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Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-19-2005, 10:10 PM   #1
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Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

The subtitle is "How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America".

This is one of the most interesting ER books I've ever read. It's a combination of retirement history & profiles of retirees who've found their fulfillment through volunteer work.

I was fascinated by his history of society's views of retirement. It's been 100 years since Dr. William Osler told the world that "men over 40 are a useless drain on society and an impediment to efficiency & progress". By the 1930s, "old" people were regarded as workplace deadwood and an obstruction to the younger, poorer generation. Social Security was the excuse for mandatory retirement rules. The generations were polarized, with many retirees resigned to watching their grandchildren while their children made their own careers. Retirement was a deathwatch, not an avocation.

Then Del Webb started Sun City in 1960. I wasn't around at the time and I'd never heard of any of this-- especially the figures showing the ads & brochures. Freedman describes Webb's career and then tells how the company basically invented the concept of the "Golden Years".

Sun City is still going strong, but today its inhabitants are also accused of being "greedy geezers". Retirees have the reputation of being a powerful lobby group protecting SS & Medicare while shooting down school funding and any family-friendly legislation that might raise geriatric property taxes.

For a couple pages at the start of each chapter, Freedman profiles the exceptions to this retiree stereotype. Most of them found that they can't turn it off, while others accidentally slid into their volunteer work after a significant life experience (like losing a spouse). Two women work with kids at a pediatric hospital. Physicians retire to start free clinics, and then discover that they're also free to practice medicine without HMO bureaucracy or other restrictions. Others tutor in school or even teach kids how to fish while appreciating the environment.

After the profiles, Freedman describes how various initiatives developed and how retirees keep them growing. (I'd never heard of Foster Grandparents or the Experience Corps or several other govt/foundation programs.) Then he promotes legislation to encourage more third-age volunteers with stipends or tax breaks to lift seniors above the poverty line. Pump-priming would give elderly retirees a chance to stay active in society without burdening human services or healthcare programs. And even without legislation, there are plenty of foundations or other charities making it happen.

So if you're still at the "But what will I DO all day?" stage, here's plenty of food for thought.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...989604-5335105
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-20-2005, 03:58 AM   #2
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

I am all for "voluntary volunteerism". Yes, it's
redundant but there is such a thing as compulsory
volunteerism and I expect it to grow exponentially.

I was driving home from a lunch with some friends yesterday and passed a Del Webb "Sun City"
near Huntley, Illinois (outside of Chicago). Every time
I see this I think "What an odd place to put it!" Lots
of houses though. Maybe they are all empty?

I will never go back to work and it is unlikely I will get
involved in volunteer work either. If I had the "zip" I had 10 years ago, I am quite certain I would be "working"
in some way, but only if I had total control over the time, etc.
All behind me now. Many of you must discover this for yourselves, but hopefully at a more advanced age than I.
One day you'll realize "Gee, I can't do that any more!"
It sneaks up on you. Typically you will not see it coming.

JG
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-20-2005, 04:00 AM   #3
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

There is an organization in my town of retired business owners. They act as mentors to people starting their own business. Great organization.
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-20-2005, 05:06 AM   #4
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Hello Martha! One of the great calamities of this century
will be the loss of everything that's in my head when I
go to my "reward" Too tired to teach and too lazy to write. OTOH, I really believe that almost everyone has at least one good book based on their life. You just need
someone to write it. In my case, if I started today
I couldn't get it all down. I might not be able to write
it so anyone would buy it, but somebody could.

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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-20-2005, 08:37 AM   #5
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

John, I'd think that paid volunteerism would be right up your alley. "Compulsory volunteerism" sounds like another phrase for "200 hours of community service"; I see our local DUI squads cutting highway grass & picking trash just about every day.

Quote:
I was driving home from a lunch with some friends yesterday and passed a Del Webb "Sun City" near Huntley, Illinois (outside of Chicago).
That one received special attention in the book: "[Webb Company] has also started building Sun Cities in unusual places like Huntley, Illinois, outside of Chicago, to key into research showing that many of the new retirees want to remain near opportunities for continued work. This Sun City, a misnomer if there ever was one, given the area's notoriously foul weather, sold out virtually overnight."

In the "We don't build shuffleboard courts anymore" category, they apparently build fitness centers, Internet cafes, and other marketing messages like "Redefining Retirement", "Retire Without Really Retiring", and "Shattering the myth of retirement". (Whatever the heck those mean.)

I doubt the "Sun City" concept would catch on here. I think I'll stick to our hale loa until I'm too frail to scamper up & down the backyard hillside orchard.
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 05:34 AM   #6
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Quote:
John, I'd think that paid volunteerism would be right up your alley. "Compulsory volunteerism" sounds like another phrase for "200 hours of community service"; I see our local DUI squads cutting highway grass & picking trash just about every day.
There has been discussion in some states of requiring lawyers to do volunteer legal work for a certain number of hours each year to maintain their licenses. I am a strong proponent of volunteering, I have received our communities volunteer attorney of the year award twice. But compulsory volunteering? Seems very wrong to me.

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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 06:48 AM   #7
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Sounds like lawyer bashing to me, Martha. I've heard of similar things for Doctors. I guess the idea is these people are so succesful they should be forced to share. I can't imagine it would hold up under any "equal protection" constitutional scrutiny, but you would have a more informed opinion than I on that.
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 07:07 AM   #8
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Quote:
I've heard of similar things for Doctors.
Doctor/lawyer volunteering was an interesting part of "Prime Time". Lawyer's jobs probably don't get better doing pro bono, but doctors had a huge jump in workplace quality.

One theme of a free clinic was that, also "free" of HMO rules, doctors could spend more time getting to know a patient (while the patient was also building trust). One patient had seen several doctors about his chronic neck/shoulder muscle seizures. During his first visit to the free San Mateo clinic doctors they spent an hour getting to know him and his lifestyle. Turns out he was sleeping in his car... problem diagnosed although not necessarily solved.

A doctor at a free Hilton Head clinic kept getting phone calls from his old patients who wanted to continue seeing "their" doctor. They even offered to pay his old rates. He told them that he'd treat them for the same rate as his current patients (free), as long as they qualified by giving away all their assets and limiting their annual income to $10K. That didn't gain him many patients or friends but it sure did boost the clinic's donations...

So, Martha, is John Grisham writing novels because he's a really good lawyer or a really really bad lawyer?
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 07:09 AM   #9
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Here is the "real deal" folks. It is not "lawyer bashing"
but rather PC thinking run amok. You are going to see
"compulsory volunteering" (a total oxymoron) in venues
you can't imagine. It's spreading like crazy in high schools. But, it's for the "common good" don't you know? This is driven by guilty libs who are miserable
unless they have some loopy cause to promote,
like those wackos wanting the tubes reinserted down in Florida. I know where I would like to see some tubes inserted. EOR (End of Rant).

JG
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 07:51 AM   #10
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Yep

There was a strong wave 'volunteering' in my last years in the corporate workforce. The acceptable PC kind - with - wink, wink - implied browny points for moving up corporate ladder.
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 08:25 AM   #11
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Yeah, at my work they seem to have fundraisers every other week, but that's nothing compared to what my little brother had to go through. In high school, he was told that while he was a varsity athlete with a 4.0 GPA in honors and A.P. classes, and got a 1400 on his SAT, he needed to get in about 200 "volunteer" hours to be seriously considered for acceptance at his college of choice UC Berkley. He was NOT happy about it, but he gritted his teeth, got through it, and is now enjoying himself immensely there. Biology major, seems to have an active social life, not sure when he is sleeping....
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 09:22 AM   #12
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Quote:
Here is the "real deal" folks. *It is not "lawyer bashing"
but rather PC thinking run amok. *You are going to see
"compulsory volunteering" *(a total oxymoron) in venues
you can't imagine. *It's spreading like crazy in high schools. *But, it's for the "common good" don't you know? *This is driven by guilty libs who are miserable
unless they have some loopy cause to promote,
like those wackos wanting the tubes reinserted down in Florida. *I know where I would like to see some tubes inserted. *EOR (End of Rant).

JG
Sorry JG -
I don't think it's the "guilty libs." If libs (or anyone else) want to volunteer - they do it without being forced. Sounds more like keeping the government out of assistance/welfare - relying on the private sector agenda that is pushing the "required volunteerism".

And if you hadn't noticed, it's not the liberals who want the feeding tube reinserted.
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-21-2005, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

My dad lives in the local Sun City. Hated the idea when first brought up by the realtor but he liked the place he ended up buying.

Its an interesting little microcosm with regards to its operation and management. Seems to me to be manned by people who "used to be somebody" and are trying to exert influence or power from their role as a "board member".

They hire people who are obviously incompetent to do a lot of the work. My bet is they're relatives or friends. They spend money like drunken sailors re-modelling the clubhouse and restaurant that nobody uses, when they were just remodelled a few years ago. They refuse to open up the books to the association members. The monthly dues have doubled in 4 years with no end in sight. When the board members are questioned about the fees getting too high for some of the older residents the answer is "Then they can move.".

Interesting to hear the weekly goings on there.

Other than that, nice place. 27 holes of golf, pools, hot tubs, game rooms, big screen tv's, library, and about a dozen 'classes' daily from woodworking to dance. When we first looked at it I said "hmm...summer camp for old folks!".
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-22-2005, 09:41 AM   #14
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

th said ... "They hire people who are obviously incompetent to do a lot of the work. My bet is they're relatives or friends. They spend money like drunken sailors re-modelling the clubhouse and restaurant that nobody uses, when they were just remodelled a few years ago. They refuse to open up the books to the association members. The monthly dues have doubled in 4 years with no end in sight. When the board members are questioned about the fees getting too high for some of the older residents the answer is "Then they can move.". "

Residents should organize and get a lawyer - if they won't show the books, the board members or property manager is most likely stealing money.

We've just gone through the exact same thing at our condo complex - so I know of what I speak. You need a lawyer that specializes in condominium law, not just real estate law.

Sparky
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-22-2005, 01:44 PM   #15
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

Quote:
th said ... "They hire people who are obviously incompetent to do a lot of the work. My bet is they're relatives or friends. They spend money like drunken sailors re-modelling the clubhouse and restaurant that nobody uses, when they were just remodelled a few years ago. They refuse to open up the books to the association members. The monthly dues have doubled in 4 years with no end in sight. When the board members are questioned about the fees getting too high for some of the older residents the answer is "Then they can move.". "

Residents should organize and get a lawyer - if they won't show the books, the board members or property manager is most likely stealing money.

We've just gone through the exact same thing at our condo complex - so I know of what I speak. You need a lawyer that specializes in condominium law, not just real estate law.

Sparky
They sort of tried that. A group organized to demand opening the books. They got a room at the golf course next door and had about 100 people show up. Unfortunately the 'alpha dogs' from the board showed up and catcalled the people who were speaking while someone appeared to be observing and writing down the names of the people who showed up.

Its solvable by simply voting different people in to the board...there are board term limits but only per job, so the same people keep getting back on the board in a different capacity every election. And it appears that nobody else wants to do it or feels like flying into the fracas. Some real juicy stuff from time to time, like when they put in a gas pump onsite to refuel the maintenance vehicles only to find the board members gassing up for free, credit cards with instant 10k balances that were supposed to be used for business expenses, a dozen PC's bought for the board that never materialized inside the clubhouse, etc.

Sounds like they're asking for trouble, but I bet the enron/worldcom guys thought they could get away with it too...the problem is these boards have so much power, at least in california, that one needs to tread carefully unless they want to front $30-50k for a lawyer to really put up a fight. Last time I saw one of those go on myself, it went for 3 years before the guy gave up in exchange for the HOA offering to pay part of his legal bills and him moving out of the association. The ball buster for the guy was that the HOA was charging him (and the other residents) special assessments every year to pay for the legal bills on their side, and when he refused to pay to fight himself, they put a lien on his property with the original amount, late fees, and interest. All that had to be paid out of escrow when he sold. I heard it was thousands of dollars.

Interesting situation. After my own HOA fiasco's and my dads observations, there will be no more homeowners associations in my future...
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-23-2005, 11:44 AM   #16
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Re: Book report: *Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

th wrote ... "Interesting situation. After my own HOA fiasco's and my dads observations, there will be no more homeowners associations in my future... "

I hear ya. It took a herculean effort to get rid of the entrenched abusive board and a property manager in collusion with 2 board members.

We're just beginning to unravel it all. In CT, there were state statutes passed in 1990 after property managers stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, but there were no teeth attached to the statutes, so we're having a difficult time holding the prop manager accountable.

Even though I now know the right questions to ask for a future HOA, I don't think I would have the stomach for it.

Sparky
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"
Old 03-23-2005, 12:52 PM   #17
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Re: Book report:  Marc Freedman's "Prime Time"

What most people dont realize is that HOA's have huge lobby groups working state and federal governments. A whole boatload of statutes have been passed that gives an unbelievable amount of power to HOAs and very little to people living in them.

My last one was benign compared to my dads. They just took the money and very overtly did nothing with it that they were supposed to do. And said "So what?" or "Sorry you're having that problem, let us know how it turns out" if you inquired. Thats the one the guy battled for years saying that there was breach of contract. Every law in the books was against him.

Funny part is, the same group of people on our board were trying to establish city-hood for the fru-fru town I lived in, I'm sure with the dreams of becoming mayor and whatnot. I wrote a delightful letter to the well distributed local paper about what these folks had managed to NOT accomplish in their rein with the HOA.

5 years later they're still trying to establish cityhood. Forewarned I hope in part by my letter, the residents keep slapping it down every time it comes up for a vote.
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