Working is Good for You, But the Government Disagrees

Working is one of the best investments in your life, like education and families. Working when you are young is obvious, and even more obvious when you are old because being a pensioner can be boring and bad for your health when you suddenly find empty days with a big reduction in social contacts. People dream about retiring but the reality for many is like a speeding car coming to a halt on a motorway far from an emergency phone!

There can be no question that young people have to find a job as soon as is possible or practical because in today’s society you just can’t live without a job – you have to pay your bills. Most young people would agree that these first jobs are sufficient, if not exciting. They are at the beginning of something interesting, and that is a good start. Attitudes change with age, and older workers look for more fulfilling experiences even though you still have to pay the bills. These better experiences are normally built around the workplace, but also around the family, through friends and hobbies. Who wants to experience burnout? Who wants to die on the job just for money or position? Knowing things, having a good education, staying healthy and being aware of your surroundings normally help people make the right choices.

Getting paid for work and paying the bills means that the basic welfare services can be paid for. These basic services are what are needed for a better life and what definitely explain why a small country like Finland with huge areas of forests and lakes and a tiny population manages its affairs well in these competitive global markets.

But now, one of the biggest problems in Finland is that there is not enough people working because the number of pensioners is growing fast from 1.7 million to 2 million.

We need to get many more people into jobs because there are 2 immediate benefits for the country when each person enters or re-enters the labour market:

  1. Tax revenues will increase.
  2. That person has a good chance of feeling happier just because he or she has a job. That is one less depressed person sitting at home doing less that what they are capable of doing.

Most of us would agree that doing your share in the office, at the factory, or on the road is the only way we can guarantee and efficient and sustainable society. Taxes paid by working people and companies fund education, healthcare, care of the elderly and security. Without these basic services Finland cannot stay ahead of the game in this global markets.

Since 1971, I have had several interesting jobs in 6 different countries. Then I retired 9 years ago at 65 years and decided that there was no point in spending time playing golf, sitting on a beach in Portugal, gardening, or looking after the grandchildren. I decided that working without the boss and assistants would be interesting. I started investing in small companies to help them grow and develop. I also decided to become a professional board member at a school and at a couple of companies, and teach myself Mandarin by doing one hour’s homework every day. This I have done for the last 9 years.

It’s great to be without a boss and without anyone working for me. My long work experience in dealing with different challenges and with thousands of people means that advisory work is actually a joy now – nobody is forcing me to do anything and I am receiving a pension at the same time. I do not have to for work for money, but it is nice to have something extra, while having a more active social life with a more diverse group of people!

But what really annoys me is the fact that I am now paying a higher tax rate on my income compared to my former full time work even though my pension plus pay is smaller than my last wage.

The government should consider giving a percentage reduction for pensioners as an incentive to create new tax revenue from a growing number of pensioners who see solid economic reasons for working.

Believe me, there is a huge difference between sitting at home watching silly TV shows compared to interesting and demanding work in an office. Working means that you have to walk somewhere, interact with others, and have a real  social life.

I am willing to bet there are many thousands perfectly able pensioners would love to work and make some extra money and that would slow down those debilitating illnesses related to loneliness and depression with a big cost savings for the taxpayers’ healthcare bill.

If 100 000 pensioners paid a lower tax rate that contributed some €10 000 tax revenues per person, then the extra tax revenues would be €1 billion with big savings from healthier older generation!

Your correspondent suggested this to the Ministry of Finance a few weeks ago for the second time, but they just smiled!

It is time to wake these people up and go to the barricades… Working as a pensioner is fun!

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