Opinions & Letters

Time to think about retirement

 | August 15, 2011
Political Point of View

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” —Ben Franklin, popularizing Daniel Defoe’s original comment.

Jack Layton is only the latest politician having to juggle the demands of a fickle public with the remorseless sands of Father Time. Hugo Chavez is battling pancreatic cancer; Hosni Mubarak is on his deathbed in a cage inside a Cairo courtroom, the Castro brothers both look as doddering as the Cuban economy; Kim Jong Il is struggling with both a stroke and the impossibility of raising his doltish son to demigod status while Bashir al-Assad of Syria wisely stays out of camera range as he blithely murders his own people.

The current favourite in this grisly drama has to be Col. Muammar Gaddafi a.k.a. Kaddafi Duck of Libya. It’s now been two months since we’ve seen this man’s ugly mug on the tube. It seems his appearance hasn’t reduced his ability to hold off the vaunted British, American, French and Canadian Air Forces as they try not to do anything sensible; like perhaps hit the real target, namely him. You’ve got to give the old goat credit for hanging on.

The point of all this, and I do have one, is that the inevitability of the end is universal. No one gets out of here alive. The time honoured way to ease our meeting with the Grim Reaper was to have lots of kids who could support us while the clock ticks down. Things have changed.

In the brave new world of the Nanny State, we’re supposedly giving money to the government for them to invest properly in pension plans that we could access in our golden year. It sounds good but turned out to be exactly like the fox guarding the hen house theory. The money isn’t there and the fox doesn’t know what could possibly have happened to it.

While a greying President Obama struggles with an impossible deficit by getting his credit limit raised to meet Social Security and Medicaid demands, the ghastly reality for most people is that the government there is broke and will renege on its obligations. Other countries especially in Europe and the supposedly adept Japanese are in even worse shape. They’ve made promises that they cannot possibly keep. The Greeks were actually the smart ones. Just before they knew their economy was unsustainable, they wisely maxed out their credit with the introduction of the Euro and are now sticking Germany with the bill. We should all be so adroit!

It’s a fact that most Canadians are ill prepared for retirement. Only those with defined (usually government) pensions and the wealthy will ride off into the sunset with money in the bank. The rest of us will have to get by with what we put under the mattress. No wonder they call economics “the dismal science”.

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