Here comes the Boom!: Demographics
Demographics and population data are carefully tracked by the Census Bureau in order to better determine what the United States may look like in the future.
Over 73 million minors, under 18 years of age, currently out number 49 million older Americans, 65 and over. The demographical make-up of the country has been driven by the baby boom generation for decades. Those born between 1946 – 1964 have shaped the economic status of our country while providing economic growth and vitally skilled workers. The first wave of baby boomers reached 65 years of age in 2011, starting a massive shift of individuals from working status to retirement status.
The Census Bureau estimates that by 2035, those age 65 and older will begin to out number 18 and under. The number of 65 year olds and older will rise much faster than those 18 and younger. A growing elderly population is expected to impact already strained Medicare and Social Security benefits, accelerating the trend of self reliance in retirement.
A third option for remains: Estate planning
Most estate attorneys recommend that we have written, or at the very least, verbal instructions for our funeral arrangements and wishes for our remains after we depart. Communicating our desires in advance makes it easier on our heirs. Historically, for most of us the choice has been binary: burial or cremation. (Personally, neither strike me as very attractive)
Now a third option is gaining popularity: a liquification process that goes by various names including:
- Flameless cremation
- Green cremation
- Fire to water
A simplified explanation is as follows: A machine uses a chemical bath to dissolve protein, blood and fat, leaving only liquid, powdered bones and metal implants (such as dental fillings).
Recently California became the 15th state to outline commercial regulations for this method of dealing with remains. In addition to some suggesting that it “feels more gentle” than traditional cremation, the environmental benefits are significant. And traditional burial may not be sustainable for the long term with too many people and not enough land. Regardless of your wishes, communicating them in advance is a good idea!
Turn off your faucet: Utility Focus
Lack of repairs and maintenance of water utilities and sewer systems nationwide have led to expensive repairs to pipes and water mains. The expensive repairs have in turn driven water utility prices upward affecting homeowners, renters, and businesses. Water rates are carefully followed by the American Water Works Association, which tracks water rates throughout the country for millions of customers.
According to the Department of Labor, water rates have risen an average of 5.5% per year over the past ten years, more than three times greater than the inflation rate. The median household bill for water and sewer services rose to $77 per month in 2016, up from $44 per month in 2006, amounting to a 75% increase over a ten year period.
Infrastructure repairs are in dire need, as the EPA estimates that the United States needs to spend $655 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade and repair water and sewer systems nationwide. For decades, utility companies have put off making expensive repairs in order to keep rates low and affordable. The postponement of the repairs has finally evolved into higher rates for customers nationwide, so turn off your faucet.