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January 7, 2011

The Retirement Age Is Too Damn High!

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The D.C. elite insist that the retirement age should be raised even more than the current 67. They have jobs where they sit in nice chairs behind nice desks in nice offices in affluent areas. They don't even know anyone who waits tables or cleans or lifts boxes all day. They don't even know anyone without a fat 401K, or who is in their 50s who can't find work. That's not their problem; paying their share of taxes is what they are worried about.

But when you leave the affluent areas it becomes obvious that the retirement age is too high and Social Security pays too little. The Great Recession began with waves of layoffs that seemed to concentrate on people over 50 -- because of health care costs and reasonable pay (and they just smell bad). Two years later these people are having a very hard time finding work -- and don't even mention health insurance. Their savings are gone, their unemployment checks are stopping (the "99ers") and they are heAded for the streets. The DC elite solution is to keep them on the streets even longer.

Lowering the retirement age solves part of the unemployment problem. It solves part of the foreclosure problem by helping many people pay their mortgages. And this is a very out-of-date thing to say but it is humane. It helps people.

James K. Galbraith writes in ACTUALLY, THE RETIREMENT AGE IS TOO HIGH,

In the United States, the financial crisis has left the country with 11 million fewer jobs than Americans need now. No matter how aggressive the policy, we are not going to find 11 million new jobs soon. So common sense suggests we should make some decisions about who should have the first crack: older people, who have already worked three or four decades at hard jobs? Or younger people, many just out of school, with fresh skills and ambitions?

The answer is obvious. Older people who would like to retire and would do so if they could afford it should get some help. The right step is to reduce, not increase, the full-benefits retirement age.

Digby adds,

When I was young, a long time ago, it was conventional wisdom that you wanted the oldsters to get out of the job market to make way for the youngsters. ... But somewhere along the line it became an article of faith that anyone who didn't want to work until they dropped dead was a spoiled parasite who expected young people to keep them in style by working 20 hour days.

The retirement age is too damn high! It should be 62 at most. 55 would be better and we could do that if we weren't still paying for a military to keep the Soviet Union at bay. If affluent members of the DC elite want towork even longer, no one is stopping them. Of course, a lot of us have been wishing they would retire. I can think of a few pundits who have been writing the same column since the 70s.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at January 7, 2011 5:15 PM


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