By Martha Rose Crow, M.S.
In July, I turned 52. Every time I have another birthday, I embrace it with marvel and wonder because it’s a miracle that I’m still alive. This is because I am keenly aware that I should have been dead a long time ago. Yes, I’ve had some big health scares in my life, but I am aware that something wicked is going on in American society. No, it’s not about Bush, his corrupt cronies and a neutered congress. It’s much more diabolical than that. The Baby Boomers are dying off.
The next day after my birthday, I checked my email letters and found a frantic email from my Aunt Peach who lives in southern Ohio. My first cousin Johnny Ray or “Johnbo” had died (the day before my birthday). He had just turned 45 and had been sick with some kind of virus that had caused him to have surgery on his hip and back. Johnny Ray got up from the table and dropped dead. I’m still waiting to hear from relatives on his “cause” of death.
After I read the email from Aunt Peach, I began to think about my other two male cousins, also “Baby Boomers”, who had died in the past 8 years. My cousin Steve died in October of 2000 in a motorcycle accident [link to www.sciencedaily.com]
Then my thoughts turned to all the people – all “Baby Boomers”- that I knew had died. The list is so long that I had to think hard to remember most of them! The first people I thought of were my friends Steve and Shirley, a married couple that I was good friends with since 1983. Steve died of hepatitis (he was battling cancer) four years ago. He was 54. Shirley died of a heart attack at 58 two years later. Ironically, she was in a hospital in Florida being treated for a kidney infection when she just died.
Three of my four ex-husbands are dead. Two of my old landlords who were close personal friends are gone as well. All were Baby Boomers.
Although I lived in American Indian communities most of my adult life, and thus American Indians have shorter life spans (average of 45 years), I look around and I see that most of the people I knew as an adult are dead. Sure, they died from a variety of illnesses or “causes”, but these were people who never reached their prime and these were people who lived in the world’s wealthiest nation. Half of these people are white, too, not just Indians. All were “Baby Boomers”, born between 1946 and 1964.
After American soldiers returned home from World War II in 1946, the United States and other western countries experienced an explosion of births. This is where the name “Baby Boom”. This season of fertility continued for the next 18 years, when the birth rate began to drop. In 1964, baby boomers represented 40% of the population, which meant that more than one third of the population was under 19 years of age at that time.
In the past few years, Baby Boomers have been attacked by many groups, including regular people, representatives of government and by the propaganda arm of the “conservatives”; those thoughtless “think tanks” whose job is to create “crises” and then offer laissez faire or “free market” economic solutions for those “crises”. These solutions always come with a blood cost for the regular villagers never benefit from these “solutions” when the elite and corporations, on the other hand, prosper from the violent energies of western capitalism.
There is a plethora of articles on the internet raging against Baby Boomers, accusing them of a “Me Generation”, that we were too shallow, materialistic and parasitic, or that we are going to be a drain on good society in the future (for example, “Boomers to Feast on Social Security” www.wacotrib.com/opin/content/news/ opinion/stories/2007/10/19/10192007wacrncol.html.
Mindless think-tanks (they’re famous for “inventing” crises to effect draconian, conservative social change) accuse us of “crimes” we will “commit” in the future of “bankrupting” the government because Baby Boomers start will collecting Social Security when they retire. The costs to the System will more than bankrupt the government, these costs will force younger workers to pay more taxes into the System. In other words, Baby Boomers will become parasites to society only from the crime of growing old.
There is a reason why mindless, conservative “think tanks” sell these sensational tales: their corporate donor masters want people to invest their Social Security taxes in stocks. Now that wal-street is starting to implode from all its avarice and thus, the economy is crumbling, Social Security investment would have ruined many lives about to retire. It was always a bad idea to invest Social Security taxes in the stock and money markets and will always be a bad idea, but the lapdogs of wealth keep selling this idea. You can find these articles of bad faith all over the internet, including the Cato Institute. These articles have sensational and hate baiting titles such as “The Democrats Want to Raise Social Security Taxes” [link to www.socialsecurity.org]
Right wing politicians want to pour Social Security taxes into the market to make it flush with wealth – wealth that can either earn a return or be lost forever because of the volatility of the market. Ironic that the big players always walk away rich from the market right before it goes downhill when “average” investors are the suckers that lose money.
If Baby Boomers aren’t being demonized by the media, politicians and others (including think-tanks) for being the group that’s going to bankrupt government, Baby Boomers are being demonized by those same people and groups for the futuristic crime of bankrupting the government for future costs of elderly health care.
Individuals, right wing talk show hosts, newspapers (financial and other), newscasts, articles on the internet, so forth, hysterically scream that the needs (including financial) of aging Baby Boomers will bring down the houses of government and society because of the costs of future payments. These people, financial and political representatives plus their agents (public relations firms, think tanks, so forth) keep repeating the mantra and slogan over and over: Social Security and Medicare are going to go bust because of the bothersome Baby Boomers.
Articles on the internet and newscasts scream how sick Baby Boomers are going to get and how much the public will have to pay for it:
• Smog will hit baby boomers’ hearts hard: report [link to www.cbc.ca]
Everyone knows that smog kills people and those deaths are not reserved for just Baby Boomers.
• 10 Million Baby Boomers Face Alzheimer’s, Report Predicts
Many articles on the internet say that there are 70 million Baby Boomers still alive. This means that one in seven Baby Boomers will get Alzheimer’s Disease. Wikipedia [link to en.wikipedia.org]
• Diabetes Risk Grows for Baby Boomers
This comes from a 1987 article, thus proving the invisible, silent class war against Baby Boomers began a long time ago. More, diabetes has become an epidemic reaching virtually all segments of the population, including Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers aren’t the only ones stricken by this disease.
• Aging Baby Boomers Flocking to Doctors [link to usgovinfo.about.com]
• Baby Boomers Appear to Be Less Healthy Than Parents
• Optometrists Anticipate “Boom” in Eye Diseases as Baby Boomers Turn 60
• Kidney Disease Timebomb Ticking in Baby Boomers
• Researchers Relate Arthritis And Obesity With Baby-Boomers
Articles on the internet claim that large numbers of Baby Boomers will get alzheimers, back problems, hearing loss, cancer and more. Whether directly or indirectly, there are hidden messages in most of these articles and those messages are that Baby Boomers will cost society and government a lot of money for their medical ailments.
Instead of fixing the problems proactively and humanely, the rabid capitalist element of American society and government dominantly insist that the Boomers are the problem, not their Savage System.
A juggernaut is: “Something, such as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed.” [link to dictionary.reference.com]
There is no money set aside in some bank account for Social Security payments or Medicare. The money that people pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes is lent to the United States government to pay for its expenses including expensive wars. Social Security and Medicare aren’t going broke: They’re already broke.
People pay into Social Security and Medicare all their working lives. If they should die before they retire, all that money is lost to the government. The government and captains of capitalism only gain when people die off at an early age before the people are eligible for their benefits. The government “saves” money when people die because that it doesn’t have to pay out any benefits. Capitalists benefit, too, as they are safe from higher taxes (which means more profits to the investor class).
It is very fortuitous to the greed elements of society when Baby Boomers die before they become financial “liabilities” to the System. Instead of celebrating the milestones of a person’s life, the Savage Society finds Boomers millstones around their necks. This is because the elderly are not working, thus not contributing to society. You find this attitude and phenomenon in fascist societies. American capitalism is fascist and in that mindset, those who do not contribute to society economically and/or ideologically, must disappear permanently.
Unknown to many, the Nazis got rid of their elderly population the “logical” way: They had them killed either by doctors and nurses or by gas chambers in concentration camps. The Nazis did this with their own German handicapped and infirm as well. The aged, disabled, minorities and sick were looked upon as “useless eaters” in German society and industry.
America is an empire that certain people called neo cons want to cover the earth with. The first law of empire is to kill its redundant, independent, older and poor citizens. This frees up space, disappears critics and enriches the wealthy because they don’t have to share.
Baby Boomers lost a lot of wealth from the recent fallout of the mortgage bubble. Worse, they lost a lot of wealth in their homes.
Thus, many Boomers are facing stark economic futures. They have also
been victims of layoffs because of their age and seniority (their jobs were outsourced, destroyed, sent overseas or they were replaced with younger workers without seniority so they would work for less).
My boyfriend’s father is 54 and he’s facing being laid off from his job. This man has worked faithfully as an electrician for a manufacturer for over 30 years and since this manufacturer was taken over by a giant international corporation, someone has to pay the costs so they are laying off workers with seniority and replacing them with younger workers that won’t cost so much. Work is this man’s life; what he’s lived for most of his life. Work is his lifeline and even if my boyfriend’s father gets a nice financial package with his layoff, it will take years off the man’s life because not having his job will put a big empty hole in his life that he was not expecting. Plus it will deny him the money he could have earned if he had not been laid off.
Ironically, my boyfriend’s uncle (mother’s brother) committed suicide two years ago at the age of 49. He killed himself because he lost his job as a tiler and couldn’t find any work but burger flipping at McDonald’s. It murdered his dignity to work for wages he couldn’t support himself on so he put a noose around his neck. And folks, this happened in Holland where there are still social safety nets in place. The working situation for Baby Boomers in America is worse…much worse.
Boomers and older people are also getting poorer because they still have to pay part of their doctor’s and hospital bills plus medicine costs. All of these costs have skyrocketed, thereby depleting Boomers’ savings and income. Many retired thought they had enough saved for the “golden years” have found out that costs for prescriptions by themselves are putting them in the poor house.
Baby Boomers are a juggernaut: They have to be ruthlessly sacrificed for the benefit of the elite and their System.
Deprivation means, “The act of depriving” [link to dictionary.reference.com]
There are two kinds of Deprivation in sociological and psychological circles. One is Relative Deprivation and the other is Critical Deprivation.
The word “relative” means related. In some scientific circles, relative deprivation is believed to be a phenomenon where people feel deprived when they can’t keep up materially with others, including their neighbors. But this is not the exclusive meaning of relative deprivation, just one meaning and the meaning social controllers and managers try to sell the public to minimalize, degrade or hide its other meaning. Another meaning for relative deprivation is when a person has the “basics” (enough to eat, a place to sleep and possibly medical insurance), but doesn’t have the other things that make life varied, different, unique, interesting and valuable. These things include variety in food to eat, hobbies, vacations, better choices of clothing, money for things like art exhibits/theatre/movies/zoos/museum visits and all the other things of life and civilization that add ambience, meaning and value to individuals’ lives.
Critical relativity means a lack of food, housing and other basics of life.
Historically, many older people in America have historically found themselves riding the fence between critical deprivation and relative deprivation. This phenomenon is a structural problem of the System. Either deprivation or a combination of both deprivations is deadly because when people live in stark, dark lives, they die!
They don’t teach this in school and the media never covers it, but everyone in governing circles or esoteric graduate school classes knows this: Take away someone’s Quality of Life and they will die from deprivation or what I call “Adult Failure to Thrive.”
Many people are aware of the “infant failure to thrive”. They know that infants who are neglected and not cuddled, talked to and loved will begin to wither and die. This is the same phenomenon for “Adult Failure to Thrive,” only some of the factors for it are more advanced.
A Quality of Life is different for many people, but it begins with decent food, decent housing, medical care, some material comforts, recreation, hobbies, a yearly vacation, money for essentials like clothes, shoes to birthday presents, and all the other things that make life healthy for an individual.
Deprive people a Quality of Life and they start dying in droves. This is what I’ve observed all my life and I’m (plus others) are observing it becoming more now.
“Americans at the 95th income percentile or higher can expect to live nine years longer than those at the 10th percentile or lower. The poor are more likely to develop illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer, and there is evidence that relative deprivation and the stress it engenders are involved. When high inequality and rising top incomes shift society’s accepted standards of living upward, it seems that people experience deprivation even when they have adequate food, clothing, and shelter.”
The article (“Unequal America”) where I get my above quote from also says, “The United States no longer boasts anywhere near the world’s longest life expectancy. It doesn’t even make the top 40… Research indicates that high inequality reverberates through societies on multiple levels, correlating with, if not causing, more crime, less happiness, poorer mental and physical health, less racial harmony, and less civic and political participation.”
The “free market” is not free. It is a very violent and thus ruthless economic system that causes a wide gap between the wealthy and the common man. The rich are making off like the (legal) bandits they are whereas everyone else, including the Baby Boomers, are becoming disempowered plus poorer financially and socially.
The rich and upper classes have their own retirement accounts and thus, it is in their “best interest” not to support other classes with things like taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Most of the elite see recipients of any social safety nets as parasites, “stealing” away the elite’s wealth by taxes to support these “useless eaters”. Again, the elite want to use the tax money people pay into Social Security and Medicare for their wal-street ponzi schemes that will mostly benefit bankers, stock brokers, hedge fund managers and other elements of the established financial structures of America.
SOLVING THE BABY BOOMER AND SOCIAL SECURITY PROBLEMS PERMANENTLY
The Baby Boomers are dying off. That is my observation from my personal experiences but it is the observation of others as well. At the website “Baby Boomer Death Counter Clock: Permanent Retirement [link to www.boomerdeathcounter.com]
shows that 8.03300909% of USA Baby Boomers are dead. It says that 69,766,596 USA Baby Boomers are still live. The site says that every 48.4 seconds another Baby Boomer dies plus it says that 1,786.1 Baby Boomers died in the last 24 hours. The first two counters run continuously, so the percentage of dead Baby Boomers and alive Boomers are constantly changing. More, the site says, “”the big Boomer Die Off will accelerate around 2015 and the majority of boomers will be dead by 2025.” So much for the threat of Baby Boomers living to a hundred years and thus costing “society” excess money!
There is a sister site for Canada [link to www.boomerdeathcounter.com]
These internet sites are alarming because they confirm what I and others have observed: The Baby Boomers are dying out and other segments of the population maybe dying out as well.
How fortunate for the government and the elite.
On July 3rd, six days before my birthday, I received two emails from two friends in America. “Charlene” lives in central Minnesota and “Bill” lives in Arizona. She is 45 and he is 52. Both are college educated (Charlene has two college degrees) and both have a great sense of humor. I find it ironic and horrible that both told me the same thing: That life had no more quality for them and they were “waiting to die.”
Charlene is still paying off student loans she accrued over tweny years ago with a salary of $14,500 a year. She and her daughters go hungry at the end of every month.
Bill is a whistle blower and for that, he lost his businesses and family. He also ekes out a small living like Charlene.
On the same day I received the emails, the Labor Department reported that 62,000 jobs were lost in June. More, both April and May’s job losses were revised, taking their combined job losses to 129,000, compared to an early estimate of 77,000 jobs lost [link to www.financialweek.com]
The chances for Charlene, Bill and other Baby Boomers to find better work are bleak. Although I don’t agree with them, I understand why they are waiting to die.
As the saying goes, “Every time a person dies, a library burns.” How tragic for the world to lose all that potential only because someone is not seen as profitable and/or a problem for western capitalism.
I had a feeling to wait before I contacted publishers about this article. Sure enough, my intuition was right. Since I wrote this article, new information has come out to support this article.
On July 17th, two newspaper articles appeared about American inequality in longevity and low standards of well being. The first article, “American inequality highlighted by 30-year gap in life expectancy [link to www.independent.co.uk]
The second article, “Development: US fails to measure up on ‘human index’” [link to www.guardian.co.uk]
The article continues, “”We get in this report … an evaluation of what the limitations of human development are in the US but also … how the relative place of America has been slipping in comparison with other countries over recent years… “The Measure of America reveals huge gaps among some groups in our country to access opportunity and reach their potential,” said the report’s co-author, Sarah Burd-Sharps. “Some Americans are living anywhere from 30 to 50 years behind others when it comes to issues we all care about: health, education and standard of living.”
On July 25, an article titled “America’s forgotten poor” [link to www.guardianweekly.co.uk]
All of these articles talk about deprivation, whether critical or relative or a blend of both. And where you find deprivation, you find human deaths that are attributed to something else. Like any other living thing, people don’t grow or thrive in deprived situations.
Martha Rose Crow is an ex-pat living in Holland. She is an Anarchist (a real Anarchist protects the weak from intimidation and threat of intimidation), feminist, vegetarian, writer, poet, lyricist, song writer, theologian and a mystic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org