OPINION: Old enough to miss the world’s crack-up
Having recently reached age 55, I look at the actuary tables and realize I have around 25 years left. As such, I no longer have to worry about many of the world’s woes that keep the medicine cabinets of 30-year-olds stocked with Xanax.
In recent years, one of my biggest concerns has been retirement, which I hope to spend watching re-runs of Seinfeld, while stuffing myself with potato chips and onion dip. But this lofty goal is dependent upon my receiving a hefty Social Security check.
The Gen Xers, Generation Ys and Millennials have mostly given up on the idea of collecting Social Security. I also used to fret over talk about “saving” the retirement program — which, in Washington speak, meant stripping the system until a government check was as worthless as a Ray Rice jersey.
It has been 30 years since Congress made major changes to our retirement program and I have complete confidence in our politically courageous legislators to stall and procrastinate for at least another three decades. Even if Washington is somehow overcome with an outbreak of responsible governance and addresses entitlements, politicians across the ideological spectrum have consistently pledged to leave the retirement system untouched for anyone 55 or over. So long as we Baby Boomers continue to vote in large numbers, my dreams of Seinfeldian bliss will be realized.
My other retirement dream is to spend summers on Coney Island beach displaying my potato-chip-fattened belly. Younger generations, however, have little hope of fulfilling such leisure plans, as there will be no beaches.
According to most climate scientists, air-pollution will cause the oceans to rise to uncontrollable heights, wiping out our coastlines. Global warming will also lead to catastrophic food shortages and extreme weather events will be as commonplace as coffee houses in Park Slope. And all this will happen as soon as 40 years from now!
In other words, we will experience the worst effects of climate change when I’m dead. So while twenty-somethings protest carbon emissions as an act of self-preservation, I can stand on the sidelines, knowing I will be able to watch our environmental tragedy unfold from a distance–from six-feet underground to be precise, where the earth will be nice and cool.
The spread of Islamic extremism gave me nightmares for a while, but it has been 13 years since 9/11. At the pace they are inflicting harm on the homeland, I will be well out of harm’s way by the time the jihadists extend their caliphate over my Brooklyn home.
Sure, there are other potential disasters looming, and I assume that a self-inflicted catastrophe will eventually make living unbearable — just not in my lifetime. My faith comes from living under the protective umbrella of the one country that is too big to fail.
Even after the debacles of Iraq and the Great Recession, we are still the world’s unchallenged superpower, capable — for now — of overwhelming the sources of demise with our economic and military girth.
The day we are all speaking Chinese with a Brooklyn accent or saying the pledge of allegiance to Vladmir Putin is at least a quarter-century away — shorter than the life-span of your average Genetically Modified Organism supermarket item. Certainly we can keep things together until my non-GMO body reaches its expiration date.
Despite my relief over the likelihood that I will miss our collective meltdown, I am concerned about how the world will fare after I’m gone. After all, I have nieces, nephews and young cousins. Nonetheless, problems always seem less menacing when someone else has to deal with them. Meanwhile, in moments of despair, I can indulge the fantasy that some as-of-yet unborn genius will figure out how to clean up our mess.
My biggest fear is that medical science will develop the means to delay my exit until after doomsday.
Then again, I am confident that by the time I reach old age, our health system will be so screwed up that Medicare will only be accepted by faith healers and witch doctors…all of whom will be too booked up for me to get an appointment.
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