Choking on the fumes

Growing up in the exhaust fumes of the Baby Boomer generation definitely has its share of challenges

Growing up in the exhaust fumes of the Baby Boomer generation definitely has its share of challenges and thanks to the new federal budget, that isn’t about to change.

I’m one of those misfits born in the shadow (approximately 1958 to 1967, give or take) between Gen-X and Boomer, and yet never truly part of either. These misfits tend to have parents who lived through the Second World War, but that were too young to have clear memories of it.

Remembrance Day resonates, however, because that was the day grandpa got all dressed up and we weren’t supposed to fidget or pick our nose.

To these shadow warriors, G.I. Joe (or Action Man, in my case) was 12″ tall and not 3¾” and the introduction of Kung-Fu grip was a Christmas dream come true. But, as we grew older, we began to feel the effects of breathing in the exhaust fumes.

Just as we finally bought our first record player, the Boomers moved onto cassettes to play music in their cars. And just as we began earning enough to buy a new car, we discovered they were the last in line to feature cassette players because the Boomers were switching to CD.

Determined not to be left behind again, we embraced technology and became some of the first to understand the importance of computers. However, this took extra perserverance and insight as, unlike Gen-X, our parents thought Nintendo and Sega game systems were for kids. And instead of computer labs in school, we had typing class on (Gen-Y will need to Google this crazy-sounding machine) typewriters.

When we got married, house prices were high because Boomers were moving up in the world and the neighbourhoods that had once been affordable were now yuppified. When we had our children, the only option was an emasculating minivan otherwise the Boomers would call child protection. And a year after we bought one, used vans flooded the market.

We bought our first house before the Boomers decided to give back and allow Gen-X to use their RRSPs to finance it. We lost the $500,000 tax-free capital gains allowance before we had time to accumulate any capital gains, and we were given a late start to participate in RESPs for our college-bound children.

We are the lost generation who heard the Boom but entered the Bust to witness first-hand the erosion of job protection, company pension plans and annual raises. While Gen-X grudgingly accepts this new reality, we’re the ones who saw it yanked out of our grasp. And now the next choking hazard is upon us with Old Age Security. Despite 30+ years of paying into the plan so far, the new rules will take $17,859 out of my IOU pile, wave it under my nose and laugh as it vanishes into a cloud of exhaust. M

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