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Okay, controversial opinion time!

No, I'm not going to tell you all that you should be getting tested regularly regardless of your level of sexual activity, or that we should work to reduce stigma surrounding STIs, or that you should go to the dentist regularly even if you don't think you have a cavity. I'm gonna talk about one of the things Max has latched onto in her spasms of adultitude as a hallmark of responsible behaviour, one of the things we all associate with sensible planning and stoic maturity.


I don't believe in it.

Specifically, I don't believe in retirement as it's commonly thought of in Western society today - leaving your job at 65 and just... like... yachting and scrapbooking for the remainder of your life. Eff that. If you can be working to provide value to society, you should, and if you can't, you should be working towards that goal.

I have coworkers at the call center in their eighties, and I have far more respect (and far more sympathy) for them than for sixty-somethings who call me complaining that their phone bill's gone up and they're on a fixed income.

Of course your phone bill has gone up! Everybody's bills go up! It's called inflation! At what point, when you were making the decision to live on a fixed income, did you assume inflation was going to stop?

And y'know what? Here's the thing about time - it accelerates. Specifically, your perception of time speeds up as you age, because a year used to be a fifth of your life, and now it's a sixtieth of your life. So when you look at a relatively steady process, like inflation, it's going to appear, from your perspective, to be increasing geometrically. Curvy graph.

Right now, I can (and do) live on about eighty bucks a day - that's food, rent, bills, everything. Every single day, I have to make about eighty bucks - either by working eight hours at the call center, or by doing an equivalent amount of art. If I retired, though, and decided I'd be fine on eighty a day, I know I'm going to blink, and the next thing you know, a C-note doesn't buy me a large pizza.

You need to keep working in the real world in order to make real world money.

And don't get me started on the perverse fiction that undergirds it all, the bubble of blatant goddamn lies upon which our modern economy rests - the idea that a house, while being lived in, will somehow increase in value.


You wouldn't drive a car around for ten years and then expect to be able to sell it for more than you paid, right? What the hell makes houses immune to the laws of entropy?

And don't say that they become antiques. An antique is an art object, meaning that a) its value is entirely bubble-based, like Beanie Babies, and b) it's only an antique if you're not living in it and wearing it down over time.

I, like most people in my demographic, blame the Baby Boomers. Specifically, I blame the unions that were so prevalent in the fifties and sixties that inflated wages and set unrealistic expectations about things like upward mobility and benefits and whatnot. Well, guess what? That's why all the unionizable jobs moved overseas. And the companies managing those of us in the remaining service economy learned their lesson from that - I was in a call center that tried to unionize, and the parent corporation closed us down and laid all of us off rather than allow that kind of talk to start.

If you want to increase the standard of living for workers, you have to start at the government level, where the state can act like a union for everyone and do things like raise the minimum wage or mandate holidays, or...

...where was I? Ah yes, providing value to society.

Oh, and by the way, owning capital and investing it to collect interest is important to the economy, yes, but it is not fucking work and should not be considered intrinsically meritorious. In fact, I'm gonna go ahead and say that anything that could be replaced with a computer program or a robot will be and should be, and that includes the goddamn stock market in its entirety.

Healthy goddamn adults want to improve the world. They want to build something. They want to pay taxes, goddamnit. The impulse to clock out at sixty-fucking-five and masturbate until you die thirty years later is a mental illness and should be treated as such.

Oh, and speaking of mental illness, here's where people are going to start calling me ageist and ableist. No, okay? It would be ageist and ableist to accept the prevalent narrative of our culture that says that elderly or disabled people can't work, and therefore get a free pass. I, for one, intend to keep doing something, anything that generates benefit and value and taxable income until my body and mind give out entirely (ideally, around the three score and ten I'm allotted) and then I'm gonna take up skydiving until the problem solves itself.

And no, I'm not just opposing the idea of retirement because I don't have any savings and because I can't buy a house and because I use workaholism to assauge my white male guilt and because I've always been more afraid of old age than I have been of death because Mom had me late and her mother had her late so I only ever had one grandparent growing up and she spent decades as a crumbling relic of pain and ugliness and irrelevance, imprinting me with an association of retirement with literal hell.

I'm just... y'know... holding an opinion that's wildly divergent from most of the rest of the planet because of purely unbiased Reason. As one does.

And no, I also haven't gotten STI tested or been to the dentist in well over a year, but I've been busy, okay?

(Thursday afternoon, INT: JH and EB's living room)

EB: Oh would you relax? You know I'm on the damn pill.
MH: And when's the last time you got tested?
EB: For sexually transmitted diseases? Uh... never.
EB: I haven't been sexually active with another person in over a year and no symptoms, I think I'm good.
MH: OH MY GOD, they just CALL them sexually transmitted infections because that's the most common vector. You can get herpes from, like, anywhere. You know that, right?
EB: Well, like, oral herpes, sure.
MH: IT'S THE SAME DAMN HERPES. I mean, come on, you don't have cavities, but you still hit up the dentist every six months, right?
EB: Um...