Thursday, February 28, 2013

Endgame

I hope endgame is one word.  Otherwise the google translation is going to have a bad time with the rest of this post.  Not much is occupying my mind these days except for the uncomfortable way my portfolio is smoothly and gently going up.  I am conflicted to not try to fix what's not broke, but also recognizing the continuous need to keep my strategy ahead of the curve, whatever that may be.  Thus, I turn to more esoteric subjects, where I keep thinking about the current social contract that we have set up in contemporary America.  I just can't shake the feeling that ultimately, for the vast majority of us, it's a shitty deal.

Let's start with our most sacred of cows, the idea of retirement.  For those of us who have money left after buying essentials, all financial advisers tell us to put that money in retirement accounts.  And if this applies to you, you definitely work for a company that offers a 401k and chances are, matches some part of your contributions.  But the more I think about this setup, the more bullshit I smell.  First, 401k matching is not really free money.  We shop our labor to different potential employers and pick the one that gives us the best deal.  From this perspective, 401k is just another calculation to see which employer is going to pay me the most money to browse Reddit.  It's like those big bottles of lotion that says 25% free.  We just calculate the entire bottle and see if it's cheaper, not just look at 75% of the bottle and thank the lotion company for getting us less chafed out of the goodness of their hearts. 

Second, retirement accounts can't be touched for the most part without invoking penalties or hassles until 65.  This sucks two ways.  First, people are not incentivized to save at all since "retirement is now covered" so this gives them free rein to spend spend spend.  Second, what the fuck are you going to do with all that money when you are 65?  It sounds like the society knows it's not going to need you when you get that wrinkly anyways and flips it around, making it look like they are doing you a favor.  Meanwhile, the best years of your life are already gone and you are one foot in the grave with tons of money.  Let's not forget the surging price of health care costs these days plus the fact that we are unhealthier than our parents.  You will be lucky to truly enjoy ten years without taking 35 pills and breaking a hip every time you attempt dry chafed sex  (but it's ok though, you got that 25% free lotion).  Granted, retirement accounts are not on the level of Native American treaty one sidedness, but I would never take it.