Reading time: 3,420 words, 9 pages, 8 to 14 minutes.
Over the past seven years, I’ve written extensively about the various causes of the so-called ‘Great Recession’. It’s more than a cyclical recession; it’s a Stealth Depression and this last recession was merely another step down in what has become a never-ending death spiral. The so-called recovery has been both a technical recovery (the numbers look good because they’re cooked and manipulated) as well as an ass media propaganda cover-up.
Some countries are hurting worse than others. After the last recession, resource nations like Canada and Australia fared a little better than the U.S. where some 50 million Amerikans are on food stamps so we don’t see the long ‘bread lines & soup kitchens’ that we saw during the Great Depression.
But, even in Canada, the pain is evident with long lines at the banks and grocery stores three days before the end of the month when Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments are received. In other words, a lot of people can’t buy groceries until they get their pension checks.
The beginnings of our troubles are debatable. We could point to the creation of central banks about a century ago, the default of the U.S. dollar during FDR’s U.S. gold confiscation in 1933, the next default when Nixon closed the ‘gold window’ and reneged on the dollar’s convertibility into gold in 1971. All these incidents made our fiat currencies more fiat and more worthless. As a result, inflation has robbed us of about 98% of the dollar’s purchasing power over the past century.
More recently, the consequences of the Dot Bomb bust in 2000 and the economic fallout from 9/11 would have been painful, but we likely would have recovered long ago by traditional capitalist ‘creative destruction’. Instead, imbecilic government stooges caved in to their handlers (“our owners” as George Carlin called them) and everything that’s been done since has been to our owner’s benefit and our (‘Main Street’) detriment.
There are and will be many more unintended consequences of these financial shenanigans that imbecilic governments and incompetent central bankers never expected. That’s what happens when you play with fire. Centrally planned economies turn to crap for the same reason we cannot control Mother Nature without suffering unintended consequences.
Adding fuel to the fire is our human nature in the form of socialist envy as we will examine shortly. I detailed socialism as one of several forms of Collectivist idiocy that includes communism, Marxism, progressivism, liberalism and various other ‘isms’ that rely on robbing others while producing nothing. The main difference between them is how slow or fast they achieve poverty for everyone.
Given my disdain for socialists and my contempt for communists and marxists, I am sometimes accused of being a hard-hearted conservative. I may be hard-hearted (tough love works) but I am not a conservative. I am an anarchist.
In any case, you know that the disease of socialism is spreading when Canada’s largest weekly magazine, once fairly neutral Macleans, publishes an online article that stokes the fires of a generational war. It’s titled “Seniors and the generation spending gap” (the print version is titled “Old and Loaded”). The byline “Why are we doing so much to try to help seniors when they’re already the wealthiest generation in history?” They all reek of socialist envy.
I’ll quote from the article in italics and follow with my comments.
“Seniors have long been considered society’s most vulnerable citizens, fragile pensioners on fixed incomes in need of a financial helping hand from both government and agile younger workers. That was true decades ago, but not anymore.
“…today’s seniors are arguably the wealthiest generation in history. In the 1970s, nearly 40 per cent of Canadian seniors lived in poverty. Today it’s five per cent, half the poverty rate of the working-age population…”
Gerold’s comment: a) the seniors in the 1970’s faced rampant inflation that destroyed fixed incomes and impoverished them. To suggest we go back to this level of poverty is incredibly facile.
b) This is comparing apples to oranges; comparing today’s well-to-do seniors to impoverished 1970’s seniors.
c) The average age of the working population is half the age of seniors who have had a longer time to increase their net worth so this too compares apples to oranges.
d) Many in the working-age population have allowed themselves to become debt-slaves which many seniors have avoided as Macleans themselves admit below.
“The stunning transformation of the balance sheets of the elderly is thanks to a combination of financial discipline, public policy and good timing. Many of today’s seniors were the babies born in the aftermath of the Great Depression who learned to abhor debt and save aggressively. (The average Canadian senior has a debt load equal to just five per cent of their total wealth, compared to a 99 per cent debt-to-wealth ratio for their Boomer children.)”
Comment: a) At last; a grain of truth that explains why some seniors (not all) are well-off compared to younger generations. Can we learn from this or will we continue making the same mistakes?
b) This makes Boomer debt-slaves really, really stupid for taking on so much debt.
c) Some people claim we don’t learn from history. Speak for yourself, but those of us who DO learn from history get really annoyed listening to the whining of those who screw up because they did NOT learn from history.
“The fortunes of younger Canadians haven’t improved nearly as much as they have for the elderly. In the 1980s, the typical senior was four times wealthier than the average 20-something. Today’s seniors are now on average nine times richer than their Millennial grandchildren.”
Comment: This asinine statement repeats what was already said, but uses a different slant on the numbers. So, my response is similar –
a) The 1970’s had rampant inflation that destroyed fixed income seniors so the proportion of seniors net worth in the 1970’s is skewed compared to today therefore it’s another apples-to-oranges comparison.
b) The average Millennial has worked probably less than a quarter as long as today’s seniors who have had a much longer time to increase their net worth. I hesitate to use the word ‘wealth’ instead of ‘net worth’ because in today’s insane world the word ‘wealth’ has negative connotations and, unfortunately, stirs up socialist envy and resentment.
c) A quote variously attributed to both Mark Twain and Disraeli is appropriate, “’There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
“Canadians age 75 and older make up less than seven per cent of the population, but control more than a third of all financial assets in the country¬¬…”
Comment: Comparing the percentage of population and proportion of assets completely overlooks the length of time that seniors have had to increase their net worth compared to younger generations. Seniors have been skimping, saving and investing longer therefore they have a greater net worth.
“…does it mean they should continue to get seniors-only discounts or qualify for government benefits like CPP and OAS?:
Comment: a) They contributed to the Canada Pension Plan during their working careers and they pay income tax on CPP payments they receive.
b) I pay more into CPP than into my own ‘divine’ benefit pension plan yet my CPP payments will be less than half my register pension plan payments will be. That’s fair? You’re damn right seniors should get CPP payments; they paid into it.
c) Admittedly, one can question whether untaxable Old Age Security (OAS) payments are unfair where income splitting is allowed for high income couples (up to a $140,000 total). OAS should be taxable like any income since basic personal tax exemptions are high in Canada. The Federal government realizes this unfairness and has started to raise the eligibility age.
“More than 40 per cent of Canadian millionaires are 65 and older.”
Comment: so what? It doesn’t tell us what percentage of Canadians are 65 or older thus making it another inflammatory remark.
a) That means the remaining 60% of millionaires are less than age 65 which is just as meaningless.
b) It takes years of hard work, saving, delayed gratification and smart wealth management to become a millionaire; something an entitlement mentality obviously fails to grasp.
“The median net worth of seniors has similarly jumped 70 per cent since 1999, but hardly risen at all for those younger than 35.”
Comment: Today’s 35 year olds were only 20 in 1999. They were probably still in school or only beginning to work so how could their net worth be expected to increase as much as today’s seniors who were more than 50 years old and had much longer to build a nest egg from which to increase their net worth.
“Meanwhile, those under-35s have seen their debt rise almost as quickly as their grandparents’ wealth.”
Comment: Nobody is held at gun-point and forced to become a debt-slave. A large amount of debt is student loans which in some cases is as high as six figures. The word ‘insane’ comes to mind. Secondary education is not a God-given right. If you can’t afford it without borrowing a large amount of money, you need your head examined.
Every generation has this challenge. As a student, I applied for grants and loans. I was refused every year but one where I was given the smallest loan available; a mere $175 which I paid back out of my first paycheck. Nor did my parents contribute monetarily as I had two sisters also going to university. I agreed that since I had greater earning power than my sisters, that my parents would give me room and board during the summer while I worked underground up north in the hard rock mines which earned me enough for tuition, books and living expenses during the school year.
Granted not everyone can do this, but the point is there are creative solutions to most problems. It sometimes takes hard work and sacrifice. Contrast this with many of my buddies who stayed in the city during the summer, worked low wage jobs, attended rock concerts, chased hippy-chicks, worked part-time during the school year, took many years longer to get a degree and some never did. The tragedy of life is you get out of it what you put into it.
“Retirement savings accounts have shown the same troubling divergence. Since 1999, the proportion of seniors who have RSPs has grown 30 per cent, while it has fallen five per cent among younger Canadians.”
Comment: Fat lot of good savings accounts are for ANY age group when our spineless governments, their treasuries and incompetent central banks keep interest rates at ZERO. It means seniors earned interest on their savings once upon a time long ago, but today everybody suffers.
“German think tank Bertelsmann Foundation has called Canada among the “least intergenerationally just” countries in the world, with a troubling large gap between the poverty rates of seniors and children and a strong “elderly bias” among government programs and tax systems.”
Comment: This is the sort of socialist envy one could expect from the cradle-to-grave, welfare state of Germany. Instead of punishing seniors and threatening to steal their hard-earned wealth, we should investigate how they achieved success and learn to emulate them instead of whining.
“From seniors-only tax breaks to free transit passes, Canadian governments now spend a collective $45,000 a year per senior in Canada compared to $12,000 for those younger than 45.”
Comment: That’s because seniors are retired and drawing CPP for which they contributed during their working careers. Seniors also have more medical issues. Or, is Macleans perhaps suggesting euthanasia?
“Many point to changes in the economy that are working to effectively shut out younger Canadians from the economic windfalls of their parents and grandparents.”
Comment: That’s true but that’s the fault of governments’ idiotic fiscal policies and allowing the creation of incompetent central banks and their punishing zero interest rate policy. That’s not the fault of seniors many of whom are delaying retirement to make ends meet during difficult times thus locking youngster out of the job market. Blame spineless and incompetent governments for unnecessarily extending this recession to line the pockets of their bankster buddies.
“Increasingly, the retirement dreams of younger Canadians are resting on the foundation of an economy that is shifting toward low-wage service jobs—many of them for services catering to their affluent grandparents.”
Comment: Again, how is this the fault of seniors?
“More than 40 per cent of existing private sector defined pension plans, which have guaranteed a secure retirement for thousands of today’s retirees, are now largely closed off to new employees.”
Comment: That’s true, but again it’s not the fault of seniors. Blame globalization and short-sighted, metric-driven corporate greed for destroying the very customers they rely upon for revenue. The word insane comes to mind.
“The idea of having to delay retirement is still likely to come as a surprise to young Canadians, a third of whom told researchers from the Bank of Montreal that they plan to retire before the age of 60.”
Comment: Is that a ‘plan’ or ‘hope’? It shows how many young Canadians are unburdened by reality and infected with an entitlement mentality that is not only going to disappoint, but work against them.
“Incredibly, the age gap is growing even when it comes to housing. Despite low interest rates that have allowed legions of young Canadians to qualify for large mortgages, it’s seniors who have experienced one of the biggest increases in home ownership of any age group. In 1981, just 66 per cent of those over the age of 70 owned their homes. Today it’s 72 per cent.”
Comment: a) Seniors are living longer thus skewing the numbers.
b) Seniors are more frugal and less indebted thus more able to afford it.
Note to Canadian seniors: sell the homestead – especially if it’s large because: a) Canada’s housing bubble will burst.
b) younger generations of whom there are fewer can’t afford pricey homes so who are you going to sell to when the Boomers start selling en masse? Learn from history. I don’t want to hear senior’s whining either.
“Meanwhile, over the same period, the home ownership rate has actually gone down slightly among Canadians in their 30s and 40s.”
Comment: The fact that home ownership among the young has decreased only slightly is cause for concern. They have fewer full-time jobs and more part-time jobs which means they’re deeper in debt and setting themselves up for a lot or heartache in the next downturn which may be as little as a year away.
Macleans quotes a parent. “Every generation of young people faces challenges starting out in the world, he says, “but I think the hurdles I faced were much more surmountable and much more dependent on one’s individual ability than the current generation.”
Comment: read between the lines and you’ll see that helicopter parents are at least partly responsible for their youngsters’ entitlement mentality and their inability to deal with responsibility.
“So many of the things [young people] face are beyond their ability to change.”
Comment: Oh, poor babies! He said it himself before sinking into despair, “Every generation of young people faces challenges…” In the 1970’s both interest rates and inflation were double digits. Yes, there were a lot of jobs but there was also an overabundance of Boomers competing for those jobs. Today I see twenty-something debt-slaves driving brand new cars. I bought and drove used cars for forty years before I bought a new one. I paid cash because I could afford it.
We have met the enemy and he is us. It never ceases to amaze me how creative we can be in shirking our responsibilities and whining. Remember the “Serenity Prayer”.
“Last year, University of Toronto geography professor Alan Walks … found that cities with a high proportion of seniors also had higher levels of household debt … [but] it wasn’t the seniors who were deep in debt, but their younger neighbours, some of whom had debts worth more than 300 per cent of their incomes.”
Comment: Once again, nobody forces you to become a debt-slave. Once again, we have met the enemy and he is us.
“It’s easy to blame seniors for stacking the deck in favour of their own generation. But in many ways, says Kershaw, it’s actually …younger Canadians who are to blame for the lack of public support for their issues. Turnout among younger voters is notoriously low, so politicians naturally target their campaigns to the seniors who actually show up on election day.”
Comment: At last, some truth emerges. Once again, we have met the enemy …
“The battle over how cash-strapped governments should divvy up their limited resources between young and old is only likely to heat up as the biggest wave of Baby Boomers enters retirement over the next decade.”
Comment: Yes, the situation is going to get even worse.
You can also bet that our owners with their complicit hand-maidens, the ass media, will continue stirring the pot of socialist envy and resentment. They’ll continue fomenting class warfare, or in this case generational warfare. It’s an effective ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that deflects blame from their insatiable greed and looting.
Don’t fall for it. Let’s stop being our own worst enemies.
For some perspectives from other people, below are some interesting readers’ comments on the Macleans on-line article.
“Most seniors are not as wealthy as depicted in this story.”
“Lower interest rates have allowed the young to buy large homes and new cars that we could never afford when we were out of university five or ten years.”
“Great! Now as I approach retirement, after years of work, raising my family, and pinching pennies to save for retirement, an article like this. How do you justify going after seniors, who have limited ability to make adjustments once they are out of the work force.”
“And I do think that the article is terribly biased in blaming the elderly for woes facing the younger generation when a lot of the problem related to high housing costs and difficulties in getting jobs is our failed immigration system.”
“Go tour a retirement home…or a nursing home…anywhere in the country. Then tell me the elderly are all ‘rich’ and apparently ‘spoiled’.
“Whiny Millennials, who don’t want to put in the effort the seniors did….just take it.”
“Different generations face different struggles.”
“My social circle is not huge but I can think of quite a number of seniors who are barely scraping by. They live on small pensions and and they hardly live the lives of the seniors that you portray in your article. I think that it is irresponsible to fan the flames of envy that the younger generation may feel towards retired people. Yes, some retired people may be well off, but certainly not all.”
What we need to do is better understand how our western history, culture, religion and beliefs sabotage us as I outlined in great detail in Our Insane Judeo-Christian Slave Morality which makes us ripe for manipulation and pillage. As well, Paul Rosenberg of Casey Research says, We’re Better Than We Think we Are.
Indeed, we are once we stop being our own worst enemies and overcome our sheepdom. In the immortal words of Ann Landers, “No one can take advantage of you without your permission.”
Canada’s premier weekly news magazine was once fairly neutral. I’ve long ago let subscriptions to Time, Newsweek and the Economist lapse because they’ve turned into propaganda rags. When Macleans drinks the socialist Kool-Ade, you know we’ve turned a dark corner. It’s no wonder printed news is in trouble and more and more people get their news from alternate sources.
September 14, 2014
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