An electronic column from MainStreet just ran across the Yahoo news feed and it is entitled, You Need This Much for a Happy Retirement. Knowing that I would be retired some day I read on.
According to the research of this author happiness (and we presuppose the kind of happiness that financial security can bring) requires several factors to be in place. The first is earning an average salary of at least $100,000. The second is owning a home whose value is at least $300,000. The mortgage should be paid off or nearly so. All these add up to creating the kind of income streams that provide for a comfortable retirement.
First, I assume all this refers to the financial security and freedom a person will have in retirement with fixed income streams as opposed to other kinds of happiness.
But who in the world was this article written for? What social world? The average income in the US is right at $40K. The average house value in the Midwest is right around $180K and in the East and West upper $200Ks. A minimum wage worker gets $15K a year and struggles on food stamps and, in our state that did not expand Medicaid, no health insurance.
If happiness in retirement is defined by these indices that means that an overwhelming majority of the American public will have a very unhappy retirement.
If these observations are true then we ought to be preparing our public at large to cope with great unhappiness down the line as most of them – an overwhelming majority of them – will not attain these markers by a long shot. Or is the implication that we should move the actual reality for everyone up to that? How? Or plant an unrealistic expectation that this is possible when in actuality it will not be for most?
Who was this article written for? I’ll tell you who. Those making over $100 K with a home value of $300K or more. And they will define what a happy retirement resembles. God help the rest of the country or world that might define happiness as a roof over the head, food in the belly, health care and some extra money to go play bingo on Friday nights. I hope they’re happy enough.
If this article was meant for the general public it is twisted indeed, almost sadistic. If not, then why not keep it where it belongs, targeted to that slender slice of the population who will nod in appreciation and know just how true it is?