Elderly in America: Running the Country but Shunned in the Workplace

Waves of guilt blended with compassion flood me whenever I see an eighty-plus-year-old worker in a grocery store bagging my groceries and trying to work the high-tech point-of-sale systems. I wish they could go home and be cared for the way all elderly community members should be. I know these people mostly do not have any money from Social Security, a 401K, or any other retirement savings plans.

The American elderly fail to receive respect in the workplace but somehow run our country. Our economy and attention are so flawed that the American Dream is something of the past. We will not get to retire unless we work for a company offering a retirement package, and even then, there’s nothing to promise our hard-earned money won’t decline in value or disappear altogether if and when we hit another recession. It is unfair to the generations before us.

Gerontocracy

Look at the government and the ages of the people running it. I am not just talking about our elderly President, Joe Biden, but the general ages throughout the veins of the government. When we calculate the median age of the President, the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the three Democrats leading in the presidential polls for 2020, the average age was 77 years old. The average age of the Senate at the beginning of this Congress (last year) was 64.3 years — the most senior in history. Seven senators are in their 80s.

Why are these elderly government leaders treated like high society when our widowed grandparents can’t even get an interview at the local gas station? We all know a great deal needs fixing in our country. This issue is one of those things we need to stop overlooking. Look how we treat our American elderly, and look how we treat our American elderly that are not “true caucasian Americans.” The immigrants who have been here for 70 years also lack the respect they deserve as typical members of society. 

National Hypocrisy

We are a hypocritical nation that appoints a man in his eighties to run our country but fires the 70-year-old woman because she is not fast enough and requires too many sick days. Why are we like this? President Biden will be 86 years old at the end of his term. Can you even begin to imagine how challenging that must be? I can’t imagine having that kind of responsibility at all, but imagine your thoughts becoming scrambled, as they often do in the case of the elderly.

Most of us want to retire at 65, travel, read good books on an exotic beach, spend time with loved ones, kick back our heels, and enjoy life. Biden did not retire, he is not taking care of his needs as an elderly man, and he is sacrificing a chunk of what will probably be the end of his life. He might only get ten years of actual retirement. Instead of focusing on hiring fresh, new faces of Gen Z, we should be finding a way to support our nation’s elderly. 

New Blood

Our country needs new blood from a younger generation. It is apparent that our current gerontocracy is massively flawed and needs younger leadership. After all, it will be Gen Z’s world for much longer than the elderly folks’ in Congress. We must find a compromise between age and experience, then overhaul our entire government. We have all heard, “back in my day,” but we don’t need a historical repeat; we need change. Having people in their 30s – 40s as the majority of Congress would open doors for many people and close them on many issues. 

The younger generations aren’t the ones storming the White House as terrorists or housing long-term government coverups. Our generation has seen terrorism, dealt with recessions, watched the unemployment rate get to historical levels, fought for fair wages, stood up for equality in the workplace, and understands that we are in serious trouble because of inflation. Those are the people we need. With new blood comes new ideas and updated ways of fixing the U.S. “Boomers” have been running our country since the 1960s. 

Change is On the Agenda

Everything takes time, and time isn’t on our side. Do we wait until these seemingly permanent government officials die off? As morbid as that sounds, it may happen that way. With so many elderly in office, it is hard to get younger people voted in. We are stuck if the majority in Congress has no interest in changing their old ways and updating a broken system.

We must be patient and empower our youth to do their research and vote. There has been a rising number of younger political candidates in the last few years. That number will continue to grow as more of the younger generations become fed up with how things have escalated in our country. I hope we get there soon. The next generation has a big mess to clean up, and there’s no time to waste.

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