Baby Boomer Retirement? We Wish!

I’m a baby boomer. After 18 years with one company I was forced into “early retirement” when I was still in my 40s. Obviously I couldn’t actually retire since I’d have gotten a pension of about ten dollars a month. So I became a contract programmer, no job security, no benefits, just money. Which was OK until the Fortune 500 began replacing all of us with guestworkers and then offshoring. So for the last eight years I’ve been making a quarter of what I did before, mostly getting short term jobs fixing what the guestworkers screwed up.

Well, eventually I will have to actually retire. Or will I?

Every year, when it comes time for the next H1B guestworker lottery, we get weeping and wailing from the Fortune 500 about how they need an infinite number of foreign guestworkers because when my fellow boomers retire there will be fewer American workers replacing us.

But they are lying, because I will never be able to retire, and neither will many of my fellow boomers. We will have to work until we die in our tracks, because we are being forced out of jobs with retirement benefits into jobs with no benefits, being forced to take jobs that pay half to a fifth of what we used to get paid, if we can find jobs at all.

I have friends who used to be computer geeks who are now nurses, truck drivers, or working at grocery stores. They could still do the jobs that are now being done by guestworkers or offshores, but no one wants to give them medical or retirement benefits, and no one wants to give them any training (they’d prefer to hire someone who lies on their resume).

So we are doomed to have a huge number of unemployed or underemployed older workers being a drain on the economy rather than a boost. And all the cost savings from hiring cheap foreign labor go to the upper management., not into lower prices for consumers, nor higher dividends for stockholders, nor better wages for remaining workers.

Is there now a significant lack of skilled IT workers in the U.S.?

Executives are being told by their hiring managers that there are not skilled workers in the U.S. and they must seek H-1Bs to fill positions

How economic conditions affect retirement decisions

Younger workers struggling to find a job now have something else to worry about: older workers with little choice but to keep working, even in a weak labor market.

Comfortable retirement a fading dream for many

She’s already put off retirement several years. Now, she says she may have to stay on the job four or five years more.

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9 Responses to Baby Boomer Retirement? We Wish!

  1. Hi,

    I am currently doing computer work for an author on this subject. I believe that her book, How Not To Go Broke At 102, will be very helpful to you. It deals with the subject of financial planning for retirement, something that seems to me that you would be very interested in. Go to the website, http://www.hownottogobrokeat102.com, for more information and purchasing links.

    Ian

  2. Paul Petillo says:

    Fortunately for you, the physical nature of your job could permit you to work until you are well into your seventies, even eighties. Obsolescence might come with diminishing mental capacity but oh, well!

    Some boomers will have no choice. They will be unable to perform the same work thirty or forty years without some sort of breakdown.

    We focus so much on our American ingenuity, our ability to be anything we want to be, our innovative natures will save us. Only not all of us. All of the high-school educated workforce and about half of the college educated folks will face an inability to work beyond retirement age. Look at your parents (or your friend’s parents) and imagine you as them.

    We need to treat life like the roller coaster it is, a build up to a climax followed by a gentle slow down. Trouble is, we have not created a corporate environment that wants to accept that consumers come in all shapes and sizes and if they continue to shun who we are, there will be no one left to sell their goods and services to. And if they do not embrace hiring us, we will not embrace patronizing them.

    Our retirement system is not broke. It just needs to slowdown and take a look at itself.

  3. It’s quite a dilemma for many of us Baby Boomers who do not have adequate retirement income on the horizon.

    My choice is to create new streams of income that will provide not just retirement income – but also a lifestyle that is fun and challenging and interesting. A lot of the up and coming generation complains about “not having enough health care to go around when it’s their turn” for example.

    They complain about us all the time. “why don’t they hurry up and die” – kind of stuff. Yet a whole bunch of younger people still live at home at the age of 29 or 35 – where they keep going back when their gold cards are maxed out buying designer tennis shoes and new tech toys…

    But they don’t own real estate. I bought my first house at age 24.

    We do need to change the paradigm – no question.

    But the concept of being put out to pasture “after our productive years are over” is a load of bologna to me. In my case that pasture needs to be around 500 acres in a beautiful valley, not a 400 sq ft retirement community condo in the city somewhere.

    Life really does begin at 40 but we start getting it right at 50. We have never had more opportunity in terms of access to information and a world wide market – ever in history – as we do today. As a group, let’s look at the amazing world of opportunity and couple our creativity and experience to it and see what we can create.

    I heard a very smart guy, named Blaire Singer, talk a couple of years ago at a five day intensive seminar. He had a bunch of volunteers get up in form a single line across front of the room. Then he instructed them to pick up a long continuous piece of rope on the floor in front of them. He said this rope is a person’s lifetime symbolizing a person’s life. So

  4. It’s quite a dilemma for many of us Baby Boomers who do not have adequate retirement income on the horizon.

    My choice is to create new streams of income that will provide not just retirement income – but also a lifestyle that is fun and challenging and interesting. A lot of the up and coming generation complains about “not having enough health care to go around when it’s their turn” for example.

    They complain about us all the time. “why don’t they hurry up and die” – kind of stuff. Yet a whole bunch of younger people still live at home at the age of 29 or 35 – where they keep going back when their gold cards are maxed out buying designer tennis shoes and new tech toys…

    But they don’t own real estate. I bought my first house at age 24.

    We do need to change the paradigm – no question.

    How about this? Die rich and die healthy as a paradigm instead of thinking in terms of “lack and not having enough and scarcity and illness.”

    There are many role models out there for us to emulate.

  5. Al Kernek says:

    Unfortunately, most baby boomers will have a difficult time retiring due to the financial realities of this generation – namely, that life, divorces and the economy have decimated 401K’s and home equities.

    According to a June 24, 2008 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research: The decline in home values has reduced the prospect of comfortable retirements for the majority of near retirees. “This extraordinary destruction of wealth will have tremendous implications for millions of families as they enter retirement,” wrote report co-author Dean Baker. “Coupled with a very low personal savings rate, this means that many people will only have Social Security and Medicare to rely on in their retirement.”

    By some estimates, up to two-thirds of baby boomers will not have the financial resources to enjoy a retirement consistent with their current life style. They will have to work longer and settle for less. For them, retirement will mean learning how to stretch their dollars. They will also have to be open to making (sometimes dramatic) changes in their lives to achieve a “comfortable” retirement at a level supported by their income.

    For the majority of baby boomers, retirement isn’t going to be like that of their parents. It will be more frugal, more innovative, and more active. But for a generation that wants to be the captain of their own time after grinding it out for so many years, they will find a way and continue to contribute to society.

  6. I totally agree with Michael Barrett’s comments – even if we are able to retire (which I’m not, by the way), why should we? I think about the ad with Dennis Hopper where he says the retirement rules have changed. As a rule, baby boomers are living longer, and they want to enjoy themselves and have their toys.

    Most boomers are going to want additional streams of income when they retire. What better way than to have a home-based business offering residual income. In today’s internet world, that’s totally possible – how cool!

    Matt Hellstrom

  7. Brad says:

    Cry some more? Why do you think you have the right to make more just because you are older. If there is little demand for people in your career of course your going to get a reduced wage. Why do people working in Asia deserve to make less with the same productivity? Im sick of ageism in the workforce and how union ideals force up wages by seniority instead of skill or productivity.

  8. Your oldboss says:

    If you were actually productive you would now have 28 years with one company.

  9. numen says:

    Heheh – my old boss got forcibly retired cuz he was diddling the head of graphics…

    As for me, they laid off a quarter million people along with me, and as a result their stock price dived by 80%. If my old bosses had been productive, yeah I would now have 28 years with one company.

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