OK

Probably not diary-worthy, but I have to get it off of my chest.

I was listening to Ed Schultz while he was on during the first hour of his radio show broadcast on Tuesday. Ed and several callers complained that asking workers to delay retirement by two or more years was unreasonable, particularly for those workers whose daily routine involves hard, physical labors-- think construction, road building, hell-- lumberjacking, for that matter. I agree completely with their sentiments, that asking workers at the end of a 45 year practice of hard labor to "just" eek out two more years before becoming eligible for retirement benefits is unreasonable, if for no other reason that the human body cannot, in most cases, continue to perform at the peak levels demanded of those job holders.

But it gets worse when you dive into the details.

Left unconsidered, in my opinion, is what the consequences would be of mandating a delay in retirement age by even two years-- let's say from 65 to 67 years of age. I work in academia and I sincerely appreciate the accumulated wisdom and experience of my older colleagues but, Lord knows, there are plenty of faculty who could have retired several years ago, making room on the salary lines for employment of younger faculty who will bring energy, drive, and innovative approaches to the research and education enterprise that has made the US a leader in many fields of basic and applied research.

I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine that the same principle holds true in other trades, from carpentry to construction and to engineering on scales both large and small. If we want a vibrant, innovative, and growing economy it is necessary for the 'old hands' to cede their positions in order that fresh minds and bodies can enter the work force and make their own contributions.

Raising the retirement age is a truly Bad Idea on many levels, but perhaps none more than this: Do we, as a nation, want to deny young workers the opportunity to ply their trades to satisfy a mandate that elderly workers keep laboring until finally allowed to enjoy the fruits of the life's work before infirmity and then death takes its toll?

It makes no sense.

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