Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Minor Moment Of Stupid

couldn't sleep, made the mistake of reading Megan. Susan and Roy have already mocked this piece on being unemployed later in life, but there's a little detail I'd like to highlight.
The setup:

The woman highlighted in the article, after all, is not going to be saved by Social Security; she's 57. Without massive changes in spending, she's headed for bankruptcy long before she's eligible to collect benefits. That's not to say that she's a profligate spendthrift who deserves the pain she's suffering; rather, the errors she's made are incredibly common. That's why it's worth running through some of the most common mistakes that land people in these kinds of messes
Lets see if you can spot the stupid that follows. Bear in mind Megan is trying to examine the "mistakes" this woman made that led her to be... unemployed and not able to retire at 57, so that someone Megan's age and younger won't do the same. (Spoiler alert, the real "mistake" was not being born with enough money to make more of it later.)
It's all too easy to put off those retirement contributions. You're getting married. Then you want a house. You're having kids. You need a vacation, a new house, the car broke . . . suddenly you're 60, your peak earnings years are over, and you have to figure out how to survive a 20-year retirement on $100,000. Our parents got by on massive increases in the price of houses and stocks. You can't, so you have to pay yourself first, even when it's painful. [My emphasis]
First, note the narcissism. Everything is about Megan and everyone would be her if they could. And yes, you may shudder at the hint of her and McSuderman reproducing. Then go back to the sentence I highlighted and recall we're talking about the "mistakes" made by a 57 year old woman, who, therefore, is old enough to have been Megan's mother. Yes, she would have been a young mom, which is and was somewhat uncommon among the wealthy elite in modern America, but that's not the point, now is it.
From the NYT piece which Megan is trying to ignore the message of;
Most of [the unemployed 57 year old's] days now are spent in front of a laptop, holed up in a lighthouse garret atop the house that her husband, Denny Mielock, built in the 1990s on a breathtaking piece of property overlooking the sound.
With her husband’s home repair business pummeled by the housing downturn, the bills are mounting. Although the couple do not have a mortgage on their 3,000-square-foot house, they pay close to $7,000 a year in property taxes. The roof is leaking. Their utility bills can be $300 a month in the winter, even though they often keep the thermostat turned down to 50 degrees.
They could try to sell their home, but given the depressed housing market, they are reluctant.
I don't even know how to untangle the various mistakes in thinking Megan has made here, I can only point to them. Don't be like a woman who did what Megan thought would have been the appropriate thing for someone that woman's age to do, because we won't get the same benefits from home ownership that this woman apparently should have received but somehow didn't. Also, don't note that Megan is demonstrably not following any of her own advice, this is for non-elites who should be concerned about someday not being employed. Despite her own incomplete history of employment and McSuderman's lack of... an employment history outside wingnut welfare, she's talking down, to us, about concerns she does not share. Granted, it's clear she'll only ever be fired for behind the scenes politics, which she guards against by kissing literally every ass she's ever seen, but The Atlantic may well eventually fold, especially considering her efforts to drive away every member of its once core readership.
I'd deal with the rest of her advice, including get a McJob you stupid peasant, but I'm heading out to see Pavement again, and don't need the agitation.

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