LOTTERY LOVE in the USA!

mega millionsWOW! I just heard one fun fact: Americans will spend $73 BILLION this year on lottery tickets! Coloradoans spend right around $100 per year, while the overall average spending in the USA is $223 per person. REALLY?           For a GREAT article on this topic go here. The numbers will astound you!

Next I wondered who spends the most on the lottery by income. There I found that some households earning less than $13,000 a year spend a shocking 9% of their money on lottery tickets. The lowest-income households in the U.S. on average spend $412 annually on lottery tickets, which is nearly four times the $105 a year spent by the highest-earning households, according to a recent study by Bankrate.com. And almost 3 in 10 Americans in the lowest income bracket play the lottery once a week, compared with nearly 2 in 10 who earn more than that.

“Lotteries have become an alternative mechanism of social mobility—a way of achieving financial success in an economy that’s increasingly bereft of those opportunities,” said Jonathan Cohen, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia who’s completing his dissertation on American lotteries. “There’s an understandable belief that the economy is rigged and your best chance of making it out and getting rich is through the lottery, not through your job or savings.” 

At least in Colorado the lottery has invested more than $3 billion into protecting Colorado’s wilderness and wildlife by creating trails, parks, and also public school construction. That’s the only reason why I occasionally buy a ticket. No illusions of grandeur here  🙂

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Local Talk by Me!

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

MIKE NEXT TO ONE OF OUR FAVORITE TREES!

I would like to invite any of you who live here locally, to my presentation at the La Veta Public Library this Thursday at 2PM. My theme is “What’s it like to move here?” We can discuss the ins and outs of moving to rural Colorado, how passive solar works, and anything else that comes up!

Do beliefs about climate change depend on how old you are, your education level or “groupthink”?

I will never forget a discussion I had over ten years ago with a woman in her eighties at the Senior Center in Fort Collins. She said climate change was bull and I said just wait. Then I realized and said to her, “Of course you’re not as concerned about climate change. You won’t be around to see what happens, but what about your children and grandchildren?” I’m certain that woman is dead now.

UN report on climate change 2018

SOURCES FOR THE NEW UNITED NATION REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING

UN Climate change report-october 2018-Today I did the research on this topic. Please go check out this survey that describes concerns about climate change in the United States between 2015 and 2018, by age group. During this period, over 51 percent of adults between 18 and 34 years of age agreed that global climate change will pose a serious threat. Of those over 55, less than one third felt climate change was a serious concern in their future.  Now let’s ask the thousands of victims of Hurricane Michael. Why was this the first storm to hit this area in decades and why did it’s intensity increase when it headed out over the land?

Further research suggests:

“Climate change believers are generally younger, more educated, have more money, and are non-white (which means skeptics are generally older, less educated, and white). But all these factors are only weakly associated with climate change beliefs… Instead, political affiliation – Democrat, Independent, or Republican – strongly predicted climate change belief, such that Democrats are more likely to believe in climate change than Republicans…

This might suggest that groupthink, the psychological effect of similar thinking to maintain conformity to a group, guides climate change attitudes, not just ideology alone.” “Understanding Climate Change Skeptics” in Nature Education

Who voted for Donald Trump? A Cohort Study

After our 2016 election, I became determined to understand why Americans found a billionaire, real estate mogul, reality show candidate so attractive as our next president. This did not compute for me. What about this 70-year-old, obviously sexist and racist candidate spoke to so many Americans? In the midst of listening to the popular music of the 1960s this week I finally got it. This music reminded me of what was happening in our country in the mid- to late 1960s, something I hadn’t thought about in years.

First of all, let me explain what a cohort study is. Wikipedia defines it as:

“A cohort study is a particular form of longitudinal study that samples a cohort (a group of people who share a defining characteristic, typically those who experienced a common event in a selected period)…”

My best example is a study I learned about when I was pursuing a Master’s degree in history. It theorized and then proved that many of the children from Germany in WWI lost their fathers and consequently found themselves seeking a strong, authoritarian father figure as they grew up. This they found in Adolf Hitler. They found meaning and purpose in the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party.

Back to the Trump cohort. I began to think about the recent history of our country, and the revolution we experienced in the 60s, a real revolt against the Vietnam War, racist and sexist attitudes, and powerful men who thought they could tell us what to do without our permission. Note the impeachment of Richard Nixon who resigned in 1974.

Vietnam_War_protestors_at_the_March_on_the_Pentagon

“Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War and grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate, primarily in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war. By 1967, according to Gallup Polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake.”

I began to see how the 1960s peace movement tended to include educated college students and their elders: “Opposition grew with participation by the African-American civil rights, women’s liberation, and Chicano movements, and sectors of organized labor. Additional involvement came from many other groups, including educators, clergy, academics, journalists, lawyers, physicians, and war veterans.”  Source: Wikipedia

This revolution left out most poor and uneducated Americans who didn’t go to college or revolt. The men were sent to Vietnam. Trump was also apparently left out. He attended the New York Military Academy and the Wharton School during the Vietnam War protests.

“After graduating from college in the spring of 1968, Trump was eligible to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. Instead he received a diagnosis that would change his path: bone spurs in his heels. This diagnosis resulted in a coveted 1-Y medical deferment that fall, exempting him from military service as the United States was undertaking huge troop deployments to Southeast Asia, inducting about 300,000 men into the military that year. The deferment was one of five Mr. Trump received during Vietnam. The others were for education.” The New York Times

In 1968 Trump began his career working for his father in real estate, blissfully unaware of a war half a world away that killed over 58,000 Americans and caused permanent physical and mental disabilities in thousands more.

Vietnam vets account for at least one quarter of homeless Americans today.

My theory, and I find statistics do back this up, is that those who went to Vietnam or went straight into jobs in trades like coal mining and factory jobs, felt left out and let down by an ever expanding economy and higher education rates. They may have felt like losers for not getting better careers, because of their lack of education and connections. Statistics show how financial insecurity played a role in attracting Trump voters, but education levels mattered more than income levels. 

“I love the poorly educated,” Trump famously said after winning the Nevada Caucuses in February, 2016. Apparently, for many of those voters, Trump offered them a chance to not feel like a loser for the first time in a long time.

He relates to those who missed out on the 60s revolution and higher education, training that teaches us to respect scientific data when it warns us of warming oceans and catastrophic hurricanes.

“Clinton gained over 8 percentage points on Obama’s 2012 performance in the 50 best educated counties, but lost over 11 points in the 50 least educated counties.” Seven Surprising Graphics About Trump Voters

I find this cohort explanation satisfactory to explain that both the older, wealthy Americans who fear losing their wealth, and the uneducated who have felt like losers in this ever-expanding global economy, not to mention the purely fascist, racist segment, elected this president.

Midlife: Begin To Trust Your Crazy Ideas and Then Expand Your Comfort Zone!

Now for something completely different!

Lately I have been observing how generational our belief systems can be. For example, as a middle boomer, born in 1955, most of my life I have taken a narrow view of what a good work ethic looks like. Most of us were raised to believe that being busy each day and having something to show for your efforts, especially MONEY, is a job well-done.

writing and moneyThat is exactly how I approached my new writing career back in 2005, when I began freelancing. How much I made each year was my measure of success, and I fought very hard to make some bucks. But in the long run, this way of thinking wore me out. As I learned more about the history and importance of this marvelous time called “midlife,” I wanted to teach others how life changing it can be. What I was learning was more important than money, it was life saving for some who struggle with self-respect and self-doubt as they age.

This is what I learned from changing my perspective on the ways we choose to spend our time as we age:

Midlife and especially retirement is your time to learn something just because you have always wanted to. It’s time to follow your fantasies and dreams for once in your life, while releasing expectations and, of course, guilt.

Be grateful each day that you now have the time and money to do something completely different! How many individuals in the history of mankind have had this privilege? Very few. Most previous generations didn’t live past 60!

After taking my writer fantasy for a spin for ten years, we decided it was time for my husband Mike to experiment with one of his childhood fantasies. He had always wanted to construct a passive solar home positioned just right for fantastic views of the mountains. In the process of planning this new adventure, I found a great cartoon in New Yorker Magazine that shows a man visiting a guru at the top of the Himalayas.

IMGP7536The guru’s punch line? “The meaning of life is having a  spectacular view.” 

After we created our new passive solar home, I was then able to construct another lifetime fantasy of mine, a foothills garden full of xeric plants that love this high, dry landscape as much as we do. As I wrote this, we got our first snow fall! Yippee!

Because of what I have learned about midlife and the amazing experiences we have had in the past 15 years, I can highly recommend that you ask yourself today:

What perhaps irresponsible, but joyful dream or activity have you been fantasizing about forever? Time’s a wasting! Do it TODAY!

Life is too short to wait!

What does following what may seem to some like one crazy dream feel like?

I share all of that in my latest book: A Memoir of Retirement!

Divorce rates plummet as millennials marry

As many of you know, I have been an avid student of dating, marriage and divorce trends in our culture for many decades. I was the one who waited until age 39 to marry the first time and I still got it wrong, divorcing at age 46. A few years later I started my own dating service. I saw it as a study of how Americans in midlife approached love and marriage. Turns out I met the man for me that way, and we have been living relatively happily ever after for the past fourteen years.

This is one of the reasons why I find the marriage behavior of millennials quite interesting:

Americans under the age of 45 have found a novel way to rebel against their elders: They’re staying married!

Gay marriage

“New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on. Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.”

But with an interesting twist:

“Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”  — Researcher Philip Cohen

It seems that the younger generation now sees marriage as a bit of a status symbol and, “Many poorer and less educated Americans are opting not to get married at all. They’re living together, and often raising kids together, but deciding not to tie the knot.”

This I find especially interesting in that these poorer couples could find a number of financial benefits from legal marriage. For example, married couples pay less taxes and save on medical insurance as a couple. I never saw marriage as a status issue. At the time I needed health insurance and got it through marriage.

There is no more important and personal issue than who we marry and why. At least some millennials are realizing that. Divorce is always difficult emotionally and in some cases traumatic. Most Boomers know that now. I see us as the transitional generation, who often did what we were told and perhaps got married young when we became pregnant, etc. Unfortunately many of us had to learn the hard way that:

DIVORCE IS EXPENSIVE. FREEDOM PRICELESS.

Women’s Liberation Yesterday and Today

learn from the past history or repeat it

Sometimes it feels to me that the young American women of today need a serious history lesson in exactly how much things have changed in the past fifty years. Being age 63, I have a pretty good perspective on these changes. I have witnessed, in my lifespan, gigantic changes in how American women are seen and treated, and I fear the younger women just don’t get that. They only see how far we still need to go, not how far we’ve come in the past 50 years.

Let’s start with something as simple as control over your own body. Here’s an excerpt from my book “Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife”:

Today, it seems normal and natural to limit progeny or choose to remain childless, but boomers are the first generation of Americans to even have this option. With the invention of the birth-control pill in the 1950s and the legalization of abortion in 1973, reproduction rules changed drastically.

Limiting progeny, bettering ourselves through training and education, and then choosing the career that best suits our natural abilities, talents, and character are options not even imagined by our grandparents and great-grandparents. Here’s a summary of women’s prospects in the 1800s from the book In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age by Patricia Cohen:

“For women, adulthood was one long, undifferentiated stretch of mothering with scarcely any leisure time. Mothers gave birth, then gave birth again, and again, and again. In 1800, the average woman had seven children and spent seventeen years either pregnant or breastfeeding, although without antiseptics, anesthesia, or antibiotics, there was barely a parent who escaped burying a child. Giving birth often left women severely weakened or disabled. . .By the time all the children were grown, she was well into her sixth decade—or more likely dead.”

How’s that for thought-provoking? These were the lives of the women who came before us. How many had more children than they wanted and then died without ever doing anything they wanted with their lives? How many brilliant women led lives of quiet desperation because they could not find respect for their unique gifts and talents? Women were seen as entertainment and prizes for wealthy men only decades ago.

1933 Miss America swimsuits

MISS AMERICA 1933 SWIMSUIT COMPETITION

Check out this news report from CBS Sunday Morning on the protests around the Miss America pageant of 1968. It was not so long ago that our beauty was our only way to “get ahead.” I know it is hard to believe, but this is also too true. Women only got the vote in 1920. We can thank the women of the West for being the pioneers in getting us that right!

Now we are faced with a president and Congress who would like to move us back to the good old days (for them!), when women were seen as pretty, but told to keep their mouths shut. Do you value your right to control what happens in your life and your own uterus? Than get active and show it!