Retirement Savings Will Become the '4th Rail,' Only for Taxes to Plummet
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The story keeps writing itself. In 2018 I published a book titled The End of Work. Sadly, my working and more appropriate title (The End of Laziness) was nixed by the publisher. Whatever the title, the book’s thesis stands: work is evolving in a wondrous way whereby jobs will increasingly reflect the unique skills and intelligence of the individual. Laziness is set to decline in concert with much better compensated work that we can’t get enough of.

Why does the story keep writing itself? It does because it’s difficult to pick up a newspaper these days without reading about well-paid jobs that have so little to do with back-breaking work. Losing your hair? There’s a job for you. The New York Times recently reported on a lack of hirsute qualities bringing with it potential riches. Yes, those willing to chronicle their fight against looming hair loss online, and who are willing to showcase the products used in their battle, are increasingly well-paid for doing so.

This is the genius of a globalized work force in concert with a globalized force of doing and thinking machines. The more that life’s necessities and luxuries are produced in massively abundant fashion born of work divided by machines, the more that humans can exit traditional production in favor of work they can’t get enough of. In The End of Work, the prediction was made that “Entertainment Economy” will follow the agrarian, manufacturing and service economies that came before it. We will do what we’re good at, and that we can’t get enough of.

What this signals is that retirement as a goal and an age will more and more have dated qualities. If work can be about the individual, including the individual’s interest in his own hair loss, video games, and – yes – sleep, the 65-year old age of retirement will render the telephone booth modern by comparison.

Instead of working until we can afford to stop working, today’s and tomorrow’s workers will work until they can’t work anymore. “Senior citizen” will on its own elicit quizzical stares from people simply because “seniors” will be working happily alongside their juniors.

The view here is that these truths have been wholly glossed over by retirement alarmists. And if you’re curious what a retirement alarmist is, simply Google “retirement crisis.” If your computer doesn’t explode (a joke stolen from the great Christopher Buckley who was referencing “Russian corruption”) in response to the search, you will soon be able to scroll pages for the rest of your days full of links to alarmist commentary asserting with utter certitude that Americans don’t have enough retirement savings.

Such a view presumes, as most alarmist views do, that markets are stupid. The people are the market, and those getting closer to the dated notion of “retirement age” are the retirement market. That they allegedly don’t have enough in the way of savings is a powerful market signal suggesting that they don’t need to save in the way that they used to. They don’t simply because they have no intention of exiting the workforce in the way that seniors formerly did at the age of 65.

Where taxes come in is that people understandably do want to have money put away for the future, and better yet, they know the genius of compound returns much better than their self-appointed nannies think they do. With the latter in mind, and with the desire of tomorrow’s seniors to redefine the age at which one becomes a senior, it’s apparent that they’ll want to expose what they have saved and intend to save for retirement to the wonders of compound interest for much, much longer. Think about it.

And in thinking about it, stop and apply the wonders of compound interest to savings that, instead of them being taxed starting at age 65, are delayed until age 85 or later. Suddenly what was never a crisis as is, is turned on its head in prosperous fashion.

With the nature of work changing for the much better such that we will work much longer, forced withdrawal of and taxation of savings meant to fund a retirement that we will fight with all of our being will rally those fighting to work longer. In short, watch interest in Social Security decline as our interest in maximizing our private savings soars. This is the looming 4th rail of politics, and it’s a beautiful one.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors ( His latest book, set for release in April of 2024 and co-authored with Jack Ryan, is Bringing Adam Smith Into the American Home: A Case Against Homeownership

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