Saturday, June 15, 2013

Encore My Ass

I’m getting awfully tired of all these articles about aging boomers reinventing their lives and starting “encore” careers. Everyone from life coaches to financial advisors has advice on what boomers should do with the rest of their lives.

How about nothing? Does that work for you? How about we sleep late, do the crossword puzzle, surf the internet, make lunch, take a nap, go out for dinner, watch a movie and go to bed early? Is that so wrong?

Why must we have a Second Act? You never heard of one-act plays? This concept of reinvention implies that we were no good the first time around so it’s incumbent upon us to do something better now that we’re ready to retire. I think it’s great that the banker now wants to be a teacher. In fact, I wish he was never a banker in the first place, but that’s another story. Good on you if you’ve decided to start a new, small business after 40 years of working for someone else’s business.

Let’s just keep in mind that it’s a choice, not a requirement. No one should think less of you if you just loll around the house all day eating Oreos, instead of caring for orphans, feeding the homeless, and finally learning to play the guitar (and play in a boomer band).

I’m trying to understand what’s driving this whole self-improvement, second act phenomenon. At first glance, it looks like baby boomers doing what they always do (at least according to sociologists). We’re so self-centered we need to find the next chapter in our amazing journey through boomerdom. We are supposed to be the “me generation” (although every generation after us has earned that label as well), so it’s all about us figuring out what do next with our lives.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that an 800 pound generational gorilla attracts a lot of attention from people who want to make money off of us. 76+ million boomers is a great target if you have something to sell. Perhaps it’s all about getting us to volunteer at the soup kitchen, drive the school bus, and launch a start-up business that needs a lawyer and an accountant.

Are there many boomers out there who want to reinvent themselves but have to keep working so that have adequate savings for retirement? A MetLife report that surveyed boomers born in 1946 finds that 21% are still employed full-time. Most of them plan to retire at age 69 or 70.

I’m not feeling a particularly strong drive to reinvent myself. It’s more about what I don’t want to be…and that’s easy – a Walmart greeter.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mo’ Babies Please

Much like the one word advice the young Benjamin Braddock receives in the film The Graduate, the most important advice of our time comes down to one word, and it’s not plastics, but it does begin with a “P.” And that word is procreate.

That’s right, we’re counting on Millenials to produce lots of kids. Lots and lots. Population growth means new entrants to labor force, but more importantly, they create demand….for clothes, cars, homes and gobs of consumer goods. And growing demand means an expanding labor force. You do see where this is going, yes? New jobs are good for the economy, most certainly. But new jobs means more folks paying social security taxes and that means baby boomers can collect their social security checks.

If you want continuing support in your twilight years, you need to be cheering on these millenials to have more babies. Perhaps we should volunteer to baby sit their existing broods while they go out for date nights. Maybe we can sign them up (anonymously, of course) for porn pay-per-view. We can lobby for higher tax credits for dependent children. Whatever it takes, we need to get these millenials in the mood for love.

There was a time in our history as a nation, when families were much larger than the nuclear family average of 2.5 children (don’t get me started on the .5 kid). Large families meant free labor on the farm, with every child helping to raise crops and livestock. Think of all the advantages of returning to this family model. The home building industry would benefit from new demand for 6 or 7 bedroom houses. Automakers would retool for 10-passenger vans and station wagons. The garment industry could literally begin to offer shirts, pants and dresses that are cheaper by the dozen. We would need bigger schools and more teachers.

Stop me now if you can’t see the upside of this new baby boom. The only loser in this new paradigm might be makers of birth control products. So my advice to you is start right now, today, to encourage the millenials in your family or social circle to get cracking on making those babies. Our whole future could depend on the actions we take today.

Two, four, six, eight, who do we want to procreate!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.