[Commentary] © 2003-2011 Philip Hyde, Timesizing.com, PO Box 117, Harvard Sq Station, Cambridge MA 02238 USA, 617-623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
The once-secure American pension has turned into dying-on-the-job or dialing 800-KEVORKIAN.
Our alternative? A lifetime employment guarantee like Nucor's or Lincoln Electric's thanks to timesizing-spread employment to absorb the surplus of jobseekers willing to do any job for less - plus automatic OT-to-OJT conversion - so everyone can easily earn good pay & benefits and retire every weekend - every automatically lengthening weekend thanks to an automation-mandated, slowly shrinking workweek. Note the Timesizing.com Party's policy on retirement: retirement at any arbitrary fixed age is a blank check on society and nature has no blank checks. However, mandatory retirement is necessitated only by a frozen workweek and by the substitution of market-shrinking technological disemployment for market-expanding, unemployment-tied workweek reduction. Mandatory retirement is designed to open up jobs for younger people in a frozen-workweek economy, thus wasting the wisdom of the old, disincentivizing longer life, guilt-loading the young, and, via the frozen workweek, barring any free-time benefits from any new technology forever and ever - even though Free Time is the most basic, fundamental and sine-qua-non freedom. Herewith, clippings on the issue -
11/12/2010 & more recent dates - vanishing retirement - we continue our coverage of eroding retirement in the Doom du Jour section of our homepage page to speed up diagnosis and leave more time for the cure - we'll park material here only if it gets lengthy in coverage or commentary -
- They're not the retiring kind, by Bill Ward, Minneapolis Star Tribune via StarTribune.com
Whether it's at a fast-food joint or a law firm, more people are working into their 70s and beyond. Some have to, others want to, but all say they enjoy being around people.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - At 68, Jerry Stoddard still wears a white-collar shirt to work. Otherwise, his job ringing up groceries bears little resemblance to his previous life as a sales and marketing executive.
Except for this: "I get to be with people," he said, "and I get to stay active."
More seniors are following the path of Stoddard, who "unretired" and now works 25 to 32 hours a week as a cashier and occasional bagger at the Byerly's in Roseville. Others are staying in the workforce. And it's not just as megastore greeters or the older expert you seek out at the hardware store.
In Maple Grove, a couple of octogenarians might ask if you want fries with that. An older and wiser bus driver carts Edina students around. A woman of a certain age keeps people of all ages smiling at a Minneapolis nightclub. And there are even doctors and lawyers who continue to practice in their later years.
Some keep working (or go back to work) out of necessity or boredom. But all say that being around people is a major motivation.
With life expectancy increasing and health care improving, the trend shows no sign of tailing off, especially with our most populous generation, baby boomers, reaching what had been the standard retirement age.
By 2012, according to the AARP, nearly one-fifth of U.S. workers will be at least 55. The ones we caught up with -- all older than 70 -- plan to remain part of that group.
Burgers, with a side of sass
"You have to watch out for Fran," co-worker Pat Dickinson said. "She might cut up a little."
That might explain why Frances Harper, 81, has become the face of the franchise at the Wendy's in Maple Grove, along with her partner-in-fries, Luverne Penner, 82.
Luverne & Franny might not be a comedy team, but they are a draw.
"A lot of our customers come in because of them," manager Paco Elorriaga said. "You don't want to mess with these ladies. I talked with the previous manager, and the first thing he told me was, 'Don't mess with them. There's a lot of love there.'"
The octogenarians took different paths to the fast-food world.
Harper, who had stayed home to raise six kids, found herself in a tough financial spot when her husband of 42 years "just up and walked out," she said. She got her first job at 66, an age when many people are leaving the workforce, and has been a Wendy's cashier ever since.
Penner has been at it even longer, 19 years, and also took the job out of necessity because of her spouse. She had retired from Burlington Air Freight.
"After two years, I was driving my husband crazy. He was not well, and I have a lot of energy," she said.
"Being off two years, you realize how the bones get creaky, but they uncreaked real fast," said Penner, who comes in early to set up stations and then works the window. "I really like working with all these younger people."
That would be, well, everybody.
Practice makes perfect sense
Owning a cabin in Wisconsin and a condo in Florida might prompt a 70-year-old attorney whose firm had just closed to retire.
Not Jerry Simon. Instead, he hopped on an offer from another firm. Thirteen years later, he's still at it for the Maslon law group.
Like many older workers, Simon stays at it because of the people.
"It may sound strange, but I think I do it because I don't like the idea of terminating the relationships I have with my clients," he said.
And there's no end in sight.
"As a kid I was a big fan of Joe Louis, and toward the end he just got badly beaten by Rocky Marciano," Simon said. "I remember thinking he didn't know when to quit. Sometimes I tell my wife maybe that's me: I don't know when to quit.
"As long as my health is good and my wife's health is good, and as long as my clients still want to talk to me, I expect to keep working," he said.
The keys to happiness
Playing the piano for amateur singers of all ages -- and all stages of inebriation -- has never gotten old for Lou Snider, 76.
"The thing is, it's not like a real job," she said. "It's more pleasant than that, and it's something my little old body can do."
1/15/2004 & more recent dates - eroding retirement - we continue our coverage of eroding retirement on our omnibus badnews page to speed up diagnosis and leave more time for the cure - we'll park material here only if it gets lengthy in coverage or commentary -
1/13/2004 & more recent dates - eroding retirement - we continue our coverage of eroding retirement on our omnibus badnews page to speed up diagnosis and leave more time for the cure - we'll park material here only if it gets lengthy in coverage or commentary -
- Retirees face pinch on benefits - Costs surging; many firms halt programs, Boston Globe, front page.
- [Cases in point -]
United and Delta increase pressure on employees for concessions, NYT, C1.
[Cutting one out of the pair -]
UAL seeks to shift some costs of medical benefits to retirees, WSJ, A2.
A call for coverage, pointer (to D5), WSJ, A2.
A federal panel urged the government to design a health-insurance plan for all Americans.
[Compare front page -]
The U.S. should provide, pointer (to D5), WSJ, A1.
...health insurance to all Americans by the end of the decade, a federal advisory panel said.
[Compare section frontpage -]
Burden of the uninsured, pointer (to D5), WSJ, D1.
If the U.S. doesn't provide health insurance to all Americans by the end of the decade, the social and economic consequences will be grave, a federal medical advisory panel said.
[Note that the figure of 43m Americans without health insurance is now over 3 years out of date, 11/20/2000, and now 18,000 Americans die every year because they have no health insurance (Bill Moyers' NOW, 1/16/2004). Target -]
U.S. is urged to provide health insurance for all, WSJ, D5.
1/01/2004 & more recent dates - eroding retirement - we continue our coverage of eroding retirement on our omnibus badnews page to speed up diagnosis and leave more time for the cure - we'll park material here only if it gets lengthy in coverage or commentary.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., pointer (to A4), WSJ, front page.
...will post a long-term deficit of over $10B, a congressional critic of Republican pension policy said [Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)].
12/31/2003 eroding retirement, as documented in the Wall Street Journal & NY Times -
- Corporate pensions face pressure despite stock rally, by Mary Walsh, NYT, C1.
This year's stock market rally has added more than $100B to corporate America's depleted pension funds, but even that has not been enough to offset forces that continue to weaken the funds. ...Their obligations to their workers have spiraled up at an even faster rate than stocks have risen [because] as the baby boom generation ages, many more people are starting to claim their money....
[Compare some good news for employees -]
Judge rules against US Airways on calculating pilots' pensions, NYT, C1.
America West pilots ratify a 3-year contract, AP via NYT, C4.
...The contract that won approval...extend[ed] retirement benefits. [It] also includes a 7% annual contribution to the pilots' retirement fund.
For earlier retirement stories, click on the desired date -Oct-Dec, 2003.
June, 2002 & previous.
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