I want this conversation to be about ageism. I don't hear that conversation going on anywhere of note today, and I don't hear it going on here at the Dkos. And it's UBER important because it informs the choices we have before us. And it crosses all color lines...everyone grows older, someday.
Those choices involve raising the age for SS benefits, and raising the age of Medicare benefits.
I have heard this all discussed every way from Sunday, but I HAVE NOT seen or heard a diary specifically about ageism and why it plays an uber important role in this discussion.
Follow me below the orange whatever to discuss.
So, hello. Welcome to 2012, soon to be 2013. Let's look, really look, at the opportunities for those 55 plus. Because if the meme is to raise the age of this or that entitlement, then we need to look at the possibilities available and open to this age group, their ability to continue to bring in the money and survive the solutions being talking about.
And the stark truth is, if you look at ANY company's willingness to hire a person over 55, at the salary they deserve for their experience, you're going to find a very small pool, mostly made up of the top 2%, the "royalty" of capitalism, whose names get them jobs, over and over again, in that inner sanctum.
For the great rest of those over 55, it's a very bleak landscape, should their current job be "retired." And we ALL KNOW, many such jobs will be retired to save money. And we all SUSPECT, that those over 55, desperately searching for a place via their experience in the job market, will be rejected for cheaper labor. The so called "free market" only sees the bottom line, not the VALUE, nor the experience and wisdom that leads to a better, longer lasting product we can trust. Today we live in a culture that puts NO premium on experience or lessons learned, because we DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR THAT.
It is absurd and utterly ridiculous to expect that we can raise the age of retirement or access to medicare until we address the reality of those over 55 being able to FIND EMPLOYMENT EQUAL TO BEING ABLE TO PAY THEIR WAY.
Don't tell us about Wal-Mart greeter jobs or the fact that Arby's loves hiring seniors at minimum wage. This DOES NOT pay the freight. And if those over 55 or 60 CANNOT earn a living that equals us raising the age of SS or Medicare entitlement, then we freaking FOOL OURSELVES when we think raising the age of SS or Medicare solves any deficit problem.
Because what is true, is those 55-60 and over, with a good job, are hanging on for dear life, hoping they can make it another 5 years. And if they fail to hold on to that, they're going to fall into the area the federal government must pay for, OR see the United States of America, a land ridiculously rich in resources, humiliated by seeing a wave of seniors homeless, under the bridge, and begging for mercy. How will the United States of America look then?!
WHY OH WHY, doesn't ANYONE, discuss the realities of ageism? Why oh why, doesn't ANYONE in our culture or on this site of smart people, step up and say "Really?!?!?!! Under what rainbow do you see people 65 plus as able to keep on keeping on, earning a living that does not need SS or medicare?
THIS IS WHAT WE MUST LOOK AT. If we will not employ our elders at a wage that allows them to keep up with costs, then we must find a way to take care of them. If we want elders to vacate jobs for those coming into the job force, then again, we must find an equitable way.
I'm a business woman. Have been most of my adult life, save for those early years when I was a teacher. I think about these things, and I see the writing on the wall. Fact is, I'm MORE THAN WILLING to keep working, as long as my health allows, and as long as someone will have me.
BUT, I'm not so willing to keep working hard in a culture that dismisses and won't pay for my experience. I'm not so willing to see a life as a Wal-mart greeter as my reward for decades of effort. I'm not willing to vote for the idea that in this ageist society, I should, after all my hard work, just shut up and accept that in the end, I will live as a pauper in this great land of endless resources and be thankful for it. Nope. Instead, I and many, will go after every dime we can get off the public dole.
Please, oh please, let's really look at ageism in this culture. Let's not any longer ignore it in the issues we face today. Let's not let the GOP get away with suggesting these solutions without our full throated response that we need a culture that allows elders to keep working at a reasonable wage to answer such expectations, or in lieu of that, a culture willing to take care of our elders in an acceptable manner.
Let's NOT let the issue of ageism in our culture remain the silent, unspoken reality.
UPDATE: I have changed the word biggest to broadest in my diary title. There were several commentors that heard my words as a value judgment as to which from of bigotry was the worst. I did not intend that. All forms of bigotry suck equally.
I was speaking to the fact that Ageism effects everyone, every color, every sexual identity. That as a bad "ism" it casts the widest net of all as everyone will face the problems, vulnerabilities, and attitudes about the elderly, if they are lucky enough to get there. And it's not just seniors who suffer ageism, it's their children who are trying to take care of them when they can't find work, when their retirement savings have been savagely lessened by our boom bust economic system, when their homes are no longer worth what they once were.
It's a very wide net that ageism hooks and hurts, and that's what I was really trying to say. I hope this makes things clearer.