04 July 2010

Let the Boomers Go

June job creation numbers were disappointing. Once again, the American economy failed to create enough jobs for everyone who wanted one. Considering the burden of institutional incompetence the economy must overcome, that's not surprising. Almost 30 years of conservative economic policy has sucked the vitality out of the economy. Extraordinary measures may be the only thing to save us from an economic catastrophe rivaling the Great Depression.

The American economy is powered by consumer spending. Somewhere between 65 and 70% of GDP reflects everyday citizens buying the things of everyday life. Now, that buying is threatened by the lack of buying power. Americans don't have the income to continue the buying which drove the economy to its former heights because good American jobs have been exported to foreign countries. Technology has destroyed others. We're left with only a fraction of the jobs we once had. Where will we find the new jobs we need?

Don't depend on capitalists to create them. They were responsible for destroying the ones we had. We have to find another solution to our national problem. One solution is right before our eyes and would be easy to implement.

Since the end of WWII, much of American life has been affected significantly by the Baby Boom. The huge generation born in the years between 1946 and 1964 have skewed the American economy toward their needs. As children, they caused their parents to build houses and schools. As the Baby Boomers grew, they demand cars and their own homes. Baby Boomers' children echoed their parents and extended their economic effect.

Now the Boomers are retiring. A few at first and then, as always, in huge, statistic-skewing numbers. Congress can take advantage of this distortion of demographics by encouraging Boomers to retire early. Early retirement would free-up jobs for the millions of young American families who need a start.

One way to encourage early retirement would be to eliminate or offset the Social Security early retirement penalty. Right now, depending on the birth year of a prospective retiree, the SS benefit is reduced from 20 to 30% for anyone who wishes to retire before the normal retirement date. Congress should eliminate this penalty or appropriate funds to provide an offsetting subsidy. Considering the size of the Baby Boom, an increase in retirement funding, relatively small though it would be, would encourage enough Boomer retirements to make a difference in the employment statistics.

Let the Boomers go.

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