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TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Renita Jablonski: We’re seeing more and more evidence of baby boomers planning to work in some capacity during their retirement years. Some because they’ll want to; some because they’ll have to. Either way, it’s likely many baby boomers will convert a good portion of their assets into something that can generate a little income. Commentator Todd Buchholz says that transition could spell trouble.
Todd Buchholz: Ah, the boomers. It’s always the boomers. Their music, their nostalgia, their neuralgia. Those 76 million boomers, the generation that shouted, “Hell no, we won’t go,” is shouting it again. But they don’t mean Vietnam. They mean: “we’re not dying. And if someday we do pass away, well, we’re going to look great because we’re pumped up with Botox, breast implants and every antioxidant we can squeeze into a soy-milk latte.”
People who retired in 1950 on average lived another 12 years. Now that number has doubled. And when a baby boomer couple retires, odds are at least one of them will be smacking tennis balls into her 90s.
Which brings us to dividends. Serious scholars warn that we are careening toward a stock market crash in 2011, when the boomers start hitting age 65. Why? Because retiring boomers will need a steady income, beyond what they snatch from the Social Security pyramid scheme.
They will sell their stocks and jump into bonds, which will pay them a steady stream of income. But that may not be so good for the rest of us who would like to hang onto our equities.
How can we avoid this fearsome future? By keeping dividend taxes low.
Dividends can give boomers the regular stream they need to keep paying for their Pilates classes. Since 2003, dividends payments have climbed over 12 percent per year. With a low 15 percent dividend tax, companies pay out more cash.
But if Congress jacks up taxes on dividends, well, boomers will more likely dump their stocks, grab those bonds instead and go off to pasture dancing to that great boomer icon James Brown: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”
Of course, the rest of us will end up holding the old bag.
Jablonski: Todd Buchholz is a writer and former White House economic adviser to the first President Bush. His latest book is “New Ideas From Dead CEOs.”
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