The world is crazier than most people know. But I know. I was a clinical social worker for forty years. I am a witness. I retired from social work to write about the sad, the mad, and the savage; with whom I have spent most of my life. I have decided to translate these stories into fiction, because, as a co-worker once said, "You couldn't make this sh*t up. No one would believe you."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I HAVE A DREAM...OR MAYBE I'M JUST NUTS...


Feel like getting depressed today? Check this out:
Research shows that in the next 20 years nearly 43 million households will be entering the retirement phase… This is what is being called baby boomer retirement crisis since retirement income could only give fixed income and this would make it difficult for them to survive through increasing costs….there is a steady decrease in the number of employers who are paying pensions…At this rate even the Social Security Administration is expected to go bankrupt while sustaining the retirees. This could leave the baby boomers in poverty stricken life and it would be the worst time in their life to face such a crisis.

My life as a very average wage earner has taught me that it is just about impossible to keep up with inflation. The money I was going to put into a retirement account just got eaten up by the leaking roof or the dry well. My friend lives in an apartment but her car, the one she was keeping forever to avoid the expense of a new car, got rear ended and left her with a new car payment anyway. Blah blah, you get the picture.
Some days I ask myself, why struggle so hard? I never made enough as a social worker to invest and lose in an unpredictable market. So what do I do?

There is only one answer, and that is strength in numbers. You can’t go it alone in this world any more. So we have to do what we did when we were young, only perhaps with a little more wisdom today.
Communes and group houses never worked that well because people are…well…people. But communities can thrive. By that I mean baby boomers need to think about forming group living situations where they have independence and connection at the same time. This is just a new slant on retirement communities. You might think of it as an “economy” class retirement community.
FOR INSTANCE….Imagine a piece of land purchased communally, divided into shares or sections, populated with tiny houses or motorhomes or cabins or whatever in fairly close proximity so that people are near one another and most of the land is left open for cultivation.Imagine that the residents represented a good cross section of talents and experience: carpenters, plumbers, medical personnel, teachers, veterinarians, all retired but still sharp. Imagine that these people combined their skills to build and sustain a community. That they grew food in their own gardens and perhaps shared tools and expertise. That they bartered for skills: the nurse sews you up when you slice yourself with a band saw and in return you help her roof her garage. Maybe you raise some livestock in common and all assist in butchering. Maybe you buy a “digester” and turn the animals’ waste into methane gas to run cars or stoves. Maybe everyone kicks in on a solar array and gets their electricity off grid. Maybe everyone chips in on the fabulous cost of a well and shares the water.
There are so many maybes. Now this scenario has a decidedly rural character and that’s not for everyone. But the key factor is community. Even in a big city, people can form buying coops and share/barter skills.
Because, folks, this is the ONLY way those of us without extreme financial security will ever beat the situation. More people than Social Security can ever handle will be retiring in the next twenty years. Even those who feel they are well fixed financially, may buy that nice home in that nice retirement community and then get killed by increased taxes and utilities. It is not far fetched to think that the cost of energy will be almost prohibitive in the not very distant future. And let's not even bring up the subject of water. A lot of money now, may be not enough then.
Let’s get it together boomers. That is our solution. Quakers have been living this way forever, and it sure seems to work for them!

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