Yesterday I wrote a bit about saving for retirement. 401k plans aren't doing too well, but they're the best we have. Social Security is problematic. I don't know what is going to happen, but it's pretty clear that the retirement age will go up and benefits will go down. Still, it is the country's safety net of last restort, so I don't think it will ever be eliminated.
All you really need to know about retirement is how much money you'll need, and how to make your savings and investments stretch to that. It's really very simple. Just get out your crystal ball or tea leaves and predict the following:
1. What will your annual spending be?
2. What will the estimated inflation rate be?
3. How long will you live?
4. How much will you make from other sources, like Social Security?
5. How much return can you expect on your investments?
6. When will you retire?
You can probably figure out when you'll retire, so long as you're not laid off or incapacitated. But the rest are shots in the dark, and depend largely upon your temperament. If you're in the doom and gloom camp, better start planting turnips and laying in a good supply of powder and shot - you'll be fighting with feral dogs for the last can of Dinty Moore.
In the words of that great sage of the second Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
Basically, you'll be fine so long as you have the savings equivalent of the GDP of a small country. You might want to think about retiring there.