The title is shocking but unfortunately shockingly accurate. A small percentage of boomers got many boomers to support policies that screwed themselves and the future generations. And this is no accident.
An article by Paul Buchheit titled “The Taking of Millennial Wealth by Rich White Boomers” lays it out very well as he lays out the absolute numbers. You cannot spin this stuff.
Ten years after the recession, most Americans, including Baby Boomers, are still struggling with finances. The Wall Street Journal, cheerleader for capitalist-driven recoveries, noted that Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers are all still poorer than in 2007. But the incredible prosperity of about 10% of the Boomers is beyond dispute, as the numbers below will show. Most of those lucky people are older white males.
In the past eight years, the 1% gained $6.75 million each, the 2-10% gained $700,000 each, and the poorest 50% of American adults LOST an average of $3,000 each. The bottom 50%, which includes most of the indebted Millennials, saw their average net worth fall to about $8,000. That’s the average wealth of people in many developing nations. Part of the reason is the refusal by employers to pay a living wage. The wages of America’s poorest 50% have remained stagnant since the recession, continuing a 40 year trend.
He continues with a statistic that illustrates another form of generational theft.
Despite being better educated, Millennials are earning 20% less than Baby Boomers at the same age, in good part because “full employment” includes gig jobs that pay little more than half the wages of fulltime employees. In 2007 over 50 percent of college seniors had job offers waiting for them at graduation; ten years later fewer than 20 percent did. Planning for the future is generally out of the question. Two-thirds of 21- to 32-year-old Millennials have NOTHING saved for retirement.
As a result of all this hardship, more 25- to 29-year-olds live with their parents or grandparents than at any time in the past 75 years.
Writer Steven Brill describes the cunning ways of the well-positioned Boomers: “Ingenious financial and legal engineering turned our economy from an engine of long-term growth and shared prosperity into a casino with only a few big winners…They created exotic, and risky, financial instruments [that] separated those taking the risk from those who would bear the consequences…They were able to consolidate their winnings, outsmart and co-opt the forces that might have reined them in…The result is a new, divided America. On one side are the protected few – the winners – who don’t need government for much and even have a stake in sabotaging the government’s responsibility to all of its citizens…On the other side are the unprotected many.”
The richest individuals and corporations have benefited from 75 years of public funding for the technologies that are now replacing working people with robots. Amazon depends mightily on our infrastructure; Apple on our phone innovations; Google on our Internet. All the ‘modern’ apps have their foundations in the basic research that is still largely funded by our tax dollars.
This economic aberration is the reality the most boomers and subsequent generations are living with now. Unfortunately for many boomers, it was a result of willful ignorance that traded, marginally lower taxes at the expense of future economic prosperity for all.
It is clear that the generational theft cannot continue. In fact, the 10% of Boomers’ excessive wealth should be recovered and reinvested where it should have been in the first place.