Who’s going to pay?

November 30, 2009

I get tired of the media telling me over and over that I am leaving a legacy of debt to my children and grandchildren. You hear it on the radio and you watch in on television. After a while it gets pathetic, especially the way it is being portrayed.

The Boomers are not the first generation to accumulate debt for the country and won’t be the last. When I say “country”, I mean specifically Canada, but it can mean the USA or any other Western country.

canada_debt_vs_gdp

If you look back to the building of Canada and the building of the rail roads, this put Canada in debt. Debt that was eventually paid off by future generations.

World War I incurred a massive debt financially, not to mention the lives lost. The First World War was soon followed by the Great depression. It took the Second World War and another generation to get us out of that financial mess. It wasn’t until 2006 that Great Britain made the final payments to both Canada and the US for the loans it had received during WWII. Pre-Boomer and Boomers paid the debt incurred from the war for years afterward. The war in Vietnam cost the US more than just lives. The children of the men who fought in Vietnam are still paying.

There have been disasters around the world where Canada and the US have jumped in and helped those in need. We paid our own way and some of those costs indirectly got added to our debt load.

But take a look at the “Boomer Generation” and the generation just prior to it and see what we have done just in Canada. We are the first generation that has made such leaps in caring for our seniors (CPP/OAS, health care, housing). We are the first generation that has made such strides in education and care for our children. Any Canadian child with the aptitude and determination can attend University. And while doing all of this, the Boomers feathered their own nests. Nests that now allow them to enjoy their retirement in comfort.

The Boomers are now leaving the workforce. They are leaving the office buildings and the traffic and the noise and heading to the quite of “Cottage Country”. They are doing a little travelling, a little shopping and  little entertaining.

And when the Boomers leave this world they are also going to be leaving hefty inheritances to their kids. Houses and cottages to be sold off or used by these same kids. And with these things the next generation will also inherit the responsibility of managing the finances and stability of the world.

If anyone should feel guilty about the debt being left behind it should be the SOB’s who created the most recent financial crisis. And perhaps those that let them get away with it should be hanging their heads low. As for me …… I’m not going to beat my self up over it. Things are a lot better today than they were 40 – 45 years ago. So we must have done something right.

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