Friday, September 28, 2012
How high will retirement age go?
A mainstream media outlet ponders how high the retirement age will go given the ever decreasing economic situation of the United States and financial strength of the average American. While the writer of the article does says that the retirement age will rise, which is like saying a rock will fall when pushed off a building, the real answer is that there will be no retirement at all; at least not in the traditional sense or for most Americans. Most silver haired Americans will find traditional retirement an increasingly difficult option, and will either push out their careers as long as possible, or simply move on to a secondary post-career job. Has anyone noticed, in a field traditionally dominated by high school and college age kids, the increasing age of supermarket tellers and baggers?
Now what the article also doesn't increasingly tell you, and this isn't surprising given that it is a financial periodical, is that the concept of retirement is decidedly modern. The simple reality is that for almost the entirety of humanities existence from whatever date B.C to the early 20th century there was no retirement. Yes many elderly individuals stopped doing physical labor, but then they often became community leaders and advisers for their villages, essentially low stress jobs where their age gave them a decided advantage. It wasn't until the scam that is social security, and it is very much a scam like any other except it has the official seal of approval from our government, that the retirement concept came about. Perhaps what is most galling, and one of the biggest reasons why I have a visceral hate for the social security program, is that when it was enacted the average life expectancy was less than the date when you could start collections. So, not only does social security take funds from those who are working and disperse them to those that don't, and some would argue that there is nothing morally wrong with this, but it also is a program that wants you to crock before you can collect.
The true nature of social security should be readily apparent to anyone who spends a moment to think about that. The fact that the program was based by congress, who full well knew the age of collection was greater than the what many Americans could be expected to live too, should expose the program as nothing more than a money grab to fund government coffers. And yes I am aware that the average life expectancy is a rolling metric with it increasing as an individual ages. But one must keep in mind that workplace deaths were far higher then than they are today. Your chances dying on the job, and therefore never acquiring your promised social security as promised, was much higher than it is today.
Now, many of us millenials and generation xers complain about how the baby boomers are going to leech us dry in order to fund their retirements. But unfortunately for the boomers the current administration has eaten up the rest of the pie that the boomers could have consumed themselves. If it were not for the stimulus program that massive increase in Federal debt would have been accrued by the boomers as they retired and drew on their government promised retirement checks. The fact that we are now at, or exceeding, 100% debt levels has made accruing any additional debt that much more difficult. Yes our debt will continue to increase, perhaps the next financial crisis, but the outcry from fiscally minded individuals will become greater, moreover, as millenials and xers start moving into positions of power the boomers will have greater difficulty accruing debt?
And that is why the boomers, along with millenials and xers, will probably never retire. Modern retirement could only exist while the younger generations were willing to pay for it. Boomers were willing to pay for the greatest and silent generations, however, millenials and xers will be much more resistant to the idea. After all the youth has already seen much of their future earning potential cannibalized, why would we want to lose what we have left to a generation that could have, if they had exercised economic and financial wisdom, never needed social security in the first place? So to summerize, there will be no retirement.