Encore, by Marc Freedman (Hardcover, 2007)|
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
In massive numbers, pre-retirement baby boomers are
making radical career changes. But also in massive numbers, retired
boomers (and others who retired just ahead of them) are radically
redefining retirement. The consequences of these changes are profound
and far-reaching. The six chapters of Encore provide an overview
of the phenomenon. The 20-page appendix, titled "Your Encore," provides
some thoughts about how you might define your own radical change to
career or retirement.
Why radical career changes became popular
Most baby boomers have spent their working lives as "disposable workers."
They put in
long hours, hoping to escape "rightsizing," while
repeatedly seeing phony promises of advancement not honored. When
working in a system of "may be
gone tomorrow" jobs, the question of "why am I doing this?"
up. "If my job isn't important, what does that say about me?"
Many boomers spent their careers watching company leaders reward people for political
skill, rather than competence in the job they are paid to do.
Those same leaders rewarded these "players"
with bogus awards, outrageous perks, and compensation inversely related
to performance. The message to the hard working, diligent, dedicated
boomer is hardly positive. Consequently, most
boomers no longer feel good about the political playground of the
corporate world. During their careers, they have repeatedly found unwelcome lumps in the
know the fat cats in the C-suites put them there.
Is it any wonder that talented people are taking their toys and playing elsewhere? Or that we
now have a critical shortage of qualified tradespeople, practitioners,
and professionals? Boomers are, in general, finding respect and
fulfillment in their work by changing careers.
Retirement is no vacation
Freedman discusses the fact that life
expectancies are much longer now than they were a few generations ago.
Longer life expectancy is one reason boomers work in retirement.
Freedman says many are looking for something to do, after
being cast out of the workforce due to their age.
Freedman devotes considerable space to this aspect of retirement.
Amazingly, Freedman overlooks the economic fact that idle retirement is seldom an
option today because Americans bear a tremendous tax burden--the
highest among industrialized nations.
The cost that precludes true retirement
The Federal Income Tax is only a minor part of our total tax load
and only one of the hundreds of ways we are taxed. You
pay 121 taxes on a single loaf of bread. Our tax systems
are so labyrinthine (by design) that most people have no idea how much
they pay in taxes.
So, I'm going to make it very simple. We pay for every dime of government
spending, because that money has to come from somewhere. It doesn't
grow on trees. Government spending = citizen tax load. This is a
fundamental concept expounded upon by such luminaries in economics as
the late Dr. Milton Friedman. But it's also just plain common sense.
Whether you pay via direct taxes or you pay via inflation (an indirect
tax), you pay for every useless government program, every incompetent
government agency, and every pork barrel "thanks for contributing to my
campaign" spending measure enacted by your misrepresentatives in CONgress.
Let's look at some numbers. The United States does more military
than the next five nations combined (mostly for non-defense purposes that Eisenhower
identified in the 1950s). We presently have a $9 trillion
current debt and we have another $50 trillion or so in unfunded
obligations (e.g., Social inSecurity, Medifraud, etc.). And that's just at the federal level. There are roughly 90 million
supporting nearly $60 TRILLION in federal debt--or $666,000 each. The $666,000
debt per individual is why most Americans must work until they drop.
(According to some people, this is the 666 of the Book of Revelation).
recommends more government spending as part of the solution. But
is it a good idea to pour gasoline on a fire,
especially one that is as out of control as the federal spending
What the employed are doing
Boomers (and those who have come behind them) have seen the folly of
slaving away in hopes of a paltry raise and a meaningless promotion.
They have seen something even more disheartening; Tom Rogers provides an
As CEO of Primedia, Tom Rogers vaporized $690 million in a matter of
days by grossly overpaying for
About.com in October of 2000 (right after the dotcom crash hit full
stride and the actual worth of About.com wasn't much above zero). This boneheaded move caused the company's stock to drop
from $34 to 76 cents in less than a week. During his tenure, Rogers
managed to saddle the company with $2 billion of debt even though this
load exceeded its combined assets and income by a considerable margin.
The results included massive layoffs, compensation rollbacks for the rank and
file, and sell-offs of key company properties. Yet Rogers still collected
his multi-million dollar salary while doling out plush VP jobs to his incompetent,
untrained, and inexperienced
and inspiring is such disastrous stupidity to the typical employee? Such
scenarios play out across the corporate landscape time and time again.
One idiot after another rakes in millions, while leaving a devastated
company behind as he takes his multi-million severance and moves on to
the next victim.
Such lunacy makes people see their workplace as an
insane asylum. Many boomers, tired of commuting to the nuthouse each day,
have found other ways to
make use of their talents. One way boomers famously do this is through entrepreneurship.
For many years, we have been reading about the rise of entrepreneurship
in the business and financial literature. You may recall that a new
record number of layoffs was set in each year from 1991 - 2002 (as
reported in the Wall Street Journal and other business-related
publications during those years).
From 1991 - 2000, the 30 Dow Jones index stocks did great. From that one bit of
minor and irrelevant data, nonsequitor
specialists absurdly conclude that the economy did well under Bill
reality, it tanked because Clinton removed massive amounts of capital from our
capitalist economy through taxation (Clinton passed the two largest tax
increases in history), caused huge compliance costs via excessive regulation (the Federal Register
expanded enormously on his watch), and abetted rampant government spending (pork reigned supreme
as it does now).
While the Clinton economy was staggering, middle class wealth
was evaporating, and layoff records were being set each year, colleges and universities began
adding entrepreneurship programs because laid-off boomers were in a
hurry to be entrepreneurs. Starting a business when nobody would hire
you as an employee seemed like a good option. Boomers continue to take
this option during the Bush administration's economy-bleeding spending
If you've already established your own business or have
found work with an employer that actually values you, then
this book probably will just confirm that you're
part of a growing trend.
But if you're stuck in a rut, this book will be
helpful. If you're miserable in your job, get going. Read
Encore, get your mind properly realigned, and then think seriously about
what you really want to be doing in your waking hours. Remember, a human lifespan is but a blink. Find meaning while you are still
able to go after it.