Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Traveling back through time and into the future

Some popular old television shows seem to live on forever. Seinfeld comes to mind, but I believe one television show in particular has gone where no other show has gone before. I’m speaking, of course, about Star Trek.

Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr. Spock, recently passed away. You might forget that he was a stage actor, an author, a poet, a film director and a photographer. You might forget that he had recurring roles on other television series, including Mission Impossible and Fringe.

But you will never forget that he was Spock.

The Spock character he played as an actor was probably his greatest life defining moment. No matter what he did after the Star Trek television series, he was always typecast as Mr. Spock. Years later, even though he was much older, the producers found ways to incorporate his character into the Star Trek film franchise. He even directed a few of them.

Yes, Star Trek and Mr. Spock bring back many memories of the 1960s. But Star Trek was a television show, not real life. Many other significant cultural and social events were taking place. Many other people were rising into prominence.

In no particular order, when I think about the ‘60s, I am reminded of the Kennedys, Dr. Martin Luther King, the Beatles and the British Music Invasion, the Ford Mustang, social unrest in Detroit and, of course, the Tigers winning the 1968 World Series.

I do not mean to slight anyone here. Certainly there were many more significant events and great accomplishments. These people and events are simply those that quickly came to mind.

Getting back to Star Trek, it’s been almost 50 years since it first aired in 1966. At that time, there were no 401(k) retirement programs. In fact, the deductible IRA didn’t come into existence until 1974. True, life expectancy was less than what it is today, but at that time you just had Social Security and savings.

Some, especially autoworkers, were fortunate enough to have pensions, but for most other hard-working citizens there were no other retirement accounts.

A common method for measuring the cost of living is the Consumer Price Index. Using the CPI inflation calculator, it would take $7,200 today to be the equivalent of $1,000 in 1966. I mention this because I fear that too many retirees seem to ignore that costs tend to go up over time.

But while costs may increase, technology improves and competition helps keep costs down. I doubt any of my readers or clients are watching the same television set they had in 1966. Since Star Trek debuted, we now have microwave ovens, wireless telephones, computers, E Readers and Dick Tracy Watches.

The calculator I paid plenty for in college can now be bought at the supermarket for a few dollars. And yet, the cost of living will probably continue to increase over time. Perhaps at an astronomical rate. That’s why people need to continue saving and investing.

As long as research and innovation continue, the quality of life is likely to improve. And with it, the cost of living. Nonetheless, I’m hoping that someday soon, instead of going through the hassles of the airport check-in, I will simply be able to ask the airline attendant to beam me up.

No comments:

Post a Comment