This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve a good way to go until I retire, but I’m getting to the age where I can see it coming. It’s a little distressing. Why? Why is the thought of not having to work anymore distressing? I work for a university, I have a good retirement plan: still, the projected amount I will have to live on in retirement is a little scary.

Then there are a good number of my friends who have no retirement plans at all:  more than one who have had to cash in 401Ks, several who are independent contractors who barely get by, a fair few who are severely under-employed. If my retirement picture is kind of scary, what about theirs?

So on to the people who say we have to cut Social Security and Medicare, that retired people should pay more of their health care costs, that people live longer so they can work longer.  What, are they nuts? Is that really the answer? Think about it: more old people in jobs means those jobs aren’t opening up for the younger generations, which means the younger generation — the ones who are trying to start families and begin their lives — have no jobs in which to build a future.

What are the health prospects for my generation if we have no Medicare? We’ll start dying earlier: so we’ll work longer and die earlier, and never have a chance to enjoy retirement.

Extreme poverty among the elderly has almost disappeared because of Social Security; Medicare means that being old doesn’t become a financial liability as health care costs rise. With the end of these programs, poverty will rise, and mortality rates will go up: we will no longer live longer, we will die young.

What was Alan Grayson’s remark? “The Republican Health Care plan for America: don’t get sick. … If you get sick, America, then die quickly.”  That’s what altering Social Security and Medicare means:  people getting old in poverty, and dying younger and in debt. How is this sustainable as a society?

I worry for my generation. We can’t afford to get old.


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