Tag Archives: baby boomers

COMMENTS ON SOCIAL SECURITY

Dating back to when I was in my twenties and beginning my career, I remember folks saying that Social Security would not be around when my generation became of age. I also remember the rants of the elderly…”I’m afraid Reagan is going to take away my Social Security,” I’m afraid Bush (referring to George H. W. Bush) is going to take away my social security,” and I’m afraid Bush (referring to George W. Bush) is going to take away my social security.” It seemed like the very mention of Social Security or any kind of change to the program brought reactions from the elderly. After having to listen to these rants all of my life, I made a pledge that when I got older I would never act like this.

Now that the baby boomers are reaching Social Security age, we’re hearing more and more rants about Social Security. A young libertarian on a panel of 5 on a Fox News Saturday morning show indicates that she thinks Social Security should be eliminated because it’s not fair to take money from someone young and poor and give it to old people who don’t need it. Then all of a sudden Fox News is an advocate of eliminating Social Security, according to liberals. I watched the video of these segment several times and from my observations, it was a dis-jointed discussion where opinions were floated, but no one had a chance to explain and conclude their opinions.

For all working Americans who have contributed to Social Security, there is not an envelope in a large vault with your name on it containing the money that you will receive when you become Social Security eligible. If this is news to you, I have some swamp land that you might be interested in purchasing located in Louisiana. As I indicated earlier, the baby boomers are reaching Social Security eligibility age and there’s a lot of them. Following the baby boom years, there was a decline in births which means less and less people are working and paying into Social Security. Furthermore, the economy is very sluggish with many people who would normally be paying into Social Security out of work or working in low paying jobs. This doesn’t make for an optimal situation and everyone who will reach Social Security eligibility age within the next five to fifteen years should be concerned about what benefits, if any, they will be receiving. I’m concerned. That’s why I’m working 14 hours a day seven days a week, trying to create some wealth so I won’t have to depend on Social Security.

A Democrat strategist on the same panel I mentioned above indicated that she would be an advocate for a system where those becoming Social Security eligible would have the option to opt-out of Social Security if they had income and assets to live out their senior years. This was a Democrat, mind you. If a prominent Republican/conservative had said something like this on the Sean Hannity Show and Sean agreed, I can’t imagine what the liberals would have done. They went ballistic when Michelle Fields, one of a five member panel, threw out an unpopular idea and claimed that Fox News was advocating the elimination of Social Security. I don’t know what liberals would have done and frankly I don’t want to know.

Several months ago, there was a photograph being circulated on Facebook by Occupy Democrats. It suggested that a group of millionaire and billionaire businessmen were advocating eliminating Social Security. Of course, a number of my liberal friends went nuclear. Did they do any research on this? Of course not! The subsequent research that I did indicated that this group of well-heeled business men had suggested that, in order to save Social Security, the retirement age would have to be raised at some point…a far cry from advocating the elimination of Social Security. When I pointed this out, one of them actually thanked me for doing the research.

As my generation reaches Social Security eligibility age, it looks as we’re going to be no different that our predecessors who whined that Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II were going to take their Social Security away. Unlike previous generations, my generation has Internet and social media and with Internet and social media, reams of information have been put out there, some accurate, some not.

I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir when I say this. If you see something out there that is not accurate, point it out, no matter what the point of view. So many times we roll over. But before you take issue with something or share something that you like, take a few minutes to do some research on it. It may save you some embarrassment later.

If you’re a baby boomer who is approaching Social Security eligibility, don’t believe everything you see on social media. Again, research it before you pass it along and get upset.

I’m concerned that Social Security might not be there for me and I’m also concerned that the government, may, at some point, come in and tell those of “means” that they are not eligible to draw Social Security because they have enough assets to last them the rest of their life. The money they contributed will therefore go to someone else who actually needs it. So, what do we do? I suggest work hard and make every effort to create some wealth in order to diminish your chances of having to depend partially or totally on the government for your livelihood, no matter what your age. I know this sounds like an extreme concept and liberals are going to come at me with…”You mean you want people to work!” Call me anything you want, I’ve probably been called it before.

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RETAILERS CLOSING AND LAYING OFF EMPLOYEES

According to conservativetribune.com, some of the largest retail chains in the U.S. have announced that they are closing dozens of stores and laying off thousands of employees. Two institutions with the most closures are Macy’s and J.C. Penny’s. Uhm! Thought the economy was getting better.

Chuck Tatelbaum, an expert on business bankruptcy’s, believes we are on the verge of a number of business failures of specialty retailers and national general retailers as well.

While we all thought the economy was turning the corner with falling gas prices due to a relatively new innovation called fracking, which, by the way, liberals are against, we may have just been teased. Mr. Tatelbaum goes on the state that reasons include the changing of purchasing habits by consumers and a continuing hesitancy to spend, and less than expected sales during the 2014 holiday season.

Actually, I’ve been expecting the closing of retail stores and thought there would be more closing earlier than now. Online shopping has been around since the turn of the century. I currently buy about 90% of my clothes online. I generally purchase accessories in stores, though. While there are a lot of folks out there who feel that online shopping is not secure and have to see how everything they purchase looks on them before they will purchase it, the trend is catching on. Now that the baby boomers are growing older and aren’t the vibrant selves that they used to be, many are going to online shopping.

Also, as Mr. Tatelbaum said, U.S. consumer buying habits have changed. Once again, the baby boomers are getting older and perhaps less vain. Those of us who, twenty years ago, wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same thing twice within a four-week period, now may not care anymore. Also, the number of home workers is increasing. You just don’t need as many clothes if you’re a home worker. Also, if you’re a woman, you’re not going to need as much makeup. If you’re plans are to work from home all day and not go out, why waste makeup when no one is going to see you except the dog or cat, the spouse, or the kids.
Guess you thought I was going to blame the current president and the Democrats for this? Am I? Well, the economy is still very sluggish and it’s definitely the result of the policies of the current administration that is doing everything it can to throw roadblocks up in front of our entrepreneurs and risk takers. But I think the reasons cited by Mr. Tatelbaum and online sales play a part also.

With the technological revolution, including the dotcom explosion, it looks like the chickens have finally come home to roost.

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THAT’S SO TWENTIETH CENTURY – Part Two: Dealing with Technologically Challenged Folks

          I’m a moody person and I know it. I shouldn’t be, and it sometimes affects my relationships with others. But I have a theory; no one is on top of the world 100% of the time. Those that appear to always be in a great mood all of the time are probably hiding something. I have one friend who is always on top of the world and admonishes me when I’m down. I happen to know that particular friend is hiding sadness. When I’m in one of my dark moods, I do try to avoid being around people. My “always happy” friend tells me that I need to be around my friends and people that care about me when I’m down. I don’t agree with her. It just worsens my mood when I have to be around others when I’m in that state of mind. I’m better off being alone; take my word for it.

            Why am I telling you this? Nothing throws me into a rant or a bad mood, than having to deal with folks who are not computer literate. The technological revolution began in the mid to late 1980s and by the early 2000s, our everyday lives and the way we do things were changed completely.

            We’re talking over twenty-five years ago, when the tech revolution began. A few years back, I was talking to a woman with whom I used to be good friends, but as a result of life’s twists and turns, we just don’t see each other much anymore. She said that she hated computers. Even though she had a system in her home, she didn’t use it. Her daughter had set up the system, and then set up an email address and internet access for her. I asked her how she paid her bills every month. When she said that she wrote checks and put them in the mail, I screeched, “You’re still doing that?” I think I really hurt her feelings.

            Another friend had taken a picture of me at the beach with her digital camera. The picture was a good one and I wanted the .jpeg file. Well, she went to the drugstore and had prints made. I told her that I did not want a print that I wanted the .jpeg file and asked her would she email it to me. She didn’t know what a .jpeg file was. She didn’t even have the software package for the digital camera installed on her computer. I told her that all she had to do was install the software on her computer, hook up the USB cable that came with her camera to her PC and her camera. Then all she had to do was follow the instructions to transfer the pictures to her hard drive. Then send me an email attaching the file. When I was telling her this, she had a “deer in the headlights look” and said that she would have to have her daughter do this. Now, I shouldn’t have been that nasty to her, but why have a digital camera if you’re just going to take the camera to the drugstore and have prints made. You might as well stick with film, if they still have film. I don’t know.

            I also get mad when someone asks me how to do something on their smart phone and I tell them to read their manual or google it. Every smart phone is different and I don’t know how to do everything on every smart phone that’s out there. They promptly tell me that their phone didn’t come with a manual. I tell them that they probably need to download it from the vendor’s website and there should be a URL somewhere in the package of stuff that will take you to the place to download the manual. “Well, I don’t have time to do all of that.” “Well google it.” “Well, I’ll just have to have my children or my grandchildren do it for me.” Frankly, I don’t want some snot-nosed teenager or twenty-something messing with my stuff. No offense to the twenty-somethings that may be reading this post. They get your device and start punching buttons willy-nilly. There’s no telling what they’re messing up or what settings they’re changing. Unless someone’s phone is identical to mine, I’m not going to grab it and start pushing buttons. I don’t want to mess up their settings and besides, they need to learn how to do things for themselves. When I want to know how to do something that I can’t determine, the first thing I do is google it. They’re no better than I am. Again, I shouldn’t act like this, but I do.

            When I suggested to one friend that she take some classes, she promptly replied that she didn’t have the time to take classes. This friend is retired. In the late nineties, I was working fifty to sixty hours a week and still found time to take classes during the evenings and on Saturday. And yes, I was younger then. But I wanted to learn and knew that I had to learn because I wasn’t getting any help from my primitive company. And those classes sure paid off because when I found myself faced with a major career decision, I was able to choose to pursue a career in IT.

            When I left my primitive company in 1999, we had two transcriptionists who were using Word Perfect 5.1 on very old PCs. When the company closed, one of the ladies tried to get another job as a transcriptionist, but found that people were literally laughing at her when she said that she had extensive experience with Word Perfect 5.1 and didn’t know anything about Microsoft Word. She was also very surprised to find that transcriptionists were going out of style. Professionals and executives were typing their own letters and reports. The CEO of the company that I left in July 2013 doesn’t have a secretary. He answers his own phone and does his own typing.

            After retiring from the teaching profession, another friend of mine was appalled that you had to apply for jobs electronically and upload your resume to the prospective employer. At one time, looking for a job meant having a resume printed on high quality paper. Not anymore.

            A couple of days ago, I had a friend send me an email attaching a flyer and asking me to change something on it. I guess she did the flyer herself, but didn’t know how to make changes. It took me probably fifteen seconds to make the changes. She could have made that change if she would make an effort to get out of the eighties and into the second decade of the twenty-first century. Instead, she emailed me the flyer, I made the fifteen second change, and sent it back to her. The process took forty-eight hours and that was just ridiculous.

            To not be an embarrassment and a burden to friends, all one has to do is learn to navigate in a windows environment, learn to effectively surf the Internet, and learn how to use Microsoft Word. If you want to go a little further, you can learn how to use an Excel Spreadsheet. I don’t know what basic classes cost now, but I was able to get good deals in the nineties. If you go to a private establishment, classes will be more expensive, of course.

            I realize that this post is going to make some folks mad, but hopefully they will get over it and make an effort to get out of the eighties and perhaps into the early 2000s. Is that too much to ask? Here is a list of things that aggravate me the most.

  • Not knowing how to attach a file to an email.
  • Not checking your email regularly and depending on folks to call you to remind you about meetings and such.
  • Not knowing what you have on your computer. I recently sent a Word document to a friend. When she opened it, she saw gibberish. I asked her if she was running Word on her computer. If so, what version? “I don’t know.” I knew better than to suggest that she change the file to an .rtf format, so I changed the file on my end to a .rtf format and re-sent it to her. She could then open it.
  • Folks that won’t try to solve their problems through a user’s manual or google.
  • Folks that say they don’t have time to learn about their smart phones and tablets. I think you had better take some time.
  • Folks that are always saying that they’ll get their children to do whatever. Granted, I don’t have any children, but if I did and they were like me when I was young, I wouldn’t trust them.
  • Folks that keep their phone beside them when they’re out eating. My phone stays in my purse unless I’m expecting a phone call or a text. Then I apologize to the folks I’m with for having the phone out.
  • Folks that once said that they had absolutely no idea why anyone would need text messaging. But once they got it and started to text, can’t seem to put the phone down.

As a Baby Boomer, I have been through it all. When I was in my thirties, I said to myself and to others that when I got older, I would adhere to the following.

  • I would always make an effort to wear stylish clothes to the extent that I could.
  • I would keep up with new products and innovations.
  • I would always listen to popular/rock music

           I do make every effort to keep my wardrobe and hair up to date and avoid being a fashion faux paux at all costs. I haven’t had on a pair of pantyhose in years; much less wear them with open-toed shoes. Pantyhose? The thought makes me itch all over. I’m pretty much current with new products except for television. I don’t DVR, mainly because I barely have time to watch what I need to watch to keep up with my business. I quit listening to rock music several years ago, because I no longer identify with it. I’ve gravitated toward modern country with my favorites being Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, and Florida Georgia Line. Country’s really cool now days. Of course, I still love Jimmy Buffett and my favorite singer is Mac McAnally.

I guess this is the end of my rant. My intentions were not to make some folks mad, but to open the eyes of some folks to the fact that they’re still stuck in the eighties. We do things so much different now and will continue to do things differently. Try to learn a few things. Yes, your brain might not be what is was when you were thirty, but it’s not dead and pickled yet.

God Bless!

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WAGES AS A PERCENT OF THE ECONOMY

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and now Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC, Berkley; posted an interesting blurb on his Facebook page.

Professor Reich pointed out that wages as a percent of the American Economy/GDP is very low at this point and has been for the last thirty years or so. He also makes a point that in the fifties, it was much higher. Also in the fifties, especially during the Eisenhower years, the income tax rate for top earners was 91%, but yet we built the interstate highway system and public education was expanded. In the sixties, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts were passed, extending prosperity and participation to African-Americans. Then Medicare and Medicaid legislation was passed which reduced poverty among America’s seniors. Finally, the professor sites the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency to help save our planet.

The purpose of this post was to promote income equality and site why things were so much better in the thirty years following the ending of World War II.

It does seem as though corporate profits are at an all-time high and wages are low. Mr. Reich goes on to indicate that the wages of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American Economy doubled.

I love to see companies pay good wages and salaries to those folks who deserve such and I wish the percent of wages to GDP was higher. In researching this, I only found limited information.

So, why do I think this is happening? According to Mr. Reich’s post, one-third of all American workers in the private sector belonged to unions. Now it’s fewer than seven percent. Of course, liberals love those labor unions and see unions as a way to attack who they consider the elite. At present, workers don’t appear to want to unionize. How could this be? In the fifties the unions procured good wages for workers and stuck it to top management.

We extended public education and required that children be placed in school and attend until they were at least sixteen years of age. Maybe those folks, after benefitting from more education, felt empowered to fight their own battles. Maybe they took that assembly line job when they were eighteen with aspirations of moving to the corporate headquarters. If they had a problem, maybe they would rather take it up privately with their immediate superior rather than go before a union board. While unions may be more capable of getting groups of workers higher wages, sometimes using tactics such as threats and intimidation, the individual worker may choose to take less in the form of compensation feeling that he/she may be better off in the long run.

Many workers before the seventies had little or no education and were pretty much limited to doing manual labor and as a result, may have needed unions to run interference for them. But now, due in part to a better educated and more knowledgeable workforce, unions are not needed as much as they may have been in the past.

Speaking of a more knowledgeable workforce, in the fifties, people that had televisions were only able to receive two or three stations with newscasts at the dinner hour. For those that couldn’t afford television, radios were a source of news, but most of the news on the radio was local news. Of course, there was the newspaper, but for the many who could not read, the newspaper was useless unless someone in their household could read it to them. Starting in the seventies, cable TV came on the horizon and by the early eighties, CNN, America’s first twenty-four hour news channel was broadcasting in many homes.

In summarizing the decline in union membership, one might say that due to the expansion of public education and better access to information, many people are convinced that joining a union is not a good thing and that they would be better off in the long run without the union, even if their wage is lower.

Another reason why the percentage of wages to GDP may be portrayed as low is that benefit packages may not have been included. Benefits for workers now are much better than they were in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Remember the old major medical policies? These were the policies offered to workers where hospitalization and other costly medical expenses were paid for, but routine checkups and routine medication were paid out of the worker’s pocket. Now, after co-pays and deductibles are met, routine checkups, pharmaceuticals, and many other incidentals are covered by health insurance, costing employers a lot more. Also, there was no such thing as dental insurance until at least the late seventies. I don’t think that I had dental coverage until the nineties.

Also came the 401(k) where a worker could elect to have a certain percentage of his/her paycheck taken out and invested for his/her retirement. These dollars were not taxed because at the time of withdrawal, the worker may have a lower income. Many companies implemented matching plans where up to a certain percentage was matched by the company. Was the money employers paid out in 401(k) matches included in determining the percentage of wages to GDP.

While the money spent on employee benefit packages does not go to the employee as wages, it amounts to a substantial expenditure by the company on behalf of the employee and benefit packages are much larger today than they were thirty to sixty years ago.

In addition to the wages and benefits that go directly to employees, a substantial part of an employer’s expenses are those paid on behalf of employees such as training and special seminars. For instance, it is custom and practice for every new hire in this day and age to go through a sexual harassment seminar. A seminar such as this takes money implement and administer. Also, some larger employers require employees to go through sensitivity training so they can communicate with people from different cultures without being offensive.

When this percentage started going down in the seventies, the baby boomers were graduating from college and flooding the job market. Furthermore, in the fifties and early sixties, most of the folks graduating from college and going after the professional jobs were white males. White females were relegated to the lower paying jobs such as teachers, secretaries, and nurses. Also, people were getting married at early ages and a lot of women became housewives and mothers in their early twenties.

The above, coupled with the civil rights movement of the early sixties where barriers were lifted to blacks and other minorities and the women’s movement of the early seventies, flooded the job market even more. As a result, there were more people seeking jobs than there were jobs to be filled. And this is going to drive the salaries down. Jobs that were traditionally held by white males up until about the mid-seventies were also being sought by women and minorities.

The above are just a few of the reasons that come to mind when I’m confronted with these statistics. There are certainly more reasons out there, but in my opinion, these are the main ones that may have helped to lower the percentage of wages to GDP in the U.S.

In closing, it’s funny because liberals/progressives/democrats are quick to accuse republicans of wanting to take us back to the fifties; but it seems in Professor Reich’s post, the liberals may be the ones that want to go back to earlier times.

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