It’s good to be old in 2016.
People suck up to seniors almost as much as they suck up to attractive women. Older folks get priority seating on the bus, discounts pretty much anywhere, all sorts of funding from politicians, cheaper car insurance rates, and probably 1,874 things I don’t even realize. Sure, they gotta put up with an increased chance of death and a little impotency, but that’s a small price to pay for FREE SHIT, BABY.
The biggest rip of all are pensions. Seniors think that just because they’re been working for a whole bunch of years that means they can sit back, relax, and get paid hundreds of dollars each month to nap and bitch about arthritis. Pretty sweet gig if you can get it. No wonder all those internet guys are jonesing to retire early.
This whole notion of retirement is a relatively new one. Back in the day, you pretty much worked until you couldn’t, which took you until rocking chair time. You’d spend the last few months of your life stubbornly stinking up your kids’ house until you finally kicked it. Man, what a time to be alive. Well, not really alive, anyway.
Germany is credited with coming up with the first pension, right around World War 1. Back then, average life expectancy was just a few years beyond the retirement age, so legislators knew the cost wouldn’t be onerous. In other words, Olaf would kick it before his pension cost the government a whole lot.
The ol’ Great Depression changed everything. People ended up poor as balls, which meant they were more likely to cut up and eat grandpa than take care of him. So left-wing governments elected at the time started instituting small state pension plans.
Over the years, these plans have grown and grown. Politicians have been generous giving benefits to retirees, knowing they’re the only people that actually vote. The gradual aging of our population has ensured that these retirement benefits are in place far longer than our forefathers ever anticipated.
Somebody who retires today at age 65 can reasonably expect to stay retired between 20 and 25 years. By the time you or I (but mostly you, I eat a lot of red meat) decide to hang up the proverbial working skates, we should be able to expect a retirement that lasts at least 25 or 30 years.
Blame the seniors. Blame personal finance blogs. Hell, blame your dog for all I care. All I know is society has this expectation that our golden years should last almost as long as our working years, an expectation that needs to stop. The Ponzi Scheme which is our retirement benefit plans just can’t handle it.
Stop expecting to retire for 30 years
Think about the expectations of today’s millennial generation, a group of people we can universally agree are worse than Satan mixed with Hitler mixed with Warren Buffett’s evil dog.
Yes, Warren Buffett has an evil dog. I can’t believe y’all didn’t know that.
They delay working for years after they hit 18, maybe doing summer jobs while they’re at home from college. They’ll hit the workforce at age 22 if they avoid grad school, something that’s becoming increasingly unlikely.
They’ll then work for between 40 and 45 years, giving them a retirement age somewhere in their early-to-mid 60s. Many of them will take extended breaks from the workforce, for whatever reason. Most will end up procreating, something that’s a proven wealth sap. Some will even take time off after they get a pet, an actual thing that exists.
And millennials wonder why people laugh at them.
By the time it’s all said and done, the average working person today is probably going to end up working between 35 and 40 years and then expecting to take it easy over the next 30 to 35 years. Add on the first 22 years which are supported by parents, and we’re looking at a whole generation that has an expectation of working, at most, 40% of their lives.
How exactly does that work? Sure, I get we’re more productive these days than we even used to be, and richer too. A lot of people end up getting subsidized from things like inheritances too. There are also lots of examples of people who didn’t want to retire at 60 but found themselves laid off. So I get all that.
But planning to only work 40% of your life? Have we gotten that soft in only a century?
I recently visited a friend who decided to take early retirement around his 61st birthday. He’s now 64 and bored out of his tree. He’d love to get a part-time job, but doesn’t really want to do anything physical. His days are spent fishing, watching TV, playing fetch with his dog, and concocting elaborate plots on how to kill his wife. It’s not a bad existence, but he’s the first to admit how pathetic it is. He craves something to do, he’s just not sure what it should be.
It also takes a ton of resources to have a 30 year retirement. Never mind things like public pensions or old age security (AKA welfare for seniors). You’ve got to save your ass off pretty much your whole working life to be able to afford that life of leisure. Is that really the best way to go about things?
This whole movement of mini retirements makes more sense to me. If you’re burned out, take a few months or a year off when you’re 35. Use some of your retirement savings if you have to. As long as you don’t screw yourself, you’ll be fine. Make up for that time off by working a sweet office job into your 70s.
But it’s hard to convince me that somebody who takes several sabbaticals during their working career deserves the same sort of extended retirement we’ve all come to expect, especially if you believe that traditional retirement is already too long. Hell, even if you’re a Walmart greeter, at least you’re getting out of the house and doing something.
Anyhoo, I’ll wrap this up. It’s amazing that we live in a time and place where we can realistically expect a retirement to last 25 years (starting today) or 30-35 years (starting in a few decades). It’s also amazing that sex androids exist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use one. Perhaps retirement should come with a similar attitude.