The New Economy: Entrepreneurship, Part Three
Two years ago, Ted Siedle wrote a piece for Forbes Magazine entitled, “The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History.” He wrote, “We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world.
‘In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty. Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.”
He says, “That dire prediction, which I wrote two years ago, is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable.
With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year-olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts – $100,000 if you believe the retirement planning industry, the future decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement”—will be grim.”
And that’s the upside. We are already seeing more and more elderly going back into the workforce to sustain themselves. This is known as the “work until you die” approach to employment. They can envision no other options.
If you ask the government, they’ll tell you that the national debt is about $17 trillion, and it is. What they don’t tell you is that’s only federal debt. There is another almost $3 trillion in state and municipal debt.
Add that to the $40 trillion is private debt and another $67 trillion in unfunded obligations such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and you end up with a combined debt burden and debt impact of at least $127 trillion. That’s 8.2 times the GDP. It doesn’t take an economist to see the writing on the wall.
And speaking of economists, respected economist Harry Dent said, “debt is like a drug, when you take it to excess it momentarily makes you feel good, it enhances your performance but it eventually kills you. ‘And that is what is happening, we are taking on more and more debt with less and less results, and this will likely continue until the debt gets so high that it crushes the whole system.”
70% to 85% of Americans hate their jobs or are not engaged in their work. Studies show that this negative emotional response to our work environment stems from a lack of personal ownership, a lack of freedom of creativity, overbearing office policies, and the inability to do what they enjoy or what they do best.
So it seems that the answer to our first question is not very glamorous.
Let’s paint a picture of the current American Dream. The American Dream is the story of the person who dreads going to work. Who is sick to their stomach on Monday morning with a 35% higher chance of a stress induced heart attack. A person who hates their alarm clock, and only gets a little glimmer of hope on a Wednesday because it’s “Hump” day.
Then they say “Thank God it’s Friday,” and they live for those two days a week where they get to be themselves, and don’t have to be around people they don’t like, and don’t have to play the workplace games and office politics. They don’t have to live the half-life they live during the work week.
The American Dream is working 50 weeks a year struggling to keep our sanity, spending hours ad nauseam in traffic, just to be able to have two weeks for vacation, only to realize that we’ve traded a “vacation” for a “stay-cation” because we’re so over-extended with lifestyle debt we can’t afford to go anywhere.
The American Dream has morphed into the American Nightmare.
There has to be a better way.