At the end of the movie The Mule, there is a theme song entitled “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” written and sung by Toby Keith. Here’s a 3-minute YouTube of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc5AWImplfE.
The story that I heard goes like this. Toby Keith was playing a charity golf tournament, and his opening-day partner was Clint Eastwood. They had such a good time together that they decided to play the next two rounds as partners, too. When the tournament was over, Toby asked Clint what he was doing the next day. Eastwood replied that he was going to work. Keith asked — and I will paraphrase — “Work? You’re 88 years old! And you’re going to work?”
Eastwood replied that he certainly was going to work and explained that he was making a new movie called The Mule. When Keith asked Clint Eastwood why he was still going to work, Clint’s answer to Keith’s question was “Don’t let the old man in.”
Toby Keith went home, wrote, and immediately recorded “Don’t Let the Old Man In” and sent it to Eastwood. That is how it got inserted into the end of the movie. My favorite line in the song is “Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn’t know the day you were born.”
After a half century of working in financial services at Cumberland Advisors, I find myself reflecting on that line. During the first period (about 25 years) of Cumberland, I had three different partners. They’ve all passed, and each of them pretty much worked as long as he or she was able to do so.
Such a long period has also allowed me to watch as hundreds of clients have aged. Many worked beyond retirement and seemed to be even healthier and more focused as a result of their continued dedication to work. Others retired and went through a period of relief or celebration. Once that was over, they either resumed being focused and productive, or they deteriorated. A lot depended on whether they liked what they were doing.
I think that is a key. I like what I do. The interplay of economics and financial markets and the complexities that surround them have always intrigued me. And the world always seems to provide events and evolution that keep challenges interesting and stimulate serious learning. I have therefore been able to avoid boredom.
So my choice has been to heed the message of the song and not let the old man in. For readers who missed the January 1, 2023, introduction of Cumberland’s 50-years series, here’s the link to the opening missive: https://www.cumber.com/market-commentary/it-took-50-years-welcome-2023-0
We want to offer a serious column about this subject. Many thanks to Larry Siegel and Steve Sexauer for permission to share it with our readers. Please remember when you read the article (which has data through 2019) that in 2020 and 2021 life expectancy in America declined. Also note that the entirety of the healthcare sector in the US is about 18% of GDP (source: Altarum) and is short about 2 million workers (BLS).
Please also consider that millions of Social Security recipients in our country face an effective 50% marginal federal income tax rate on earnings if they exceed the permitted levels. And those permitted earnings levels are very low: There can be a threshold as low as $21,000 that triggers a loss of $1 of Social Security for every $2 earned above the threshold. Note that I haven’t included state taxation, which only makes the situation worse — all this is in a country where we are short millions of workers in our labor force. Maybe a few of us can reach our representatives in Congress and prod them to change this financially punitive system.
Now here’s the column by Larry and Steve (continued here at our MailChimp archive where it was originally republished by us): https://us8.campaign-archive.com/?u=d6f020f3bd6a1e2c4eb254e6c&id=85914eef8a
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Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.