Retirement Bad?

Is retirement really bad, or is this a gentle nudge by our Corporate Masters to convince us that grinding away to our graves is a personally healthy thing? You’ll notice it’s on the BBC Business page. Not in the health and fitness section.

In my mid-fifties, I’m probably a little bit more than halfway to my retirement, which might take place in my 70’s. I can’t imagine not being active in some way. Many of the retired folks I see in parishes are quite active: serving at Mass, serving the poor. A few of them are as hard to pin down as students. Throw in frequent trips to see grandchildren, and these people are as active and seem as healthy as anyone I know.

Does this finding cast doubt on the pro-life cred in this diocese, for this initiative?

The question for the worker and employer is naturally: Will management be flexible to the needs of the older employee, and what is optimal for her or his health? This isn’t about seventy-somethings flipping burgers with teenagers at the supermall’s fast food joint. This remains a matter of making a substantive and positive contribution to society. Even if a corporation isn’t writing the check while making demands.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Retirement Bad?

  1. Liam says:

    Our Corporate Masters would vastly prefer to keep as many people over 50 *out* of their health insurance pools. So, they would prefer to not have those people as employees with full benefits, but as Form 1099 consultants who have to pay for their own health insurance. Believe me, this trend is quite strong. Seven months ago, I ended 6 years of work-from-home consultancy (my health insurance was running me almost $800/mo, individual basis) to return to W2 employee status in the office, as it were.

    • Liam says:

      PS: in the ideal world of many HR departments, the ideal job candidate is a 38 year old with enough debt-for-possessions to make them feel handcuffed to the job, but without children (who raise health insurance costs for female employees who are pregnant, and more generally create distractions from The Mission).

    • John McGrath says:

      Both comments are quite accurate, but a debt encumbered 26 year old is good too.

    • John McGrath says:

      This is true even if an employee is entitled to Medicare. An employer cannot force a person to take Medicare (it does involve a monthly cost plus a bigger cost for the “optional” but necessary supplemental insurance plus big co-pays for doctor visits) if the employer’s health plan is equivalent or better (almost all are).

      The Chinese have decided to manufacture their cars in Canada because their employees, like all Canadians, will have National Health.

  2. John McGrath says:

    Retirement is great. I am not my job.

    Retirement can be difficult for those who need to mix with people a lot. Except for immediate family, most people will not want you around much if at all, and making new friends can be difficult.

    I find people my own age (early 70s) to be overly concerned with talking about the mundane or health, all in excessive detail or in exactly the same words as yesterday. Or about complaints about the world, in the same words as yesterday. My few friends who aren’t retired are interesting, not because of talking about work. But they are busy.

    But I enjoy solitude. I think, contemplate and write. And each week I have pleasant and interesting conversations with strangers. This is sufficient for me.

    I attend all sorts of inexpensive cultural events, plays especially, and take cheap writing workshops, meet interesting people I like. Yet I decline attending their parties. In a way I consider the invisibility that being elderly brings to be a gift. I can observe without being drawn in. I am fortunate to live in a place with endless high quality cultural events and talks, plus a nearby inexpensive organic food restaurant to have an occasional meal. And a cheap working man’s breakfast place. Two of favorite coffee places tend to be patronized by minorities (I live in a mixed neighborhood), the third by artists and hipsters and kids after school from the academically selective high school across the street. It’s at the coffee places that I sometimes fall into conversation with people.

    My next older brother is very different from me, except for a religious and political slant that favors helping the poor, which we both share. He’s retired, very social. Much wealthier, he winters in a warm place. He enjoys his retirement and his wife also enjoys having him around She still works part time. He was forced out of a big corporate job for political reasons, even though his record was one of exceptional success in turning unprofitable operations in various countries into very profitable ones, all without harming workers or their unions. He dreaded retirement, now loves it.

    People with inner resources – spiritual or cultural or philosophic – tend to enjoy retirement.

    P.S. If there is a Philharmonic near you, its rehearsals generally will be free and posted on the web page. Plays are normally first produced on a pre-opening basis, and the prices very cheap. Universities put on some great cheap plays, especially if there is an MFA program. Most such places are served by public transportation.

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