That was my thought after reading a piece that suggested baby boomers — of which I am one — weren’t ready for the demographic changes coming in the nation. We should be paying attention to the changes as the “newbies” are the ones who will be taking care of us through Social Security and probably in many other ways as we age.
Let’s face it, most of us grew up in a white bread world. And if you’re still living around here you’re still living in a white bread world.
But the United States, they are a changin’.
According to William H. Frey in The Washington Post, the latest census figures show that for the first time white babies are a minority of all births. We don’t see it here (see white bread reference above) but in many communities a look around the playground will show a racial and ethnic mix, Frey noted.
In a lot of ways we baby boomers were blessed. Coming after World War II, we were blessed by upwardly mobile parents in a booming post-war growth trend and if our parents weren’t heading upward they certainly wanted us on that track. Thanks to programs supporting higher education, many of us went to college, graduated and then started up that track.
We were idealistic, questioning and when push came to shove we pushed, hard.
Certainly there’s some truth to the idea that as people age they get more conservative or at least seem more conservative. Change seems difficult because, frankly, these days especially, there is financial instability that when you’re marshaling your dollars to carry you through your “golden years” you want to make sure you make it. If Social Security is part of that mix, better to take heed of the younger generation that is going to be footing the bill.
Frey notes there are two things at play here, one, immigration is more diverse than in the past when white Europeans were about the only folks that could get in, and two, the birth rate for minorities is higher than for whites.
So here’s the divide as Frey noted: Among those over 50, 76 percent are white, 10 percent black — basically 86 percent typical of America past. Among those under 30, 55 percent are white, with Hispanics, Asians and other non-black minorities at 31 percent.
A Pew Research Center survey cited by Frey showed that 43 percent of boomers felt the growing population of immigrants was a change for the worse and almost half felt the growing number of newcomers from other countries represented a threat to traditional U.S. customs and values.
You would think as boomers we should be encouraging that younger generation to excel, to make it in society, to strive for college and beyond and to provide us with a firm financial footing in our old age.
But programs that can ensure that, such as cheaper student loans, keep becoming part of a political football as do the battles over other programs that can help the minority students — often in poor neighborhoods and in poor schools — reach their potential.
If we fail to promote that as boomers, we do so at our own peril.
Like I said, bummer man.
You can’t beat Mother Nature for putting on a show but you can compliment Emmet County’s Dark Sky Park leaders for throwing a great party recently for the transit of Venus.
Parks and rec director Laurie Gaetano, Dark Sky Park director Mary Stewart Adams and communications director Beth Anne Piehl were all on hand to welcome 700 or so visitors to the park to watch Venus move across the sun.
It was a festive crowd that used provided glasses, welders’ glass and several telescopes to enjoy the view — all at The Headlands which is a setting second to none when it comes to a beautiful lakeside spot.
While it wasn’t dark at the Dark Sky Park for the transit, it was certainly a great time to view the celestial event that won’t occur for another 105 years. As the old society editors used to say, a good time was had by all.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.