As the world churns, it becomes necessary to rethink the whole concept of what it means to retire. Instead of considering it a time to sit back and relax, we need to take it by its automotive meaning, and think of retiring the jalopy we call our career, so as to use the retro-fitted model to drive into the future, instead of riding shotgun as a passive passenger helplessly hurtling toward our final destination.
This means that retirement planning no longer entails wondering what vacation spots we want to visit, or to which senior center we want to make early application. It means figuring out what we like about ourselves that we can cultivate in order to have a non-corporate way of keeping a revenue stream flowing into our bank accounts. It means looking at the havoc wreaked on the savings and retirement plans of the citizens of the Soviet Union, and looking with eyes wide open at the underlying economies of not only our own country but the entire group of OECD countries and how they have completely cratered a mere generation after the “threat” of the Soviet Empire was extinguished.
Not only have the richest countries the world has ever known demonstrated that their economies now have no capacity to provide its laborers with healthcare, education, or retirement, (and for a huge swath, even jobs) they have shown a political incapacity, especially in the US, to even muster the will to counteract the forces that are determined to destroy these benefits, leaving its citizens as mere wage-slaves. The forces that have taken over the world right under our collective noses have no intention of freeing us from this situation, but instead consider “Freedom” to mean their right to exercise their unimpeded oppression of the denizens of countries everywhere. Naomi Klein calls it the Shock Doctrine, and Robert Reich, Super Capitalism, but whatever one wishes to call it, its only beneficiary, by design, it its shareholders.
This makes the entire question of working after retirement somewhat moot. If the richest countries, and companies, for that matter, display a Keystone Cop ineptitude for managing currency, credit, money and revenue streams, where does a worker find the time and expertise to invest the paltry sums they’re able to salt away? When interest rates are negative, asset values deflate while food prices and other consumable prices INflate, nibbling at the value of savings, (such that everything you DO save becomes not just worth less, but worthless), and stalwarts in the world of finance demonstrate over and over again their determination to steal every nickel they can while the government looks on and, shrugging its shoulders, excuses its lack of attention to criminality by suggesting we “Win the Future”, since, apparently, we’ve lost our past (savings), your hope for any chance to retire, the further from 65 you are now, recedes.
So instead of planning to retire at, say, 65, realize that your company is planning to lay you off when you are closer to the age of 50. This leaves you responsible for getting to the age of 65 when your Social Security and Medicare kick in. And this is what I meant at the beginning of this essay by the need for one to anticipate this new trend and be constantly growing, enhancing your expertise, investing dollars to improve your skills instead of leaving them in savings accounts just waiting to be purloined, or pension plans whose only plan is to divest themselves of the onerous task of ever having to fund them. Instead of wondering if one should work after retirement, the real question becomes, should you ever retire? To which the answer is a resounding “No”.
Stagnant wages trump rapidly depreciating value on assets every time, as the former provides a steady income stream and the latter pays diminishing returns even as your expenses rapidly escalate. So keep the old jalopy going, retired and overhauled, until it breaks down, then go out on disability.
Then again, there’s always annuities.