Posts Tagged ‘entitlements’

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IT’S ABOUT TIME

October 15, 2013

 

The headline reads “Half of Older Workers say they’re delaying retirement, poll finds…” and I thought to myself, YES! It’s about time.

 

I’ve said for years….when social security was introduced, it was based on an existing “life expectancy” of about 65 years.    I spent my youth listening to my father complain over and over about the dollars being taken from his paycheck.  His theory was if you work hard all your life, you die when you are 65 – so why is this money being stolen by the government?  Because, after all, HE certainly had worked hard all his life; and thus would die and not claim any of those dollars taken from him.  And surely, there was no thought to my Mom’s needs- who was, after all, over fifteen years younger than him!

 

Wasn’t he surprised back in January of 1963 when he did not fall over dead on his 65th birthday…causing him  to rethink his stance a bit!  In fact, he lived twenty-two more years – without a plan.  In truth, grandchildren aside, he had no other interests than work, puttering in the garage, and working in the garden – hardly enough to replace that one third of his lifetime he had devoted to WORK before retirement.  The “Light plant” was his identity.  So, in retirement, although being a “Grandpa” was his greatest joy, he became a lost soul…and ultimately, a hard burden for my mom.

 

And for me, he became the motivation that indeed, I WOULD approach things differently.  Hence, his stubbornness and the resulting unhappiness and decline of my dad became my motivation.

 

 A few years after he died, I had had sufficient time to develop a plan and I was ready to launch it.  Twenty five years in the corporate world was enough; it was time to start a new career.  In fact, my “plan” said, here’s what I want to do for the next 20-25 years, but keep an eye out for ideas for a third career to follow that as I begin to age. After all, if my dad lived to be 87 and my mom lived to be 93, I could well have another “lifetime” ahead of me once I reach social security age and I need to start thinking of a plan for that.   

 

And now I am there.  So far, I am still physically able to do most things called for in that second career of Event Design, but I am on the lookout now for new ideas-so indeed, I can launch that third career.

 

 All I know at this point is that I am engaged and interested in the world around me; I am excited to see how this digital world that’s just begun plays out; and I have seen enough late “traditionalists” and early “boomers” in my life opt to retire and live a life a leisure to know that I will entertain no thought of doing the same.  I am a firm believer that “ if you do not use it, you lose it”. A life focused on grandchildren is not my bag…A life traveling around, escaping my roots has no appeal – I did that for 25 years in my FIRST career!   Friends and family that have ‘retired” from work often seem to retire from life as well….and I surely understand the difficulties an older brother and sister-in-law are having as, both in their 80s, they sell their business this month.  And, I understand the trepidation my brother has in doing that-despite ill health. He does not want to retire from life and memories of my father’s last days are not what any of us want for ourselves.

 

Over the years, Social Security was tweeked a bit- moved  up to 62; and extended  to 70 years old…..giving options to everyone, but somehow overlooking its intent.  Meanwhile, advances in healthcare and healthy living extended that average life expectancy into the seventies and is ever moving upwards.  And yet, we did not make adjustments to social security to compensate.  And so it became an entitlement instead of a safety net….and has created a lot of boring people who think they deserve to stop using the brain they were given. ..and it created a lot of worry about how the federal government can continue to fund this program and what adjustments need to be made.

 

Which brings us back to this morning’s article in the STRIB.

 

 Of course, the article is positioned with a “poor us” tone- starting with “stung by a recession that sapped investments and home values, but expressing widespread job satisfaction, older Americans appear to have accepted the reality of a retirement that comes later in life and no longer represents a complete exit from the workforce.”

 

Come on, think about that!  Why do you want to go home, sit in a chair when you are not out playing golf (now that’s an UGGHH!  from my perspective!)  when you get satisfaction from working and are still able to think and work?

 

I’m the outlier, I know, but perhaps that means this recession may have some good results.  People are learning that indeed, life is missing something if it only focuses on a “life of leisure” to make one happy.  Perhaps we were pursuing a “false “dream, and now we have been forced to look that in the face and deal with it.  Perhaps being forced to work longer, look for new income streams based on output of effort will teach us new lessons and we will find that if we have the capacity and the ability, we are happier when we keep thinking and contributing to society.  And if we need not work for money; we then can bask in the luxury of volunteering and working for the good of mankind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A MEETING OF THE MINDS

October 1, 2012

“Look between today’s two extremes.  America lives there.”

Yesterday, I wrote about our broken political system…and later in the day, saw that the STRIB had done likewise, by sharing the opinion of Stephen B. Young who simplified the issue much more succinctly than my attempt to condense Mickey Edwards book into a single posting. I have included portions of that article below.

Thanks to the baby boomers, who, out of passionate self-regard, adopted one or the other of these foreign approaches, these two ideologies have taken over our political system, have crippled our best ways of making decisions, and have brought us to a systemic gridlock where we are incapable of providing for our future success, both at home and in the world….If America is to survive, we must recover our moral sense.

American politics was designed to seek alignment between duty and advantage.  It should reflect a moral sense that we have individual human dignity to be respected by others but that we also have responsibilities to others.  We may not demand too much of them, as we are first and foremost each responsible for our own lives and for what happens to us.  But at the same time, in taking care of ourselves, we may not turn our backs on the community and its needs.

This is the middle way of mindful behavior that demands flexibility and collaboration at every turn.  It leaves no room for narrow-minded and strident ideologies.

Young then lists the results we could expect if we consciously try to achieve balance among the contending forces:

  • First, we would reject both the entitlement state and social Darwinism
  • Second, we would expect each  American to be virtuous and responsible for themselves and for our common good…Excellence, not comfort, would be the standard of the American life well lived
  • Third, we could accept the role of government and taxation as legitimate.  Government is to provide the public goods that will make the res publica prosper and which will not reliably be provided by a free market
  • Fourth, the deficit-prone programs we call entitlements-primarily health care and retirement stipends- would become a blended effort of personal responsibility and public subsidy.
  • Fifth, reliance on the moral sense would call for more tolerant communal approaches to person sexuality and religious liberty…But, where the moral sense might prove imperfect when such personal shortcomings would create high risks of harm to others…communal needs would justify regulation of personal conduct.
  • Sixth, the economy, especially the financial sector, would be incentivized to reward individual entrepreneurial achievement…Since trading and speculation contributes little to our society’s creation of wealth…such activity could be highly regulated…for fairness…and to reduce risk of credit market collapses.
  • Seventh, in foreign policy, the US would be a dynamic participant in global affairs, looking to protect and promote the moral sense through constitutional democracies and free markets and to provide checks against concentrations of power abroad that would abuse broadly accepted norms of right and fairness.

Forgive me for quoting at such length but I think this message is important.  As I read through it, I thought to myself, YES, this is why I consider myself an independent.  I generally do not see one side totally right; one side totally wrong.  Although when push comes to shove, I know from experience from over twenty years in the corporate world, interacting with a great many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that the late 20th century “business” thinking and ethics falls short.  Because I believe so strongly in collaboration and community,  I am generally pushed towards the side of the Democrats…and then live with the consequences; while continuing to hope for the good of our country that someday the balance between these two will be restored to what our forefathers envisioned. 

And, judging from the growing size of those considered “independent”, I think I share this dilemma with a lot of Americans….in fact, with latest estimates being 40% of the country consider themselves independent, it continues to amaze me that we allow two minority groups to manipulate and force us to choose between them and then let one of them run our lives for significant periods of time.