Half of our country has saved squat for retirement.
- Stagnant wages (compared to the cost of living) leave little to squirrel away.
- Debt payments, especially among Millennials in the form of student loans, gobble up the crumbs.
- Greedy Wall Street firms charge egregious fees for their services.
- The maze of confusing retirement plan options doesn’t help the situation.
These are all valid statements but they don’t tell the full story.
Most of us are crazy and reside in our own versions of reality.
Just when we think people have reached the summit of Mt. Absurdity, there’s always a new peak to climb.
Kurt Andersen tracks the history of the fantasy industrial complex in his book, Fantasyland.
Our nation was founded by gold bugs in Virginia and religious cults in Massachusetts – then things got really weird.
According to Andersen, arrival at peak fantasy land resulted from this perfect storm of delusion and denial:
- Misplaced nostalgia
- A mistrust of experts
- An epidemic of conspiracy theories
- A gate-keeper-free internet
Despite remarkable scientific progress, in 2018 Americans believe the following:
- 66% believe angels and demons are citizens of the planet.
- 33% feel global warming is a hoax and conspiracy created by scientists, the government and journalists.
- 33% think the earliest humans looked just like us.
- 25% insist vaccines cause autism, witches are real, and Donald Trump won the 2016 popular vote.
Millions participate in:
- LARPing, live-action role-playing undertaken by grown-ass adults.
- MISLIM, armed confrontation scenarios conducted by civilians for entertainment purposes.
- Doomsday Prepping, survivalists busily stacking underground silos with freeze-dried food preparing for the impending Apocalypse.
Never mind the millions speaking in tongues and ditching doctors for faith healers.
Multitudes insist they have been abducted by aliens and the government is in secret negotiations with beings that arrived in flying saucers.
Real life is way weirder than the X-Files.
Tell me again why saving for retirement is a rational response to several anticipated decades of living without a regular paycheck?
No wonder people believe financial myths.
Fantasyland is a big component of retirement planning.
These gems are often spoken with a straight face.
- “I don’t have to worry, Bitcoin, Pot Stocks, and 1990 Internet Companies are terrific long-term investments.”
- “I can spend $50,000 a year for 30 years with funds generated by my $300,000 IRA.”
- “I want to keep my long-term assets in cash until things settle down.”
- “I am not paying any fees to my broker.”
- “I play the lottery but don’t contribute to my company matched 401(k).”
- “I need life insurance because I am going to live a long life but will take Social Security early because I might die soon.”
- “Gold buried in my yard is a sound retirement plan.”
- “My company stock is my best investment.”
- “My home is my 401(k).”
- “Options are easy to trade.”
- “Triple leveraged funds are an excellent addition to my IRA.”
- “I own 50 mutual funds so I am pretty much diversified.”
What’s more amazing is some people actually have rational retirement plans. The denial of science, data, and reason is rampant and real.
Just don’t ask the guy dressed like Chewbacca about this contagion.
Source: Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen