A column by Jim Tankersley in The Washington Post claims the Baby Boomer generation is responsible for America’s woes, from the federal debt to climate change. .
A video on the web site shows two fat white boomers sipping Merlot and noshing peanuts, with the tagline, “Baby boomers pillaged our economy. They should help fix it.” Tankersley advocates cutting Social Security for retirees.
“Politicians shouldn’t be talking about holding that generation harmless. They should be asking how future workers can claw back some of the spoils that the “Me Generation” hoarded for itself,” writes Tankersley.
The Fourth Estate or the Fourth Dimension?
There is no acknowledgement that.America’s tax and political structure benefits the obscenely wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Research shows that boomers are affected by wealth inequality, just like everyone else. Moreover, boomers lost houses and savings during the Great Recession, brought on by unregulated Wall Street bankers and financiers who plundered the middle class without consequence.
Much of the concern about unemployment today focuses on the alarming number of younger workers who can’t find jobs and not upon the plight of older workers who have the “safety net” of Social Security.
Of course, this is not a contest. It is a tragedy that younger workers are unemployed but it also should be of concern that older Americans are suffering. It is true that Social Security keeps older Americans from homelessness and starvation but studies show that 9.5 percent of Americans over the age of 65 (including 11 percent of women) live in poverty and almost half of older Americans are “economically vulnerable.” The so-called safety net is torn and insecure.
When Social Security was adopted in the 1930s it was not designed to be the sole source of support for older Americans in retirement. It was intended to supplement pensions and savings. The demise of traditional defined benefit pensions began more than 30 years ago and millions of older workers lost homes and savings during the worst recession in 100 years. (2007-2009). Many retiring workers today have nominal resources to fall back on aside from Social Security.
There is outcry about the 22 percent wage gap between male and female workers but what about the even bigger 29 percent Social Security gap?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older in 2013 was $12,857, compared to $16,590 for men. That gap can mean the difference between living frugally and living in poverty. And many more older women do live in poverty than men. According to a 2013 study by the National Women’s Law Center, nearly 2.9 million women aged 65 and older lived in poverty, compared to 1.3 million men.
So why do women receive a lesser Social Security benefit than men?
The short answer is that Social Security rewards men for sex discrimination in the workplace, and perpetuates the harm suffered by women who are subject to sex discrimination in the workplace.
Just as it is important to eliminate the gender wage gap, it is important to eliminate the gender Social Security gap.