Labor Dept.: Baby Boomers Hit Hardest By Recession's Aftermath

The other day, I talked to an old friend I hadn't spoken to in months -- mostly because she's a wingnut and I couldn't take her pre-election insanity. So one of the first things she does is start complaining that her 40-year-old daughter's

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The other day, I talked to an old friend I hadn't spoken to in months -- mostly because she's a wingnut and I couldn't take her pre-election insanity. So one of the first things she does is start complaining that her 40-year-old daughter's Social Security taxes went up "$200 a week and that's a lot when she's paying $55,000 a year for her daughter in college." (Her daughter makes $250K a year.) Through clenched teeth, I said, "Your daughter makes ten times what I do, and I wish I made enough to pay those taxes. I really don't want to hear her whining." Which shut her up for a bit.

My world and that of the people I know is much more like this:

In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”

New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives. A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.

“If I break my wrist, I lose my house,” said Susan Zimmerman, 62, a freelance writer in Cleveland, of the distress that a medical emergency would wreak upon her finances and her quality of life. None of the three part-time jobs she has cobbled together pay benefits, and she says she is counting the days until she becomes eligible for Medicare.

In the meantime, Ms. Zimmerman has fashioned her own regimen of home remedies — including eating blue cheese instead of taking penicillin and consuming plenty of orange juice, red wine, coffee and whatever else the latest longevity studies recommend — to maintain her health, which she must do if she wants to continue paying the bills.

“I will probably be working until I’m 100,” she said.

Digby writes about it, too, explaining why the whole "intergenerational warfare" schtick is a fake rationale aimed at cutting Social Security and Medicare:

In fact, the real downside for the younger generation will be the fact that many of those older people will be forced to work much longer than they originally planned because their retirement income from pensions, 401Ks and real estate holdings were depleted which could have an effect on the job prospects for younger people. In that case, and further depletion of retirement security and health care through the plans such as those advanced by Peterson and Co will make things worse for the young people they are supposedly trying to "help." And it goes without saying that young people will someday get old --- if they're lucky --- and many of them will also need these programs. It should not escape their notice that the deepest cuts come to them, not the older generation.

In fact, they should look at what happened to this baby boom generation as an object lesson in timing. You just never know when the bottom is going to fall out and all your best laid plans for saving and accumulating wealth are shot to hell because a bunch of greedy bankers and financiers decided to gamble with other people's money. Most of those who wind up depending on Social Security are hard-working people who did everything right.

And that's why these millionaire plutocrats are such con artists. They are trying to preserve America for the young, alright. But it's for their own heirs. That's how moneyed elites turn themselves into Aristocrats.

About Susie Madrak

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