The big question at the end of a TV special on baby boomers was, "What will be the legacy of baby boomers?"
At the conclusion of his two-hour report called "Tom Brokaw Reports: Baby Boomer$" on CNBC yesterday, Brokaw said boomers have set the bar high and their vision of the future is unrealized.
He asked, "Where do boomers go from here, in the new world of economic and political realities?"
Boomers are unable to retire or don’t want to, he said, adding they’ll continue to argue about their legacy among themselves and which contributions are the best.
While I thought the program was informative when I watched a one-hour preview DVD and viewed most of the two-hour program, I thought Brokaw could have ended with a stronger conclusion.
Boomers have made contributions to the country in many ways – computer pioneers, civil and women’s rights workers, political leaders, activists, corporate executives, celebrities, astronauts, educators, and drivers of the country’s economic engine, to name a few.
So many great scenes, famous and not famous boomers, and the defining events in boomers’ lives were shown in the TV special. The big question to me isn’t a discussion of what the boomer legacy is. It’s, "Are baby boomers going to change their way of living and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle?"
Unemployed boomers were interviewed during the program, as were boomers who lost their homes or were about to lose them.
It definitely made me think that the answer to the sustainability question would be, yes, boomers and the country will cut their consumption and live more frugally. It’s a strategy I recommended. I’ve written about it, including the article "What Consumers Need to Help Themselves During the Great Recession?"
But a housing contractor who was interview said he is continuing to build 4,000 square foot homes for boomers. When Brokaw asked him if he thought boomers would keep buying larger and larger homes, the contractor said yes.
I sincerely hope that’s not the direction we’re headed. Boomers and other generations who have overspent need to stop borrowing and spending beyond their means.
It is the lesson of the Great Recession. It is a life changing one. A simpler, more sustainable lifestyle would be a legacy baby boomers could be proud of.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist