Here’s a current scenario that is happening all too often to way too many of my friends and family and hundreds of thousands of strangers across our great Homeland.

You are a loyal and longtime worker.  You’ve been with the company for over 20 years.  You’re called into the office a year before your 62nd birthday and told you have two Hobson’s Choices:  “Sign this paper saying you will retire the day you turn 62 or get fired today and lose your health insurance and go on unemployment.  The decision is all yours!”  Of course, these “new firees” are terrified and stunned and only hear, “You’re fat and ugly and stupid and smelly and we’re through with you, now get out!”

The reality of these late-term firings is simple:  Talented, older, workers cost a lot more money than young and stupid people fresh out of school.  It’s easier to blame the bad economy for getting rid of older workers than to reveal the truth about the company’s want to preserve the bottom line profit margin.

These newly fired workers — and yes, being forced into taking early retirement is a firing just the same as getting pink slipped — are always shocked they’re being fired.  They’ve been loyal.  They haven’t been out of work in decades.  They have no idea where to turn or where to go and so they inevitably, and ironically, opt for the social safety net option and agree to take early retirement.

I say “ironically” because the GOP crashed our economy on purpose to try to prevent President Obama from winning a second term, and the GOP want to cut the very public rolls these new “firees” will have to use in order to survive into a hopeful old age.

Republicans have opposed a lion’s share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they’re the plague.

Traditionally, during economic recessions, Republicans have been supportive of loose monetary policy. Not this time. Rather, Republicans have upbraided Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, for even considering policies that focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.

And then, there is the fact that since the original stimulus bill passed in February of 2009, Republicans have made practically no effort to draft comprehensive job creation legislation. Instead, they continue to pursue austerity policies, which reams of historical data suggest harms economic recovery and does little to create jobs. In fact, since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have proposed hardly a single major jobs bill that didn’t revolve, in some way, around their one-stop solution for all the nation’s economic problems: more tax cuts.

We live in the prison of a Republican created and controlled economy and yet the blame for our current fiscal depression is somehow being aimed at Democrats.  What a riotous and disingenuous scam the GOP are running on us!

Taking early retirement at age 62 instead of waiting for the full-benefit retirement age of 66 — if you were born in, say, 1950 — costs you a lot of money.  Taking early retirement reduces your monthly benefit by 25% so, if you qualify to receive $1,000.00USD a month at 66, you’d only be given $750.00USD if you take early retirement at age 62.  If you lived 20 years in retirement, you would lose $60,000.00USD in benefit payments by getting out at age 62 instead of age 66.  Once you take your payout, that’s your payout for life.  You don’t get full retirement benefits at age 66 if you retire early at 62.

In a sick way, forcing people into early retirement benefits the government by reducing future payouts while also clearing well-paid workers from company rolls.  The only loser in this scheme is the worker and the worker’s family.  The worker goes from a robust employed citizen to one who is on a fixed income in the dash of an eye.  Forcing early retirement at age 62 is a terrible non-choice that defines Ageism and the savage shelving of talented minds and engaged hearts at a time in our nation when we need the wisest and the toughest working for as long as they are willing to give us their energy and sweat.

15 Comments

    1. It’s a terrible thing to get old in the world! You’re so experienced and smart that you’ve become too expensive to employ — and so we’re going to impoverish you in an ugly retirement. Where is the sanity in any of that?

      Wow. Hungary, too, eh? It’s going to become an Ageism pandemic! Oh, the woe of actually living longer!

      Ouch! What did your father do? Take another job? Once you’re forcibly “retired” at 62, it’s pretty impossible to find any sort of meaningful employment elsewhere because you’re tainted and too old.

      That said, one of my family members voluntarily took early retirement because she was unable to abide her new “boss.” It was foolish and she suffered for three years until she could claim Medicaid benefits. Absolutely insanity. Anybody can put up with anything for a measly three years to protect your longtime, fixed-income, stability.

      1. My father at the young age of fifty three chose not to search for another job but rather to accept retirement and planned living out the rest of his life on his savings and investments along with a small income from selling used books online. Seems to be working for him thusfar and he is much happier for it.

  1. Tulsa is a major hub for the American Airlines maintenance facility; union negotiations are now leaning toward retiring a good share of the long term employees as well. My neighbor and a good share of his extended family are employed there and are mulling their choices as we speak. The patriarch of the bunch should fare quite well, but his children, their spouses & families may not do so well.

    1. Unions are really helpful in these buyouts. If we didn’t have a union protecting these workers, there would be ZERO incentive to offer a single dollar to force people out before retirement age. We’re creating a vicious cycle of poverty that threatens not just children and the really old, but now the middle-aged as well!

  2. Hi David,

    The concept of “loyalty” per se is not valued any more in the work place I guess. As a worker, I might be loyal, but if the management fails to appreciate it, what’s the point? Most of the time loyalty is taken for granted. It is assumed that one is sticking around for 20 years because he/ she doesn’t have any other place to go. Unfortunate.

    1. The issue you raise is the centerpiece of unionization in the USA, Katha. Workers gave their lives to companies and companies disregarded that effort with firings, nepotism and basic cruelty. Unions force the same sort of loyalty to workers from companies that workers have always provided companies. If there’s a lack of a moral core when it comes to valuing labor, then you have to force the issue with unionization to protect the singular interests of those who actually do the work that enables the companies to prosper.

    1. Well, the companies are doing everything they can to union bust. We’re in a terribly dark time here in the USA where all the rights won 40 years ago are not only eroding away, but being ignored by the companies because they have the utter support of Big Business interests in Congress.