Sunday, June 26, 2016

Retirement a "train wreck" for baby boomers and future generations

By SJ Otto
This week I read The Wichita Eagle's article called "Challenges ahead as baby boomers begin to retire"[1] and I found a few of my own observations to the so called problem. Many people are calling the baby boomer's retirement a "train wreck." They are looking at the giant boost of retirees as compared to the past— from 65,000 to 111,000. Baby boomer is the group I mostly fit into. I will be retiring in the next 6 to 7 years and I expect the same things the past generation had. Ten years ago, the last generation went around bragging that they paid into the system and they insisted that it was workers like me who had the responsibility of paying for their retirement, even though many of us would not live long enough to see our own retirement. I'm getting on in years and I keep hearing politicians talk about forcing people to work until their 70s before they are eligible to retire at all. While it is true that many of us will live longer than the last generation we still get sick a lot. I know I do. So I need both the money and I need the health care. Also jobs are not that easy to find. I've been looking lately and they aren't handing them out like candy. The next generation may find that they not only have to work years  more before collecting Social Security and Medicare, they will also have to find jobs in a tight market. They may have to go without work OR social security and Medicare.  
I probably am old enough to avoid these problems, but if you are a lot younger, 50 or less years, better pay attention to what politicians do now. Don't wait, it will be too late—and/or when you finally get as old as me, you may be in for a very miserable surprise.
Sunday's article had written about the need for skilled workers for the future of industry and commerce. In other words companies are worried about losing some skilled workers. But they are not too worried. Automation will make some jobs obsolete. Some young people are being well schooled to take over for many of the skilled professionals leaving. Some places are stepping down some of their workers into retirement, so the skills can be retained. But not many are doing the last thing and those that are are only doing it for the highest 10 to 20 percent of skilled workers.
As for me I can't wait to retire. I have no interest in helping out the economy. That is because in this Republican Party economy workers are treated almost as bad as they were treated back at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is not surprising that companies in France are trying to imitate working conditions here. That would include attempts to make it easier to fire people (as in the US), extending a 35 hour work week to a much longer one, maybe 40 and attempts to crack down on their unions.[2] Unions and workers are rebelling in France. In the US workers just learn to put up with les and les all the time. In the US we can be fired at anytime. We can be fired for what is on our Facebook page and that has happened several times. In the last 30 years labor unions here have really taken a beating. Most have been broken. Others have found they have little actual muscle to force companies to negotiate with them. Many companies look to keep wages down and there are fewer and fewer benefits to holding a job. As an example many teachers have had so much taken from them in the State of Kansas that many have taken early retirement or left for other states. The state of Kansas keeps taking away various benefits the teachers now have. All across the country this is happing, such as in Wisconsin. It is foolish for companies to believe they can treat workers this bad and then be surprised that most older workers have no interest in working past their retirement age if they can avoid it. Why should we work for people who don't show any appreciation for what we do?     
I'm doing what I can to get ready for retirement. I have no money save up, although I have a few antiques I can sell. We paid off our house so I don't have to pay an exorbitant rent. And I have NO INTEREST in contributing to the economy past my retirement age. I feel I have contributed more than my share already and the people I worked for rarely appreciated it. I will still write my blog though.

[1] DAN VOORHIS, "Challenges ahead as baby boomers begin to retire" The Wichita Eagle, June 26, 2016, pp. 1A, 10A.
[2] See "French strikes: Does France's Workforce really have it easy?" BBC,

No comments: