Without further ado, here is a reprint of the article.
Aging Baby Boomers Myths vs. Needed Gov't Elder Policies
The article reprinted here is by Lynne D.Shapiro is: and is
I just received a post card from Russell Sage, a Troy, New York women’s college, about the upcoming 40th reunion for our overly written about Class of 1968. In early November 2007, Amazon.com had almost 18,000 (17,810) books with references to Baby Boomers more than four times as many as for Gen Y (4, 236) or Gen X (3,916) and many more than for the “Silent” Generation (1,158).
As a marketing researcher, I keep up with such generation information with its often-disconcerting stereotypes and myths. Did all Boomers really act out with sex and drugs at big rock festivals? Even worse, should we all be branded technophobes as in Bill Hendrick’s February 22, 2005 Cox News Service article “High tech intimidates many baby boomers as they move into midlife?” Never mind that Mr. Hendrick’s Simmons Market Research Bureau study of 28,000 adults showed their “tech-shy” segment rose only from 36% among those under 40 to 43% for those 40 and over.
I saw how I too had been influenced by Boomer media myths October 30, 2007 during the 1967 portion of an XM Satellite radio “IT: The History of Pop Music”. In the middle of its “Summer of Love Motown Magic,” XM-6 included a news reminder of that year’s nationwide race riots. My Internet search discovered Detroit riots that summer of 1967 precipitated Motown’s later move to Los Angeles and that was the year most Connecticut county seat cities experienced their late 1960’s riots. So there I was spinning the “16 Big Hits Volume 5–The Motown Sound” album in my parents’ one-acre eight room Hamden, Connecticut home while riots shattered the economic spine in nearby New Haven where I live now. I now schlep out to Hamden and other suburban malls even for doctors’ appointments where I notice inner city bus riders’ risky walks across vast thoroughfares, green buffers and parking lots to their Wal-Mart and fast food jobs.
The Monkees’ kvetching about the comforts of our “Pleasant Valley Sunday” suburbs brought back my after graduation plans for a charming old brownstone Manhattan apartment or one in a modern high rise like my cousin’s. Then again, my Upper West Side brownstone lacked heat between nine and five despite calls to the City’s complaint line and I have struggled for years in tiny Le Corbusier “Radiant City Towers” kitchens including the one my cousin passed onto me. I also so wish we could burn charcoal for just one more family gathering in that big comfy home my mother just sold.
When I wasn’t thinking of leaving “Pleasant Valley” for Manhattan that “Summer of Love”, I was envying affluent peers’ joining Scott McKenzie’s gentle people in San Francisco while I waitressed at Friendly’s. Yet PBS’s April 23, 2007 “American Experience: Summer of Love” shows as many run-away ragged young teens as sophisticated collegians. At the Monterey Pop Festival, they would have more been jolted by the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Eric Burdon than mellowed out Simon and Garfunkle and The Mamas and Papas.
Nor would my fellow Boomers have seen many rockers their age at rock or folk concerts in San Francisco or anywhere else for that matter. Only one Boomer, The Who’s late Keith Moon, was in the 1968 Film “Monterey Pop.” Throughout 1967, only thirteen other Boomers were rock stars--Stevie Wonder, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, Peter Noon of Herman’s Hermits, Howard Kaylan of the Turtles, John Hayward of the Moody Blues, Jim Messina of the Buffalo Springfield, Tommy James, Janis Ian, Donovan, Arlo Guthrie, LuLu, Robert Hall Weir of the Grateful Dead and Leslie Gore “blast from the past. “Wikipedia’s” well-documented birth dates reveal most 60’s rockers and folkies were pre-1946 “Silent” Generation members as were anti-war and feminist movement leaders.
Later that day, after Boomer Linda Ronstadt’s 1968 feminist anthem “Different Drum,” my computer’s freeze returned me to present realities. I have more worries about my future than Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin in “The Graduate” of that year.
One worry is how Baby Boomer myths affect government and other policymakers. Will they or anyone for that matter seek representative sample research and accurately report its information for decisions about us Boomers? For example, will prospective employers’ beliefs that we cannot learn computer programs shut out Boomers who continue working to offset pension losses? Turning around statistics in the previously mentioned 2005 Simmons Market Research Bureau Study, a majority of us, 57%, are not “tech-shy.” Conversely, will federal administrators for a senior job program at which I sought a part-time cash flow continue to see Boomer seniors with our expensive academic and technical training as qualifying only for minimum wage unskilled jobs? I was sent for a file clerk position at a home care agency when I wrote a marketing audit and plan for a similar agency earlier in my career. The Census American Community Study’s age and income statistics for Boomers of 2001—then 35-54—show 59% have had some type of formal post-high school education compared to 43% for those 55 and over. Those statistics would not have counted in all the continuing ed computer programs courses I’ve taken with other Boomers.
While our income security decreases, gentrification in many central cities and inner–ring suburbs keeps increasing Boomer property taxes and rents along with increased health care costs. Will politicians continue to focus on tax and other incentives to developers of luxury units in rural 55+ enclaves where many of us will to be driven about at some point or in this century’s first city redevelopment program condo towers that many of us cannot afford. A Chadwick, Martin Bailey-Arnold Worldwide study of one thousand Boomers (reported in the February 2007 Quirks Marketing Research*) discovered that in our highly segmented group, only 26% are primarily classified as the materialistic “Status Seekers” more likely targets for these high amenity communities. Instead will they preserve property tax breaks for city Boomer homeowners? Will they develop new creative tax incentives, mortgage financing packages and grants for new and refurbished affordable central city senior-only rental complexes—for less well-off Boomers and middle class Boomers--with nearby transit and retail amenities as in the 1960’s.
When I look around New Haven for more affordable options, none will work for me as a non-driver. Connecticut central city government-run lower income senior income/asset-limited housing now includes disabled people, some of whom are drug addicts not in recovery. One of my grandmother’s friends was attacked in her lower income senior apartment by such a neighbor. All middle class senior affordable housing built with government tax incentives requires long walks or bus rides to pharmacies and supermarkets.
Putting all these worries about my future aside, as one of the “usual suspects,” I look forward to joining the Sage 1968 reunion among the many that never tried LSD—thank goodness or I could not cope with such problems facing me. However, do not expect me to further describe my classmates with their varied graduate education, professions, family experiences, achievements and political leanings! I do know, however, all will well-understand my report about starting a class web page on MySpace or Facebook.
*Pages 70-71I am now a market research freelance analytical manager with a July 2007 Marketing Research Association Expert Professional Research Certification. I lobby for transit service and pedestrian safety improvements with a 2002 M.S. in Urban Studies/Planning from Southern CT State University.
Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Lynne D. Shapiro, 111 Park Street, 9K, New Haven, CT 06511 203-777-5222 LynneShapiro2@aol.comSeeking Truths About My Generation November 12, 2007
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