“The Boomer” is a column written for adults nearing retirement age and those already in their “golden years.” It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s happening in France smells terrible, even to a hard-working baby boomer across the ocean in the U.S.
Tons of garbage is rotting in France. And the costs are piling up as well. France's massive strikes--which have left oil refineries blocked, incinerators trashed and streets rioted--are costing the national economy up to $557 million each day, according to the Associated Press.
And for what? For baby boomers who learned the value of hard work from our parents and since have been passing it on to our kids and grandkids, the answer to that question is both shocking and infuriating. It’s all over a plan approved this week that raises the retirement age from 60 to -- wait for it -- 62.
Really?! Yes, really. How ironic that all that money and effort, and not to mention ensuing chaos, can be described most succinctly in one word: waste.
At issue are France’s generous pension laws. For years, the retirement age was 60. When you did retire, the government picks up the tab.
But it can’t afford to anymore. Like a lot of countries and may states here in the U.S., the government of France is running out of money and trying to close a deep deficit. The government claims raising the age just two years will save the country $29 billion by 2018. Without it, the deficit in the French pension system would jump to $138 billion from $44 billion.
Seems like a smart move, right? Not to the unions. So most of the union employees went on strike. Oil refineries were shut down, so drivers couldn’t fill their cars with gasoline. In the town of Marseille, garbage men didn’t show up for work for two weeks, leaving 10,000 tons of trash rotting in the streets. Airports were closed, as were the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.
It’s times like these that I am most proud to be an American baby boomer. Our fathers came home from the war and went to work. Work gave them the opportunity to live the American dream. No matter what it took, no matter how many hours a day they would have to work, they gave whatever it took to provide for families and be happy. Thankfully, that work ethic became the cornerstone of their children’s (our) work ethic, as well.
Their infectious drive to live well was passed on to us boomers -- the drive to be as successful in life and work as you could be.
Because of that work ethic you see many who are already of retirement age in our country still at work. Even better, some are opening up their “dream” businesses. There’s talk of raising the Social Security retirement age to 70. I’m sure we won’t hold strikes to shut down our country.
I’m closing in on my 62nd birthday, and let me tell you, if someone told me that was the year I would, should or could retire, I’d say: no, thanks.
Ask me again in about 10 years.
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