Time for Mandatory Retirement
My bride Becky was raised in a Bohemian household, which means dessert after every meal is as important as coffee was every morning in the Swedish household that reared me.
Last Friday she bought, for desserts, two different ice cream treats at the grocery store. One is a chocolate-covered caramel ice cream cone. The other is ice cream sandwiches made with mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.
After dinner Saturday night, while I was loading the dishwasher and packing leftovers in the kitchen, the Bohunk asked our dinner guest (son Dan) what he would like for dessert. He said he fancied one of the cones.
“What would you like honey?” she said to me.
“I’ll take an ice cream sandwich,” I replied as I wiped barbecue sauce off some plates.
I could sense she was heading to the table with desserts when I heard Dan say, in the voice people use when they don’t think you can hear them, “He said he wanted the ice cream sandwich.”
“I know what he said,” Becky replied. “But that’s not what he meant. This is what he wants.” She also was using that particular voice and tone that people use with old folks.
I protested and got my ice cream sandwich in the end--and a good laugh.
This is my birthday month, beginning my 69th year on this blue planet, so the old folks' tone kind of raises my sensitivity.
So it was that I read that a younger candidate running for governor of South Carolina made a comment to CNN the other day that because of the age of Congressional leaders, and occupants/popular candidates for the White House, a Geriatric Oligarchy rules us. I love that phrase.
It looks like he’s correct. The leadership in both parties in the Senate, and Democrats in the House, are comfortably in their 80s and the average age in both houses and both parties have been on the rise for some time now.
I’ve never thought that term limits for public office make much sense. Retirement age is another matter.
Airline pilots are required to retire at age 65. Most CEOs of the S&P 1500 companies also face mandatory retirement at 65. Social Security pays full benefits to retirees at age 67. Members of Congress and Federal Judges, including the Supreme Court, can serve until they croak--no matter how enfeebled they may be.
An age limit of 65, or even 70 for the United States President, which has a two-term limit in office, would mean both Biden and Trump were out to pasture for the 2020 election. A limit of 65 years in the US Senate would put over a third of current Senators out to pasture. Mandatory retirement age of 65 would mean the retirement of four of the nine members of the court of supremes.
As I coast to the end of my seventh decade, I say with confidence that I could not well-serve the public in any of those positions. My eyesight is weak. My hearing (what?) is going too. I fall asleep easily during meetings--Zoom and otherwise. Don’t get me started on bodily functions during those important confabs.
My bullshit indicator is too easily aroused and my tolerance of bureaucracy, never very strong, is near non-existent. All the results of my age--except the BS indicator and intolerance of bureaucracy.
The time is now to bring retirement age standards to elected and appointed government officials--state, federal and local. We need to organize and get the Geriatric Oligarchy out of the way. Maybe set up a fourth branch of government for the old and wise to continue their service. We won’t let them do anything (which they’re used to anyway), but their wisdom may have some value to the more Youthful Oligarchy.