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Applied math

In the think-about-it-for-just-a-second category. In this morning's e-mail...

This was an article from the St. Petersburg Times newspaper on Sunday. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on "How Would You Fix the Economy?" I thought this was the BEST idea. I think this guy nailed it!

Dear Mr. President,
      How about Patriotic retirement?
      There's about 40 million people over 50 in the work force; pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations:

  • They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
  • They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
  • They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

    Sounds good on the surface. But take a deep breath and think it through...

    If I am 56, this plan would cut 10 years off my work life. That means a loss of let's say $700,000 in income and another $200,000 in employer-paid benefits - like health insurance. If I have to pay off an $80,000 mortgage and buy a $20,000 car, that would reduce my "profit" from this deal by another $100,000. Health insurance would be another, what, $100,000 over 10 years at least.  If I have to pay taxes on this million, I am down, say, another $300,000. I may not lose anything really, but I am sure not gaining much either - except a heck of a lot of leisure time.

    If I am prohibited from working, over the next 10 years...

    • My liquor bill would go up.
    • Marriage counseling would be a big expense.
    • Higher utility bills at home since I am sitting around the house (and I would probably add premium channels to the cable TV.)
    • Higher auto insurance from drunk driving arrests, higher medical bills because of handyman project injuries, greenhouse bills to keep the LWW busy .... the list of expenses goes on!

    I don't think this is much of deal. I'd rather keep on working.

    But if was forced into retirement I would have lots of time to write crank economic plans for publication in newspapers.


    Speaking of math skills, here is a sure fire way of knowing you have slipped into geezerdom...

    At the used book store yesterday, I gave the clerk a 20 dollar bill and a one dollar bill to pay for my $5.35 purchase. (Have you noticed that older used books are now selling for more than their original cover price?) Anyway, the clerk said she would have to just make change from the $20 since dealing with two bills was too complicated. She did relent after she checked (on a calculator) that my mentally calculated estimate of $15.65 in change was indeed accurate.

    My immediate reaction: "Why aren't schools teaching kids today to make change?"

    I think 50% of all criticisms leveled at schools would be eliminated if simply taught kids how make change - every year, right through college. Spoken like a true geezer.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    Well, I guess I am a geezer with you then.

    When I started working, we had to give change because the cash registers didn't figure it out for you.

    Gad, that seems a long time ago.


    April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShea's mom

    The person's math is pretty shoddy on the other side. One million times 40 million is 40 trillion dollars. That would quintuple the national debt immediately, and would mean (a) there would almost certainly be hyperinflation, meaning the million bucks wouldn't be worth much by the end of the 10-15 years and (b) the government would be spending a fortune just on debt interest--five times as much of a fortune as it is now.

    April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwalt crawford

    OMG! I can't tell you how many times I have stood in line somewhere -- usually fast food -- and held my hand out with my change in it and told the cashier to check it again. I remember my mama making me guesstimate how much our grocery bill would be, and then paying for the groceries and making me tell her how much change we should get back. Nothing like everyday math life skills, huh?

    April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

    Yup. I remember. And you had to balance your register at the end of your shift too!


    Hi Walt,

    My calculator doesn't have enough places to go that high! Thanks for the info!


    Hi Deanna,

    Yup. Personally, I enjoyed applied math. Algebra lost me, but I loved Geometry and Statistics. Go figure.


    April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

    @ Doug
    I love the self incrimination as a "geezer" at the end. On the above mentioned plan if our compatriots at the fed through in medicare coverage for health would you take the offer. I've always wondered how many people keep working at jobs they hate only because of the lovely insurance system we have? I don't think you'll be one to take retirement by getting to the Denny's at 4:00 AM so so you can be in bed by 7:00 PM. Something tells me you'll probably fill those years in some type of fulfilling productive way. I'm 31 and it is probably a bad thing that i think of retirement often.

    May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie A. Roy

    Hi Charlie,

    I am pretty happy doing what I am doing now both at work and not at work. The LWW questions me retiring, reminding me that I get bored sometimes on long weekend. A change of frustrations sounds good sometimes though.

    You may be 31 now, but geezerdom will catch up with you before you know it. Take full advantage of your youth, energy, strength and health - and work to stay that way!


    May 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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