Monday, April 18, 2011


So one of the ideas being bandied about to reconcile the budget is to raise the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075. My first reaction was to say that it's no matter to me. I'll be long since retired by then, and perhaps not even on this earth anymore. But then it struck me . . .

Sam is 69 years old in 2075.

Okay, now I'm paying attention.

One of the great generational dialogues we're in the throes of having regards the value of the older worker. Contradictory forces have presented us with a dilemma. Most journalism about the potential for economic disaster regarding our national debt involve raising the retirement age for Social Security. Seems logical. The longer we work, the more we can save, the more output we can generate, the less time (gulp) we have to blow through our savings.

I guess the cynic would say we aim to work longer so our money can outlive us.

Yet the business world has for a decade or so been eager to push those in their late 50s and early 60s into retirement as quickly as possible. After all, older workers have a higher labor cost. Ironically, as we have made the transition to a service-oriented economy, and where a greater proportion of us find ourselves in white collar positions, we're actually able to work longer. And, our bodies can last longer once we have retired. After all we haven't been worn down the way our factory-working forebears were.

So, though I hear the calls for Americans to save more and work longer, I wonder what attempt is being made to reshape the managers and entrepreneurs of the world and get them to differently value the older worker.

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