Working Longer Is A Lame Answer For Failing Pensions. We Need A Gray New Deal.

Image: Scott Lewis via Flickr Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/qZzNYX

[Forbes.com] It’s a journalism cliche that reporters always highlight the bad: they never write about the planes that don’t crash or the companies that don’t lie and cheat. But the topic of working into old age seems to be one of the most consistent exceptions. Most every example of journalism about working longer is of someone for whom working in their 70s, 80s, 90s is full of joy; everything has gone right! 

Often these stories have not a single proviso that working longer in a nice job—a job that doesn’t break down health and spirits or take away from important end-of-life leisure—might be a scarce privilege that class status affords. 

For example, John D. Stoll began a Wall Street Journal article last week on “the end of retirement” with the following: “It took about six years of annual asset reviews with my financial planner…” When I read that, I knew the focus would not be on the typical worker approaching retirement. Instead, it focused on the ability of a privileged slice of professional workers to work as long as they please, however they please.

Most Americans don’t have that luxury. Without decent pensions, working longer is not the answer for most people. For the first time in modern history, the American elderly will be relatively worse off than their parents and grandparents. Many will turn to work—any kind of work. The failing do-it-yourself American pension system will cause humanitarian and political crises unless we find a better way.

Read more: Forbes.com »

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