At the core of the Lifecycling. net website is the principle of throughput, in other words, all of the energy and resources needed to produce the things we want to have that support our lifestyle. Personally, I am of the baby boomer generation and understanding how to retire is very important to me and to many others in my age group. We need to understand that we exchange money for the energy and resources we use to maintain our lifestyle. When you hire someone you are paying them so they are able to exchange money for the resources they need to maintain their lifestyle. If that person has a high throughput lifestyle they will need to charge more their services. As we grow older many of us will be dependent on a fixed income to lead a comfortable life as we reach our elderly years. As resources become more expensive than our inflow of money, a comfortable retirement will become harder and harder as we age.
Throughout the website are ideas to reduce throughput in ones’ lifestyle and still maintain a comfortable way of living. This is becoming more important as we move into an uncertain future. If resources are reduced for any number of reasons and the system supporting the lifestyle is high in throughput, then the standard of living decreases. For background information on throughput and resource availability please read Intro to Throughput or Throughput: An Illustration
The global economy has been stagnant since 2008 due to the debt load. Countries, provinces or counties, cities, municipalities and individuals have all promised to pay in the future for the resources they use in the present. Now that the future has come it is very hard to get the economy flourishing again. As the economy slowed down interest rates and bond yields moved down, this discouraged saving and encouraged spending, however this did not work. Pension companies depend on high yields to pay for their high throughput of running their companies, and still they need to have enough money to pay for all the retired recipients. Have the pension companies turned to higher yielding investments such as oil and steel? Previously these were a sure investment, however recently they have experienced heavy losses. Unfortunately, there are many pension funds that are finding themselves underfunded. For example Detroit’s pensions did not have the money to pay recipients and luckily made the so called “Grand Bargain” which was a compromise with the pensioners. Private foundations contributed millions of dollars and the pensioners agreed to a cut in their pensions as well as a cost of living adjustment and health care benefits. (Detroit bankruptcy: Underfunded pension funds could trip up other municipalities. – Lester Graham – Dec. 1, 2015) Will these benefactors donate millions to future pension defaults? After 2014 a new Federal law passed allowing companies the ability to cut pensions. The Central State Pension Fund, located in Kansas, had to cut their benefits drastically, in many cases up to one half, to remain solvent and yet they still may go broke. Ten years ago all pensions were thought to be safe investments but the lists of those which are not keep growing. Can others that are deemed safe today be vulnerable in the coming years?
There have been different investigations into the fiscal security of the middle class. It was found that about one half of the middle class do not have $400 for an emergency. According to the Pew Charitable Trust almost one half of Americans are living close to the financial edge wondering if they can meet their bills. These studies are outlined in the Atlantic in the May 2015 article “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans”. As more resources are needed just to maintain a certain standard of living and at the same time the amount of resources available through inflation, low yields, or decrease in payouts, it is clear that what is starting to become visible is just the beginning of a long term trend of the decline of our culture due to the energy, resource and monetary relationship. For more information about resource availability visit History of the Yurt Chapter 2.
As a culture we could avoid the hard consequences. If those with more access to resources (more wealth) were to build low throughput communities it would leave a legacy into the future. There are added bonuses to developing this new culture. If groups of people decided on this kind of community the elderly, with all their experiences and knowledge, can add to the development of such a community. Older people with purpose live longer and healthier lives. The simple lifestyle is very complex, a paradox that keeps the aging mind active and less susceptible to dementia. Also, there is more physical labor in setting up such a system thus helping to keep one more physically fit and lowering the expenses of health care. Instead of working at a job well past retirement age to pay for the entire throughput we could be building a model, building our lives, and enjoying life.