Baby-Boomer Trends, by Christine Brun

Still a large part of the American home-buying public, baby boomers drive a significant segment of the housing development industry. What do boomers want, and what are they willing to spend to get it? The generation is nearly as large as that of their millennial children and as diverse in lifestyle choices.

According to statistics, many baby boomers may not be able to retire at 65. There are numerous reasons, from never recovering from the 2007-2009 Great Recession, to struggling with outrageous college tuitions, to losing a job. Others could retire in the traditional way but are looking at their senior years from a fresh perspective. They are choosing encore careers or staying in their profession part-time. This unique view of retirement creates a need for new housing and community models.

Some $8 trillion, or almost two-thirds of the nation’s home equity, is held by the 74.9 million people who comprise the baby-boom generation. According to TRI Pointe Group, a network of regional homebuilders, 50 percent of these home shoppers over the age of 55 would consider living in an age-restricted community, but research shows that 53 percent of them cannot find the kind of gripping and vital community they desire.

Obviously, some people become frustrated by the search for a new home and opt to stay put and remodel. If you’ve ever lived through a major remodel, you appreciate the serious amount of work that goes into it! What discourages some from embracing a remodel is the quantity of unknowns. Facing a detailed project may not be comfortable for a lot of older Americans; they might prefer to shop in new communities where they can see, feel and experience the completed house instead.

Across the nation you will find homebuilders who are developing within a half-hour of major urban areas. On the East Coast is the Winchester Homes 55-plus neighborhood within the all-age master plan of Two Rivers in Odenton, Maryland. It offers 168 Craftsman-style homes close to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland. The homes offer low-maintenance living while providing loads of private outdoor living spaces with patios and balconies. Residents enjoy the main level owner’s suite and everyday living on the main floor. An upstairs loft with basements and an optional elevator is available. The cozy kitchen and open dining/living room are shown here.

Out west in Santa Clarita, California, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, we find another development called Skyline Ranch by Pardee Homes. It is optimized for boomers and situated within an all-age community encompassing 492 acres and 1,220 home sites. The location offers access to employment in the nearby San Fernando Valley and the entire Los Angeles basin. This community features multiple recreations centers and miles of hiking and biking trails. The first home deliveries are expected in 2019.

Some 25 miles from downtown Phoenix, Maracay Homes offers a neighborhood called Victory at Verrado. Thoughtful architectural elements include Flex Design options, such as a guest suite for visitors or an income-producing space. Community amenities include a Life Performance Training Center, a yoga lawn, a lap pool, movement studios and three resort-style pools. There is a trail system for all fitness levels, as well as freeway access to community employment centers, shopping, dining and entertainment.

“This group has waited their entire lives to be in the position they are now in, where amenities and lifestyle opportunities in a close in location near family and employment are key to a full and enriching life,” said Tom Mitchell, president and COO of TRI Pointe Group.

Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of “Small Space Living.” Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

No, it’s not the housing crisis dividing baby boomers and millennials

Labour’s small opinion poll lead has become Westminster’s biggest talking point. The government is divided and muddled over Brexit, has lost two cabinet ministers in less than two weeks, and is mired in scandal. Yet the opposition can only manage an average lead of a little under 2 per cent.

Or are they? ITV’s Paul Brand reports that a senior Conservative has told him that according to their private polling, Labour are actually miles ahead – 12 points in fact. Could a secret poll really reveal a much bigger Labour lead than the public polls suggest? Some thoughts:

Nothing has changed because… nothing has changed

Labour’s small lead obsesses Westminster because from the daily grind here, it appears that the Tory position has got much worse since the election. So a secret poll showing Labour well ahead is satisfying to commentators because it fits with the general sense of how things “should” be.

But zoom out for a moment: the Conservative position hasn’t really changed all that much since June 2017. The economy is not performing noticeably worse than it was in June. The Brexit talks are not any more deadlocked and rudderless than they were in June. Yes, a couple of people have resigned from the cabinet. I rate Priti Patel a lot more highly than many in Westminster but I doubt very much that a significant bloc of voters knew who she or Michael Fallon were, much less cared about them staying in post.

There’s a very important “but” here, which is that it is easy to see how the economy will get worse or the Brexit talks will suddenly enter a period of economically damaging crisis. I may be letting my pro-Remain filtered glasses dominate my analysis too much here, but it feels to me at least that the moment when you might expect Labour to break clear of the Conservatives in the polls has not yet arrived.

I really don’t think polls are all that useful this far out

The thing about voting intention is it’s a lot like asking people, “Which do you prefer: tea or coffee?” Most people will have a strong response in the abstract that may be different given the context. I, for example, vastly prefer tea, but know that the average shop-bought cup of tea will either have been brewed too long or too little, that it won’t be milky enough, etcetera, etcetera. Given all of that, I’ll settle for coffee more often than not when I’m out and about.

As it is highly unlikely that there will be an election for some time, worrying about the polls at this point feels a bit like focusing on whether or not I’m likely to have an Earl Grey or a cappuccino next Wednesday. A great deal could, and likely will, change at that point. The interesting polling questions are the underlying ones about economic competence, best PM, and what people consider a “good” Brexit deal.  (And even then the first two feel somewhat useless as it is highly unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn will be facing Theresa May again next time.)

The more important electoral factor to think about is that thanks to their forward advance in the general election, Labour would have to be the worst-performing opposition ever not to end up in some form of government next time. The Conservatives really would have to do something truly remarkable to stay in office after 2022. And even to tread water they have to (a) deliver a Brexit deal that keeps their 2017 electoral coalition intact, (b) doesn’t hit the economy, and (c) keeps their party together.  Oh, and they also need to avoid a recession, which is in any case is probably about due even if all goes well with Brexit, as we haven’t had one for a while and we tend to have one every decade.

For the Tories, holding onto power a big ask, to put it mildly, and a much more interesting topic than what the polls are doing five years out.

That said, I don’t buy that this poll is real myself

So despite the fact that I can easily see how when the next election comes around, the Labour Party could emerge with a big lead, I doubt this poll is real, for a couple of reasons. The first is that the pattern in local council by-elections, which picked up on the uptick in Labour fortunes during late May this year, fits with the polls: Ukip collapsing, Labour devouring the Green vote, the Liberal Democrats treading water and neither of the big two able to pull ahead.

But the much more important reason is I can’t see why on earth Conservative headquarters would be commissioning nationwide polls of voting intention, particularly this far away from a contest. Voting intention is not all that useful to political parties, as no matter how bad the figures are, “give up and go home at 5pm” is not really an option. Private polls tend to focus on what parties can’t get elsewhere – that is to say, on questions about policy trade-offs, which of the other side’s voters are winnable, which of their own voters are looking elsewhere, and so on. (It’s not as if they can’t see the same polls we all can of voting intention for free.)

So while it is not impossible, it doesn’t feel that likely that this poll would exist. But given how grim the Tory mood is, it is easy to see how rumours that things are really much worse than the public polls can take hold, even close to the top of the party. 

Risk Of Age-Related Illnesses Decrease For Baby Boomers

Since the start of the 20th century a person’s chance of getting age-related macular degeneration has declined significantly, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison eye doctor studying the disease.

Since 1988, researchers have followed more than 4,800 adults in Dodge County, between the ages of 43 and 84, who were at risk for age-related macular degeneration. Risk factors include being over age 50, having a family member with the disease and smoking, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“We had a unique opportunity here in Wisconsin because the community of Beaver Dam has been participating in this eye study since the late 1980s,”  said Karen Cruickshanks, lead author of the study and professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Community response has been tremendous,” said Cruickshanks.

Over the course of three decades, researchers studied multiple generations. With baby boomers now turning 65, there’s been concern that cases of age-related macular degeneration would soar. But the study published in JAMA Ophthalmology showed this generation has a 60 percent lower chance of losing their eyesight to this disease than their parents.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. A person can’t see looking straight ahead because the center part of the retina is damaged, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Unlike cataracts, which can be treated surgically, it’s hard to treat macular degeneration successfully so there’s a high risk for vision loss.

“There’s new treatments emerging all the time so there’s been tremendous progress made, but for many people there is vision loss with this disease so it’s a very important disorder,” said Cruickshanks.

The study doesn’t pinpoint a particular reason for the decline in risk of getting the disease. The study controlled for changes in smoking behavior and heart disease but that did not explain the drop.

“So there must be some other factors that we’re missing,” said Cruickshanks. “And there’s been a lot of speculation that as we’re living longer health has improved because of the cumulative changes that  have occurred throughout the 20th century — improvements in water and air quality and nutrition, in maternal and child healthcare care. So you get a better start in life, all this may play a role as well as improvements in medical care.”

Cruickshanks says this is good news for Baby Boomers, especially those who’ve witnessed how difficult it was for their parents to cope with macular degeneration.

Millennials embrace nursing careers – in time to replace baby boomers

The days are long past when the only career doors that readily opened to young women were those marked teacher, secretary or nurse. Yet young adults who are part of the millennial generation are nearly twice as likely as baby boomers were to choose the nursing profession, according to a recent study.

These young people, born between 1982 and 2000, are also 60 percent more likely to become registered nurses than the Gen X’ers who were born between 1965 and 1981.

What gives?

“There’s no perfect answer,” said David Auerbach, an external adjunct faculty member at Montana State University’s College of Nursing and the lead author of the study, which was published this month in Health Affairs. The trend could be associated with economic factors, he said. Millennials came of age during a period of deep economic uncertainty with the Great Recession, which began in 2007, and the nursing profession generally offers stable earnings and low unemployment.

In addition, researchers have teased out generational characteristics that might make nursing more attractive to millennials.

“These people are looking for more meaningful work and work that they care about,” Auerbach said.

One thing that hasn’t changed since the 1950s: Nursing is still dominated by women. In 2017, women made up at least 83 percent of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

For the study, researchers analyzed Census Bureau data on 429,585 registered nurses from 1979 to 2015. The study excluded data on advanced practice nurses.

The study found that the number of new entrants into the field has plateaued in recent years. Still, the millennial generation’s embrace of the nursing profession should nearly compensate for the retirement of baby boomer nurses over the next dozen years and may help avert shortages, according to the researchers.

Many factors will influence whether the supply of nurses is adequate in coming years. The health care needs of an aging population is only one of them.

“The growth in accountable care organizations and alternative payment models is probably the biggest factor,” Auerbach said. For example, as hospitals move away from fee-for-service medicine toward models that pay based on quality and cost effectiveness, nurses’ roles may shift, and fewer of them may be needed in hospital settings as inpatient care declines.



What is the baby boomer generation and what years were they born in?

BABY boomers are post-war generation who are now reaching or have reached old age.

But what seperates them from other generations, and when roughly were they born? Here’s all you need to know.

 Baby boomers - who are new hitting retirement - are the wealthiest generation ever

Getty – Contributor

Baby boomers – who are new hitting retirement – are the wealthiest generation ever

What is a baby boomer and when were they born?

A baby boomer will have been born roughly between 1945 and 1965.

They are typically associated with living through an unprecedented period of economic, social and cultural improvement.

The phrase comes from the rocketing birth rate in the West in the years after World War Two.

In the US in 1939, there were 19 births per 1,000 of the population. By 1947, this had shot up to 28 births per 1,000. In 2009, the rate was just 14 per 1,000.

These babies would grow up to become the healthiest, most fit, most active and most affluent generation ever up to that point.

They would also see themselves as the most unique. The high birth rate in the late 40s meant by the mid to late 60s a large proportion of the population were the teens and young adults that would start the youth movements and hippy culture that defined the era.

In 2004, British baby boomers held 80 per cent of the UK’s wealth and bought 80 per cent of all top of the range cars, 80 per cent of cruises and 50 per cent of skincare products.

Baby boomers are now becoming pensioners, which putting a large burden on the public purse.

They are also increasingly requiring healthcare in their old age, leading to strains on the NHS.


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Blaming baby boomers won’t put roofs over young people’s heads, Sajid | Simon Jenkins | Opinion

If in doubt, blame someone else. Sajid Javid’s solution to the “housing crisis” is to accuse the baby-boomer bourgeoisie of south-east England of antagonising “avocado-eating millennials”. He says the baby boomers are impeding new houses in the countryside and rendering his Tory-deserting millennials “rootless and resentful of both capitalism and politicians”. What rubbish.

New building is under 10% of the housing market, and has never made a measurable impact on house prices. New housing in green belts would be a tiny fraction of even that figure. As for the number of these actually being “blocked by baby boomers”, it must be trivial.

The planning and visual impact of the current sprawl of executive estates into rural England is anything but trivial. It is ending Britain’s mostly noble record in town and country planning. It is tearing up everything the Tories have said for decades about local democracy. For Whitehall to seize control of rural land – rumoured to be Javid’s intention – and hand it to developers, would be the greatest act of nationalisation in British history.

Housing in London is not housing in Britain. Even in London, prices are now falling below inflation, and in the richer parts of the city they are plummeting. As for Britain, the latest Economist indicator shows real prices actually down 6% over the past decade, lagging behind Germany, France and Switzerland. In parts of Sweden they have soared by 50%. Yet the mean age of British home-acquisition, 32, is eye-watering to other European countries. Does Javid not have the figures?

Any dispassionate look at British housing at present reveals that urban densities are desperately low by international standards. There is un-used and derelict land everywhere, and scattered, unplanned “executive” estates with no centres or focus, dispersed across the countryside. As development this could not be more inefficient or anti-social. It disperses population, requires ever longer journeys to work, and is costly in infrastructure. It is polluting and carbon-rich. The greenest living today is in “smart cities”. The baby boomers Javid should tackle are in the cities and suburbs, where smart development means fewer gardens and more upper storeys and conversions. Yet the latter is taxed at 20% VAT.

If Javid really cared about London’s urban millennials and their avocados, he would free up the urban property market. He would boost downsizing and relieve London’s hopeless under-occupancy of living space – less than half that of Paris. He would end stamp duty on transactions, and raise property taxes instead. He funks all this for a political row with baby boomers.

Anyway, this is not the real London housing crisis. That is the inexorable rise in actual and concealed homelessness. Javid seems unaware that the poor do not buy houses. They rent. The answer is more temporary hostels, especially for single-parent families and for migrants. It means a promoted (and properly regulated) rental sector, not a persecuted one. It means an easing of housing benefit, that greatest of all safety nets. That is the “crisis”, not some weird synthetic spat between the Tories and the bourgeoisie.

Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist

4 Stocks for Baby Boomers as They Approach Retirement – November 16, 2017

For people who are approaching their retirement, investing can be bit of a challenge.

Yes, we are talking about baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 per the U.S. Census Bureau. This generation is one of the largest in the history of the United States, currently estimated to be 74.1 million in number and accounting for approximately 23% of the country’s population. The oldest members are now 72 years old, while the youngest are just about to turn 54.

The first baby boomer officially retired in late 2007 and since then, the number has increased to millions over the past decade, as increasing number of baby boomers continue to reach their retirement age. Over the next 15-20 years, the majority of them will have left the workforce.

But are they financially strong enough to maintain their lifestyle and meet healthcare costs post retirement?

We Don’t Think So

Per Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest report, only 13% of working baby boomers are currently covered under pension schemes. This means the majority of retirees will need to plan their retirement on their own, making it the most challenging factor for the boomers.

Furthermore, this generation is notably believed to be the most active and wealthiest group of their era. Also, baby boomers were the biggest beneficiary of the 1982-2000 secular bull market, which gave them the opportunity to make plenty of money through aggressive investment in stock markets.

Despite this, the generation has not saved enough assets due to the boomers’ excessive spending habits and luxurious lifestyle, according to a Paladin Registry report. The report states that about 60% of baby boomers have inadequate assets for post retirement survival.

Additionally, the generation is expected to have a longer life span — thanks to the advanced medical science and healthier lifestyles — which again means they need more funds for longer periods. Escalating healthcare costs is another challenge, which boomers have to face with increasing age.

Therefore, as the majority of baby boomers are still working, they need to plan their investments to maintain their living standards post retirement.

Things to Keep in Mind

In our opinion, if one has enough assets to maintain existing lifestyle and meet necessary healthcare expenses, it will be wise to play safe and invest in less risky portfolio. However, the majority of this generation does not have this liberty due to lack of adequate savings.

Therefore, they need to invest in assets, which can generate solid regular returns with minimum associated risks. Also, the return should cover the investment and inflation costs.

Obviously, baby boomers will never get that return by investing in bonds. So, which investment plan has the potential to generate regular returns and provide them the opportunity to accumulate assets for the future as well?

Investment in Blue Chip Dividend Stocks is the Best Choice

Blue chip dividend stocks boast solid financial structure and healthy underlying fundamentals, and are unperturbed by market turbulence. Such stocks are believed to be safer and more durable than an average stock. Most of these companies consistently raise dividends and are typically large in size as well.

The companies’ dominating market position, large customer base, sustainable business model, long track of profitability and strong liquidity help them offer outsized payouts or sizable yields on a regular basis, irrespective of the market direction. As a result, these stocks provide greater stability and offer continued income for investors, as well as more scope for capital appreciation.

Our Picks

We have, thus, selected four blue chip dividend stocks for baby boomers that flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy), and have a dividend yield of more than 2%. The search was also narrowed down with a VGM score of A or B. Such a score allows you to eliminate the negative aspects of stocks and select winners. All these four stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 index over the past decade.

The first stock is one of the world’s leading semiconductor companies, KLA-Tencor Corporation (KLAC Free Report) , which sports a Zacks Rank of 1, has a VGM Score of B and a dividend yield of 2.2%.

Our next pick is also from the tech sector — Western Digital Corporation (WDC Free Report) . The company sports a Zacks Rank of 1, has a VGM Score of  A and a dividend yield of 2.3%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Another stock is Cummins Inc. (CMI Free Report) , which designs, manufactures, distributes, and services diesel and natural gas engines, and engine-related component products worldwide. The stock has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of A. Its dividend yield is 2.2%.

Our fourth selection is the home improvement retailer — Home Depot Inc. (HD Free Report) . The stock has a Zacks Rank of 2 and a VGM Score of A. Its dividend yield is 2.2%.

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Where Boomers Decide To Live Will Put Squeeze On Entire Vermont Housing System

As the baby boomers head into retirement the decisions they make about where they want to live will have ripple effects throughout the state’s housing market.

In 2015, the Vermont Department of Housing And Community Development did a housing needs assessment, which found there will be a high demand for senior housing facilities as Vermonters age.

The 2015 report estimates that 1,165 households will not be able to find adequate senior care facilities by the year 2020. The authors recommended that Vermont expand its supply of senior housing.

Affordable Senior Housing

Jan Belville started looking at her retirement savings, and considering her options, a few years before her youngest child was set to graduate from high school.

“I don’t want to be a burden to my children,” she says. “I don’t know how other baby boomers feel but I don’t want for my kids to have the pressure of financially taking care of me, physically taking care of me. You know, the money’s going to dwindle so quickly, and you think, what’ll I do then?”

Belville knew the large family house in Brandon would be too much to take care of and so she got on a waiting list for senior affordable housing.

“I don’t know how other baby boomers feel but I don’t want for my kids to have the pressure of financially taking care of me.” — Jan Belville

It took almost five years before she was able to find an apartment. Belville says the transition has mostly worked out, but it’s not exactly what she thought life would be like at 67.

“This was never what I wanted,” Belville says. “But this is the way life turned out for me . I did the best I could, raising three kids alone. And I’m in subsidized housing and that’s the reality.”

But not every every baby boomer will need, or want, to move into a senior apartment. Vermont Housing Finance Agency deputy director Maura Collins says the boomers will likely address their housing needs in surprising ways.

“Every structure that the baby boomers come up against they seem to change, whether it be music or food or housing or anything,” Collins says. “And so it’s not surprising that they are doing retirement differently as well.”

Collins says there’s been a steep uptick in seniors who choose to live downtown, near restaurants and art happenings.

“Every structure that the baby boomers come up against they seem to change … And so it’s not surprising that they are doing retirement differently as well.” – Maura Collins, VHFA deputy director

And so she says the boomers will put a squeeze on Vermont’s already tight housing market.

“Our older population is really competing with millennials for what we would traditionally think of a starter home,” says Collins. “So having two competing populations for that one unit, in a state with a housing crunch is not good news. And we are very concerned about that.”

Laura Wilson is the director of operations at Cathedral Square, a nonprofit organization that builds senior housing around Burlington.

And she says the expected increase in retiring baby boomers who will be looking to change their housing comes at a time when all housing developments are becoming more complicated  and expensive.

“We’re in a situation now where funding is super competitive,” Wilson says. “It’s getting harder and harder, and resources are scarce. You know you talk to other organizations, whether they’re housing organizations or just social mission. You know, we’re all after the same pot of funds.”

A University of Vermont study found that about one-third of the mobile homes in Vermont had at least one retired senior living there.

And mobile home parks are increasingly viewed as an important part of the state’s strategy for supporting affordable housing.

Robert Kennett, 76, lives in a mobile home park in Hinesburg.

“I think it’s important to keep the idea of affordable housing for people in our age group,” says Kennett. “And my wife and I are in the same boat as a lot of other seniors. This whole story of, ‘do I pay my rent or pay for my medicine?’ Those are facts. Those are facts that we have to deal with all of the time. Without this, we wouldn’t make it.”

Vermont has been a national leader in supporting seniors at home, and in helping them age in place. A trend that is sure to continue as the boomers move into retirement.

Beth Stern, the director of the Central Vermont Council on Aging, says boomers might need more outside help than the previous generation if they don’t have their own local support systems.

“I think the challenge for baby boomers potentially will be that we’re a much more mobile society now, and the children of baby boomers are living elsewhere,” Stern says. “You may not have generations and family support that you might have had originally when people tended to stay more local. And so care-giving is going to be a huge issue for baby boomers.”

And she says the increase in the number of seniors who will be needing care at home comes at a time when there are less young people throughout the state to fill those jobs.

“You may not have generations and family support that you might have had originally when people tended to stay more local. And so care-giving is going to be a huge issue for baby boomers.” — Beth Stern, Central Vermont Council on Aging

“Because of our population dropping in the younger ages, we are not going to have the caregivers to work in that field either in nursing homes or residential care homes or in home based care,” says Stern. “So that is something that I am concerned about for baby boomers.”

Vermont’s been trying to address its housing crisis even before the boomers began moving into retirement.

And as that bubble grows over the next few decade, the decisions that boomers make about where they want to live will ripple throughout Vermont’s housing community.
 

Aging Well is an ongoing special series from VPR exploring how the baby boom generation is viewing retirement and changing the future makeup of Vermont.

Baby Boomer Excess Led to Hubris, Cultural Decay

Since the Trojan War, generations have always trashed their own age in comparison to ages past. The idea of fated decadence and decline was a specialty of 19th-century German philosophy.

So we have to be careful in calibrating generations, especially when our own has reached a level of technology and science never before dreamed of (and it is not a given that material or ethical progress is always linear).

Nonetheless, the so-called Baby Boomers have a lot to account for — given the sorry state of entertainment, sports, the media, and universities.

The Harvey Weinstein episode revealed two generational truths about Hollywood culture.

One, the generation that gave us the free-love and the anything-goes morals of Woodstock discovered that hook-up sex was “contrary to nature.” Sexual congress anywhere, any time, anyhow, with anyone — near strangers included — is not really liberating and can often be deeply imbedded within harassment and ultimately the male degradation of women.

Somehow a demented Harvey Weinstein got into his head that the fantasy women in his movies who were customarily portrayed as edgy temptresses and promiscuous sirens were reflections of the way women really were in Los Angeles and New York — or the way that he thought they should be. It was almost as if Weinstein sought to become as physically repulsive and uncouth as possible — all the better to humiliate (through beauty-and-the-beast asymmetry) the vulnerable and attractive women he coerced.

Two, Weinstein reminded us, especially in his eleventh-hour medieval appeals for clemency by way of PC attacks on the NRA and Donald Trump, that mixing politics with art was, as our betters warned, always a self-destructive idea.

Hollywood ran out of original thought about three decades ago, and the people noticed and so keep avoiding the theaters. How many times can a good-looking, young, green progressive crusader expose a corporate pollution plot, or battle a deranged band of southern-twangy Neanderthals, South African racists, or Russian tattooed thugs, or a deep-state CIA cabal in sunglasses and shiny suits? How many times can the nth remake of a comic-book hero be justified by updating him into a caped social-justice warrior from L.A.? Ars gratia politicorum is suicide.

The ruling generation in Hollywood is out of creative ideas mostly because it invested in political melodrama rather than human tragedy. It cannot make a Western, not just because Santa Monica’s young men long ago lost the ability to sound or act like Texans in 1880, but because its politics have no patience with the real world of noble people who are often doomed, or flawed individuals who are nevertheless defined by their best rather than worst traits, or well-meaning souls who can cause havoc, or courageous men who fight for bad causes.

Political correctness has become Maoist: All art must serve progressive struggle, defined in Hollywood as good race and gender warriors pitted against bad racists and sexists.

Political correctness has become Maoist: All art must serve progressive struggle, defined in Hollywood as good race and gender warriors pitted against bad racists and sexists. The result is monotony and boredom. All the cleavage, flexed biceps, cheap obscenity, rap-music scores, and car crashes cannot hide that lack of an idea.

This generation’s NFL apparat, the ESPN commentariat, and the higher-education administrative cadre also reveal generational symptoms of exhaustion. They all have forgotten their original mission: respectively, athleticism; sports commentary; and inductive thinking, civic education, and disinterested inquiry. Instead, given their money and adulation, sports and colleges puffed themselves up as Olympians who from high could sermonize and implicitly insult their own patrons (fans, viewers, students, and alumni).

Being ideologically correct was felt to bring more career dividends than being ethical, autonomous, or knowledgeable. It is hard to imagine that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell brings either wisdom or even common sense to his job. Thousands of everyday Americans could have just as easily destroyed the NFL for far less than Goodell’s tens of million in compensation over the years.

The NFL always had to be careful to square its self-created circle of enticing viewers to watch brutal gladiatorial games in an age when few have ever turned a live chicken into an evening meal. In a society where racial quotas and proportional representation are institutionalized as “diversity” and “inclusion,” the NFL was an odd exempt meritocracy of nearly 80 percent African-American players (or, in PC lingo, an exclusionary league that did not “look like” America).

In age when nearly everyone does his own Internet, video game, and minor sport thing, the NFL still assumed that millions would celebrate a national collective event on perpetual communal Sundays. Instead of being aware of its own inconsistencies and fragilities, the NFL bureaucracy rammed its extraneous agendas down the throat of America, as if twentysomething, half-educated multimillionaires were the moral superiors to those who paid their salaries. Politics are destroying the NFL.

Ditto ESPN — the now-ossified sports-commentary network. Viewers do not demand graduate-school analyses from their sports commentators. They wanted some bruised ex-gladiators who knew the blood and smell of the arena to give them some firsthand insight into sports heroics. Instead, our generation of ESPN executives gave the worst of both worlds: nerds and failed pundits masquerading’s as Socratic sportscasters expounding cosmic theories about social justice, side by side with ex-jocks poorly mimicking them. No one should have to pay to watch that. Entertainment can be many things — if it is not grating.

Today’s journalists graduate with majors that confer thinly disguised degrees in different sorts of activism.

The problem with a dying media is not just new social media, the Internet, or 24-hour cable news. Those are just accelerants. The culprit is mostly politically driven ignorance. Today’s journalists graduate with majors that confer thinly disguised degrees in different sorts of activism.

But -isms and -ologies come at a cost of shorting literature, history, or fact-based knowledge of any sort, so today’s journalistic doyens have few referents either of the past or in the abstract in general. The result is that every passing psychodrama becomes the most important in history. “Watergate” is name dropped daily, but few journalists know anything about the genesis or nature of that scandal, the same way that referencing “Ferguson” omits its fraud and fantasies that even Eric Holder’s Justice Department was forced to concede.

In the 1950s, the university had evolved beyond being a bastion of eccentricity, nonconformity, and free expression, as tweedy scholars and old-style elbow-patched liberal academics were displaced by hip voices railing against supposedly clueless straight culture.

We lament political correctness and Stalinism on campuses, but the real crime is the ignorance that empowers it.

America thought it could live with that — even at the price of watering down the curricula with -studies activist courses — because free speech was for everyone, at least in theory. But tenured radical professors eventually became sixty-something administrative bureaucrats and are now being devoured by the very radical offspring they have sired. We lament political correctness and Stalinism on campuses, but the real crime is the ignorance that empowers it.

The unspoken fuel that drives so many protests on campus is the self-awareness that so many students simply cannot do traditional college work and desire weaker courses, personal exemptions, and time off. A sense of student inferiority naturally leads to demands for everything but a more comprehensive education. The result of politicizing mediocrity is the classic toxicity of youthful ignorance and arrogance. Twenty-somethings brag about tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee without a clue what Gettysburg was. Disrupting a conservative lecturer on campus is the current generation’s version of cramming phone booths and swallowing goldfish.

Orwellian administrative language, sanctioned from those who should have known better, masks an anti-democratic reality of which even its adherents are ashamed. “Safe spaces” mean segregation. “Affirmative action” is synonymous with implicit racial quotas. “Theme houses” are race-based apartheid living quarters. “Trigger warnings” are censorship. “Student loans” are paramount to indentured servitude for over a decade. And “diversity” ensures monotony and orthodoxy in thought and expression.

University overseers managed to ensure that the B.A. degree is no longer necessarily proof of education in science, math, language, history, or philosophy. Private employers see elite colleges, at best, not necessarily as places where job applicants were educated or trained, but rather where they were once prescreened by colleges, on the basis of high-school test scores and GPAs. So they hire college graduates by brand names, because earlier, as incoming students, they were once admitted to, rather than graduated from, a good college on some sort of objective basis. Employers write off what followed later as either a wasted four years or irrelevant.

What caused this societal meltdown among our Boomer custodians?

It was not material want. Our inheritance ensured we were the most affluent and leisured generation in history. Rather, excess led to hubris. We masked incompetence with snazzy technology and the elite’s ability to travel and acquire at will — and to sound hip and “with it” in speech and diction.

Our generation also, inevitably, became divorced from both nature and the muscularity of the physical, desperate ordeal of surviving. The result was a vicarious romance about the wild and an ignorance of and disdain for those who must fight the wild to produce our food, wood, steel, concrete, and fuel. The result, again, is a vicarious life. Silicon Valley grandees pontificate about open borders, “undocumented migrants,” and “sanctuary cities,” but beneath their noses are streets lined with tightly parked Winnebagoes in which thousands of poor Mexican nationals sleep, live, eat, and prep for another day servicing the masters of the universe. To suggest that the geography of the Bay Area is still vast and its open spaces ripe for affordable housing is the heresy of “how dare you even suggest getting near my Portola Valley estate”?

Our culture and financial elite are primarily a coastal tribe, cut off from both the poor and the material conditions that face the poor. They find penance and exemption for their privilege in loud but empty virtue-signaling and in easy contempt for the supposedly grasping middle class. But what we wanted from them was excellence, competence, and leadership; yet they had neither the education nor character for any of that.

It is hard to destroy the NFL or to discredit a liberal-arts degree from Yale, or to turn NBC or CNN into a bastard of Pravda or to make the Hollywood of John Ford, Frank Capra, and Alfred Hitchcock into that of George Clooney. But we managed it — and more still to come before we are through.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, released in October from Basic Books.

 

Baby boomers, millennials often compete to buy the same mid-range valued homes

Baby boomers and millennials, the two largest generations of Americans, often clash on the environment, social consciousness and politics.

They also battle to buy houses – specifically single-family and starter homes and low-maintenance condominiums.

Boomers, it seems, want to downsize at the same time their children and grandchildren are trying to buy their first homes.

With both generations vying for what is a limited inventory on the market, the result is high demand that has sellers receiving multiple bids – sometimes above list price – and the losing bidders walking away dazed, deposit check in hand.

It’s a scenario playing out in some markets in the Greater Lehigh Valley and the country, depending on location and availability, as both generations – each numbering more than 75 million – look for housing for the next decade.

“There are similar search criteria between the baby boomer and the millennial and a similar property type desired by both demographics,” said Brad Patt, senior vice president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors, Lower Macungie Township.

And if millennials cannot find the starter homes they are seeking, if they can afford it they move up to the middle section of the market, competing with boomers looking to downsize, said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist with The Conference Board, New York.

“In terms of baby boomers who are downsizing into those mid-range homes, how that plays out is going to depend on market to market,” he said.

MILLENNIAL-DRIVEN MARKET

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016 the millennial population surpassed the number of baby boomers as the largest generation in the U.S., totaling 79.8 million between 18 and 35. Millennials also comprise the largest group of homebuyers (34 percent), according to the National Association of Realtors, based in Washington, D.C.

While boomers – ages 53 to 71 – still account for the largest number of households in the U.S., that will change as millennials increasingly enter the market.

“What we’ve seen over the past few years is that, coming out of the housing bubble, millennials were a key driver of increased growth, especially when you get into 2012 through 2014, where household formulation growth picks up as a result of some delayed pent-up demand by millennials,” Schaitkin said. “As they are forming households, they are also purchasing houses.

“Over the last year or two, that pent-up demand factor has slowed. So you have seen a slow-down in the housing market not in terms of prices but in terms of activity, in terms of residential construction.”

MORE DEMAND FOR EXISTING HOMES

The slowdown of residential construction has created increased demand for existing homes.

According to a Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University study, millennials in their 20s and 30s now search for starter homes. On the opposite side of the aging spectrum, baby boomers will be looking for retirement homes and smaller single-family homes as they downsize.

A recent report by Trulia found more search activity for starter homes than what is available on the market.

Some observers believe the changing needs of millennials and baby boomers will drive the housing market through the roof in the next 10 years.

Depending on the location and housing stock available, demand from both generations today vying for similar-priced properties has created multiple bid scenarios and higher sales prices.

LOCATION OVER SPACE

Schaitkin doesn’t think the boomer-millennial dynamic occurs on a national level. While some boomers may downsize in markets where they live, others may relocate closer to children or to retirement destinations such as Florida or Arizona.

“It’s a matter of location choice,” he said. “Millennial homebuyers are likely to value convenience more than space, the ability to be near desirable locations, in many cases more urban areas, over having a backyard. … As a result, that’s going to curtail location choice.

Schaitkin said it’s more of a preference for location over space and amenities.

“That is going to drive how housing prices evolve,” he said. “And that’s also going to depend on how it is that the most desired metropolitan areas deal with zoning regulations as demand increases to live in those areas.”

ANIMAL FRIENDLY

Zoning played a role when millennials Meredith and Don Hudak and their six children relocated from Oklahoma to Mahoning Township, Carbon County.

“When we were looking for a home, we were looking within a 45-minute-to-an-hour drive to his family. Close, but not too close,” Meredith Hudak said.

“I own a pot-belly pig, so finding somewhere that would accept my pig as a pet and not a farm animal was extremely important. Mahoning [Township] is very farmer and animal friendly.”

‘REFRESHING’

Location was one priority for the Hudaks, who moved from a 2,300-square-foot home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a one-car garage on about a half-acre of land to a 2,700-square-foot home with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a five-car garage on 1.59 acres.

The property is in a suburban area within minutes of shopping and other desired amenities.

“I love the schools here,” Meredith Hudak said. “This is the best move educationally for my children I could have made. There is so much to do, family oriented wise. It’s very refreshing.”

With six children 4 to 15, the Hudaks also wanted a place with enough space to entertain friends and parents.

SMALLER SPACE

A Lehigh County baby boomer couple wanted less space.

Richard and Betty Oertner sold their 2,800 square-foot, four-bedroom, split-level home in Slatington. The couple wanted to move closer to their children after a health issue and the need for health insurance benefits changed their priorities.

“My wife decided she wanted to buy an older and smaller home because there’s only the two of us,” said Richard Oertner. “My children are gone. When you have kids, you want to have as much room for them as you can.”

Like the millennials, Oertner and his wife enjoy activities and amenities of small-town living. The couple bought a 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom 1937 Cape Cod in Palmerton, which is closer to where their children live.

‘The taxes are quite a bit [less] in the home we purchased compared to what we had, about $4,000 difference,” Oertner said. “My wife and I are on a fixed income. There’s no reason for us to have a big home anymore.”

LESS EXPENSIVE HOME

The Oertners represent one group of baby boomers downsizing to live more comfortably with lower financial responsibilities.

“We actually don’t see as much of a downsize for the baby boomers as we used to,” said Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors. “Our baby boomers are typically buying a space that’s a little bit smaller than what they had in the past.

“What they do downsize on is price, and also buying a newer home than they are moving from. When they downsize on price is really when you start impacting the low inventory because millennials and boomers who are downsizing on price would be competing for a similar type of property.”

LIMITED INVENTORY

According to Lautz, the most popular home for all generations is a single-family, detached home with about 1,800 square feet in a small town or rural area.

“We also see that affordability is absolutely at play here,” she said. “So you may want to live in a city center if you don’t or even if you do have children.

“Unfortunately, it’s very expensive, and there is very limited inventory to do that.”

Limited inventory and tight affordability represent key drivers in the residential real estate industry today, Lautz said.

AFFORDABLY PRICED

“The high demand for any property on the market that is affordably priced is causing the prices to increase,” Lautz said. “In some communities, it’s common for multiple bids on properties that are affordably priced where there would be high demand and really not enough inventory to go around for those buyers.

“We do see that boomers may want to stay in their family home and may opt to put off downsizing for the time being. That in itself could constrict inventory.”

CAREFREE LIFESTYLE

Patt of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach noted some of the similar-type properties in demand he sees from both generations.

“[Baby boomers] are looking to downsize to perhaps condo amenities where they can turn the key and leave on the weekend and have grounds maintained, the exterior of the property maintained,” he said. “[Millennials] want the ability to travel on weekends. They want the ability to have a carefree lifestyle when it comes to housing.

“By that, I mean there would be the maintained, condo-type solution where they can just turn the key on the weekend and go travel.”

TECH READY

Another professional who has seen that trend for some time yet sees similarities and differences between those desires.

“They are looking for different types of homes in most cases,” said Bill Sands, broker with Sands & Co. Real Estate, Wyomissing. “The millennials … want the condition of the home to be move-in ready and love when a home has the technology already in place.

“They want to have it pre-wired for their sounds and their technology. They want smart-home technology. They want things like thermostat and light … garage doors that can open through their smartphone.”

ONE FLOOR VS. TWO FLOORS

According to Sands, both generations desire maintenance-free living with an open floor concept and walk-in amenities and put a high value on being near medical and recreational facilities.

“Millennials are looking for that upgrade, that savvy, open-floor plan that new and more vibrant look,” he said. “Baby boomers are looking for that, too, but they are looking for it on one-floor living, where millennials are definitely looking for more of a two-story, different than a retirement-type home.

“They are very different profiles of what appeals to each of those audiences. I don’t think you’re going to see one compete with the other in the same market for the same inventory.”

DIFFERENT PREFRENCES

Another agent agrees with Sands.

“A lot of the baby boomers are downsizing,” said Sandi Meisse, associate broker with ReMAX Results, Sciota, Monroe County. “They want one level, of course, and they are trying to get closer to their families.”

She said there are a lot of first-time homebuyers in the market.

“Some of them are vying for the same properties,” Meisse said. “Baby boomers are looking more for one-levels. Millennials and first-time homebuyers, they like two stories more than they like one-levels.

“So, if they can get something in their budget that has more than one level, they like that, where the baby boomers are looking for the ranches. They tend to like different things, not so much competition, not as much as one would think.”