Boomer Dreams

February 5, 2015

495cb3e60a8a4a8fabb58191d95c3ac2Way-windy with some light rain this early Thursday on California’s north coast, a hazy hint of light building in the east — waiting for a supposed whopper of a rainstorm, maybe allowing for up to two inches of rain across the area.
According to the NWS right now, the forecast every day through Saturday is ‘Heavy Rain,’ Saturday evening the mood shifts to ‘Rain Likely‘ — no matter, all still very wet.

Also happening — February will mark six months since my retirement last August 29. Yet there’s only 28 days this month, so will March 1 mark the event as six-months old?
Yet again, in calendar, March would be the seventh month, changing the perspective if not the numbers — time consumption an obvious and major perception since retirement, the odd sense of unemployment.

(Illustration: Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity)‘ found here).

As I move along in this particular fashion, a real obstacle encountered so far is comprehending-thus-handling manhours utilized in all forms of mental labors, which has no time-clock at the end of a shift. Thinking heady about all matter of shit, a major, lifelong personal lifestyle function, has seem overwhelming on more-than one occasion.
Yet I consider myself fortunate as I’ve always been way-good at self entertainment, and I’ve always been kind of a loner, though don’t feel overly lonely, or bored.
And so far retirement has been way-doable, as a total-whole less of an anxious, problem-plagued event as I supposed seven or eight months ago — whatever the calendar.

In all, a certain oddity in being retired comes from work, or ’employment,’ or the absence of even a thought of seeking ‘work.’ In 2015, an employment milestone — 50 years since my first real job (beyond mowing lawns, or some other bullshit neighborhood-kids’ job).
In the summer of 1965 at 16-years-old, I started work cleaning/washing vehicles for Avis Rent-a-Car, and continued for more than three years, all through high school, into the first year of junior college.
So for 49-and-a-half years out of the last 50, work mattered.

And along with all that, I’m also what’s considered a ‘baby boomer‘ — the big wad of self-centered assholes that for a long while figured their shit didn’t stink, and along with myself, others include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and his wife, Susan Sarandon, even Elvis Costello.
And what brought on this retirement/boomer post was a couple of news items, the first, this survey story on Tuesday from USAToday:

About two-thirds (69 percent) say they had challenges adapting to this change in their lives, according to a survey of 1,000 people, ages 60 to 73, who retired in the last five years from their primary profession and who have at least $100,000 in investable assets.
The survey was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial.

My underline for emphasis — the poll was taken by a financial giant, and the people interviewed beyond the clock of the average boomer. Yet I don’t feel alone with this poll answer: ‘63 percent say they felt stressed about retirement leading up to the decision; 25 percent say they still feel stress after being retired for some time.’
Get over it…

Boomers are a varied bunch — last March from ThinkAdvisor:

In actual numbers from the Employment Benefit Research Institute, the median employee in the top 10 percent of wealth has about $200,000 saved for retirement compared to $22,000 for a middle class employee.
The median worker with an income over $100,000 has saved about $100,000, but the average is $360,000.
That means that there are some higher-income workers who are saving a lot, but most workers aren’t saving enough.
In fact, only 64 percent of workers between the age of 55 and 64 have saved an amount equal to one year of income.

Into the mix, toss income inequality, wealth disparity, and many other financial-agenda items available to a select few and suddenly there’s a huge chunk of us boomers whose future rests in two words, ‘Social Security.’

The second news item was a story on another Baby Boomer influence — the American Dream, where anyone employing hard work, and whatnot, will find success — and we boomers added much, much fuel to that nonsense for a generation.
And apparently reality was pie-in-the-sky, and we all overestimated the actuality of that dream in a big way.
New research published yesterday via ScienceDirect shows fantasies can fuck your head — a few snips:

Economic inequality is among the most pressing societal problems impacting the health and well-being of Americans: inequality reduces well-being—Americans report elevated happiness in years where economic inequality is lower compared to years when it is higher (Oishi, Kesebir, & Diener, 2011).
As well, roughly 70 percent of studies examining the health impacts of economic inequality find that societal health worsens as economic inequality intensifies (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2006).

The United States is faced with record levels of income inequality and one of the lowest rates of actual social mobility among industrial nations (Burkhauser et al., 2009, Fiske and Markus, 2012 and Piketty and Saez, 2001).
Despite these constraints on economic opportunities, Americans place significant hope on the American Dream — the promise that individuals, from any sector of society, have an equal opportunity to become better educated, earn more money, and obtain whatever job they desire.
These beliefs in social class mobility are widespread, frequently referred to during political speeches (Obama, 2014), evoked in contemporary popular fiction and cinema (Fitzgerald, 1925), and are a core right referred to in historical government documents (i.e., the Bill of Rights).
The disconnect between actual economic conditions on the one hand and beliefs in the American Dream on the other suggests that Americans may be unaware of the actual levels of social class mobility in society.
Several lines of research anticipate this pattern of inaccuracy: for instance, when a large sample of Americans was asked to guess the levels of wealth inequality in the United States, individuals underestimated the magnitude of economic inequality by a wide margin (Norton & Ariely, 2011).
Americans also display low awareness of how changes in economic conditions will impact their lives: when asked to forecast how an economic windfall will change their lives, individuals routinely overestimate the extent that these economic changes will increase their happiness and well-being (e.g., Wilson & Gilbert, 2005).
In terms of upward mobility, participants overestimated, over a ten year period, the extent that working 1000 extra hours would improve their income standing, the number of individuals who would move from the bottom 20 percent to the top 20 percent of income, the amount that some college would move people out of the bottom 20 percent of income, and the number of students from the bottom 20 percent of income families at top universities.
Participants also underestimated the extent that students from the top universities are from the top 20 percent of income families, suggesting again that participants overestimated the extent that universities are open to Americans from lower income levels.
For downward mobility beliefs about moving out of the top 20 percent in income, participant estimates were consistent with actual population data.

We overestimate going up, and pretty-much nailed how to go down, though.
And you can see — from one of us boomers most intuitive, and funniest guys, George Carlin: ‘“The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick thats being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Daydream deceivers…

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