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Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-02-2005, 11:48 PM   #1
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Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Personal finance columnist Scott Burns just had the 3rd of 4 installments of a feature series in today's paper.

The feature series tracks three generations of Americans, and the economic and social forces acting on them. Three weeks ago, when I started reading the first installment, I wondered how he picked these particular people. I then figured it must be his family, and I'd see him in it somewhere. No, no one named Scott. But at the end of the first, there was a note that "Scott Burns" is the pen name for Robert Burns (aka "Bobby").

"Bobby" was born in 1940, so Scott (Bobby) is/will be 65 this year. Can't help feeling while reading the series that this is his Swan Song, and will retire this year.

I always look forward to reading Scott's column, have clipped and saved quite a few. I don't always agree with him, but who ever agrees with someone else 100%?

I'll miss him, really*
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 12:44 AM   #2
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

The first three pieces have been fascinating. I sure hope you're wrong about him retiring.

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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 10:04 AM   #3
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

A thoughtful and articulate series.

As far as the ongoing debate regarding 'choices' vs 'luck', in these articles I see a lot of choices, decisions, and hard work creating in many cases good fortune from humble and deleterious beginnings.

I also see the interesting stat showing that since 1950 the average number of hours worked by an american dropping from 94,389 to 69,509.

I managed approximately 51750 hours before ERing...'gaining back' approximately 8 total years of life not spent in a cubicle.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 10:08 AM   #4
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly
"Bobby" was born in 1940, so Scott (Bobby) is/will be 65 this year. Can't help feeling while reading the series that this is his Swan Song, and will retire this year.
It's hard to believe that this opinionated ol' cuss won't be writing until he drops in harness.

He'll be writing at least until he outlives the debate over "take SS now or later".
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 11:34 AM   #5
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Originally Posted by ()
A thoughtful and articulate series.

As far as the ongoing debate regarding 'choices' vs 'luck', in these articles I see a lot of choices, decisions, and hard work creating in many cases good fortune from humble and deleterious beginnings.

I also see the interesting stat showing that since 1950 the average number of hours worked by an american dropping from 94,389 to 69,509.

I managed approximately 51750 hours before ERing...'gaining back' approximately 8 total years of life not spent in a cubicle.
?? Isn't everyone talking about how we have become workaholics and are working longer and longer weeks/days? That is a VERY interesting stat, I'd be interested in seeing the numbers behind it. Certianly puts a pin in that balloon!
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 11:54 AM   #6
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Indeed...historically people went to work at full time jobs much earlier in life, worked harder and longer, and as formal 'retirement' and social security are fairly modern constructions, worked until they dropped.

From
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/scottburns/...
(go ahead and register with a fake name and email...)

We see...
[between 1950 and 1993...when all sorts of bad financial and political things happened...]
In spite of all this upheaval, the average workweek declined from 37.1 hours to 34.5 hours, the number of retirees climbed from 13.3 million to 25.3 million, attendance at symphonies and orchestras ballooned from 12.7 million to 43.6 million, and the average size of a new home grew from 1,500 square feet to 2,080 square feet.

Most of these figures have continued to grow and improve in the last 15 years.

Some will dismiss these measures as crass materialism, as more evidence that we have collectively run amok. A closer look shows expanding possibilities and improvement in all aspects of our lives.

What Mr. Cox and Mr. Alm show is that we:

•Spend more time learning.

•Enter the workforce later.

•Leave it earlier.

•And live longer in retirement.

That isn't crass materialism. It's a better quality of life.

It's the reason thousands of immigrants, legal and illegal, undertake incredible journeys to start a new life in America. They want to pour the foundation of hope for their children, just as Joanne, Bobby and Steve have been intent on doing for theirs.

Since 1950 alone, our lifetime hours at work have dropped from 94,389 to 69,509. Our working at home has also declined, from 81,474 hours to 59,800 hours.

What has expanded?

Our waking leisure: It has ballooned from 216,854 lifetime hours to 308,368 hours, the beneficiary of a longer childhood, a longer retirement and a shorter workweek.

This leaves us with an awkward question:

If the reality is this good, why don't we feel a lot better?

One answer is simple but subtle: We are the victims of our expectations, not our realities. We live in an environment of constant expectation-setting and expectation-manipulating.

It is possible, even if you have satisfied most of your material wants, to feel that there is something wrong with you for not wanting more.

EDIT: Shortened screen-stretching URL. -BMJ
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 11:59 AM   #7
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Well I can only provide anectodal evidence, but my work is implementing a 9/80, and I know everybody plans to "just work through lunch". yeah, right! :P

So we are wealthier and work less, yet people keep talking about the good old days....
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 12:04 PM   #8
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

You mean the days before mass marketing and advertising became the crux of our everyday lives?

On the other hand, it was a simpler time, with fewer choices and options, and everyone had a fairly well defined role and knew what was expected of them...whether they liked those roles and expectations or they were good ones is another matter.

I've heard a few wise people opine that choice is the bane of our existence. I think they might be right. Faced with a myriad of options, people either do nothing in analysis paralysis or spend more time deciding what to do than to do it, or do many different things badly rather than one or two things well.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 12:09 PM   #9
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Originally Posted by ()

On the other hand, it was a simpler time, with fewer choices and options, and everyone had a fairly well defined role and knew what was expected of them...whether they liked those roles and expectations or they were good ones is another matter.
Hey, you can say that about slavery, the caste system in rural India, indentured servitude, fundamentalist muslim theocracies in the middle east.... I'll take my chances in this era-oh wait, since my time machine broke, I don't have a choice.

....seriously, maybe human beans are just hard-wired to be unhappy. Look at the Jetsons, George complaining about having to push the button 3 times at work that day! :
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 12:27 PM   #10
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
Well I can only provide anectodal evidence, but my work is implementing a 9/80, and I know everybody plans to "just work through lunch". yeah, right! :P

So we are wealthier and work less, yet people keep talking about the good old days....
When 9/80 was implemented at MegaCorp, a lot of people were coming in on the off-Friday. For them, it meant more hours, not less.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 01:42 PM   #11
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Originally Posted by ()

I've heard a few wise people opine that choice is the bane of our existence. I think they might be right. Faced with a myriad of options, people either do nothing in analysis paralysis or spend more time deciding what to do than to do it, or do many different things badly rather than one or two things well.
Read Paradox of Choice. This is one of the author's major points.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 07:12 PM   #12
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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What Mr. Cox and Mr. Alm show is that we:

•Spend more time learning.

•Enter the workforce later.

•Leave it earlier.

•And live longer in retirement.
Nice to see that. I sometimes wonder where the cumulative impact of all the productivity enhancements through the ages is spent. You would think by now that we'd be able to work a few hours a day and produce everything everyone needs. But instead it seems we keep coming up with new needs that keep people working longer and harder. I guess productivity is gaining some ground based on the above quote (and by the mere existance of a forum dedicated to early retirement), but it usually doesn't seem to be the case judging from everyday life.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 07:44 PM   #13
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
Hey, you can say that about slavery, the caste system in rural India, indentured servitude, fundamentalist muslim theocracies in the middle east.... I'll take my chances in this era-oh wait, since my time machine broke, I don't have a choice.

....seriously, maybe human beans are just hard-wired to be unhappy. Look at the Jetsons, George complaining about having to push the button 3 times at work that day! :
Like I said, whether they're good or not is another discussion.

Reminds me of a comics bit about cruise control. Went something like this:

We used to have to walk everywhere.
Then we got to ride horses and that was a lot better.
Then we got cars, and that was even better.
All we have to do in a car is push a pedal down a little bit, but thats apparently too hard, so we got cruise control.
Now what do we do with cruise control? We come up on a guy going too slow...instead of hitting the brakes we swerve from one lane to another to somehow get around him without disengaging the cruise control.

Because...then we'd have to hit that button again.

HOW LAZY CAN WE GET

Its simple. We've been saturated to the tune of billions of dollars to believe that the PERFECT life is just one more purchase away...that $4 cup of coffee, that $10,000 tv, that $100,000 car, that $1,000,000 house.

We keep buying stuff. We keep working harder. We arent any happier as a result.

Best moment of my life was when I realized that stuff and other people werent ever going to make me happier, and to learn to be a whole and happy person all by myself. Then you get rid of the stuff and the costs, then the job, then spend a lot of time with you guys.

Waitaminit...
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 07:54 PM   #14
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

EXACTLY! I just got rid of the passat, with all it's bells and whistles (and ensuing bills) and now drive a stick shift compact car, and I'm having more fun than I've had driving in years! KISS method all the way.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 07:56 PM   #15
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Best moment of my life was when I realized that stuff and other people werent ever going to make me happier, and to learn to be a whole and happy person all by myself.* Then you get rid of the stuff and the costs, then the job
Some stuff makes me happy * *Mostly food stuff though. *Wine makes me happy! *Beer makes my happy! *Even my $2 coffee makes me happy! *

Most of the other stuff I can live without.

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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 08:05 PM   #16
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Oh dont get me wrong. Some stuff puts a big dumb grin on my face too.

I'm just not willing to work 70 hours a week putting up with incredible stress and bullshit to be able to buy it.

I'll just send my WIFE off to work for it now (man I hope she never reads this board)
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 08:09 PM   #17
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

Quote:
I've heard a few wise people opine that choice is the bane of our existence. I think they might be right. Faced with a myriad of options, people either do nothing in analysis paralysis or spend more time deciding what to do than to do it, or do many different things badly rather than one or two things well.
I also read an article on "choices". The point was look at something simple like blue jeans and how many choices you have and how that makes you not so happy. That is why I find something that I need and buy the same thing over and over again. Marketers must really dislike me. Otherwise, analyticals like me waste too much time making decisions.
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 08:19 PM   #18
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Originally Posted by maddythebeagle

I also read an article on "choices". The point was look at something simple like blue jeans and how many choices you have and how that makes you not so happy. That is why I find something that I need and buy the same thing over and over again. Marketers must really dislike me. Otherwise, analyticals like me waste too much time making decisions.
I like choice. Sometimes I like a nice Cabernet. Other times I'm in the mood for a Pinot, or a Rioja, no make that a Shiraz with my roast. Sometimes its a Sierra Nevada or a Duvel to go with the chicken and cashews.

Ummmm delicious, delicious choices. They are truly the spice of life.

Jeans - who cares? They still come in blue, right?
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 08:33 PM   #19
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

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Now what do we do with cruise control?*
Ours keeps failing on our '94 Ford Taurus. Every once in a while I'll disconnect the car battery for other repairs and that fixes the cruise control-- until the next hung bit or register overflow. Of course then I have to reprogram the @#$% radio presets, too, so we'll go months without "fixing" the cruise control.

The car must have Intel Inside with a Microsoft OS.

If I never had it, I'd never miss it.

I know, who needs cruise control on an island anyway...
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?
Old 10-03-2005, 10:39 PM   #20
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Re: Scott Burn's Swan Song?

I drive a Prizm, 3-speed with no cruise control, power window or power lock. It does have AC though for those hot summer days.
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