20 Hot Job Tracks When Baby Boomers Retire
Brad Dionne, 34, Merry Maids, Seattle Earnings: about 20 percent of sales (of often $1 million or more) Top franchise owner Dionne relies on door hangers, direct mail and referrals to keep growing.
Ana Rebecca Ruiz, 31, AIDs Services of Austin Salary: $27,100 "The hardest part is seeing people suffer. The relationships I've made are what keep me in the field," says Ruiz, who serves more than 60 HIV-positive clients.
Cheryl Pelter, 37, Kansas City, MO., Police Department Salary: $37,000 Pelter analyzes the paper that blizzards in and reports any patterns her eye and her computer pick up. Police training? A necessity, she thinks.
Dr. Jim Toner, 40, The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Norfolk, VA. Salary: $191,700 Toner is on call every third weekend and two nights each month to perform IVF when nature calls.
Patricia Howard, 33, Potomac Electric Power Co., Washington, D.C. Salary: $40,000 On any given day, you might find Howard wiring a new Pepco site or perched on a power-line tower making repairs. In the presidential campaign, the issue of personal character and honesty is now squarely before the electorate, where it belongs. How disappointing it is that the candidates are tiptoeing around a much larger matter of national character and honesty.
That thought came forcefully to mind in reading a powerful new book from Peter G. Peterson, Will America Grow Up Before It Grows Old? Investment banker and public servant par excellence, Peterson has twice before awakened us with his alarums, first on economic competitiveness in the 1970s and then on budget deficits in the 1980s. His friend Warren Buffett calls him "our modern-day Noah."
Now in the 1990s, Peterson is trying again to shake us out of national denial. Everyone knows that we have a "problem" with Medicare and Social Security, and maybe someday (stifled yawn) Washington will have to fix it. Peterson persuasively argues that the problem is rapidly becoming the "Public Policy Issue No. 1" of advanced nations, that it is most urgent in America and that solving it demands immediate, significant changes not only in Washington but in our own lifestyles as well.
In essence, the nation committed itself to subsidizing the retirement and health care of its older citizens when they were a small proportion of the population, when they didn't live long beyond 65 and when our living standards were doubling roughly once every generation. Today, we face a different future. The whole nation will soon resemble Florida, where nearly 1 in 5 people is over 65. Average life spans stretch 14 years longer than they did when Social Security was created. Living standards rise roughly one eighth as fast as they did a generation ago. The generosity of our earlier commitments is thus seriously mismatched with our ability to pay for them.
Nor is that the worst of it. Most Americans pay more in Social Security and Medicare taxes than they do in income tax, but contrary to popular belief these funds are not set aside in a nest egg for the future. Instead, they are scooped up to pay for current retirees, and the surplus is borrowed by the Treasury to pay other federal government expenses. As a result, the Treasury is building a mountain of unpaid IOUs--unfunded liabilities of $17 trillion (!) that will fall due on our children and grandchildren.