The rapidly aging baby boomers, whose impact on history and marketing has dominated the last half century of our society, are now asked to take the money and die while Congress raises the bar for the piddly payments of a Social Security system long looted by one or another war mongering administration since Eisenhower beat Stevenson.
The current argument cites the statistics on life expectancy to justify raising the age for retirement by a decade over the next quarter century. While it’s true that modern medicine has increased the average lifespan, most of the increase comes from reducing infant deaths from epidemics and bad water. Walk your local cemetery and look at the number of kids brought low before the vaccine revolution of the 1930s.
But living longer does not mean working longer. Physically and mentally mankind deteriorates beginning in the third decade of life, accelerating its ravages throughout the productive years until we are worn out and must be replaced in the assembly line of modern society. Increasingly those replacements are technological rather than human, leaving a surplus of highly trained technicians with obsolete skill sets and the pace of such automation is increasing.
In my working time, I have outlived nearly every job skill I mastered. I learned to solder cleanly with solid irons and flux on a brush in junior high school metal shops at the same time I learned to use a manual typewriter and mimeograph machine. In high school I wrote for a school paper that demanded we learn type setting and linotype compositing with hot lead. In the scouts I learned Semaphore and Morse codes along with tying knots of every sort, skills long lost today.
In the Navy I was taught entirely erroneous versions of electricity and electronics just before the invention of the transistor and solid state circuitry. I pulled survey “chain” on hydro projects along the Pit River south of Mt. Shasta, Calif., in the days of the four man transit crew. Now laser surveying needs only a warm body to hold the pole and the gunner whose readings are trigonometrically calculated and transmitted back to the base computer which spits out topographic maps in minutes.
In my radio career the art of sophisticated music programming derived from the taste and knowledge of the disc jockey, many of whom developed encyclopedic memories and private collections of rare music. Today the songs selected by a music director are downloaded to the station’s database and often auto programmed to a format. Local radio has been replaced by satellite syndication services, allowing license owners to hire a few teen techies to baby-sit the broadcast day at low cost.
Like most of my contemporaries, I am, once more, obsolete. Reduced to the dying craft of editorializing in a time when the print medium itself is failing.
Save Social Security, combine it with unemployment and pay for it by bringing the troops home.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.