Boomers love that 1970s song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow is starting to look kind of scary, considering the national debt and Medicare and Social Security obligations. If we had to print all our IOUs on paper, we might run out of trees.
Can we pull any good news from the story? First, retirement programs cost more because we’re living longer. When Franklin Roosevelt introduced the Social Security retirement age at 65, the average 65 year old was dead. As recently as 1900, life expectancy was in the 40s! Now we’re a country with millions of 90-somethings.
Our retirement age must be adjusted to reflect that.
Second, work is good for us. Early retirement kills brain cells. Studies show that in countries where people quit early, they lose IQ points. In France , people imagine they’ll spend their days eating pastries at cafes. Instead, they lose the ability to find the café or figure out how to pay when the check comes.
In America , our check is coming due, and we better face up to this fact: we’ve got more work to do.”
The commentary airs tonight on the PBS Nightly Business Report