Old Folks and their money

This story is hilarious in a very sad way.
Re-cap:
An old man (depending upon how you look at old. Is McCain old?) who theoretically has all his capacities wants to be protected from making bad decisions, just because he’s old. (he started making these decisions at 73)

He lost his wife and then started giving money/loaning money to some neighborhood lady with a kid that he felt sorry for. He kept doing it and was embarrassed about it but kept doing it. He got himself into debt where he re-financed his house 2 times and then finally sold it for a loss to his 19 year old mortgage broker (who also, being young, made the bad decision and couldn’t keep the house, losing it to his mortgage holders)

This old guy is suing the bank/mortgage institutions for allowing him to make his own decisions.
And yet doesn’t feel these decisions should be taken away from him because he’s so on the ball!

It’s a sad tale and he’s lost his house and is living with his stepdaughter, but sheesh! Even if you legislated the age that is too old to handle things on your own, I seriously doubt we’d all agree it’s 73!

By his own admission, Mr. Pyle willingly made every decision that led to his financial problems. He gave away large sums to people he thought were friends, and then, in need of money, sold his house at a deep discount to the first person who offered to buy it.

Even so, he claims in a lawsuit that he should be compensated for some of his losses for a simple reason: he is old, and should not bear the full responsibility for his choices.

“I still make pretty good decisions about most things,” said Mr. Pyle, who shows no signs of dementia. “But for others, I guess I’m not as sharp as I was before, and people take advantage of that.”

He knew he wasn’t making sharp decisions and never reached out for help (another not too sharp decision). At his 2nd re-finance with fees at $33,000 I am certain someone in that room asked him if he was sure this was what he wanted to do.

I suspect Mr. Pyle was not in charge of his finances when his wife was alive and these decisions have nothing to do with being old.
Here’s the conclusion:

Some of them (members of Mr. Pyle’s square dancing club)worry lawsuits like Mr. Pyle’s pose a threat to how the elderly are perceived.

George Tomer, 78 years old and president of the Square Hoppers, said he worried that special protections would set limits on his independence.

“If you look at how seniors are portrayed, it’s demeaning,” he said. “We travel all over the world. We’re as active now as we were in our 40s. But the only old people you see on television are buying adult diapers or scooters. It’s frustrating when some salesman treats me like a child.”

Many executives say such concerns about limiting independence are valid.

“If the law says that anyone over 65 is suddenly mentally incapacitated, then older people will have trouble buying homes or cars or country club memberships or insurance policies,” said Frank Keating, chief executive of the American Council of Life Insurers, a trade organization.

Advocates for the elderly, however, say there has to be some kind of recognition that older consumers are more vulnerable.

“We know that, statistically, seniors are at enormous risk for fraud,” said A. Kimberley Dayton of the Center for Elder Justice and Policy at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. “It’s foolish to ignore that. But there’s also a huge dilemma in determining when someone is just being eccentric, versus someone who is a victim of undue influence.”

Mr. Tomer, as he prepared to join his wife on the dance floor, said that over a lifetime, people like Mr. Pyle were supposed to learn from their mistakes.

“Nowadays, I have a few memory problems — senior moments, I call them — and I know my limitations, what I can and can’t do,” Mr. Tomer said. “Bob was special, but he was susceptible to scam artists, and that was probably as true when he was young as now.”

“Life isn’t perfect,” he added. “Even when you’re old.”

Now that I can agree with. Life isn’t perfect.

We can a) protect those under 18 because they are young, b) protect those from 19-40 because they are too busy to read the fine print c) protect those from 40-60 because (hmmm – maybe these guys shouldn’t be protected) and then d) protect anyone over sixty because they are old and vulnerable.

I guess we have a 20 year span to actually be grown ups. Whoops – Unless we are choosing to keep all our retirement funds in our own company’s stock in which case we should be protected from that decision too.

It cracks me up how people in trouble can not see beyond their own immediate point of view. “I made a bad decision and someone else should have been looking out for me because I’m old” while at the same time noting that a man of similar age has the capacity to run the country.

Ie People who received a mortgage with great excitement even though they knew that under similar circumstances, (ie 1 year before the subprimes got big) they would never have received the mortgage to start with now believe they should be protected from going back to the situation they were in before they received what they maybe shouldn’t have received!

I’ve made bad decisions. Is it a minority of people who believe we should get the privilege to live with those bad decisions? Or is it just that we’re the people who don’t make the front page of the NYTimes?