Lies, D***ed lies, and Statistics

I don’t know who coined this phrase –I Googled it but there is no clear and definitive attribution to the originator of the phrase. Mark Twain used the quote and attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli. More recently, it was quoted on the TV program The West Wing. While its origin may be uncertain the sentiment is all too familiar.

Numbers can be manipulated to ‘prove’ any point (which is why ‘statistics’ are both onerous and insidious). The other day, I read an article in a local newspaper about the high debt load Baby Boomers are carrying, and that statistically, people in their 50s should be in their ‘saving years’.

Undoubtedly the originator of this set of statistical data is now among the gainfully retired, enjoying pension and old age income that we working stiffs continue to fund.

As a member of the youngest echelon of the Baby Boom cohort, I find myself stuck between the mythical statistics that are my parents’ reality and the current reality of the world as it is. My parents are immigrants who came from Europe in search of a better life for themselves and their children. They worked very hard, had little help and no handouts, and built a good life. They did OK.

More than OK – they did well. Both held good jobs that paid the mortgage on a very respectable home, and university tuition for 3 children. Both are now enjoying a comfortable fully-funded retirement. That’s what 50+ years in a big city in North America has afforded them.

As to their 3 children… One ‘has it all’, a family, a home, a good education that has led to very good work situations. One kid going to college on a full scholarship; the other just starting grade 10 and with good prospects. Statically, they should be on the cusp of ‘saving mode’ yet they are still not out of ‘debt paying mode’. They will be OK, it just may take a little longer.

Another sibling of mine has a nice home, a fine education and a solid work situation with good salary and excellent retirement prospects. He is unmarried and without dependents, but even if that changes, he will be OK in the long run.

The third is the statistic-breaker …guess who? I am divorced, without dependents, working full time and paying my own way. Also paying for the pension benefits of my parents and those already retired. Due to job changes over the years, I have almost no company pension, and I’ve been saving for my retirement for the past 20+ years. After 2008, those savings were depleted. But now have a mortgage on a modest home (so still in debt mode instead of saving mode).

Fingers and toes crossed that there will be funds in the government pension for me. With a smaller population coming up behind us – to work and pay taxes – some Boomer prospects are iffy. This popular song brings up some good points to consider:

Waiting On The World To Change”

Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And we’re still waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waitin, waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And, if not, then you may see my smiling gray-haired self greeting you at Walmart one day. And sharing a home with other Golden Girls…

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About verawrites

Progress not perfection - that's my goal. Live and learn - that's my motto. I like to share bits of wisdom and glimmers of insight gleaned on my life journey of 50+ years. My hope is to encourage, perhaps inspire, fellow journeyers. Each of us has something to share. Let's be generous, gracious and compassionate with one another. I am blessed to be a blessing... so are you!
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