Since I remain very active in my profession, teaching radar technology, many people are surprised to learn that I am retired. Today it is often possible to reach retirement age with one's good health and youthful energy intact. When I was young, retired people seemed old and worn out, and consequently rather inactive. It is very different today.
I didn't think much about retirement when I was young. Each month I paid into a "retirement program" for government workers; other workers pay into a general "social security" fund that guarantees to provide helpful income when they retire. The basic idea -- the theory -- is that the money contributed is invested by the government, and the accumulated earnings are later distributed as retirement income. This theory, however, is rather far from reality. In fact the US federal government generally needs the money to finance other activities and therefore cannot invest it just in the donors' behalf. So the question arises: are the contributions made by today's workers truly being invested for the future, or is the money just being used to meet the government's obligations to yesterday's workers, those who have already retired?