Senator Duffy can get away with fidding his expenses - all $90,000 of them. HSBC can get away with money laundering on a vast scale. Monsanto can run the FDA. Apple, Facebook and Amazon can pay almost no taxes. Big Pharma can offer drugs that kill thousands. All vaccine makers have a blanket immunity from prosecution.
But you try to be creative with you taxes or expenses - you try and offer unpasteurized milk, real chickens, grow veggies in your front yard - you try an influence society by protesting or leaking and bang you are in deep shit. Officials who themselves break the law in attacking the public who protest, get a tap on the wrist.
It seems to me that the contract between the people and the governers is broken.
I feel such a fool, don't you. It seems that the rules are only for the Little People - like you and me.
Here is the first part of a 3 part series on how a community in Alert Bay have taken charge of their health by giving up the modern diet and returned to their ancestral ways - a high fat and high protein diet. Weight has dropped and so has Type 2 Diabetes.
I am so excited by this. Here is the science.
This weekend I saw a number of news items that caused me to think more about the role of the corporatization of health. It is clear to me that there is a a group of people who don't want us to be healthy and who are invested in our being ill. If I am right what can we do?
In this post I make a case for the problem and I offer up a way of dealing with it.
First of all, if you wish to test for the Breast Cancer Gene that affects abiut 10% of women but also drives a very high chance of getting Breast Cancer, you will have to have at least $4,000. For this test and the gene are subject to copyright! Link Here
"Unlike routine tests for diabetes or high cholesterol, however, the BRCA gene evaluation — performed by only one company in the United States, Myriad Genetics — is phenomenally expensive, with a “list price” close to $4,000 when a related genomic-rearrangement test is included in the analysis, which oncologists typically recommend."
If you go to 23andme you can get a whole range of gene tests for $99! Testing for genes is no longer expensive. But if you have the copyright and you have a gene and a test that is rooted in a killer problem, then you can charge what you want. What a business!
C Difficile is a major cause of death now. It is caused by a failure of our gut health. Poor diet and the use of antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria leaving us exposed to the bad. THE way of curing this is very simple and works in less than 2 days. It costs almost nothing. It is called a "Fecal Transplant". And yes it is just that. Good poo from a person with a healthy gut is given to the sick person via an enema. Think Blood Transfusion.
There is next to no risk. The patient is often at death's door and time is critical. But now the FDA want to regulate this. Not by setting a standard that any practitioner can get ready to apply but by demanding a lengthy application for a licence to experiment on a human. More at this link here at Wired.
This can be a death sentence if there is no time. I have to ask why? I can only think that the FDA are against treatments that cannot be monetized by their supporters.
The FDA is always quick to step in when there is a non corporate idea.
Alzheimers could become the most expensive disease out there as many boomers get it. Of course the real costs are social. Sufferers demand such a high level of care. Big Pharma have been trying for ages to find THE drug and have failed. We are starting to understand though that Alzheimers is a lifestyle disease. It is avoidable. The pathway is diet again.
High levels of Vitamin B preserve brain power and size. More at this link
"Older people’s brains shrink about 0.5 percent a year from the age of 60, and faster in people with vitamin B12 deficiency, mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, Smith said. If that pace can be significantly slowed before full-blown Alzheimer’s develops, it may delay the disease’s progression so that older people can enjoy better lives until they die from another cause.
“If you delay the onset by five years, you can halve the number of people dying from it,” says Jess Smith, a research communications officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, a U.K. charity."
So here is the Big Pharma issue. More research has to be done. But in today's research climate, unless there is a blockbuster pill that can be copyrighted, there is no money. Research into real health does not get funded.
“We need bigger studies and more evidence that looks at what homocysteine is doing and what is actually going on in the brain.”
A. David Smith agrees. He plans a study of B vitamins in 1,200 people over 70 with MCI and elevated homocysteine. He needs 6 million pounds ($9.1 million) to pay for it. Miller plans another large study and wants to see if folic acid in flour in the U.S. leads to different results there. Meanwhile, the lack of blockbuster-drug potential presents funding hurdles.
“The pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to make any money on this and the supplement companies aren’t going to have enough money to do it,” Miller said. “This would have to be government-funded. I’m just not sure the climate is right for it now.”
The good news is that the American Gut Health project has shown us that we can crowd fund this kind of research. I have sent my poo in already! I also participate in the D Action Study to study the impact of Vitamin D. I am going to apply to test my genes at 23andme. I want to check out my ancestry which is a major factor in health risk.
I think that my health is up to me. I do my own research. I help others do theirs. I take action. We can all do this can't we?
If gut health IS the core health issue. Then all of us can take control. If you wish to know more about this, Michael Pollan has written a wonderful introduction here. If you want to know even more, Jeff Leach has a short book for $2.99 that is the bible here.
My phone rang at about 8am in May of 1995. A person that I did not know, said "Hello Rob, my name is Marie MacDonald. I am calling you from PEI. I have heard you talk but you don't know me. I wonder if you would be interested in giving your talk to the deputies on PEI?"
I knew at that moment that this was an opening of fate. Within a year I had moved to PEI. This was the most important change in my life since I got married.
She made sure that I got off to the best start possible.
Marie was like that. She was not your typical bureaucrat. She trusted her intuition. She was also a very generous woman who looked at how she could help a situation and a person. She ensured that I was made welcome in that difficult task of finding my way as a newcomer to PEI.
She knew also what was the right thing to do. She herself had entered the Public Service to be a "servant". She was very influenced in this approach by John Eldon Green. Her view all the time was that the Government was a "Public Service".
Thank you Marie. Thank you for helping me. Thank you for all that you did for the people of PEI.
My very best to Dick and her children.
See you in my dreams Marie
One of my favourite Doctors in the field of Health, versus Healthcare, is Dr Yoni Freedhoff. Yesterday was Mother's Day and I challenged mothers to do the right thing with their children's diet and avoid Junk Food.
Of course, many children know what the right thing is too and we can take our lead from them. Companies like McDonalds and Coke work hard to get into the schools. It is not just that they offer cash strapped schools a deal on dispensers but they sponsor a lot of activities.
The schools are very vulnerable to this pressure. But if the kids push back....
Here is the post from Dr Freedhoff's site about this today. Full quote:
"A little while back I received an email from a blog reading grandparent. He wanted to let me know about his 9 year old granddaughter's response to learning that her school dance was to be funded by Coca-Cola,
"Dear Dr Freedhoff,I reached out to him and asked if his granddaughter might want to write a short comment regarding her decision as well as send along a photo of her protest shirt.
Thought you would like to know that my granddaughter Frances (9) has refused to participate in a Cola-Cola dance which her school has arranged as part of some sports sponsorship thing, this without any prompting from me. She must have been reading your blog. She wants to wear a t shirt with "water " written on it."
"I did not want to be in the coca cola dance, because little children shouldn't be dancing in the favor of a soda company. Also my sports teacher shouldn't be encouraging small children to drink it. You need to stick to healthy foods like fruit,vegetables,meat,and occasionally oils and sweets.And for those public health folks who think partnerships of their organizations with the food industry are a-ok now you know that even some 9 year old kids perceive them as problematic conflicts on interest.
So Mothers and Grannies and Dads of today. What will be your answer to your kids in 10 years time - When they know that you knew now about junk food but you said and did nothing?
"Mr. Gill owes about $45,000 in federal student loans, plus another $40,000 to his parents. That investment in his future has led to a secure job with decent pay and good benefits. But it has left him with tremendous financial constraints, as he faces chipping away at the debt for years on end.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in a new study, found that 30-year-olds with student loans were now less likely to have debts like home mortgages than 30-year-olds without student loans — even though most of those with student loans are better educated and can expect to earn more money over their lifetimes. The same pattern holds true for 25-year-olds and car loans.
This is surely a different start than any modern generation has had before? Can you buy a car? Can you own a home? Can you afford to have children? What does it mean for how you live your life?
Is this why so many young don't and have to find another way?
Is this why car sharing has to be a new reality? Is this why renting will become so important? Is this why owning stuff will have to be less important? Is this why in the UK so many 30 plus year olds still live with their parents?
With a 37% unemployment rate for this generation in the US, what does 10 + years of no job also add to this equation?
Isn't our economy and our culture is centred on owning stuff. It has been since the dawn of agriculture. But the Millennials cannot own stuff. A whole generation will grow into middle age with few assets that they "Own".
A marker of this is car sales. Cars sales have dropped in Europe for 18 months in a row. Car sales are down 10% in Europe and 17% in Germany! Demand also sank in other major continental markets, falling 14.5% in France, 13.9% in Spain and 4.9% in Italy. The UK was the only major bright spot for car makers, with sales up 5.9%.
What does this mean to an economy that is based on selling more and more stuff?
What will this mean to marriage and family? At the moment single people and single parents are at an all time high. Can a person survive as a single in this kind of world where sharing may be the only way to have what we need?
Now combine this with the Boomers who do not have enough assets and savings to make it thorugh old age and we have a cultural revolution. The Millenials and the Boomers need each other to make it through having kids and getting through old age.
We cannot know how this will be in any detail. But this is will be very different from any generation for 10,000 years.
It could mean the re-emergence of a society that is based on sharing and on the tribe. We used to live like this. Huans lived like this for all time - Except the last 10,000 years after the dawn of agriculture.
My book - You Don't Need a Job - offers some insight into what is going on.
This is why I wrote my book - You Don't Need a Job - there is no point is just hoping for the best or complaining. We have to rethink our world.
More here on employment around the world.
Pew just show that youth unemployment is 37% in the US. "37% of 18- to 29-year-olds are unemployed or out of the workforce, the highest share among this age group in more than three decades. Research shows that young people who graduate from college in a bad economy typically suffer long-term consequences — with effects on their careers and earnings that linger as long as 15 years.1(See chapter 5 in the full report)"
The Canadian Medical Association - Doctors - is travelling the nation and hosting town halls about health. I am surprised at how brilliant these meetings are. They get it. That we have to make the shoft to prevention - which is not about drugs or pills. This is the view of the CMA!
But our instututional structures are in the way. We vote for politicians who add more beds and pills and we don't care about prevention - so the old system wins every time.
We NEVER look at the causes - We only want a cure - Done to us by an expert. WE don't want to be part of our own health.
How do we get started on doiung the right thing?
Here is the full report of the recent meeting in Montreal - The lead is that you can tell how long someone will live by their postal addres alone. It is our social circumatances that drive health!
"Being born, living, working and growing old in an underprivileged neighbourhood has much more of an impact on health - and on longevity - than people think. Nearly 10 years, in fact, depending on whether you live in the Montréal neighbourhoods of Outremont or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. This is one of the findings reported by Dominique Forget, from the magazine L'Actualité, during the CMA's May 8 town-hall meeting in Montreal. The goal was to determine participants' opinions on various social factors or determinants that affect health.
The meeting, organized jointly with the Quebec Medical Association (QMA), L'Actualité and CPAC, brought together participants who, for the most part, are well aware of the social disparities between rich and poor neighbourhoods: community associations or groups, as well as medical students and ordinary citizens.
Of course, the participants did not fail to express their disenchantment, along with a healthy dose of cynicism, regarding recent political decisions by different levels of government. "I'm worried about these policies, especially those concerning welfare recipients and employment insurance," lamented Dr. Marie-France Raynault, executive director of the Centre de recherche Léa-Roback on Montreal's social inequalities in health.
Dr. Gilles Julien, a pediatrician whose foundation helps vulnerable children, spoke out about "the 'acute structuralitis' that is prevalent in governments and elsewhere and which does not promote community integration."
"Governments are not interested in long-term, constructive measures, only in electoral ones," he added.
Among the social determinants directly related to health, the issue of housing - or rather, the lack of affordable housing, took up a significant portion of the discussion. No fewer than 22,000 households are waiting for such housing, said Hélène Bohémier of the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal (OMHM). Homelessness among men, and increasingly among women, suggests a disturbing situation for the future, with potential homelessness facing entire families. This problem also greatly affects immigrants and Aboriginals, whose extreme vulnerability often results in them living in substandard housing. But what about the children in all of this?
"If the future of children is not a priority, we are not a healthy society," said Julien. "Living in such conditions causes a toxic level of stress and impacts the development of a child's brain. The brain of a child at risk is much smaller, and consequently the rest of his or her life is predictable, with dropping out of school, violence and crime, obesity, etc."
Town-hall participants said they wish to attack these problems and develop a community approach based on prevention. Julien's community-integrated medical work reaches many people, rather than favouring the curative approach.
"Cuts are being made in prevention projects, not in curative ones. But hospitals cannot continue to occupy such a central and predominant place in the health care system, and the public needs to take an interest," said Raynault.
At present, "too much of the work is unfortunately done by people working in parallel groups," added Bohémier. Some participants said the answer is to move toward a transversal approach because "it's the community groups that have the field expertise." In that regard, several participants pointed out that the integration of community resources is problematic, as there are issues of control and power.
The public town-hall meeting in Montréal, moderated by reporter and author Daniel Lessard, was the fifth in a series; others have been held in Winnipeg, Hamilton, Charlottetown and Calgary. The CMA intends to publish a report shortly that will contain recommendations put forward by all participants. This report will be shared with members and then submitted to various levels of government.
"The issue is one of redefining the physician's place within society," said Dr. Laurent Marcoux, the QMA president, who chaired the meeting. The town-hall panel included Julien, Bohémier, Raynault and Forget, who is health columnist for L'Actualité."
3 glasses is way too much. 2 is on the line and 1 seems to be okay. Maybe none would be best?
So here I am at the point where so many of us find ourselves. We have to give up habits that we have had all our lives and that we love. Every night for 50 years I have drunk wine. I drank a lot of it. This is my favourite habit.
You have your own habits too, don't you? It may be wine. It may be candy. It may be pop. It may be pizza. It may be smoking.
For me, this is the last frontier. I have given up all the other bad ones. What helped me with smoking and grains, is that for me, I feel the bad effects of those bad habits directly. My lungs hurt when I smoked. I got bloated with grains. In wine's case, I am no longer sleeping well. I wake up often and feel so dehydrated. So this feedback is a help.
What is really hard is when people have a habit that is bad for them that they do not feel directly. Worse, is when they feel good. You Cup Cake eaters know what I am saying! You beer fans know too.
But while I feel shitty after I drink, I feel wonderful as I do. I also enjoy the anticipation. Just thinking of my first glass of wine...! Wine Oclock has been getting earlier and earlier! So I am trying an old and successful strategy for me.
What I am doing is progessively cutting back. I am now at 1 glass a night. It has taken me a week to get here. The tough time is from 5 - 6pm. But I find that once I have had my 1 glass, I am not so frantic. I also find that delaying and then giving myself a small treat, helps me cope with the longing. The difference in how I sleep and feel is quite measurable too. So my body is sending me poistive feedback, when my mind is longing for another glass.
But my mind has a helper too. The money side is interesting and an incentive too. Wine was our largest expense - much more than food. I am keeping a tab. We will save at least $250 a month. That is the same as my phone and internet costs.
Money is a good incentive for the mind. A good friend did this when he gave up smoking. Paul had a piggy bank and put his $20 a day (2 packs) into this. It was enough for him to take his wife on a cruise at the end of year 1.
Lastly, I am going public for a good reason. Tough commitments made in public are easier to keep that the ones we make just to ourselves.
You can see how I am approaching this - what works for you? How have you found success in giving up your favourite bad habits?
This is William Tyndale. He is being burned at the stake. His crime? Heresy. What he did was to translate the bible into English so that people outside the church could read it. Worse he printed it so that it was more accessible still.
The church needed to control access to scripture, because their authority depended on the church being the expert in control of how the bible was interpreted.
We are now at a similar point in medicine. No one is being burned at the stake or even persecuted but what is a secret is the data in our patient file.
We are entering a new phase of health and life, where control will shift from the institution to the person. We can see this pressure build up now in education. The institution is disconnected from the realty and the budget of the people.
The same is true for medicine. There is an epidemic of chronic illness that medicine has not been able to halt or reduce. 70% of illness today is caused by how we live. Our health is literally in our own hands. No doctor can force us to eat differently, be more active, stop smoking or drinking. No doctor can help us leave toxic relationships or jobs. Only we can do this. Only if we also have help from others like us. The expert has no role in this area of health. The result is a system that has a huge cost burden and does not have the outcomes that we need. It is a mirror of what we face in education.
What is emerging is "Citizen Medicine". It will be like "Unschooling" where the citizen plays the central role. In Citizen Medicine, we create our own health profile. We find out where our risks lie. We seek advice for how best to reduce these risks. We own our own health data. We work to improve how we live.
And our family doctor? She becomes a health facilitator - an advisor and a gateway to other areas of health that are acute. Just as a teacher might play the same role in learning. Some doctors are moving to this role. See the link below to Wellx.
Want to know more? My book, You Don't Need Medicine to Be Healthy is a good start.
Meanwhile, in Canada, you cannot get your health file. It belongs to your doctor.
If you see one post on why our education system is not for you now - please look at this short presentation.
First they laugh at you....
More and more people cannot get work or get work that is worthwhile. So they start to live another way. Many laugh at these people and think of them as Hipster poseurs. Maybe some are poseurs but, as the reality of the job world becomes more clear and long term, Urban Mamas are a trend.
“The various pieces—the urban chickens, the domestic-porn blogs, the retro cookery, the attachment parenting—are beginning to come together to reveal a larger whole,” writes Matchar. “To say that these phenomena are ‘just trends’ or to snark on them as the whims of privileged hipsters is to ignore this emerging bigger picture.
Fashion is fashion, but our current collective nostalgia and domesticity-mania speak to deep cultural longings and a profound shift in the way Americans view life.”
And not only well-off Americans with liberal-arts degrees. Matchar began her book expecting to find a lot of ex-CEOs and dropouts from corporate law. Instead, she discovered “middle-class people struggling with modern life. Underemployed recent college grads learning to knit because they got no satisfaction out of their temp jobs. Women who ‘just happened’ to learn about attachment parenting at the end of their too-short maternity leaves from jobs they felt ambivalent about to begin with.”
My wife and I live on a very very low income. More and more of us are like this. I cannot go back to get a job. So making our own food, clothes etc is not a hobby. Making bone soup is not a crafty new recipe but is a healthy necessity. We long term baby sit because our kids need the break. I ask my son to help me stack wood for the winter, because I need this cheaper alternative. I have a beard even. Do you know what blades cost today? I wear the same old clothes.
Living on a very low income will be where most of us will be soon.
We will be pushed into this or you will not be able to go back to your stupid job. We will find out what it is like to get more for less. Because, you can have more for less. You might have less stuff but you can have more life. You will have time to raise your kids. You will have time to cook and so eat better food for less. You will have time. Time to do things for your self and for those you love.
If this is being a hipster, I am one. And you?
The old have always complained about the young. But today there is a new aspect of being young that worries an old man like me. Many cannot leave home and grow up. This is new. Student loans are at the top of the list. Low earnings are the other side of the equation.
The reason for this permanent state of child living is debt. The reason for this is the end of the job world but not the end of the expectations that came with the job world. Here is the data for the UK.
"Research by the Co-operative Group has identified a 'lost generation' of 18 to 30-year-olds in the UK for whom debt is normality – a so-called debt-eration – and who are finding it hard to become independent in the UK's challenging economy.
More than eight out of 10 (84%) young adults in the UK admit to having received financial support from their parents since "coming of age".
Young adults in the 18-30 age range have asked their parents for financial help for a range of things from food shopping costs (43%) to holidays (36%) to debt payments (16%) and house purchases (8%).
Even beyond financial support from the 'Bank of Mum and Dad', a high proportion of young adults (80%) still rely heavily on their parents for help with basic tasks and decision-making. The most common areas for support including transport (40%), chores such as cleaning and ironing (34%) and help with finding a job (27%). The traditional pattern of youngsters leaving home when they go to university has made way for a new generation of those staying near or at home for their higher education and then staying put.
The research highlights that money is an issue for young adults, with nearly a third (31%) not feeling financially independent. The report has identified a "debt-eration", with nearly two thirds (60%) of 18 to 30-year-olds admitting to having debt. The findings reveal that for this generation debt is normal, with 77% not alarmed or worried by it.
Yet, despite parents and guardians helping their offspring repay debt, nearly a third of young adults are hiding their debt from their parents, amounting to an average burden of £3,579 of secret debt.
The main sources of debt for this age group are: student loans (63%), credit cards (31%), personal loans (23%), overdrafts (19%) and money borrowed from parents (18%).
In addition, the group's earning expectations do not live up to reality. Over two-fifths (41%) earn less than they thought they would in relation to their age and education level and, on average, people aged 18-30 take home £7,187 less than they thought they would. Also, according to the findings, more than a tenth (16%) of 18 to 30-year-olds do not feel they have a job that matches their qualifications."
And this group will soon be parents!
For me the starting point is to stop trying to make the old system work. Thousands of pounds/dollars of student debt is not a good start. Thinking that this will lead to a well paying job or a career is mistaken. The jobs are not there for the young and cannot be anymore. The world has changed. The yoing are going to have to think about how "To Make a Living".
The why's and hows are in my first book, "You Don't Need a Job".
The Queen Street Commons, PEI's Co Working site, at 224 Queen St Charlottetown, opened its doors in May 2005. We were one of 5 such sites in the entire world!
There are now nearly 800 commercial co-working facilities in the United States, up from a little more than 300 only two years ago, and about 40 in 2008, according to an annual survey by Deskmag, an online magazine that covers the co-working industry.
More than 110,000 people currently work in one of the nearly 2,500 coworking spaces available worldwide. Compared to last year, there are now 83% more coworking spaces that serve a total of 117% more members! Considering only workdays, we see 4.5 new coworking spaces have emerged daily for the past twelve months. During the same time, the number of coworking members increased by 245 people on average each work day. (Deskmag)
As a member of the QSC, you are also part of the Coworking Visa - you have the benefit of access to over 200 sites all over the world. Details here. Visiting Toronto, London, Paris, Los Angeles? You have a space and a community waiting for you.
What is going on and how might this help you?
Working at an office can be too structured. Working at home can be too lonely. You may not have a job anyway. If you are under 30, you probably don't. Same if you are over 55. So you seek to make a living. Co Working gives you the network to help. It gives you the social space to thrive in.
So are you a student with a summer clear ahead of you and want to get a feel for this kind of work and space? Maybe you have a project? Are you in your 40's and 50's and wonder how you will cope when you lose your job? have you retired but are going mad from boredom?
Here is what the global survey by Deskmag found:
The benefits of coworking continue to be realized: 71% of respondents said their creativity had increased since joining, and 62% said their standard of work had improved. Countering the common claim that coworking spaces can be distracting, 68% said they were able to focus better, as compared to 12% who said the opposite. 64% said they could better complete tasks on time.
Who are the coworkers? 53% are freelancers, while the remainder are entrepreneurs, small company employees, big company employees, and 8% who describe themselves as none of the above (the proportion of "other" respondents has increased from 5% two years ago to 8%, while entrepreneuers has fallen from 18% to 14%). The proportion of female coworkers is growing, up from 32% in 2010 to 38% today.
The average number of desks and members is growing. The maximum capacity of most spaces is now 41 people, and the average membership size is 44. Desk utilization is up, from 49% to 55%, meaning spaces are being used by their members more frequently.
The majority of coworkers are so content with their workspace that they don't plan to leave. 62% said they have no plans to leave their locations, while less than 5% will stay just for one month, disproving the notion that coworking is for mobile workers only.
And for those that like infographics:
You can retire from a job. But can you retire from life? Is the idea of retirement part of the idea of the job?
If this is correct, then as fewer and fewer of us have jobs, then the idea of spending the age of 65 - 85 playing golf has to go away. As does the idea of us old folks living separate lives.
With low relative wages over the last 20 years, the saving base is not here anyway. 75% of American nearing retirement age in 2010 have less than $30,000 in savings. Most have no pensions in the old way of a predictable annual flow of money either. And even these, mainly in government, are under threat as many are underfunded. Many pensions have lost a lot of ground in the last 10 years as well. With very low interest rates, even people who have savings are earning next to no income. Government bonds pay less that 1.5%. This will force savers into capital.
This thoughtful piece got me thinking more about this today.
"As with many concepts that we now take for granted as a reality seemingly dictated by the laws of physics, the idea of retirement is a social construction that is subject to change. A combination of factors now challenge today’s notion of retirement. The changing nature of work, economic necessity, smaller and fragmented families, the capacity of public and private pension providers to ensure income that enables 20-plus years of not working for income as well as the desire of many retirement age people to continue working are eroding our expectations of what retirement is and should be. Sometimes big change happens slowly and is barely perceptible at any one moment. Retirement, as we know it today, is history. A new story is emerging – a narrative that will change how we individually plan and behave as well as the government and business institutions that are built to support the retirement we once knew."
I struggle to make sense of this for myself. I have savings but next to no pension. My savings would have been enough in times when interest rates were higher but not now. This is why I have downsized my own life and invested in ways of reducing my costs in the future. This is why I have become so interested in staying healthy. This is why I have started to reconnect with the daily lives of my kids and their kids.
Are you a boomer? How do you see the next 20 years? Do you have some good ideas to add to the mix. I don't think any of us on our own are smart enough to figure this out. But maybe we can collectively muddle our way ahead through trial and error?
How's your pension or savings going?
All you have heard to date is that you have to save enough to pay for your life as you age. This just is not possible for most people. Many boomers have teen age or school age kids AND elderly infirm parents. Saving enough and then making a killing in the market is an insane idea and it never happens for regular folks. It's impossible to fulfil this idea. Interest rates are at historic lows. The markets are controlled by traders. The underlying economy is a shambles. Traditional pensions are a thing of the past.
So what to do?
It is to invest to REDUCE your day to day costs and to INCREASE your ability to make a living. And to invest in the next generation so that they can help you. This is my pension plan in outline. So let's look at the details.
Avoid being ill. Especially avoid developing a chronic illness. The average man in Canada is disabled by illness by the age of 65 and lives for another 10 years. He depends on his family and the state to suport him. This drives cash costs, a huge burden on your family and on the state. You may not have the cash, the family or the state to look after you anyway. This is also true for the average woman, the cycle start 5 years later.
In the US Fidelity predict that the average US retired family will spend nearly $250,000 on health costs in the last years of life. No one has that kind of savings!
Let's make this real.
My mum has been in a nursing home for 14 years ($40,000 a year) and has had an annual drug bill of $3,000 a year. That's nearly $500,000. My dad's pension fortunately has covered this. Without it I dread to think of what this would have meant to me. I would have become a prisoner to her. The last thing I want is to be a burden to my kids. The state will not be able to pick up the tab when so many boomers are in the their older years either.
So becoming Healthy is rule #1. That is why I have taken charge of my health and why this first step is so important for all of us boomers.
You can read all about how to do this in You Don't Need Medicine to Get Healthy
Reduce your structural living costs.
Energy - Home The #1 exposure that we have is to energy costs. So the size of our house and the way we heat it is key. Next to that is our need to get around. All of this is connected to the price of oil and energy. Already on PEI where I used to live, the average household heating bill is more than $3,000 a year. In a typical winter with a 2.500 square foot house, we would fill the tanks in October, January , February and March. At $800 a fill at current prices, that is about the average. We make this payment from our after tax income.
There are a number of ways around this. First of all, move to a smaller house with a smaller footprint. Less to heat and to maintain. Less to pay in taxes too! For that bill can easily be $3000 a year. Less to insure.
Then insulate like crazy and install the most efficient system you can. Supplement with wood if you can.
We have done this and we have cut our heating bill to $700 for the whole winter! We now have a hedge against future increases in energy costs too. We spent about $25,000 to get this improvement. Looks like a lot? But now look at the return and compare this to putting $25,000 in the market or on deposit.
That is an annual after tax return of nearly 11%. Government of Canada 5 - 10 year bonds yield 1.4%. And that is after tax. If oil prices go up, my yield goes up. If I want to sell my house, I can make this part of the price. It's a win win win for me and for you.
The key is to see this as an investment not as just a cost.
Energy - Transportation
How much does it cost to own a car? How long will you be able to drive a car?
Each car drives a lot of structural cost. It's not just the gas, but the maintenace, the insurance and the depreciation + parking etc. Estimate that a car will cost you at least $10,000 a year after tax!
So where you live is an important structural question. I live in a small village. All the shops are within a walk or a short bike ride. We only need one car and that a tiny one. If we need more, we rent. If I have to get to Montreal, I often take the express bus that has wifi, and takes an hour and costs the same as the gas for the trip in the car.
If I need a new car in the future, I will buy a second hand one. That takes 40% of the depreciation off the table.
This has not been a big give up for us. If we really need a second car, we rent.
Finally, one of us may not be able to drive in our late age. By choosing to live in town and in walking distance of shops and life, we prepare for that too.
You can find much more on how to resuce your costs in my first book - You Don't Need a Job
Time for Cash
As our costs drop, I don't need to struggle to earn more and so I have more time. Time is the most vital part of this new freedom.
I can trade cash for time. Convenience costs. Time is free.
We do the gardening, not a service. With a small lot, most of the work can be done by hand too. That is good for our bodies and for the pocket book.
I can add wood heat to the mix too.
It gives us time to cook all our meals. This is both good for us and also cuts our food bills dramatically.
Tribe Versus Seniors Home and Child Care
Will state paid seniors homes exist in 15 years? Will it be possible for working mothers to send their kids to day care?
A seniors home, apart from being a living death, cost today about $35,000 a year. They just wont be around in 15 years except for the rich. You and the state will no longer be able to afford them. On PEI with 12,000 women over 85 at that time, the costs will exceed the current TOTAL for ALL health care today.
With incomes being squeezed for all the young, how will they be able to work and have kids. Child care is also about $30,000 a year for many now. Few will be able to earn that.
So what to plan for?
I see no alternative but to bring back the Tribe. So this again, means choosing your last home with great care. We are 1 hour from our son and his family and our son in law's mother also lives in the same village aswe do. The two grannies already help each other out a lot. Our son is here most weekends and we took care of his 1 years old for 9 nights that enabled him to get a much needed break. This summer we will have our daughter's kids for 2 weeks too.
We are laying the foundation for the tribe to come back.
I don't see another way. The only way that the old and the very young can be accomodated in the next 15 years is to come back together. Not an easy thing to do. We are so unused to this way of living. So this is why doing it step by step helps.
If we can get this right we are looking at saving up to $100,000 after tax a year. Or at least reducing the risk of a break down in the family at both ends. I don;t se an alternative - do you?
There is no way that most Boomers can save and invest enough money to live as we do now over the next 20 years. Nor can we expect the state to be there to help. By 2030, at current rates , the alzheimers costs in the US alone will exceed the budget for Medicaire.
We will be pushed back on ourselves. But on our own, we are not strong enough.
So the only alternative that I can see, is to restructure our lives. We have to create new habits of helping each other in the family so that, as we get older, the new normal is to do things with each other. The new normal is to share costs and even space.
If you don't have kids, then I suggest looking to your closest friends and start to share your lives with them.
This fall I will write a book about this - You Don't Need a Stockbroker to Retire when I will expand on thse ideas. What do you think so far?
Michael Gurian: The Good Son: Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men
For all of us raising boys
Fari Amini: A General Theory of Love (Vintage)
The link between intimacy, dependency and development
Lise, Phd Eliot: What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
The Early Years for Parents
Betty Hart: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children
Looks very interesting - will rate when read. 5 stars at Amazon
Robert Shaw: The Epidemic : The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children
A truly powerful book that hits so very hard