Saturday, October 19, 2013

High Jinks

It’s not really a surprise to most boomers, but maybe some millenials are scratching their heads when they read that marijuana use among baby boomers is on the rise. The latest stats from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that people 50-years-old and up are discovering (maybe make that rediscovering) marijuana at a pretty good clip.

“For adults aged 50 to 54, the rate increased from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012. Among those aged 55 to 59, the rate of current illicit drug use increased from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 6.6 percent in 2012,” the federal survey said.

“Among those aged 60 to 64, the rate increased from 1.1 percent in 2003 to 3.6 percent in 2012. These trends partially reflect the aging … of members of the baby boom cohort (i.e., persons born between 1946 and 1964), whose rates of illicit drug use have been higher than those of older cohorts.”

One can only hope that the dramatic increase is not related to medical conditions that can be remediated by smoking the ganja. I like to think that it’s just pure lust for that old feeling of euphoria that’s driving the spike in usage.

Seriously, what baby boomer isn’t nostalgic for that time when friends passed around the bong and listened to Jimi Hendrix play Crosstown Traffic? Wow, that stereo sound was something special and being high made it even more special. The fact that it was illegal upped the ante in terms of excitement.

As boomers aged, they either gave it up for fear that the law would come bursting in the door at any moment or it gave way to legal highs from throwing back a couple of martinis. Some boomers kept on puffing, and for them, a joint at the end of the day was their martini.

Now that twenty states have made medical marijuana legal and you can smoke dope hassle-free in Washington state and Colorado, plenty of boomers are starting to remember the pleasure they got from a good marijuana buzz. It feels like a big wheel turning and coming back around to the place where you got off some 40-plus years ago.

I’m picturing the snack aisle in the grocery store in a few years, and it’s a vision of boomers shuffling along with their wheeled walkers, eyes glazed over from a blast of Bubba Kush, picking out some savory chips to ease the munchies.

Is that such a bad way to spend your golden years?

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, October 8, 2013

We’re Not Stealing Your Stinkin’ Jobs After All

So once again, conventional wisdom bites the dust. Word on the street (Wall Street, Main Street, take your pick) was that baby boomers who wouldn’t retire were stealing jobs from younger workers. Just because our savings tanked and we’ve been supporting our parents AND offspring, that didn’t mean they couldn’t accuse us of being mean old job stealers. That’s what we all get for living longer.

Then along comes the Center for Retirement Research, which has been looking at 1977-2011 data from the Current Population Survey. The study looked specifically at the speculation that younger workers were facing a millennial glass ceiling because those darn boomers wouldn’t get out of the way.

Surprise, surprise. It turns out that boomers staying on the job actually helps younger workers get more jobs, and better paying jobs. The more older workers who remain on the job, the more they spend, especially on new products and services. Somebody is buying those telephones with the jumbo numbers on them! The phenomenon is comparable to the way in which immigrants in the workforce spur economic growth without displacing job opportunities for native-born workers.

This study doesn’t address the mentoring element in the whole equation, but it’s worth noting that other studies and anecdotal experiences demonstrate that boomers are helping millennials assume the reins by sharing their knowledge (or gray matter as I like to call it).

So it looks like boomers are a boon to millennials, not a bust. Not only are we generating new employment opportunities for them, we’re also willingly transferring our skills and knowledge so that they will most likely leapfrog over us in the organizational hierarchy. And what do we want in return? Nothing. Well, nothing but allowing us to stay on the job a little longer – long enough to try to boost our savings for retirement. And even that is a plus for millennials. The more boomers can save now, the less millennials will have to subsidize us out of their pockets.

You don’t want your parents hanging around highway exit ramps with signs that say “Will work for food. Millennials took my job away.” Of course not. So cut us a break and let us die on the job or at a desk, because that still looks like the upside from here.

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.