting smaller… and smaller… either they can cut back on what they cover… Or… they can increase the monthly cost to cover the shortfall because the Baby Boomers are sucking it dry. OR… they can try go into other things that they think are similar to their core… like banking. And hope that will supplement their insurance business…
Pensions run on mathematical formulas that hypothesize how many people are going to die and when. Up until now its been super accurate. It helps keep the pool of money at a healthy level. In fact pension funds had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it. So they bought shopping malls. Now that people are living longer… anyways… it creates a lot of headaches. Even worse headaches for developed countries like Japan and Germany. Where healthcare is free and people rely on government pensions. Those aging populations are economically not a viable anymore… but they’re going to cost a fortune to maintain. And you can’t just let them fend for themselves… because those people vote… and for the most part are politically more active than younger people. Just look at Brexit and the oldies totally shafting future generations.
No legacy. This sound a little cold hearted and mean, but its a real thing. Inheritance. The longer your parents live… the less you’re going to inherit. Legacy is a huge builder of intergenerational wealth. Its big part of white privilege. The longer baby boomers live… the less there is at the end of the day to pass down to the next generation. Looks like you won’t be able to count on daddies death to buy you that Maserati anymore. Obviously this might not apply to you…
Burden. The other end of inheritance. Your parents never catered for their retirement. Or have run out of funds. You can abandon them on the street, which I hear some people do these days. Alternatively you can take them in. And care for them. They bring nothing with them to this party. You are responsible for their medical aid, they additionally burden you by eating your food, using your utilities and chipping your Le Creuset mugs. They also make you get DSTV because they can’t use Netflix. At the same time you have to buy diapers for your insanely expensive toddler you have to buy diapers for your insanely expensive father-in-law. Even worse if you eventually have to get a carer… or someone to bath them…
Your boss is an 80 year old. He remembers the war. Which war you’re not entirely certain… You remember seeing laser guided bombs on the history channel once… but you doubt that’s the one he’s referring to. In fact it sounds like he might have fought in one. You have NOTHING in common with your boss. He doesn’t understand you newfangled marketing ideas. In fact every single idea you pitch him is met with a glazed look. You’re just that over eager whippersnapper. Settle down youngun. Every day you think about how much you hate your boss… you often think about shooting yourself in the head. You imagine going home…. to your sanctuary. But then remember… you two screaming children and most likely your father in law has used all your hot water by now. You re-evaluate why you are actually alive.
The good news is. Well… I’m not sure if this is good news or not. But you too will likely live a really long time. Possibly being a burden on society and your children. If the world hasn’t imploded by then I mean.
Or you can get your shit together. Whatever.