by Max Brantley
Rep. John Boehner, among others, has talked about raising the retirement age to 70 to strengthen Social Security. Easy for an office worker to say. The New York Times today talks about the difficulty for people who work at hard labor, such as a tire assembly line worker.
A new analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that one in three workers over age 58 does a physically demanding job like Mr. Hartley’s — including hammering nails, bending under sinks, lifting baggage — that can be radically different at age 69 than at age 62. Still others work under difficult conditions, like exposure to heat or cold, exposure to contaminants or weather, cramped workplaces or standing for long stretches.
In all, the researchers found that 45 percent of older workers, or 8.5 million, held such difficult jobs. For janitors, nurses’ aides, plumbers, cashiers, waiters, cooks, carpenters, maintenance workers and others, raising the retirement age may mean squeezing more out of a declining body.
It is certainly time to end the unretirement retirement of public employees in their 50s, such as Arkansas has encouraged. It may also be time to edge up the age for maximum benefits.
But it is also time, before we talk about forcing laborers to work until 70, to let rich people pay Social Security on all. or at least a good bit more of their income, rather than giving them equal or similar benefits to others who make much less.