You've been sold a bill of goods for the last four to six decades. You've been told that nation-states, democracy and socialism is good. You've been told our monetary system prevents instability. And, while the government and central banks put your unborn children or grandchildren into debt for life they've been telling you that there will be a socialist safety net to protect you and that the "American dream" includes retiring in your 50s or 60s to a wonderful life of golf and lying on the beach.
It even appeared to work for a short while thanks to demographics and the greatest advances in human history.
The baby boom caused by the nation-state (which created World War II) and central banking (which created the depression and funded World War II) was truly a boom creating a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make it appear as though some of these inane socialist theories could work. The end of a ponzi scheme is always when net payments outstrip net income. This occurred in 2010 and there is no end in sight even under the US Government's own heavily massaged and always underguesstimated projections...
There is only one reason it and the US Government hasn't gone bankrupt yet. It's because they can still print dollars to cover all these deficits. But how much longer can that realistically last before hyperinflation sets in and the dollar becomes worthless? We can't see any way it goes more than five more years from here... and that's pushing it.
I've posted about the retirement pipe dream before. Suffice to say, the notion that you can get rich owning slivers of huge pooled funds that own slivers in their turn of gigantic corporations is, at the least, rather overstated. And to realize those presumed gains, you have to cash out your fund shares and find someone to sell them to, God willing for more than you paid for them. Bear in mind that there will be a lot of Baby Boomers trying to do the same thing. It will be a buyer's market for cashed-out 401k fund shares.
For most Americans, these gains (if any) will be tax-deferred, not tax exempt, so keep that in mind also when you're calculating your old age-grocery money.
There is no way out of this. The post-WW2 welfare state is unsustainable and retiring Baby Boomers will kill it. Of course, my father reminds me that people have been saying this course is unsustainable since the 1950's, but we keep grinding on.