Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

The Culture of Entitlement

Friday, December 27th, 2013

So soon after Christmas I am hesitant to play the Grinch, but I have become increasingly disappointed by the growing sense of entitlement that our culture has created. It seems everyone thinks they should be permitted to have whatever they want whenever they want no matter what they actually contribute to society.  This is not the way our founding fathers ever envisioned what it means to be an American.

We can go back to the original Homestead Act for the first entitlements that were granted. Titles to land were granted to thousands of Americans willing to work the land. Back in those days working the land did not mean that you had tractors and trailers. You worked the land with your hands and had tools, with some mules if you were lucky, and you built your own home, your own fences and barn and everything else you might need to turn uncultivated land to crops or cattle-raising property. Basically your land grant entitled you to the opportunity to work sixteen hour days and create a legacy for your children and grandchildren.

Today the level of entitlement is out of control. I am not just talking about federal programs to help the poor.  A minimum level of food, housing, education, health care and freedom to create is a necessary entitlement for all members of society. What is concerning me is the level of entitlement our public servants feel they deserve.  Just a few days ago another case was discussed in our local San Diego newspaper of a former police officer who was requesting that her $200,000 plus annual retirement payment be considered in part disability payment and thus not subject to normal taxation.  She requested this because of disabilities she had developed while serving on the police force for thirty-plus years. In this case the police officer happens to be a woman. Because of the privacy act she does not want to have her specific disability revealed. (more…)

Work and Play

Friday, June 21st, 2013

In 1979 I wrote a book called Test Your Own Mental Health. In that book, I adopted a model created by a Harvard work and playUniversity professor and NASA psychologist that was a legitimate measure of mental health. The basic norm was the norm of adaptability. If you were adaptable to your environment you would survive.  And from a scientific perspective that was a good and useful measure for sound health. I especially liked that the measure of adaptability was culture free. Instead of stating that specific traits were signs of mental health and others were not, the measure was for traits that allowed adaptability to whatever culture and circumstances an individual was born into.

For our American culture the ability to enjoy both work and play seems a clear measure of adaptability. No one enjoys someone who only knows work and never makes time for leisure, family, culture, art, and the nobler pleasures of human existence. Equally worrisome are people who have no meaningful work. Work itself, if defined as the exchange of labor for money, may in and of itself not be necessary for a healthy life.  But if we define work as meaningful effort that helps others, then it seems quite clear that without work we are missing  a fundamental element in our pursuit of healthy living.

Older Americans are often relegated to retirement when they still have decades of energy and wisdom they could dedicate to work. Increasingly people with skills and energy (and who are actually in their prime work years) are becoming obsolete as industries change.  This forces valuable people to end their careers prematurely. The ability to adapt in this situation (either to stay working or to accept retirement) is crucial for both their mental and physical survival. (more…)