Re: Probably the most depressing thing is those countdown-to-retirement clocks that people keep on their desks.

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and I tack it onto the long list of reasons that I think US is not a first-world country.
IF YOU'RE HART ISN'T IN US GET YOU'RE DONKEY OUT NOW


Posted by: OPINIONATED SENIOR AMERICAN | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:12 AM
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Note also the contrast between Medicare and the rest of the US health care system.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:13 AM
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I would comment, but I have a long list of work that should be done by Monday morning.

["Vacation? I've heard of that, somewhere."]
</max>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:17 AM
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It's a lame and problematic aspect of American culture, but I don't really see what it has to do with being a first-world country.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:33 AM
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Snark's parents also retired to a gated community with a fancy golf course inside, but they don't actually belong to the golf club or have any interest in golf. Everything about their approach to retirement is fully bizarre to me -- they had tons of friends and an apparently very pleasant life in Maryland, which they traded in for this gated Floridian experience that it sort of seems like they don't even really participate in. I don't think they're unhappy with their decision, but what was the attraction? I have no idea.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:41 AM
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4: Well, the lack of meaningful time off from work is tied to corporate lobbyists and our lack of government that's actually responsive to what's best for the common people. So that's where I see the corruption and not-first-worldness. The fetishization of retirement is a consequence of capitalism, I suppose, because it's driven by the discretionary dollars that the wealthy have to play with when they retire.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:04 PM
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So Japan isn't first-world either?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:08 PM
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Well, obviously these aren't perfectly discrete categories, but yeah, the article you link to makes it sound like Japan is trending away from things like a big, stable middle class and a government that protects its citizens from the abuses of the free market.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:34 PM
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I don't think this is solely a free market thing. It's got to be cheaper to keep on your productive 60 year old worker than to train a new idiot ...

Unfortunately not all 60 year old workers are productive. The average 30 year is probably more productive and paid less than the average 60 year old. I don't think employers are irrational to prefer younger workers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:35 PM
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9: True. But it's cheaper as a whole for society if people work longer, so a group-solution would be to subsidize seniors in partial-employment or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:36 PM
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I must admit that it is a bit odd. I saw it exemplified in an interesting way with my father who rolled over and accumulated* vacation time nearly every year, so that in the end he "retired" about a half-a-year early at full pay. He was quite pleased with this (as well he should have been I guess), but it did illustrate how he valued being paid for sitting on his butt for 20+ weeks at age 63 or so over doing the same in chunks spread out over his career.

*In my experience very few US employers even have accumulating vacation anymore. I rarely (stupidly) get all of my vacation time in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:38 PM
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I have to admit that I, personally, find the idea of working hard nonstop for however long it takes, then relaxing, pretty congenial, on whatever time scale (project, career, etc.). In practice, though, I think it makes much more sense to take breaks along the way, otherwise it's just a recipe for burnout.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 12:46 PM
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Kobe^2!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:00 PM
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I do think Americans' worker-bee way of life (scant vacation time, skimpy parental leave, etc.) between entering and leaving the work force is distinctly suboptimal. I don't think feeling entitled to retirement is weird--the part that's bizarre to me is the prevalence of the ideal of the separatist, prefabricated retirement lifestyle, which seems about as appealing to me as the prospect of spending all my holidays on Royal Caribbean cruises.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:08 PM
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Wow, I've never felt so honored. Thanks, Heebie!

To flesh out Dad's story a bit, he was in his late 50s when his work offered golden handshakes to try to reduce payroll through attrition. He had been hating his job for at least 20 years by then, so he figured he'd move his plans up a few years.

To your point, I think that our notion of retirement is a slowly deflating bubble. How many generations of humanity have ever known such a thing? My own retirement savings are, um, hmm. Better start looking into monasteries.

But my story was more of a healthcare gripe. Yes, not a tale of very great woe, but one that may resonate with the odd Blue Dog here and there. Dad was an engineer, and the cost of heath insurance was one of his big factors in deciding where he'd retire to. He damn near studied rates by zip code, playing the bastards' game on their own field. And he still got screwed.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:12 PM
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14: a supposedly fun thing you'll do until you die?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:27 PM
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I think the two are connected somehow -- you build up so much burnout and resentment over your stressed working years that in the end you're like, fuck it, I need my retirement.

Retirement is the only social benefit the American people seem to effectively mobilize to protect.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:43 PM
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Retirement is the only social benefit the American people seem to effectively mobilize to protect.

Sure, so long as were talking about people born before 1960. Everyone else can just stay off the lawn.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 1:52 PM
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Speaking of which, I just got a letter informing me that I am vested in the pension plan at Large Land-Grant Institution! If neither major good social change (unlikely) nor major horrible social change (appallingly likely) happens in the next thirty years and we still have social security and I can save some money between now and then and I don't die of cancer in the gutter after losing my house, I may be able to retire! At which point I will spend all my remaining good-health time protesting the military industrial complex.

Of course, I confidently expect the right wing to screw us out of our pensions.

And I find, to my shame, that I keep hoping that everyone who is vested before they decide to dismantle the pension plan will at least receive something. This is a hell of a position for an anarchist to find herself in.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 2:22 PM
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Retirement is the only social benefit the American people seem to effectively mobilize to protect.

I don't see much mobilization to preserve a "social benefit." People (generally middle to upper class or those in good union jobs) are very interested in their own retirement and saving enough to enjoy it, but they don''t really care if others miss out and don't really think people are generally "entitled" to a comfortable retirement if they don't save for it. ( This is really more of a response to the original post than the one I'm quoting).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 3:30 PM
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People (generally middle to upper class or those in good union jobs) are very interested in their own retirement and saving enough to enjoy it, but they don''t really care if others miss out and don't really think people are generally "entitled" to a comfortable retirement if they don't save for it.

I think people, in aggregate at least, are worse than that. They believe that *they* are entitled to a comfortable, government funded retirement, but don't really think others are.

Compare people like this to the person mentioned in the New York Times the other day who was concerned that he would not get health care for his disabled wife if he lost his job. He said "There has to be a safety net, but I don't want the safety net to catch too many people."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 4:46 PM
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My parents are bothe in their 60s and neither has hopes of being able to retire anytime soon.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 5:14 PM
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19: My life is just like Frowner's in that I just got vested at my U and am in a similar position retirement fund-wise. TIAA-CREF showed me all the numbers. If SS stays, I can retire comfortably at 65 (with greater than 95% confidence). Also, in two years, I get my vacation upped. Then, I'll get 3 weeks vacation, plus the usual holidays, plus the week from Christmas to New Years, plus two personal days, plus sick days. Maybe I should stop feeling underpaid?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 5:33 PM
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My parents are bothe in their 60s and neither has hopes of being able to retire anytime soon.

How much of this is just inertia? People often have more options than they realize.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 5:49 PM
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Well, someone who can retire soon is the alt-pr0n hipster hottie who just won the Mega Millions in New York. That's kind of fun.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 5:50 PM
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I think health insurance is a real concern. For my mom, anyway; my dad doesn't go to doctors). Both have reasonable expectations of living into their 80sthat's a lot of years to hope your savings will hold out. Their retirement savings? Yeah, those portfolios didn't hold up so well when the economy tanked. Retirement is a bit of a luxury, even for otherwise pretty comfortable people.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 6:01 PM
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Speaking of retirement savings, I used to work next to the HR department when I was with a large state agency in a mostly flat state. They had a lawyer, just a couple years out of law school, who kept telling me how he was going to retire at 45 through a combination of deferred compensation and Janus funds. This was in 1998.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 6:28 PM
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25: Oh, boo. Except she lied and did not in fact win.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 6:44 PM
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28: Now I'm starting to wonder if my e-mail correspondent is really the Vice President of the largest bank in Nigeria.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 6:53 PM
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You know, when you can't even trust the alt-pr0n hipster hotties...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 7:22 PM
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Long, long ago somebody (1) wrote about the alienation of the worker from the work. The whole concept of retirement, of 'life' and 'work' as distinct notions, is a reflection of this alienation.

On the other hand, for many Americans, identity and self-worth and self-image is defined in terms of work (2). (there's no law that says culture can't be self-contradictory). This leads to the worker bee thing, because if what one is is a [job title], and one wants to think of oneself as a good and valuable person, one, must be a good and valuable [job title].

On the third hand, the whole economics of retirement is a boggle, unless one has a vested pension plan. If you're blue or pink collar, non-union, you've probably got a problem. You're accustomed to say, $4k a month for living. Social Security will give you about $1k. How much do you need in retirement savings to replace that other $3k?

The conventional answer is: close to a million dollars. Not net worth - exclude that fancy house - but productive liquid assets. That's way more than most people have. It also leads to the other answer: sell that fancy house in the nice neighborhood, move to a far cheaper retirement community, and you may have enough money to live comfortably. Or not.

Anyway, I'm sure I've botched this whole thing, but maybe there's someone around who paid attention in that sociology course and can explain it.

(1) Marx? Durkheim? Sometimes I'm appalled by my own ignorance
(2)e.g. 'Joe the Plumber', or 'Professor Whatever'


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:12 PM
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31: (1) is Marx. He blamed the industrial revolution and capitalism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:15 PM
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Me, I'm alienated from my species-being.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:20 PM
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I'm alienated from hipster hotties, what with the marriedness, the oldness and the squareness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:23 PM
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Speaking of oldness, my not-retired mother sent me a link today for a "cougar/prey night" at some bar. Is it okay to cry now?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:27 PM
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I am not very interested in retirement. Maybe do something different, like bake with the Dominixtrix


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:28 PM
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I am not very interested in retirement. Maybe do something different, like bake with the Dominixtrix


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:28 PM
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For her?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:28 PM
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35:

Are you the cougar or is she?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:28 PM
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38 to 35


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:28 PM
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Apparently I am. I am the cougar in this scenario.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:33 PM
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Are they actual cougars, or is it a metaphor? It'd be nice to bring an actual cougar; they're quite majestic, and if hungry enough could surely be coaxed to eat a few people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:37 PM
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Di:
Can you do that dance/crawl that the little girl did in Little Miss Sunshine?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:38 PM
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Hot-to-trot older woman vs. hairy gay man with pot belly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:38 PM
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I once held a large Canadian Lynx. I was scared. I've mostly avoided cougars.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:39 PM
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Then, to 35, yes. Or you just pretend you thought she was talking about herself and demand to know how she could think of doing that to dad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:39 PM
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Oh, if I thought she was talking about hersel, I might encourage it.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:43 PM
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I would be interested to see what kind of boys self-identify as "prey."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:44 PM
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Who wants to be prey, when you can hunt for Bear?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:48 PM
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I would be interested to see what kind of boys self-identify as "prey."

Mark Philippoussis?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 8:56 PM
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I was all prepared for the link in 44 to be horrible and degenerate, so I was relieved to see that it wasn't, but then I looked at the comments. How did stupid, racist homophobes express themselves before there were YouTube comment threads?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 9:36 PM
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51: Haven't you heard of Usenet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 9:48 PM
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Oh, right. I'm such a n00b.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 9:52 PM
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This was back when you had to specifically ask for a color monitor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 9:55 PM
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My parents are retired. They both were teachers and have good state pensions. They are both very social and are enjoying retirement. I don't think I would mind retirement.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:04 PM
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31

On the third hand, the whole economics of retirement is a boggle, unless one has a vested pension plan. If you're blue or pink collar, non-union, you've probably got a problem. You're accustomed to say, $4k a month for living. Social Security will give you about $1k. How much do you need in retirement savings to replace that other $3k?

How do you figure social security is $1k/month. Average monthly wages of $4k would give a benefit of about $1700/month. As for the rest if you are 65 year old male you need about $160k to buy a $1k/month single life annuity. So this would be $480k. Of course that isn't inflation adjusted.

The conventional answer is: close to a million dollars ...


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:14 PM
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55: But most people don't work for a government and therefore don't have pensions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:17 PM
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35: Speaking of oldness, my not-retired mother sent me a link today for a "cougar/prey night" at some bar. Is it okay to cry now?

Bah. That's a compliment: obviously you're hot enough to score the young studs.

48: I would be interested to see what kind of boys self-identify as "prey."

Horny surferish dudes who need a place to live? Horny dudes period, another words?

53: Oh, right. I'm such a n00b.

The sad lack here is not for the racist homophobes, the lack is the ability to routinely roast said persons in front of God and everybody. Dammit.

max
['Oh well.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:18 PM
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I'm just saying, I bet those boys don't show up for cougar night looking all scared and running to the corner the way real prey would.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:20 PM
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hey, wait. The Kobeplex is upon us!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 10:25 PM
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59: I bet those boys don't show up for cougar night looking all scared and running to the corner the way real prey would.

Ah. But you know, this might be like the pony thing; guys showing up pretending to be all scared. Or it might just be horny surfers.

Certainly when *I* was cougarbait back in the day, I sorta had to run away a lot.

max
['I gotta go to the bathroom.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-29-09 11:29 PM
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Horny older woman shares her thoughts on text-based browsers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 5:31 AM
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44: I hate it when nature videos are edited like action movies. Come on, a reaction shot from the cowering cub?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 5:47 AM
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32: Thank you.
56: I was figuring roughly, based on the customary advice that one can safely spend about 4% of principal each year and be fairly confident it wouldn't run out, and then I rounded up a ways for a margin of safety.

There are identities based in status: mother, priest, daughter, etc. There are also identities based on conduct: lawyer, pluber, professor. There's overlap ('mother' is also a verb) but if one is a professor one is expected to profess. If one is a mother, one can be a very bad mother and not mother at all, and still be a mother.

Somewhere around the industrial revolution there was a shift from status identities to action identities. From serf to coal miner. From aristocrat to robber baron.

The remaining status identities seem to be mostly low status (although I'm hardly the person most qualified to compare and contrast 'mother' and 'professor'). I think all this has something to say about retirement and the subject of the post, but I haven't had enough coffee to be sure.

Anecdata: I recently bought car insurance from Geico. Their online application asks about employment. If you say "retired" the next question is "retired from doing what?" You can't just be retired, you have to be a retired [job title].


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 5:48 AM
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64: You put down "porn star," right?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 6:04 AM
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Things they do look awful c-c-cold


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 6:14 AM
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Long, long ago somebody wrote about the alienation of the worker from the work. The whole concept of retirement, of 'life' and 'work' as distinct notions, is a reflection of this alienation.

The essay "Free Time" is so so so so great. Read it and be astounded.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 6:16 AM
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For its range of perspectives, Studs Terkel's Working is certainly worth a read (or at least a skim through). Some of the interviews can seem a bit dated (published in 1972), but overall it holds up well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 7:28 AM
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Clearly free time is for fun, work time is for commenting on Unfogged.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 8:23 AM
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My dad retired at 55 and has been loving it. This summer, they did a month-long road trip, camping through Utah and Montana and Idaho. Last winter it was the Galapagos. That's not even counting their semi-annual trip to Hawaii to "shake the winter coughs." When they're not traveling, they probably get in about twenty miles of hiking a week. Mom has become the second-in-charge of the women's quorum at church; Dad has become the unofficial patriarch of Mom's sprawling Mormon family (ironically enough). They are loving retirement.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 8:34 AM
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My dad's work keeps trying to lure him back with exorbitant salaries for consultant work. He laughs and shrugs and says, "eh, I've made my money." For a while there, we were urging him to take the jobs because he seemed to be aimlessly puttering around. Apparently, though, he really enjoys aimlessly puttering around---and his trips are certainly lavishly planned.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 8:36 AM
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I think I would probably like retirement (provided I had financial security, of course), but it has not been much of a typical practice in my family. People generally just work until they die.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:17 AM
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60, see 13.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:19 AM
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||
I just realized something about this post:
http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_10000.html

Mazel tov! (Although I see that comments_1.html and comments_2.html don't exist, so maybe we should hold off the celebrations until there are another couple of posts on the front page.)
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:19 AM
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And, uh, pwned by 60 and 13, I guess.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:20 AM
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And 73.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:21 AM
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Pointing out pwnage doesn't count as pwnage.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:23 AM
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I think we'll need a ruling from the authorities on that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:26 AM
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10000!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:27 AM
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Aimless puttering isn't valued the way it should be.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:28 AM
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While aimed putting is overvalued per the golf post.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:34 AM
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The rat race -- i.e. excessive work hours -- is a systemic problem that results from information asymmetry in the labor market.

[See for example
Rat Race Redux: Adverse Selection in the Determination of Work Hours in Law Firms
Author(s): Renée M. Landers, James B. Rebitzer, Lowell J. Taylor
Source: The American Economic Review, Vol. 86, No. 3 (Jun., 1996), pp. 329-348]

This is an idea that has received far too little attention from anyone, including economists. The implication is that there is significant room for welfare improvement through government intervention or collective action. The market will not fix this. Which is why, in Europe, the government mandates vacation weeks.

It reminds me of a bumper sticker I loved:
UNIONS. The people who brought you the weekend.


Posted by: Sam-I-am | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:38 AM
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Clearly free time is for fun, work time is for commenting on Unfogged.

Clearly. This is actually something I find pretty interesting, because it's not at all in line with my expectations. For me reading blogs is a free-time activity (indeed, my main free-time activity), so I mostly do it in the evenings and on weekends, when I'm free. Those are the times when the blogs are quietest, of course, because most other people read blogs at work. Which is understandable and unsurprising, but I guess I do find it a little surprising that people who spend so much time reading blogs at work seem to spend so little time reading blogs on their own time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:37 AM
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I'll be here for you, teo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:44 AM
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Those five six words he swears to you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:49 AM
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When you breathe, he wants to be the air for you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:50 AM
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Sifu is there for Teo. He'd live and he'd die for Teo. Sifu'd steal the sun from the sky for him. Words can't say what love can do. Sifu is there for Teo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:51 AM
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I appreciate that, Sifu.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 10:51 AM
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Sifu will fund Teo's early retirement.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 11:01 AM
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Plenty of pastures for teo to graze on here at the slaughterhouse Sunset Acres.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 11:07 AM
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SWT.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 11:13 AM
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Some years ago I was at a work-related conference at Disney World. I was staying at one of the far flung resortlets and noticed that a door down the hall from my room was labeled, "Cast Members Only". At first, I puzzled over the fact that I had seen no show elements at that location until I realized it was a custodial closet. I had been vaguely aware of the tram-drivers-part-of-the-show approach of Disney but had no idea that they took it that far. It really brought home the "I'm not an X, I just play one at XYZ" construction which most assuredly feels quite different depending on individual and whether X and XYZ are maid/Disney World, lawyer/Big Law, broker/Goldman-Sachs, professor/insert-your-college-here or me/my-white-collar-workplace. In case I find it simultaneously repellent and compelling; God knows I (and others in my type of job) have no need for any further mechanism to distance our decisions from our basic humanity, and yet it also can seem soothing and ego-protective. (And I am unreasonably amused by the image of my enterprise as the ongoing "XYZ show".)

And of course this same construction can be applied to any manner of societal roles as you move away from job/family roles it often rings completely true. I'm not a racquetball player, I just play one at them gym two evenings a week.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:06 PM
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I"m not a doctor, I just play one, at the hospital.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:21 PM
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94

I am not a blog commenter, I just play one, at work.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:25 PM
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95

I am not a total dick, I just play one when I'm trying to find recissions at my insurance company job.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:29 PM
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96

I think Shakespeare pwned you.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:42 PM
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97

Do tell.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:49 PM
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98

There's no shame in being pwned by Shakespeare.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 1:58 PM
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Hmmm. I rather like the thought that I am not a lawyer, I just play one four days a week. But then, if I walked around telling people that "I practice law to earn a living, but in my heart I'm really a [writer/mom/friend/slacker]," it would sound anywhere from pretentious to cheesy to self-deprecating.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:02 PM
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100

I'm not an actor, I just play one, on stage.


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:17 PM
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101

Also, I imagine nosflow will soon complain about the use of commas in 94,93,100.


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:17 PM
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102

You need the extra comma to convey the rhythm of the joke.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:20 PM
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103

I'm not a supporter of the patriarchy, I just wish my kids would do what I tell them to do.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:21 PM
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104

(KobeKobe^2) + 3 4


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:22 PM
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Alternatives:
"I'm not an X - I just play one at Y!"
"I'm not an X. I just play one. At Y."


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:22 PM
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106

Option 2 isn't punctuated correctly by pre-internet standards either.

Also, it is too heavy handed.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:28 PM
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107

"I'm not an X. I just play one. At Y. Laydeez/em>."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:29 PM
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108

Oh, poop.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:30 PM
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109

OT: Anybody else here having trouble getting into gmail?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:46 PM
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110

"I'm not an X. I just play one. Oh, poop."


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:48 PM
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111

109: I was a couple of days ago, but not at the moment. Also, the Gmail "gadget" on my iGoogle page no longer tells me when I have new messages, which is a little annoying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:49 PM
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112

109: Not me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 2:55 PM
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113

The essay "Free Time" is so so so so great. Read it and be astounded.

I will read it, but that interface defeated me. It also reminded me of a good essay in Harpers a while back on idleness -- a quick search makes me believe that I am thinking of "Quitting the paint factory:
On the virtues of idleness" and turns up this paragraph which is directly relevant to the OP.

Leisure is permissible, we understand, because it costs money; idleness is not, because it doesn't. Leisure is focused; whatever thinking it requires is absorbed by a certain task: sinking that putt, making that cast, watching that flat-screen TV. Idleness is unconstrained, anarchic. Leisure - particularly if it involves some kind of high-priced technology - is as American as a Fourth of July barbecue. Idleness, on the other hand, has a bad attitude. It doesn't shave; it's not a member of the team; it doesn't play well with others. It thinks too much, as my high school coach used to say.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 3:37 PM
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I will read it, but that interface defeated me.

I got confused, too. Jump to page 167; that's where it starts. I'm reading it now.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 3:45 PM
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I will read it, but that interface defeated me.

On further reading my problem is not just that the google books look is bothering me at the moment, but that I am not actually in the mood for this essay at the moment. I will come back to it, but it feels oddly labored for an article about free time.

Clearly there are some subjects for which I am suspicious of the academic-personal essay as a style, and free time is one of those.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 3:54 PM
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If you're not into Adorno, you're not into Adorno. That whole school of theory that analyzes the quotidian can either feel really belabored or really liberating.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 3:59 PM
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That whole school of theory that analyzes the quotidian can either feel really belabored or really liberating.

That makes sense. The thing that strikes me, as I think about it, is that I believe that analysis of the quotidian (as you put it) is an important project, but that the style of academic writing isn't the natural idiom for expressing thoughts about about day to day life.

Contrast, for example, this amateur rendition of an Ewan Maccoll song (the first one I thought of about that contrast between "free time" and organized life). The song lacks any rigor of analysis, but it's clearly a better match of form to content for expressing those emotions.

I think that the ideal care is the rare instances in which someone can take the conclusions from academic study, and re-phrase them in a way that is fluid, personal, and emotionally grounded. The example that comes to mind, which I constantly bring up, is The Gift.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 4:10 PM
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Adorno's not trying to "express emotion" though. He's being analytical about something people take for granted because of their sentimental attachments to it. There are a few cultural critics who manage to write about the taken-for-granted in ways that are more charming than Adorno's--Barthes is very pleasant to read--but analytical prose certainly has its place.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 4:15 PM
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Adorno's not trying to "express emotion" though.

No, that may have been poorly phrased on my part.

I was thinking that the difficulty of, "being analytical about something people take for granted" is being sensitive to the emotional contexts in which people live their lives.

Let me think about how to express my comment more clearly. The more I think about it, I feel like my thoughts are unclear, but that it may be worth trying to sort them out (to myself, at least).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 4:24 PM
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One more half-formed response:

I was thinking recently about this thread for various reasons (interestingly, I was able to find it by searching for the word "desacralize"; that phrasing had stuck with me). Looking at it, I notice Kieren's earlier comment that, if you're interested in money, "You don't want an economist, you want a sociologist."

I feel like one potential criticism of economists, from the point of view of a sociologist, is that by trying to build a model of economic transactions from first principles they may reach some interesting conclusions but they also end up throwing away a lot of useful information.

Reading the Adorno, I feel like it is also embarking on a project of re-building a theory about aspects of everyday experience and that project, while potentially very fruitful, involves discarding, or setting aside, a variety of knowledge

Consider, for example, the aside in the second paragraph, "formerly one said 'leisure', and it was a privilege of an unconstrained life and hence surely also something qualitatively different, more auspicious" -- that seems like a fascinating digression. When did the phrase "free time' come into common use? Who said, "leisure"? Was a "life of leisure" really unconstrained? There are a bunch of empirical questions, that I find myself more interested in than the rest of the paragraph. This isn't intended as a defense of empiricism, per se, but that one of the challenges of that sort of writing is striking a balance between empirical observation, inferences from those observations, and the various intellectual moves that one makes from those inferences.

Reading the Adorno, at this moment, I wasn't in the mood to follow that many moves.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 4:51 PM
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116: My main problem with it is the obscurantist style, which seems to pervade the humanities so much. But I do feel there's a few good nuggets buried in there.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 5:01 PM
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Adorno died in 1969, right around the time that post-structuralism was getting going. It's important to remember that passivity and sentimentalism in the face of mass culture was largely what Adorno, Horkheimer, and those other Frankfurt guys were blaming for the rise of fascism. Later, cultural criticism gets a lot more playful and interdisciplinary, but Adorno's writing is relentlessly analytical for a pretty good reason.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 5:09 PM
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This may be a stock free-market reply, but here goes: Not entirely irrational attitudes-- getting the next good project, grant, gig, is competitive in a market economy. There really is someone else who wants the good work, and comfortable vacations coupled with family obligations hurt a candidate's competitiveness. Opting out and saying the whole thing sucks is fine, but being content with domestic life while living in an engine of progress (speaking here of the big cities in the US) seems incongruous. Hustle while you're competitive, don't spend all the money, teach or something later.

Yes it would be nice if everyone slowed down, but other places with comfy systems are pretty hostile to people trying to break in to the good work from outside, and often shed rather than attract good people. There is a real spiritual cost in associating self too closely with work, especially in a country with such shitty pop music.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 9:27 PM
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I get 21 vacation days a year now and have mostly used them, albeit partly on family leave-type stuff rather than pure play. It's way nicer than two or three weeks, but six weeks would be even better. When one has been at the work thing for quite a long time and has quite a long time left to do it, that time away is worth a lot.

OTOH, I have a hard time figuring out what I'd do with all my time free. I could happily fill a year or two, but after that I'm afraid I'd start running out of things to do. So I keep looking for that interesting, moderate-stress job that provides a European level of vacation time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-30-09 11:24 PM
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I'm just back from two weeks of vacation and concluded I'm totally ready for retirement. Like Jackmormon's dad, I would be perfectly content with a combination of aimlessly puttering about, enjoying the great outdoors, and planning elaborate vacations.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-31-09 2:31 PM
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