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ONLINE DOCUMENT: NURTURING THE WORKER WHO WILL SUPPORT YOU IN OLD AGE

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You young people out there will want to start giving some thought to choosing Your Worker.

Haven't heard of Your Worker? You will; it's a demographic inevitability.Because the Social Security taxes paid during one's working life don't begin to cover the cost of one's retirement, retirees are basically supported by those still working.

Currently, there are 4.7 workers in the United States for each retiree. In 30 years, there will be 3.3 workers per retiree. I think you see where we're headed here. The day will come when there is one worker for every retiree.

That worker will have to support you.

Mercifully, those of my own generation will be long gone from the scene, borne to that eternal landfill by platoons of Baby Boomer pallbearers.

That's why I'm giving you youngsters this advice now. Select Your Worker carefully.

You might want to select Your Worker as an infant, preferably from an upwardly mobile family infused with the work ethic. Shower the child with educational toys, help him get into a good college and try to get him into a double major with profit potential, say, pre-med and electrical contracting.

Avoid at all costs fields like theology and medieval French literature that prepare the student for a long career as an impoverished graduate student. While he is happily grading papers on Charlemagne, you will be shopping for dog food bargains in the dented can section of the local grocery in your retirement haven.

Watch out for signs of idealism. At the first hint that Your Worker might want to spend a few years in the Peace Corps or helping Mother Teresa, point out all the humanitarian good he could do if he made a tidy pile like Ivan Boesky or Michael Milken or Charles Keating.

Otherwise, while Your Worker is off in Lower Swampovia, you'll be spending your golden years working intersections with a squeegee and a styrofoam cup.

Promise Your Worker that if he gets as rich as Malcolm "Steve" Forbes, you'll let him run for president.

By all means, keep Your Worker's attitude positive. At some stage, he will notice, perhaps from a total lack of take-home pay, that all of his generation's earnings are going to your generation.

Try to distract Your Worker from doing the necessary mathematical extrapolation to realize that some day the demographic lines will cross and that when he retires there will be nobody at all in the workforce. Hey, somebody has to be last.

If Your Worker becomes discouraged, he might just chuck it all and take a minimum wage job in a fast-food joint, and you will spend your sunset years appearing on closed circuit TV in convenience stores wearing a ski mask:

"Yes, officer. She came in and hung around the Mylanta display for awhile before pulling a gun. Distinguishing features? Well, she was sort of bent over, wearing a threadbare DKNY and - oh, yes - she had a walker."

The one thing you want to avoid with Your Worker is starting a generational war. We don't want one generation turning against another.

You know those bumper stickers retirees put on their RVS: "We're Spending Our Children's Inheritance." We could have a whole generation of little kids riding tricycles with bumper stickers saying: "We're Squandering Your Retirement."

(Dale McFeatters writes this column weekly for Scripps Howard News Service.)