If you are 50 years of age or older or have a parent or relative who is, hold onto your hat and your wallet! If the politicians have their way here in America and in most industrialized countries in the world, you or someone you love will not only be labeled as over the hill, but out of luck.
This shouldn’t surprise any of us especially in this country where economics has become the only yardstick used to measure well being and success. Indeed, in our country citizens who are older GenXers, Boomers and Elders – citizens who now number over 100 million and who will eventually represent 50% of our total population – are being viewed by a growing number of younger and misguided politicians as a serious liability.
This is also true in many other industrialized countries. And if you don’t believe me, look at the score card! In Britain, Ireland, France, Greece, and Italy governments are trying to solve the economic crisis created by out-of-control financial institutions on the backs of older citizens. They are trying to reduce pensioner rights, extend the retirement age and decrease primary services for older citizens. The same conversations are bubbling up in Japan, Spain and in China.
Here in the U.S., calls to cut or privatize Social Security, reduce Medicare and Medicaid benefits and raise the retirement age are beginning to dominate the news. And under the rubric of fiscal responsibility a barely disguised and selfish group of political operatives seeks to protect the wealthy and eviscerate the needs the majority. Indeed, Keynesian Economics – the sound and successful economic strategy that has allowed us to weather every major economic crisis since the 1930’s – is being thrown under the bus and the mental aberrations advanced by the so-called ‘Chicago School’ are being advanced. It’s beyond my comprehension that without one shred of success to point to proponents of this flawed approach preach draconian budget cuts and the “free market economy.”
Unfortunately there isn’t anything ‘free’ about this economy or any economy where corporate and financial interests operate without guidelines and restrictions. So budget cuts without stimulus spending is like soup without chicken. And if you doubt this assertion, take a real look at what is happening throughout Europe and in places here in the U.S. where this financial mumbo jumbo is currently being applied.
So we have a problem! We are living in an out of balance, off-course and increasingly compassionless climate at precisely the time when we are also experiencing the most dramatic demographic revolution in history. As a result people who are 50 and older are being pushed to the sideline and often onto a steep and slippery slope toward poverty by those who would like to see America abandon its proud legacy of compassion, inclusion and caring. All of this in the interest of lower taxes for the wealthy and special incentives for our corporations – neither of which need them.
Perhaps you now see why I say the 50 and older crowd runs the risk of being not only over the hill but out of luck! Not true, you say! Well, let’s look a little deeper. Based on the ‘graying’ of our population which includes increasing longevity, a shrinking birth rate and a decreasing tax base, no matter how much money you think you have or how protected you or your loved ones appear to be by gates, investment accounts or special healthcare plans, when the full implications of this 50% over 50 revolution set in no one will be immune from the challenges.
So what can we do about it? First, we can stop buying into this nonsense that all we need to do is cut spending. Second we need to demand that everyone – the wealthiest 5% and all corporations – pay their fair share of taxes. Third we have to start building an age friendly world in which the contributions made by elders are honored and their wisdom and experience is respected.
And by ‘we’ I am referring specifically to those of us who are unceremoniously included in this “Over The Hill Gang.” After all we have the numbers, the experience, the practical wisdom, the resources and, especially the need. We’ve also been on the front lines before and we know how to get things done.
So rather than let others who are half our age, have half of our experience and often demonstrate less than half of our intelligence tell us that our time is over and assign us marginal roles in our own stories, let’s get up on our feet and tell them we’ve had enough of this nonsense. Let’s tell them we’re not going to let them make decisions that negatively impact our lives. Let’s remember who we are, what we stand for, the values we have lived by and the fact that we have not lived this long and done all that we have done to be shuffled off into the background. In short let’s declare that we will not go quietly or meekly into this or any other night!
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