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Monday, February 23, 2009

Dealing With Reality Gracefully

I have three posts lined up about those unable to deal with reality, but I thought I would rather start with examples of two people who are dealing with reality because their stories are inspiring. Plus, a valued reader of this blog kindly suggested I try to lighten things up despite the seriousness of the subjects being addressed (as of late, I've perhaps made one too many tuition posts). With Adar in the wings, I want to try to keep things a bit lighter, so I am going to try to insert more informative posts and even inspiring posts with some heavier subject matter.

Hat Tip: VIN. I really liked this CBS News Story. What a beautiful approach this elderly, but spry couple has to loosing it all: they deal with it with no shame! The 90 year old husband, who once had a business of his own, has come out of retirement to work for $10 an hour in a grocery store.

Another Madoff victim, 60 years old, from West Goshen Township, PA has started working as a maid and caretaker for an elderly friend's mother. She has some assets she is selling and is actively working to reduce her expenses. But at 60 years old she realizes she needs to rebuild and is taking on the challenge. I wish her much success in re-certifying as a registered nurse. I find both of these rebuilding stories inspiring.

I also recently read a story about older Americans, some who have lived through the depression, returning to work as their retirement assets are proving inadequate. One man told the reporter, "I'll take what I can get." I have a feeling this attitude will bring much success.

Update: Dave in DC these stories aren't happy, make you dance, but lately people and/or organizations dealing with reality, rather than trying to pretend it away makes me happy.

21 comments:

rosie said...

I recently read a news story about an 82yr old night-shift ER nurse in Louisville, KY who still works full time. She raised 7 children while working as a nurse and had become a widow. Some of the daughters and granddaughters are nurses as well. She simply never retired and she is valued for her ability to accurately triage situations and by her common sense approach to keeping people calm.

Ezzie said...

Bernard Lander spoke at our alumni Shabbaton this past Motzei Shabbos. He's someone who doesn't even need to work at all - not for himself or his family - and he spoke proudly of the fact that he's only missed one day in the last 40 years, IIRC. He said he's in at 9:30 and out at 6:00 every day - and he's in his mid-nineties.

The Hedyot said...

I really don't think you should link directly to articles on VIN. They are directly ripping off the original sources without paying for the rights to reproduce their material. The original link is at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/19/eveningnews/main4813983.shtml.

It's absolutely disgusting that a "frum" site which labels itself "the voice of the Orthodox Jewish community" is entirely based on stealing from others.

Anonymous said...

Heydot raises a very interesting issue. How do the copyright laws work for articles posted on the web? Most on-line newspapers and other news sources have copyright notices stating that content cannot be copied, but that some blogs and non-profit/501(c)(3) sites may give links -- but not copy articles. VIN and other sites that are apparantly are not 501(c)(3)'s cut and paste whole articles, not links, and often provide just the minimum of attribution to the source, sometimes not even the full name of the newspaper or site, no date and no by-line. This has troubled me, but I don't want to accuse anyone without knowing the facts. Do they pay a royalty to the sites they copy from? Do they have permission? Or is all this really ethical and legal and I'm being too picky?

Of course, this practice is not limited to frum sites or jewish sites. Yet it seems to me that cnn, ny times, other news outlets have to pay reporters, editors, investigators, etc. and to just take their articles and paste them into your site without paying is problematic. Although other non-jewish sites do the same thing, shouldn't jewish sites and their readers hold themselves to a higher authority? Isn't this related to the personal responsibility issues that SL stresses? Am I just being a prig?

BTW - I'm one of those people who still subscribe to a newspaper because I think supporting a free an independent press is important, and blogs and rumors on the web can never substitute for the work of quality newspapers. The impending death of many quality american newspapers scares the heck out of me.

Dave in DC said...

These were supposed to be the LESS depressing articles? I guess pulling yourself up by your aged bootstraps is better than bellyaching, but sheesh...

Anonymous said...

My bad. Pardon the mistake in the prior comment. I meant to say "higher standard", not "higher authority."

SephardiLady said...

Good points. I'm changing the links. Not sure why I didn't this time. I usually do.

Anonymous said...

Great post SL. Sadly, most seniors or even pre-seniors are not physically, or sometimes cognitively, able to work. I know many retired people who would love to work but can't due to illness. The people in your examples serve an important reminder of the inherent dignity and nobility of hard work and responsibility. So many younger people think these types of jobs and wages are beneath them.

anonymousmom said...

These are depressing stories. Yes, I wish more young people had the work ethic and attitude of the older generation, but--for goodness sakes--the 90-year old man in the supermarket handing out flyers is saaaaaaaaaad. I know a lot of young people who are making wise decisions in budgeting and investment choices. It would be great if the networks spotlighted young people's success stories and strategies.

anonymousmom said...

Hey, you know what? Why not make that a feature in a mag geared to Frum families? In addition to my dream feature of comparison shopping on kosher prices across the country (i.e. meat prices in Chicago vs. Brooklyn vs. San Antonio--prices all posted weekly) we could present star strategies among the MO, the Kollel, the single, the young-married, the grandparents...I love this.

rosie said...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe always counseled against retirement. Most of us with 401ks or other retirement plans have seen them decimated in the recent devaluing of the stocks that made those plans possible. Yesterday the market took the worst plunge in over a decade. Even those of us who have planned retirement might not be able to see that happen.
As your previous poster stated, not all elderly people have the ability to work. Many must give up driving. It is scary to think of what will happen to those who cannot support themselves and the money that they worked hard to put away is gone. From what I understand, Social Security is the biggest Ponzi scheme of all times. Will the elderly who worked until they couldn't anymore still get that?

SephardiLady said...

rosie-Was the Lubavitcher Rebbe against *saving* for old age or against the retirement saving vehicles.

Retirement money can, and at a certain point should, be invested in CD's or liquid savings. In fact, the last few months have been so busy that we put our money away in our 2008 ROTH IRAs and did NOT invest it, but rather put it into some short term CD's until we have the time to choose investment.

The tax advantages of a 401(k) or traditional IRA are very significant. Lowering your tax burden in the here and now makes saving that much more easy.

And, of course, anyone who gets a match if passing up salary due to them!

Yes, unless you have a significant amount in cash funds, chances are you lost a lot of value on paper. But markets do return and I see no reason to write of retirement saving entirely.

Anonymous said...

SL - I don't think the Lubavitcher Rebbe would have been very familiar with 401(k)'s. I believe they didn't even exist before sometime in the 80's and they certainly weren't common before the 90's. Same with IRA's and Roths are very recent. I don't think the Rebbe personally had to worry about supporting himself and his wife during their senior years. They were set for life. I don't mean that negatively, it's just a fact that he didn't have to worry about paying for food, rent, healthcare, etc. and he had round the clock assistance.

If what the Rebbe was saying was that people should work while they are able to do so, that may make sense because feeling productive and useful is important to one's well being, although there are other ways to be productive and useful.

rosie said...

What anonymous said about the Rebbe is correct.
What many of us are unfortunately finding out about retirement money is that this money that was tied up in various mutual funds has shrunk with the economy.

SephardiLady said...

Not being supportive of "retirement" is a far cry from not being supportive of saving for a rainy day.

I figured that was the case and hence asked the question to clarify.

The reason not to make older age savings a component of regular savings are three-fold: 1) retirement saving vehicles are tax advantaged, 2) employers sometimes provide incentives in the form of matching savings, and 3) they are harder to touch which should increase discipline.

Tamiri said...

Sad? This man working is sad? In what way. He looks optimistic and healthy. His wife has a beautiful smile and glowing face. They both look great. What is sad about this man working to feed himself and his wife? It's much sadder to sit around moping, doncha think?
They have got it right. No sense of entitlement, just a job to get done. It's not like he did things "wrong" over his lifetime. He did save. And he lost. Now he's fixing what's broken.
I wonder what they do about health care.

Critically Observant Jew said...

Rosie,
Just because it's a 401k, it doesn't mean that the money in it have to be invested in stocks or mutual funds. Every employer I've been with offered an option to invest the money in the 401k into a money market account. My current employer's money market account lost...... NOTHING!!! Year to date it even gained 0.08%!!! However, being in my 20's, I don't have any money in that account, so I lost in the mutual funds that I invested in. Nonetheless, I expect the market to rebound and for my savings to increase by the time I retire.
However, if I were nearing retirement age, I would be foolish to keep my money in mutual funds, thus I'd be safe if I had my money invested in the money market fund that I just quoted.

Ateres said...

Just to clarify the what the Rebbe said about this.

He did not say anything about not saving for old age, but rather that one should not retire just because one has reached a certain age, as long as he is still able to work.

The reasoning is that working gives people a sense of direction in life and helps prevent the depression that is so common amongst retirees.

He would of course not object to someone retiring in order to learn Torah or do volunteer work, as long as he is filling his day with productive things.

Commenter Abbi said...

sl: you might want to write about this: (tuition woes in the ny times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/fashion/01private.html?ref=style

rosie said...

Is it true that Obama wants to give away a year of college for 50 hours of community service?
I sure hope so because tuition rates for most colleges are going up. Older people just might want to get a degree if they don't have one and possibly switch careers if the current one is not working out for them any more.
For kids starting college, parents can either saddle themselves with debt or the kids will incur it.
I do know some people (frum) getting government help to get through college.

rosie said...

correction: it is 100 hrs community service but will it ever occur?