Money is not stuff.
It does not have any value.
A US dollar you spend today is worth the amount of work someone is willing to do for it today.
If you don't spend it today, it's worth the amount of work someone is willing to do for it when you do
(1) A while back, Baby Boomers—people whose parents fought in World War II—First World people who are now old—did some work.
With their "pay", they bought food and toys (which come from the Third World), shelter and entertainment (which keep the money spinning around the First World economy), and "investments" (which not only keep the money spinning around the First World economy, but more or less bring it back to the same people when they ask for it).
(2) Now they want to stop working. They feel they are entitled to this, because they have reached the age at which people used to die.
Unfortunately, "money" is not magic. It does not turn into stuff on its own. There is no limit to how much money you can put away
and have it still be completely worthless if you and everybody else decide to stop working at once.
Sorry, guys. You don't get to retire.
What you imagined
was going to happen was, you had (say) a million "dollars", and you would be able to buy a million Cokes (or other nutritious substance) with this. The problem is, when you and everyone else with a million dollars has the same idea at the same time, well... you don't get to have a Coke for a dollar anymore.
Here's what gets you a Coke around here these days:
- thirty seconds of skilled labor (a few hours at a time)
- a minute of skilled labor (in bulk)
- six minutes of cleaning floors
Not "a minute of skilled labor I did 20 years ago, for which I got $0.25 that is now a dollar". A minute of skilled labor delivered now
- You can't afford to get old and weak. If you and most people your age have can't work, then when you get cancer, you're going to die of it, untreated and alone. There is no magical rearrangement of "money" that will change this: it is a matter of exchanging work (or physical stuff) for labor.
Other so: here's the question: demographically, which groups got screwed by the housing bubble? Was it actually the Boomers (or their proxies, like Merryl Lynch) trying super-hard to grab what they could, pushing everybody into a frenzy of extra work and trying to skim some of it off while they still had the chance? Did the collective wisdom of the economy actually do what it was supposed to do after all?Bruce
is medium old. He thinks about this stuff.
Work. Work of value. Either do it, or arrange for it to be done. (And "pay somebody to do it" is dodging the problem.)