Alfred E. Neuman, Baby Boomers, Jobs and Education

OK. I tend to fret these days about a whole host of matters — none of which I can control. I worry about jobs. I have big concerns about the future of a country where a third of those working are living in poverty, or close to it. And I get a knot in my shorts about the sorry state of education — where we are failing the future generation of workers, consumers and voters.

Oh my. Quite a funk.

And as one of the older of the Baby Boomers I’m apparently not alone.

A report just released by the Pew Research Center opines: “Baby Boomers Approach Age 65 — Glumly.”

Here’s from the report:

The iconic image of the Baby Boom generation is a 1960s-era snapshot of an exuberant, long-haired, rebellious young adult. That portrait wasn’t entirely accurate even then, but it’s hopelessly out of date now. This famously huge cohort of Americans finds itself in a funk as it approaches old age.

On Jan. 1, 2011, the oldest Baby Boomers will turn 65. Every day for the next 19 years, about 10,000 more will cross that threshold. By 2030, when all Baby Boomers will have turned 65, fully 18% of the nation’s population will be at least that age, according to Pew Research Center population projections. Today, just 13% of Americans are ages 65 and older.

Perched on the front stoop of old age, Baby Boomers are more downbeat than other age groups about the trajectory of their own lives and about the direction of the nation as a whole.

Good grief.

Probably not exactly what the poet Dylan Thomas had in mind:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Appears the Baby Boomers are going out weeping — with a glass of Jameson in one hand and a tissue in the other.

C’mon, gang. Let’s Man Up!

Sheesh.

I actually had something thoughtful to say today about education and jobs. But that got lost in the musings above. Go figure.

So here’s a letter printed in the NYT that really speaks to the problem facing college grads — and others — during this jobless economic recovery:

Re “College, Jobs and Inequality” (editorial, Dec. 14):

Your editorial hints at the real elephant in the room for today’s college-educated young people: it’s not being unemployed, but being locked into working at low-wage jobs.

As a college professor, I vividly see this jobs/education mismatch when I run into former students still waiting tables at local restaurants years after getting their B.A. or master’s degrees.

How can we tell young people that getting more education is the key to financial success amid rapidly shrinking chances of actually finding a middle-class job?

Do we really have a “new knowledge economy” when three of the fastest growing United States occupations — home health aide, warehouse clerk and medical assistant — pay on average less than $14 an hour?

Janet Belsky
Murfreesboro, Tenn., Dec. 15, 2010

Absolutely correct. We’re in deep doo-doo.

And to understand why, consider this article by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, “The Year Washington Became Business Friendly.” An excerpt:

History will record 2010 as the year Washington became “business friendly.”

Not that it was all that unfriendly before. Some would say the bailouts of Wall Street, AIG, GM, and Chrysler were about as friendly as it can get. In addition, Washington gave windfalls to drug companies and health insurers in the new health bill, subsidies to energy companies in the stimulus package, and billions to domestic and military contractors.

But for corporate America it still wasn’t friendly enough. Before the midterm elections, Verizon CEO and Business Roundtable chair Ivan Seidenberg accused the president of creating a hostile environment for investment and job-creation. In the midterms, business leaders overwhelmingly threw their support to Republicans.

So the White House caved in on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and is telling CEOs it will be on their side from now on. As the president recently told a group of CEOs, the choice “is not between Democrats and Republicans. It’s between America and our competitors around the world. We can win the competition.”

There’s only one problem. America’s big businesses are less and less American. They’re going abroad for sales and employees. That’s one reason they’ve showed record-breaking profits in 2010 while creating almost no American jobs.

Wonder if the great American philosopher Alfred E. Neuman is a Boomer?

After all, he coined the slogan for our generation:

“What, me worry?”

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One response to “Alfred E. Neuman, Baby Boomers, Jobs and Education

  1. I really love the name of your Blog – well done! Enjoyed your article. Baby Boomers in Career Transition is a subject close to my heart. We’ve just launched a new website called FiftyWorkForce and an Open Facebook Group of the same name. I think you and your readers would find it interesting … as it will be very Interactive. I can see you would have a lot to say on the subject and encourage you to share your thoughts!
    Linda

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