During his speech to the American Enterprise Institute this week, Governor Christie flatly declared that he was blowing everyone’s minds with his proposal to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Of course, he said this to a room full of free-market evangelists, many of whom already think that poor people are gross, so no real risk there. But the subtext was clear: people in New Jersey and throughout the Unites States need to lower their standard of living.
There is a reason that the vast majority of Americans oppose this idea – it is offensive. And it’s not about getting a handout, or helping granny, or blah blah entitlements blah blah. People oppose this notion because it is morally bankrupt to tell senior Americans that they just haven’t put in enough hours. Humans have sought and continue to seek a world in which people have more free time, not less; to do otherwise would be regressive by any reasonable measure.
And though we enjoy a fairly tidy civil society, it’s still pretty brutal out there; for most people, work isn’t easy. Some sit, pushing papers, tapping keys and stapling things; some log mile after mile; some break their backs, gnarl their hands, breathe the particulates. But no matter your shift or the color of your collar, working out of necessity wears on the psyche. And so the notion that we should delay retirement is not only wrong, but sort of heart-breaking. Chris Christie can do the math and turn people into statistics all he wants, but it’s difficult to see this proposal as anything but a worrisome sign of failure.
And what of all the details Christie ignores when making his case for raising the retirement age? As always, the issue is not nearly as simple as Governor Soundbite would like you to believe; in fact, as happens often when you dig into the actual facts of the matter, it’s not really anything like what he wants you to believe. But in this case, that doesn’t even matter – because instead of working hard to find a creative solution to his partially made-up problem, Chris Christie would rather just kick seniors to the curb. Instead of defending some of our most honored and valuable citizens, he busts out the old “shared sacrifice (except for millionaires and corporations)” mantra, charming the crowd with his devil-may-care contempt for working people and the middle class.
That’s what should be blowing people’s minds.