"No, I am not talking about a natural disaster, government collapse or anything like that. In fact, this is a subtle, slow-moving type of disaster that will catch many off guard. Even more will choose to ignore the clear signals until it's too late.
"I first noticed the faint signs of the pending American disaster on one of my many trips to the Deep South. I enjoy driving, even prefer it to flying. Visiting small towns, tasting the local cuisines and hobnobbing with the locals makes any journey nearly as much fun as the destination.
"What caught my attention is the growing number of elderly folks working at Starbucks, Walmart, fast-food restaurants and other entry-level places of employment. I know these jobs are usually staffed by young to early middle-age people just starting out or starting over.
"In fact, one McDonald's I visited did not appear to have a single worker under 70 years of age. Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with continuing to work long after retirement age. However, this work should be only what you love to do and by choice."
Where on Earth do 70+ people get the energy to work in McDonalds or any fast food place? I'm 77 and I have very little energy, so what I do is important to me and no one else. I discover I really enjoy sitting and watching others work. Not a problem. In face, I am having breakfast in the garden, and my son, Cary, is doing the jobs out here that I did for 39 years.
Ha, baby-boomers on the other side of the water too. But I can see no way to prepare other than I was already doing; I'm a baby-boomer too.
You see the trends and have been doing something about it. I hope young couples pay attention to changes taking place and prepare emotionally and economically.
Chris, isn't it nice to be able to sit in our gardens and just enjoy the fruits of our labor!
I'm aware of the fact that my state teacher's retirement fund is very heavily invested in Exxon-Mobil. When the market finally grasps that oil will have to stay in the ground for us to survive, that fund will have no value. Further, despite instructions to our broker to avoid investment in fossil fuel, the bank certificates of deposit he favors are also very vulnerable to Wall Street corruption such as the LIBOR scandal. I'd like to switch our investments into clean energy, but don't have the expertise.
"However, this [post retirement] work should be only what you love to do and by choice."
I'm posting the below for three reasons.
First, here's a bumper-sticker-like phrase that requires creative pronunciation to grasp its full value: Don't should on yourself.
I first saw it on a bulletin board after I retired and, at www.sfsi.org was doing volunteer work that helped me with two tasks:
1. to put out of my life the bizarreries* of Catholicism's teachings on sex. (* It's in the Oxford dictionaries), and
2. to reduce the idealism that most people reduce during their teens but decades later was still serving a purpose for me.
I was also as a volunteer doing conflict resolution work and eventually teaching new volunteers to do it. To describe how the work helped me would requires pages, or screenloads.
Second, from the time I first understood Social Security, I believed and told people that SS alone would enable me to starve slowly. It would have succeeded years ago but for the kindness of California's taxpayers toward the state's war veterans, as I now live with 1100+ residents of one of the state's Veterans Homes.
And third, I'm posting because the two people who brought me kicking and screaming onto the planet had healthier-than-normal genes. Their old-world German traditions did some damage and they passed the damage along.
Now, is all that a long enough introduction to the following?
During my first two years in college I worked on weekends delivering washers, dryers, fridges, etc in a city known for its large retiree population: St. Pete, Fla. The driver and I delivered often to retired folk, and those who were doing something they enjoyed were by far the most interesting and likable people I have ever met. The two grumpiest people were a middle-aged couple who appeared to have nothing to do.
I did not then know of the effects of violence during childhood. It contributes greatly to unhappy adult lives, and many adults are unable to acknowledge the violence they experienced early in life.
The four people I know best, my siblings, all had children. I chose to have none because (be warned, what follows seems brutal) I didn't want to work as hard as my dad did and be hated the way I hated him. Without children to provides for, I had the time and opportunities to do some healing.
Many of the people I now live with were "dumped here" by angry offspring. I've heard many insist, even angrily, that the violence they knew when they were children did them no harm.
My siblings, all of whom had children, refuse to talk about the violence we experienced. If I'd had children and done what I know they did, I too would find it all but impossible to discuss.
Old age can suck and many people don't know they earned the old age they have.
I know many more people who are enjoying old age. Their children visit and they all enjoy their time together.
I sometimes envy them but I made my decision. I'm okay with its consequences; the planet's future concerns me less than it concerns them.