The Pop-Culture Frustration of Demographics.

All this stuff on Japan and aging and productivity from the Socrates of money, John Mauldin (the king) got me thinking. Naturally, I’m not an intellectual so right away I revert back to the comfy tub I feel best soaking in: POP CULTURE.

I’ll add my poppy, fluffy spin to his intellectual arguments (because then they’ll be interesting).

Let’s face it: Demographics are an economy slayer: The kids of the 1960’s & ‘70’s are experiencing enlarged prostates and menopause. Marsha Brady is menopausal?


OOPS I’m sorry. This is my “new” Marsha – Marissa Mayer President & CEO of Yahoo! If I had a cool name like Yaloo or Rumbler she’d buy me and I’d let her. 

This ain’t good, folks.

“Sanford & Son,” starring the late, irreverent Redd Foxx as an elderly junk dealer living with his ambitious (when it comes to peddling junk and get-rich-quick schemes), adult son Lamont, was one of the funniest television shows of the 1970’s. It had a successful run from 1972-1977.


In 2007, Time Magazine placed the show on their list of the “100 Best Shows of All Time.” As Fred Sanford, Redd Foxx delivered some of the most memorable, wittiest lines on television. I thought Fred was old then. Now I look around and everyone appears to shuffle along lead footed, like him. Our population is indeed aging. Usually, that’s not good because demographics are everything to an economy.

When Fred was stressed out or in a predicament he would fake a heart attack for sympa­thy. He’d look up to the heavens, raise one arm, place a hand over his heart, go unsteady on his feet and moan to his dearly departed wife, Elizabeth: “This is the big one, I’m comin’ to join ya honey!” Now, heart attacks and other afflictions plague even the late baby boomers. I can get real gassy.

The 70’s celebrities are dropping like flies. We’ve lost Don Cornelius of “Soul Train,” Robert Hegyes who played Juan Epstein in the program “Wel­come Back, Kotter,” and Bob Weston, musician and songwriter for the iconic 1970’s band “Fleetwood Mac.” Come to think of it  TV’s beloved Horshack has bitten the dust too. I refuse to tell you who Horshack was. Look him up.


Here’ssss Horshack. NO, it’s not Anthony Weiner in high school. Don’t be silly. 

As a kid, I was a ghoul-incessantly curious over celebrity deaths. In the early to mid-70’s, I couldn’t wait for the latest edition of the “The World Almanac® & Book of Facts,” to hit the racks at the local convenience stores. I was anxious to investigate celebrities who died that year.

The chunki­est book around contained everything you wanted to know about everything, published annually. The almanac was the printed version of the internet-an extensive source of data. Actually, the book is still produced and remains one of the best desktop reference books available. You can purchase at The latest edition is over a thousand pages. It’s not boring and presented well.

In the 70’s, I had a habit of sneaking into the creepy, overgrown old (I mean old, dating back to the 1600’s), cemetery in my Brooklyn neighborhood and do my best to read faded tombstone epitaphs.

Today, there’s I’ve been a big fan since 2006. An extensive web zone of 76 million dead, including the famous (and infamous) along with photos, biographies, and the ability for visitors to leave sympathy messages for the dearly departed. Not only the well-heeled are electronically interred here. I found my precious nana Rose’s grave record by searching her name.

Being on the wrong side of the demographic slide compels my mind to dance with the macabre. I begin to wonder what it’s like not to breathe anymore or release my bowels for no reason or without realizing it. You don’t need to be an academic to comprehend how as you age, your ability or willingness to contribute to economic growth decreases. Speaking for me personally I plan to be an overall drag to U.S. economic activity if by chance I get old. I’m not optimistic as some of you know.

What’s all the fuss? What is this thing called demographics? Well, demographics are the makeup of the people. Demographics are a deep analysis of the herd. Everything about how the masses live, move, age, die.

It’s the population and its pulse.

So, what’s your position in the herd behind the fence in a place called the United States?

For example, I’m a late baby boomer among the herd. Studies remind me how I’m ill-prepared for retirement, my hair line is receding, I’m afflicted with “low T,” whatever that is, I watch a disproportionate amount of television and control half of all U.S. consumer spending. For extensive analysis of social and demographic trends, check out

Television blares at me, advises I’m ready at a moment’s notice to take off on a motorcycle before or after I swallow the pill that magically drops the “dys” from the function of my erectile. Note to self: No motorcycle just yet (next year, maybe)

It’s tough when your function doesn’t function. That’s going to be the bumper sticker of my generation. 

John Mauldin (Yoda) says:

“There are two, and only two, ways that you can grow your economy. You can either in­crease your (working-age) population or increase your productivity. That‘s it. There is no magic fairy dust you can sprinkle on an economy to make it grow.”

It’s not that difficult. You need more bodies to work, pay taxes, buy more stuff. Remem­ber, our economy is dependent upon society’s ability to purchase and use services.

Robert D. Arnott a money manager, cutting-edge thinker and academic along with co-author Denis B. Chavis in a study titled “Demographic Changes, Financial Markets, and the Economy,”  in the “Financial Analysts Journal,” using a large sample of countries and 60 years of data, outlines why a majority of us should be concerned.

The ominous conclusions of aging demographics have been in circulation awhile. This study identifies several key points that intuitively, without all the rigorous analysis behind it, make sense. Not only do the outcomes make sense, they will (do) have a material effect on how the herd lives, works and invests.

From the study:

Large populations of retirees (65+) seem to erode financial markets performance as well as economic growth. Retirees are liquidating investments to buy goods and services they no longer produce, and they’re no longer contributing goods and services into the macro economy.

Stocks perform best when the roster of people age 35-59 is particularly large, and when the roster of people age 45-64 is fast growing. Bonds prosper when the roster of people age 50-69 is growing quickly.

Per capita (each individual) GDP growth is strongest in populations dominated by young adults and in populations in which the young adult population is growing quickly.

If the working-age population (people between 20-60) is growing faster than the broader population, that should provide a tail-wind to per capita real (inflation-adjusted) GDP.

It’s finally time for me to reveal my lifelong frustration with David Cassidy.

All the adolescent girls in the neighborhood adored the genderless David Cassidy. He was a mega teen sensation rising to stardom in ABC Television’s “The Partridge Family.” I mock his existence, call him genderless, clearly out of sheer jealousy. He made me look and feel like “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp,” from said named Saturday morning television program which ran in the early 1970’s.


Lancelot was the coolest chimp EVER. James Bond with back hair. 

Candidly, David Cassidy was beautiful and I was disturbed over the pretty. I wanted to be pretty. What a flowing mane, what a nose, what a voice. He was everything I’m not (still is). Damn.

Do you realize David Cassidy aka Keith Partridge, as of this writing is 63 years old? The lionized former teen idol is now eligible for social security (although I wouldn’t advise him to take it until he’s much older).

By the way, if you go to, it appears his hair hasn’t aged at all. Hate him.

David cassidy

I’m secure enough in my manhood to say: DAVID CASSIDY WAS PRETTY. 

When Keith Partridge celebrates his 72nd birthday, he’ll be one of ten senior citizens for each new working-age person. So things are going in the wrong direction as the working-age population shrinks. Again, what’s the significance to you? (Some info is repetitive but worth it).

Random Thoughts:

1). Overall long-term returns for popular asset classes like stocks and bonds will be muted. Saving more, working longer and smarter debt management are tactics that are going to result in greater financial reward. David Cassidy is still performing so he’s wealthy. He doesn’t need to worry. (Damn again).

2). Don’t be a big dummy like Fred Sanford’s, you know – Lamont.  If you’re in good health, long life expectancies exist in your immediate family and you can postpone it without obliterating your lifestyle, wait to take social security for as long as financially possible. For the majority of us it’s the only “pension,” we’ll ever have so I understand if waiting isn’t advisable for you. Want an estimate of how long you’ll maintain the mortal coil? Check out

My thought is if you’re 55 and older social security is going to be there, relatively intact. David Cassidy would benefit financially by waiting until he’s 70 years old to begin collecting social security benefits. For every month you delay social security benefits after “full retirement age,” whether it’s 65, 66 or 67, you receive a credit or an increase in benefits which is equal to two-thirds of 1 percent per month or 8 percent a year.

Anson Williams from the smash hit 70’s television show “Happy Days,” played a sort-of-goofy character named Potsie Weber. Potsie is 64. I’d advise him NOT to take social security yet.

I mean goofy is one thing, dumb is another.

3). The superstars of the 1970’s now require walkers. And when they fall they can’t get up without assistance. However, most are probably set for life and can make the social security payout decision easy enough because they don’t need to depend on the benefits to survive. You can’t be so dismissive.

I just read that the Scooter Store got raided by the Feds. Can this be possible? It’s a nightmare. I was truly upset. The Scooter Store, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of power wheelchairs and scooters, had about 1,800 workers. You ever see that Hoveround Power Chair? Jesus, it’s like a Harley to me.


I mean this Hoveround is a work of art. 

Social Security is probably the only pension you’re ever going to receive. Be smart and labored with the decision. Work with a financial pro­fessional who can help you clarify your thinking and run the numbers for your unique situation.

4). Create your own pension. I vacuum when I’m stressed. I got that from my mother. No matter what shape mom was in, she always appeared ordinary, felt better when employing the vacuum cleaner. Perhaps she believed, in some way, it cleansed the personal psycho dirt she shed. Not sure. She had the most expensive vacuum on the block, I’m certain. And it was always a canister type. Never an upright model. Mom had her standards.

I’ll never forget. It was a 1974 turquoise “Model L, Electrolux” metal elongated baby with white trim. I must admit it was a pretty sight to behold (remember I grew up when the Ford Pinto was popular). I never thought a household appliance could be pretty, but it was. It was a loud sucking, rolling apex of normal in an abnormal household. Vacuuming gives me piece of mind and has absolutely nothing to do with annuities,


There are a series of annuities called deferred-income annuities which are funded now for a lifetime income later on, preferably ten years or later. Best to purchase around age 50 or older. Generally, they’re less expensive than variable annuity options and you pretty much know how much income you or you and a spouse are going to receive for life. Bad part is you generally need to “annuitize” or have the insurance company have complete control of the money. In return, you’ll receive a check in the mailbox for as long as you or you and spouse will live.

A  financial planner, adviser, consultant or qualified whatever can run the numbers and show you how or if an annuity structure is necessary.

All the strange talk I remember overhearing back in the 70’s: Pension, pension, pension. The word made me envious and I had no idea why. The “regular” older kids would talk about how their dads or granddads at a ripe old age like 55, would collect a check forever and never need to work again. They were excited about vacations. Imagine. What the hell is a vacation?

Even several episodes of “The Little Rascals,” referenced old people and their precious
pensions. The word got stuck in my head. I was sensitive to the sound of it. Those reruns
ran constantly in the 1970’s, too. They were considered antique even then.


Side note: Mrs. Crabtree from “The Little Rascals” was so hot. Sorta reminds me of Mayer.

As John Mauldin (God) wrote in the following, and he’s been writing about Japan for years:

Japan is on the Brink of Disaster.

Demographics are not on their side.

Let’s face it.

We’re all getting older.

Did you hear that?

It was my knee.

Great. Just great.

Nap time.

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