7/17/2006

what is age? or what is old?

Today we are still grappling with the outdated concept of a retirement age. It was 55 for many years until a few years ago. Then it was raised to 60 and then 62. But acceptance of this higher retirement age is still very reluctant among the industries and the young turks in their 40s. These are people in top management postions who think that they will forever be in their 40s, forever young. Last week we were host to an eminent scientist, a Nobel Laureate, in the name of Professor Yang Chen Ning, and all bubbly at the age of 83, that is about 2 dozen years past the 55 or 62 retirement age. Is biological age a good criteria to determine the end of a life time of economic activities? Shall one arbitrally retire and try to live the rest of one's life just keeping oneself alive, away from the economic enterprises of society? It has been proven over and over again that the biological age is no barrier, or a rigid criteria as to the usefulness of a person and how much he can contribute his worth. With our limited human resources, it is so wasteful to write off entire generations of people with a wealth of experience and knowledge just because we cannot change our old ways of thinking that 55 is old. Prof Yang can put many people half his age to shame as he is still fully employed at Tsing Hua University in Beijing as an honorary director of the Centre for Advanced Study. At 50 it is actually middle age and still have 30 useful years to go. With the length of time one is required to pursue an education to be highly skilled or specialised in a profession, to fade away at 55 is just not justifiable. We are still seeing many moribund organisations, ministries, stats boards with their policies tied to this magic number of 55. The CPF board is one of them.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is old ? It is when you start to believe in fantasies like it is possible to service a mortgage on a 5-room flat wholly using CPF on a monthly income of $2000. Or that you can actually have a high standard of living without a corresponding high cost of living. Oops, wait a minute. That is called hallucinating, or maybe symptomatic of someone with dementia.

redbean said...

do you know when he bought the 5 room flat and at what price?

Anonymous said...

I am pushing 50. I think there are real limitations brought about by ageing.

Physically less agile, mentally not so quick and many have stubborn beliefs accumulated over the years.

I believe in letting the market dictate whether we have economic value. We may have perceived value but the employers see the costs that may outweigh your value to them. Usually, it's not about wages, rather attitudes.

However, I am a lazy chap. I don't relish working till I drop dead. There are many things to pursue. Areas where we didn't have time to look into while busy servicing the mortgage and feeding your kids.

The old chinese academic is a honourary director. He could have been retained for prestige's sake.

Not many companies need to do such PR stunts.

Working past old age as an extension of a hobby or passion is enviable. Not many are in this position. For many, retirement age means nothing.

To me, it's sad and pathetic. Retirement used to have this ring of a "reward" for me, like you've reached the finishing line and ready to receive your trophy. Like when you see your children at their graduation ceremonies or their weddings. It's an achievment!

Now, it's endless running ...God, why do Singaporeans feel so proud about that???

redbean said...

hi young man,

so you are pushing 50. once the 40 hurdle is over, time flies. the next thing you know you will be pushing 60 and 70.

retirement should be a personal choice. some actually retire in their 40s or earlier and live a life they so chose. lucky buggers.

on the other hand the employment of the oldies, yes, should leave it to the employers and the market. at the moment we are still stucked with the compensation package that is seniority biased. and no employer will want to pay more if they can get a younger chap for less.

many people are paid way beyond their worth. and some are paid in millions and still expect to get increments and bonuses regardless of what they are doing. there is no shame when collecting fat pay is concerned.

what are the employers paying? value of the job or job worth? value of the man or his skills/contribution? or how long he stays on the job? there have been a lot of overpayment for the wrong reasons. sometimes paying a titan for making coffee, or paying a dud to do a job requiring a titan. sometimes paying a dud the price of a titan to make coffee.

all these causes a lot of stress in the job market.

also, our infrastructure, policies and regulations all works around the magic number 55. it requires a major overhaul of the whole system and the way a person's worth changes the moment 55 is reached.

it is frightening to think of living for another 30 years doing nothing. even going on holidays can be very stressful and tiring after some time.

it is one's blessing to be over the problem of feeding oneself and able to do just what one wants to do.

internet chatterbox said...

What about those who do not have a choice, but have to keep working to survive? Can we just leave it to the market to employ them?

Anonymous said...

The capitalist system is not perfect. there will be those who will slip through the cracks. Those of us who have yet to reach that state can only strive or pray that we don't end up as one of them. Nothing much can be done about that.

redbean said...

hi internet chatterbox, welcome.

the views of the anarchists is to let them fend for themselves as best they could or they shall perish. natural selection does not have sympathy for the weak and helpless.

as a society where there is this urge to want to help the less able, the state shall do something. but of course, how much can the state do? but at least in the areas of a roof over the head, 3 meals, water and electricity, these are the bare minimum that Comcare or govt assistance should look at.

to help the downtrodden distinguish man from animals.

it is sad but true that there are many who just cannot help themselves.

Ash Phua said...

I just hit 55.

For the past 40 years, we have been cultured to be chasers and not livers. No, not tur kwa but liver as in living a full life!

We spend all our time accumulating wealth. We then reach a stage in life where we have to use all our wealth to restore our health. It's funny but true. I've been there and done that!

I had a heart attack and ventricular fibrillation at age 48. I was literally shocked back to life and sentenced to a life of prescription drugs.

Where employers are concerned, at 48, you are over the hills. With the bonus of a heart attack, you are as good as 6-feet-under.

I have been jobless since.

If not for my health insurance, I would have died from financial stress! However, insurance payout doesn't last forever and 7 years without income is no joke.

I could have walked into the sunset and say, "Goodbye cruel world". I'm glad I didn't.

In any situation we are in, we can choose to be bitter or better. Better is my Only Option.

Though I'm unemployable, I choose to be better and do the best I can.
I am now a Health Evangelist and Practitioner, QBE.

They say you can't teach an old dog new trick. I say if you want it bad enough, you'll work at it and you'll get it!

Yes, 2 years ago at age 53, I even learned MS Frontpage and I built myself a webbie on health and wellness. I even wrote a journal on my heart attack!

The art of living is to die young ... as late as possible. If you wish to know how, please visit www.ashphua.com

Thank you for allowing me to share.

Ash Phua

Ash Phua said...

Ash Phua said...
I just hit 55.

For the past 40 years, we have been cultured to be chasers and not livers. No, not tur kwa but liver as in living a full life!

We spend all our time accumulating wealth. We then reach a stage in life where we have to use all our wealth to restore our health. It's funny but true. I've been there and done that!

I had a heart attack and ventricular fibrillation at age 48. I was literally shocked back to life and sentenced to a life of prescription drugs.

Where employers are concerned, at 48, you are over the hills. With the bonus of a heart attack, you are as good as 6-feet-under.

I have been jobless since.

If not for my health insurance, I would have died from financial stress! However, insurance payout doesn't last forever and 7 years without income is no joke.

I could have walked into the sunset and say, "Goodbye cruel world". I'm glad I didn't.

In any situation we are in, we can choose to be bitter or better. Better is my Only Option.

Though I'm unemployable, I choose to be better and do the best I can.
I am now a Health Evangelist and Practitioner, QBE.

They say you can't teach an old dog new trick. I say if you want it bad enough, you'll work at it and you'll get it!

Yes, 2 years ago at age 53, I even learned MS Frontpage and I built myself a webbie on health and wellness. I even wrote a journal on my heart attack!

The art of living is to die young ... as late as possible. If you wish to know how, please visit www.ashphua.com

Thank you for allowing me to share.

Ash Phua

redbean said...

hi ash phua,

wow, you made it at 48! it must be tough! but like everyone said, there's a will, there's a way. thanks for sharing.

cpf minimum sum scheme and medisave came a bit too late. but what the shit, even if they thought about it earlier you will be in deeper shit as you are too old to work and too young to touch the your savings. you need to hit 62 before they start to dispense a little of your money back to you.

in the meantime you die or suffer from having no money that is your problem.

the internet is actually a very wonderful tool. it gives a new life to many. there are many things one can do in the net. even as a form of entertainment or lifestyle. instead of window shopping, now we can pop in and out of windows but staying at home. quite a cheap way to pass time.

but the avenue for doing business in the net has not been fully developed as yet. and this will grow and transform the lives of many, working at home, self employed. and the things one can do is only limited by one's own imagination. the internet allows us to speak to the world, the world literally at our finger tips.

enjoy your life and your new pursuits my friend.

Ash Phua said...

Thanks my redbean friend.

I appreciate your response.

The greatest gift we can give those we love is to stay healthy.

Cheers,
Ash

redbean said...

that's very true. but it is only a matter of time before our body goes into despair, irreparable.

when that day comes, better make it swift and painless.

we all need to go on our next journey.

Anonymous said...

justifiable or not, is not up to the individual but the market place. for as long as your skills are needed by the market, you can always find a job. Take a leaf from our reverand MM himself. I don't see him having a problem finding a job.

redbean said...

the real talents will be real talents. there is a saying that real gold is not afraid of fire.

why is there a need to be bothered with those who can't make it, who wallowed in self pity, who could not be bothered to make it?

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