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Posts Tagged ‘retirement

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”*…

 

gerontacracy

 

Hate crime is rising, the Arctic is burning, and the Dow is bobbing like a cork on an angry sea. If the nation seems intolerant, reckless and more than a little cranky, perhaps that’s because the American republic is showing its age. Somewhere along the way, a once-new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (not men and women; that came later) became a wheezy gerontocracy. Our leaders, our electorate and our hallowed system of government itself are extremely old.

Let me stipulate at the outset that I harbor no prejudice toward the elderly. As a sexagenarian myself, not to mention as POLITICO’s labor policy editor, I’m fully mindful of the scourge of ageism. (I’ve had the misfortune on occasion to experience it firsthand.) But to affirm that America must work harder to include the elderly within its vibrant multicultural quilt is not to say it must be governed almost entirely by duffers. The cause of greater diversity would be advanced, not thwarted, if a few more younger people penetrated the ranks of American voters and American political leaders.

Let’s start with the leaders.

Remember the Soviet Politburo? In the waning years of the Cold War, a frequent criticism of the USSR was that its ruling body was preposterously old and out of touch. Every May Day these geezers would show up on a Moscow reviewing stand, looking stuffed, and fix their rheumy gaze on a procession of jackbooted Red Army troops, missiles and tanks. For Americans, the sight was always good for a horselaugh. In 1982, when Leonid Brezhnev, the last of that generation to hold power for any significant length of time, went to his reward, the median age of a Politburo member was 71. No wonder the Evil Empire was crumbling!

You see where this is going. The U.S. doesn’t have a Politburo, but if you calculate the median age of the president, the speaker of the House, the majority leader of the Senate, and the three Democrats leading in the presidential polls for 2020, the median age is … uh … 77.

It doesn’t stop there. We heard a lot last November about the fresh new blood entering Congress, but when the current session began in January, the average ages of House and Senate members were 58 and 63, respectively. That’s slightly older than the previous Congress (58 and 62), which was already among the oldest in history. The average age in Congress declined through the 1970s but it’s mostly increased since the 1980s…

Timothy Noah (@TimothyNoah1) points out that our leaders, our electorate, and our hallowed system of government itself are aging. And it shows: “America, the Gerontocracy.”

* T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

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As we ponder progression, we might recall that it was on this date in 1796 that George Washington, having decided to decline a run for a third term as president, “delivered” (via a long letter published in the the American Daily Advertiser) his Farewell Address.  Characterizing it as advice from a “parting friend,” he celebrated the Constitutional logic of separation of powers and warned against permanent alliances with foreign powers, large public debts, a large military establishment, and “the devices of any small, artful, enterprising minority” to control or change the government– among many other topics.  His letter became the foundation of the Federalist Party’s political doctrine, and is considered one of the most important documents in American history. 

Starting in 1862, the Farewell Address was read, first in the House of Representatives, then from 1899 in the Senate as well on Washington’s birthday.  The House abandoned the practice in 1984, but the Senate continues the tradition.  A member of the Senate, alternating between political parties each year since 1896, reads the address aloud on the Senate floor, then upon finishing, makes an entry into a black, leather-bound journal maintained by the Secretary of the Senate .

250px-Washington's_Farewell_Address source

 

Written by LW

September 19, 2019 at 1:01 am

The Golden Years…

 

At Chaseley Trust, a British assisted living facility, residents have an alternative to bingo and sing-alongs:  Chaseley occasionally employs the services of strippers and escorts for their guests.

“People have needs,” manager Helena Barrow told The Sun. “We are there to help. We respect our residents as individuals so that’s why we help this to happen. If we refused, we would not be delivering a holistic level of care.”

Read more about this hands-on healing (and the controversy it has stirred) in The Sun (from whence, the photo above) and in Salon.

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As we plan for early retirement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1692 that a doctor in Salem, Massachusetts (generally believed to have been William Griggs), was unable to find a physical explanation for the ailments (fits, pins-and-needles) of three young girls.  As other young women in Salem began to evince the same symptoms, the local preacher declared them “bewitched”… and the stage was set for The Salem Witch Trials.

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Written by LW

February 8, 2013 at 1:01 am

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”*

NPR takes a look at a striking dimension of the generation gap:

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds wide gaps in how different generations view politics. Older voters are more conservative, more angry at the government and less hopeful about the future of the country. Younger voters lean left, wish the government played a greater role in their lives and believe the nation’s best days are yet to come. If the “silent generation” controlled the country, Mitt Romney would win the election next year. If millennials had their way, President Obama would win a second term — and his health care law would be expanded. Boomers and Gen Xers fall in between these extremes, but seem to grow more conservative with age.

See the full– and fascinating– infographic at “How Age Shapes Political Outlook.”

And for an interestingly (and chillingly) resonant perspective on the stock market, see this report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco… given the employment prospects– and thus, likely investment activity– of (too) many Millennials, many of those “Silents” and “Boomers” looking to depend on their investments, and get government out of healthcare and retirement, may now have an answer to the question “when can I plan to retire?”   Never.

* routinely, but incorrectly, attributed to Winston Churchill– who was, in fact, a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35.

As we muse, with Churchill, that we’re only as old as we feel, we might recall that it was on this date in 1861 that Jefferson Davis was elected to a six-year term as President of the Confederate States of America.  In the event, re-election was not an issue.

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