Generation X in the Winner’s Circle – Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz

In the Iowa Caucuses last night, Generation X Presidential candidates made a great showing with Ted Cruz taking the top spot and Marco Rubio coming in a strong third. I have written previously about the possibilities (or lack thereof) of Generation X ever having a representative in the White House.  At that time, the Generation X candidates didn’t look that strong, with the tail end boomers (Bush, Rand Paul, etc.) still looking stronger than the Gen Xers in the field.  The last six months have changed things (and not just with the strength of Donald Trump).

From the Washington Times
The betting man’s favorite.

By October, the various betting markets had Marco Rubio as the favorite to win the Republican nomination. As of this morning, he still had the best odds across a variety of betting platforms.  With Ted Cruz in third place.  So, it seems increasingly likely that we will have a Generation X candidate on the Republican side.  The Democrats are on the other side of the age divide, with either an old Boomer (Hillary) or a Silent Generation Candidate! (Sanders was born in 1941.)  And I thought John McCain was the Silent’s last possible candidate for the Presidency.

Given the small size of Generation X with respect to Boomers and Millennials, the question will be, can the Generation X candidates on the Republican side appeal to them?

Generation X Turns 50 – Finally noticed in the media!

During the first week of January this year I was going to the Metro station in Washington DC and noticed a headline on the Epoch Times – “Gen X Turns 50“.  So I picked up a copy of the paper and read a great article by Cindy Drukier on the current state of Generation X and how we got to be the way we are.  I recommend it.

Generation X graphic from the Epoch Times article.

However, I do take issue with the first line: “The first cohort of Generation X turned 50 this year – you probably didn’t notice either.”  (The article dateline is Dec. 30 2015, so “this year” would be 1965.)

I noticed!  But overall she is certainly correct.  If, like I do, you recall the media hoopla over the Boomers turning 50 in 1996, we Gen Xers certainly have not had that kind of media recognition over our milestone birthday.   Thanks, Cindy, for getting us some front page recognition for once!

Celebrating my 50th Birthday

I celebrated my 50th birthday on August 2nd of this year.  As befitting the subtitle of this blog, I did not post at that time because I was in a summer of slacking off with regard to blogging. This extended through the fall, and then into the winter.

So, yes, I’ve been a slacker.

50th Birthday From Keep Calm

I was ambivalent about having a party, but I knew I didn’t want some big over the top party.  So I waffled until the last minute, and then told my wife I did want a party, but just a small one.  And that is all there was time to plan at that point, so it all worked out.

While thinking about party versus no party, I had also read this Huffington Post article by Barbara Hannah Grufferman about making a list of fifty things to do during the year you are fifty (rather than having a party).  I found this rather compelling, and thought that maybe I would do the same.  I looked at the first few items on her list…

  • Join a book club
  • Visit the house where I was raised
  • Learn how to juggle
  • Visit the Grand Canyon

Hmm….    I’m not really a book club person, more a solitary reader.  The house where I was raised no longer exists.  I taught myself to juggle in graduate school.  I visited the Grand Canyon in 2009…..

I was clearly going to have to come up with my own list!  But of course, that is the point.

I started to think of things I wanted to do.

  • Learn to play the piano
  • Learn to dance the tango well
  • Learn Spanish
  • Visit my mom in South Dakota and the family in Minnesota
  • Visit my sister in Ireland
  • Write my book on the Manhattan Project
  • etc

But of course, to do 50 things in the year you are fifty, you need to do one thing a week, and take two weeks of vacation!  Most of the things I was thinking of were long term things I still wanted to do.  I suppose I could cast them in a shorter term light (take a piano lesson) but that didn’t really capture the issue.

So instead of finding 50 things to do this year, I am going to make a list of 50 things I want to do while I am in my fifties — that gives me ten years to get these things done.  Not quite a bucket list – I will wait til I am 67 until I write that.

So, anyone have any suggestions for my list of fifty things to do in my fifties?

Gen X Men Love Apple TV — and Star Trek

I have had an Apple TV box for a few years now, and I am a Gen X man.  We use it on the TV we have in the master bedroom rather than the main TV.  In part this is because out main TV is a Smart TV, so we can access Netflix and Pandora through it directly.  The other issue is that we have not cut the cord on cable, so I find we still mainly watch cable as opposed to streaming content.    I like the Apple TV, even though I don’t use all of the options.  Being able to connect the phone and show its screen on the TV can be useful.

This article on CNBC says that I am not alone.  Apparently 90% of Apple TV buyers are men and most are between 35 and 44.

There was also an article on fivethirtyeight about the planned new Star Trek series on CBS.  It contains demographic information on Star Trek Fans.  Looks like between 40 and 50% of Gen Xers consider themselves Star Trek Fans.  To them I say, “Live Long and Prosper”!

The other thing of (foot) note is that according to fivethirtyeight, CBS plans to debut the new Star Trek series on TV and then move it to digital distribution.  I guess I and other Gen X fans of Star Trek will need those Apple TV units we bought!


Generation Xers turning 50 at the end of May.

I was off on vacation the last two weeks and missed some great Generation X 50th Birthdays.  Jay Carney on May 22, John C. Reilly on the 24th, Todd Bridges on May 27th.  But I had really been waiting for the 31st, which saw the 50th Birthday of Brooke Shields.  Another great Generation X actress who still looks great at 50. This article details her big 50th birthday party — looks like it was fun!

Generation X 50th Birthday of the Day – Ted Allen

Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped turns 50 on May 20.  Ted’s big break came in 2003 when he was in the cast of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  In honor of Ted’s position as one of the latest Generation X celebrities to turn 50, here is an interview with him from a couple years ago.

New Social Security Study Gives the Bad News to Generation X

Generation X has been told since we started working that Social Security would go broke before we would ever receive any benefits.  A new study by Harvard and Dartmouth researchers puts the date at which the Social Security trust funds will be tapped out at 2033.  And the demographics at that point only bring in taxes that can pay 75% of benefits due.

For Generation X, that means that those of us turning 50 this year will see an insolvent program when we hit 68.  Or one year after the current age to receive full benefits.   I just received my statement from the Social Security Administration last week, and it lays out the difference in monthly payments for electing to take Social Security early, at 62, or waiting until you are 67.  And the difference is fairly substantial.  The question is, should the spectre of insolvency in the system make one consider taking the early retirement in order to insure that you get something back?

I don’t think we will actually get to that point of course.   Even with bad demographics due to lower than expected birthrates, there are many ways to fix Social Security.  Raising the age at which benefits can be claimed seems to make sense, given increased lifespans.  And the rate of taxation could be raised, though I would hate to see that.  Likewise one could remove the ceiling on OASDI taxation.  Although I don’t see that the last option raises that much money — the tail of the income distribution.

I fully expect that Generation X will see an increase in the age at which we can draw Social Security.  Time to start re-planning that retirement!

Workforce Generation Gaps

Much ink has been expended on the subject of integrating Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials in the workplace.  But which group gives the best job performance?  And is there a performance generation gap in addition to the cultural divides?

A friend on Facebook posted this video from The Economist that discusses an Ernst and Young survey on the workplace effectiveness of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials (Generation Y).  Overall it looks like Gen X “wins” as having the best combination of work characteristics.  One would think this is unsurprising since at this point, Generation X has at least 10 and up to nearly 30 years of experience, and still have the ambition or need to support a family that makes us keep climbing the greasy pole.  The Baby Boomers at this point have to be actively considering retirement, even if they don’t want to or think they will be able to.  So, I would expect them to start dialing it back.  The chart shows them as being the most cost effective workers.  I think that has to do with the post 50 decline in salary I discussed here along with their effectiveness at the job.  Being at peak earnings makes Generation X a bit less cost effective even though we are arguable better at the job.  As for the Millennials, I guess that combination of being lazy and hard to work with that is reflected in the survey makes them not even worth the fairly low salaries they are getting at this point in their careers!

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Kevin James

April 26, 2015 is the 50th Birthday of Gen X actor/comedian Kevin James.  James first became well know starring in The King of Queens, and then appeared in a number of films with other largely Generation X actors, including Adam Sandler, Will Smith and Vince Vaughn.  I for one am looking forward to Game of Thrones of Queens, as previewed in this Letterman interview: