mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is retiring early unpatriotic?

A coworker of mine recently sent me this article from msn claiming that retiring early is unpatriotic.

My first reaction was to fire off a joke response that personally, I thought it was unpatriotic of my boss to not retire now. I've long joked that I want him to retire so I would have a shot at his job - although in reality I probably won't get it even when he does retire, as I don't really have the people skills that the job requires.

But from a serious perspective, I think the claim of the article is silly - that because older workers who retire earlier are taking out of social security instead of putting in, they are contributing to it's collapse.

I've never been a big fan of social security - I think people should be allowed to make their own choices about retirement, and it annoys me that money gets taken out of my paycheck that I could be investing much more profitably than social security - and also that if I die young, that I can't pass that money on like I could with a retirement account (assuming I ever have someone to pass it on to, but even if I die spouseless/childless, I've got a cat who needs to be taken care of...)

But I really don't like the idea of creating government programs to solve a need, like social security, and then asking or requiring people to change their behavior to meet the need. I feel the same way about people who want to ban big macs or smoking because of the health care costs born by the government.

Aside from that, though, I don't think old people in the workplace is the blessing the author claims. While I don't think that the economy is a zero-sum game, where no new jobs or wealth are ever created, there is also not an infinite amount of jobs, and at times - especially during recession or unemployment - a person who doesn't retire is keeping someone else - probably a younger person - out of a job. It also means that younger people don't have the opportunities for advancement, the chances to gain skills/experience, and companies with lots of older workers may suffer because younger employees don't see a career path for them if the older workers don't move out of the way.

The fact is, retirement is a personal decision. My parents chose different paths - my mom retired at 62 when the mortgage bank she worked at got bought out and moved operations, laying her off - she couldn't see going out and finding a job knowing she would only be there for 3 years. My dad, on the other hand, is still working, and probably will continue to do so at least until he hits 70 - he likes his job, has been there long enough to have enough vacation time to do things he needs to do or enjoys, and he figures having a few years of income extra will help when he does retire. And people should base their retirement decisions on those factors, not on what msn writers see as patriotic.


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