We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, February 28. 2011
A re-post from a few years ago -
I have always been interested in the history of the idea of retirement. Not interested because it is something I want to do (I could financially do it today if I wanted to), but interested in why an intact, healthy person would not want to fully participate in society by being a productive member.
My Grandpa worked until he was felled by a stroke at 86, and my Dad worked until macular degeneration made him incapable of driving around age 76.
Private pensions (especially from the railroads) began in the late 1800s but it wasn't until the New Deal and Social Security that the option to be put to pasture became widely available. Roosevelt was, of course, highly motivated to remove workers from the labor force in an effort to reduce unemployment, and that was the main impetus for Social Security.
In 1900, 65% of men over 65 worked. By 2000, it was 17%. Of course, nowadays many jobs build in forced retirement. I saw some stats somewhere that about 40% of retired men return to some form of paid work within three years of retirement, but I don't recall the source.
A feature piece at CNN, Rethinking Retirement: More Boomers Chosing to Work doesn't offer stats, but does give credit to the phenomenon. A quote from the piece:
I found a good piece, with lots of numbers, on the economic history of retirement in the US. It begins:
You can read the whole thing here.
Comment from Dr. Bliss: Excellent subject. A few random thoughts:
- I think many folks want to be able to retire. Many enjoy their jobs much more once they have the financial freedom to quit.
- People I have talked to who have retired young, such as cops with full pensions at age 45, and Wall Streeters who walk away with bags of money around the same age, almost always take on a second career of some sort.
- Psychologically, being retired can feel like being unemployed or sent out to pasture. When people retire in their 50s or early-mid 60s, a workplace loses their experienced wise ones who have "seen it all before", and the experienced wise ones feel useless.
- A comment about people who "hate their jobs." People love to bitch about their jobs. But without the job, they lose a lot of human contact, a structured place to use their brains or abilities, and a role in the world.
- Hedonistic retirement: The idea of the fun and sun and travel retirement has been sold hard to the middle class over the past 30 years. From what I have seen, it isn't all it's cracked up to be. A vacation can be a refreshing change of pace and change of senery, but an endless vacation can be like a meal made of all dessert courses: cloying and unnutritious.
- People who do not return to work after retirement, but who jump into unpaid labors of love, like community service projects, local politics, working for charities, churches, and non-profits, often seem to feel a good sense of satisfaction in "giving back."
- "Meaningful work." I hate that expression. All work is useful and contributes to society, whether it is raising one's kids, milking the cows, flipping burgers, or selling bonds. People who use that expression should think hard about what they mean by it. Furthermore, folks who want their work to provide them with meaning may be barking up the wrong tree.
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Some stats broken down by age and gender would interest me. Women wplek too. But rarely retire;
In my neighborhood, virtually all the men were forced tnto early retirement in their mid 40s and have been supported by their wives [in dreary clerical jobs] for 10 to 15
years on average. Very unhappy family lives, can't afford to divorce and the kids escape as soon as possible, vowing never to marry. The men get lowpaid parttime work but are "overqualified" for anything professional. They feel useless and their knowledge and experience is wasted.
America has tended to be a winner takes all society. The women are more resigned as they love their kids, are glad to get out of the house away from a miserable mate. But the waste of male talent and wisdom is staggering. Local volunteer organisations tend to make the unemployed middle aged men feel worse, as they, like the larger society, still chiefly value the big producers, high earners, successes. Once you fall off the track, you almost never get taken seriously again. One guy, a former Ranger, then managing director of an investment bank, then drifting, volunteering, and daily dissed by this money worshipping community, wife left him. ended up a few hours a week in the aisles of Circuit City. Died young. No physical cause that I ever heard. .Waste and tragedy;
This is one of the points I have been trying to make for years, now: retirement is great for those who want and plan for it, but the tradition pre-1930's was to let people work as long as they had to. Today we have so many investment vehicles that even those 'just making ends meet' can scrimp out a small amount of money to invest. Many have that done pre-taxes via various vehicles and never even see the money until they need it. By shifting to a set retirement age when the life expectency has shifted dramatically higher, those getting started at working are now paying for older folks that are increasingly more affluent, brighter, healthier and still capable of working. Many go to part-time work and start decreasing the number of those jobs which are considered 'entry level'.
That does not work as it impoverishes the young for the old and lowers the ability of younger workers to enter the workforce on jobs to show their ability to sustain work. At the other end a number of places now offer reduced work hours, flexible work schedules and other things to retain high-knowledge older workers. This fundamental shift of the age expectations is hampered by a system that is based on:
1) a set number of jobs in the economy - which is rarely true.
2) a life expectancy that used to be at 65 and a few months when it was put in place.
3) a shift from agrarian to industrial workforces which left elderly without farms, family and continued farm income.
Today none of those is the underlying basis for our life outlook and yet we have this daft idea of a 'retirement age'. A lot of the dot com millionaires 'retired' and then returned deciding to found new businesses, invest in philanthropic organizations, or just start a new career as it was an exciting prospect to contribute to society and feel one's own self-worth in doing so without the worries of economic overhead. Yes, many folks enjoy working and their jobs, and many switch jobs four, five or six times in a life these days, both from changing technology and just want of new fields to explore.
Why not let folks invest in themselves and their future to create a 'retirement' for themselves if they want it?
The absolute poor and destitute society should be caring for *anyways*, but that does not mean 'social security' it means 'caring for the poor and destitute'. You know - those who have been so badly hit by life that they are no longer able to find any value in themselves? Those folks need help to find that self-worth and 'step out of the shadows'... and the mentally ill and those so physically sick that have exhausted their savings also need help. That is not bleeding heart leftist socialism, that is social repsonsibility as a function of our society and recognizing, as individuals, that we need to give back to that society so as to uplift it.
The greatest benefactors to mankind are the American People: we give more in an aggregate, to global social need than any government, including Japan and the US. That is because it is not taxed but given freely and recognized and we get a break from taxes when we do well by doing good. After the 2004 Tsunami the #1 contributor to relief was the American People... followed by the US Government. And when the People see money mis-spent that they have donated they *give elsewhere*. That works at home with the victims of Katrina that found homes open to them across the Nation for refuge, sutenance and re-starting lives.
Why we demean the older folks by having them retire when they have so much they can give beyond earning power is beyond me.
And why we demean younger individuals by taking their money and giving it to those that should be both older and wiser is also a mystery.
Looked at most recently by me in this article : http://ajacksonian.blogspot.com/2007/07/failing-benchmarks-they-set-for.html
I am, sorry to say, a geezer pushing 66 in November. And it struck me that I can be considered elderly by some standards, which are perhaps outmoded. I work part-time (25 hours a week) in a professional capacity but have also done the supermarket and Home Depot routes.
My dad died in 1967 at 72 almost out of fear of retirement. Most of his generation, WWI guys, died while still working, some in professions, others in skilled trades. In fact, some tradesmen only received their just respect when their kids were grown and following the same trades. And almost all tradesmen stayed highly active. A lot of these guys smoked and drank and lived into their eighties without hardly ever seeing a physician.
I would "retire" if that meant having a cabin in a wooded area with my dogs, a kitchen garden, a few chickens and ducks and some goats, a good fishing stream and some decent hunting, and no liberals with 100 miles. Oh yes, and a small Catholic church not too far away.
But if retirement means sitting in the same restaurant with other geezers every morning, taking my naps, sitting in doctors' offices, and vacationing in Las Vegas, Florida, or Aruba, I ask the Good Lord to give me an early exit.
Wow! Thats an very tempting retirement! Kind of the idea I had, except I want a class 1 trout stream, and the liberals 200 miles away. Also I want my garden. Also an unlisted phone number. Did I say liberals 200 miles away? I missed a key, while typing this. I really mean 300 miles away.
My dream wd be similar,JH, tho I have to stay a wage slave awhiles [kids to put thru college and a disabled one who needs my health insurance]. I wd want lots of dogs and cats, and a horse, as well as the chickens and goats. Razor wire and netting around the orchard and veg garden. A congregational church ideally, but wd settle for any friendly, Biblical one...a broadband connection. We have the place, just have to figure out how to build a life there after kiddie raising is done. A bit like Jean de fleurette to settle there, tho. No illusions about rural community. Hubby and I might act like Punch and Judy without distractions of many acquaintances and activities where we live and I work now. .
Actually, I will probably end up settling near wherever my kids end up, in hopes that they let me look after their kids, if they feel obliged to go back to work.
That and volunteer at my local church. The rest is just a dream.
I've drawn several plans in and since college for part-time really rustic retreats. But it matters a bit where and with whom.
And there always must be a time and place for the children and their children. Always. Heart, time and legacy for them.
Retirement is boring. I know. I'm bored. Bored. Bored.
I like many liberal individuals. And not the way my hunting kitten likes baby bunnies....My best friend and oldest puppy are liberals, and very stimulating arguments we have...We learn from each other. I would be bored, bored, bored with everyone around me being traditional, conservative, etc. Verbal fencing matches are the spice of life. But liberal institutions, yup, 200 miles away would be good.
You are lucky R., in having a liberal friend who is capable of listening to what you have too say. No luck for me that way, alas.
I've already retired once (from the Army), and now am approaching my second. I don't feel like stopping working (in fact, when I announced my plan to retire this time, my wife asked me where I planned on working). But I'm getting quite tired of what I do. Accretion of duties and mission creep have made my previously enjoyable profession (IT field) into a dreary "I don't wanna go to school" daily grind.
So, although I plan on my second retirement, I don't plan on stopping doing stuff. I've often thought of going back to school for a while to audit classes. Audit since I wouldn't have to put up with the silliness of the whippersnapper teachers and could express my learned opinions without fear of poor marks.
Or, maybe I'll get go the Wal-Mart greeter route. I've often thought about it, if I could convince them that I had Tourette's Syndrome and under the ADA they had to hire me. Then I could greet folks with "welcome to wal-mart, dog s#!4."
Or maybe I could just ramble on blogs like this note...
I am reminded of something a mentor told me. "Why do you want to retire? You go home. You sit on the porch and you're dead in 5 years." "Doc" worked to age 94. I'm convinced this was due to his refusal to retire.
My father dropped dead literally two weeks after his retirement from the railroad (it's true!) - at age 60. I'm much healthier than him (don't smoke three packs a day) and I could likely work until my 70s.
But I'm not. I'm retiring at 60 and I've been packing my 401k full of funds in preparation. It's boring? Bring on boring.
I hate to break it to you, but one wouldn't be a cow milker in old age on a "modern" dairy. At 45, I don't want to do it because it would mess up the "on time" schedule for the 20 somethings who can.
My next profession is to get lawyer training and then become one of those people who files frivilous lawsuits against all the people and groups who have been doing it to regular people just because they do have a pot to steal from!
Well, this is good and all but a lot of people don't have the option of working past retirement. They get tossed out even before 65. The NYT recently had an article about how those over 50 who've lost their job are unlikely to ever get another one. They will find things to keep them busy but getting nailed by the company you worked for takes a lot of wind out of your sails and it is unlikely you'll recover to the level you were at.
This happened to my uncle and aunt in the eighties. It happened to my brother and my brother-in-law is very aware there are very few people over 55 at his company. So depending on keeping working at or near your level is a fools errand unless you are self employed or a business owner. As employee it is very risky.
For an example of the positive effects of work, look at trust fund kids.
Guys with adequate trust funds usually blow the money on drugs or pointless sports and generally waste their life.
Women, on the other hand, tend to improve themselves to attract someone with higher social status.
A physically tough job wears a man out and, if they haven't found something easier by the time 65 rolls around, I expect retirement looks pretty good if they can afford it.
Guess I should have been born rich instead of good looking. LOL. When it comes to "working for a living" that is exactly what I thought it was. The only reason I ever worked a day in my life was because I needed the money to support my family and myself in the style we wanted. I never would have worked day one if I didn`t need the bucks. Life is to short to waste it at work. To those of you that say you would be or are bored not working I think you would be bored at work also. Thats just the way you are. Bored.
My "ideal retirement" would be the situation where I didn't have to work, "to support my family and myself in the style we wanted" as Bob stated, but found something to do that I enjoyed, whether it paid well or not.
I would especially like to go back to school, at least part time; I believe that instead, I would start buying courses from The Learning Company.
But, if possible, it would be better to work at my present profession, at least part-time (and perhaps tele-work soemtimes).
And then volunteer for all those worthy causes that I never seem to have time for.
I retired at 56. Obviously I didn't get SS then but I did opt for that at 62 when I was first eligible. I grew up poor and have always been able to live on less. I owned my home and drove a 14 year old car and simply don't need a lot of money. Today at 67 I have recently been to Hawaii, Australia, Paris and visit my relatives back East every year and a couple of long road trips every summer. I still live on a relatively small retirement but with research I can find bargain prices for travel and vacations. I suppose early retirement is not for everyone but I enjoy it. Although I wouldn't mind working a part time job the tax system works against me so it makes no economic sense. Even in retirement I pay what I think is excessive taxes. I find it laughable that commentators think unless you are volunteering or working in a community service project that you aren't "giving back". One of the great things about freedom is being free. Please feel free to "give back" in whatever way you think is good and don't worry your little mind about what I'm doing. Because what I'm doing is whatever I want to do and I can because I'm free. I do see more and more freedoms being taken away but they are not all gone yet. I have to go now and start the motor home and it's generator. I do that once a month on the 1st of each month in the winter. Looking forward to better weather so we can make our yearly tour of the national parks. Retirement is not for everyone but I have adapted well, thank you.
I was a lot more disconnected from humanity when I worked full-time in a office, something I haven't done now for over ten years. The idea of wasting away in retirement mystifies me. My life is full, something I never could have said 15 years ago. There's always more to do than I have time for. The weeks seem to fly away.
Sometimes I go back to work, temporarily or part-time. Nothing but a desire to create a little more financial security motivates me to do that.