From School to Retirement?

It was back to school today for the little fella. His fourth year of full time 9 to 5 school. His first in the proper primary section. Naturally I took the day off work to take him. Just as I have for the previous three years.

It has also been a landmark week for two of his cousins. Little Stan has now started school. Uniform and all. While Emily has made that biggest of leaps into high school (or senior school as we used to call it).

All of them oblivious to the fact that school could well be a complete waste of time. The world continues to become more crazy as each day passes. At least that is what you would believe if you took the media at its word. But here’s the thing: Whenever I think about such things I come to the same conclusion. It was always the same. It always reminds me of that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire“.

For Example…

Something in today’s news immediately caught my eye. Robert Mugabe the former president of Zimbabwe has died at the age of 95. Back in February 2017 I wrote about a “Dinner List”. A sort of bucket list/wish list of famous people I would like to chat with over dinner. Mugabwe was on that list.

While Dani is starting real primary school I can recall very well the year I left school; 1980. Mugabe became president of what was then called Rhodesia in that year. It is not that I ever thought he was a great person but he always fascinated me. How does a man take charge of a thriving economy – supposedly one of the richest countries in the world at the time – and turn it into a complete basket case. Its a bit like one of those huge lottery winners who end up spending (or losing) all their winnings in a short space of time. Only to end up back where they started. In Mugabe’s case he held on to power for a very long time and certainly did not end up destitute. I am well aware of his shortcomings (many would say ‘crimes’) but I have always thought that he would have made for an interesting conversation.

School, Work and Retirement….

When I started writing this blog I mentioned that I wanted to be able to express my hopes and fears for my son’s future. The way things are going these kids will have to leave school and work till they drop. There will be no pensions by the time Dani leaves school – let alone tries to retire. Of course they will be expected to pay into the pension pot as we all do now. But there will be no return on their ‘investments’. It is just one big Ponzi scheme (see below).

That said of course the kids need to get a good education. At least to a standard where they can make informed decisions and choices later in life. They don’t have to all strive to be doctors, lawyers or even engineers (oops). I am not one for pushing kids to follow particular career paths. It should be their choice. But having a decent grounding – which really has to include a good standard of education – is still a big part of all that.

Hopefully they will all continue to enjoy school and make the most of it. Trust me kids; all that work stuff can wait.

Ponzi scheme: For those who have never heard that term or those who have but may not know what it means; here is a quick explanation:

A Ponzi scheme is a basically a form of fraud that attracts investors and pays out some profits to the early investors (but generally only in order to attract more investors). The scheme leads people to believe that profits are coming from genuine product sales or other means, but in reality it is the other investors who are the real source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors continue to contribute to the pot of money. As long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they supposedly own a Ponzi scheme could run for some time.

The scheme is named after a real person. A certain Charles Ponzi who actually became infamous for starting and running such schemes way back in the 1920s. Wow! That’s almost 100 years ago!

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