Eric Norlin, the youngest crotchety 77 year old I know, never-the-less struck a chord this week when he posted (in his charmingly unreconstructed wannabe robber-baron declasse proto-fascist way):
1. People used to have a lot of children for a reason: so that the kids would take care of them when they were physiclally unable to continue working. Think i’m wrong on that? go live in a farming community in nebraska, iowa or wisconsin (or norway or sweden for that matter).
2. There is no innate “right” to retire.
3. Ideally, people would be working at things that they’d never want to retire from anyway (not possible on a massive scale, but ideal nonetheless).
This last point, the ideal of working at things from which we never want to retire is where I line up four-square and all-American red and blue and white with Eric, you bet! (But I wonder if it’s too late to get to Sweden and start making babies just in case the work-’til-I-die plan proves unfeasible?)
Seriously, I took an early retirement… spent a lot of it at Winterland, the Fillmore, Keystone Corner, the Matrix, Great American Music Hall next to the Mitchell Brother’s place on O’Farrell and sleeping on the beach outside of Esalen, sneaking in to use the baths after midnight, hitching up and down the coast just to see how far a lid of Panama red would take me, riding in step-vans with poor suspension, rocking from side to side around curves on narrow winding roads in the hills of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, wild gypsy violins and Bob Dylan playing loud, coming out of the sunshine and into the fog on Annapolis Road on the way to Gualala where a $12 room with clean sheets on the bed was available overlooking the ocean across Highway One in the old Gualala Hotel.
Yes, I took an early retirement and now I’m paying for that questionable investment that I’m reluctant to call a misspent youth. But I wonder if it’s rationalization on my part, or just a decent realism that underlies my conviction that I would rather not think of life as partitioned sequentially by education, career, and retirement. Rather, it makes sense to me that we do what we want to do when we want to do it, and if there are constraints due to lack of money or imagination, government repression or poor socialization, why we still each do our best to do the next right thing for us.
Except for taxes. It’s my hope, my dream, my vision, that the federal government should take every dime Eric Norlin makes and redistribute the money to older poor people who suffer ill health. And I hope those wretched few who are supported by Eric’s tax dollars do something decent with the money, like piss it away at the quarter slots or the bingo table at the nearest native American casino. They’re entitled.