2020/08/07

The Generational Wealth Gap

A common criticism levied at the Baby Boomers by members of younger generations is that Boomers as a group have hoarded disproportionate wealth while leaving their posterity only crumbs.

Now Business Insider has provided data showing that not only are younger generations' suspicions of having been robbed correct, the generational larceny is even worse than they'd imagined.
In 1989, baby boomers (defined in a recent Federal Reserve report as Americans born between 1946 and 1964) were roughly the same age millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are today. But boomers held 21% of America's total net worth in 1989 — seven times millennials' paltry 3% share in 2019, wrote Alex Tabarrok in the blog Marginal Revolution.
The chart below shows what percentage of total US wealth each generation has held since 1990, according to Fed data that extends through 2019 Q2. Over time, the Silent Generation has seen a decline from 80% to 25% of total US wealth, presumably because they've begun to pass away and exhaust their retirement accounts and pensions.
As baby boomers age, their percentage of total US wealth has increased from 20% to nearly 60%.
Generational Wealth

Point of clarification: While pretty much everyone younger than the Boomers is getting screwed, perceptive readers will note that the BI article erroneously combines Generation Y and the Millennials.

When you correct for the 1989 Gen Y/Millennial cutoff and compare standard markers of prosperity like home ownership, one cohort ends up holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

If you guessed it's Gen Y, you win. Go ahead and keep the lollipop.

Home Owneship by Age

Rivaling that stark revelation is the picture that emerges when Generation Jones (yellow line) is considered separately from the true Boomers. They arguably got screwed as badly as Gen Y despite being only a decade younger than their Boomer siblings.
Gen X and millennials haven't even reached these wealth levels. Thus far, Gen X only comprises about 16% of US wealth. And perhaps most strikingly, the line for millennials is almost completely flat: They've barely seen any increase in net worth, coming in at less than 5% of total US wealth in 2019.
It's worth noting that these generations are younger, so comprising a smaller percentage of US wealth is expected. However, the chart below, which highlights the percentage of US wealth held by age, shows that the young are still financially behind: Their wealth levels are below where they should be.
Wealth by Age

What we're seeing is the result of Boomers inheriting the greatest prosperity in history, heedlessly and artificially expanding their largesse via a series of credit bubbles, and refusing to pass on more than a pittance to their heirs.

Boomers aren't just being miserly with their wealth, either. They're clinging just as greedily to power, even though the effects are proving disastrous for the West's future.
The same trend unfolded in Alabama. Although we greatly respect and honor Jeff Sessions, it is undeniable that his political capital took a massive hit after he failed to protect the president in the Russiagate episode. Due to his personal vendetta against Sessions, Trump endorsed Sessions’ opponent Tommy Tuberville.
If Tuberville wins, he will be another useless member of the GOP establishment, rather than an America First conservative. If Sessions had cultivated and supported a fresh and untainted successor to take his place, then that successor might have won in the 2017 special election, and we would have another America First conservative in the Senate right now. Instead, Roy Moore, another past-his-prime political narcissist, lost to the Democrat, Doug Jones.
Perennially returning old dogs and damaged candidates to the fray is not the way forward for a vibrant and successful political movement. America First leaders must selflessly identify and cultivate talented and charismatic successors. Instead, the movement is functioning as a set of interlocking personality cults. When figures like Arpaio, Kobach, Sessions, and Donald Trump exit the stage, there is no one to carry the torch forward in their stead.
Unfortunately, this trend transcends politics. Just think about the endless parade of Baby Boomer business executives clinging to authority long after their faculties have started to fade. Or, think of college professors coasting on tenure into their eighties, rather than retiring so the glut of young PhDs can get jobs (37 percent of college faculty are over 55). Consider the steadily growing wealth chasm between older Americans and young adults hoping to start families. Even during the current coronavirus pandemic, we have imposed a devastating lockdown that has destroyed the wealth, economy, and mental health of the young in order to add a few months to the lives of the oldest and sickest in America.
Older generations are hoarding wealth, power, and opportunity. America’s social cohesion is totally frayed. Instead of giving a leg up to the next generation, the older generations prolong their stay at the top as long as they can. And right now, the America First right is as guilty as anyone.
Clearly people need a reminder, so pay attention. The main purpose of working to accumulate fiscal and social capital is not to die with the most toys. It is to provide a sound foundation and base of support for your progeny to continue building up the family legacy and continue the process with their children. That is how civilizations are built and maintained.

That is observably not what is happening now. Nor has it happened for some time. Instead, three generations were left to raise themselves while their parents pursued consumerism. Those same parents then handed their children over to grifters and charlatans who left them financially and intellectually impoverished before throwing them out into the worst job market this country has ever seen.

And as the crowning insult, that perverse generation now sneers at and mocks their progeny for daring to seek relief from their misery.

Since Scripture reserves its harshest condemnations for those who defraud and abuse workers and children, the question to ask yourself right now if you're a Baby Boomer is, How will I avoid the unquenchable fires of Hell?

Before you ask, yes. God does judge generations as a whole.

Now, I have interacted with well-intentioned Boomers who are convinced by the data and rightly ask what they can do to right these wrongs.

Once again, Scripture gives an answer. Give to the poor--not just out of your excess; to the point that it pinches your wallet. Those closest to you take priority in the order of charity, starting with your immediate family and moving outward. Strangers from over the horizon should not take precedence over your children, who are more likely to be among the poor anyway.

This isn't rocket science. If you have a vacation home, but your son is living in a van, your moral obligation is obvious. Make sure your kids and grandkids have food, heat, shelter, and security.

Is the fruit of your loins a debt slave languishing under the yoke of the banks and the government's rod? Do what you need to do.

Sell the boat.

Sell the condo.

Cut the cord.

Don't give money to people who hate you.

Christ calls us to be co-redeemers with Him. First, redeem your sons!

Second, release your death grip on power. It's true that many in the younger generations are immature and irresponsible. A major reason why is that they've never been given any real responsibility. Start mentoring them today. Then, when they're ready for the training wheels to come off, step down and hand them the reins.

Seriously, how hard is it to see that failing to prepare the next generation for leadership is a civilizational dead man's switch? The rest of us have to live here after you're gone. Give us a fighting chance!

Finally, if all of that isn't enough to rouse Boomers' slumbering sense of charity, perhaps seeing the grim fate that awaits them if nothing changes will move them to act with enlightened self-interest.

14 comments:

  1. To be fair, the Boomers were the first generation to put their parents in homes after they retired (which, at this point, is when they were about ten years younger than the Boomers are now) and left them there in poverty and alienation. They go on a lot about how younger generations don't respect their parents, but nobody tops the Boomers when it comes to this attitude.

    The merciful thing to do might be to just force them all into retirement. They're observably in the way, and they have no desire to help. They've had three full decades in charge and they clearly refuse to appoint successors except to throw them bones when they finally feel like retiring to the country house.

    At this rate, they're going to all be in wheelchairs and drooling into cups at the investment board meeting in 2032. Isn't that more or less what Joe Biden is doing right now?

    What's more embarrassing? That they'll degrade themselves to do this, or that we'll politely allow them to do it? There is a point where we begin to share the blame for this farce.

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    1. The simplest solution is to shut off the flow of cheap credit. The rest will take care of itself.

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    2. Brian and JD

      Well, well so once again Gen xers and the subsequent generations vindicated yet again.

      Of course the boomers are holding on to power far beyond what's healthy. It parallels their Scrooge McDuck psychopathy wealth hoarding to ensure mindboggling dilapidation.
      Future generations are simply unworthy thus unentitled to inherit.

      The boomers should've progressively handed power wealth and influence as of the 90s.

      But nope.
      All because their pathological narcissism ensures no future generation can never enjoy nice things ever again.

      Because apr├Ęs nous tant pis!

      xavier

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    3. The reason we don’t also hate the Silents is simply because they were mostly silent. Recall they too failed to pass on the cultural and religious patrimony to their children, and they failed to discipline the Boomers because they themselves banged a bunch of prostitutes during the War. But the Boomers had the audacity to vocally rub it in our faces.

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    4. It's fairly obvious the pandemic response has gone the way it has because it primarily affects Boomers. If it was any other generation in the danger zone (such as Gen X or Y) this would have been shrugged off as the bird flu months ago and things would have back to normal regardless of consequences.

      This is just par for the course, though. Boomers have never grown up, and they never will. I miss my grandparents' generation more every day. As soon as they exited the field, all the adults left the room.

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  2. I've always found it strange, as a 40 something, that the people who taught me to share & be kind, don't do that themselves. One of my siblings has financially struggled for decades & they've thrown the odd bone, while spending tens of thousands a year on holidays. I can't imagine doing this with my kids.

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    1. Same here. My folks can be generous at times, yet also tone deaf when sharing their semi-annual foreign vacation photos while the wife and I have yet to take one because we bothered to raise more than 1.2 children while the income to cost of living ratio continues to decrease.

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    2. I don’t begrudge them, but it does seem odd that they don’t notice it. I would be uncomfortable showing off say, a nice expensive car to a buddy of mine mired in debt.

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    3. More evidence for Devon Stack's theory that being raised by television made Boomers as a whole solipsistic.

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  3. I thank Christ the elders in my family and my wife's have conformed to Him and not to the vices of their generation.

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  4. It does seem odd to me that my parents seem to be the only ones who give their kids:
    A vehicle if we need one.
    Shelter in their own house if we need it.
    Access to their vast network of contacts and connections whenever needed.

    Hey even spent their vacation helping my wife and I care for our newborn...in another country on the far side of the planet.

    He also raised me well enough that I don't want that help unless I need it.

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  5. Just finished the XSeed trilogy. I enjoyed it. I'd say my favorite was the second book, but that might only be because I read it on a peaceful beach without distraction.

    Perhaps oddly, the character that stood out for me was Malov. A good Machiavellian villain and worthy opponent. Spoiler alert: will we find out his fate? Don't know why I have sympathy for him, but I wonder if he managed to secure a punishment less than bloody wrath.

    Anyway, looking forward to XSeed: S

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and for your valuable feedback. You are not alone. Many readers have stated that they admire Malov. The reason why isn't so mysterious if we consider the 4 traits that affect whether/how much readers will root for a character:
      >Inherent likability
      >Relative likability (liked by other characters)
      >Initiative
      >Competence
      Malov scores high on the last 2. I plan to address his fate in the second short story bridging CY 40 Second Coming and XSeed: S, which all of the latter book's Indiegogo backers will receive.

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