I Will Never Retire

I Will Never Retire

The inspiration for this week’s 10th Man came from Tyler Cowen’s book excerpt in the New York Post, titled “Why Capitalism Is Good For Your Health.” I suggest you read it.

I am never going to retire. Oh sure, I say that now, but what about when I am 80? No. I will never stop working.

Every morning, I get out of bed when the alarm goes off, take a shower, and put on dress clothes (a suit, usually) and drive 35 minutes to work in an office that I rent in an office building.

I write newsletters. I can just as easily do that on the couch, in a pair of gym shorts, with a cup of coffee. Why spend over an hour a day commuting, and dealing with all the brain damage of putting on a suit and going to work?

Because I like work!

In short, if it doesn’t feel like a job, then it’s not a job.

The reality is that I am the furthest thing from a working stiff. I travel plenty, I make my own schedule. But unless I feel like a working stiff, it doesn’t feel like I am working, or being productive.

Work is good. Of course, if you go back to the 1970s sci-fi flicks (like Logan’s Run), in the future, nobody has to work. That’s one prediction that never came true. This is the future, and here we are, still working. Maybe a little less, but not much. We have more time-saving inventions, but we mostly use the extra time to work more.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says we should all get $1,000 a month so that work can be optional. As the UBI people like to say, that will free us up to pursue our dreams.

That is a terrible idea. People are very, very bad with unstructured free time. And human nature being what it is, people don’t pursue their dreams without a little bit of motivation. One form of motivation might be not knowing where your next meal is coming from. In a society that is capable of producing so much wealth, that seems downright undignified.

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The Benefits of Work

A year or two ago, I wrote a piece where I said that idleness is so bad for individuals (and society as a whole) that top-down command-and-control make-work programs would be preferable to basic income.

That’s how much I believe in the benefits of work. And according to Tyler Cowen: “Earning and spending money is fun, and many jobs are more rewarding, more social and safer than they used to be. Even with much higher living standards now than in the immediate postwar era, Americans still basically want to stay on the job.”

Spend some time at home playing video games and within a few months, you will be utterly convinced of the meaninglessness and pointlessness of life. Multiply that by 100 million people, and you have a big problem.

It’s why we care about unemployment so much. Again, according to Cowen, involuntary unemployment is one of the most traumatic things that someone can experience—even worse than divorce. It has debilitating psychological effects. Getting people back to work after a recession is a top priority. Of course, lengthening unemployment benefits has the exact opposite effect, but not a lot of people in D.C. know much about economics.

To my earlier point, I am not a big fan of retirement. I have seen some bad retirements. Situations where people didn’t really have a plan, and ended up spending a lot of time at home with cable news on at top volume.

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Even when there is a plan, can you realistically chase a white ball around for 10 hours a day? Or travel every day? Or go out with friends for three meals a day? Even if you had the financial resources to do that, would you want to?

Unstructured free time isn’t just bad for 20-somethings, it’s also bad for 70-somethings.

We have all heard stories of someone who had a tremendous career with lots of responsibility, then they retire and they’re dead within a few years. If you don’t have a purpose, there aren’t just psychological effects, there are physical effects, too.

One of the reasons I am not too concerned about Social Security “being there” for me when I retire is because I am not going to retire! For sure, I expect my business to be smaller and my responsibilities to be reduced, but I will never, ever stop working. I fully expect to send my last 10th Man from the hospital.


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May 23, 2019, 5:23 p.m.

As an over 70 retired person I find myself only now reaching the point where I have had time to read the post.  It is important to recognize that there is a difference between idleness and penury. Too many people are required to work at jobs they find pointless (as does society by and large) simply because they must avoid penury.  As the article points our, work is a rather necessary thing for people - they go crazy from pointlessness without it.  But it does not have to be paid work.  In fact, if many people were not threatened with penury, they would find some much more valuable sort of work to do. Jarred is retired in the sense that he no longer works in order to keep the wolf from the door.  But he is not idle. What he does is appreciated by a number of people and this appreciation is, I suspect, the main reason that he expects to maintain a level of activity as long as it is possible.

jack goldman
April 29, 2019, 9:06 p.m.

Work is force times distance expressed in “foot pounds”. Work is harmful to people and their health. Having a position as a movie star, writer, movie producer, with a position at Facebook, Google, or the Federal Reserve is not work. Having a position like a public school teacher, University professor, or politician is not work, it’s a position. People in positions are subsidized by people who work.

Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, farmers “work” and produce wealth. Newsletter writers, Wall Street, bankers, are all subsidized by people who actually do “work” and work sucks. I want a position like lawyer where I can make $300 per hour as long as I can walk and lift a piece of paper. Please do not confuse the words money (gold and silver requiring work to get out of the ground, and debt notes, where a one and one hundred dollar bill are the same bill. Work and a position are also not the same thing. So many people don’t understand the difference between money and debt, or work and having a position. Use the correct terms.

Selwyn Rose
April 25, 2019, 1:30 p.m.

I appreciated your article as I am doing exactly what you suggest.  After retiring from a high pressure corporate job, I started a Financial Planning practice at age 60.  I was very careful to not get back to my former 60 hour a week life stile.  I was very selective on taking on new clients and stopped taking on any new ones ten years ago, with the exception of children of
deceased clients.  I will be 86, next week, am currently working ~35 hours a week, and am not planning on retiring.

Selwyn Rose MBA., Ph.D, CFP, SHR Financial Advisors, Inc.

John Blake
April 25, 2019, 1:26 p.m.

Taken at face value it’s hard to disagree with your article, but it seems to contain a fair amount of confirmation bias.  I personally know people who are very happy in retirement.  Then again, they don’t spend their days playing golf or watching television.  They do volunteer work in the community, pursue hobbies, spend more time with family, and many other things they didn’t have time for when they were working.  As long as they aren’t a net financial drain on society, I don’t see how it’s a problem.

April 25, 2019, 12:59 p.m.

Please google “progress dollars from the production parabola” for a new idea on this topic.

April 25, 2019, 10:58 a.m.

I couldn’t agree more.  I’m a little less than two years away from mandatory retirement and it scares me.  I will need to find something else productive to do.

April 25, 2019, 10:37 a.m.

Retirement is an invention from a time when we worked ourselves to near death in the factories, then had a few years on social security, before we died at age 72. Retirement simply meant retirement from labor.

Today I believe there is another distinction, which is retirement from terms set by others to retirement unto terms set by ourselves. Isn’t it a strange idea, that we while we don’t necessarily labor in the factories, too many of us work in areas we don’t really care for, just waiting for some magic number, come 65, when we can “retire”......and then what.

I owned and ran a service business for 17 years - lots of logistics, terms and demands set by others - I just retired at age 49 - no, not with a million dollars - but with enough to throttle back and begin a new business in which I teach people how to fly airplanes and take tourist for rides. I still need a paycheck, albeit much smaller than before, but I don’t consider it work.

I wish more of my gen X brethren would redefine retirement, which could - and should - come a lot earlier than the time it takes to create your fail safe nest egg in the exchange for valuable, and irretrievable time - that retirement just means switching to terms set by you.

April 25, 2019, 10:37 a.m.

There is wisdom in this article, as in many of Jared’s writings.  Another recent article that eloquently defends the idea of working:


I worked for 16 years in Silicon Valley, which forged me into a much more capable person but was very intense, and left little time for family or personal pursuits, let alone meeting my neighbors or engaging with my community.  During that time, I dreamed of an early retirement.  But instead of retiring early, I moved to flyover country, and now have a much more reasonable job (45-50 hours/week).  I make a lot less money, but have much less stress, and plenty of time to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do.  Now I plan to work as long as I can—past 70 at least.  It’s interesting and challenging and allows me to accomplish valuable things in a team environment.  It is a more sustainable and balanced approach than trying to make and save as much money as possible in order to retire before you die of a heart attack from all the stress.


lawrence stirtz
April 25, 2019, 10:20 a.m.

Agree with much of what you say, I am 85 and still work. Retirement should just be what you want to do and we need an activity that produces something to take pride in. I do work at home because of a disability but think I would anyway I have never played a video game so do not know how to do that and played all the golf I ever want too. Spend my time learning and developing ways to use the end product either for fun or profit. Good article.

April 25, 2019, 10:20 a.m.

I could not agree more, the R word should be considered as a suicide note

I am 88 of age, with more important work than I ever had, and shorter of time than ever
Life is only starting now

AF Leger

The 10th Man - Jared Dillian

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