I’m Kind of Sick of Baby Boomers

In the interest of self-disclosure, I am 56 years old.  That means I was born between 1946 and 1964. I am a Baby Boomer.barbara pregnant with Jan 1956

I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island and That Girl.  Whatever.  Because of my gender, I couldn’t wear pants to class until high school except on “Pants Day.”  That doesn’t really matter now.  Yes, those my age and older remember when JFK, MLK, and RFK died, but that doesn’t mean we are uniquely wounded or particularly inspired compared to other generations.

According to generational studies, I am in Cohort 2 of the Boomers – “Generation Jones.”  More Watergate and Live Aid than Cuban Missile Crisis and Woodstock.  But I believe every generation has their comparable touchstones.

So here’s my beef:  I’m getting kind of sick of Baby Boomers – at least the ones of us who believe we are all that.  It hit me yesterday when I came across this article: In Travel, We’re All Boomers.  Really?  Like we invented flexible travel and nice beds.  As if people under 45 don’t ever trek off the beaten path.

Then I find out that the NY Times actually has a regular section for Boomers with articles about gray hair and increased urination and how hard this economy is especially for my generation.  Ugh.

As the mom of three Millennials, I’ve watched their generation’s particular life markers and cultural highlights up close.  And their elders in Gen X  have made breathtaking contributions to civilization. (Thank you Mark Zuckerberg.)  All these generations shift the culture and create fresh ideas and trends.  We need each other.

And so when I hear that my particular generation is special or more than other generations, it ticks me off a bit.  I was ordained to professional ministry as a twenty-something because the generation just above me gave me a chance.  In my 30s, my children’s health insurance was covered by my denomination – whether I had one or eight kids.  (I had 3 under the age of 4 at a time when I was sharing a single pastoral position with my spouse which means that our congregation paid double dues even though we were “one pastor” on paper.  Thank God for that insurance though.)

And now, my denomination’s Board of Pensions, which made it possible for me to work at a very low income because they covered my and my children’s health insurance, is proposing a change for 2014 in which only 65% of the cost of dependents’ health insurance would be covered – the rest to be covered by pastors or their congregations.

This is unjust and incredibly short-sighted.

Small churches cannot afford to add this to their pastors’ benefits.  Young pastors are most likely to have seminary and college loans to repay.  We who choose to follow God’s call into professional ministry make the choice to live with less money and we simply can’t pick up an additional 35% of our insurance payments.

And just because Baby Boomers like me are either empty nesters or moving into empty nestedness, doesn’t mean we should refuse to support our young pastors with dependents.  Someone supported us years ago.  It’s wrong for us to “get ours” and then ditch our responsibilities to the generations behind us.

I am 56 years old and have no idea when I’ll be able to retire.  College tuition is still part of our lives.  There was a period of unemployment a few years back.

So I get it:  even Baby Boomers have financial issues.  But we aren’t the only ones, and in fact, our generation has most of the money as a whole.  But – rich or poor – we are not the center of the universe.  Life doesn’t begin and end with us.  We have a responsibility to do what we can – pay more ourselves for insurance?! – so that younger generations can afford to serve our congregations and live relatively comfortable lives.

If you agree, please contact the PCUSA Board of Pensions (Corporate Secretary Andrew Browne:  abrowne@pensions.org) and let them know before they vote at their meeting in Philadelphia March 7-9.

We need to stick together – all generations, all kinds of human beings.  Life is much sweeter this way.

Photo of BALE carrying JLE – spring 1956.

 

 

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9 responses to “I’m Kind of Sick of Baby Boomers

  1. A big thank you from this Gen X pastor!

  2. Jan – thanks for this post. And I will contact BOP folks. Because you are in contact with congregations that are in flux regularly – what do you hear from those who are already paying 100% for clergy/family? Are you hearing that they will take the option to cut back, or continue as they have “always” done? Or play the salary game and boost the salary by the amount the clergyfamily would need to contribute/cover? OR other?

    • Hi Sarah –
      I wrote something that will be posted on Ecclesio soon about the Board of Pensions proposals from the viewpoint of someone on a Presbytery Staff who deals with congregations negotiating calls. Paying the BoP dues is not easy now for small churches, but to pay more for clergy with dependents will psychologically impact them. (i.e. They will look for pastors with no dependents.) Churches – especially struggling ones – tend to seek the least expensive pastor, sadly. If the older pastor with no dependents is cheaper than the young pastor with children, I truly believe that most of our churches will go for the one with no dependents.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with your article. I am on the very tail end of the Baby Boomers and am sick of them. I am very concerned about what this health coverage will mean for pastors and churches who can’t afford this. Pastors and their families have already given up so much and now they expect them to pay their family’s health care? I’m on the PNC for my church and not sure how we are going to handle this.

    • I’m concerned too, but I’d like to see us deal with real numbers. In the rest of the world — the rise in health care costs, and/or reductions in demand, led to a decrease in full-time jobs with benefits over the past two decades. We have the same problems to solve. How is pitting one generation against another going to help?

      • Hi Tan – I totally agree. This is why I believe it’s important to charge everyone the same – dependents or no dependents, young or old. I would rather pay a little more than I cost the Board of Pensions to cover young pastors with families.

  4. Self absorbed and short sighted is what this 37 year old gen-x’r has observed in my adult worklife of most boomers. I have become increasingly resentful of their mentality in the workplace both in management and hourly. They have sold and corrupted this company down the river and when you try to do a good or great job (and are actually doing it in spite of and battling them) they treat you with disdain while at the same time demanding it from you. This country is screwed and its demise can be laid directly at the feet of that generation.

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