A few weeks from now I’ll reach my sixty-sixth birthday anniversary. Old! Perhaps among the group the finance minister of Japan recently told to “hurry up and die”? To quit the planet. To stop taking up precious space and drawing on limited government resources by way of pensions and perhaps social programs? It’s not just a jerk Japanese politician who considers the aging and aged to be a negative drag, or brakes applied to forward momentum.
This thinking is becoming an increasingly accepted mantra. Step beyond the outer boundaries of the magic 25-54 demographic and you’re considered a growing challenge to the fundamentals of economic survival. Don’t believe me? How often have politicians within the boundaries of Canada publicly fretted over “increased health care costs”? Why, at the present rate of access, within a few short decades taxpayer funded health care will consume eighty per cent of public spending they warn, their faces taking on that oh-so-well developed and phony look of deep and sincere concern. Look, I get it. At 66 I’ve taken out the garbage more often than I’m going to. I won’t be in the market for as many homes as I’ve had, cars to fill garages, or even beer fridges I’ve shelled out after-tax dollars on.
Yep, I look at a passport photograph of me at twenty-three and wonder what happened to that guy. Sure, in the middle of winter a few weeks at the strip mall known as Florida is increasingly welcome, but I ain’t done yet. I drive a truck. A half ton four-by-four with an eight foot bed because I haul stuff. I get up early and get at it. Each day. I love my national weekend radio program on the Corus network. I write a column for John Best and the Bay Observer, for an online business magazine and serve on a federal advisory board for a great program within Correctional Service Canada which teaches inmates trades like being an electrician and which results in provincial certification and jobs waiting on the outside. A really useful way to tackle the prison recidivism rate.
There’s a crew of baby-boomers hitting our mid-sixties together. The Feds may officially declare us old with their letters informing of eligibility for Old Age Security cheques, which they then claw back depending on level of income, but we’re not obliged to agree. A standing joke among us is “how many jobs do you have in retirement”? And we continue to work at our long-time careers and/or new ones because we love it. Because it’s what we’ve always done. Because we have plenty of energy and because we’ll be damned if we’re going to follow a Japanese government minister’s call to “hurry up and die”.
Don’t even try to sell me on the notion that clown was pointing at a demographic far more advanced than the one I belong to. I know eighty-something’s who have more energy than me. There’s also the small matter of disposable income. I read a few years ago that the sixty-plus crowd has more spending power than any other demo. So what do advertisers aim our way? Sleeping pills, memberships at some “resort for the mature” with half a dozen mini-putt and 9 hole par 3 golf courses and oh yeah, laxatives. Lots of laxatives. Well, same to you! I’ll be sixty-six shortly, but I refuse to reach that milestone with a sense of pessimism. There’s far too much still be be accomplished.
Written by Roy Green