As we covered in one of our previous articles, young Americans are very upset with the way things are going in this country and the state of the of the world. But older Americans are just as upset. After decades of political action, many older Americans feel frustrated that the government has failed to deliver the changes it promised. Older Americans have spent decades voting for new legislation which was intended to make their lives easier and create a bright future for future generations. In many ways they have succeeded. Much of the legislation over the last 50 years has transferred responsibilities which burdened previous generations to a democratically elected government, leaving younger Americans with less responsibility and a greater sense of entitlement. Older Americans have set a good example for younger generations by teaching them that the way to solve social problems is to delegate responsibility to politicians, and protest when they don’t get the job done. However the following transcripts highlight that a lot of older Americans are disappointed by the progress that our government has made, and many are demanding further political action to fix the imbalances in our society.
Lucy Johnson, age 60, CT
“I want my government to take care of the old. Times are tough, and my generation is suffering. It’s time the young in this country learned to take care of the generation that made this country great. Social security, Medicare and old age benefits take care of the basics, but these programs just aren’t enough. I don’t have any savings and I and many others are relying on the young to chip in and give something back to the generation that raised them and gave them everything they have today. Young people are spoiled today – they need to be taught some personal responsibility. ”
John Dartwood, age 59, AL
“America needs to start facing the hard reality of the threat of terroristic activity in this country. Terrorism is foreign AND domestic. There’s terrorism everywhere, not just overseas. If somebody criticized our foreign policy, that’s terrorism. If somebody threatened our government or the CYA, that’s terrorism. It’s a mindset – you need to see the threats to America before you can see it. Terrorism is serious business. We need to increase our national security and support our military. Terrorists are ruthless, and our national security measures need to be ruthless too.”
Lisa Feinstein, age 45, IL
“I want the government to do more to further gender equality in this country. I have been a gender equality activist for 25 years, and I remain shocked at the discrimination against women in this country. For a country that is supposed to support equal rights for all citizens, it is ironic that half of the population earns significantly less, is less likely to be accepted into college courses like math, physics and engineering, and is discriminated against in almost every area of our economy. It’s about time that women got equal rights in this male-dominated, patriarchal society. It’s an absolute disgrace that in this day and age, an intelligent capable woman has absolutely no opportunities and no chance of success. This simply has to end.”
Harry Ramiro, age 55, NJ
“I retired 3 years ago after 30 years as a public school teacher and proud union member. I am currently living on a reasonable pension of 100k plus benefits. I am very happy with the way things are going in this country and I’m happy for things to stay just the way they are. However, I am shocked and terrified that there is talk in this country about cutting public sector pensions. As usual, the Koch Brothers funded right wingers aren’t happy with regular Americans getting paid for their contribution to society. As teachers, we expect our students to take personal responsibility for their actions, and we reward students according to their academic performance. Likewise public school teachers produce top quality high school graduates and we expect to be compensated accordingly. For Christs sake, social security is running a surplus of IOUs! There is no need for cuts to public benefits, and people who tell you otherwise are lying little weasels.”
Older Americans were wise and responsible to radically overturn many archaic responsibilities such as saving for retirement over to a democratically elected government. But many believe that politicians have failed to live up to the responsibilities with which they were trusted. Older Americans make up the majority of the voting population and many of them have amassed significant power and political influence through financial success and involvement with unions and political action groups. Politicians would do well to listen seriously to their concerns and make concrete legislative changes to meet their needs.