The Golden Years Really Are Golden


A recent AP story caught my eye, since it bears upon an issue on which I have oft written — the coming pension tsunami, caused by the retirement of us Infamous Boomers.

It tells the news about the wealth gap between the Old and the Young. The gap is now the widest in American history. Despite occasional lurid stories about a grandmother eating cat food shortly before being wheeled off a cliff, the wealth gap favors . . . the old!

And the gap is enormous. Census data reveal that households headed by someone 65 or older have an average net worth 47 times greater than that of households headed by someone under 35. The median net worth of households headed by a person 65 or older is about $170,000, compared to a pathetic $3,662 of those headed by someone 34 or younger.

Moreover, the gap continues to widen. It has doubled over the past six years, and has increased fivefold during the past 25 years — even after adjustments are made for inflation. Astonishing, no?

There are a number of reasons for the declining relative fortunes of the young. One is that the Obama recession has totally creamed the young, especially young men. It is not for nothing that this has been called the “he-cession.” Besides that reason (though related to it), is the fact that young people are taking longer and accumulating more debt to get their degrees. And of course others are still paying mortgages on homes that have fallen disastrously in value.

The disparity is bleak, and in a way — considering all the granny-eating-cat-food propaganda — ironic. But the trend is decidedly the friend of the elderly: over the past quarter century, the wealth of households headed by the elderly rose by a whopping 42%, while the wealth of households headed by the young (under 35) declined by a dizzying 68%.

As if that weren’t bad enough, 37% of households headed by the young have a zero or even negative net worth! That is an increase of over 100% since 1984 (when the census first started keeping track of this happy stuff), and it is massive compared to the only 8% of elderly-headed households so cursed. And the median income of elderly-headed households has grown at a rate 400% greater than that for younger-headed households.

Net worth is here defined just as you would expect: by adding the value of homes, personal possessions, stacks, bonds, savings, and other property (such as cars, boats, and vacation properties), and subtracting credit card, auto, home, student loan, and other debts.

Now, how does the AARP — those redistributionist pirates who are always so intent on transferring assets from the young to the elderly — respond to the news that the 47 to 1 gap in net worth favoring the elderly is the highest in history? Of course, it greets it with greedy denial.

One Nancy Holland, a propagandist — pardon me, an executive vice-president — of the AARP puts it in the typical AARP spit-in-your-face-avariciously-aggressive fashion: “Millions of older Americans today continue to struggle to make ends meet. Many older Americans do own their homes, but plummeting housing values — along with dwindling savings, stagnant pensions, and prolonged periods of unemployment — have taken their toll.”

In short, screw the young people. As if their own homes and savings hadn’t been hard by this progressive liberal recession. As if they too hadn’t suffered unemployment. As if they had freaking pensions to rely on!

Our country is, alas, headed into the fiscal dustbin of history. Its aggregate national debt is approaching the dimensions of Greek tragedy, if not of Greece itself. But the AARP continues to wage a jihad against all entitlement program reforms. Future historians — if there are any who aren’t progressive liberals, hence wedded to the ideology of the redistributionist state — will record with incredulity the bizarre structure of a politico-economic system that in defiance of biological reality systematically starved the young to glut the old.

Maybe we need ads showing the grandkids eating cat food as they are pushed from a cliff.

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Rick Libertarianski

Now I'm 56, I've threatened AARP with legal action if they contact me ever again.
They're a liberal and self-centered group.


I can't understand how an elderly person can be "hit hard" by a decline in the value of the home they own. I just passed 80 years; I own my home; it's probably declined in value since I bought it. So what? I'm not going to sell it. I'm going to live in it. Its current value is irrelevant to me. This is nothing but AARP propaganda.

On the other hand, the fact that my savings, my pension, my IRA, will buy less than they did a few years ago, that does hit me hard. Bu that has nothing to do with any "wealth gap." Inflation hits everyone hard.

Jon Harrison

On this subject at least there's no disagreement between Jason and myself. Everything he says here is spot on. The AARP is a blight on our society. The awful television commercials they were running which threatened political extinction for anyone who dared to touch Medicare and Social Security appear to have dropped off the airwaves -- was there a backlash? I hope so.

There was perhaps a time when many elderly were sharing kitty's food, but those days I think are long over. I've seen old folks driving new cars and buying fistfuls of lottery tickets for ever, it seems -- or at least since the advent of COLAs. No one has a greater sense of entitlement than the elderly. This seems wrong to me, given that the elderly have had their whole lives to prepare financially for retirement.

Unlike some libertarians, I have no problem with some form of state-mandated old-age pension. But clearly things have gotten out of balance. Young people -- the future -- are more important to our society than the swollen ranks of codgerdom. Whether society can rationalize its priorities seems unlikely, however, given that seniors constitute a bloc that consistently votes its interests (and the rest of us be damned).


Reason is there are alot more older voters than younger voters. And the older voters are voting for themselves money from the poor. It's disgusting.

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