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Standards of Life in the Future: Think Grim (Ben Stein)
Yahoo Finance ^ | March 6, 2006 | Ben Stein

Posted on 03/08/2006 3:32:46 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day

I've had a couple of bad experiences recently that sharpened my worry about what life will be like for retirees in the future -- I fear that a catastrophe of declining standards of life is heading our way.

I'm thinking about how bad it has gotten in terms of how customers are treated. A few days ago, I called the saleswoman at an auto dealer who sold me my last car a few years ago. I asked her to come over and show me the newest model of my car and told her if I liked it, I would buy it on the spot.

"Sorry," she said. "Too busy."

"Really? Are you selling that many Cadillacs?"

"Well, I'm not really selling any, but a lot of people are looking and wasting my time," she said.

"But you know I'm a qualified buyer who has bought from you before," I protested.

"Maybe I'll fax you some stats," she said helpfully. I never got them.

How Much Worse for the Masses?

Today, I was supposed to have a nice comfy seat on United Airlines. Full-fare first class. When I got to the gate, the agent said my seat had been changed to one up against the bulkhead, and there was no way she could move me. No apology, not even looking me in the eyes.

On the plane, no flight attendant would help until an older one, from the days when United actually had some self-respect, asked a young man to change with me. He did, and I was happy. But meanwhile, the flight attendant who did help me told me I was the only full-fare first-class passenger in the cabin, and still no one had wanted to help me until she came along.

My point is how terrible service is -- even at the higher end in 2006 -- and then to add this chilling thought: If this is how bad it is at the high end now, can you imagine how awful it'll be for everyone in 2020? When all vestiges of service are gone? When no one speaks English? When all customers are just ciphers?

Look at it this way: Think of the most crowded freeway you're on every day. Imagine what it'll be like in 10 years. That's what hospitals will be like -- if they're not that way right now.

Retiree Vulnerability

To make the situation worse, retirees and those who will soon retire are far from financial safety (see "Living Hand to Mouth -- and Barely Getting By"). I recently calculated that the Baby Boomers need to have saved -- on average -- $400,000 per household to even start to come up with what they need to live on. Instead, they have saved about $50,000 per household if they have a rental home and about $110,000 if they own their home.

So, what will they do when they retire? What will it be like to cut pills in half, to have to sell your home and move into a trailer, to be faced with unaffordable repairs for your car?

Try this experiment: Imagine you have to slash your spending by half. What goes first? Restaurant meals -- fine. Vacations -- fine. New clothes -- fine. But that won't even come close to cutting spending in half for most people.

The sad fact is that retirees will suffer. And for the leading edge of the Boomers is: It's too late. Many of them cannot escape a drastic ratcheting down in income and lifestyle. A crisis akin to the Great Depression is racing our way: A ruinous drop in standards of life.

Shoring Up Your Retirement Savings

What will it be like to live in the horrible new dog-eat-dog world, with no one caring whether you live or die -- and have no money? What will it be like on that crowded freeway? You don't want to find out.

How do we get to high ground? I suggest -- unless you're already on track to have 15 times what you need to live on at retirement socked away by age 65 -- taking 20 percent of your paycheck if you possibly can, putting it in the Fidelity Fund (FFIDX) or the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX) until you're 55, then putting half of it into the Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FTBFX) or Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX).

Maybe if you have a few bucks extra, buy the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (EEM) or the iShares Russell 2000 Value Index ETF (IWN) for developing market or small-cap exposure. But for heaven's sake, do it now.

When you get to 65, put half of it into a fixed or variable annuity -- chosen so you know what every dime in expenses goes for and without buying anything you don't need or understand -- and then know you won't totally run out of money ever (see "A Retirement Portfolio With Staying Power"). Or do something else with a reputable financial planner.

But be very scared -- and start doing something about it now. Tomorrow is too late. Do it now.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: aging; benstein; boomers; customerservice; investing; stein; whenno1speaksenglish
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I meet far too many people who are well into their 40s and 50s who have yet to begin planning their retirement.

It's frightening.

I sincerely hope they do not expect the government to help them.

1 posted on 03/08/2006 3:32:52 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day
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To: Choose Ye This Day

Why not? Didn't the dems tell us, not to worry? (do I really need the sarcasm thing?)


2 posted on 03/08/2006 3:34:30 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance

Don't worry, be happy.


3 posted on 03/08/2006 3:35:39 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: Indy Pendance

Why yes! Let us all give thanks and praise to FDR for his forward-thinking approach and genius!


4 posted on 03/08/2006 3:38:04 PM PST by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
Ben allways gets it.
5 posted on 03/08/2006 3:38:27 PM PST by xcamel (Press to Test, Release to Detonate)
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To: Choose Ye This Day

"...with no one caring whether you live or die "

Well heck, with most of us, not too many WILL care whether we live or die. That is just life.


6 posted on 03/08/2006 3:40:13 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: Choose Ye This Day
I can hardly wait to retire, BMW, McMansion, suburbia, medicare, medipharm, ....all courtesy of the gen alphabets! And, I'll have social security! LOL! (extreme sarcasm)
7 posted on 03/08/2006 3:40:17 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Choose Ye This Day
"I meet far too many people who are well into their 40s and 50s who have yet to begin planning their retirement. "

I retired at age fifty, eleven years ago. I'm doing just fine, thank you.

8 posted on 03/08/2006 3:40:18 PM PST by blam
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To: Gordongekko909

See #7.


9 posted on 03/08/2006 3:40:47 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Choose Ye This Day

Yea and meanwhile my wife and I (28) are putting close to grand a month away in 401ks and pensions (not to mention paying social security tax) every month and will be footing the bill for the irresponsible.

Most people conjure up an image of some 80 year old granny, but the real problem is the masses of baby boomers who didn't do sh!t between 1960 and 1980 except smoke pot and protest and have been trying to catch up since the 80s.

Present company exluded, of course ;)


10 posted on 03/08/2006 3:40:47 PM PST by ruiner
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To: Choose Ye This Day

I'm 20, and my generation is going need organs, so maybe you old farts who though social security would put you on easy street, could sell yours to us?


11 posted on 03/08/2006 3:41:11 PM PST by RHINO369
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To: RHINO369

I'm 47, considered a baby boomer. Do the math. I'll sell you my kidney, it's on ebay...


12 posted on 03/08/2006 3:42:21 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: blam

Good for you. I'm glad--I really am.

I'm just worried about all the other 40 and 50-ish people who haven't prepared for the future. Yikes.


13 posted on 03/08/2006 3:42:38 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: Indy Pendance

My biggest fear is that my fellow Boomers will decide to steal what I have saved for retirement from me in the name of "fairness".


14 posted on 03/08/2006 3:44:20 PM PST by Kozak (Anti Shahada: " There is no God named Allah, and Muhammed is his False Prophet")
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To: RHINO369

Watch who you're calling an 'old fart,' you whippersnapper!

When I used to do 401k enrollments, I always surveyed the crowd, and asked, "How many of you expect to get anything from Social Security?"

Not once did anyone over age 40 raise their hands.


15 posted on 03/08/2006 3:44:32 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: RHINO369

"I'm 20, and my generation is going need organs, so maybe you old farts who though social security would put you on easy street, could sell yours to us?"

You don't want my organs, sonny. I've goten them pretty broken in, what with all the booze and cigarettes. In a few years, I'll probably be hitting you up.

Can a brother get a kidney?!?!


16 posted on 03/08/2006 3:45:21 PM PST by L98Fiero (I'm worth a million in prizes.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
I sincerely hope they do not expect the government to help them.

Sorry, but for the most part, that's exactly what is going to happen. If you thought Katrina was bad, just wait.....

17 posted on 03/08/2006 3:45:57 PM PST by Libertarian444
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To: Choose Ye This Day

"How do we get to high ground? I suggest -- unless you're already on track to have 15 times what you need to live on at retirement socked away by age 65 -- taking 20 percent of your paycheck if you possibly can, putting it in the Fidelity Fund (FFIDX) or the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX) until you're 55, then putting half of it into the Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FTBFX) or Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX).

Maybe if you have a few bucks extra, buy the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (EEM) or the iShares Russell 2000 Value Index ETF (IWN) for developing market or small-cap exposure. But for heaven's sake, do it now.
"


Ahh. A plug for his mutual funds.


18 posted on 03/08/2006 3:48:12 PM PST by Blzbba (Sub sole nihil novi est)
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To: ruiner
"the real problem is the masses of baby boomers who didn't do sh!t between 1960 and 1980 except smoke pot and protest"

Well, I can tell you that I wasn't protesting back in the day.

I was way too high usually and the crowds weirded me out.

19 posted on 03/08/2006 3:48:30 PM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Choose Ye This Day

BTTT


20 posted on 03/08/2006 3:49:30 PM PST by cgk (I don't see myself as a conservative. I see myself as a religious, right-wing, wacko extremist.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
Standards of Life in the Future: Think Pink (Larry Flynt)
21 posted on 03/08/2006 3:49:55 PM PST by handk (The truth is the truth even if no one believes it, and a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.)
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To: Indy Pendance
"Do the math. I'll sell you my kidney, it's on ebay..."

Keep the kidney.

Are you using your liver?

22 posted on 03/08/2006 3:50:30 PM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Blzbba

I don't think he really cares WHICH funds you buy, but the point is, invest in some, or you'll be sorry.

These are broad-based index funds for the most part. He's not trying to drive up the NAV of some small fund that he owns most of the shares.


23 posted on 03/08/2006 3:50:49 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day

"I meet far too many people who are well into their 40s and 50s who have yet to begin planning their retirement."

Sad, ain't it? I've listened to and loved Ben Stein for a long time. I'm on track to retire in 10 years at age 55. Debt free, income from investments, the selling of my business, a military retirement, a little SS money (though that's not factored in, that's gravy) and real estate. I can make chump change working at whatever I FEEL like working at, at that time. (I'm one of those people that will always "work" at something for fun and profit.)

That's the plan, anyway. However, I could be run over by a bus tomorrow, LOL!

Anyhow, great reality check as always, from Ben Stein. :)


24 posted on 03/08/2006 3:50:51 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
What will it be like to live in the horrible new dog-eat-dog world, with no one caring whether you live or die -- and have no money? What will it be like on that crowded freeway? You don't want to find out

Sadly, anyone with a history book doesn't have wonder what it will be like. It will be like it's been for most of human existence.

This is the Ant and Grasshopper story writ large, and your local friendly Democrat will be there to offer "compassion" to the old folks who elect them, and our children and grandchildren will be hammered by taxes, loaded up with resentment and bitterness.

I think the addiction to credit is largely responsible for this train wreck that's about to arrive.

25 posted on 03/08/2006 3:51:31 PM PST by lawnguy (Give me some of your tots!!!)
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To: Kozak

Have you read your ss statements? If I was in charge, I'd refund every penny to everyone who's put into ss and cancel ss. I won't be in charge anytime soon.


26 posted on 03/08/2006 3:52:15 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Choose Ye This Day

Do you mean under?


27 posted on 03/08/2006 3:52:42 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: L98Fiero

LOL. We are so damn unhealthy--bet you had bacon and eggs for breakfast, drank whole milk, ate meat, potatoes and gravy with bread spread with real butter and drank coffee. Home cookin' and good. Most kids don't know how to cook and would rather pay someone to make it for them. I will be standing beside you.


28 posted on 03/08/2006 3:53:28 PM PST by Snoopers-868th
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To: Libertarian444

As long as I get to keep my McMansion.


29 posted on 03/08/2006 3:53:35 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: billorites

That acid is really a trip, hey?


30 posted on 03/08/2006 3:54:04 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: billorites
"Are you using your liver?"

It's probably shot, but you can have the leftovers.

31 posted on 03/08/2006 3:54:58 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance

Hell they can have that. Just leave my IRA and 401k alone.


32 posted on 03/08/2006 3:55:06 PM PST by Kozak (Anti Shahada: " There is no God named Allah, and Muhammed is his False Prophet")
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To: Kozak
That's my take. Just turn off social security.
33 posted on 03/08/2006 3:56:46 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Trout-Mouth

You baby boomers made one mistake. You didn't teach the younger generations any morals. So now when your 70 and voting in record numbers to steal our money, we won't have too big of an issue with snuffing you out.


34 posted on 03/08/2006 3:57:04 PM PST by RHINO369
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To: lawnguy

I've always suspected the fed govt would change the rules retroactively on 401ks and enact a super surtax on withdrawals to subsidize social security, sometime in the next 10 years.


35 posted on 03/08/2006 3:57:09 PM PST by nascarnation
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To: lawnguy

Yea, and do you see any of our Congressmen doing anything about their loan sharking?


36 posted on 03/08/2006 3:57:25 PM PST by Snoopers-868th
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To: RHINO369

Isn't life grand? Too bad you weren't born 30 years earlier, and you too could be living the life of luxury.


37 posted on 03/08/2006 3:58:09 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Kozak
My biggest fear is that my fellow Boomers will decide to steal what I have saved for retirement from me in the name of "fairness".

Why do you think so many of them also want you disarmed? Hmm?

BTW, I'm a boomer, YoB 1949, and pretty well armed.

38 posted on 03/08/2006 3:58:25 PM PST by El Gato
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To: Trout-Mouth

What about those senator and rep's bennies?


39 posted on 03/08/2006 3:58:52 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Choose Ye This Day

Not to worry - by then all those illegal aliens will be given amnesty and be ready to take care of you.


40 posted on 03/08/2006 3:59:14 PM PST by oldbill
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To: billorites
Well, I can tell you that I wasn't protesting back in the day.

Neither was I. The Commanding General frowned on his officers doing that sort of thing. :)

41 posted on 03/08/2006 3:59:44 PM PST by El Gato
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To: Choose Ye This Day

People need to start having more children to help support them in their old age.


42 posted on 03/08/2006 3:59:58 PM PST by FreedomSurge
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To: lawnguy

Amen to the "addiction to credit."

I see far too many people who have the two new $40 - $60,000 vehicles, the $400K house, expensive vacations, ATVs, boats...and have nothing in the bank.

They're in their 40s, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and the only reason is that they could never tell themselves, "No. I don't NEED that. And I can't afford it."


43 posted on 03/08/2006 3:59:59 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: nascarnation

Don't worry about those 401k's, one dem congress, we'll kiss it all goodbye, well except for us baby boomers, we have the golden key, what's ours is ours.


44 posted on 03/08/2006 4:00:20 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance

Whoops. Yes. UNDER age 40.

Sorry.


45 posted on 03/08/2006 4:00:39 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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To: oldbill

That's after us babyboomers suck dry the economy.


46 posted on 03/08/2006 4:01:00 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: Indy Pendance
If I was in charge, I'd refund every penny to everyone who's put into ss and cancel ss. I won't be in charge anytime soon.

There is very little to refund. It's been spent, either on our parents retirement or "loaned" to the general fund, for Welfare Queens and their spawn.

47 posted on 03/08/2006 4:01:13 PM PST by El Gato
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To: RHINO369
You baby boomers made one mistake. You didn't teach the younger generations any morals. So now when your 70 and voting in record numbers to steal our money, we won't have too big of an issue with snuffing you out.

Not true, furthermore, we had 4 kids (two more than the government advocated) to spread the cost.

48 posted on 03/08/2006 4:01:52 PM PST by Snoopers-868th
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To: Trout-Mouth

Darn skippy!!


49 posted on 03/08/2006 4:01:57 PM PST by L98Fiero (I'm worth a million in prizes.)
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To: FreedomSurge

You mean more children that the public schools are failing to teach anything useful?

Not a great retirement plan there.


50 posted on 03/08/2006 4:02:32 PM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Read any book you want on child discipline and you'll find they're all in favor of bud-nipping.)
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