How baby boomers may hold the key to auto lending sales

By now, you’ve probably heard the sad auto industry news, that vehicle sales are down this year and are not expected to rebound anytime soon. Basically, auto manufacturers did too good a job in recent years, building cars that last longer than ever and still run properly. As a result, consumers are not forced to replace their vehicles as soon or as often as in years past.

Of course, unfortunately for the auto lending industry, as auto sales stall, so do lending sales. To combat a loss in traditional lending opportunities and increase your lending amounts to approach the 2016 peak, when total outstanding auto loan amounts hit $1 trillion, consider shifting your primary target from young adults to baby boomers, who may prove to be your next great group of borrowers.

Baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. We have almost 75 million baby boomers in the United States today, and they’re the perfect current target for auto lending sales due to their financial status and spending habits:

 

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Baby boomers are now the old geezers

Exit an American century.

The 20th century, that is. In 1900, the United States was an emerging world power; by 2000, we were the world’s only superpower. Some historians have dubbed it “The American Century” and, indeed, it was.
A critical assessment of this 21st century, however, suggests that this one probably won’t be ours. China’s, maybe, but not ours.

Perhaps it was inevitable. That “greatest generation” of Americans who grew up in the Great Depression and won World War II created great power and wealth for this nation, and gave birth to a big, fat generation of kids who didn’t have it nearly as tough as their parents did. We baby boomers have been acting like a bunch of spoiled rich kids ever since.

I’ve been down on my generation for a while now, and not just because the very personification of a spoiled rich kid got elected president, but because of the way we lost our idealism.

Remember when we sang about how “peace will guide the planet, and love will steer the stars”? For a brief moment in our formative years, it really did look like the dawning of a new age, but such sentiments quickly gave way to the harder lessons of Vietnam and Watergate. Seems all that wealth and power our parents handed over to us wasn’t enough to shut out a cold war and political misbehavior. A lot of us became cynical and, instead of trying to change the game, simply learned how to play the game.

Somewhere along the way, our generation became divided in our world perspectives. Some boomers clung to their youthful idealism and grew into activists, while others simply rejected such hippy-dippy notions and did what their parents did, focusing on the acquisition of more power and wealth. And the schism between these such “liberals” and “conservatives” has only grown wider through the years.

Our generation has given rise to unprecedented “liberation” movements. The civil rights movement was born from our parents’ generation but it reshaped us more than them, and it gave rise to the Chicano movement, women’s lib, gay and lesbian rights and much more. Visit with a liberal grandma these days and she might tell you the ‘60s were a time when America came face to face with its true self, while a conservative grandpa might tell you that decade marked the beginning of identity politics. Both would be right.

We’re such a contradictory generation. We gave birth to the environmental movement but now we’re the most outspoken deniers of global warming out there. We’re the first generation to accept and embrace equal rights literally, not just rhetorically, and yet we still cling to the idea that some people (the rich) are more equal than the rest of us.

And while we created some of the best and most diverse and liberating music ever, we’ve now become the old geezers who sit around and complain about that new-fangled rap music, as if it’s only noise — just like the old geezers of our parents’ generation, only for them it was that devil music rock ‘n roll.

Age changes one’s perspective, but it certainly doesn’t assure wisdom. Sometimes we older folks are clueless to the reality of the here and now, even if it is of our own creation.

I think we were a transitional generation. We ushered in the digital age. We’re the last generation to remember unlocked doors and home-cooked meals and the first to experience virtual reality. We lived through exciting times that got the best, and the worst, of us.

I’ve been noticing more and more the rise of the coming generations. Generations X and Y and maybe a little Z have given birth of the Millennials, and slowly but surely they’re taking over. Donald Trump will almost certainly be the last baby boomer president — a sad, sad commentary on our generation, don’t you think?

But that’s just the old liberal geezer in me coming out. I realize a lot of people in my generation approve of the “great again” theme to his rise to power, but that’s because we, as a generation, were never consistently great. We were too divided, and still are.

Maybe the young-uns out there will do better. After all, what our children and grandchildren do in their time says more about us than anything we can say about ourselves. Let’s hope we at least raised ‘em to be better than we were.

Tom McDonald is founder and editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. He also owns and operates The Communicator, a weekly newspaper in Santa Rosa. He can be reached at [email protected]

Millenials, Baby Boomers twice as likely as Gen X-ers to donate bodies to science

Millenials and Baby Boomers are twice as likely as Gen X-ers to donate their bodies to science, while women are more likely than men to be registered organ donors, according to a survey by MedCure, an accredited non-transplant tissue bank.

More than 1,600 people responded to MedCure’s Mortality Survey, which posed a range of questions about mortality and the afterlife.

The survey found that:

  • Millennials are 19 percent less likely than Gen X-ers to opt for cremation alone.
  • Millennials are 16 percent less likely than baby boomers to talk to their family after their afterlife wishes.
  • Millenials and baby boomers are twice as likely as Gen X-ers to donate their body to science with cremation.
  • Women are 10 percent more likely than men to believe in the afterlife.
  • Women are 12 percent more likely to be somewhat afraid or terrified of the afterlife.
  • Women are 10 percent more likely to speak to others about their wishes for their body after they die.
  • Women are 12 percent more likely to be registered organ donors.

Established in 2005, MedCure facilitates whole body donations for medical research and education. The organization is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks and has facilities in several locations including Orlando; Portland, Oregon; and Cumberland, Rhode Island.

“Whole body donation is a viable option, and we’ve seen a 30 percent annual increase in the number of people leaving a lasting legacy by pre-signing to donate their body to science,” said Heidi Kayser, director of donor education and outreach at MedCure, in a news release. “Much as organ donation has become a ‘norm,’ we are normalizing whole body donation — particularly for those ineligible to donate their organs.”

MedCure is one of several companies in the U.S. that facilitate whole body donations. If you plan to donate your body to science, research the facilitating company first to make sure they’re accredited and have a good reputation.

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Social Security crisis: why baby boomers need immigrants to fund retirement

The Social Security system is in trouble. It’s not just a future problem; America’s retirement insurance program is in trouble now. The federal government will start dipping into its Social Security savings account this year to help pay retirement benefits to millions of Americans.

In 2018, the federal government expects to receive about $2 billion less in payroll taxes and investment income than it will need to pay workers through the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program. If nothing changes, that savings account will run dry by 2034, right around when the last of the baby boomers reach retirement age. After that, the government will only have enough money to pay retirees and disabled workers 79 cents for every dollar they’re owed.

These findings were recently published in the Social Security Administration’s 2018 trustees report, prompting the expected torrent of alarming headlines, such as “Get Ready for the Great Depression” and “Social Security & Medicare are slowly dying, but no one in Washington will lift a finger.”

The annual report, prepared by government economists at the SSA, cited many reasons for the crisis, but it basically comes down to this: More Americans are retiring, and they are living longer. And there is no economic boom in sight.

But buried in the trustees’ report were a few calculations that point to a potential silver lining, though it’s one that the Trump administration probably doesn’t want to hear. Economic estimates show that immigration would help save the Social Security system. Not just legal immigration — illegal immigration too.

Undocumented immigrants and immigrants with legal status pay billions of dollars each year into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. Based on estimates in the trustees report, the more immigrants that come in, the longer the Social Security system will stay solvent. That’s because immigrants, on average, are a lot younger than the overall US population, so their retirement is far off. And undocumented immigrants pay for Social Security, but they’re not allowed to get benefits.

Here are two charts that show the impact of immigration on the Social Security system. The first chart shows how the Social Security Trust Fund (essentially a savings account) will run out of money if Congress doesn’t do something to boost its reserves, such as increasing legal immigration and closing a tax loophole for rich workers.


Javier Zarracina/Vox

The reason for that nose dive is because, for the first time in more than 30 years, the Social Security system is running a deficit. That means that in 2017, the federal government cut more Social Security checks to retirees and disabled workers than it collected in payroll taxes from the current workforce. The federal government will have to start dipping into the $2.9 trillion trust fund to keep paying out benefits. This year, the government will probably have to take about $2 billion from the trust fund, according to the report.

Furthermore, Social Security now costs more than before because more Americans are retiring, and they are living longer. In 1960, about 5.1 workers supported each person receiving a retirement or disability check, and that ratio has been shrinking ever since. In 2013, there were 2.9 workers for every beneficiary. So the current level of payroll taxes is no longer enough to keep the program afloat.

But here’s how immigration could change that:


Javier Zarracina/Vox

The number of immigrants in the US peaked in 2005, when the population had 2 million more immigrants than the previous year. That number reached a historic low in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession but has been ticking back up. In 2014, there were about 1 million more immigrants in the US than the previous year.

Even though the economy has improved as more immigrants join the US workforce, the Trump administration has insisted on restricting legal avenues for immigration. That will hurt Social Security, according to the SSA report.

If Trump allowed current immigration levels to stay the same (about 1.6 million more immigrants lived in the US in 2017 than the year before), then Social Security would have a better chance to stay solvent. The SSA’s estimates include authorized immigrants, unauthorized immigrants, and foreign workers on temporary visas.

As the chart shows, any growth in immigration lowers the Social Security deficit. The higher the growth, the lower the deficit.

According to the SSA, the reason is pretty simple. Immigrant workers tend to be younger, so they have a lot more years to work and pay taxes before they retire. But another reason that goes unmentioned in the report is that undocumented immigrants, ironically, provide an added boost to the system because they pay into the Social Security system, but they can’t receive benefits.

Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in federal taxes each year. Payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security are still withheld from their paychecks, even if they use a fake Social Security number on their W-2 form. The IRS estimates that unauthorized workers pay about $9 billion in payroll taxes annually.

A portion of the payroll tax withheld from undocumented immigrants — like all workers — goes into the Social Security Trust Fund (that savings account in the first chart). In 2013, the agency reviewed how much money undocumented workers contributed to the retirement trust fund. The number was even higher than average that year: $13 billion.

The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, Stephen Goss, estimated that about 1.8 million immigrants were working with fake or stolen Social Security cards in 2010, and he expected that number to reach 3.4 million by 2040.

“We estimate that earnings by unauthorized immigrants result in a net positive effect on Social Security financial status generally,” Goss concluded in the 2013 review.

These numbers are a stark contrast to the often repeated rhetoric that undocumented immigrants are a drain on the US economy — rhetoric repeated by President Donald Trump. But working-class Americans, including many who voted for Trump, need immigrants to help pay for their retirement.

Congress needs to close the tax loophole

Boosting immigration alone isn’t enough to save the Social Security system. Immigration lowers the deficit, but it doesn’t eliminate it. One of the main problems is that low-wage and middle-class workers are paying a disproportionate share of their income into the Social Security system. Rich workers don’t have to pay the 6.2 percent tax on any income they earn above $128,400, so a worker who earns $128,400 a year is paying the exact same amount in Social Security taxes as a billionaire. It’s basically a tax loophole for the wealthy.

In July 2017, a group of House Democrats, led by Reps. Ted Deutch (FL) and Mazie Hirono (HI), introduced a bill to gradually phase out that cap. Under the bill, named the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, all wages would be subject to the 6.2 percent tax within seven years. It would also adjust the formula to calculate annual cost of living increases for retirees who get Social Security checks, so that the increase better reflects the spending habits of elderly Americans, who tend to spend more of their income on prescription drugs and energy bills.

The proposal would nearly close the deficit. An analysis by the Social Security Administration said it would keep enough money in the trust fund to pay retirees their full retirement benefits for an extra 25 years.

The bill was sent to three House committees. It’s been one year since then, and Republican leaders still haven’t put it up for a vote.

Winston Salem home sale prices

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. — According to housing experts, Baby Boomers are helping cause housing prices to go up. The Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors’ president says Baby Boomers aren’t selling their homes at the same rate they used to.

  • This causes the shortage of available properties
  • Prices have gone up 7 percent the first six months of the year
  • Interest rates on homes have also risen

That’s causing the shortage of available properties which then puts the cost burden on buyers. Prices in the Triad have gone up seven percent the first six months of the year compared to the same time last year.

“They either haven’t retired because they were hit pretty hard with the last recession and so they’re staying in their homes a little longer,” says Brooke Cashion. “As a result, the Millennials and the folks who would traditionally buy these homes and update them and do all the things they want to do — they’re just not available to them.”

Along with home prices, she says interest rates on homes have also risen in the past year.

More baby boomers turning to the gig economy, but don’t necessarily like it

It’s not just millennials who are embracing the gig economy – baby boomers are too, but they don’t necessarily like it.

BMO Wealth Management released a report Monday that said more and more baby boomers are turning to contract work because they feel “joining the gig economy is their only way of making a living.”

The report describes Canada’s labour market shifting from permanent employment to on-demand temporary or contractual employment as “the new normal” – and the challenges and opportunities within this so-called “gig economy.”

The Gig Economy: Achieving Financial Wellness with Confidence is based on a survey of more than 1,000 Canadian small-business owners. They revealed 40 per cent had or currently worked as self-employed professionals pursuing contract or freelance project-based careers.

However, most reported that while contract work offers a certain level of autonomy, it comes with serious worries, such as 87 fearing life without any medical, dental or disability benefits. The report found 57% are concerned about no paid sick days and 57% feel they are not earning enough.

Other results include:

  • Most small business owners became self-employed by choice (60%).
  • Of all the respondents, 40% identified as being part of gig economy now or in the past.
  • Popular reasons for taking contract work: to have autonomy and control (49%); make extra money on the side (49%); balance career and family needs (42%); or because it was the only way to make an income (27%).
  • More Boomers were likely to value autonomy and control when taking freelance jobs (70%) or felt it was the only option at this stage to earn income (35%).
  • Generation Xers valued balancing career and family needs more than other groups (52%).
  • Millennials were more inclined to work in the gig economy to make extra money on the side (53%), or until they found a better job (30%).

 

 

Relax, Boomers: Socialism Is Good Now

It’s a shame that Merwin K. Hart’s life has drifted into obscurity, because in his prime he was a real dazzler, one of the brightest stars from the Golden Age of American Paranoia.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Hart ran an organization called The National Economic Council. Neither a government agency nor a laboratory for research, the NEC served as a propaganda funnel for the anxieties of the postwar corporate elite. Men of fortune, like the du Ponts (chemical magnates) and the Pews (of Charitable Trust fanfare) would turn over large sums of money to Hart, who would in turn blast out warnings about the “three million” immigrants who had entered the country “illegally” at the close of World War II, causing a “housing shortage.” Or the “deceit” of international Jewry. Or the hidden subversive content in certain college textbooks.

Hart’s favorite freakout was socialism, and how terrifyingly close the United States was to a socialist dystopia. “Our country grew great through freedom,” he warned hundreds of university trustees in 1948. “Do we want the United States to drift into a Socialism like that of Britain ― which many of us feel is only a transitory stop on the road to State Absolutism such as that of Russia?” Once upon a time, England and the Soviet Union were considered comparable evils on the American right.

The Baby Boomers are the worst American generation since Reconstruction, but they had many reasons to turn out this way. The Boomers were raised in a political culture dominated by madmen, their minds warped at an early age. For decades, Boomers saw the term “socialism” deployed not to denote a set of economic policies, but to conjure a vague, foreign horror. Accustomed to this nomenclature, Boomers have reacted with fright or at least confusion to the terminology of today’s American left, which has embraced the “socialist” label more widely than any domestic political movement in living memory. But the Boomers need to relax. Socialism is good now.

Socialism is not a static, concrete ideology. It is a word whose meaning has long been rendered flexible by decades of political bombardment. It was even hard to pin down Karl Marx on a practical definition. For libertarian economist Milton Friedman, progressive taxation was synonymous with socialism. For Hart, socialism was the British National Health Service. The late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), saw socialism and racial integration as inseparable, and denounced the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a celebration of “communism, socialism and sex perversion.”

You get the idea: much of what conservatives decried as “socialist” in the 20th century today enjoys broad support among liberals, leftists and even many conservatives.

This is because conservative thinkers of the time chiefly used the word “socialism” not to prosecute the Cold War, but to attack the Democratic Party. Something Democrats said was good was actually very bad, because it was socialist ― and “socialist” was the second “S” in U.S.S.R., after all. This simple rhetorical trick diverted arguments about popular ideas into a referendum on gulags, thought police and nuclear annihilation.

But socialism lost its sting at the end of the Cold War. In 2009, when Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) told a reporter he had a secret list of 17 “socialists” then working in Congress, the Beltway press and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded not with McCarthy-era outrage but gentle amusement. When Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called same-sex marriage a socialist plot that same year, he couldn’t even convince conservative Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Millennials are the first generation to come of age without all of this Cold War brain baggage. They also entered adulthood around the 2008 financial crisis, a period in which the word “capitalism” was having a rough go: double-digit unemployment, mass foreclosures, unaffordable rent, crushing student debt, deepening economic inequality, bailed-out bankers swallowing six-figure bonuses, tech billionaires who literally can’t figure out how to give away their money.

Plenty of reformers have insisted that these signs of social breakdown were offenses against capitalism rather than products of capitalism. But they are losing the semantic battle. Polling in recent years has consistently shown a majority of millennials are enthusiastic about “socialism,” often preferring it to “capitalism.” For millennials, “capitalism” means “unaccountable rich people ripping off the world,” while “socialism” simply means “not that.”

Indeed, when the newest star on the left, soon-to-be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York discusses her vision for “democratic socialism,” her agenda sounds a lot like old-school New Deal liberalism, or basic, functional, small-d democracy.

“In a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez told NBC’s Chuck Todd earlier this month. “Every working-class American in this country should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose, and no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing.”

No gulags, just dignity. Boomers of the world, calm down. You have nothing to lose but some words.

Researchers emphasize need for baby boomers to get tested for hepatitis C

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 300 million people across the globe are unaware they’re living with viral hepatitis. In fact, baby boomers-;those born between 1945-1965-;are five times more likely to have hepatitis C, one of the many different strains of this viral infection.

Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The exact reason hepatitis C is most prevalent in baby boomers is unknown, although transmission of the virus primarily through blood was highest before strong infection control procedures were adopted.

“Many people don’t know how or when they were infected, and you can live decades without symptoms,” says Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Michael Curry, MD, Section Chief, Hepatology. “If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver, which slows down blood flow that’s crucial for liver function. By the time symptoms do appear, the damage is usually advanced. That’s why testing is so important.”

In addition to causing scarring (cirrhosis), two out of every three liver cancers are caused by hepatitis.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is a blood test, called a hepatitis C antibody test. “The test looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. Once someone is infected, there will always be antibodies in their blood,” Curry says.

For decades, the most common treatment for hepatitis C was a series of painful shots, sometimes year-long process with chemo-like side effects.

Treatment for hepatitis C is now on the cutting-edge of medicine. “It’s curable,” Curry says. “The treatments are highly effective and in most cases, are accomplished in 8-12 weeks.”

These new medications are called direct-acting antivirals that attack the virus head on. Physicians at BIDMC’s Liver Center are recognized leaders in the development of these treatments.

“Each medication is different, but they remove all traces of the virus from your blood within three months,” says Curry. “This is called sustained virologic response, and it’s what your doctors look for to tell you if you’re cured.”

Note to fellow baby boomers: We messed up

I read an article some days ago regarding the contributions my generation has made toward the advancement of science, humanity, general knowledge and progress. The author went to great lengths to explore the “deeds” of baby boomers and recognize our efforts which have contributed to our quality of life. I’ve since given a good deal of thought as to some of our more “questionable,” if not downright shameful, “contributions.”

It was our generation that “discovered” that if we’d sit our young children in front of a television, they’d remain quiet and mesmerized for hours. We called it the “electric babysitter,” substituting, of course, for parental care, contact and personal communication.

It was also our generation that began the practice of creating latch-key kids. Our children locked themselves in their homes after school, a period void of interpersonal contact.

As our children grew older, we began sending them to their rooms to “study” and then ignored them as long as they kept the volume down on their television sets and stereos.

Thereafter, it was all about the shopping mall. We began dropping our young people at the local mall, passing off our parental responsibilities to mall security. We justified that practice by “buying in” to their excuse that all the other parents allowed their children to hang out there, too. If you really “cared about them,” we reasoned, “you gave them money to chunk into arcade games.” It was no big deal. If it got them out of the house, after all.

With the advent of the Internet, I feel truly justified in passing the “Torch of Shame” to the next generation of parents.

On the occasion that the 9-year old and the 6-year old are not deeply and emotionally involved with their own “electronic Internet devices” and sense some genuine need to consult with a parent, they could talk with their Daddy but they hesitate to bother him. He’s on the deck with his iPad, involved with his e-mail. They could go to their Mommy but she’s in the den, deep into Facebook and they don’t want to bother her.

All the foregoing being said — and you know it’s the blessed truth — we find ourselves wondering what’s happening around us. There are nonsensical murders of people unknown to the perpetrators, unprovoked violence among strangers, words “inflicted” among each other with out any concern for each other’s feelings and a broad lack of empathy as though we were throwing hurtful insults against a wall instead of a fellow human being with feelings.

What have we become?

Pete Collyge, Baltimore

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