“The Geezer Gang Is Staying on the Job”

That’s Truthdig’s headline for Ellen Goodman’s column, more moderately titled “The benefits of working longer” in the Boston Globe. Goodman points out the mixed message going out to older Americans:  keep working to lighten the load on the next generation / retire to make room for the young. While it’s true that workers in their 20’s are most vulnerable to layoffs, the notion that the employment of one group comes at the expense of another is a fallacy.  In economics it’s knows as the fallacy of the lump of labor. Furthermore, as recession looms, the notion that older workers are at liberty to choose whether or not to keep working on feels almost quaint, akin to the presumption that working mothers bail on bottle duty on a whim rather than out of economic necessity.  Goodman shrewdly calls out the policy-makers “revving up generational conflict” and calls on the baby boomers to “to make a virtue — or a revolution — out of the necessity of working longer.”  That’s doable.

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