In the past week, we’ve learned that Bruce Willis, at 67, is retiring from acting after it was publicly announced he has been diagnosed with aphasia and probably struggling with it for a few years. For most of his career and especially, the last 10 years, he has been the subject of jokes for his choices in movies, most of which he usually filmed his scenes within a few days time for a few million dollars and use of his face in advertising and marketing.
At the same time, Jim Carrey has announced he is thinking of retiring from acting too. Carrey has voiced his disdain for certain Hollywood practices over the years and wasn’t too happy about what happened at the Oscars on March 27. But at 60, he’s been making movies and working in show business for over 40 years. He should retire if he wants to. Cary Grant retired around the same age.
Also, news outlets reported Betty Reid Soskin recently retired from the National Park Service at the age of 100. She reportedly joined when she was 84. And while her story is a nice thing to read about as someone who kept themselves active throughout her years, not everyone can go to work at 84. A lot of people don’t live to 84, nonetheless 100.
I theorized that maybe Willis knew this day would come and rather than wait around for all the contract negotiations that happen in pre-production on bigger movies, he decided to take the money on jobs he could get. Let’s be honest, Willis isn’t Daniel Day-Lewis and people don’t act for free, even though Willis has done it in the past as favors. He made about two dozen movies in the last four years. On Out of Death, he reportedly only worked one day.
Sadly there are people in their 60s, like Carrey and Willis, who don’t have the option of retiring. If they’re lucky, they can work until their 65 when their Social Security kicks in. Then, they can go find a part-time job to supplement their income. There’s no retirement communities. There’s no recreational vehicles they can buy to move around seeing the country. If they go on a cruise, it’s probably a one-time birthday or Christmas gift.
It wasn’t always like this. When I was younger, retirement seemed like a given. Yes, they were people who didn’t have the right jobs or options, but it wasn’t as bad as it is now. The moment corporations moved away from providing retirement benefits to making employees choose 401K options, it was the beginning of the end. I knew people who lost $30,000-50,000 in money when companies merged or were taken over. And this was 20 fucking years ago.
This was before the financial crisis of 2008 when Enron was finally being talked about less. But it didn’t help. I give Boomers a lot of Hell but some are taking a bigger bite of the shit-burger than their Gen Xer and Millennials children. For many of us in our 30s and 40s, there’s still some wiggle room to implement policies so by the time we’re 60-65, we might have a better safety net.
Sadly, most Boomers have been royally screwed by the same policies they thought were going to help them under the Reagan-Bush Administrations. As a young teen, I knew something was funky in Denmark when a lot of people in their early 50s were being offered (or more or less forced) to take early retirement. The corporations wanted the more experienced people gone, so they can pay the entry-level Gen Xers a lot less and not have to worry about retirement packages anymore.
Unfortunately, those still being forced to work are looking at Millennials and Gen Xers during the Great Resignation, or what it should be called the Great Reshuffling, as lazy. But we all know there’s no way they would handle a job at McDonalds or waiting tables at Applebee’s. The problem is what goes up, most come down. While most corporations are raising prices, but dropping wages, sooner or later, it all falls down, as Yeats wrote, “Things fall apart.”
Times must and do change. For a lot of people being told they’re too young to do this and should just focus on that, we’re not willing to spend 40-50 years of our adult life working just to barely survive and then being forced to live with relatives or in a low-income dwelling. What do you think is going to happen to all those retirement communities once all the residents die and there’s no Gen Xers and Millennials with money to live there?
Eventually a lot of things will change. And for the most part, it needs to be done. We’re still relying on the old-fashioned ideals of civilizations in which the elders made all the decision. That might have worked in a different time. But the world is now more global. We don’t need someone using “Get off my lawn!” as a policy.
Yet, we still have people in their 70s and 80s making legislative policies that aren’t representative of the whole. And while there is question on whether Clarence Thomas should still be on the Supreme Court while the Senate hasn’t voted as of this posting on Ketanji Brown Jackson, lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court needs to change. Yes, that might have been something when most justices were expected only to last 20-25 years, Thomas has been on for over 30 years.
On the flip side, many companies won’t hire people passed a certain age. Hospital refuse to allow surgeons to perform past 65. Educators usually work 30 years, but here in Oklahoma, they can accrue sick days up to 120 and retire one year earlier, meaning someone can very easily retire in their early 50s. And also, anyone who works a minimum of eight years for any Oklahoma government office pays into the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). Even if someone takes a job at the lowest level the day after high school graduation, by 27, they’re eligible.
It’s a struggle between policies that were put in place to protect corporations versus policies that were put in place to stop discrimination and protect workers. And both of these policies have been in place long before many Gen Xers and Millennials filled out their first job applications so it’s Boomers who are stuck trying to wade through this mess.
I’m still optimistic by the end of this decade, they’ll be better policies and practices in place that protect workers and employees. The recent news on the unionization of Amazon employees on Staten Island is a win. And it’s only a matter of time before someone else is able to do what Amazon does better. I can’t remember the last time I bought something off Amazon. It’s been a while. And I’ve only use Wal-Mart once within the last month.
Younger generations want change and eventually, we’ll be the only ones making the rules and regulations. And many of us aren’t ready to lose our livelihoods at the drop of a hat and then go greet people at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, some of us have already had this happen to us more than once and we’re a good decade or two away from getting our Senior Discount at Country Kitchen Buffet.
What do you think? Please comment.