Saturday, February 16, 2008

Encore! - The Social Security Solution

As promised in my article "Encore - Second Career Anyone?" - I finished Marc Freedman's excellent book, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, and I am pleased to report that it did not disappoint. This book is nothing less than a blueprint for the reforms necessary to our social security and other retirement programs, reforms that will not only keep these programs solvent but will save the federal government TRILLIONS of dollars (yes, you heard me, trillions) compared to the current makeup of the program.

To refresh your memory, I had written twice before on this topic since November, most recently on December 20, 2007 in an article entitled "We Can't Let This Happen." Then there was another linked article entitled "60? Must be Time for a Career Change." I also have a whole chapter devoted to this topic in my book-in-process, Platinum Living, which basically says, as Marc Freedman does, that the solution to the social security "crisis" is staring us right in the face, because 80% of us expect to "keep working."

But the status of the current social security system is such that over 50% of boomers are taking social security at age 62. This is unbelieveable to me! I am on record in several articles in the past month as saying this is almost surely a mistake for most of them. Let me restate this for emphasis - 80% of boomers expect to keep working at something, while over 50% of us are signing up for social security, often to our detriment, at the earliest possible moment. This is a huge logical disconnect in the decision making of boomers on this issue, a disconnect that threatens our country with an intergenerational battle over the next 20-30 years.... which is where the Freedman book begins.

I was reminded, as I was reading the first few pages of Encore, of the famous scene in the movie "Jerry McGuire," where Rene Zelwiger says to Tom Cruise, "You had me at 'Hello'." Because Freedman had me in the first six pages.

In the first six pages of Encore, Freedman paints two very descriptive scenarios of what our country might be like in the year 2030. In the first,

"A self-centered wave of boomers is taking America to the cleaners. Put prematurely out to pasture, underused, and contributing little to the economy or society, they are leveraging their political might to get their own - at the expense of younger generations and posterity itself."

"The milennial generation, now mostly in their thirties and forties, have taken 'extreme working' to new heights, pulling extra shifts to support not only truly needy children and the elderly, but also a vast cohort of 'greedy geezers' spending one-third of their lives on a subsidized vacation."

"As the 2032 presidential election nears, boomer political power is finally on the wane. But the generation's legacy is assured. Boomers will be remembered as a self-absorbed, self-serving horde of overindulgers who used their votes and their dollars to push their own interests to the forefront, posterity be damned."

Thankfully, there is another 2030 scenario presented:

"In the other, America is realizing an experience dividend, recapturing the staggering investment in human and social capital present in the biggest generation in American history, as tens of millions of boomers use their know-how in ways that are both needed and contribute to a new sense of meaning and purpose. The country is riding a high wave of individual and social renewal."

There is much more in the latter, more positive scenario. Indeed, the rest of the book is a blueprint for how to bring it about, interspersed with several true success stories of early adopters of the Encore philosphy. And don't miss the Appendix either, where Freedman gives us some suggestions and helps for discovering our own second careers. These tips, and some others I've found, will be the topic of my next 2-3 blogs.

The mission of this blog is to "help you get the best out of the rest of your life." It turns out that in doing so, we can also help our country, and our children, and their children, get the best out their lives as well. We MUST, as a generation, get a handle on this idea and make it happen. So put this book at the top of your reading list.

In my first draft of my book-in-process Platinum Living, I articulated the problems of social security, looked at the clear intentions and needs of our generation regarding work, and basically concluded that the solution to our "social security problem" were staring us in the face. But Marc Freedman has articulated specific solutions to this problem better than I ever have, and better than I have seen anywhere.

Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, gets my highest five star rating, and my next order of business will be to add it to my little Amazon book store, in the right hand column.

Buy this book. :-) Bob

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