Given the dismal trends in "our" economy today, retirement is increasingly an impossibility for many seniors. After a lifetime of hard work, the costs of living - food, shelter and medical care alone today - are fast draining dreams of a secure retirement.
Today, there are now some 78 million baby boomers either near or in retirement today - a full 26% of the population. These post-World War II babies represent the largest demographic bulge in US history.
In addition to this unusual, result-of-war, demographics, as many as 20 million people in this boomer category are facing retirement with a net worth of less than $50,000. After the Depression and social security enactments of the thirties, never before have such a large segment of our population faced such a destitute future.
In the past, in a more rural and small town America, people often retired upon a paid-off family homestead. This meant a home without mortgage debt, room to grow a garden of healthy food, and a place where many could look forward to support from a community of friends.
In effect, this healthy societal setup provided an almost cash-less, wage-less existence and secure retirement. For the great wage-slave majority of today this is but a bygone world.
In its stead, many are now simply trapped in an urban "free market" without means of support, without land to fall back upon, and with a depreciating social security dollar increasingly unable to provide the barest of essentials i.e., those once available to a more rural, landed, populace.
In addition, the "nuclear family" and its support system are also breaking down, as more elders find themselves without any familial support. Many seniors have no or few children now capable of providing either room and board or any financial backing.
All of this is a formula for the emergence of what we might call Social Security Communes wherein people come together to split the cost of housing, land, shelter, food and necessities. This may well be the only way that many will be able to replicate the landed security of bygone eras.
It may also be the only way that many will not become a burden to their family or to society. It may be the only way we save many rural, small town communities and farms. It may be the only way a new generation inherits a retreat upon the land from the "free market" economy and gains some equalizing power against employers who love a desperate labor.
Given the trends an emerging "co-habitation" and communal phenomena is one that is likely to grow into a movement, as the sheer cost of maintaining a separate residence and its attendant expenses exceeds the means of many.
As more and more pensions are gutted and stolen, and jobs outsourced, the need for alternative living and retirement arrangements is growing. I think we will see more people coming together - whether within an extended family, or a church, company, or professional society to hold onto some alternative means of support in their twilight years.
This movement may well be easier for the sixties generation, a group whose ideals once included experimenting with such arrangements. For many, its simply a matter of looking forward to the past again.
Surely our pension fund organizations might also provide novel financing for such arrangements, assuming the funds and 401K monies are not first stolen by corporate pirates. After all, what is the function of "our" pension fund - to invest in Chinese companies stealing American jobs, or to fund alternative living arrangements which revitalize America, and reduce housing and retirement costs for their beneficiaries?
Or, imagine "our" "federal" reserve providing no interest loans? Dream on, the money pirates will not be there for you.
Much of the reason for the emergence, or re-emergence, of such a communal phenomena is that we are witnessing an economy besieged by the winds of a forced "free trade" scheme driven by an utterly predatory capital i.e., resulting in no less than the repeal of the twentieth century's gains for the average working man.
It is what I call forced trade with the greater slave, a truly dismal regime rewarding the lowest of standards, punishing the highest, and working to repeal all measure of social security for the great majority.
All this is due to capital's overwhelming control of society and the loss of any real "factor balance" - a term I use in my Book - Cap-Com, The Economics of Balance - to describe a ruling-elite driven economy gone oligarchic and oligopolistic.
This lack of a factor balance in society means that not only is the economy perversely skewed and counterproductive but that all of our institutions are now controlled by capital - thus giving the few the power to control the many, crush the middle class, and ruin your retirement.
In centuries past, before the great enclosures of land and commons, when most were able to repair to their homesteads and eke out an independent existence, this was social security enough. It also provided an escape from the "free market" and wage-dependent living clearly an essential freedom to achieve any bargaining leverage and a factor balance of power.
In these settings people could take or leave urban factory work as they had a separate means of existence. However, as the Commons disappeared, as land became aggregated in the hands of the few, and urbanites sold their farmettes this option disappeared for the vast majority in the emerging, wage-driven, industrial-age, urban economies.
As a result, most became expendable "labor" desperate for a wage to maintain a simple existence, with only a few days, weeks, or months of pay-check-less "freedom" available. Thus did the power of Capital over Labor become complete, and society become a "managed democracy" one neatly arranged to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
Unless more seniors combine their resources, this dismal societal arrangement means many more destitute people whose American dream will be shattered, whose dollars will become cheapened, and whose maintenance will further overtax younger generations.
We are facing an economy already bankrupted by idiotic "free trade" policies, the trillion dollar Iraq war racket, and our huge unfunded liabilities. The current "solution" to this problem by our ruling oligarchy is to purposely depreciate the dollar, thus further raising the cost of surviving for seniors on the edge. Idiocy and predation is clearly systemic.
Today we are forced to escape from the society our parents, and several generations of grandparents, built to solve the very problems we are facing today a lifetime of insecurity, fear, and destitution, all courtesy of a corrupt, capital-driven, society.
This is the primary reason a back to the land, and urban or rural communes, scheme may not simply be a youthful fantasy but rather a mature, necessity-driven, reality of our time.