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I Don’t Feel a Day Over Ninety

April 13, 2011

Ask around, and what people will tell you is that I talk a lot about “Career #2,” without having any idea what that is.  I know that I won’t be in high-tech forever, and therefore there’s something else that I’ll need to do someday. (For the record, there’s also a Career #3.)  I’ve often said, “I’ll stop working when I’m 60.”

Maybe I got too ambitious.  As Michelle Malkin notes in her latest column, it’s not about getting out early anymore, at least not if you plan to live on the Government.

If 40 is the new 20 and 50 is the new 30, why shouldn’t 70 be the new 65? The last time Washington politicians tinkered ever-so-gingerly with the government-sanctioned retirement age, Ronald Reagan was in office and Generation X-ers were all in diapers. Since then, American life expectancy has increased by half a decade and continues to rise – while the “traditional” retirement age (established eight decades ago) has only recently begun phasing up to 67 and the official “early” retirement age (established four decades ago) remains stuck at 62.

There is simply no good reason 21st-century workers should operate under obsolete 1930s-era expectations and 1970s rules. We’re living longer, working longer, and in general, holding down jobs that are far less physically taxing than those of previous generations.

I might potentially argue how taxing some jobs are, but that’s a different post.  The essential argument here is that the number of young workers supporting retirees and SSI recipients is continually decreasing.  So pushing the age at which one can receive benefits puts less of a burden on the system.  Her concluding thought:

Americans can no longer feel entitled to some twenty to thirty years of subsidized retirement, often collected over the course of many more years than retirees actually spent paying into the system.

I know I’m supposed to be an optimist, but frankly I don’t expect that I’ll ever see a dime of Social Security.  My wife and I have been working hard to pay off debts, and to save money, and to find ways to live within means that are well below what I actually make.  In the process that’s taught us ways to potentially cut back.  Why?  Well, see the first statement.  We’re pretty much expecting that the system as-is will have broken in a way that means we won’t have access to what we were promised.  While that makes me mad, it makes me mad in the same way as when I get a tax refund.  The government took money, spent it irresponsibly, and now I have no choice but to wait for them to give me a pittance back that they shouldn’t have taken in the first place.

Honestly?  I’ll stop working when I die.  I don’t know how much my services will be worth, and I don’t know what I’ll be doing.  But I know that I enjoy putting in a days’ work for benefit, and I’ll figure out how to live within my means, because I don’t want to depend on the government to save me when it can’t even save itself.  And maybe I’m wrong about optimism.  This is the optimistic outlook I’d like to see more people take, and maybe we wouldn’t be so upside-down in our thinking, or the results.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 7:46 pm

    Well Jim, there’s always openings at “Wally World” as a greeter. 😉


    • April 14, 2011 7:42 am

      I think I help more people at the Big Orange Box Depot than some of the employees do. But I’m career-planning other options. It’s all about being flexible.

    • April 14, 2011 7:53 am

      LOL My husband always jokes that’s his job after his Navy career!

  2. April 13, 2011 2:44 pm

    If you give everyone $10k per year, then the cost of the combined everything goes up $10k. Look at education grants for an analogous example.

    I find it nice to know that there’s more to do after the “job” is done. It’s why I believe I have a couple more careers ahead of me.

    • April 13, 2011 3:08 pm

      How much does giving everyone $10k per year — instead of the current $13k — drive up costs?

      The point is not the amount distributed; it’s slightly less. But the incentives it provides are exactly right, and the control by directing money at your favorite constituents is gone. Everyone gets the same. No other welfare, social security, or assistance of any kind is involved or needed.

      It will also encourage people who are currently on the dole to work, as adding income doesn’t cause them to lose what they have. The current system incentivizes the worst behavior.

      I have been against the concept of nanny states for decades — and I was the one that pointed out that the movie WALL•E was in fact a warning about the consequences of the ultimate nanny state. (It was also a delightful love story.)

      But Murray’s concept is the most palatable and fair way to do this — and it is practical, though a massive change from the current schemes. I was impressed despite my own opposition to the underlying principle. It could, potentially, address all objections except for those who complain of the loss of political power.

      ===|==============/ Level Head

      • April 14, 2011 7:41 am

        Okay, your point is valid, but I’m still sticking with mine. When you deliver a flat sum and say it’s to defray costs, then the costs typically rise by that much. On the other hand, they might not rise much more, becuase the cash is fixed. So maybe it’s not so bad.

  3. April 13, 2011 1:15 pm

    Indeed. I’m retired, and sometimes working until 4am on client projects (3am this morning) — the nature of the work changed. I’ve gone from technology CEO to scientific/technical research grantwriting, and enjoy it immensely.

    The Social Security system is structured so that it cannot last — and this was true from the first. The projections that go out ten years are misleading (though for SS they’re bad enough) — beyond those ten years, just like Obamacare costs, things continue to get much worse.

    I’m fond of a system proposed by Charles Murray in his book “In Our Hands” — it does away with all forms of social assistance, and replaces them with one: every citizen 21 or over (regardless of income) gets $10k per year. No agencies involved — most of the government distribution system goes away. Health insurance vouchers are part of this; make your own deal. And the total cost is less than the current tax burden, while there is no penalty at all for working, since you still get the $10k even if you’re making enough to start paying taxes back into the system.

    I’ve written about this system before — and the book is available for free through a link at that post.

    Simple, reliable, government-cutting, and no US citizen is left out. At the time it was proposed, the total cost was somewhat higher than the tax burden — but President Obama put an end to that.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. April 13, 2011 9:54 am

    Hi, Jim… I can identify with your comment, “I’ll stop working when I die.” When I (sort of) retired a few years ago, I thought it was for keeps. But I found that I suffered from a lack of intellectual challenge. Fortunately, a couple of old clients found me and moved me into semi-retirement. I’m now a whole lot happier having a degree of intellectual stimulation. Bill

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