Rejoice and Be Exceedingly Glad

Word has it there is great reward in heaven. Here on earth, not so much:

The 401(k) generation is beginning to retire, and it isn’t a pretty sight.

The retirement savings plans that many baby boomers thought would see them through old age are falling short in many cases.

The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal. Even counting Social Security and any pensions or other savings, most 401(k) participants appear to have insufficient savings. Data from other sources also show big gaps between savings and what people need, and the financial crisis has made things worse.

This analysis uses estimates of 401(k) balances from the end of 2010 and of salaries from 2009. It assumes people need 85% of their working income after they retire in order to maintain their standard of living, a common yardstick.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is the model for the future foisted upon us by our Galtian overlords (who fight any attempts to regulate the looting on Wall Street), and the austerity mobs are busy making sure that the pension you were promised is hatcheted and your social security is whittled away because we can’t afford it after lavishing all the social security proceeds on the rich in the form of the Bush and Obama tax cuts. But don’t worry, you will also have your collective bargaining rights stripped away, removing the last upward pressure on wages, and with Medicare rate increases you’ll have the peace of mind to know that you are contributing more to your health care.

How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

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121 replies
  1. 1

    Damn John if I’d have suggested (I did) a couple years ago that you’d continue left you’d have laughed (you did). I’m not being critical, mind you…

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    after lavishing all the social security proceeds on the rich in the form of the Bush and Obama tax cuts

    The deal to extend the Bush tax cuts is a disaster for our society.

  3. 3
    fasteddie9318 says:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    Like freedom?

  4. 4
    Kryptik says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Damn John if I’d have suggested (I did) a couple years ago that you’d continue left you’d have laughed (you did). I’m not being critical, mind you…

    It’s that invisible hand, you know. It’s pushing the center so far right that everyone is looking a little more leftist day by day. Then again, could just be said invisible hand shoving the wealth further and further right as well. But what am I saying, I’m a dirty hippie.

  5. 5

    Now all we have to do is take bets on which gibbertarian will be the first to show how a 75 year old man can live comfortably on a diet of cat food, white bread and tap water.

    Also – Medicare is capitalized and “…you’ll have the piece peace of mind…”

  6. 6
    Delia says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?
    Like freedom?

    Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.

  7. 7

    @Kryptik:
    I’ve certainly never made pretenses to be center anything.

  8. 8
    jfxgillis says:

    John:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    It feels terrible! If only those damn hippies had gotten their hair cut when we told them to.

  9. 9
    EconWatcher says:

    There will be great anger. And it will be misdirected. Don’t need a crystal ball to see that.

  10. 10
    Benjamin Cisco says:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    Those non-oligarchs who went along with it are going to get to live out a line from a classic Richard Pryor routine – “You order shit, you eat shit.”
    __
    Gonna suck for the rest of us though…

  11. 11
    RickD says:

    The same people who insist that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme confidently assert that the stock market will grow magically for all its investors. This kind of thinking ignores the competitive nature of investing.
    Also, it ignores the problems of liquidity. When we have an entire generation of Boomers cashing in their 401Ks, that will lead to a deflation of stock prices, yes?
    We cannot have a society where everybody is an investor. This is one of the great stupid ideas of the past two decades. We’ve gotten all sorts of new players in the market, but the vast majority of them are what is known as “stupid money”.

  12. 12
    cleek says:

    if we could only have switched to stock-based Social Security when Bush wanted to, this would all be irrelevant!

    damn you, far-left leftist American-hating enemies-of-capitalism communist bastards!

  13. 13
    morzer says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lube….

  14. 14
    Suffern ACE says:

    O.K. But when I read the article, I’m finding that the estimates are exceedingly high for middle class and upper middle class retirement needs. 85% of current household income is a lot to expect of lower income wage earners to achieve when they stop working…and for that matter, lower middle, middle and upper middle wage earners as well.

    I don’t see this as a crisis, honestly. The idea that in order to retire you need to make your last year’s salary for the rest of your life is a sales gimmick of every financial planner who’ve I’ve ever met with.

  15. 15
    sven says:

    I love how this story is framed.

    We have this:

    In general, people facing problems today got too little advice, or bad advice.

    Followed immediately by this:

    Some started saving too late or suspended contributions when they or their spouses lost jobs. Others borrowed against 401(k) accounts for medical emergencies or ran up debts too close to their planned retirement dates.In the stock-market collapses of 2000-2002 and 2007-2009, many people were over-invested in stocks. Some bailed out after the market collapse, suffering on the way down and then missing the rebound.

    If only these stupid people had listened to the experts and stayed healthy forever, chosen not to get laid off, and ignored those same experts when investing in the stock market.

  16. 16
    morzer says:

    @sven:

    Makes you glad and proud that we have Goldman-Sachs running the economy, doesn’t it?

  17. 17
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Lesson: If you can possibly afford to max out your 401(k), do so.

    That AOL manager who was worth $1.7 million and now is drinking box wine takes the biscuit, though. I wonder how many other former MOTU’s find out they’re screwed by the invisible hand?

  18. 18
    EconWatcher says:

    Suffern ACE:

    You make an interesting point.

    I know I shouldn’t need anything like 85% of my current income to stay comfortable. (God willing, the kids will be educated and the mortage will be paid off at that point.) But a survey of one always sucks. I have no idea what a reasonable average percentage would be.

  19. 19
    Suffern ACE says:

    @sven: Damn life and events outside of my control! It keeps intruding on my ability to save!

  20. 20
    BGinCHI says:

    We’d all be better off if folks did work they loved so that the retirement fetish could just disappear.

    FWIW, there’s something inherently fucked-up in working your whole life so that you can retire and then….do what you want?

    Anybody know a lot of retired people? Are most of them happy? Maybe it’s just because I come from the working class, but retirement tends to lead to a kind of sad boredom (with a few exceptions).

    But don’t get me wrong, Wall St is still fucking us all over and the media just can’t wait to help the wealthy redistribute wealth upwards.

  21. 21
    gbear says:

    Shit. I’m a 56yo guy who’s been on medical leave from work all last week and might be again next week, maybe for a month. Used up all my sick time and might need to apply for disability. I’d managed to stay at a hand-to-mouth version of the middle class up until now. Now I feel like I’m about to fall off the cliff, so I’m the guy you’re asking how it feels to be fisted. Tell you what, I”ll get back to you soon and let you know…

    PS. I have voted in damned near every election since 1972, and I have never ever voted for these assholes.

  22. 22
    efgoldman says:

    I’m 65. Retire? No chance. My 401k took a horrible hit in this last collapse (I work for a mutual fund company, so my retirement plan is in….)

    I’m *hoping* to be able to retire at 70. But if house prices in my area stay depressed, that might not be possible either.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Anybody know a lot of retired people? Are most of them happy? Maybe it’s just because I come from the working class, but retirement tends to lead to a kind of sad boredom (with a few exceptions).

    After 45 years of getting up and going to do the same damn thing every day, what do you expect?
    It’s a little hard to turn off one day.

  24. 24
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Suffern ACE: Yep, that estimate looks fishy to me. I like what Gail has to say here:

    Why is it that every time people start talking about saving for retirement, the Magic Million shows up to the party? Is it any wonder people get turned off and shove their heads firmly into the sand? Let’s face it, saving a million dollars can be a daunting task. And who says you’re going to need a million dollars anyway?
    __
    Most experts now agree that you’ll likely need between 50% and 70% of your current income to meet your retirement expenses. So if you’re family is living comfortably on $65,000 right now, you’ll need the equivalent (in inflated dollars) of about $40,000 to avoid feeling the pinch later.

    That said, not everyone has been saving even that much (including me), and those evil Galtian fuckwads have siphoned so much real and imaginary money from the economy that even the cautious are going to suffer.

  25. 25
    morzer says:

    @efgoldman:

    What makes you think I didn’t think sven was outraged?

    Physician, re-calibrate thyself!

  26. 26
    Sly says:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    However bad it feels, they’ll be able to make up for it by fucking over the people with traditional pension plans who were victimized in the same process.

  27. 27
    Loneoak says:

    Well, I’m just glad Cole has this blog to keep Tunch full of tuna through retirement.

  28. 28
    gbear says:

    @BGinCHI: I know quite a few retirees and they are really quite happy. One of them is still making pretty good money from google ads on his website.

    One guy who I used to see at work used to talk about his impending retirement nearly every day. Once the day came, he realized that he couldn’t stand being around his wife or step-son all day, and he wound up drinking himself to death within a couple months. It was pretty sad.

  29. 29
    efgoldman says:

    @morzer:

    Sorry, I misread your comment and have since edited mine.

    You’re just too damned fast for me, is all.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Ecks says:

    And what happens to the stock market when the boomers really start retiring en masse, pulling their $ out of the stock market and putting it into safer things like bonds and/or their pocket?

    It’s seems likely that it would be losing value right when they all wanted to use their nest eggs. This is one place where demographic dominance does not work well for you.

  32. 32
    BGinCHI says:

    @Corner Stone: I agree, and that’s why I’m suspicious of the whole “retirement will be the best time of your life” routine you see hawked on TV all the time. It’s all about income and not much else. I’m not denying the importance of money for living; I’m just asking whether there isn’t more to life than trying to get “free” of work.

    OK, I’m starting to sound utopian, but I wish people didn’t fucking hate their jobs so much all they worked for was getting away from them. I grew up around folks like that and I’m really glad that I love what I do.

  33. 33
    frosty says:

    @Suffern ACE: I am the epitome of “stupid money.” I’m an expert at buying at the top and selling at the bottom. But even I know that I won’t need 85% of my income in retirement.

    If you do even a modicum of planning, your mortgage is paid off, you’re done putting your kids through college, you’ve got all the furniture and household goods you’ll ever need, and you may even have a car or two in decent shape that will last you another 20 years.

    My take on all this is you need about 60%.

  34. 34
    efgoldman says:

    @Ecks:

    And what happens to the stock market when the boomers really start retiring en masse, pulling their $ out of the stock market and putting it into safer things like bonds and/or their pocket?

    And you can bet those who can afford to, will be shorting stocks like crazy.

  35. 35
    Sko Hayes says:

    The problem with private retirement accounts is just what you see here, people at retirement with too little money to live on for another 20-25 years.
    When you’re young, you don’t think about retirement, you’re living paycheck to paycheck anyway, and don’t have a lot of extra money to hand over to a retirement account. Then you’re in your 30’s, still young, and if you’re smart enough to have started putting money into the 401K, you’re looking at a nice chunk of cash you can borrow on, and pay yourself back with interest! What a great idea! Or you use the money to put a down payment on your first house, or your wife has a difficult delivery, or whatever. Then you hit your 40’s and reality starts to creep in, every time you get the annual statement from Social Security telling you how much you will receive when you retire. So you start contributing, but the bills are still there, the house payment, new braces for the kid, college savings accounts, etc.
    Now you may have changed jobs in the last 20 years a few times, and what happened to all those accounts? Did you cash a few out, thinking the 30% tax and 10% penalty were worth it, the cash was needed?
    Of course people don’t have enough money saved for retirement in their 401Ks, and it’s not going to get better in 10 years or 20 years, because it’s too easy to take the money out of the account before you retire!
    Who hasn’t done at least one of these things to their 401k?
    Are 401Ks are good idea? Sure, but they aren’t the solution.
    They’re not designed to take the place of social security.

  36. 36
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Ecks: Many 401(k)’s and 403(b)’s have already lost value. There are rules governing how much and when you can pull money out. The real problem is that the accounts have lost value. And let’s not forget the unemployed who had to already pull the money out to live on.

  37. 37
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I’m living on approximately 70% of my pre-retirement income, plus health benefits, and doing just swimmingly. Maybe even better, because I’m not blowing so much of my income on work-related expenses.

  38. 38
    dmsilev says:

    @Ecks:

    And what happens to the stock market when the boomers really start retiring en masse, pulling their $ out of the stock market and putting it into safer things like bonds and/or their pocket?

    It’s OK. They’ll all just sell their houses and live off the cashed-in equity. After all, the housing market is perfectly resilient to that kind of dumping…

    dms

  39. 39
    freelancer says:

    But I’m under 30. It’s Obama who screwed me, remember?

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Ecks: What the ones who have significant assets will do is roll it into insurance annuities, if they bother to do anything with it at all. What those annuity companies will do with it is anybody’s guess. The amount of assets in personal retirement accounts is so small that I think the “boomer retirement market crash” is overstated.

  41. 41
    John Emerson says:

    My sister lost 1/3 of her 401k and 100% of her home equity. Her retirement will be ~$700/mo Social Security because she worked a lot of contract jobs and didn’t work during 18 years of marriage.

    There must be a lot of people like this, but the only anger you see is against Obama, who had nothing to do with any of it.

  42. 42
    sven says:

    @Suffern ACE: I keep wondering how long it will be until the commentariat just comes out and endorses Calvinism but with wealth in the place of salvation.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @freelancer:

    But I’m under 30. It’s Obama who screwed me, remember?

    Good point.

  44. 44
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @John Emerson:

    If your sister is divorced, I hope she realizes she can collect based on her ex-husband’s contributions.

  45. 45
    morzer says:

    @sven:

    Protestant Work Ethic? Been there, done that, got the “Max Weber Woz ‘Ere” T-shirt.

  46. 46
    frosty says:

    @Comrade Mary: The Magic Million is based on living off interest and dividends and not touching the principal.

    The Rule of Thumb I’ve heard is that you can pull out 4% of your savings every year safely. So if you want to live on $40K per year, you’ll need $1,000,000 saved up (40,000/0/04).

    If you’re willing to guess that you’ll live to 90 and spend down the principal until that magic date, you won’t need the whole Magic Million.

  47. 47
    PurpleGirl says:

    @John Emerson:

    Bingo. And she’ll have to continue at least part time, if at all possible.

    (I’ll be a member of that club, too. My SS will be higher than hers because I never married and always worked, but I had lower paying positions for years and I’m currently unemployed. I had use my 403(b) money last year.)

  48. 48
    Davis X. Machina says:

    We’ll all go out of the adult world the way we came into it, sharing apartments, driving beaters, drinking jug wine, and eating boxed mac-and-cheese.

    Now if the dope, sex, and music would also come back for a reprise in Act II…..

  49. 49
    Three-nineteen says:

    @Comrade Mary: A million dollars divided by 20 years is $50,000. I have three grandparents still living – their ages are 92, 90, and 89. My great-grandmother lived until she was 95 years old. If I retire at age 70 and plan to live as long as my great-grandmother did, in order to live on $40,000 a year I will need a million dollars. Is that a lot to ask for?

  50. 50
    PurpleGirl says:

    @frosty: Ah, but can people making $25,000 a year save a million?

    ETA: You can’t save that amount anymore, not with savings accounts paying less than 1% interest a year. You have to invest it and that’s a gamble that the markets won’t tank as they’ve done a number of times since the 1970s.

  51. 51
    John Emerson says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals: Not sure what her husband’s SS will be; he’s self-employed and cheats on his taxes as much has he can get away with.

    The weird thing we found out is that she can collect her own SS, whatever that is, or her share of her husband’s SS, whatever that is, but not both. So she either loses her own 18 or so years of contributions, or the 18 or so years of contributions from her married years.

  52. 52
    morzer says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Well, you get a mortgage for $300,000, the house gains value, you sell it, put the million bucks profit….

    Oh, sorry, that was last decade.

  53. 53

    And what happens to the stock market when the boomers really start retiring en masse, pulling their $ out of the stock market and putting it into safer things like bonds and/or their pocket?

    1. Republicans will introduce the Stop The Job Killing Destruction of America’s Free Market bill.

    2. fReichtard bobbleheads will lambaste the lazy, America hating oldsters who are trying to bring this country to its knees by withdrawing their money from the market.

    3. Gibbertarians will explain how foolish it is for anyone to think the money they put in their retirement fund is actually their money and anyway withdrawing the money is rude and uncivil because it shows a lack of trust in the hard working men and women of the stock exchange.

  54. 54
    Tim says:

    the Bush and Obama tax cuts

    Thank you for that appropriate equivalency.

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    It HURTS. And not in the good way.

  55. 55
    bemused says:

    If people can afford to retire somewhat comfortably, they are happy in retirement if they have hobbies or other interests they want to pursue but haven’t had time to do.
    It’s different for those who don’t have much of anything that turns them on when they aren’t working. One relative was going to retire until his wife and family asked him what he thought he was going to do with his free time. He didn’t have a clue so he is still working.
    Too many people are concentrating solely on how much money they need to retire but completely forget to plan what they will do with their time once they do.

  56. 56
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    This is what we get for having poor people. If we didn’t have any poor people then we wouldn’t have this problem.

    It’s obviously all their fault. I mean, look at the rich. They’re doing just fine!

    /winger

  57. 57
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @John Emerson:

    Well, I think it’s not quite such a stark choice. It’s true she can’t add all the years together for a longer earning record (I don’t think), but she can combine things in certain ways. For example, if she were full retirement age, she could collect on her ex’s record only, then let her own contributions accrue and collect on her own at age 70, with a much higher benefit.

    Here’s a better link, easier to understand what the divorced spouse’s rights are:

    SSA for divorced spouses

  58. 58
    Ecks says:

    @dmsilev: Ahh, there you have it. The perfect solution.

    Carry on everyone, nothing more to see here!

    Edit:
    @Suffern ACE: That’s a good answer, thanks.

  59. 59
    frosty says:

    @PurpleGirl: Nope. But people making $25,000 per year (and presumably living on it) wouldn’t need a million.

    Hear me out: Let’s assume they are going to need 100% of current income in retirement, not 60%. To do that, pulling 4% out of their nest egg, they’ll need to have saved $625,000.

    To your larger point, no, they probably can’t save that either. Hell, I’ve been contributing to IRAs, 401Ks, 403bs, 457s, ESOPs for 25 years, and we only have a fraction of what we’ll need. I’ll never save a million. The whole scheme is based on the magic of compound interest, and that’s “…gone where the woodbine twineth.”

  60. 60
    R. Porrofatto says:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    Without the Crisco, too. Thing is, there’s nothing all that invisible about it any more. The Wall St. thievery is in all the papers, daily, and anyone with their eyes open who’s not a dittohead or Fox junkie can see whose arm that fist is attached to. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people being screwed who have to wait to be told by their Leaders who they should blame for it.

  61. 61
    Bizono says:

    Vanguard upped their recommended savings rate to 12 – 15%. Isn’t the contribution cap 15% pre-employer contributions? I’m sure that will work well for those scraping by on 35 to 40k a year. 15% is a lot to save in that wage bracket.

  62. 62
    frosty says:

    @Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen:

    Stop The Job Killing Destruction of America’s Free Market Bill

    Too true, too true.

  63. 63
    Ana Gama says:

    Time Magazine had a decent article a couple years back on why 401k’s are just a bad idea to begin with.

    http://www.time.com/time/busin.....19,00.html

  64. 64
    Phyllis says:

    My (maternal) granddaddy & my dad, who both lived through the depression in the Appalachian south, both maintained the stock market was a sucker bet. They were right & I wish I had half the cash my granddaddy had buried in jars behind the house when he died.

  65. 65
    KCinDC says:

    I don’t know how anyone ever imagined that retirement plans based on voluntary personal savings would ever provide enough for any but a small portion of the population to have enough income to be secure in retirement. Of course people haven’t saved enough. Have those who came up with the idea of replacing pensions with 401(k)s ever *met* any actual human beings?

  66. 66
    ericblair says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Many 401(k)’s and 403(b)’s have already lost value. There are rules governing how much and when you can pull money out. The real problem is that the accounts have lost value. And let’s not forget the unemployed who had to already pull the money out to live on.

    I’d say for anyone under middle-middle class the 401k/IRA model is a joke. Too many people get too many financial crises that suck up any savings they have, and there’s always another financial crisis around the corner. “Normal” swings in value will wipe you out. Sure, it works when you’re rich, because you have disposable income, semi-competent advisors who don’t treat your account as a nuisance-size anthill of money to churn in fees, and the ability to weather bad patches.

    In the last decade, your average 401k victim has had the tech crash, the financial crash, and probably got sucked into buying real estate at the peak. Yay for capitalism, or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

  67. 67
    BGinCHI says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Actually, that is my retirement plan.

  68. 68
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @KCinDC: “Have those who came up with the idea of replacing pensions with 401(k)s ever met any actual human beings?”

    No, they only hang out with superhuman beings like themselves. We don’t matter a whit to them because they are too busy being rich.

  69. 69
    sven says:

    @morzer: Work ethic but also grace and predestination. The market will reveal those who are among the elect we need simply need to accept its infinite wisdom.

  70. 70
    alwhite says:

    I feel like I have been very conservative with my 401k, mostly index funds from Vanguard & Fidelity (the lowest fees of any index funds). I have large & small, foreign and domestic. And over the last 10 years the rate of return has been just about zero. Given that in the history of the market there has never been a 10 year span that did not return 8%/year on average that is what I planned on. Now I am almost 60 & will never make the last decade back. I’m pretty much screwed.

  71. 71
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @BGinCHI: In twenty years, Allston-Brighton will look like Leisure Village. I plan to spend my days slinking around behind a Chinese restaurant, looking for a guy named Raoul to score some glucosamine and chondroitin from

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Actually, that is my retirement plan.

    I plan to siphon off the grease from local school cafeterias.

  73. 73
    morzer says:

    @sven:

    The Protestant work ethic actually has grace and predestination baked into it, which isn’t surprising, since it was actually based on Calvinist ideas. As Weber tells it, your work ethic is a sign of grace and personal salvation.

  74. 74
    Ecks says:

    @Ana Gama: What a great article. Thanks

  75. 75
    alwhite says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention the kindness Honeywell, Inc provided me. After 19 years with them the decided to change from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. I was “given” $18,000 which I can not have until after my 65th birthday. The graciously reward me with the government prime rate of return (a little less than 3% over the last few years).

    The big money from the pension fund went to executive compensation and to pay greenmail to several assholes like Marvin Rainwater (may he rest in Hell)

  76. 76
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I was wondering whether simply mopping up the trail of grease from John Boehner would be enough to see me comfortably situated……

  77. 77
    BGinCHI says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’m adding all this to my bucket list. Which now involves an actual bucket.

  78. 78
    morzer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Just remember, I have first dibs on Boehnergrease.

  79. 79
    BGinCHI says:

    @morzer: You can prolly run it in your clean diesel VW.

  80. 80
    Thoughtcrime says:

    @KCinDC:

    Have those who came up with the idea of replacing pensions with 401(k)s ever met any actual human beings?

    Why, of course they have:

    http://www.butlerschool.com/photos/maids_1_11.jpg

    http://www.butlerschool.com/ph.....s_2_11.jpg

  81. 81
    morzer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Well, I was planning to advertise bathing in the stuff as the way to achieve a milk-white skin and breasts without a hint of sag… I reckon that ought to get me 50k from Sally Quinn for a start. And then another 50k not to reveal what her Croneship has been reduced to doing to patch up her wizened hide.

  82. 82
    Phyllis says:

    @BGinCHI:

    We’d all be better off if folks did work they loved so that the retirement fetish could just disappear.

    FWIW, there’s something inherently fucked-up in working your whole life so that you can retire and then….do what you want?

    I agree, but I’ve yet to find someone who will pay me to pile up on my sofa and read books all day long.

    Aaand block quote fail. FYWP.

  83. 83
    El Cid says:

    I intend to live under a bridge and cook sparrows on curtain rods over a fire in a barrel.

    As long as the weird people a bridge over don’t even have a sparrow like I do.

  84. 84
  85. 85
    BGinCHI says:

    @Phyllis: I get paid for doing that for part of the day.

    But yeah, I hear you. Now, in my Utopia…..

  86. 86
    BGinCHI says:

    @El Cid: You’re invited over for pigeon.

    Bring your own Bordeaux.

  87. 87
    RalfW says:

    No doubt, we’ve been fistf**ked by the shadowy overloards.

    And, when my grandparents plans went up in smoke in 1931, they moved back in with my great great aunt. She had a big house, needed help physically and financially, and while it was a bit humiliating for my grandfather, they kept house, home and family together.

    I know that some families are already stacked to the rafters in America, but there’s a helluva lot of retirees rattling around with 3.5 bedrooms and 2.856 baths. Rent a room out to a college student. Take in the teen preagnant grand daughter.

    Oh, and take yer money, what’s left of it, out of Wall Street and put it in a community bank and tell Goldman to suck it.

    (I know this sounds callous. Too many hours spent seeing the evil future of Kochmerica has me really bile-soaked).

  88. 88
    Linnaeus says:

    Sometimes I think I should never read blog posts like this. I’m about two years away from 40, and because of my decision to go to graduate school about 13 years ago, I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck all that time with no retirement savings and also building up lots and lots of debt.

    Okay, yeah, I know I made those choices and I’m not expecting anyone to pity me. But I do think it’s okay for me to be at least a little scared.

  89. 89
    morzer says:

    @Linnaeus:

    In this sociopaths’ universe, if you weren’t at least a little scared, I’d be worried about you.

  90. 90
    BGinCHI says:

    @Linnaeus: See my posts above. My hope is that even though we pretty much sacrificed retirement (or at least any early version) by going to grad school, at least we do something we love and can sustain that a lot longer.

  91. 91
    frosty says:

    @El Cid: Or a curtain rod.

  92. 92

    @KCinDC: Yes. But then, so have John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, Jeffery Dahmer …

  93. 93
    Linnaeus says:

    @morzer:

    No need to be worried about me on that score. Yeah, I’m scared.

  94. 94
    Linnaeus says:

    @BGinCHI:

    That’s what I’m hoping to be able to do in the next 30 years or so; I don’t expect to retire, but maybe what I’m doing when I die will be something that I find fulfilling.

  95. 95
    BGinCHI says:

    @Linnaeus: I’m going out on a gurney.

    Or shot in a motel by a jealous husband.

  96. 96
    morzer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    So long as it is anatomically improbable and intensely enjoyable, I don’t much mind how I go out….

  97. 97
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    @morzer:

    got the “Max Weber Woz ‘Ere” T-shirt.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a very, very long.

    Thank you.

  98. 98
    Corner Stone says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Or shot in a motel by a jealous husband.

    Talk about poor planning for the future…

  99. 99
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    True. Better planning would require two jealous husbands at the very least….

  100. 100
    BGinCHI says:

    @morzer: But if we were in Utah….

  101. 101
    morzer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    If we were in Utah, we’d have been arrested long before this for being seditiously good-looking and causing public displays of lust among all their wimmins.

  102. 102
    cleek says:

    @morzer:
    in my experience, the “$1M” usually includes all your assets, including your house. the expectation is that you’ll sell that $300K house and move into something smaller, putting the net proceeds towards retirement.

  103. 103
    TenguPhule says:

    America’s Future Retirement Plan:

    1. Spend what you got

    2. Play whack a Republican Politico/Business Leader/CEO, etc. until caught.

    3. Live High off the Prison Dole

  104. 104
    Ab_Normal says:

    @BGinCHI: My problem is, I love my profession (programming), but I’m already broken down from it — and I’m only 44, and using a goodly quantity of ergonomic aids as it is. :(

  105. 105
    Yutsano says:

    @morzer:

    If we were in Utah, we’d have been arrested long before this for being seditiously good-looking and causing public displays of lust among all their wimmins.

    I’m not sure the plan will be effective then. I mean, have you seen some of those Mormon men and women? I swear they have beautiful daughters just for the convert potential alone.

  106. 106

    @TenguPhule:

    America’s Future Retirement Plan:
    __
    1. Spend what you got
    __
    2. Play whack a Republican Politico/Business Leader/CEO, etc. until caught.
    __
    3. Live High off the Prison Dole

    That’s my plan. Except when the law is finally on my tail I’m going to escape to Canada or another country without the death penalty and make them extradite me back under the condition that the death penalty is off the table.

  107. 107
    Ruckus says:

    How does it feel being fisted by the Invisible Hand, America?

    My butt hurts. Badly.

    I’m 61 and the years of having it shoved up there is taking it’s toll. After last nights thread I’m looking into Costa Rica. Maybe I’ll be able to retire at 68-70 if I’m not dead by then.

  108. 108
    bob h says:

    Not to mention that the GOP is set on delaying those SS checks in the coming shutdown.

  109. 109
    Pug says:

    Let’s remember one thing: These are the people that voted for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Old people vote Republican now, mainly, I think, because of that Negro in the White House.

    I can’t wait to see the expression on the old Tea Partyers’ faces when they are finally told the truth. All that “government spending” they hate so much goes to them. And it needs to be cut. Now.

    Suckers!

  110. 110
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    My working definition for “middle class” has been “leveraged out the wazoo but still able to make the payments” for a while now. Poor people can’t get credit, rich people don’t need it, middle class survive on it.

    That makes it kind of hard to build retirement savings. It’s amazing how many so-called middle class are living paycheck to paycheck, which makes it a little difficult to build up retirement savings. I’m nowhere near maxed on my 401(k); I’m contributing enough to get the full matching (in company stock, oh joy), but can’t put away more than that, at least not for the next year or so. A good friend of mine from way back, dyed-in-the-wool Republican (and an Aggie, but otherwise sane and a good guy), has admitted that he’ll never be able to retire. Those of us in our forties are staring at a future of literally working until we die.

  111. 111
    Barry says:

    @BGinCHI:

    “We’d all be better off if folks did work they loved so that the retirement fetish could just disappear.”

    That would be nice – everybody gets up every morning *aching* to get to work, where they can fulfull their personal fulfillment and actualization. And they wouldn’t be ‘rightsized’ until the moment that they felt ready to move to a new phase in their life.

    [end sarcasm]

  112. 112
    Barry says:

    @PurpleGirl: And tank at the wrong time – if an ordinary recession comes by, and the account value goes down, and you get laid off and spend a year getting another job, and have to pull money out (in a down market, and paying a hefty penalty)…………

    If one starts putting serious money in their 401(k) at age 40, there will be 25 years where even ordinary economic downturns can trash it.

  113. 113
    Barry says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: “Those of us in our forties are staring at a future of literally working until we die.”

    Don’t worry; you’ll eventually get laid off (or your employer will simply cease to exist), and then you’ll be permanently unemployed.

  114. 114
    Stefan says:

    “We’d all be better off if folks did work they loved so that the retirement fetish could just disappear.”

    This depends, of course, on the assumption that there’ll be “folks” who are going to love to work as garbagemen, fast food workers, home health care aides, slaughterhouse workers, janitors, maids, waitresses, ditch diggers, etc.

    After all, these are jobs that will still need to be done. If in real life they’re only going to be done by people who love to do them, I predict that, uh, these jobs might not get done. And even if they were all filled by people who were doing them for sheer love of the job, I don’t think it’s all that feasible to have, say, an 85 year old garbageman who’s never expected to retire…….

  115. 115
    Stefan says:

    A good friend of mine from way back, dyed-in-the-wool Republican (and an Aggie, but otherwise sane and a good guy), has admitted that he’ll never be able to retire.

    I don’t think your friend has to worry. At some point he’ll just get laid off and never be able to get a job again because employers will want to hire a younger man willing to do the job for less. It won’t be “retirement”, sure, since he won’t have any money, but he will be able to spend decades in unproductive idleness.

  116. 116

    […] John Cole is characteristically scornful: It’s important to keep in mind that this is the model for the future foisted upon us by our Galtian overlords (who fight any attempts to regulate the looting on Wall Street), and the austerity mobs are busy making sure that the pension you were promised is hatcheted and your social security is whittled away because we can’t afford it after lavishing all the social security proceeds on the rich in the form of the Bush and Obama tax cuts. But don’t worry, you will also have your collective bargaining rights stripped away, removing the last upward pressure on wages, and with Medicare rate increases you’ll have the peace of mind to know that you are contributing more to your health care. […]

  117. 117
    McJulie says:

    Our Galtian Overlords are simply not afraid of a revolution led by 65+-year-olds, that’s the trouble.

    Although, in that case, you’d think they’d be doing more to ensure good jobs for the deeply-in-debt recent college grads.

    Or… perhaps… they simply haven’t thought this through adequately.

    It’s a long con, sure, but I don’t think there’s any ultimate end in their minds other than “we have all the things.”

  118. 118
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “Vanguard upped their recommended savings rate to 12 – 15%. Isn’t the contribution cap 15% pre-employer contributions?”

    As another data point, was putting 18% of my earnings into a 401(k) in the mid-1990s, and had 25K after three years before changing jobs. I thought I was doing pretty well. At 8% growth, that should have been worth $100K by 2010. Last year, I rolled it into an IRA. Its worth? Just over $30K. Not much return for a lot of sacrifice in the younger years.

  119. 119
    mac says:

    @Chuck–
    Yeah, John Cole is a real leftwinger, like that fucking commie pinko Ike Iesenhower.

  120. 120
    Barry says:

    @RickD: “The same people who insist that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme confidently assert that the stock market will grow magically for all its investors.

    One thousand times yes!

    I’ve never seen a person who both denounces Social Security and doesn’t claim magical results from the stock market.

  121. 121
    Barry says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: “Those of us in our forties are staring at a future of literally working until we die.”

    And fifties, and many in their sixties. Really, if one doesn’t have a business to sell, or some sort of pension, retirement is called ‘keep on working’.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] John Cole is characteristically scornful: It’s important to keep in mind that this is the model for the future foisted upon us by our Galtian overlords (who fight any attempts to regulate the looting on Wall Street), and the austerity mobs are busy making sure that the pension you were promised is hatcheted and your social security is whittled away because we can’t afford it after lavishing all the social security proceeds on the rich in the form of the Bush and Obama tax cuts. But don’t worry, you will also have your collective bargaining rights stripped away, removing the last upward pressure on wages, and with Medicare rate increases you’ll have the peace of mind to know that you are contributing more to your health care. […]

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