Posts Tagged ‘Social Security’

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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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POSITIVE DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS in the U.S.

July 9, 2012

Rather than being a victim of the old saying “cannot see the forest for the trees”, I believe I have been so focused on the FOREST, that I overlooked a very important TREE in our world.

The headline of Lee Schafer’s column in the STRIB this morning proclaimed  ”Demographic trends favor US, if we do things right”, and although  I started to read it with some doubt, I quickly realized I had over-looked a very important reality as I ponder the changing demographics  of our future.

I have been so focused on what the growth of minorities mean to MSP, and the need for an understanding of interculturalism and how do we accomplish that in businesses run by whites for whites when our customers of the future will not be whites.  We are redesigning our city and talking about gateways and trying to project into the future-all based on the white world as we know it.  I have been almost overwhelmed as I see over and over that those projections STILL assume a white population in the majority for the duration of the 21st century…and I know statistics show that is not to be…and how do we avoid falling off another cliff in our urban renewal efforts? 

Of course, I know that by the time we realize those effects to the fullest, I will not be here.  However,  the sadness of being a part of a philosophy of city planning that I studied at the University in the 60s and how wrong it was, and how it has us in a box that is hard to escape from is difficult to accept.  We THOUGHT we knew but instead, today we have empty downtowns filled with parking lots and surrounded by interstate infrastructural barriers…all waiting for us to re-do.  We cannot make a second revitalization mistake.

And then, the attitude of disbelief written on faces as I talk about mid-century projections that show the white population will be in the minority causes more worries.  Will we be able to do all this right this time?  

As I think of all that, there are days that the forest seems just too big to conquer.

So Schafer’s column and message was a welcome reminder to me that I have been over-looking a major positive.  “Of the five largest global economies today, only the U.S will see significant growth in working-age population between now and 2050.”  Yes, the WHITE population is aging and there are fewer WHITE people that will be working-age in 2050 than those elderly ….but we will be talking about less than HALF the population of our country by then!

Shafer points out this has not been a government strategy, of course, but is happening by accident .  “To the contrary, many new workers will be children of people here today whom we tried to keep out.” 

Indeed.  Somehow, a good part of our country has forgotten it is built on immigration, or prefers to think, I suppose, that there is a secret document someplace that supports only WHITE immigration.  But white immigrants are not in a majority.  We are talking Hispanics, Asians, and Africans.

All of a sudden, the discussion of Social Security being unsustainable may not be a valid concern or argument. The age distribution changes create a potential for economic growth as well as a source of funding for Social Security.  We might just be caught up once again in a 20th century worry that has changed when we were not looking.

But, as the article states, “Whether or not this potential is captured depends on the policy environment.”

So we need the attention to shift to a bigger concern in my mind, and that is indeed, the policy challenges around educational achievement and access to higher education for these immigrants.

And along with that, we need to remember we cannot build an improved white student’s educational system, we need to build a new intercultural education system .  Do we have any idea how we might do that? 

Maybe we ought to invite a few Hispanic, Asian and African education experts to the planning table because we certainly have not gotten it right with our own African American population!