My personality can be a bit quirky -- at times.
And, at 61, you would think I would stop developing new ones. Quirks, that is. Not, personalities.
But they keep popping up.
A new quirk is: putting off decisions. Big decisions. I just ignore them. This from a man who has spent his life as (if you will pardon the disinterment of the word) a "decider."
This trip north has turned out to be a perfect example of Ogden Nash's definition of a sin of omission:
And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of omission and is equally bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from Billy Sunday to Buddha,
And it consists of not having done something you shuddha.*
What I "shudda" taken care of was getting the house ready to sell. My realtor was very candid with me. Now is not the time to sell. But she recommended I replace the windows. I didn't.
Now, I am stuck in another Hamlet vortex. A financial decision. Should I apply for Social security benefits at 62? Or 66? Or 70?
We all know the logic. The longer you wait, the higher the benefit.
If a retiree takes Social Security benefits at 62 (with a 25-percent reduction), rather than waiting another 48 months for full benefits at 66, the break even point is 78. That means the retiree would have to die at 78 for the early benefits and full benefits to equal each other.
But, the world is not economically static. Factoring in the current value of the benefit, assuming a 4% rate of return, the break even point increases. The retiree would have to live to 84 to make waiting for full benefits worthwhile.
That is how economists think. I like to think of it as being a little bit like going to Las Vegas. The government wants me to take early benefits and bets I have the genes of Methuselah. I bet I will die young and leave a good-looking corpse.
I don't have the genes of Methuselah. My nearest ancestors are a mixed bag of untimely deaths and healthy centenarians.
The actuarial tables say I should live to be about 80. My family tree says that is optimistic.
If I include three generations of ancestors, death seems to be on a rather erratic schedule -- running from 43 to 100. I have already managed to live longer than a grandmother, grandfather, and great grandfather. But the average life span is merely 74 years. The median -- 77.
Those numbers tell me to take the money early and put my full bet on black.
Death may be a dark specter. Politics is darker still.
Social Security is not as unhealthy fiscally as Medicare. But it does have a rather serious cough. Taking early retirement makes sense if only to get my salesman foot in the door before the whole program turns into a personal thank you note from the president to each retiree for being such a good citizen.
So, later this week, I will fill out the form that will start the trickle of Social Security checks down Mexico way in a short three months.
My windows in my unsold house may suffer from my indecision. But I will soon join that "happy few, we band of brothers," who can speak without ceasing on such topics as COLA and direct deposit.
* -- Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man has long been one of my favorite Ogden Nash poems. It is well worth reading in full.