Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mixed feelings from 60 Minutes...

Right now 60 Minutes is running a story about job loss, 401K losses and people in their 50s/ 60s...

On one hand, I really feel for those folks. They were in jobs they thought they'd have until they could retire on their 401K funds. They suddenly find that isn't going to be the case. In one case, the 401K has lost a lot, in others they've lost jobs and 401K funds.

Then I hear them talk about when they'd expected to retire -- many in their early 60s and they're angry. One side of me thinks they should be - -and the other wants to smack them.... then, the third side of me wants them to be able to retire so people my age can get their jobs (IF they have them...).

On the other hand, I think about my academic pals -- many of whom have to work at S'Bucks in order to afford to be an adjunct. When I see a former salesperson (whom I'm assuming hasn't put as much effort into his education as is required for a Ph.D...) complaining about having to do that, I want to smack him.

He's of the generation who went to school when it was much less expensive so he didn't have to have student loans -- Either he or his classmates used GI Bill in record numbers, so colleges could increase tuition without loss of enrollment -- and then they left school, I went and have a bunch of student loans. When he and his buddies went to school it was feasible to work enough to pay for it while going to class and supporting yourself. As around, that isn't likely at most universities these days.

Many of his generation were trying to get rich quick by flipping real estate, which drove up prices, which then required riskier loan rates so the homes would sell etc. He was a salesperson who probably worked on commission, so he could take advantage of the economic boom that came before the bust. He didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that riding a wave up means that there's a very real risk of riding that wave back down -- failure to learn from the bubble bursting isn't my fault -- and I'm not feeling sorry for him and his buddies.

I write all of this in my rented apartment. I'm a 40 year old woman with most of a Ph.D., a secure job with a decent salary and a husband who's going to law school in the fall -- mostly because folks in the salesman's generation in charge of his uni failed to adequately manage their resources...

Hubby and I expect to work well into our 60s/70s or maybe even our 80s... (my family's longevity is impressive!) -- retirement isn't even something we daydream about.... what we do daydream about is a time when we've got our student loans paid off and Hubby can do some legal work that doesn't pay all that well.


Bardiac said...

I'm with you on the mixed feelings about the show.

I have a few years on you, enough that the education system hadn't been screwed up super badly by the time I went through, but the jobs were already full.

The guy that got me was the one touting 401Ks as the ideal retirement thing because people can make money. But seriously, it's a risky proposition, and he really didn't acknowledge that at all. Is there anywhere that was safe to put money?

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

The 'pro 401K' guy -- got me too... If I recall correctly, he helped establish the 401K system... but, I may not be correct.

The program was correct in noting that the fact that 401Ks are inexpensive for companies to run means that private retirement programs were often turned over completely to 401Ks -- when they were intended as a supplement. Nobody really acknowledged the risks in them.