No, Working Into Your Golden Years Doesn't 'Give You An Identity'

Folks who have been around at least 65 years have one already.

I’m 32. In 33 years, I’d like the choice to retire. I have no idea what I will be doing then or if I will even want to stop, but I’d like to choose — and I’d like everyone else to have that choice, too. I don’t know if we’ll have it, though. I know that sounds pretty dire, but look at what is happening in Congress these days — and how even The Today Show is attempting to normalize a situation in which you never retire.

First, let’s talk health. In addition to working towards repealing the Affordable Care Act — which would drop around 18 million people from insurance in year one, according a report from the Congressional Budget Office (a non-partisan organization) — there is a very real possibility the GOP will attempt to privatize medicare. Don’t believe me? See Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” literature:

Medicare is a single-payer health program. If you were to ask a senior citizen on Medicare if we should privatize it, their answer would most likely be “no.” The reason? It works. The model of paying for healthcare with a small tax that gradually increases depending on your income works. It works in Canada (#30 in world health), it works in the United Kingdom (#18), it works in Japan (#10), and it works in Italy (#2).

For reference, the United States is #31 — and #1 in per-capita spending. As of 2014, the US spends $9,400. Canada spends $5,200, the UK spends $3,900, Japan spends $3,700, and Italy spends $3,200. It’s funny how the higher ranked they are, the less they spend, isn’t it?

It’s no wonder that Americans of all ages want a system like it:

Social Security is in danger, as well. With numerous Republicans filing and backing plans to make major cuts to the program under the guise of “saving” it, there is real support for pulling the rug out from under seniors.

In many cases, people would not have the option of retirement if Social Security did not exist. It’s a pension that you get simply for having existed in America, land of “The American Dream.” It’s a socialist program, not a retirement savings account. It has always been a socialist program, from day one. This is good, not bad.

Medicare is a socialist program, too. It works — and would work better if the entire country was enrolled. If you can remember during the Democratic primary, specifics were proposed to make Medicare into the system our entire country would use. The plan would cost $1.38 trillion, and a realistic means of raising this money was put forward. It would involve no new taxes on the impoverished, a 2.2 percent tax increase on the middle class (a family of four making $50k a year taking the standard deduction would only pay $466), and a progressive tier system for people in higher income levels.

Because of increasing GOP proposals for raids on Medicare and Social Security (rather than responsible expansion and evolution to Medicare-For-All and Universal Basic Income), retirement is in serious danger. If one is not able to draw a pension, because they’ve worked a low wage job for 65 years how would one pay for healthcare? What’s scary is that’s increasingly sounding like a best case scenario due to the coming lack of employment in the form of automation.

One needs money to work to stay healthy. Assuming there are jobs, one wouldn’t retire. Assuming there aren’t, one would just languish in poverty.

Instead of talking about these programs, instilling a sense that in the very near future they’re going to be more necessary than ever before, daily television is trying to sell people on the idea of just continuing to work forever. These media outlets could so easily be used to mobilize people to protect what we have and work to expand, but let’s be clear: how many health advertisers would want to stick around if these outlets (NBC, who airs “The Today Show” as well as just about every other outlet) suddenly became a threat to their entire business model? This is the business of “buying influence.” It’s not direct; buying ads simply shields one from criticism.

Who do you think is pushing the GOP congressmen to privatize and gut socialist programs? Do you think it’s not the health companies (via lobbyists, campaign contributions, and PAC support)?

The reasons shown here as positives for working after retirement age are… dubious. “Keeps you alive” implies that if you stop working, you die, and “gives you an identity” implies somehow you made it for 65+ years as a blank slate with no thoughts, feelings, hobbies, family, or friends. What?

The way working longer “keeps you healthier” is because working might allow you to afford for-profit health insurance. The only way it reduces isolation is if you consider being around other people feeling miserable over the fact they’re forced to work beyond retirement age is better than spending time with your family. Don’t tell me browsing the internet because you have time to (and money to pay the bill) is somehow less good for “mental sharpness” than pressing a button or screwing something in on an assembly line.

Work can be part of your identity. I’m not saying it’s wrong to take pride in it or that it doesn’t build character. I am saying massive corporations are telling you to work beyond retirement while the politicians they support gut your ability to live comfortably once you’ve reached an age we have all agreed on as “appropriate to stop working” and it’s wrong.

We can’t continue to trust this kind of nonsense as it is waved in front of our faces. 65 isn’t the new 40.

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