by Liz Smith | bio


The headline, taken from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” is something I thought of recently when talking to my great friend Pete Peterson, one of the founders of the Blackstone Financial Group.

He was also the only person ever fired from Richard Nixon’s cabinet when he was head of U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare (a distinction in my book), and he is the analyst who has been preaching about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid reform for years. But mostly my Pete is like Cassandra, or a voice crying in the wilderness.

Anyway, Pete recently handed me this statistic: In about a year’s time, 78 million Baby Boomers will retire in the United States. This means twice as many people will be “retired” officially as now are retired. So America will begin to look more and more like Florida.

At least half, if not more, of this group will be menopausal women. Is America ready for this? It could be a great force for good if we hark back to anthropologist Margaret Mead’s quote about how nothing has the power of menopausal women combined!

Well, regardless of that, I see we are still fighting the Young, Younger, Youngest, Youth Boom generation — especially on Madison Avenue. These people have never gotten over the demographic that only the young are to be served in advertising; hence on television, radio and everywhere else.

I think these creative and crazy young people are living in a fool’s paradise. As our Baby Boom retirees opt for whatever fate is handing them, they remain a large reservoir of consumers — most of them will go on working in some way or another. Some of them have money, some have a lot of it. Some have nothing, of course. But they still constitute a “force” — they still have hopes, wishes and dreams. They still want new cars and new gadgets.

And I believe that millions of them will become the driving force in America for the next two decades. That’s 20 years of mature older people who will be calling the shots. At least if they are smart, they’ll be political — and yes, they will be calling the shots then.

A few smarties already see this trend. It is happening on the Internet where the largest growing force coming on to use this incredible tool are women over 50. Think on that. With grandmas now blogging, we may really learn a thing or two.

Older people, menopausal women if you will, can turn themselves into a force that the entire world will have to listen to, cope with, please and provide product for. It’s going to be a new ballgame and the uniform will read: “Women Who Weren’t Born Yesterday!”

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Liz Smith, columnist for the New York Post, is WVFC’s first Ann Richards Troublemaker in Residence.

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