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Monday, June 18, 2012

“Get it While You Can”


I read a couple of studies about numbers that are going to change my life. First, some mathematician who analyzed America’s obesity epidemic. Then some economist who looked at social security and interest rates. I really need a better cure for insomnia than reading scientific and economic articles. 

You might ask, what do those two things have to do with each other? Other than as cures for insomnia. Well, it came to me in a dream.  Is the obesity epidemic going to solve the social security program problems? All the fat people are going to die off and not collect benefits? Or is Medicare, the health care plan for folks over 65 the same demographic as social security beneficiaries, going to make some big breakthrough in obesity? Maybe make everyone healthier and more productive? 

Actually, I don’t know about any of those. But both studies have to do with numbers and planning. And like most of those studies take some reading of fine print. The mathematician who looked at the remarkable increase in obesity in recent decades was able to correlate weight increases with the removal of government subsidies to farmers to NOT grow food.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html?_r=1


So the price of food became cheap. And, as other scientists keep saying in obesity analysis, in much more sophisticated mumbo-jumbo, humans are just like other animals: “See food, eat food.”  For a not-so-mumbo-jumbo discussion of the interesting similarities between humans and other animals read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/opinion/sunday/our-animal-natures.html?pagewanted=all

But hidden in the mathematician’s study was another interesting little take-away (oops, I seem to be talking about food again). His study also showed that weight gain does not become permanent for three years. Which means those annoying three to four pounds I keep gaining and losing are not really permanently attached to my hips. They are just visiting until three years has passed.

On to my other revelation. The big-shot economist, again with very revealing numbers, concluded that a person who is first eligible for social security can make one of the best investments in the current economy, by NOT applying for social security until they are much older.http://finance.yahoo.com/news/beat-government-bonds-using-social-040100847.html
 In other words they should just let their money sit with the government and let it earn around 8% interest. Then when they apply they will have made so much more money they will be a very old, almost rich person. Of course, by then, as the one economist with whom I took one class use to say, and the only thing he said I seem to remember, “In the final analysis we are all dead.”

So I have to wonder, am I the only one who read this article about interest rates and social security? Is it safe to assume no young and hungry politician read this same study? And he is now going to use it to reduce social security rates? Is it really a plot to get me and all the other baby boomers to wait to apply for social security in the hopes that obesity will have killed most of us off before we apply for benefits?

Here are my conclusions.

1) Who knows what government politicians are plotting? But you can be pretty sure it is not going to do you any good.

2) As for dieting, while it may seem strange to take advice from a mathematician, his logic makes perfect sense. So I have decided there is no point in weighing myself until three years have passed. Any change is transitory before that passage of time.

3) Speaking of transitory and similarities between species, I am starting to wonder if baby boomers are dinosaurs on the Titanic.

4) While I am considering what advice to take, I think I will go the celebrity route: someone from my generation who also seemed to agree with the economist from my college studies.  As Janis sings, “Get it while you can.” 

Might as well apply for social security as soon as I am able and while it is still around. Please pass the chocolate cake.


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