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Grumpy old people

December 30, 2009

Two stories in today’s Globe and Mail highlight two very different – but similar problems.

The first, on the front page, is titled, “Ottawa targets public service pension plan for cutback.” It says the federal government is examining ways to cut back on the generous pension and early pension plan offered federal civil servant. With 30 years of service, a civil servant can retire at 55 on full pension.

The other story, on the back page of the Life section, tells the horrible tale of a couple who are out of luck, out of work and facing the prospect of selling their house to make ends meet. Titles, “Unemployed, 59, and trying to stay afloat, the piece by Linda Gallant of Caledon tells how her husband lost his job in 2002 and since then he has been unable to find permanent employment.

Their problem? They are both in their late 50s. He’s 59, she’s a former teacher and 58. And no one wants to touch them. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there just like them. You work in the private sector and you have no early retirement. You are lucky if you’ve managed to save some RRSPs. And you sure as hell can’t afford to retire at 55. For those of us in the private sector, losing your job at 55 means you’re unemployed. In the public sector, it’s the gateway to an early, cushy retirement.

It’s disgusting how people turn their backs on older people. These are the people with experience with people. They have seen it all, done it all. Sure, they may be making more money. So what’s wrong with making a decent buck. Older people are also the ones who are more likely to support charities. They are more likely to put their money back in the community.

Just remember. You’ll be 50 one day too.

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