The Talking Lion

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Oh, John Tierney, you salty dog, you

Gah. Todays column from Tierney is about as bad as his always are and it doesnt help to have his stupid smile on the NYTimes.com page. He looks like he's either laughing at you or about to eat you, his eyes just look so empty. GAH, I can't tell.

Anyway, "to the meat", I say!

His column is a support of raising the retirement age. He's impressed by athletic septagenarians so he's confident that every 70-year-old is as spry as the lady who threw a discus.
Men in their 70's raced on bikes for 40 kilometers in this month's National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. A 68-year-old woman threw the discus 85 feet, and a 69-year-old man hurled the javelin nearly half the length of a football field.

Is it possible that people this age are still physically capable of putting in a full day's work at the office?

Oh! How clever. Go on.
Americans now feel entitled to spend nearly a third of their adult lives in retirement. Their jobs are less physically demanding than their parents' were, but they're retiring younger and typically start collecting Social Security by age 62. Most could keep working - fewer than 10 percent of people 65 to 75 are in poor health - but, like Bartleby the Scrivener, they prefer not to.

The problem isn't that Americans have gotten intrinsically lazier. They're just responding to a wonderfully intentioned system that in practice promotes greed and sloth. Social Security is widely thought of as a kumbaya program that unites Americans in caring for the elderly, but it actually creates ugly political battles among generations.


Jeez, where to begin. Ah: snark! Their jobs are less "physically demanding"? Who's they? I mean, all old people are nags but similarity doesnt extend to the wide spectrum of elderly labor. I think lifting shit into/out of trucks is just as tough as it was way-back-then-when-everything-was-bright-and-sunny. Also, kudos on making Social Security equivalent to hippie songs; your subtlety is not lost on me. Jerk.

Social Security creates ugly political battles. Well, it's ugly becuase rich people (in power) want more money and pretty much don't care where it comes from.

If the elderly were willing to work longer, there would be lower taxes on everyone and fewer struggling young families. There would be more national wealth and tax revenue available to help the needy, including people no longer able to work as well as the many elderly below the poverty line because they get so little Social Security.
He keeps using "the elderly" as if every member of this group shares a common life. AARP or no AARP, "the elderly" is not a cohesive group. The only each member of "the elderly" have in common is that they like jello, but who doesn't? Here's the little fact he's clearly overlooking:

Raising the retirement age will only affect the middle class and poor.

It will be especially tough on the poorest Americans. A 69 year-old janitor will be forced to mop highschool floors for ungrateful snot-nosed bitches until he can retire. You won't see this "elderly" throwing javelins. Furthermore, this person deserves to retire at 62. S/he's lived a life of poverty and hardship, s/he's entitled his time off.

I'll bet my lawn-mowing money that those athletes Tierney cites are well-off white folk. They can afford to retire when they damn please. But the abuelita washing dishes or being a nanny to some javelin throwing woman's bratty grandkids, she's the one that earned her rest.

Tierney goes on to describe the interesting Chilean pension stuff. It sounds interesting and I'm doing a little research on it, but I'm skeptical. Mainly becuase Johnnyboy here is in support of it.

Sigh. Tierney's a bit of a punching bag.

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