Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My father took the golden parachute offer. A “golden parachute” is a way to encourage older workers to retire early by offering some form of payment or benefits or combination of the two. Companies like to purge older workers because the longer they have been with the company, the more money they make because of annual(ish) pay raises. This means it’s often easier to hire new young people, but what corporations often forget is that, in doing so, they also lose years of experience in the process, not to mention the dedication to the company from somebody who has put in decades to the company.
Today, we have a generation that is struggling and afraid. If they ever had corporate retirement benefits, they are being cut. Social security has been flat as inflation blows up around it. Medicare is being cut constantly and politicians are eyeing social security like a pack of rabid wolves eye a rabbit. The reality is that we live in a society that does not respect elders. Nobody seems to care what you have done in the past anymore. You could have saved the entire world from a hostile invasion from another planet, but if you’re not contributing today, you’re expendable. We tend to view people as an expense.
My friend was talking about a movie she had recently seen that points out the problem that the older generation has in finding jobs. You can have immense experience, education, and training but nobody will give you a second glance for a job if you are in your sixties. Our consumer society makes it difficult to actually save money these days making matters worse. It used to be that you could rent an apartment while saving money to buy a house, but these days rent has raised to the point where this no longer works. The idea of business is to bleed money out of their clients until they have nothing left. This business ethic is destroying our nation.
Older generational Americans that have experience and education, such as myself, are being increasingly forced into service industry. I myself have an application for a cell phone company currently sitting in front of me. It’s not easy applying for jobs that should be reserved for people just launching their career when you’ve already had a long and prestigious one behind you. Unfortunately, with retirement savings on the decline, retirement age increasing, social security cuts, and increasing financial burden on the elderly such as for medical insurance, more and more older Americans find themselves being forced into this position.
The karmic thread is that it is my generation (maybe a few years older but not by much) is not only the one facing these problems but is also the generation that probably started them. See, it was somebody maybe only five or ten years older than I that looked at the books of the company that just hired him (which is most likely because back then it was still largely men who dominated the workforce and college graduates) and realized that they could pay less money to new graduates instead of keeping the older generation workers. This shifted the thinking of corporate leadership from one of taking care of their employees to taking care of their books. It used to be that corporations were happy taking less in profits to offer benefits and fair pay to have dedicated employees.
Once the thinking shifted to discarding experience in favor of keeping more money, the next step was to cut benefits. It’s bad enough that companies stopped offering retirement savings to new employees, but larger corporations took it even further. They simply decided to stop paying retirement to employees that had worked their entire life for the company despite the promises of the companies. Some people tried to sue for breach of promise, but the courts sided with big business. So, people who spent their entire lives dedicated to a company were betrayed by that same company who stole the money they had promised.
The heartlessness of the corporations became greedy to the point where cost of living increased dramatically while income, especially for the older employees, stagnated or worse, simply dried up. Now the government is cutting social security benefits. It seems like every few years, a new administration begins looking at social security as “free money”, but in fact, we’ve been paying into what was promised to be savings for when we get older since the day we started paying taxes. Today, Medicare and social security payouts are being cut and put off to later and later dates.
Oh, I’m not saying the corporate greed didn’t exist before my generation, but we certainly had a hand in our own dilemma. Today, we have an entire generation approaching retirement while completely unprepared for it. The funny thing is that so many of my generation are still supporting the very attitudes in politicians that has created this mess. Well, that’s Karma I guess.