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Why we lie about being retired (bbc.co.uk)
92 points by QuitterStrip 57 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments

There is a huge difference between retiring and retiring healthy. Both of my parents retired due to medical reasons and are not as mobile as they once were, they have confided in me that retirement is extremely boring and if it wasnt for church and living so close to family (same apartment complex) they would have nothing to do.

I'd love to see more programs that pair retirees with young people to tackle local problems, there is a clear trend regarding increasing lonlieness among young adults and retirement age folks.

I can only assume the "nothing to do" retirement crowd didn't do much when they were working, and therefore have no idea how to fill the time. Personally:

1. More volunteer time at the dog shelter.

2. More reading.

3. More music playing, and finally really spend time on that violin that is currently a secondary instrument.

4. More time at "church" (read: Zen practice), yes, just like other old people.

5. Might finally have time to hike the Appalachian Trail, or at least large parts of it.

6. Finally find the time to sit down and decide what I want to do when I retire, 'cuz there's no way this list is complete.

All but #5 should be able to be done by all but the most feeble. I hope I live so long as to get bored in retirement.

> I can only assume the "nothing to do" retirement crowd didn't do much when they were working, and therefore have no idea how to fill the time. Personally:

Loads of folks derive personal value and meaning out of their work, and I'm one of them. I've been out of work once for a few months, and that was with a job waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.

It was eye opening how depressive it was, to be robbed of your big "thing." I'm saying this as someone with a boat load of little "things," reading, outdoorsmanship, sports, etc. The second that surety of purpose is gone, so goes my wider motivation.

That's not the only way to "derive personal value and meaning" out of your life. I take year-long breaks after each major job switch. You do experience loss after leaving a job you enjoyed, but it passes after a few months (about 6 months for me). Then you kind of wonder why you didn't leave sooner.

This is all predicated on not needing money too much. I can see how someone who doesn't have a financial cushion would feel depressed about not only having to spend savings, but also not making money to cover the living expenses. That was the hardest part to come to terms with (at least for me), even though I'm not in any way struggling financially.

I'm kind of close to a point where I'd be fine to not ever even search for another job. I got plenty of other things (perhaps too many) to derive meaning from, and I don't need to get paid to properly derive it.

Your comment intrigues me. Care to elaborate on what kind of passive income structure you have established, to give you that "financial cushion"?

He didn't mention passive income at all, he's just comfortable with eating away at his savings until he's employed again.

Pretty much. You can't make all the money in the world. There's more to life than slaving away on someone else's bullshit for a buck. And make no mistake 99% of what we do at work is ultimately irrelevant bullshit that will be gone and forgotten 10 years from now. When I work, I charge pretty penny though, to sustain that kind lifestyle. I do consulting at the moment. Already made enough money this year to last me 3-4 years. Mortgage is paid off, and I have no debt at all.

US tech workplace is super unfriendly to part time work, unfortunately, so instead I just "part time" by not working for a while every 3-4 years. My wife does the same thing. She left her job over a year ago, so she's not working at the moment, though she's more of a social animal, so she'll start looking in September. Me? If the tech industry disappeared today, I'd breathe a sigh of relief, and switch to brewing beer (which is something I'm pretty good at as well). As things are right now, tech is the easiest possible way for me to make the most money per hour (and therefore maximize my downtime).

Read it as "didn't do much outside of work when they were working". I believe you understandably misread a poorly-worded sentence.

I believe you've fundamentally misunderstood my point, there exists people for whom work is a large part of their identity and sense of purpose. Robbed of that, no amount of "Just do X" is going to matter.

Neither of you seems to be offering a particularly charitable interpretation to the other. Launching with "that's a pretty bold assessment" sets the tone for your own first response.

The comment reads far better without that sentence. As it is, you and mikestew appear to be in violent agreement.

> Neither of you seems to be offering a particularly charitable interpretation to the other.

Not a lot of room for uncharitable misinterpretation when one starts off with "I can only assume..."

> The comment reads far better without that sentence.

It certainly would!

I probably should have mentioned that as well, yes.

You had the choice to interpret charitably yourself, however ;-)


I'd like to interject for a moment and say that imho this entire subthread is off topic and weirdly passive-aggressive.

Almost any time a nudge on HN culture goes past a single initial mention / response, it tends to get that way.

Though the initial bit on the culture of charity (see link in my previous comment you're replying to) seems generally on point.

Watching people talk past each other rubs me as tedious. I'll mention it occasionally.

I understood your point just fine, it seems. What I'm saying is, "go find something else to do". If you can't do that, I understand, but I'll also point out that it just illustrates my point.

Just work until you die. I don't see the problem.

There's no reason your "thing" can't be volunteering or working for a cause that you find important pro bono.

Most people would define "retirement" as "no longer working for money, while using savings or other existing means of income to pay for living expenses"

> There's no reason your "thing" can't be volunteering or working for a cause that you find important pro bono.

There absolutely is a reason that it can't be my "thing," it's because it isn't!

What is it about working that makes it so depressing for you to not do it? Is it the earning of money for yourself? If so, you're greedy. That's fine. Be greedy. Not a great look, but we're just being honest with ourselves.

If it's "doing work that changes the way things are", once you've reached a point where you are able to retire and no longer need to work for money, there's plenty of options in just about every sector (I'm assuming yours is tech or tech adjacent being on HN and all that) where you can do meaningful work and which people would gladly accept the help of an expert on even if they can't pay them.

If it's some other 3rd thing that you feel differentiates jobs from non-jobs, I'd be interested to hear what you think that is.

Just speaking for me, what I like about work is that I'm doing important things for other people. Things that actually matter.

Society is built on division of labor. I enjoy the fruits of so many people's labor in uncountable ways all day long. It's only fair that I too participate in this wonderful system and give something back.

You're right that the payment is important. Calling that "greed" is a misunderstanding of that word, aside from the attempted insult. Among several things, it does serve as a check that what you do is important. That someone is willing to pay you money, shows that the work is important to that someone!

(I don't write the following to impugn your choices; I'm only drawing a contrast between your view of the world and mine so we can discuss the differences.)

It's interesting to me that you wrote the payment is important to you because it shows that what you are doing is important. My outlook is that the thing I am paid to do is arguably the least important activity out of any I do in the world. I'm paid to ensure that a particular set of bits are turned on and off in the appropriate way so that other people can manipulate those same bits to influence how data is represented elsewhere. In essence, I feel as though I'm the digital version of a paper-pusher, merely moving reports from one end to the other. It's not bad, as such, just not something I imagine as an important thing. But, it's what the market / society / the invisible hand has decided is deserving of almost outlandlishly wealthy levels of pay, so I do it.

On the other hand, the things I find most important are the activities I either don't get paid to do or I actively pay to do them. Volunteering at my library showing kids and older adults how to read and find information. Being a guide at the zoo, hanging out with animals and encouraging others to see them as worth conserving. Knocking on doors for my preferred candidate in local elections. These are all things that, should I deduce some way to continue to pay my usual bills without having to digitally-push-paper, I would happily do for the rest of my days and let someone else occupy my chair at work. That I don't get paid to do them is almost part of the charm, though I wish society valued the work highly enough that I could get paid to do one or more of those instead of dealing with the latest wrinkle in "site reliability engineering."

Let's be careful here: I'm not saying getting paid is the only important thing. Far from from it!

But what I am saying is that it shows what I'm doing is important to other people. It's not just something I'm doing for myself.

> it's what the market / society / the invisible hand has decided is deserving of almost outlandlishly wealthy levels of pay, so I do it.

That's true, but I prefer to deabstractify it a bit. There are real people, who have decided to spend substantial money on paying you and me to do what we do, because they think it's important. That makes it very real to me. And confirmed by an independent outside "reviewer", so to speak.

I came into this way of thinking after being a stubborn youth who hated work and dreamt about never having to do it. But I couldn't get the ethics of it all to add up. So this is how I made sense of things.

Of course, what you describe sounds like working for the benefit of others as well.

Counterpoint: It's a singular way to know that your work is appreciated. It's not the only way. It's far from the only way in fact. Here's a short list of ways to see that your work is important:

-Direct comments from people saying as much -Visible effects of your work changing things around you -People providing you with physical, yet solely sentimentally valuable tokens of their thanks

The money is one way of keeping score, but it's not the singular way of keeping score. It's only important if you feel it's important. You can volunteer at an old folks home or help maintain an important, widely used OS project, and pretty easily understand that what you're doing is valuable to your society. There are all sorts of tasks that you can perform that have an overt and direct impact but which will not provide you with any financial income. Within the context of the discussion, being retired (which we earlier defined as existing in a state in which you no longer need additional financial gain in order to support your lifestyle) you could still perform meaningful task that aren't jobs.

OP hasn't commented on what it is that makes "working jobs for money" his thing. We can only speculate what his answers would be. I'm still of the opinion that it's either avarice and a love of money as a way of keeping score of your life, or a misunderstanding of what non-work activities look like.

How do you define greed? What do you feel I'm misunderstanding about the concept? Just so we can further this discussion, I'll put down my thought: Greed is the desire for money for money's sake. Using money as a way of proving that something is important. It is the desire to posses more than one needs. The crux of our disagreement here is likely that, defining what "needs" are. I believe capitalist societies are inherently greedy and therefor flawed. I'm not singularly condemning OP, I wish a pox upon the whole enterprise.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greed says "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed"

I would add "at the expense of others" to clarify that.

Getting paid to work is making money by helping others, which to me is the opposite of "greed"!

The trade of exchanging labor for money is one of the cornerstones of civilization, and everything that's good in the world, as I see it. So we seem to have some discrepancies in our world views :)

I have no quarrel at all with your other ways of knowing your work is appreciated. They all sound good and healthy.

All wealth is a 0 sum game. All money you have is money someone else doesn't have. I agree we have a pretty great difference in world views. I have no problem with markets, but "trading labor for money" is one of those paradigms that I think doesn't have to exist, and is a large part of our problem.

No quarrels though. You seem like a nice enough person.

You're coming across as being purposely offensive/antagonistic, FYI. To borrow your words, "not a great look".

I'm posing a hypothetical set of emotions for OP to try and understand is POV. If someone was to tell you "I get depressed if I don't work for long periods of time, because I my life feels meaningless if I'm not making money" How do you describe that person, if not "greedy"? I don't think calling greed "greed" is offensive. That isn't even saying OP actually is greedy, but that it was a possibility. To each their own.

I'm trying to figure out what OP feels provides him meaning at work. If it's the money, and he gets depressed when he doesn't make money, I'm fine calling that greedy. If it's the lack of meaningful "work" you can do the work without the money. If it's a 3rd thing, I genuinely don't understand what it could be since to me work is simply "doing a task for money".

1. Not possible due to failing health.

2. Do you mean Braille? Yes, large print can suffice sometimes... Audiobooks if your hearing is adequate.

3. Add some motor coordination problems and this is not happening.

4. It is boring for many.

5. Sure, with failing healthy and being less able to move. Not impossible, just not likely.

6. Too late for many things.

Most people forget that were talking 70 years old people or so. Some remain spry, but they are a minority.

6b. And what makes you think you will have better ideas then? Or have any actual energy?

By the time they're 60, most people attain at least one chronic health problem. If they're lucky, it's manageable for normal full energy life without such excesses.

Some fade much earlier than that.

Finally, the main problem is gradual loss of connections, friends, family etc.

Personally, if I found myself toward the end of my life retired and hopelessly frail, confined to a bed all day, with no children or even a friend worth seeing, I’ve decided I’ll just live out the rest of my days hacking into systems, creating botnets, ransoming data, just seeing what’s out there and trying to build some sort of malware network that can live on for a while after I’m gone. For what? Who knows. I’m just cashing in on a lifetime of skills and knowledge that I never got to use to it’s full extent, simply because I wanted to live an honest life. It’s better than laying there watching a TV all day falling asleep with a dry gaping mouth.

And if I slip up and get tracked, and I hear the law breaking down the door to get in, I’ll just swallow a pack of pills and be done with it, by the time they get to me, they’ll just find a deflating old corpse sunken into a bed, while thousands of compromised machines stand by to execute their final orders once the dead man’s switch goes off.

This is how I fade.

I've read somewhere that there's a increasing trend of bitter, lonely old men in France who try to rob banks (yes!) because they're so bored and antisocial from lack of human connections. This would be a hacker version of that.

It might be hard to build ransom botnets when you can barely read the soup menu and have trouble remembering what year it is.

I would read this novel.

Maybe he should write a novel instead of the botnets.

I've always just read the site and never posted. But what is wrong with you? You are clearly a disturbed individual with some serious moral failings. By the time you retire hopefully you've grown up enough to not give into your childish impulses.

If you were being sarcastic then I'm sorry and I'll feel like a total idiot.

Thanks to this post, they will be knocking soon. Well done.

I agree! Stick it to the Man.

The world is a gigantic place. Boredom is never caused by not having things to do. It's caused by not wanting to do anything, and that is a very different problem.

Different people have different things that they love. And people has different levels of access to doing the things they love.

If you are really passionate about driving racing cars but you can't afford to do so, people telling you that you can play games or instruments doesn't really help.

You are absolutely right about the "nothing to do" retirees. My grandfather was just like that. Fortunately for my mum and dad, both of them are as busy now in retirement than when they were working.

Take for instance my dad....

- He was offered an early retirement package at age 55, hated being idle, and six months later returned to full-time work as a consultant.

- Fast-forward 15 years, to age 71, when he finally decided to properly retire, ...

- ... to do a full-time Masters of Mechanical Engineering. He just graduated, at 75 the univesity's oldest full-time student.

- After a six month's break (to focus on gym circuit training and boxing classes), he has returned to university again, doing a 50% Masters of Aeronautical Engineering.

Oh man, going to university again when I retire actually sounds like a great way to spend time.

Some states have free tuition for senior (typically 60+) students to audit [and sometimes to attend] courses at the state public universities.

When the university wanted him to pay the standard course fees, he somehow convinced them to give him a postgraduate scholarship so he could do it for free.

During the course he got two concessions:

- He was given 4 hours to do the 3 hour exam papers. After all, it had been 53 years since his undergrad math days.

- Exemption from the engineering work experience requirement. Instead in the Project Management course, he did a guest lecture slot on 'real-life project management in the offshore oil and gas industry'.

Programming term projects done in one evening, haha!

A masters at 75?

That is the most awesome thing I've read all week! Congratulations to your dad.

I admire his tenacity a lot! He worked enormously hard to learn Master's level math properly. I hope I am half as switched on when I am his age.

P.S. One other thing I just remembered is he and my mum live in a country town 90km outside Melbourne. They weren't just round the corner from the university... It was a 90 minute trip by public transport each way. That's a major effort each day just to get to class if you are 18, let alone 75.

I tried this. What happened was that I was so lonely, I didn't have the focus to do any of it. I couldn't sit and read a book, I was so anxious all the time. I missed my "tribe" of coworkers however superficial that may be. I ended up watching lots of tv and movies all the time and was glad when I started a job again.

Yea, I can’t wait to retire. There are so many things I’m missing out on because I commute 4 hours a day and work 8. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 4 or 5 hobbies I’d do daily if I ever manage to retire—stuff I have to frantically cram into nights and weekends now. This idea of having nothing to do is so foreign.

Four hours a day? You need to do something about that ASAP, don't just wait for retirement, have a shorter term plan.

Key is to maintain physical and mental health into retirement. Then you can really enjoy it.

> I can only assume the "nothing to do" retirement crowd didn't do much when they were working, and therefore have no idea how to fill the time.

Well, the common pattern seems to be for those who retire early that it was preceded with a lots of work. That was also my case. At some point I just realised that I want to do something else, and I had enough savings for lifetime so money wasn't any kind of motivator any more. So, previously I was working 24/7, then suddenly I was working only couple of hours a week. Slowly I started picking things to do, but it takes a lot of time to find hobbies etc.

I thought I had things I wanted to do if only I had time.

When I had the luxury of taking the last year off I found out that the idea of doing those things was far more appealing than actually doing them. I started to go a little crazy.

Now I’m looking for work, not because I have to right now, it because I’m bored.

Are you actually retired?

Oops, too late to edit, but it does read as if I'm already doing those things. No, that's the wish list I hope to start working on in about four years.

But to answer directly: yes; money is no longer the motivator, and one does not have to do those things to eat. Which, I suppose, a jobby-job once you have enough saved counts as "retirement". But as much as I like my work, there's a lot of other things I like, too, and don't do them as much as I'd like because I'm not yet "retired".

There's a pretty broad range of what "enough" is in the phrase "enough saved". For some people, it might be $1MM in investments plus a paid off house and the promise of Medicare and Social Security. For others, that might be a small integer multiple for that $1MM figure to be either multiplied or divided to be "enough".

It seems that hackerspaces would be the perfect place for retirees and younger folks to mix. The older people tend to have more mechanical skills through life experience, and can help the younger ones learn to make things (wood / metal working, general building techniques, etc).

Personally, I'm at least 15 years from retirement, and one of my plans is to hang out at either hackerspaces, libraries, or other areas like that.

A hacker space is simply a community center with more tooling. While I think the word “inclusion” is overloaded today, I think there’s great value in community building. “Make Libraries Great Again” sort of thing. Build a space where people with shared interests can come together, and those without connections and interests can be introduced to them. Time and time again, research is showing that human connection is what keeps us happy and helps us live longer, healthier lives. Optimize for human connection, self actualization, fulfillment, and purpose.

Why this idea is not a first class citizen in the first world is beyond me.

your comment reminded me of a Podcast episode:


Before software there was only physical things and interpersonal dynamics. It's not just life experience, it's that people focused on working with things. I'm in the transitional group, and it feels like the number of 'handy' software developers declines every year. I think there may only be one utility knife and one flashlight on my whole floor (except the maintenance team) and those are both in my pockets.

If we have beer someone might pull out an actual bottle opener (I worry about that guy).

You 'worry about' the guy that has a bottle opener; without whom the beer presumably can't be opened? Meanwhile you have a knife and torch in your pockets at all times?

I wouldn't worry about either of you, but if anyone were casting such aspersions I'd expect it to be someone without 'tools' about them.

Pass me that bottle, I'll open it with my teeth. It'll only cost you the first swig. Cheers!

I've only seen this happen once, and it was a guy my friend had just broken up with.

Later on I had several conversations with him about how I hoped he would not bite off any more bottle caps. I didn't see him much after that but I hope his teeth are okay.

That's on them. My dad retired and started coaching soccer, getting a music degree, and joined a church choir. He was actually busier than I was during finals week.

This is mostly an artifact, I think, of the fact that people are obsessed with the question "what do you do?" within the narrow framing of a commercial job.

And everyone is expected to be working all the time otherwise they must be in trouble somehow, despite the fact that at least 50% of people in Western countries earn enough to not need to do that.

I've had periods, I suppose you would call them 'sabbatical', in which I've mostly just mucked around. Learned a new language. Fiddled around with IoT stuff. Done some travelling. Read a lot. Just enjoy life.

During that period, what am I? I'm just a guy. Historically I did software development for work. In the future I'll probably do the same. But that identity of full time employment just doesn't exist.

I generally joke and say I'm retired or that I'm an open source developer or whatever else. But of course that's different coming from someone who won't be hitting government retirement ages for a few decades.

I've hated that question since the 1st grade when it was 'what will you do (when you grow up)' No six year old knows the answer to that question and that's a lot of pressure.

Also, you're at a social event, where people are supposed to be pretending to be humans. Fuck you for making me think about work during my time off. With all sincerity.

If I ask people an ice-breaker about activities, I ask them what they do for fun.

I think it is very easy to answer to this question in a way that will steer the discussion away from your work, if you want. Just answer with general decription like "software developer, in a small company", whatever. Unless you are really unlucky any natural person will just lose interest.

I myself ask this question now and then just because there is nothing else to talk about.

“So what do you do” is one of those small-talky ice breaker questions that people tend to use as a polite way to figure out where to stick you on their social/class/importance totem pole. It’s usually none of the asker’s business, but they ask anyway. I sometimes respond with “exotic dancer” which (if you know what I look like) gets a laugh and allows the conversation to steer off into a different direction.

I ask people what they do so that I can understand how to talk to them. There's a huge difference between the jargon/diction I can use with someone else in biotech vs someone is a completely unrelated field, as well as even topics of conversation that we'd find interesting. I take a lot of pride in my work and enjoy talking about it, and I'd guess a lot of people do as well. If they don't we can always talk about something else.

You can also use it to just get a general sense of what someone is. There are a lot of stats related to various professions. It gives an idea of your likely background and what not. It's a good jumping off question because choice of career can be the biggest decision someone makes and seeing how someone came to such a decision can be very insightful to the type of person they are.

If I ask that question and someone says something like that (or similar avoidance stance) then I know they're very likely insecure or uncomfortable talking about their choice of work. You can read into that a lot to get various ideas but I like to use such things to put together a whole picture of a person.

I, personally, like the question.

You're making a lot of assumptions here.

Perhaps the person didn't choose their work. They want to be a professional developer, but right now they're working in Starbucks.

Perhaps they don't want to tell you, because they're sick of people fawning or acting strangely towards them. I've spoken to a fair few people like that - say they're a hedge fund manager or whatever, they don't want to bring that to the pub and basically wave the fact they're a decamillionaire in your face.

Or you're at a party? Compartmentalization is a thing, lots of people do it. Especially the people who you wonder how they do that job and stay so happy.

How many people really want to talk about work when they are are having beers with old friends and some people they just met?

And what happens as a software dev when you tell random people what you do? They want you to fix their computer for them. My hobbies don't have nearly this degree of problem. And on the flip side, you don't want to recruit people when talking about some of your interests (like volunteer work). But that's an easy habit to break when you know so intimately what being volun-told feels like.

> Perhaps the person didn't choose their work. They want to be a professional developer, but right now they're working in Starbucks.

I had a longer answer that I trimmed down but that's one of the reasons you can guess why someone isn't saying why they do what they do.

Chances you're interacting with a decamillionaire is much lower than vs someone who doesn't like to mention [insert not typically viewed as a great job here].

There are no assumptions here - just likelihoods.

I'm a 50-something software/hardware/embedded developer. Currently working a startup gig. But at the end of the year, that gig likely loses funding and I'll need to look for another. At this point in my career I'm pretty picky (I only choose gigs that seem interesting/fun to me) so it will likely take 6 to a year to find another (last time it took about 9 months to find a gig that was interesting). So in some sense I consider myself semi-retired. I can afford to not work for money for 18 months to 2 years before I need to start worrying about cash flow. It's been this way for about the last 6 years and likely this is how it'll be until I start drawing social security.

Sounds pretty similar to my situation, to be honest, plus a couple of decades :P

I used to describe myself as 'semi-retired' and people seemed a bit baffled. I think they interpreted it as me being some sort of trust fund guy, when the reality is, other than the odd toy, I just live as if I earned about minimum wage.

I consider retired to be a occupation, in the same way that bald is a hair color, and pizza is a sandwich.

I recently realized that all of my life I've been trying to figure what I want to be, when I should've been focusing on who I want to be.

I’ve recently switched from asking people, “where do you work” to “what do you fill your time with each day?”

Most people just tell me where they work and what they do. Some people tell me about other things, and if they are retired or unemployed they don’t feel embarrassed.

Maybe if we all started doing this, people would feel less compelled to tie their job to their identity.

I've tried exactly that. Most of what I got back was questioned looks followed by something like, "you mean where do I work?" Maybe I'm around different people.

I mostly get the same response. It’s a slow moving revolution. :)

> Maybe I'm around different people.

Unless you literally are jedberg but using an alternate HN account, I can assure you that you are around different people.

> I’ve recently switched from asking people, “where do you work” to “what do you fill your time with each day?”

Amazing how perfectly SV says and does the same thing. I literally overhead the exact statement in a cafe yesterday.

This is also a symptom of people in SV/SF having nothing but their careers to talk about, all day every day. It's so boring.

I do something similar, if someone asks "what do you do?" They usually mean "what is your job?" But, I will still ask in response, "do you mean what do I do for work?" Because there should be more to who we are and life I think, and I want to encourage others to think about that too. They may think I'm weird, that's fine.

I've started answering the question "What do you do?" With "I study primate behavior."

Mine is ‘Christmas tree measurer’, with a whole back story about how I have most of the year off and how to classify different types of tree.

I’ve just found the whole “tell me about your work” discussion tedious, it shouldn’t be what defines us.

I first ask people for their NAME. Then I inquire about their JOB, followed by HEALTH and QUEST.

Closely related, I ask "How do you spend your time during the week?"

I’ve retired twice so far. Each time I loved it for a while and then eventually I miss the social contacts from a work environment and the stimulation. I LOVE making things happen. So I end up going back to work for a while. Also paying for healthcare on your own is challenging. It would be ideal for older folks to gracefully exit full time work by transitioning to part time but also have a means to keep health care.

This is one of the reasons I want universal health care in my country. I should be able to get the health care I need from my government for a reasonable cost regardless of my employment situation. I don’t want to have to sacrifice my retirement plans because of my inability to pay for health care.

Would you be willing to pay 10% more of your taxes your whole career for this? I'm sure everything wants what you want, but I think the question is at what cost.

I'm sure this was asked in good faith. Increasingly, it seems like this question is not, however. It feels like this dead horse has been beaten into a pulp. Looking only at the government side of the ledger, and ignoring the private-sector savings at this point in time, when there's so much talk about public healthcare, seems willfully obtuse.

The U.S. already spends more on healthcare (by pretty much every measure) than every other developed nation on the planet. Much of this goes to profits of insurance companies, the overhead of having so many parties involved, advertising budgets, etc. Raising taxes to pay for healthcare should result in a net savings for virtually everyone, as these profit-seeking activities are eliminated. The only real debate taking place among economists w/r/t cost is how much of a savings we'll get by moving to a single payer plan.

I someone who has lived in countries with universal healthcare my whole life, paid for either through a tax or a levy: it's absolutely worth it. I live in Japan currently and the combined cost of healthcare and pension is 15% (half paid by the employer and half paid by the worker). Everything is covered, though you paid 30% of health care up to a maximum (the maximum depends on your income and is design not to make you destitute). I've had a myriad of health problems in the last 2 years or so as well as having minor surgery earlier. The cost of all services as well as drugs is set by the government. The surgery cost me $500 (including an overnight in the hospital!). Apart from that I've averaged about $30 per month in costs (which includes about 20 visits to the doctor's office/specialist per year and drugs).

But, yeah. It's definitely worth it.

Edit: clarification on the number of times I visit the doctor

I think the amount of tax one contributes would be dependent on how much income one makes. I might contribute 4% where another might contribute 10%.

Besides, I already pay for health insurance and deductibles. So if I don’t have to pay for those but instead have a tax, and I’m covered when I don’t have an employer? Yes, sign me up.

You also need to factor in savings. How much people would save if healthcare was free. I know for me, if healthcare was free, and my taxes went up, even 10%, over my lifetime, I would save more with free healthcare than I would lose to higher taxes - especially as my family ages.

Aren't you already paying several hundred dollars every month for health insurance?

Since paying for health care is mandatory, isn't it already a de facto tax?

I'm young and nowhere close to retiring, but I already have friends who have bought into the whole retire early train. Except, it's kinda like the recent SNL skit Romano Tours^[1]. If you're sad now, you're gonna be sad then. Retiring isn't gonna fix their problems. They're not going to be suddenly happy. And even if everything goes right (no kids, no health problems, high income, low cost of living) and they retire "early", that's still going to be in their late 30's, early 40's. And then what? My friends claim they'll figure something out, but if they've lived 40 years without any sense of self actualization, I'm skeptical that they'd suddenly find themselves.

I'm not saying one should work a meaningless job instead of retiring, but I don't get waiting for decades to find one's purpose in life. Might as well wait for Godot. And if retiring early doesn't work out, one can end up like the main character in Ikiru: 30 years of perfect attendance and absolutely nothing to show for it.

But hey, maybe that's just my anxiety about starting out adult life.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbwlC2B-BIg

One thing I think is notable is how the article that work is how people meet others and encounter new ideas.

As online interactions and news become more prevalent (I realize not everyone is equally online), does this change?

I myself have never shared my family's "I can't imagine life without work" - I've been emotionally eager for retirement since I was 20 and the last 20 years have only sharpened my appetite. There is so much to learn and try that work just in the way of. Of course, much of what I want to do could be considered "work", but the freedom to do it to the degree I want at any moment, and on my own schedule is a big deal.

But this article made me think about how that is true for me BECAUSE I don't have to go to an office to be exposed to new ideas, to be aware of new developments.

Sadly, I've got at least 20 more years to go before I get to test the reality of my expectations.

I have shifted to part-time, and found it a bit difficult at first. What helped me most was assigning priorities, refreshing my To Do list once a week or so.

Without it, I tended to spend most of the day doing who knows what, and realizing the day was pretty much over.

I was also the type who had a hard time relaxing when going on a week or two of vacation. Maybe 4-5 days before I had finally unwound, then champing at the bit 9-10 days in, having a hard time waiting to get back to "work."

So I am setting up passive income streams, expecting I will likely be a tinkerer, rather than a complete life of leisure, as I had first fantasized...

That also seems to sort my "identity" as well, as I, too, identified myself by my chosen profession...

I have already retired from a City job, and am working still. I am reaping great income from doing this, but my time working will be ending soon. I plan on having a active retirement with my wife and staying healthy as a result. (Less than 1 year and counting @ 60 yrs old)...

The thing about retirement for most HN readers is that you don't have to stop your "work". Programming, writing, these are activities you can continue to do, and make a difference. Unlike doctors, lawyers, hair stylists etc. that need another person to do their profession.

I retired at 55, and I'm learning data science and machine learning, doing some Salesforce work for a nonprofit, and I hope to contribute to the reboot of the HospitalRun project.

That Arab Spring comparison is gross. Opressive governments are making political opponents disappear, use torture, etc. But sure tell me how hard it is to work two more years.

Most people lead boring lives long before their retirement...

have friends who have no lives, dont take vacations. just going through the motions. Whats the point?

Their individual points and motivations? Their place in evolutionary time and motivation?

Not everyone is highly creative and a go-getting problem solver. Not everyone is a life long learner. If fact they're kinda rare.

Every phase of life can be a difficult transition, we should mentor retirees to help them find their purpose in their new situation. Capitalism tends to only recognize jobs on the basis of wealth, but what truly counts is being fulfilled by how we pass the hours, of being needed, and retirees have a great opportunity to find that in unexpected places. In German the word for career is Beruf, which means "calling" - that is a great way of seeing it, and finding our calling, regardless of our phase in life. But we can't always get lucky and find our calling alone, and so we should always be on the lookout to help those around us find theirs.

I finally realized what bothers me about this article. It assumes that when you retire you are no longer a practitioner of your life's work. Being employed is your only definition of self. I might be a retired but I am still an engineer. I still think and do as an engineer - just nobody is paying me.

All this reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's final book of essays before she passed away. Le Guin received a survey for 1951 graduates of Harvard or Radcliff. The survey assumed that employment is the only value to your life.

Here is a quote from the book:

“But it was Question 18 that really got me down. ‘In your spare time, what do you do? (check all that apply).’ And the list begins: ‘Golf…’


“The key words are spare time. What do they mean?

“To a working person — supermarket checker, lawyer, highway crewman, housewife, cellist, computer repairer, teacher, waitress — spare time is the time not spent at your job or at otherwise keeping yourself alive, cooking, keeping clean, getting the car fixed, getting the kids to school. To people in the midst of life, spare time is free time, and valued as such.

“But to people in their eighties? What do retired people have but ‘spare’ time?

“I’m not exactly retired, because I never had a job to retire from. I still work, though not as hard as I did. I have always been and am proud to consider myself a working woman. But to the Questioners of Harvard my lifework has been a ‘creative activity,’ a hobby, something you do to fill up spare time. Perhaps if they knew I’d made a living out of it they’d move it to a more respectable category, but I rather doubt it.

“The question remains: When all the time you have is spare, is free, what to do you make of it?….

“The opposite of spare time is, I guess, occupied time. In my case I still don’t know what spare time is because all my time is occupied. It always has been and it is now. It’s occupied by living.

“An increasing part of living, at my age, is mere bodily maintenance, which is tiresome. But I cannot find anywhere in my life a time, or a kind of time, that is unoccupied.

“I am free, but my time is not.

“My time is fully and vitally occupied with sleep, with daydreaming, with doing business and writing friends and family on email, with reading, with writing poetry, with writing prose, with thinking, with forgetting, with embroidering, with cooking and eating a meal and cleaning up the kitchen, with consulting Virgil, with meeting friends, with talking with my husband, with going out to shop for groceries, with walking if I can walk and traveling if we are traveling, and sitting Vipassana sometimes, with watching a movie sometimes, with doing the Eight Precious Chinese exercises when I can, with lying down for an afternoon rest with a volume of Krazy Kat to read and my own slightly crazy cat occupying the region between my upper thighs and mid-calves, where he arranges himself and goes instantly and deeply to sleep.

“None of this is spare time. I can’t spare it. What is Harvard thinking of? I am going to be eighty-one next week. I have no time to spare.”

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