Raise the Social Security Age?

Giving the management of the safety net for our seniors over to the private (for profit) sector is of course wrong. I am disappointed also to hear Democrats suggesting raising the retirement age. We should fight raising the Social Security age. Here are some points we should be using:

  • Professional people and business owners do see retirement the same as wage earners. Professional and business owners continue into retirement as well-paid consultants or simply continue to work because they set their own hours and agendas. Wage earners, who have worked their whole lives to enrich other people, cannot keep the pace of the work-day world past 55 or 60. Their ability, by any means — education, hard work, overtime — to lift their socioeconomic status or achieve any level of self-paced autonomy in their work should be looked at separately. The driving, clock-punching, answer-to-the boss, hands-on production level of work is killing to older people. When we raise the age at which we permit these people to draw Social Security, we are agreeing to keep them hard at work until death and disability relieve us of the problem.
  • Improving your socio-economic status by working hard and managing well (upward mobility) in the United States, once the phenomenon of the world for it’s level of opportunity, is non-existent. We have eliminated it by several means, one of which is creating corporate dynasties that preserve the hold of a few wealthy families and another of which is installing these families as the governing class. Under the leadership of these corporate and conservative influences, we have shifted the tax burden to the poor and middle class, further protecting wealth and privilege of the few. Perhaps these are unpopular things to say, but Democrats should be looking at the real statistics on the value of work to the individual worker. It is much less than it was 50 years ago. Work builds wealth, but not the wealth of the worker. Take a look at the “L-Curve.” Google will find it for you. We can use the statistics on “how much work is worth to the worker” to mobilize our more humanitarian and populist causes. We need worker’s rights and fair wages. We can’t get people to believe this if we don’t assemble and show the evidence. The Neo-Con agenda is to promote a dream that has vanished, but every poor clock-punching worker still wants — needs — to believe the dream. That is why the Neo-Cons can make poor people vote for their wealth-building schemes even while they cut entitlements and necessary safety-net features like Medicare and Social Security.
  • Working parents have working children (see 1 and 2 above). Raising the Social Security (and Medicare) age takes the support system from young families, keeping Grandma and Grandpa “gainfully employed” until they are dead or disabled, and denying them the retirement years they had hoped for to baby-sit, nurture, and enjoy grandchildren. This more than anything else has disintegrated the American family and put day care on the map of big business. All of us work till we die, and nobody has any time for family unless they are members of the wealthy class (ownership society?) and can manage their own time.
  • Older workers (60+) have aging parents, but they cannot draw Social Security at a reasonable age and care for them. Instead, we send our ailing 70-80 year olds for long stays in institutions, keeping elder care firmly in the big business and for-profit sector of the economy and further eroding the family.
  • Keeping older workers (60+) on the job because they have to work until they can get Social Security at 66 or 67 means that job and promotion opportunities do not open up for younger people. Entry level jobs and promotion opportunities are blocked by people who have to extend their planned work years.
  • During the years from 60 onward, women in particular and a large number of men also do not have any advantage in increased earnings. Many are shuffled to lower-paid jobs, even when they stay in the organizations they have been in for years. Older workers feel the pressure of their sense of value to organizations diminishing, and many feel that they are “hanging on” when their organization really would like to see them gone.
  • Perhaps, because of the rapid changes in technology, organizations would work better if workers over 60 retired. Raising the Social Security age runs counter to this idea.
  • Most people save a little for retirement. They save it so they can travel, take the vacation they never had or see Europe or South America or Mexico. Raising the Social Security age keeps them until their health and ability to travel is gone, and this money goes to medical costs and nursing homes.
  • Churches and charitable causes used to operate on the work of energetic senior volunteers. These people now (and more so in the future if we raise the retirement age again) are still punching a clock. By the offer of government money to faith-based initiatives for community service, and by taking retired seniors out of the available volunteer pool, the Neo-Cons are beginning the push to move this area of community, home, and family into a big-business line item where it will be theirs to manage.
  • Medical advances in the past three decades have indeed increased life expectancy. However, the quality of life for seniors has diminished. More live in poverty. More live in pain. More live in nursing homes. Fewer live with their retired children as care-givers. Fewer baby-sit their grandchildren. Fewer can afford travel. Fewer are able to volunteer. Many choose between heating fuel and food. More of their resources are consumed in paying for medicines, and more of them are dying from side effects of medications. We have lost sight of the life cycle, the need for family, the meaning of what it is to age, and the function of health care. We prolong dying and call it increasing life expectancy. Then we use it as an excuse to take that precious 55 to 65 golden age of life and mine it for more production and more billing opportunities. Not only is this immoral, it is also what my mother would call “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

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