What Shall We Do, Just Die?

Posted: July 6, 2011 in 50s, law

They call it “the New Ageism.”

You see it’s not that ageism itself is new; it’s the fact that it’s being experienced by people at a much younger age that’s a new phenomena.

We baby boomers are finding that every day in every way people are finding new ways to discriminate against us, whether it is in employment, healthcare or entertainment. Everyone (the universal everyone) begins to over look us and treat us as second-class citizens as soon as we turn 50.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We’re much too young for this to be happening to us. We’re much too young to be unable to find jobs and we’re way too young to retire.  We worked all of those years paying into Social Security and Medicare with the expectation that they’d be there waiting for us. We didn’t expect them to be yanked away from us.

First of all, we don’t feel as old as everyone is treating us and we certainly aren’t ready to “act our age.” As I’m sure you’ve no doubt heard already, we’re much younger and healthier than our parents were when they were our age and we’re more savvy and capable than they were too. In many cases we’re much healthier, capable and savvy – and certainly more reliable – than many of the 30-somethings companies seem to prefer to hire instead of us. Although many of us (I’m not one of them) expected to be wealthy enough to retire at an early age, we didn’t expect to be forced to retire this early – in our 50s – when we should be adding to our retirement investments rather than drawing on them just to live another day because no one will hire us.

And here’s the magic question. If we spend our retirement savings today, penalties for early withdrawal and all, what will we have to live on when we really get old? Fear?

We expected to be living the high life, locking our parents away in nursing homes where we’d only have to visit old age every once in a while and here we find ourselves being treated as if we are our parents. After a certain age we believed our parents to be useless members of society who needed to be hidden away from the rest of society – only they were in their 80s. We’re only 50 or 60, and we feel 30 dammit. We’re not old yet. So why is the world treating us as if our useful days are over?

I suppose there are a couple of ways you could answer that question, one being that the world isn’t treating the over 50s any differently from anyone else. That’s a popular argument these days.

Unemployment is high. Everyone is looking for a job and companies are either hiring the best qualified or at least those with the best looking resume. Another argument is that the over 50s are under qualified for the jobs that are open. They lack the experience and training to fill the positions or they are unwilling to pick up the skills today’s jobs demand.

We’re not trying hard enough. We’re not trying the right tactics. We’re all wrong in every way.

Whatever the case, more and more over 50s are getting the idea that employers just want us to go away and no one wants to admit it.

Don’t just take my word for it.

There’s JPS from Park Slope who wrote in after a radio show in May wherein the topic was “the New Ageism.” JPS said:

 “Age Discrimination Employment Act is currently one of the elephants in the room. I was explicitly told by the CEO of a firm I was with not to hire older workers. I told him about the legal issues and he was not aware of the Discrimination act. He was 30 at the time and I was 35. Now I see it all the time. The trend is here. I went to Google and I saw rows and rows of 20 somethings. But all of the senior execs were 35 – 40 + who actually did the decision making. The top research people happen to be older. Tells you something don’t it?

What are older workers who aren’t wealthy to do? Kill themselves? Didn’t the Nazis engage in that that with the infirmed and the people they thought couldn’t contribute?” …

Mike from NYC related:

“…Since I was laid off I have not been able to find another job. On at least one occasion, at my former work place, my application was passed over for a younger, less experienced person. For another job I was asked my previous salary had been and since it was 10% over what the job was offering, I was told I was not eligible. In other words, I was denied a position because of the years of successful experience I had had at a nearly identical job. What is that other than age discrimination by another tactic? My unemployment insurance has run out. I have had to take early social security, but now the Republican politicians and some conservative Democrats are claiming that the retirement age must be increased. What are people laid off in middle age, like me, supposed to do? Just go away and die?”

There are hundreds (likely thousands) of people over 50 who are feeling the sting of discrimination in hiring who are telling their stories but is anyone listening? More and more they are questioning how they are to live in a society that seems dedicated to pushing them aside.

It might sound a little melodramatic but is it such a far stretch from we want to deny you a way of sustenance to why don’t you just go away and die? If you haven’t been able to find a job for three or four years, you have no unemployment insurance, you have no healthcare coverage and you have no retirement income to rely upon, what is a reasonable person to think?

You draw the conclusions. Then if you are in a position to do something about it, do something.

To read more about the New Ageism follow the links below. To do something about the ageism in hiring, contact me at jlmindell@gmail.com.

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