Preserving The American Dream: Taking the Target Off Seniors

I recently went to a large food store, bought a few items and stood in the checkout line. I have noticed that since The Great Recession, there have been more older checkers in all kinds of stores. This store was no different, but the checkout lady was. She was clearly a senior citizen but stood less than five feet, weighed about a hundred pounds and had arthritic gnarled hands that moved with difficulty as she lifted heavy items into bags. As I bagged my item,s I said to her that it must be a relief to go home soon but she said she had to work until ten and that it gets better in the last hour because she can move around the store to clean up. Standing in one place for long periods of time is hard for her because she has scoliosis and flat feet.

Why is she working such long hours at a hard job in her condition? There may be many reasons, but if I had to guess, I would say that she needs the job to survive. Maybe she is a widow or a single person trying to live alone in a high rent area of the suburbs. Maybe she lost a better job in the last ten years or lost her home. Maybe all of her medical bills were not covered by Medicare and she has no supplementary insurance. Maybe she is one of the millions of Americans who have no pension or retirement funds.

A growing number of seniors have little saved for retirement and no pensions. Millions of slightly younger people cashed out their retirement funds when they lost their jobs in The Great Recession. Many others lost their homes which they were counting on to help them grow old without destitution. So now they are taking entry level jobs usually given to younger people like me when I was a teen. They are desperate, in fear they will lose their jobs or worse, their health, which would also mean losing their jobs and being dependent on someone.

There are millions of seniors who are doing very well. They have their pensions or retirement funds, their mortgage-free homes and Social Security as well as Medicare and a supplemental health plan. They go on vacations, frequent restaurants, often during the early bird specials and even help their struggling children and grandchildren. Good for them! They have worked hard all their lives and now they can enjoy time off and experiences they could not afford when they were raising a family. They are living the final act of their American Dream. However, they are not the majority of retirees and their numbers will diminish as more baby boomers retire, more pensions disappear or are defunded and the jobs picture does not significantly improve.

Don’t Blame the Seniors for the Federal Deficit

So-called policy experts blame seniors and the programs that serve them like Social Security and Medicare for bankrupting our economy, ballooning the federal deficit and hurting our children. Seniors are an easy target because of the large expensive federal programs and as the percentage of seniors grows, the problems will worsen. Unless!

Unless we decide to move from being a low wage economy that gives massive tax breaks to the super rich and mega companies that have more of their business revenue and employees outside of our country, we will continue to grow the federal deficit and our debt ceiling.

Unless we bite the bullet and invest in our infrastructure so we can create higher paying jobs, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, begin to make things and services that people want again and be competitive in the world economy, we will not retain our place as a dynamic, creative and just society.

Unless we stop allowing banks and other major institutions to put themselves in financial disaster and then expect to be bailed out by the government and the taxpayers, we will continue down the road to an oligarchy. We already have a small highly organized group of economic aristocrats buying government officials and becoming richer and richer instead of a true functioning democracy in which everyone has a chance to lead a good life.

Most of us grew up with and have pursued the ideal of The American Dream. What we are moving toward now is the American Nightmare in which little old ladies and men will have to work beyond their health and abilities and take the jobs of young people who need those jobs to start up the ladder to the American Dream.  We do not have to become that kind of society. We do not have to blame the seniors like the checkout lady I met. Instead, let’s reinvest in America and keep the dream alive for every American.

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Mysti Moon
Mysti Moon4 years ago

Something to really think about - we need to run our country like a business! and not keep going into debt - reduce the entitlements of Congress! Let no laws be passed that do not equally apply to and and ALL government workers (Congress included!) as well as the American Public!

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

Let us take good care of our senior citizens. They all deserve our support.

Lynda Harrison
Lynda Harrison5 years ago

My thought is that those in Government (of the People, by the People and FOR the People) should be required to live on the average Social Security pay-out for six months. Maybe then they would have a different view. As it is, they have many TAX-PAYER FUNDED benefits that regular folks will never even know about, let alone enjoy!

John Chase
John Chase5 years ago

The Government and the taxpayer bailing out banks and businesses???
The only thing the government is bailing, is every ones hard made earnings into their coffers.
Ever hear of extortion?
IIRC, organized crime used to "ask" for the publics monies in order to give "protection" to said people and their businesses.
We do not respect our elders in this country, not only leaving many with little to nothing for their survival, we steal their savings so that there is nothing to pass along and maintain generational homogenity.
It is now everyone for themselves and I'll get you before you get me...
Even if you are not trying to get me.
Really makes for a community of insular lives.
Our elders are some of our greatest treasures and I think it is time to preserve our heirlooms (knowledge) for all our future generations!

Sharon Isern

Oh, dear lord...I know a couple of people like this. They are so kind to me as I buy groceries, and always bless me as I leave. I am very lucky to have comfortable retirement circumstances...We need to help those who need help. I would gladly pay more tax if it went to help other seniors....but it would just go to buy another drone. I wish we could tell govt. where we wanted our tax contribution to go...sort of ear-mark our tax....THAT MIGHT BRING SOME CHANGES. I could live with a higher tax if I had some control as to how it was spent.

Charles P.
Charles P5 years ago

Allan, when SS was instituted by FDR there were no retirement plans for workers. You worked until you died. If you had a few bucks in the bank you could get out for a couple of years and maybe enjoy a little retirement. If people have a hard time saving now, what do you think they did in the 1930's?

Carmen Benoit
Carmen Benoit5 years ago

The Golden Years - what's that?

sheila l5 years ago

No matter which party wins, seniors will feel the hit.
Medicare is paying MDs 30% less effective Jan. 2013, so many doctors will drop medicare or take no new patients.
Most pts. in dr.'s offices are seniors and not the young.
Stay healthy is my advise and don't be dependent upon Medicare for your health.
Senior will feel the hit all in the name of the budget, conservatism, etc.
I fear the republicans will be worse in their decisions; nothing to look forward to but misery.

Ian Fletcher
Ian Fletcher5 years ago

Higher pensions please!
The elderly spend little on themselves and want to spend time with the grandchildren, so free public transport for them too.
It wouldn't even dent national budgets in any country.

Lynn Squance
Lynn S5 years ago

Thank you Bill Avres. I think you have covered it well.

@ Sue H --- Amen!

@ Allan Y --- Let's not forget the Republican/Teabaggers who have obstructed just about anything and everything that Mr Obama has tried to do.

@ JLA --- Amen!

@ Sandy E --- you're delusional if you think that the Republican/Teabaggers are on your side. Either that or you are part of the 1% with not a financial care in the world.

Vote Democrat 2012!!! Vote Obama/Biden 2012!!! Get involved and stay involved by holding the feet of your Representatives and Senators to the fire!!!