Saturday coffee.


Keeping retirement weird.

It has been six months since the doctor suggested that my diet and exercise regimen might mean I don’t need to take Lipitor anymore. Or the medication I was taking for borderline diabetes.

My weight had dropped significantly. And Mike Okoye, my twice-a-week trainer has been kicking my butt.

Wednesday I had my blood tested and my cholesterol count came back at 116.

Coincidentally, that is how long I plan to live. If Illinois doesn’t steal my pension.

A couple of week ago Peter Beinert wrote an article for the Daily Beast called The Rise of the New New Left.

Beinert argues that we are entering the post Reagan/Clinton era. Young people in their late teens and early twenties are not only socially progressive. The economic crisis of the last half decade, the economic destruction of large sections of the working and middle classes, has   made young people more progressive on issues of economic inequality as well. And led a large numbers to engage in political activism of all kinds.

During that period—between the time they leave their parents’ home and the time they create a stable home of their own—individuals are most prone to change cities, religions, political parties, brands of toothpaste. After that, lifestyles and attitudes calcify. For Mannheim, what defined a generation was the particular slice of history people experienced during those plastic years. A generation had no set length. A new one could emerge “every year, every thirty, every hundred.” What mattered was whether the events people experienced while at their most malleable were sufficiently different from those experienced by people older or younger than themselves.

Beinert’s article has created a lot of buzz.

This week I have been writing a lot about the new and sudden demands Illinois’ Central Management Services has made on public employee retirees. Notices went out that by October 25th we had to supply a packet full of documentation proving dependent eligibility.

In my opinion, this has been a campaign of fear waged against those of us who are considered the state’s most vulnerable and invisible:

The retired.

My people.

The response to CMS’ unreasonable demands and time-table was immediate and swift: Howls of protest.

It resulted in CMS changing the deadline to December 6th.

We are not done with responding to CMS’ behavior.

We are not invisible.

Let me suggest that there is another part to the generational story that Peter Beinert wrote about.

This year those of us who were 20 years old in 1968 turn 65.

The SDS and SNCC generation.

The anti-war protesters.

Those who chanted, “the whole world is watching,” on Michigan Avenue in front of the Hilton Hotel.

Vietnam veterans.

Members of the Black Student Union at Columbia.

Those who went to Mississippi for Freedom Summer. 

A member of our new IEA Retired chapter in the north suburbs wanted to call our chapter, The Hell-Raisers.

Beinert says that our politics are formed for a life-time by events we experience from our mid-teens to our mid-twenties.

We are not our parents’ retirees.

4 thoughts on “Saturday coffee.

  1. Fred, We are so lucky to have you fighting for us, writing to us, and fighting the good fight. In 1968 I was 57 and I am proud to have, somewhere along the way… from a distance, been your colleague.

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