[Paleopsych] NYT: On the Job, Till Death Do Us Part? (9 Letters)

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On the Job, Till Death Do Us Part? (9 Letters)

    To the Editor:

    In "The Old and the Rested" (column, June 14), John Tierney mentions
    the unmentionable: he suggests that healthy seniors consider going
    back to work.

    But here's something even more unmentionable: many seniors would love
    to do just that - or keep the jobs they already have - but employers
    don't want them. Why?

    The feeling is that seniors are not as mentally acute as younger
    employees. That they can't or won't work as hard. That training them
    is a waste because they don't have another 20 years of work left in

    And most unmentionable of all, they make younger decision makers

    How many 35-year-old managers (beyond those at McDonald's or Wal-Mart)
    are eager to hire employees who could be their parents? The problem is
    less that many seniors who could return to work won't; it is that many
    who would love to can't, because only minimum-wage jobs that do not
    make use of their knowledge and experience are open to them.

    Neil Chesanow
    Montvale, N.J., June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    Most people who have done manual labor their entire working lives are
    ready to retire by age 60 and should be able to do it.

    Back, hip and joint problems aside, their lungs and other organs have
    been assaulted for decades by things like paint, welding fumes and
    solvents, and it's quite likely that they don't have a whole lot of
    time left.

    People who have been writers, editors, accountants and stockbrokers
    probably have plenty of work left in them at age 60 or 65, and it
    isn't unreasonable to suggest that they stay on the job.

    Our economic system is replete with disparities like this, and any
    Social Security "fix" that doesn't address them should be rejected.

    David Rubenstein
    Minneapolis, June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    How can John Tierney write so disparagingly of those of us who are far
    along in our aging species, even to the point of asking, "Why is
    loafing an inalienable right?"

    He cites 68- and 69-year-old athletes participating in the National
    Senior Games and asks if they're not "capable of putting in a full
    day's work at the office." Maybe they are, but not for 50 weeks a

    How many hours did Mr. Tierney put in interviewing 80- or 85-year-olds
    or those in their young 90's who would welcome part-time work
    assignments, who never expected to stay this long and now "scrape by"?

    Hear us, journalists. We're the ones on your "front line," not only
    those facing retirement. With eight decades or more (I'm 82), we have
    the perspective you can't know.

    Have the guts to look at the hard wisdom we can give you, not to
    self-serving sarcasm. Pardon our anger, but perhaps you need to hear

    Bob VanWagoner
    Morehead City, N.C., June 14, 2005
    The writer wrote a column about senior issues for The Sarasota
    Herald-Tribune, 1998-2001.

    To the Editor:

    Having been let go from my job in March at the age of 61, I have been
    trying unsuccessfully to find another position (as have many other
    people in my situation).

    Also, I need the health benefits offered by full employment. I don't
    want to apply for Social Security at 62, but it seems that I may have
    no choice.

    So please ask John Tierney for a list of companies that are hiring
    people who are over 60 and that offer benefits. I have a feeling there
    aren't very many of them.

    Carol Robinson
    New York, June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    John Tierney's idea of what retirees do with the largess of Social
    Security (golf?) is laughable.

    Today's retirees have a new job, women's work.

    Now that women either need or choose to support their families,
    grandparents have stepped in to help with child care. They have also
    taken the place of housewives in volunteer work. In doing so, they
    apparently give in to what Mr. Tierney calls "greed and sloth."

    Although unpaid work receives little public acknowledgment, it is
    needed, and so (desperately) are retirees.

    Sarah Denes
    Stony Creek, Conn., June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    John Tierney's column resonates with many citizens, senior and

    Norwegians, with perhaps the best quality of life of any country, have
    a retirement age of 67 for their version of Social Security.

    We can easily raise the retirement age and work longer. That will help
    take Social Security out of a financial bind and keep seniors active.
    But until we stop laying off or sidelining older workers and slow our
    rush to outsource meaningful jobs to other countries where labor is
    cheaper, Mr. Tierney is pipe-dreaming at best.

    Michael A. Keane
    South Orange, N.J., June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    John Tierney's indictment of the "Old and the Rested" graciously
    doesn't blame Americans for becoming lazier but places the onus on
    "the system." What he doesn't mention is that "the system" includes
    corporations that offered early retirement because it was economically
    expedient; private pension plans (corporate promises to workers) that
    were underfinanced or raided during mergers; and a culture that is
    youth-oriented and vilifies the aged.

    The AARP did not invent early retirement; M.B.A.'s in the boardroom
    did. Most elderly people are willing to work longer at the jobs they
    are qualified for, but they work as department-store greeters because
    they are too experienced and overqualified for the jobs they can do.

    Brent J. Eelman
    Willow Grove, Pa., June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    Re "The Old and the Rested" (column, June 14):

    If the Republican tax cuts to the wealthy were reversed and the money
    appropriately applied, this wouldn't be an issue. This is just more of
    the same-old, same-old in the continuing saga to shift wealth upward.

    If seniors want to work, fine; but if not, aren't they entitled to
    retire, or is that only for the wealthy elderly?

    Michelle Cacho-Negrete
    Wells, Me., June 14, 2005

    To the Editor:

    Contrary to John Tierney's column, the problem for my generation is
    not that we are lazy. It's the job market. I'm 68 and happy to work.
    Now all I need is for people and businesses to hire me.

    Danny Kleinman
    Los Angeles, June 14, 2005

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