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Surfing the Wave

The Core of the Problem

There are so many of us. The "great depression" of the 30's and the world war that followed it severely reduced the birth rate in many nations, particularly in North America and Europe. The period following the end of the war saw a massive increase in the birth rate, thus the "Baby Boom". That increase continued for many years. The result is bizarre. For the first time in human history, major nations have more people who are 40 than 4 years old, more who are 50 than 5. If anything like this ever occurred in the past, it might have resulted from a deadly childhood disease, but this time, it happened because people wanted it to happen. Let's look at the results.

Directly below is a traditional "population pyramid". This one is for India in 2009. Note how the largest age group is at the bottom and each one above it becomes smaller as people pass away as they grow older.

Now let's take a look at the population pyramid for the United States. Notice how radically different it is from the traditional "pyramid" found in India and nearly every nation in the past.

It's not just the United States. Here is a sampling of other nations.

Don't find your nation above? You may find it here.

That "bulge" in the middle of the pyramids above may look stable and unmoving. Not so. That's why I also call it a "wave". It moves constantly with the passage of time. It describes our future as much as it does our present.

Traditionally, the base of a population pyramid is made up of those younger people who can support the smaller groups at the top. But the base in many of our nations looks as if it could be crushed by the upper levels.

How depressing. Simply by being alive, we are the core of the problem. What can we do about it?

The Three Great Fears

My observations of and discussions with others looking toward retirement have revealed three simple, but also very complex, fears:

  • The fear that we will not be able to support ourselves during retirement.
  • The fear that we cannot depend on our nation's social programs or our children to support us if we cannot.
  • The fear that we live in a world where people will kill us for no other reason than we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The first two are obvious retirement concerns and well-known. The third is new, but it is likely to remain a fear for the remainder of our lives. Every citizen is threatened by terrorism, but the retired are especially vulnerable. They have less flexibility as they have a very strong desire to stay in one place and don't have the incentive to keep moving around, looking for a better alternative, as a younger person might.

What To Do? One Answer to Consider

You know as well as I do that we are living in a radically different world today than when we were young. Right now, you are sitting in front of a computer monitor reading this web page. That's something that you and I never thought of doing twenty years ago, even ten for most of us. Yes, there are many serious problems facing this planet today, but there are also some positive developments. Among them are our greatly increased ability to travel and communicate over great distances quickly. In addition, it's extremely important to realize that many nations we thought of as poor, unstable, and dangerous in the past are no longer. The media continues to focus on any nation in trouble, but they have far less interest in those where things have greatly improved. As a result, we can be fooled into thinking that there is nowhere decent to live outside our group of "wealthy" nations. That is simply not true.

As you may have read in my brief biography, I have spent my life working in nations on nearly every continent, more than 40 of them to date. I have seen some of the worst human situations in nations like Haiti and Somalia, but they are only part of a much greater story, a story you should hear.

One of the nations that has done extremely well in recent years is Panama. Once home to the infamous dictator, Manuel Noriega, Panama is now a thriving democracy with a strong economy and a bright future. Best of all, Panama welcomes retirees from other nations and provides them with a long list of incentives to consider moving and living in Panama.

I can give Panama the greatest "reference" available to me. I am moving there myself. If you revisit this website over time, you will "move" with me and get a taste of what this means.

This is a new website that I am working on in my spare time. I will be putting up a number of additional pages in the days and weeks to come describing everything from health care to housing to the cost of groceries in Panama. They are not yet ready, but if you are interested, sign up for the Update service and I'll let you know as new pages are available.

The Three Great Benefits

I listed the Three Great Fears briefly. Let me do the same for the Three Great Benefits.

  • You can live very comfortably in Panama on a much reduced income that would never meet your needs in your home country.
  • You will greatly reduce, perhaps eliminate, any burden you might be on your society and your children by not requiring their financial support.
  • You will promote "international understanding" by the simplest, most effective means possible. You will bring income to Panama, employ Panamanians who need jobs, and be living "ambassadors" for the decent people you are and those you love who remain at home. And, it may not be pleasant to say, but you will remove yourself from the primary targets of terrorists.

Here's the wonderful part of this retirement alternative. Everyone wins and nobody loses. You gain a comfortable life in a friendly nation with a wonderful climate and ecology. Your family and your society benefit by not having to worry about you and how to support you in your old age. Panama benefits as well. Retirees are the best immigrants. They bring all sorts of benefits without burdening a developing economy. On the contrary, the Panamanian economy benefits greatly and the package of retirement incentives they provide to people like us as mentioned in Ten Reasons to Retire in Panama is testimony to their understanding of this.

40 years working and living in more than 40 nations and I've finally found the place where I want to spend my "late middle age". This site is dedicated to sharing that discovery with you.

Let me finish this section with a simple statement. You may have been surprised to find me talking specifically about Panama. It may not have been what you expected to find at a general retirement website. The whole idea of picking up and moving to another nation may seem "extreme". Twenty or thirty years ago, it was, but it's time for you to get up-to-date. You owe it to yourself and to those you love and care about to give this modern form of retirement serious consideration. You have nothing to lose and everyone has so much to gain!

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