Friday, October 28, 2011

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to Younger Generations: Drop Dead

--Richard E. Vatz

Do you ever meet someone who announces with pride that he or she is "not interested in politics"? It is more often than not a young person.

People who want to take younger generations' money, and to control legislators who can ensure that it happens, are very happy with your lack of interest in politics.

Meet the American Association of Retired Persons, known widely as the AARP, which is ecstatic that you find politics uninteresting and hopes you don't vote, especially if you disagree with them.

They do vote -- around 70% of seniors 65 and older vote, while younger voters vote at about 50%, and around one-third of the youngest cohort of voters (18-24) votes.

So when the newest and most prolific advertisement of the AARP threatens Congress that they had better not cut Social Security or Medicare because seniors vote, they know of where they speak. The warning and justification are not ambiguous: "We are 50 million seniors who earned our benefits, and you will be hearing from us...on election day."

You should not accept the claim that seniors have earned all their "benefits." You should, however, infer that they are serious.

Blackmail is always serious.

Perhaps "blackmail" is too strong a word, if seniors do not realize that most of them will receive in Social Security payments, for example, much more than they ever put in, plus interest. Maybe they don't realize that they are taking money from their children. The AARP never tells them about the zero-sum-game reality of enhancing entitlement strategies.

But at some point they -- we -- have the responsibility to understand this fact. As Michelle Malkin argued in Real Clear Politics earlier this year in support of raising the retirement age to 70, "Americans can no longer feel entitled to some 20 to 30 years of subsidized retirement, often collected over the course of many more years than retirees actually spent paying into the system."

In a landmark article titled "Why are we in this debt fix? It's the elderly, stupid," the excellent Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson punctures one of the major premises of those opposing the cutting of the out-of-control entitlements of senior citizens: the "...mythology...that once people hit 65, most become poor."

Samuelson notes, consistent with this blog's opening argument, that "We have a generation of politicians cowed and controlled by AARP." While estimating that retiree programs including Social Security and Medicare "constitute roughly half of non-interest federal spending," the transfers of income from workers to retirees "unless checked...will sabotage America's future."

So, keep your voting percentages down, young voters, so we can expropriate even more of your money.

--Prof. Richard Vatz is a professor at Towson University


Chester Peake said...

I remember a small businessman who was against giving senior discounts. It wasn't that he was stingy, he just said that seniors had their whole life to earn and save, and many of them were considered well-off. Meanwhile, he said, many young people starting out were struggling to build their financial lives and could use a break.

Vatz said...

Chester, ironically you've hit a sore point with isn't economically significant (unless others follow), but I refuse all senior discounts on the grounds that my often-struggling students are subsidizing me.

It's really outrageous

Such discounts should be rejected -- I wish we could start a movement on this.

Thanks, bud.


streiff said...

all of this is fine and well so long as we recognize that the purpose behind "senior discounts" isn't anymore altruistic than "ladies nights" at bars or "bus drivers eat free" at interstate fast food places. There is a business reason.

The reason seniors are discounted is to encourage their return business. As they are generally retired they may be counted on to make several stops in a day for that reduced price cup of coffee and pick up something else. They may bring their grandchildren in for Happy Meals. A group may come in and hang out for an hour... very common in rural areas.

So object away just as long as you realize your basis for objecting has zero to do with the reason for the discount.