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Baby Boomer Bust?: How the Generation of Promise Became the Generation of Panic Paperback – April 15, 2010
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"... a revealing insight into the effects of the recent economic downturn on the very generation that helped to create one of the world’s most powerful and influential economies. Mr. Chiocchi’s examination brings into sharp relief some of the more salient, and subtle, social-consequences of one of the greatest economic disasters in the history of Western civilization."
--Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM, Psychotherapist, Social Scientist
"Choicchi provides a lucid and vivid account of the combined flawed social policies and ingrained corporate attitudes that have brought the US economy to its knees. His portraits of representative Americans dazed, staggering and angry at how the American dream has failed them offers us a set of compelling lessons concerning excessive optimism about the infallibility of the American economy and widespread indifference towards the vast inequalities between the very wealthy and everyone else. Their stories illustrate the collision of middle and upper middle class Boomer expectations about a comfortable, fulfilling, secure and relaxed retirement period for which many have worked so hard, and the harsh realities of the need to stay in the workforce, defer indefinitely luxury vacations, and require adult children to pay for their own college educations or that of the grandchildren. His book offers some guidance (in the areas of housing alternatives, job retraining for career change, filing for bankruptcy, and taping low cost and free community resources to enhance meaning and personal enrichment) for individuals seeking to cope with dramatic reduction in income, property value, investments and overall net worth. Beyond these helpful suggestions, "Baby Boomers Bust" is a wake up call for the need to challenge the assumptions on which the American economy is based and to move more in the direction of the social democracy models of European countries such as the Netherlands."
--Dr. Ronald Manheimer, Former Executive Director, North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement
Baby Boomer Bust? examines and analyzes the meltdown of 2008/2009 from economic, political and social perspectives and illuminates how the meltdown has directly impacted Baby Boomers -- once known as the generation of promise, but now the generation of panic. It examines the downturn’s impact on Boomers’ lifestyles, dreams, aspirations and future plans. Baby Boomer Bust? raises some provocative questions regarding the generation’s ability to survive the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
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When I compare the way my parents lived to the lifestyles of those who were portrayed in "Baby Boomer Bust?" I just shake my head. My parents saved for a rainy day, demanded value for their hard earned money and exhibited an incredible amount of self-discipline throughout their lives. They grew up during the Great Depression so they understood that hard times were inevitable and they made sure that they were prepared for them. By contrast, many of the individuals portrayed in this book exhibited little or no self-restraint in their personal lives. Most were making lots of money and simply blew it on big houses, luxury automobiles, exotic vacations and other big ticket items. And let's not forget that for the most part these are highly educated people who definitely should have known better. As far as I am concerned those of us who have lived responsibly should not have to bail out these folks in any way, shape or form. This may sound cruel but it seems to me that if people were made to suffer the consequences of their actions perhaps they would be a bit more thoughtful about how they conduct their affairs. Also, what strikes me about many of the people portrayed in this book and so many other members of my generation is the incredible amount of pain in their personal lives and so much of it self-imposed! Time and again people made a conscious decision to pursue wealth and a career at the expense of their marriage and family life. It is a sad state of affairs. Meanwhile, Chiocchi also devotes a good deal of time explaining how we got into this mess in the first place. He cites the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act back in 1999 as the major reason that things got so out of hand in the financial world. This law was passed during the Great Depression and essentially seperated commercial and investment banking activities. Repeal of this law, which was supported by both the Clinton administration and the Republicans in Congress unleashed the forces that would result in the rampant financial speculation that ended so abruptly on that September day back in 2008.
So what will become of the aging Boomers? According to Roger Chiocchi the idea of that retirement home is Florida is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Most members of my generation are going to have to deal with some sobering new realities. They are going to have to work much longer than they anticipated and scale back their retirement plans dramatically. Many will be forced to consider creative ways new ways to make ends meet in their golden years. It seems likely that most of us will outlive our money. Chiocchi believes that the return of the multi-generational household is also inevitable and in many ways this may not be such a bad thing. Perhaps many Boomers will experience an epiphany and finally realize that they don't really need all that "stuff" after all. "Baby Boomer Bust?: How the Generation of Promise Became The Generation of Panic" considers these issues in a very thoughtful and engaging way. Highly recommended!
Most everyone has been affected by the financial crisis, but the crisis has certainly taken its toll on some more than others. Baby Boomer Bust examines some of the causes of this crisis, but it devotes most of its pages to individuals who have been affected by the economic downturn in a significant way. Individuals who once seemed to have everything going for them are suddenly scrounging for dollars and working in menial jobs. This book lets baby boomers tell their own story and many of them offer candid responses, indicating exactly who/what is to blame for the financial crisis and how they think they will cope in the future. Many blame the economic policies of George W. Bush for the financial crisis, but they spread their dissatisfaction far and wide. They also blame the U.S. Congress, the financial services industry, Wall Street, government institutions, and many others for the present financial and economic mess they and others have experienced.
Most of the stories told by the Baby Boomers in this book are negative and a little depressing, and some readers will come away from the reading feeling a sense of empathy for the predicament faced by some of these individuals who once had everything and have now lost a sizable portion of their retirement funds and net worth. However, not all of those interviewed fit into this category. Some made poor economic decisions and are now suffering the consequences. One of the individuals in the book, for example, talks about his relocation to a new state and how he just couldn't bring himself to settle for a less expensive home worth only a few hundred thousand dollars. He wanted better, and ended up mortgaging away his future when he lost his job and his home as well. Had he purchased a less expensive home, he would have had no problem staying afloat. I like this balance within the book. The author doesn't criticize these decisions or support them. He lets the boomers speak for themselves and lets you, the reader, form your own opinion.
The stories of struggling baby boomers in Baby Boomer Bust are sometimes heart- wrenching, but they are not presented as depressing dramas and this is another aspect of the book that I like. Some of the people featured in this book certainly have reason to feel depressed, yet they manage to maintain a certain degree of optimism and they feel they will survive in the end. They know it will take time to get back on their feet, but they remain optimistic that this will happen. In addition to that, many of the individuals who offer their stories in this book admit that the financial crisis has given them a new perspective on what really matters in life. They now realize that material possessions aren't that important, that personal relationships deserve more attention, and that it's important to live below one's means. Many of these individuals never consider these things before the meltdown and they credit the financial crisis for opening their eyes to this and other concerns.
There is no doubt that the financial crisis has taken its toll on everyone, but those who are nearing retirement have a unique set of concerns. Their retirement funds have lost a great deal of their value and there is little time left to make up for the loss. Baby Boomer Bust lets some of these individuals share their stories, vent their frustrations, and offer their own recipe for future success, either directly or indirectly. The members of this generation still have a sense of optimism, but baby boomers agree that the economic meltdown has forever changed their lives and they will never take things for granted again.