Monday, June 23, 2014

Second Acts

I love Jane Pauley.  Such a strong woman and great role model for other women no matter the age.  But...she made me a little snarky at her when I was reading her recent essay in Time magazine, June 30, 2014 issue, entitled "Second Acts." 

Jane Pauley (Photo: aarp.com)

Her essay followed a feature article concerning the Social Security Fund and where it will be by 2030, and that it may be necessary for more and more people to continue working rather than retiring because the money to retire on Social Security just won't be there.  Not that Social Security can support anyone completely now.  The checks usually cover about half a month's expenses.  I know for me, if I were to retire at 67, my check would cover half my monthly expenses that I have now.  Since life keeps getting more and more expensive as people find ways to charge more and more money for just about everything needed to live, I expect my expenses when I'm 67 will be significantly more.

Jane Pauley wants us to look at continuing to work as our "second act."  She would like us to leave the jobs that we've been working at for most of our lives -- not really the case now as people tend to job hop far more than they used to -- and work at what they love instead.  This assumes that 1) there are jobs available for people in what they love, and 2) what they love is not retirement.

While it does make a certain sense that working during retirement could be a "second act" since people are living longer and some remain fairly healthy, this sort of defeats the whole purpose of retirement, doesn't it?  This stirred my first twinge of snarkiness.  It's like Pauley is working for corporate America -- let's work everyone for as long as they live!  Retirement is stupid!  Everyone wants to do something to feel useful in life, right?  Well, yeah.  But in retirement, the idea goes, retired people pay themselves with what they have saved plus Social Security to do whatever they want.

Grrrrrrrrr!  Yes, grrrrrrrrr!  From there, the snark continued to grow inside me.  Pauley makes it sound so easy, like everyone can do this and it's good.  What do you need to retire for?  I began thinking of all the people who won't have the money to retire anyway, and will have to work at something in order to pay the bills.  Then, I begin thinking of all the people over 50 who have problems finding a job to match their skill set, knowledge and experience because 1) they're too old in the American job market, and 2) HR managers perceive them as being too expensive while younger people they can pay less.

So, Jane Pauley, what would you have these people do?  They want to work at what they love, or to reinvent themselves as you call it, but no one will hire them.  Is it any wonder that the highest number of new small businesses have been started by people over 50?  Of course, starting your own business is a way of working at what you love, I suppose.  But what if you don't want that kind of responsibility and hassle?  What if you want to work for someone else and you love that?

I'm over 50.  I spent over 4 years looking for a job.  I couldn't even get an interview for jobs that I could do in my sleep and for which I was totally qualified.  Why?  Because I was over 50.  So sure, I've started a freelance editing business, and I'm also doing as much writing for pay as I can.  What I'd really love to do is finish my second novel.  I'm working so hard at everything else so I can pay my bills, I've no energy left to work on the novel.  As a writer, though, I don't really expect to retire. 

Over 50 and Out of Work

But, geez, Jane Pauley, have a heart!  When you traveled all around the country for your latest book, from which the Time essay was excerpted, how come you didn't come talk to me?  Or any of my friends?  Did you talk with anyone who was struggling to make ends meet instead of retired?

1 comment:

Daughter Number Three said...

So many good points. Grrrr indeed.