The Geezer’s Crusade

By Jim Selman | Bio

David Brooks wrote a very compelling New York Times op ed piece called “The Geezer’s Crusade”. His point was that the elders in our society hold the future for everyone in their hands (so to speak).  Since 1980 when I was serving on the California Commission on Aging, one of my biggest concerns has been that, as a society, we are turning older people into constituents competing with their grandchildren for scarce resources. David Brooks shows how this kind of trend affects us all and today we spend about $7 on older people compared to about $1 on younger people. I am not arguing for what the amounts should be: however, I am agreeing with him that, no matter how you spread it around, we are gaining whatever ground we’re gaining at the someone else’s expense.

Lately we are again hearing the drumbeat of necessity calling out to trim back entitlements—Medicare or Social Security or both. It doesn’t take an accountant to see that sooner or later we need to pay the bill for our ‘war on terrorism’ and the financial calamity of 2009. Whether we blame the Bush administration for creating the mess or blame Obama for how he is printing money to pay for it, the fact is that our children are going to pay for it if we don’t.

This doesn’t even begin to address the myriad other issues from political gridlock, legalized corruption in the form of armies of lobbyists, or an ‘out of control’, pundit- driven media that fuels controversy and divisiveness at every opportunity. About the only constituency with enough clout to make a real difference are the Baby Boomers—that is, if we can somehow remember the vision we had in our youth of a better world, acknowledge that we are responsible for many of the issues we’re facing today, and connect with other generations around a common cause.

The slogan for Serene Ambition has been ‘let’s clean up the mess before we die’. People can start this ‘cleanup’ by reading David Brooks’ op ed, writing letters, joining movements, giving money, and, most of all, confronting the fact that we are either going to swim together or sink together.

For no one can win in an ‘us/them’ world—no matter how old we are.

© 2010 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.