Letters to the Editor

Readers write about retirement and the 2008 elections.

The benefits and drawbacks of retirement in America

Regarding the Jan. 14 article, "Welcome to retirement. Now what?": I am now in my fourth year of retirement, and I still struggle with the question, "Should I have taken early retirement?" Articles such as this assure me that I did the right thing.

In retirement, I have traveled to places where I would have never traveled before, and I learned Portuguese. I now have three part-time jobs that keep me connected, contributing something to society, give me a little extra money (which I really don't need), and give me great flexibility. Every day is different.

I particularly liked the part about passing the baton and people who say they'll never retire because they love their job too much.

I agree, these people are afraid of change and, let's face it, change is scary.

I can think of nothing sadder than being forced to retire because of ill health. That's no way to start a new phase of your life filled with endless possibilities.

James May

Regarding the Jan. 14 article on retirement: Someone may have the financial ability to "retire" at 52, but what does it mean? What is society's takeaway when someone says they have retired at a productive point in their life? How is it different from a lottery winner who says he retired at 32?

I'm troubled by the use of the word "retirement." It's anchored with images of people fishing, traveling, and living carefree lives.

I don't think the baby-boom generation will "retire" as much as it will career-shift and move in directions that may have more risk and less financial reward as, for example, in starting a business. But these are no less challenging than the careers that retirees developed in their younger years.

We need to jettison the use of the word "retirement."

In these stories, it is important to recognize that many people won't be able to shift careers easily because their financial goals were not reached.

How many workers have paid pensions, or have lost homes by foreclosure, or are lacking 401(k) plans that can deliver security?

They may never know retirement in any sense, but they are no less because of it.

Patrick Thibodeau

2008 election: Focus on fixing the US

Regarding David D. Perlmutter's Jan. 15 Opinion piece, "Hillary Clinton's Critical Choice": In the upcoming US presidential election, the focus should not be on race or trying to run a nasty campaign to make the other candidate look bad, but on the person who is best suited for the office and who is going to: make real changes; practice integrity, honesty, faith; and do his or her best to fulfill campaign promises.

It is useless for the US to be the international policeman when its home front is a mess. About two-thirds of US adults are overweight, and many are undereducated.

There is no "father" figure in American society, and children and young adults are running wild.

The US must look to help its citizens to first take care of themselves, as government cannot do it all. We, the people, must want to get better.

Let's remember these words from President John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Please note that I am Canadian; however, the US and Canada are affecting each other, whether you like it or not.

Anita Doo
North Vancouver, British Columbia

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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