Monday, June 09, 2014

Once you get paid while not working, you know your remaining days can be counted

Okay, I will “celebrate” my 71st birthday in less than a month.  I look back to see that I formally “retired” from my mainstream IT career at ING at the end of 2001 (in conjunction with a layoff), and took pension, severance, and eventually unemployment, all at the same time, at age 58.  I took Social Security at age 62 (full retirement age was 66 + 2 months), because my pension did have a slight Social Security offset.

I think that when you retire, “you” have to start thinking about the fact that a day will come when the world does without you.  That there is a last day, a “last supper”, a last movie, etc. is a mathematical certainty, for everyone.  Society (whether an employer with a pension, or Social Security, or even through income from accumulated and possibly inherited wealth) cannot afford to pay people like me an income indefinitely; that would not be sustainable.  And the rapidly increasing life spans, and the longer periods of disability, as was the case for my mother who passed away at 97 in December 2010, will provide a real challenge for individual freedom, as we have gotten used to it.  I was in my sixties when I came back and looked after her, a previously unprecedented set of circumstances.

There is a bit of a paradox.  Old fashioned “family values” did keep extended family members taking care of their own elderly, and away from being public charges, even in decades when perhaps most old age deaths were rather sudden and when most elderly did not live a long time once they were seriously incapacitated.  Now people do live much longer, when many families are much less cohesive, and when people, partly out of economic pressures when young adults, have fewer children.  All of this has to be faced some day.

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