David Cravit: Boomers are supporting millennials not cannibalizing them
Sabrina Maddeaux’s claims we have grown ‘fat on wealth and stolen opportunity’ are completely false
David Cravit, Special to National Post
Publishing date:May 19, 2021
Four years ago, Sabrina Maddeaux wrote an unintentionally hilarious article in this newspaper, blaming the baby boomers for pretty much everything. “There’s no denying the state of the world has taken an astonishing downturn during the boomers’ reign,” she declared — ignoring the gigantic improvements in health and longevity, literacy, technology, poverty reduction, and relative world peace that have demonstrably taken place during the boomers’ lifespan. Her claims were outrageous; silly, even; unmoored from any facts whatsoever.
Now she’s back, with a new article calling boomers “cannibals” who look out only for themselves. “Baby boomers gorge themselves on millennials’ futures,” she writes. They are “delusional elders who want to eat them for sport.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, boomers “are being coddled by government overreach” (whatever than means).
For the word “boomer,” substitute the word “Black”, or “Asian”, or “Muslim”, or “Jew”, or “Gay”, or “Trans”, and these columns would have been categorized as hate speech. Maddeaux would have been cancelled by the very same millennials she purports to champion.
And, as with her previous rants, every anti-boomer claim she makes is false.
Here’s how “greedy” boomers are “gorging themselves” on the poor millennials:
- A 2017 survey by TD Bank found that 62 per cent of boomers said they couldn’t save enough for retirement because they were still supporting adult children. In that same survey, 44 per cent of the millennials who relied on that support said they realized their dependence was jeopardizing their parents’ retirement.
- Far from being “coddled,” boomers pay their way. In 2018 (the most recent year for which Statistics Canada reports Canada Revenue Agency data), the 55 and up paid a total of $94.7 billion in federal income tax, while millennials (plus a few Gen Xers) age 25-45 paid $84.3 billion. Boomers are the opposite of net “takers,” they’re paying up — and have been for decades and decades. Take education for example. Boomer tax dollars continue to fund public education, even though the youngest boomers, in their mid-50s, are 15-20 years past having school-age children; and for older voomers it could be 30 years or more.
- Thanks to boomers, millennials will inherit a massive amount of money. A 2016 study by CIBC put the number at $750 billion; other studies project $1 trillion. But Maddeaux accuses boomers of “growing fat on wealth and stolen opportunity.” Seriously? Who does she think will receive this bonanza of houses and cash?
- As for the issue that triggered this article in the first place — unaffordable housing and the alleged resultant millennial migration out of the cities (and maybe out of the country) — Maddeaux writes as if it were the first time in history. Had she done her research, she would have learned that real estate escalation is almost perpetual. There was a housing bubble in the 1970s, and again in the 1980s, then a reset in the 1990s, then a return to increases in 2000 and beyond. What makes housing prices grow is population growth, not mean-spirited boomers. Canada takes in 250,000 – 300,000 new people a year, with most pouring into the big cities. On top of that, there is an internal migration of between 75,000 – 100,000 ambitious people a year who come to the bigger cities for jobs and the cultural entertainment and educational services that they support.
- Brain drain? Deja vu. There are many reasons why Canadians may flee for the lower tax rates and the more entrepreneurial, risk-taking spirit of the USA. Canada has historically suffered from a lack of investment capital, and the relative absence of certain industries such as planemaking or carbuilding or spacefaring or filmmaking or high fashion, which require those who seek those careers to go elsewhere. But equally, there is constant migration coming the other way, i.e. into Canada, because of our peaceful society, because of American wars and crazy politics and because, sadly, Canadian companies and institutions all too often overlook our own talents in favour of foreign imports.
- Last month, over 13,000 homes were sold in the GTA, an increase of more than 300 per cent compared to the same month in 2020. If all the boomers already have their homes, who accounted for these purchases? I bet not a few were millennials, and that many of them received financial help from their parents or grandparents. In fact, a 2017 survey by HSBC indicated that nearly 40% of millennials who owned a home had received exactly that kind of financial leg up.
At the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, which advocates for the rights and needs of Canadians as we age, we’re all too familiar with the ageism that is becoming more prevalent in society. From “OK, boomer” to the description of COVID-19 as the “boomer remover,” it seems that it’s open season on the boomers. It’s outrageous that we have to keep proving we’re not villains, but actually generous supporters of the younger generations who, after all, are our children and grandchildren.
Remember, Maddeaux, eventually, if you’re lucky, you’ll be the same age as today’s boomers!