January 1, 2011
This morning’s New York Times carried a story: “Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone: Age 65” by Dan Barry that noted that the oldest of the boomers will hit official old age this year. It is a noteworthy demographic fact to comment upon.
If I had been writing the article, I would have made a central theme out of the insecurity of boomer retirement, since their generation—I just missed it by being a late war baby—was massively subjected to having secure traditional pensions replaced by shaky 401(k) stock market investment schemes.
Instead, the only comment Barry made about boomer retirement was in passing:
“About 13 percent of the population today is 65 or older; by 2030, when the last of the baby boomers are 65, that rate will have grown to 18 percent. In addition to testing the sustainability of entitlement programs like Social Security, this wholesale redefinition of old age may also include a pervading sense that life has been what might technically be called a ‘bummer.'”
It is a testament to the success of propaganda campaigns by the opponents of Social Security that journalists like Barry take it for granted that its fiscal sustainability is problematic. Nowhere did he mention that 401(k) were a problematic vehicle for retirement security.
The only danger to Social Security’s sustainability is political not economic: if national politicians do the bidding of the financial services industry and reduce or eliminate its major competitor for retirement savings.
–James W. Russell