Something that has surprised me about the discussion here over a conservative think tank's suggestion that the option to retire at 62 be eliminated is the number of people who posted in the comments that they are in their 50s and pining for age 62 and retirement.
My husband is 64 and just signed a contract for another couple of years of work. He's healthy; he likes what he does; and these days, turning down money seems like particularly stupid retirement planning. But friends and strangers alike stare at him and ask, "You're not retired yet?"
The question reminds me somehow of my second-favorite Monty Python sketch about the Norwegian Blue parrot who has been nailed upright to the perch. The pet store owner explains to the unhappy customer, "He's not dead. He's just pining for the fjords."
The suspicion that older workers must be nailed to the perch affects even the rich and famous. As Penn State prepares for the Outback Bowl, there is the usual flurry of rumors surrounding the possible retirement of the team's 84-year-old legendary coach, Joe Paterno.
Paterno hasn't had much much to say about it in the last few days, probably because he has already set them straight at least twice in the last five months. In August, he said definitively, "I'm feeling really good, and as long as I enjoy it, I'll continue to coach. ... Right now I have no plans whatsoever as far as whether I'm going to go another year, two years, five years or what have you."
There was a survey released this morning by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care reporting that 31 percent of millennials, ages 18 to 29, think that boomers should be encouraged to retire. At the same time, 61 percent of respondents feared that boomers would bankrupt Social Security, and 37 percent of millennials said they don't feel any obligation to provide for retirees.
If this survey really reflects the attitudes of those who are going to be picking our nursing homes and sending out our Social Security checks, no boomer still breathing should be in a big hurry to leave work. As the pet store owner said of the Norwegian Blue, "He's not a late parrot. He's just tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk."