Villages of the Darned, Part Deux

A couple of conveyor lines at the Buzzfeed listicle factory must’ve accidentally got crossed because it belched forth a piece of atypical depth and insight, and on the topic of The Villages, Florida’s sprawling, surreal retirement community, of all things!

As a lifelong Floridian, I’ve watched cow pastures, tomato fields and watermelon patches sprout golf courses, stucco villas and gated checkpoints for years now. I’ve always found the transformation disconcerting.

I like the snowbirds; plenty of them are wingnuts, but many others drive south with their blue state sensibilities intact, and they and the immigrants are what distinguish Florida from Alabama, IMO. My OFA group comprised many snowbirds and year-round retiree transplants who worked their asses off to swing the state for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Anyhoo, the author of the Buzzfeed piece, Alex French, conveys the weirdness, wackiness, corruption and humanity of The Villages in particular and the phenomenon of segregated aging in general affectingly.

Retirement communities like The Villages are overwhelmingly white, so they’re segregated in that sense, plus they’re segregated by age. This gives a weird vibe to the whole enterprise.

My own feeling, which I’ve expressed in real life and online before, is that humans aren’t meant to live like that. By walling themselves away from organic communities and living a thousand miles from their families, our elders deprive us of their wisdom and risk losing an essential connection to the human race — the cyclical, multigenerational nature of life.

I understand why they do it. No one wants to put up with sulky teens and screechy toddlers, and our society generally treats older people like shit. Old people might be the most discriminated against demographic of all.

In this society, people tend to reflexively consider old people helpless, stupid and ridiculous — until they start approaching Social Security age themselves. Then the problem is the kids with their saggy pants and hipitty-hop.

Anyway, French does an admirable job of describing the specter of death that hangs over these retirement communities, at least in the minds of visitors:

I start thinking about my own end. What scares me the most? It’s not the darkness or the ceasing to be while the world moves on. It’s not being forgotten, either — that’s inevitable. What scares me most is the moment, just before it happens, when you know this is it. That your life, all of it, is now behind you.

[snip]

I pack my bags and walk to a bar. I sit alone and watch these people who are all hurtling toward their ultimate moment. They’ve fought their fights and now all they want is to drink and fuck and play pickleball and hang out.

And who can blame them? But The Villages model of retirement can’t survive the passing of the Baby Boom generation into history. That retirement model depends on middle class people retiring with a decent pension and savings.

Very few of my peers have such assets, so corporate greed will eventually burn down The Villages. We Xers can be the vanguard of the bridge stanchion-dwelling sparrow roasters retirement model, engaging in an unbelievably active new retirement lifestyle and getting our exercise from scrounging for cans and dumpster diving. Something to look forward to!

114 replies
  1. 1

    I believe that generation X is going to be the first modern American generation where retirement is not a given. We can play all the defense we want but all it takes is one legislative session with republican control and social security will be burned to the waterline. They will gleefully sell us out to the stock market and pretend to be horrified when it all comes crashing down and a generation of retirees gets to starve or move back in with the kids.

  2. 2
    maurinsky says:

    Gen Xer here. I will be surprised if I ever get to retire. I have been putting money into some kind of defined contribution plan since I was 25, but it is not looking like I will be able to live more than a year or two without having to get a paying job.

    And @Helmut Monotreme, we are tiny cohort, so we don’t have much voting power.

  3. 3
    shelley says:

    Pickleball?

  4. 4
    shortstop says:

    But The Villages model of retirement can’t survive the passing of the Baby Boom generation into history. That retirement model depends on middle class people retiring with a decent pension and savings.

    True. But there are Villages and there are Villages. My father-in-law and stepmother-in-law live in the actual Villages in a super-modest home. They don’t have a bean, never have, because they can’t think past the next five minutes. Too busy complaining about blah people on welfare and atheists destroying our school systems.

    I fear communities of this type will go on, but on a much more low-key scale. There are even trailer parks — in fact part of The Villages is for trailers. (Naturally, this allows Villagers in more comfortable circumstances to practice open classism to go along with their other isms. But when they’re line-dancing every evening in the Six Flags-esque old-timey “town square,” isn’t everyone equal? ;))

  5. 5
    shortstop says:

    @Helmut Monotreme: @maurinsky: On my more positive days, I think the sheer number of Boomers may prevent that from happening. Most of them aren’t financially prepared to retire, either, and they have the numbers to push back against the gutting of SS and Medicare.

  6. 6
    James K. Polk, Esq. says:

    Old people might be the most discriminated against demographic of all.

    I’ll take blah men for $1000, Alex.

  7. 7
    C.V. Danes says:

    My own feeling, which I’ve expressed in real life and online before, is that humans aren’t meant to live like that. By walling themselves away from organic communities and living a thousand miles from their families, our elders deprive us of their wisdom and risk losing an essential connection to the human race — the cyclical, multigenerational nature of life.

    These are the truest words I’ve read today. However, as you stated, economics is going to bring the elders home, because multi-generational living arrangements are making a comeback out of sheer necessity.

  8. 8
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @James K. Polk, Esq.: old men are almost never arrested for sitting on a park bench.

  9. 9

    My lovely co-blawger’s post on the invisibility of the older generations by the youth obsessed culture.

  10. 10
    Barry says:

    @Helmut Monotreme: “I believe that generation X is going to be the first modern American generation where retirement is not a given. We can play all the defense we want but all it takes is one legislative session with republican control and social security will be burned to the waterline. They will gleefully sell us out to the stock market and pretend to be horrified when it all comes crashing down and a generation of retirees gets to starve or move back in with the kids.”

    It’s not generations, it’s a certain time. I was born in 1960, and will retire with sh*t. **IF** I had taken another path, and **IF** I had not gotten hit by wave after wave of layoffs, downsizing and deliberate corporate bankruptcies, I might have had a pension.

    The rich have succeeded in impoverishing more and more Americans, and grabbing that wealth for themselves.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    After my divorce, I purchased a home in a small neighborhood. There are no rules or regulations to live by, besides the city zoning laws. My neighborhood has young and old, black and white, and immigrants. It’s pretty nice. The boy next door is in third grade and he invited me to special friends and grandparents day at his school.
    This evening a few neighbors are coming over for appetizers and drinks. I feel so fortunate to have discovered this piece of American life.
    Of course, we do have our first world problems. Most of the lots in the neighborhood are just shy an acre.
    Acreage just sold next to the neighborhood, that backs up to the first four houses, mine being the last. Since I have woods, I should be okay, but my neighbors know there view will change, from a meadow to a mcmansion.
    The villages might have a more active sex life but I couldn’t live under that type of microscope.

  12. 12
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Got my shower rod and cardboard box.

    In all seriousness, I do not expect to retire. I will work until I die. And that is not by choice. Rather, it will be my only choice.

  13. 13

    What a cheerful topic for discussion this Friday morning. The rest of the world where clean water and shoes are luxury is playing a very tiny violin. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that problems one faces here are not real, but complaining and painting grim scenarios achieves what exactly?

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    It’s pretty scary, and it’s not just GenXers. The place I work has the most generous defined-contribution plan I’ve ever seen or heard of– and an easy calculation shows that, after 30-35 years it leaves you with just barely enough to retire.

  15. 15
    FridayNext says:

    My mother-in-law lives in The Villages with her husband (my step-father-in-law?) and it is indeed one of the weirdest, most artificial places on earth. It kinda reminds me of that town in A Wrinkle in Time where every thing is the same and everyone does things at the same time. And the golf carts. Dear GSD the golf carts! Every sidewalk is two golf carts wide and they have the right of way ALWAYS. And the way some of these people trick them out is hilarious. You just know in their previous life they did the same to a Camaro or an RV.

    And every one is white and old. And it’s not just that their skin tone has a white to pinkish hue, but everyone I meet there could be a poster child for all the excesses and stereotypes of middle-class, suburban WASP-American. Any ethnic background they might have had has long been bleached out of them.

    It’s just surreal.

  16. 16
    max says:

    We Xers can be the vanguard of the bridge stanchion-dwelling sparrow roasters retirement model, engaging in an unbelievably active new retirement lifestyle and getting our exercise from scrounging for cans and dumpster diving.

    The old guy next door was talking about whether the bears had showed up to raid the trashcans, and I said, naw. Then we got into the subject of the digging I was doing and he says, ‘I dunno, man… this manual labor…’ I said, ‘It’s good exercise.’

    At any rate, the Xers are going to be screwed by the Boomers AGAIN, just like usual. Could be worse, though… could BE a younger Boomer, screwed by the older Boomers but still expected to dance to that groovy Woodstock vibe, man.

    max
    [‘Shit rolls downhill.’]

  17. 17
    Poopyman says:

    Villages of the Darned? No one darns anymore. It’s a throwaway society, which I think was the point of your post, eh?

  18. 18
    PaminBB says:

    I’m not too savvy about how blog ads work, but I’m assuming that it is not a coincidence that I saw an add for a funeral home right below this article. Just wondering, though – who clicks through on funeral home ads?

  19. 19

    My own feeling, which I’ve expressed in real life and online before, is that humans aren’t meant to live like that. By walling themselves away from organic communities and living a thousand miles from their families, our elders deprive us of their wisdom and risk losing an essential connection to the human race — the cyclical, multigenerational nature of life.

    Tell that to someone where meddling older generations have a strangle hold on everything the younger generations do. My MIL in India was cowed down by her 96 year old father till the day he died. He withheld both approval and affection from her while dictating the minutiae in her life and now she practices the same version of parenting with her adult children, especially the daughter who lives with her. Not everything is peaches and cream when the generations cohabit.

  20. 20
    Mudge says:

    Interesting piece. As a Boomer, places like the Villages have never had any appeal. Riding in golf carts isn’t even fun at a golf course. I used to live in Arizona, which has Sun City, an old retirement development. I remember the successful effort of Sun City to secede from the town they were in because they did not feel they should pay school taxes. They had paid school taxes in Michigan all their lives, they commented. So these old folks are not entirely victims, they will go to extremes to divorce themselves from society. As for me, give me a walkable city where a car is not required or maybe someplace overseas. Give me some adventure, not the insufferable dullness of a bunch of people on glide path.

  21. 21
    opiejeanne says:

    @shortstop: We retired and moved North to the Seattle area to be near a couple of our kids. We are not in a retirement community, I hope I never am, but the durned kids in this neighborhood keep growing up and going away to school so it’s beginning to look that way.

    The little grange hall down the hill from us has a sign advertising square dancing. I hope I never get that old (and yes, I’ve done it and enjoyed it when I was a young woman, but only as part of the Folk Life Festival in Seattle). I still feel like a teenager most of the time.

  22. 22
    Poopyman says:

    @max: ALL the Boomers as well as all the Xers, Yers, etc are going to be screwed by the 1% when the real market crash comes. It’s still a house of cards.

    It’s not the generations, man, it’s the super rich coming for everybody’s money.

  23. 23
    greennotGreen says:

    I will retire next year. I’m extremely lucky in that my investment plan has done pretty well, but more importantly, my parents’ investments did very well, so I’ll inherit a substantial amount if I can manage to outlive my mother who may be immortal.

    To me, The Villages would be a kind of hell on earth. Why would I want to isolate myself from most of the population? Why would I want all of my friends to be the same age, have many of the same experiences, the same tastes? How can I grow under those circumstances?

    And you know what happens when you stop growing? You die.

  24. 24
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mudge: Amen.

  25. 25
    Patrick says:

    We walk the square, passing a movie theater, a hulking church, and all manners of age-appropriate retail (“All About Hearing Aids, Inc.”). Music from The Villages radio station is piped out over speakers — we’re served up a helping of some oldies — and then a current events update from Fox News.

    Sounds like a lovely place…with its own distorted reality.

  26. 26
    Gindy51 says:

    God’s Waiting Room is what we call them. Even my dad, who was in one, said they were depressing and backward and he was a Limbaugh lover. If he said they were odd, you KNOW they were.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    I wouldn’t worry about ghost retirement villages. Once the land gets cheap enough, some developer will buy them, demolish everything, clear the overgrown golf courses, and start over with whatever the new real-estate wheeze is in the 2020s.

    Und jetzt, etwas ganz Anderes: I saw The Hundred-Foot Journey today. It’s just a light comedy about duelling restaurant owners in rural France, and how they eventually make peace. The plot is rather conventional and the story details not too plausible. But the food looks gorgeous; the acting legends Helen Mirren and Om Puri are a delight to watch as the rival restaurateurs; there’s a cute young couple in it too; and I’d watch this over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crap any day.

  28. 28

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    complaining and painting grim scenarios achieves what exactly?

    I don’t know what the next few decades are going to bring to the standard of living in the USA. For every impending disaster, there will be millions of us spending money and working our asses off trying to avert the disaster or mitigate the damage. So I doubt that global warming or peak oil or any other problem means the end of civilization, but in 30 years we may look around and have a hard time recognizing the place.

    It is not inconceivable that some of us will get to live in a refugee camp or homeless shelters before we find our place in the sun to finish out our twilight years. I don’t mind being reminded that having a roof over my head food in my tummy and a warm place to sleep means I am ahead of the game. (the year I spent in Antarctica taught me that) I don’t mind a reminder that planning for the future is a good idea, and that means planning for the bad days every bit as much as planning for the good ones. And I don’t mind a reminder to stay flexible, because one thing I can say for certain is that the future is not going to be the same future our grandparents and parents planned for us.

  29. 29
    cmorenc says:

    @Helmut Monotreme:

    all it takes is one legislative session with republican control and social security will be burned to the waterline. They will gleefully sell us out to the stock market and pretend to be horrified when it all comes crashing down and a generation of retirees gets to starve or move back in with the kids.

    These glibertarians would like to end social security because they view it as a socialist diversion from a portion of their own income they believe they could get a higher return on if they invested it themselves, negatively compounded by the benefits from that diverted money going in significant part to undeserving others rather than being able to keep the benefit of the glib’s own supposed efforts. They then try to morally sweeten this utter selfishness by claiming that the tough-love of forcing complete financial self-reliance upon all fellow citizens makes most of them stronger and more secure than they would have been under the continued tyranny of social security rather than private savings and investment. It’s for the good for me everyone to let granny starve or else eat cat food keep and invest all their own money rather than divert it to government social security.

    Shorter version: Me! Mine! I did it all myself! And fuck the rest of you leeches.

  30. 30
    Bobby B. says:

    “Old people need to be isolated and studied so that it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.”–HOMER S.

  31. 31
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Helmut Monotreme: I don’t buy this. There’s never going to be a point where they have the votes to do this. And how would it work anyway? Suddenly there’s trillions of dollars dumped in the stock market? That would fuck every single person on the planet. It would be chaos. It’ll never happen.

    The 1% is fucking with us because we’re comfortable enough that it can.

  32. 32
    SatanicPanic says:

    “They’re going to privatize Social Security” is everyone‘s version of the HYPERINFLATION that the right keeps yapping about that never happens.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    One of the reasons Social Security was created was so elderly folks could have some independence and not be automatically foisted off on family members who may or may not have wanted them — Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow is about an elderly married couple who has to part because none of their kids can take both of them. If you watch it, make sure you have a whole box of Kleenex nearby — it’s a serious tearjerker. The current John Lithgow/Alfred Molina film Love Is Strange sounds like it’s a modern-day remake of the McCarey film, updated with a gay couple.

  34. 34
    C.V. Danes says:

    The quickest way to grow old is to hang out with old people. When I was young, I preferred to be around older people, and now that I’m older, I prefer to be around younger people. I would never go to one of these retirement communities.

  35. 35

    @SatanicPanic: My theory: people are addicted to gloom and doom porn. Hyperinflation, peak oil etc., etc.,

  36. 36

    @Helmut Monotreme: How is complaining on a blog going to change the glum scenario you paint? If you think it will, then complain away.

  37. 37
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @shortstop: I love and hate the olde-timey square

    Like so many things in Florida, it’s a disney fake, the real deal is a state highway running through town, chain resto’s, Burger King, and sprawl.

    It shuts down at 9pm except the bars!! Went down there for a movie that had already closed in Gainesville. (Belle. Well worth it.) Could not get food afterwards. Had to drive back to Fannie’s on 441 (Pine St) in Ocala!! Btw, Fannie’s old school diner food was delicious. Managed to make it for the before-late-night menu, which was a near thing, but the late night menu is fine too.

    Driving or walking around that town square area is hazardous as well. OTOH, driving or walking around Ocala town square is even more hazardous. I give up.

    Oh, I forgot the whole operation is subsidized by HOA fees, which would be Tyranny! if it were taxes, and the employees were all nicer than if you were at disney, I mean come on, but even though we were interloping they have to assume maybe we’re visiting residents or whatever. Not nice but basically too nice (for Florida). I was in Northern NJ for vacation and folks up there were more or less nice all the time (didn’t mean always getting best service or anything, but they weren’t your typical Florida bitchy). This is something else, though. I find it alienating and upsetting. I am under no illusions that the wage slaves at the Villages are well paid. (Disney labor is exploited too and the foreign “interns” at EPCOT are more than willing to tell you so when asked, hahahaha.)

    Of course Ocala takes it one step better, actually has those “sheriff’s signs” posted in various establishments around town about how they’re going to trespass your ass, it’s the post-CRA version of a white’s only sign. There’s one in the fucking POST OFFICE in Ocala. Nowhere is safe.

  38. 38
    MomSense says:

    @Poopyman:

    I darn but the problem is that 99% of the socks that are manufactured these days cannot be darned. They pretty much unravel or disintegrate. They are manufactured to be disposable as are much of the clothing that is in any way affordable for the non 1%.

    ETA: Village of the undarned?

  39. 39
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Which cat pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

  40. 40
    brettvk says:

    @maurinsky: @shortstop: The Boomers described in this article are a tiny portion of the cohort — my cohort, and I don’t recognize these people or the planet they’re living on. Being born in 1954 doesn’t guarantee a thing about how you spend your old age, class overrides economic trends. I’ll die on the job at age 78 because I didn’t pick the right parents, just as a GenXer with similar SES will do 30-40 years later (probably in the same spot).

  41. 41
    cmorenc says:

    @max:

    Could be worse, though… could BE a younger Boomer, screwed by the older Boomers but still expected to dance to that groovy Woodstock vibe, man.

    A lot of the “Woodstock” generation were only into the counter-culture thing for the party and the hippie-longhair look as a party costume.

  42. 42
    SatanicPanic says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I can kind of relate to that- my shelves are full of books on evil dictators, urban decay, racism, etc. But I just don’t buy it that the Social Security checks will stop.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Betty Cracker: The doom and gloom brigade can get a little frustrating if that isn’t how one approaches the world.

  44. 44

    @Betty Cracker: My problem is not with the cats but humans. My week has been terrible, hence the short temper. I will take myself and spend the rest of the day under the bed.

  45. 45
    CaseyL says:

    I don’t think I’ll be able to “retire” in the traditional sense of not-having-to-work. I’ll always have to work.

    Here’s the thing, though: I like working. I’ve had jobs I’ve hated, but the idea of having somewhere I need to go at a certain time every day, and having things I need to get done with other people, is necessary.

    And, yes, I do have a regular volunteer gig – but it’s not the same. Fulfilling, yes; but there’s a subtle difference in the fulfillment that comes from volunteering v. doing something they pay you for.

    I also think working keeps one healthier mentally and physically.

    So while I’m not thrilled by the idea of working until I drop, I’m not horrified by it, either.

  46. 46
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Speed on brother, Hell’s only half full!

  47. 47
    NotMax says:

    Then there’s that Florida community under the Disney umbrella (Celebration?) wherein everything is so restricted and mandated that they practically decide what’s allowed for dinner.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    revrick says:

    Apropos of nothing the actress on the Blacklist is related to this place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Boone

  50. 50
    raven says:

    We’re buying long term care insurance. I guess it will pay off.

    In other important news, I have bragged about how well the pups teeth are because of the marrow bones I give them. Bodhi just got his annual checkup and has a broken tooth. Most likely it’s from the bones and, also most likely, HIS health insurance won’t cover it!

  51. 51
    raven says:

    @NotMax: Dinner at 8, let’s eat!

  52. 52
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @CaseyL: Hate to be a party pooper but I see people pushed unwillingly out of gainful employment due to age and disability all the time.

    The more in demand your skills, the less likely this is to happen but it goes without saying that only a minority will have such skills. The rest are kicked to the curb into penury.

  53. 53
    raven says:

    Yes, Dear Friends,
    a mighty Hot Dog is our Lord!

    I’m not talking about Hate!
    Dexterity:

    No, I’m talking about Ate!

    Dinner at Eight!

    Let’s eat!

    More sugar!

  54. 54
  55. 55
    raven says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Not for Nick Danger, third eye!

  56. 56
    NotMax says:

    Oh, and does The Villages by any chance have its own ‘Rascal Your Ground’ law?

    “She caused such a ruckus about losing at Bingo that I felt threatened.”

  57. 57
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @SatanicPanic: Shhh, that’s the foundational myth of the GenX people. Please don’t talk about someone’s religion like that.

    //

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    My own feeling, which I’ve expressed in real life and online before, is that humans aren’t meant to live like that. By walling themselves away from organic communities and living a thousand miles from their families, our elders deprive us of their wisdom and risk losing an essential connection to the human race — the cyclical, multigenerational nature of life.

    Some of us olds don’t have much family left. Only cousins and such. We have to find some living situation that works and that we can afford, and that doesn’t involve sewing circles, square dancing, tea time, whatever that makes me want to slash my wrists on a daily basis. I don’t want structure that makes me think my fellow humans have hit their heads on the floor a couple dozen times too many and think it’s a good idea to continue. That being said what I do want is still somewhat of a mystery. I do have to plan out a bit, there will come a time when I won’t be able to live independently and if I don’t plan for it, I’m sure it will be done for me and I’m just as sure I won’t like it. Unless Alzheimer’s is hereditary and I won’t know or be able to care.

  59. 59
    NotMax says:

    @raven

    Antelope Freeway, one half mile…

    Antelope Freeway, one quarter mile…

    Antelope Freeway, one eighth mile…

  60. 60
    Ken T says:

    @C.V. Danes: “The quickest way to grow old is to hang out with old people. When I was young, I preferred to be around older people, and now that I’m older, I prefer to be around younger people. I would never go to one of these retirement communities.”

    Hear, hear! My MIL spent the last 10 years of her life in subsidized housing. Not even technically “retirement” or “senior” housing, but heavily skewed to that demographic. She was always complaining about seeing “nothing but little grey heads” all around her. Now that I am a retired senior myself, and doing everything I can to stay active, I can see friends and acquaintances getting to a point where it seems as if they just make a decision to flip a switch and become “old”. For me, I’d rather hang out with some young whippersnappers (say, about 50ish) who are going to challenge me to keep up with them.

  61. 61
    Gravie says:

    Gonna read the article in its entirety — the clip intrigues me. But I did want to observe that as recent retirees, my husband and I briefly considered and almost immediately rejected the idea of a gated retirement village. I like the messiness of real life and the unexpected pleasures of interacting with people who aren’t exactly like me. Happily, our new hometown of Bend, Oregon has a pretty healthy attitude about older people, who are highly visible and really active, so we seldom encounter age prejudice here.

  62. 62
    Barry says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: “What a cheerful topic for discussion this Friday morning. The rest of the world where clean water and shoes are luxury is playing a very tiny violin. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that problems one faces here are not real, but complaining and painting grim scenarios achieves what exactly?”

    The ‘you can’t complain about X so long as people somewhere else have it worse’ is a old chestnut used by people who simply oppose doing something about X.

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    That retirement model depends on middle class people retiring with a decent pension and savings.

    The Koch Brothers, and others of their ilk, cringe at this notion of these people living out the last years of their lives in quiet dignity.

    No, these peasants need to die in the dirt, so that the 1% can feel good about their inherent moral superiority that was bequeathed on them by their very good decision to fall out of the right uterus.

    Wipe them out. All of them.

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CaseyL:

    I may end up there with you. I’ve been contributing to Social Security since I was 11 (worked a few days a week in my dad’s office in the summer and got minimum wage with everything by-the-books) and I go a little crazy if I don’t have somewhere to go and a paycheck. The few stretches of (involuntary) unemployment I’ve had were pretty ugly, and I’m not self-motivated enough to work at home.

  65. 65
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @raven: That’s the downside to marrow bones. I found out the same way you did.

    Do your dogs get bully sticks? M. Q banned them upon learning what they are. The dogs were disappointed.

  66. 66
    dexwood says:

    My sympathy. Went through this with one of my dogs in April. Slab fracture, tip to root, in a canine. It could not be saved. Because the tooth had three large, deeply-seated roots, extraction was difficult and expensive. Was admonished by the vet to stop giving my dogs bones and antlers, the latter being the cause of the “majority” of broken teeth she sees in her patients.
    In reply to Raven

  67. 67
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    The clean water is true. But then it’s getting so that a lot of us don’t have that either. Or much of any water at all. Not so much first world problems, just world problems.
    Is lack of shoes that big a deal anymore? Pics I see of many parts of the world with massive poverty, I see clothes and shoes. I’m sure there are places but may this one be a bit out of date? That’s not to say the every one has access to $200 sneakers or custom leather shoes but no shoes at all? Just wondering, nothing else.

  68. 68
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    “They’re going to privatize Social Security” is everyone‘s version of the HYPERINFLATION that the right keeps yapping about that never happens.

    That’s an unfair comparison. In case you don’t remember clearly, our previous President pushed hard for Social Security privatization, and there are still plenty of people on the right pushing for it. It may not be our biggest worry- we didn’t have too much trouble shooting W’s plans down, even though he had majorities in both Houses of Congress at the time- but it’s certainly not an imaginary worry.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    @NotMax: Rancho Malario, if you lived here you’d be home now. . .

  70. 70
    raven says:

    @dexwood: Ugh, it seemed so good for them. The vet said $400, how does that stack up with your situation?

  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus:

    That’s not to say the every one has access to $200 sneakers

    Hey, buddy, someone needs to pay for all the goodies the football team of Phil Knight University (INC) gets to have in their fabulous training pavilion.

  72. 72
    sparrow says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes! Wipe them out… (with votes). Meanwhie, Edsall has this cheery article up

    http://www.realclearpolitics.c.....39834.html

    Our democracy simply isn’t, anymore.

  73. 73
    Patrick says:

    @Helmut Monotreme:

    We can play all the defense we want but all it takes is one legislative session with republican control and social security will be burned to the waterline.

    Won’t ever happen. The Republican voters would never allow it as they depend on Social Security and Medicare for that matter. Who can forget the sign that said ” Keep the government off my Medicare” at one of the Tea Party rallies.

    But they have no problem denying health care to the rest of us (ACA), as long as they are covered. Selfishness at its finest…

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    We Xers can be the vanguard of the bridge stanchion-dwelling sparrow roasters retirement model, engaging in an unbelievably active new retirement lifestyle and getting our exercise from scrounging for cans and dumpster diving.

    I have a better idea.

    You can be active, but not REALLY active, as you knit on the Place de la Concorde and watch Jamie Dimon, the Koch Brothers, and Pete Peterson get their just rewards.

  75. 75
    dexwood says:

    @raven:
    We hit 600. And, yea, I know what you mean about how easy it is to think bones and antlers are good for them. We began giving our guys antlers upon the advice of a trusted shop owner who never steered us wrong in the past. Live and learn… and shell out cash.

  76. 76
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    I wouldn’t mind living in some kind of organized living situation when I get older, as the wife and I have no kids. Be nice to have some help around if we were to need it, and the traditional model of American suburban/urban living is not real conducive to that.

  77. 77
    Trollhattan says:

    @Poopyman:
    Yup. For every comfortable, coddled boomer retiree there are a dozen who had their job offshored, their company sold and their pension fund looted by a Mitten or a Mitten wannabe. They are staring down the barrel of the shotgun of insolvency.

    X’ers may be more thoroughly screwed–“Look, one’s trying to get away, GET HIM!”–but the generations’ fates are separated by a mere few degrees.

    FWIW I’ve met a few X’ers who’ve retired from Apple and the like with fat, fat stock portfolios and done gone and bought themselves that nice Napa Valley winery and horsie property.

  78. 78
    Ruckus says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer):
    I’m in that position of having skills that are in short supply. But those skills don’t last forever and using them is hard work. At some point I want to take a vacation from working. Most of my adult life I’ve worked a minimum of 50-60 hrs per week. Many yrs without a vacation at all. And not only in the skill area I work in now. I’m tired of having to work, even part time. I’m semi-retired now and although it can be a bit boring if you lack the funds to travel a lot, being lazy is not half bad after a lifetime of standing on concrete, bending over machines, lifting and carrying, etc. It’s not digging ditches and pouring that concrete by hand(done this as well) but over time it kicks your ass. My ass would like to have some time to relax, look around and be scared and delighted by the world I see.

  79. 79
    gian says:

    @SatanicPanic:
    Bush tried to get that ball rolling.
    A GOP win in 2016 with the president and Senate and they’ll try again

  80. 80
    Trollhattan says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:
    Spouse has been tending to her mother, who’s in a mid-level care faciltiy at a burn rate of about $7k/month. It’s nice and all, but not $7k nice! Going there gives me the willies.

    Our imagined setting would be something like a three or four-house cluster around a shared courtyard wth shared housekeeping, nutrition, activity and medical care, the place itself being integrated into an existing urban or suburban neighborhood. If you can control your own housing and “customize” your needed care level, while sharing as many costs as possible among a group, you should be able to have a much better quality of life and extend your reserves much, much further.

    The idea ain’t copyrighted, if anybody would care to take a shot.

  81. 81
    El Caganer says:

    I’ll admit I’m looking forward to moving from Philly to the Sarasota/Bradenton area specifically because I can be around more people my own age. Nothing against younger folks, but I find that I don’t have much in common with most of the ones I meet.

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    I wouldn’t mind living in some kind of organized living situation when I get older,

    The British created a model for this a bit over a century ago, and the Germans, knowing a good thing when they saw it, expanded on the idea about fifty years later.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    Shoes are still a problem. The Giant Evil is doing a shoe drive right now — I need to gather some of my barely-worn “ouch” shoes together and bring them in Monday. Hopefully people in other countries will have less delicate tootsies than I do.

  84. 84
    Trollhattan says:

    @El Caganer:
    I need my 3rd wave coffee shops, nanobrewers and Bacon Week. Without my hipsters I’d have none of these.

    Do have the advantage of living where no snow need be shoveled, ever, nor glare-ice encrusted sidewalks to skitter across, so there’s that. Evidently I no longer even need to replace my car’s wiper blades.

  85. 85
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @sparrow: That sort of “business model” should be banned, and anyone participating in it be shot into the sun.

  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @Trollhattan:
    Sounds like it could work. With one exception. Wouldn’t be enough profit for someone to invest in without the cost being too high for most. So I’m betting it won’t work at the level you mentioned, 3 or 4 living structures sharing services without that 5-6K/month or more. That leaves out probably most of us.
    More volume! 800 units. Lower costs! Screw the help/cut services. Profit! Above all else.

  87. 87
    Arclite says:

    My liberal gparents moved to FL a decade ago (Coral Gables). They’ve been very active in Dem politics. So, yeah, it’s not all wingnuts.

  88. 88
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I know there are shoe drives and I give all of mine away, having no extras around. I’m just wondering how big a problem it is? Of the 6-7 billion of us on this rock, how many don’t have shoes? 10-20%? More, less?

  89. 89
    cckids says:

    @Helmut Monotreme:

    I believe that generation X is going to be the first modern American generation where retirement is not a given. We can play all the defense we want but all it takes is one legislative session with republican control and social security will be burned to the waterline

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I think there are a lot of end-of-boom Boomers out here who have no expectation of retirement. My spouse & I were born in 1962 & 1964, graduated HS into the Reagan recession, had student loans at 12% and up, etc, etc. Our situation is compounded by self-employment, which we chose because of our son’s overwhelming medical handicaps & the time/energy they take. But our cohort of friends are split – some will be ok, some very well off, many are like us & will just work forever.

  90. 90

    @Arclite: I used to live in Coral Gables; moved down the street, so to speak. Tell them I said hi.

    On the topic at hand: my parents moved into a similar place in Cincinnati, but on a much smaller scale. They have a nice condo with just enough room for them and their cherished possessions. They are very conscious of the fact that it is 99% white and upper middle-class, but that’s the kind of burg they’ve lived in all their lives. They are passionate liberals and enjoy engaging genially with their wingnut counterparts. My sister and her family live close by, so they’re independent enough but with help around the corner.

    They know what their next move is. They accept it with grace and tact, and when it’s my turn, I hope I do it like them.

  91. 91
    Downpuppy says:

    Most people stay close to where they’ve always lived when they retire. If the stay in place group goes from 85% to 90%, even with the bigger cohorts hitting retirement, it would put a severe hit on the retirement communities.

  92. 92
    Trollhattan says:

    @Ruckus: You’re right, it’s not an investor’s dream. But folks selling their homes and downsizing could buy in to the housing itself, and then it could be set up as an LLC or a co-operative to contract for the in-home care, maintenance, etc. Costs can be controlled (to an extent) and the services can be finely tailored to the residents’ needs.

    What’s happening now, at least from experience with my own family and now the in-laws, is the big care facilities are basically home-equity and pension vacuums–sucking every dollar from folks who should, in theory, be able to live out their lives comfortably and relatively independently. The mistake they ALL make is waiting too long to make affirmative living space decisions, then they experience a crisis of some kind and the kids/family scramble to find an open space in any place that will take them–so long as it’s not too horrible. The parent is usually out of the loop on it all.

    The equity from the family home, even if it’s owned outright, disappears in a flash, and that’s the bulk of most people’s savings.

  93. 93
    maurinsky says:

    There are some towns in CT (pretty tony towns in Litchfield County) that already have a population that is majority retired because the children who grew up there cannot afford to come home – although maybe when their parents die they will get an inheritance. I am not expecting an inheritance since I’m the child of immigrants who made enough to support our large Irish Catholic family and not much more.

    I like working, too, but I like the idea of not having to work if I don’t want to when I’m old and probably in a wheelchair because I have a bum hip that can’t be replaced.

  94. 94
    cckids says:

    @Mudge:

    I remember the successful effort of Sun City to secede from the town they were in because they did not feel they should pay school taxes. They had paid school taxes in Michigan all their lives, they commented. So these old folks are not entirely victims, they will go to extremes to divorce themselves from society.

    This x1000. Here in S.NV, there are regular efforts by the retirees to do this. They are a large enough bloc to have quite the voice, and all many of them care about is themselves & their little area. I regularly run into oldsters at our apartment complex bitching about the loud kids at the pool (not loud at all, really).

    A significant number of seniors do not want to be integrated into their community. To me, they are the most entitled-feeling cohort out there.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    From what some people were saying yesterday in the ebola thread (no links at the moment), it’s not necessarily a huge number of people, but the ones who need them really need them because they’re in areas where they can get nasty infections or diseases from stepping on the wrong thing and don’t have much medical assistance.

  96. 96
    Ruckus says:

    @Trollhattan:
    You are correct, it is very possible I just don’t see many being proactive enough to plan and have enough money to pull this off. Does anyone you know have 3 friends with the wherewithal to make this happen? And the will to? I know someone right now who is having problems with parents who refuse to admit they need help, when it is obvious to all that they do and can no longer continue to live in the style they have built over decades. I see this in my self and I’m not that old at 65. But I don’t move like I used to, I’m not as strong, things hurt all the time and none of it will get better. That’s the reality.

  97. 97
    boatboy_srq says:

    @C.V. Danes: Ditto.

    The trouble is that there’s too much infrastructure funneling retirees and soon-to-be-retirees into those residence models. Most DCF bureaus, for example, are little better than recruiting and admitting for ALFs and nursing homes: the requirements for in-home care, or for a family member as caregiver, are obscenely high and rising yearly, and DCF looks far more kindly on committing a loved one to some warehouse’s care than on trying to carry on caregiving by oneself; so the centralized communities where there are at least assumptions of economy-of-scale are awfully attractive on paper. We may not need The Villages, but what we need to be rid of more than The Villages is an eldercare industry that exists solely to separate retirees from their finances (and by extension, from their families).

  98. 98
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    That’s sort of what I thought. Also if you are getting used shoes, how long will they remain shoes? I have to purchase new shoes about once a year as I am very hard on them and work destroys them. And of course I’ve found only a very few shoes that fit my duck feet. Over the years I’ve had to change mfg when they quit making the one model of shoe that fits. Now that’s a first world problem.

  99. 99
    Frances Perkins says:

    If the Republicans win the White House, Senate and House in 2016, they will carry out the Koch brothers wishlist. For details see this link http://www.sanders.senate.gov/koch-brothers

  100. 100
    Barry says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer): “Hate to be a party pooper but I see people pushed unwillingly out of gainful employment due to age and disability all the time.

    The more in demand your skills, the less likely this is to happen but it goes without saying that only a minority will have such skills. The rest are kicked to the curb into penury.”

    Especially as this is a goal – people cost money, and those costs are to be cut to the bone (except for the Real People, at the top).

  101. 101
    aimai says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Yes. This.

    Also, thank god my husband’s parents moved down to florida because otherwise they’d be making my life a misery up here. However, they didn’t move to get away from family–they moved because the cost of living was lower, because my MIL has only one lung, and because they could be active and didn’t need to shovel snow all year ’round. Icy sidewalks, snow, and old age can be a terrible combination. My parents are managing it but I don’t really know how.

  102. 102
    Diana says:

    @Trollhattan: I agree. And, in fact, in the premodern era people who did not have children to look after them kind of “retired” to religious institutions, which makes sense when you think about it: peaceful, inexpensive, communal living, and (however imaginary) the social utility of prayer. We need some secular equivalent I think.

    I’m never going to retire because I’d go batshit insane if I had nothing to do all day other than cater to my own health and amusement. This modern concept of retirement seems to me a recipe for destructive narcissism.

  103. 103
    hoodie says:

    @boatboy_srq: I think my MIL may have finally figured that out. She and my FIL retired about 15 years ago. They live in NOVA but, about 10 years ago, they started looking for a winter home in FL. They looked at The Villages but, to my MIL’s chagrin, eventually bought a modest condo in Naples because my FIL decided that, if you’re going to live in FL, at least be somewhere passably natural and consistently warm. He rides his bike to the beach and volunteers in the botanical garden. For the following 8 years following this decision, my MIL made him miserable about all the things they were missing by not living in The Villages. However, during a recent visit, she started talking about how her friends who lived there were getting ripped off, “they charge for everything and everything is so expensive” and how all they do is fuck around. I think she realizes that The Villages serves mostly as a holding pen for sheep destined to engorge the bank accounts of the owners.

  104. 104
    The Pale Scot says:

    Florida is Purgatory with a wet bar

  105. 105
    Woodrowfan says:

    maybe the early Boomer shave good retirement, but as a late Boomer the only reason my wife and I will be able to retire is that she has good retirement benefits and I have been socking aside about 1/2 my paycheck every two weeks. We won’t be globe-trotting around the world like in the ads, but we should be (fingers crossed) ok. Of course, another crash like 2008 and all bets are off.

  106. 106
    ericblair says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    maybe the early Boomer shave good retirement, but as a late Boomer the only reason my wife and I will be able to retire is that she has good retirement benefits and I have been socking aside about 1/2 my paycheck every two weeks.

    My understanding is that it doesn’t fall along “generation” lines too well: a lot of the (white middle class) silents and older Boomers got the gravy train life with decent housing prices, a good job market, defined benefit pensions and the like, then it got fucked up for the younger Boomers and later.

  107. 107
    Sondra says:

    @max:
    I’m not exactly sure how you think my “boomer” generation screwed you, but I’m very sorry if we did. With a few exceptions I’m sure it was unintentional.

    I’m a real boomer baby, born in 1947 and my family was solidly in the upper middle class. That was back in the good old days when the middle class had more than one tier. My father bought us a nice little house with his benefits from the G.I bill about 8 or 9 years after the war.

    He did manage to fulfill the old American dream of working hard and getting ahead. He advised me to set up an I.R.A when I was about 20 years old and thankfully I did it. It wasn’t much at first, but in time it grew to something in the “comfortable” range.

    It certainly isn’t enough for me to live a life of luxury, but it’s better than the alternative which is just Social Security. I think you’d be surprised at how many boomers only have their Social Security now, after the housing bust and/ or the stock market mess – not to mention the teachers and the other Union members whose pension funds have been raided by the Governors and the congresscritters of the States in which they live.

    The answer of course is to get active. Not just physically active, but politically active. When our Democratic Clubs here in South Florida team up with the AFL-CIO (which anyone can join up with) we are pretty powerful.

    When we throw up a picket line, everyone comes – even folks who are much older than me. Folks who were good Union organizers back in the day when you could get killed, not just fired for organizing a Union. And it’s not only multigenerational, it’s muti-racial and multi-ethnic too.

    Our politicians come too – at least the Democrats do – and they listen.

    It is a long Labor Day weekend now so find an AFL-CIO picnic where ever you live and go check it out. You can become an affiliate for a few bucks I think and it’s both fun and politically worthwhile.

    We former hippies , boomers and really old Union folk can use the help. Although many of us are getting pretty tired by now – we’re still out there doing the right thing and we invite you Xers to join us.

  108. 108
    PIGL says:

    @Amir Khalid: i went to highschool with the author in Zurich a million years ago.

  109. 109
    Elizabelle says:

    BCracker put up a very thoughtful blogpost, and I look forward to reading your comments.

    This is why I come to Balloon Juice.

  110. 110
    Elizabelle says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    Florida is Purgatory with a wet bar

    This too, (why I come to Balloon Juice).

    Elmore Leonard is smiling, somewhere.

  111. 111
    evodevo says:

    “And who can blame them? But The Villages model of retirement can’t survive the passing of the Baby Boom generation into history. That retirement model depends on middle class people retiring with a decent pension and savings. ”
    Exactly. My husband and I were eating out and remarking that all you see in restaurants any more are old people, because my generation is the last one to have discretionary money. Everyone else I know is struggling with two and three jobs and unemployed younger family members still living at home. The wave of the future, I guess. Thanks, banksters !

  112. 112
    Tehanu says:

    @Sondra:
    What you said, and I’m the same age as you. Still working and grateful to have a job. I wish I could afford to retire but we had various financial problems over the years — some self-inflicted, others not — and if I lose the job it’s just Social Security and nothing else. I can’t speak for the whole boomer generation but I can tell you that my husband and I knocked ourselves out to give our kid a college education with no debt — and we still vote and donate as leftie as we can. I don’t appreciate being told that being born into a certain group makes me automatically guilty of anything … and this is one of the places I don’t expect to hear that; if I wanted that kind of rhetoric I’d be reading those assholes at the Corner.

  113. 113
    steve from Antioch says:

    our elders deprive us of their wisdom…

    Shhhh, errrrybody, an old person is talking

  114. 114
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    @Frances Perkins: It’s not not just the GOP, I don’t think Obama is much opposed to the chained CPI, which will be the death of a thousand cuts. Hear hear for the push to expand SS, best defense is a good offense.

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