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What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?
November 17th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

So much for the golden years. A new survey shows one fourth, 25% of middle-class Americans, say they plan to delay retirement until at least 80.

That's two years longer than most people in this country live.

It's just another depressing effect of this economy - where unemployment, stock market swings and plunging home prices have taken a huge toll on many Americans' savings.

The Wells Fargo retirement survey shows on average, Americans have only saved 7% of the retirement money they hoped to put aside.

Survey respondents had a median savings of $25,000 while their median retirement savings goal was $350,000.

It gets worse.

About one-third of those surveyed in their 60s had saved less than $25,000 for retirement. Easy to see why retiring at the traditional 65 is a pipe dream for millions of Americans.

Experts say having large numbers of middle class Americans working past 65 raises many questions. Like, will people be physically and mentally able to work as they age? And what will it mean for young people entering the workforce?

Meanwhile another new study on the vanishing middle class helps explain why many Americans plan to work into their 80s.

Consider this: In 2007, 44% of families lived in middle class neighborhoods - that's down from 65% in 1970.

And almost a third of families lived in either rich or poor neighborhoods in 2007... that number is up from 15% in 1970.

In other words, the great middle class neighborhoods that used to define this country are disappearing.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jim in Denver:
Jack, It means the American Dream of earning a decent living and living with respect is about dead. The 99% of us who are working stiffs are going to have to scrape by while the people at top "eat cake." This is not what my father fought for in WWII, and worked hard during his life to give me a chance to do better than he did. I'm working hard to give to my child the same things my father gave me, but I think I don't have a fair chance now to do that. And all I want is a fair chance, I'll do the rest.

Ted:
They are losing faith in the system to provide a return on the promise of government and see the political environment unwilling to make the decisions to fix the problems.

Nate in North Carolina:
Jack, It shows that overwhelming responsibility is causing people to acquiesce to the changes being imposed upon them. They no longer fight because at the end of the day they still have to figure out whether to try to get out of debt, start a new career path, or find some way to feed their family for the week. Even if that means working until they are 80.

Ted:
Jack, This must be the change the president said was coming. Too bad there is no Lemon Law for our elected officials.

Shelby in Pittsburgh:
It means fast-food orders will still be incorrect and we will wait in drive-thru lines longer than it will take the Super Committee to mutually agree to cut anything.

Noe:
Hey Jack, Republicans in office and the 1 percent aren't going to have to work that long so they don't care.... Good luck with them helping us out with that.


Filed under: Longevity
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Anson from Prescott, Arizona

    It means the system is fundamentally broken. It means that the American Dream we were promised has failed, and that we are now slaves to debt and the corporate machine. It means we need to reevaluate the system we have built.

    ~Anson from Prescott, Arizona

    November 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  2. JD in NH

    Wages over the past 30 years haven't kept pace with the rising cost of everything. Add to that the retirement savings lost during the Wall Street crash and the lack of pensions and you've got a country filled with people who have to work until they drop dead just to put food on the table.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  3. Lisa

    Its seems to be an unfortunate sign that more and more people are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot save for their future. As a result, they are required to work to survive. Social Security doesn't seem to be on par with the cost of living. And even if you don't work, you still may not qualify for services offered by DSS. It's a terrible situation the country is in. Another discrepancy due to the way wealth is distributed across the country. And yet another example of how the growing population needs to be supported by increasing taxes.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  4. Larry -Denver

    This is grammar school math. It means when you have no money left to retire with, you work until you do. If you can never catch up you keep working until death. When you lose your 401k, your pension and your job what other choices are there? You can collect social security (leaves you below the poverty line) food stamps, unemployment etc and still you have nothing to fall back on. You are simply keeping your head above water until you are 6 feet under ground

    November 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Jenna Roseville CA

    What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?

    Well Jack this can be answered in two ways.

    Many beleive that there won't be any Social Security and Medicare by the time that they retire and I can not blame them. The GOP has done everything in its power over the decades to ensure that to be the case.

    and

    Many beleive that working will help to keep them young. Which I have seen with the elderly in my own family.

    So to answer the question I would have to say BOTH.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    November 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  6. Gary H. Boyd

    It means one quarter of middle class Americans are smart enough to realize they can't rely upon social security and probably don't have a net worth that would be adequate if they retired earlier.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    November 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    It means they are listenning too much to financial planners and bankers on how much they will need to survive in retirement, are overly optomistic about their employment prospects in old age and likely have used their homes like an ATM so that they don't have any kind of equity and see no end to their mortgage payments.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  8. Jk from Minnesota

    Blame it on:

    1. The unchecked greed and selfishness
    2. The disappearing middle class
    3. The income inequity between the 1% and the rest of the population.

    Can you say, "Third World Country"?

    November 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  9. Steve Todd

    If an employer hires the dead, he could probably same money on benefits and health insurance. I'm pushing 70 and plan to work even after death to pay off my credit cards.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  10. Noel Sivertson Roswell New Mexico.

    It means Grover Norquist and his tea party hijacked Republicans are winning.

    Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilization." The more taxes are reduced in a large, complex society like ours the less civilized we become. Just look around. Illegal wars a half a world away. Infrastructure crumbling at home for lack of funds. Frustrated people toting guns around and using them on unsuspecting people. Rampant joblessness and those who are working watching wages fall and benefits reduced.

    Grover Norquist said he would like to shrink the government to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub. I would like to shrink Norquist's tea part to a size where they could hold a convention in a phone booth.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    It means that many people have no retirement plan to support them, at all.

    Or, it means their 401K's have taken such a dive, they won't generate any real income. The problem with 401K's, is they grow slowly, and dive, quickly. Once they drop, it takes a very long time to recoup losses.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Mel - Houston

    This of course would require business allow you to work until your 80. Ford puts you out to pasture in your late 50's. They buy out your retirement in a lump sum ammount and tell you to not let the door hit you in the bum as you leave.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    It means they cannot afford to retire.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Andi From Washington, DC

    It means they can't afford to retire.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  15. Rich in Gainesville FL

    It means there won't be a lot of job openings.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  16. Phyllis G. Williams

    What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?

    Well, it means that from what Psalm 90: 10 says they may have people dying on the job

    November 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  17. Doug Ericson

    It means its time to declare Chapter Eleven, Nationally, and start all over again from scatch. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  18. David R Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    The reason is simple Jack
    The mismanagement of the people's money over 30 years is so bad so fantastic that trillions of the people's money
    is just gone flat out gone to serve congress's selfish needs and re-election.NOW!!! we the people have no money left and are taxed to make it up so the winner is congress and its losers.My question to you Jack is:What right do they have to do that with our money????? and they are still doing it as we speak and do not care at all.
    David

    November 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  19. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    I read a number of years ago that with the advances in medicine and stem cell research that by the year 2020 life expectancy will be 100, and will dramatically increase each year after that, and by 2030 they predict life expectancy can be 120 years old..

    That would make 80 today's 60 in 2020.

    But if middle class sets a retirement age of 80, I guess that would mean the poor will be working until they are 120 in 2030, which, if the way things are going in Washington, will be 99% of us.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Nate NC

    Jack, it shows that overwhelming responsibility is causing people to acquiesce to the changes being imposed upon them. They no longer fight because at the end of the day they still have to figure out whether to try to get out of debt, start a new career path, or find someway to feed their family for the week. Even if that means working until they are 80 or who knows maybe a 100 while we are at it.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  21. MYSTEROIUS

    That means that if Republicans take control, all of us will have to work beyond 80 years old.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  22. Ted

    They are loosing faith the the system to provide a return on the promise of Government and see the political environment unwilling to make the decisions to fix the problems.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  23. Richard Texas

    It means that they are not being realistic. No one wants to hire an 80 year old person. It would not be realistic to expect a company to invest time and money in someone who has one foot in the grave and another one on a banana peel. Expecting someone 80 years old to keep up on an assembly line or climb a telephone pole for the phone company is not real feasible. There may be a few jobs available for 80 year olds like diaper tester or denture adhesive quality control but other then that their skills are just not desirable. They would be better off planning on investing their money wisely while they are young in a retirement plan that will take them into their golden years. Social; Security sure as hell isn't going to cut it.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  24. Pete in Georgia

    It means that the politicians, attorneys, and insurance companies got them right where they want them.
    And....................we have no one to blame but ourselves for being duped by these deceivers for the past 50 years.
    Oh............................don't forget to contribute to your favorite political party next year.
    THEY NEED YOU.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  25. bonnie from NJ

    It means the same thing as the answer to many of your other questions Jack. The middle class has been put out of business. Our retirement plans have been decimated, there are no more raises or bonuses (that is of course if you actually have a job) and no one cares. Not one politician albeit from whatever party has any idea or cares enough to find out what is going out here. We are just a bunch of lazy Americans who don't want to work. I am a tail end baby boomer and this is not the country I grew up in, it is very sad. My only hope of not working until I am 80 is that I drop dead before then!

    November 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  26. CRAIG R. MCNEES

    tampa, fl they think they can retire at 80? by then the death panels will put everyone over 79 down anyway. that and their hmo will be sure to kill them off way before 80.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  27. Roy Birdzell

    Because they are no longer making their past middle class wages due to their jobs having been migrated overseas since the cost of companies doing business here in the US is simply not profitable with excessive Corporate taxes, burdensome and costly regulatory mandates, unrealistic worker salaries and benefits in a world global economy, and Union work rules that smother inovation and efficiencies.This is the price these people are having to pay due to the our social engineering elitists that have and are forcing their social policies on our society because they believe in a big and controlling government, which basically takes from those that have, or had, and give to those who are unwilling to assume their own responsibilities.

    Roy, Florida

    November 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  28. Ed from California

    It either means that they have the utmost in company spirit or their life saving is gone. Look at the food and the gas prices! It costs a fortune for health insurance, lights and gas, telephone, cable tv......tuition...school books!!!! Nothing is cheap, it's all very expensive. We bail out the crooked banks, the crooks on Wall st and they forget main st. We as taxpayer have no voice in D.C. We don't have Lobbyists, a fixed court system (citizens united)* that will rule in our best interest..."We the people" has been lost, probably for good. It's a crying shame, isn't it Jack. Boehner, "Where are the jobs"???

    *actually meaning:Koch brothers united.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  29. Ken from California

    There is no gravity on the cost of living because the marketplace and the profiteering it requires has us in a perpetual state of inflation. I have seen the ten cent gallon of gas for an example.
    So called private business cares less if employees have a decent pension, and the political party that represents them doesn't think social security is a good idea either. So set your alarm clock old timer, and get up and go to work.
    And we thought slavery was abolished.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  30. Peg from NY

    It means that the middle class is screwed again and that the middle class is vanishing right before our eyes. We expect to work as long as our health allows us to. The only light the middle class has at the end of the tunnel is the light we alone provide for ourselves.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  31. John from Alabama

    Jack: It would be nice to live until you were 100 years of age or longer, but it probably will not happen. Living a 100 years would give a person, at least, 20 years to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Many people will not retire, but simply will work until they die or get so sick they have to quit work. The middle class is being slowly squeezed out of existence. This started in 2000 with the Bush Administration. It is still continuing because the Republicans have more money than sense. This is one of the reasons the Occupy Movement is gaining strength. It is sort of like the SDS in the 1960's, except let's hope there is no violent wing in the Occupy Movement.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  32. Paul P.

    I think this is a message. To government and individuals that the time for living for the moment is over. Those that are able to need to start investing for the future now and government needs to do the same for those that cannot. The future isn't going to take care of itself anymore and everyone needs to reset their priorities.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  33. Terry in Virginia

    That means "hope and change" in the real world means nothing if you're poor or in the middle class. I told my husband that when I die, just dump my body somewhere, but he said he couldn't afford the EPA fines for doing that, so I'll just have to live forever. Immortality - is that a good thing or a bad thing? Sure sounds expensive either way.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  34. Michael in Seattle

    It means that not only will we have an ailing workforce who is working well past their days of peak efficiency, but there will not be any new openings for young people until the boomers literally work themselves to death. I'd say it's unfortunate, both for those who cannot retire and those who would really like to work.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  35. Michael Roepke Dallas, TX

    I am of retirement age and have been on disability for three years. The worse part of disability is the fact that I can't work. I never had any plan or desire to retire. The idea of stopping when only two thirds of our life is over seems wrong to me.
    By the way Jack, aren't you over the retirement age?

    November 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  36. Mitoosense Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Common mistake is confusing retirement with age. You needn't be old to retire. You will need money to retire. Quit saving money that will vanish in inflation and live your life.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  37. Bill of New Mexico

    It means that few think about the future.

    It means the Middle Class is on the Endangered Species' List.

    People may be working until they are 80, but many will be making less than 3 times minimum wage.

    It means that inflation and companies are forcing ever increasing percentages of Americans into this "low wage."

    It means that minimum wage is becoming meaningless.

    It points at one way to phase out social security.

    It means that children today will be able to clearly see the end of the Middle Class by 2065 AD.

    This is terrifying, but it also seems inevitable.

    It also means that there is opportunity here with the end of the Middle Class, but what is the opportunity?

    Unless Americans are meant to cease to be materialists.

    Can Americans learn to love life without many material possessions?

    Life itself is everything.

    With a minimum of fear and stress, let us and our decendants embrace the future.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  38. Jennifer M in Winnipeg

    It means that in another 10 – 15 years there will be no more 'middle class'. It means that today's middle class are holding on by their toenails and fighting a losing battle. It means that these people on the streets claiming that they are the 99% are right. It also means that the lazy good for nothing 1% will actually have to work for a living because the 99% will all be on Welfare and not contributing the economy at all. And how long do you think that will last until the country is bankrupt? It looks pretty grim from where I'm standing ... right next door in Canada which will probably go down the same toilet the U.S. is heading for.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  39. Ted

    Jack.....This must be the CHANGE the President said was comming. Too bad there is no LEMON LAW for our elected officals.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  40. Paul From Austin Texas

    To some work is life and for those thus the reason. But for most it is just a sad need to make ends meet and to live a better life that otherwise would be to bleak to retire and fade away.

    November 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  41. Conor in Chicago

    I expect to work until the day die. As a student of world affiars I, like most of my fellow travelers, see the inevitable crash that is coming to our planet. There won’t be social safety nets when I am 80 and if there are they will not be predicated around anything going on right now. In 50 years (when I am 80) this world will be so drastically different than it is now that I think most people in those days will only read about things like Social Security, Medicare, and “retirement” in history books.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  42. NateFromIndiana

    In his Discourses Niccolo Machiavelli argued that only when citizens share in the rewards of their nation's success would they willingly lay down their lives to defend it. When you take away the carrot from bait and switch, all that leaves is coercion – a nation where escalating authoritarian violence might be the only way to keep starving homeless masses in check. Ultimately what it means is that we owe young people an apology for having allowed greedy men to have brought our ideals so low.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  43. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Thank you GWB and members of the GOP/Tea Party!

    November 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  44. Brad, Portland, OR

    It means that when Republicans plan to raise the retirement age so that elderly people are forced to work when they may no longer be able to, or they plan to destroy Social Security entirely, they're being just plain evil.

    Especially when they plan to destroy Social Security just to give the wealthy more tax cuts.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  45. Dennis north carolina

    The system is broke. We can not survive on our pensions or SSI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! welcome to America the greatest place on earth to live if you are rich or powerful!!!!!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  46. Dave, Orlando, FL

    A short while ago I asked my daughter, a healthcare professional with a masters degree, about her future. She told me she will never be able to retire, but will have to work until she is dead. Contrast that with an exchange student from Wales whom we hosted some years ago. We were amazed that our student’s blue collar father retired at the age of 50 in very reasonable comfort, after a work life that included 2-3 months vacation each year. This was true for most of her classmates. The mothers? They were stay at home moms and housewives and it showed in all the Welch student’s manners and respect for us and each other. They have a better way.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  47. Shelby S. (Pittsburgh, PA)

    It means fast- food orders will still be incorrect and we will wait in drive- thru lines longer than it will take the Super Committee to mutually agree to cut anything.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  48. Jim, Denver CO

    Jack,

    It means the American Dream of earning a decent living and living with respect is about dead. The 99% of us who are working stiffs are going to have to scrape by while the people at top "eat cake". This is not what my father fought for in WWII, and worked hard during his life to give me a chance to do better than he did. I'm working hard to give to my child the same things my father gave me, but I think I don't have a fair chance now to do that. And all I want is a fair chance, I'll do the rest.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  49. Lori - PA

    Jack,

    That unlike our lawmakers in D.C. it isn't legal for us Middle Class and Poor (not that we'd have the money anyway) to legally take advatnage of inside information when it comes to the stock market (just heard about this, and it makes my blood boil). Instead we get to watch our pensions and social security get raided and/or mismanaged, and thus we have your question Jack. And politicians wonder why the 99% are so angry.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  50. J sotelo jr

    What does it mean when a quarter of middle class Americans plan to work until 80, longer than most people live?
    Jack it means one of two things either there is no money coming into the household to save or to much spending is going on to keep up with "jones" either way in the future there will probably be rows of greeters leading back to the coffin section of there local mega-mart.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  51. Terry Wells -Hoosier Hillbilly-Greensburg,IN

    They all need to send letters to the gov thanking them for the miserable conditions they have to look forward to. Gov will abliage by cutting SS, Medicare, and other senior benefits. Old people are the least of all they don't count anymore see Health Care reform! They seen the best times, enjoyed life the most, now they're going to suffer because of it. Why! just look @ the government they've created! "The 'silent' majority!"

    November 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  52. Paul - North Carolina

    It means that Supply Side, or "trickle down", economics is a catastrophic failure. Ever since the Republican God sold us this snake oil the deck has been stacked against evryone except the top 5%. The underlying theory that those at the top would willingly share the wealth flies in the face of human nature. Here is the reality. The wealthy land barons and industrialists (top 5%) sit at a huge banquet being served generous portions of the finest foods. After they have eaten their fill their eager servants ( next 5%) clear the tables, retire to the kitchen and help themselves to the edible remains. The scraps and undesireable pieces are discarded into a huge dumpster outside the back door. The rest of us (the middle class) are then free to help ourselves to whatever we can scavenge from the dumpster. Then, finally, those living below the poverty line get what's left. And if you support the Tea Party, or vote Republican, tomorrow's banquet will be even grander than today's.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  53. Dan in Albuquerque

    Jack, I was one of those until the economy cost my job. Seniors have small chances of getting a new job. That usually means selling or losing their home, downsizing or moving in with relatives, or in extreme cases, becoming homeless. A better economy is the answer. We do have positive growth in many areas, but that is in spite of Republican obstruction. That's why I, and millions more seniors (except the rich ones) will vote Obama and the Democrats so that real progress can begin.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  54. s in fl

    It means that they better start planning on working till they're 85, so they can pay off the loan they'll need to live to 80. And has anyone told the corporate community that some of these hoarders still have $25,000.00 stashed away? That's totally unacceptable. Heads will roll.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  55. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    It means people do not have any other choice but to work if they can. Their 401K accounts have been depleted now there is talk of taking away Social Security and big cuts to Medicare. What other choice do they have other then work until they die? A lot of these people probably will not make it until they are 80, because they will end up losing their Medical Insurance gets sick long before they reached the age of 80.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  56. Larry

    You've answered Your Question in your last 2 paragraphs, Jack. The 2 paragraphs begining with : "In almost a third" and " In other words"" – – – The Middle Class were mostly in the States that were in Manufacturing, ( in other words, Factories) The Factories left – – take a look at EVERYTHING You Purchase, from groceries – to clothing – to automobiles – to Furniture – and what not. There's your answer, Jack.

    Not only that they have to work til they're 80 + – – – ( 8 hour workdays Still Isn't Enough. we're goin backwards, Jack. back to 12 hr days – ( or more) & possibly 6 days a week. (if you want to stay afloat)

    November 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  57. Sylvia from San Diego

    It means that in 2012, we all better vote Obama out!! He is totally clueless and incompetent. Rhetoric does not make the economy grow and I hope that people have had enough of this "hope and change"....

    November 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  58. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, it means that the Gee-nO-teaParty's big corporation plan for America is coming to fruition: workers are hear to work until they die, all the better to guarantee higher returns on investment for the 1%.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  59. fred richmond,va

    first of all most of the so -called new jobs are paying very low for instance i worked at a company seasonal part-time in 2006 for 8.50 an hour when i got laid off from my full time job and took the same seasonal job again the wage is 7.30 an hour .
    alot of the sold called new jobs being created are low paying so now alot of americans are working two and 3 jobs to make the same or less they made with one job not too long ago .
    americans are so desperate for a job they are accepting less pay form former employers for example, in april 2011 when mcdonalds had their national hiring day they hired experienced former mcdonalds employees at a wage of 7.50 an hour a big pay cut from what they were making from mcdonalds before if things dont change alot of struggling workers wont be able to retire because with the salary they get they will live to work not work to live

    November 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  60. Brian in IL

    Good luck if anyone over, say, 55 who is currently out of work can find anything outside of, say, a Wal-Mart greeter. Age discrimination is technically illegal, but there are so many ways at which compaines can now get around it. I turn 67 today, and have pretty much given up on the idea of ever being able to get my former life back although I am healthy and conscientious. Age discrimination may have made some sense back in the days when companies wanted to hire people who would stick with them at least a couple of decades. We all know that hardly happens anymore, and that after a few years they begin to find ways to consider you too big an expense, even if you are good. They'd really rather have a 20-year-old goofoff as opposed to a 60-yearr-old who does well. The idea you picture also suggest aa generation who really can't fully retire as the rules of the economy have not caught up with the reality of the times. Our present economy demands a steady stream of income at all times, and now that may not be possible for very many of us, and so something is going to have to give. Otherwise the misery we now see will be multiplied many times over.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  61. stevensb

    It means they/we are waking up to the fact that " dying in the harness " is the new norm , unless of course you want to live in your car and eat cat food . Medical costs are astronomical , housing values ( a paid for, or, almost paid for home being a large part of most every middle class workers retirement plan ) have tanked , and those of us that had retirement savings have seen the value of those accounts shrink over the last few years ....
    What an old geezer to do ??? Stay in the harness until put out to pasture ( NOT LIKELY ! ) or until they take you out behind the barn and ...... well ....... you know !!!!
    Steve in Northern New Mexico .

    November 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  62. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    It means that the "1 %" is not paying or sharing as much of their wealth with that particular demographic..

    November 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  63. Clephas from Austin, TX

    It means that we are rapidly coming to the historical limit for societies when it comes to the difference between the rich and poor, accelerated by social media and the availability of information (regardless of veracity or sanity). The only reason that previous societies lasted until it was worse than we have it now is because lack of information was the norm there... People really underestimate how devastating the spread of information is to the structure of a society whose economy is as hopelessly tilted toward the wealthy as ours is right now.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  64. Pete from Florida

    It means that the Republican/Conservative plan is coming to fruition. When complete, America will have two classes, about 5-10% in the wealthy elite, with the other 90-95% being the serfs that serve them in one capacity or another. Jack, my guess is that you and Wolf will be court jesters.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  65. Annie, Atlanta

    The Republican War on the middle class is nearly won, and most of us lose. How we keep voting for these guys is beyond my comprehension.

    November 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  66. bud rupert

    One answer could be that everything has changed following the WW II – greatest generation. My father and I'm sure most fathers from that generation worked for the same company for 30 years. Then retired with a good pension + social security and could relaxed. Thne manufacturing started moving off shore in the 70's along with many other changes that have left follow-on generations challenged just to make ends meet – much less save for retirement.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  67. stevensb

    Dying in the harness is the new norm , it's either that or live in your car and eat cat food .
    Steve , Northern New Mexico .

    November 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  68. Thinkforyourself, OK

    Why not? They certainly don't mind taking jobs like being a Walmart greeter. Beats sitting at home. Most of us want to have $$$$ to pass on to our families.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  69. Rob in NC

    The middle what? That no longer exists. 99% of Americans can no longer afford to retire – we are going to work until we die on the job and then they will make us into soylant green to feed the rest who are left. Rob in NC

    November 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  70. Kim , Dodge City

    It means that our retirements were stolen by crimminals who have never been procescuted, and that Congress was complicit in the aiding and abetting of crimes against Americans. George Bush enabled the greatest heist in history, and not one step has been taken to prosecute him or his fellow conspirators. It's astonishing to me that Washington hasn't been burned to the ground by now.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  71. Sandstone.

    "Insecure greed! I know from what I see at the 'Senior Center's' . All through out the week they ( forgotten-insecure,) mass there. The more the young ignore their responsibilities, the more the seniors will take their jobs??"
    "But me? I'm quite content with my baggage, and like to write about it!"

    November 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  72. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    It means that this country is in sad shape. On the other hand, Jack, it means you will keep your job at CNN and continue to deliver such questions as you feel need to be addressed by America, which is a good thing.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  73. Jim

    Jack,

    It means they were victimized by a GOP that got rid of the Clinton surplus as soon as they could, encouraged irresponsible risk-taking on the part of financial corporations, and then sabotaged Obama's efforts to pull the country out of its economic ditch. They are the face of the damage done to this country by conservative lunacy.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    November 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  74. Ken Victoria BC

    Glad I live in Canada.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  75. Thom Richer

    It means they have already lost touch with reality. It will NEVER happen. Why? Because in the first place no employer will want them working for them, health will prevent most from doing so, no employer is going to pay for retirement and health benefits that long and for aging employees, and there will be no jobs for them anyway. It is ridiculous to raise the retirement age in a time of employment crisis for the youth of America. The retirement age should be lowered, not raised and old er workers of age 65 or even younger should leave the work force and make way for the young workers raising families. We seem to do everything backwards in this country. Longer years of working, longer hours on the job, double dipping, lower wages more responsibilities, eliminate retirement and health care benefits, eliminate SS and ship the jobs out of the country. Just exactly what we should not be doing. It all falls on the shoulders of those in Congress as they are the law of the land. Can't blame anyone or any place else. It is all our government's fault for this insanity in our economy. No China. Not Japan. Not Obama. Just good ole boy, Congress. Rule of thumb for the past 20 years should have been: What ever Congress wants...do the opposite. Too late for workers now, however. They have us where they want us...scared, brain washed, broke, unemployed, homeless, uneducated and broke.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    November 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  76. rex in portland, oregon

    Assuming your conjectures are believable, working to 80 means that the masses which are 'occupying' everywhere are absolutely right and justified. Thank you for your support, Jack.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  77. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    It means that Americans don't care about each other and any time someone like the President proposes something like medicare, everyone gets hysterical about "socialism". In Canada there are two kinds of freedom: "freedom to" and "freedom from". The U. S. recognizes only the first one.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  78. Rick, Medina, OH

    Jack,

    It means we're turning back the clock. When Social Security was first created in 1935, the tax 'maxed out' at only $50. Only a fraction of workers at the time lived to 65.

    Rick,
    Medina,OH

    November 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  79. Tom Topolski

    It means that America is turning into a second world nation.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  80. david

    It means they didn't save for their retirement. With Freedom comes responsibility – they made their choices, they've made their beds and can sleep in them. Why is it even news? You decide to buy every new electronic gadget instead of investing or paying off your house thats your choice. You decide to lease a new car every two years thas your choice. You decide to take expensive vacations every year thats your choice. No sympathy for these irresponsible people and no tax dollars for them either!

    November 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  81. Tina Tx

    Tells me that they are spoiled and do not want to give up their so called good life. You can live off your retirement. You will find that the older you become you will look back & realize that you have been nickled & dimed to death. Look at all the money you have spent on downloading songs?

    November 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  82. Karl in Flint

    It means that people either have great ambitions for their retirement or I have lower expectations of what retirement should be. At 66, I bought a cheap HUD house in a great part of town, paid for, and did the minor repairs and am content to stay home and be happy with my family. I hadn't drained all the eI can travel, but I never wanted to tour the Mediterranean or any of those places. Visiting out-of-town family and friends is doable. I've been everywhere I wanted to go with no regrets.I know many have had a rough time of it, but maybe it's time to adjust our visions of the future.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  83. David of Alexandria VA

    Well - nothing like a couple of 40% drops in the old retirement portfolio in the past 10 years and ongoing wild volatility to put a sense of dread in the old retirement plans. People are also starting to realize what the loss of so many defined benefit plans really means to them without the go-go markets of the 90's driving their savings. Someone with a million bucks can only take out about #$35K a year with our longer life expectancies - some fat cat!! Occupy that.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  84. Karl in Flint

    It means that people either have great ambitions for their retirement or I have lower expectations of what retirement should be. At 66, I bought a cheap HUD house in a great part of town, paid for, and did the minor repairs and am content to stay home and be happy with my family. I hadn't drained all the equity out of an overpriced house with multiple mortgages either so there I was ahead of that game. I can travel, but I never wanted to tour the Mediterranean or any of those places. Visiting out-of-town family and friends is doable. I've been everywhere I wanted to go with no regrets.I know many have had a rough time of it, but maybe it's time to adjust our visions of the future.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  85. Dan from Stewartstown PA

    It means that hedge fund managers (the top 25 of whom have averaged over 1 Billion Dollars in income since the housing bubble burst), the executives of the largest banks and the crooked members (and past members) of Congress have legally raped the retirement and/or investment funds of the average American. Unhappily, their only hope may be to support the "Occupy" protesters or just to vote every member of Congress out of office.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  86. Mike from Texas

    Jack it is more like work until the day we die. For many of us our 401K's are gone, our homes with the equity they held are gone, and our savings are gone. If Congress has its way our Social Security, we paid into with each pay check, will be cut and soon our health care will be deminished as well. Thanks to our governments policies our Golden years are only gilded with poverty. What Congress has done and not done to Americans did not effect them, they have their full salaries and golden health care for life with the raises they will get while cutting ours to the bone and below.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  87. MARK, OKLAHOMA CITY

    It obviously means that I should have taken better care of myself, Jack.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  88. Pete/Ark

    My wife just retired at 63...now she has more hours each day to think up projects for me to do...I'm 64...if I keep working until I'm 80 I'll have 16 more years in which I can dodge the "honey-do"projects by claiming I'm just too damn tired after working all day...

    November 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  89. Mycroft Lake Travis Texas

    There are many ways to look at this and many possible explanations. Take for example the jail bird that has been in jail to long to return to public life. Public life scares him. It's highly likely that retirement for some is scary. Maybe it's because they can make up to $17,000 a year tax free and collect social security once they are over 65, and they need the money. Maybe they never had any dreams or aspirations to do anything other than work. Say a man was 65 year old life guard and just liked watching girls in bikinis. Like I said the variables are limitless, what does it mean ? For sure it means an experienced work force in a lot of cases and sadly it means young people will have a tougher time getting hired while seniority holds on.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  90. Loren

    It means that the Democrats and Republicans have really managed to ef up the economy. Republicans for their lip service to free market capitalism and the Democrats for their spend first pay for later approach to government. Even more responsibility rests with former President Clinton for selling our souls for Chinese goods, and Barney Frank for fhis chicken in every pot mortgage lunacy. And last of all to our dear Press for not recognizing these lunacies at the time and warning the American people before we ever voted for these idiots. Thanks for making me work till I'm 80.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  91. Paulette Bent

    It says that our political system and the politicians that ran it failed us. It's a disgrace that a person in their late 70s has to push themselves out to work no matter what their health situation is. This speaks Loudly and Clearly that our entire system need to be revamped.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  92. Layne Alleman

    Jack, It means that as tough as the current(and future) economy is, most of us are not even considering giving up, and expecting someone else to "bail them out". I, for one, realize I made some bad choices down the line as far as making sure I had enough to retire on and as a result, I'll have to keep working as long as I'm physically can.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  93. Evan

    There will be plenty of greeters at Wal-mart!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  94. Tim

    It's just sad that ithings have it it's bad, the idiots on capital hill should be held accountable.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  95. Barry

    You can kiss receiving your SS ever, goodbye

    November 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  96. Rick from Chicago

    It means that our system is not working. It is a shame now that the American Dream is almost gone for most of American's. What message are we sending to our children and even those just graduating from college. Congratulations, now you get to work until you are 80, if you live that long. Businesses need to make a little less and start taking care of their employees... after all, those employees are the consumers who purchase the goods and services that the business world provides. Just like no farms no food... no jobs or retirement, no consumer goods needed. Wake up America before it's too late.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  97. KB VanHorn

    It means the American Dream is dying.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  98. Dale N.M.

    Hello Jack

    You and wolf how old are you ?

    Dale N.M.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  99. Ed Fertik

    It means that the Obama administration has failed in the most destrucitive way possible and has proven once again that socialism is the key to economic failure.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  100. Todd X

    Our society has taken a step backward, and we have become serfs to our corporate kings. So much for the promises of capitalism.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  101. Nick in Virginia

    It means we'll have to start speaking really loud at the drive thru.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  102. rob johnson

    As the middle class looks to work till 80 the way people live should be evaluated. Don't get the big house, boat, harley and whatever other luxuries you can do without. Get the modes house with a lower mortgage. Image is nothing but character and wisdom is everything. Teach the younger generation to live within their means and the economy and future is limitless. *TRUMP TIGHT ENTERPRISES*

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  103. C.H. Berry

    Jack, is this the end results of Reganomics?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  104. Pete, NJ

    It means that the jobs that are remaining will not be vacated as older people retire. To see the effect of this trend, look at England, where young people riot because there are no jobs. It means the American Dream is dead.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  105. Tim from ILL

    It's sad things have gotten this bad, the idiots on capital hill should be held accountable.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  106. Gary Hann

    It means the Republicans are going to lose, big time!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  107. Judy

    Jack, it means that us "baby boomers" are helping to support 75% ...those being our parents, children and grandchildren. We will be literally working until the day we die!!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  108. Cheryl Pinto

    Employers are pushing 55+ employees out by marginalizing them.How are people going to survive working to age 80.
    Where are the jobs?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  109. Troy

    Lol, I think it means that people are planning to live too long Jack.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  110. Mike in Pekin

    Hack,

    it means that most people have been squandering their money and making poor decisions most of their life. I am decidedly middle class (high 5 figure salary) but I live within my means. I willl put both of my children through college, pay off my home, and retire comfortably at 60 if I choose because I have planned ahead, regardless of what happens to social security. We have become a spoiled society, unable to make small sacrifices in the present to ensure a sucure future, as evidenced by our National Debt.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  111. Joele Denis

    It means 'the golden age' part of the 'american dream' is disappearing. Without the assurance of a healthy economic future in america, there is no assurance for a healthy american retirement. Without having a 'golden' future to work towards, we, as americans, are losing our 'dream'... and stepping into a REAL nightmare.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  112. Jean in Houston

    I hope it means that the typical sales clerk I encounter in the future will not be multiply pierced, nor be displaying vast acreage of tattooed cleavage.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  113. Tom

    When the corporate interests and so-called 1% have successfuly killed off the middle class–leaving only rich and poor to carrying on, the events we have witnessed in the Middle East will happen in this country. I am glad I am not starting over!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  114. Caleb

    Sadly Jack, it means the economic downfall of America. Without the middle class Amaerica has no backbone, and with no backbone, no strength.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  115. Candi

    My mom started her business at 50 and my sister and I got her to quit at 91. She just celebrated her 95th B-day. People are living longer and minds are wanting the stimulus. But, not everyone and it's a sad state of affairs when folks feel they need to work well beyond their retirement age just so they can live and pay their bills.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  116. Randall, Lexington, SC

    It means that our economy sux, Social Security sux, socialism sux and all we can do about is, to "OCCUPY"...First you have to live to be 80. Furthermore, if you cannot retire at 65, you will not be able to retire at 80. Who is going to hire a 60,70 or 80 year old? The premise of the question is not realistic.........................

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  117. Peter R.

    It means we're headed towards being a third world country, where you have a handful of rich people and everyone...well...POOR!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  118. John (Roswell, GA)

    Perhaps the long term forecast for social security has been over extended, and the Feds want us to delay retirement as long as possible. Only then, would we be able to collect on our retirement, long enough to say our goodbyes. What's next, Soylent Green?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  119. Cee.La

    Maybe we should run for Congress, seems to work for them...nice wages, good bennies..... Can be middle class when elected and rich by the time you reach 80, or drop dead,which ever comes first......maybe we should ask Why? I dont know where these folks are going to work.....

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  120. Rob

    Jack, it means that people in this country are horrible at planning ahead and taking responsibility for themselves. We do not live in a socialist country. Social Security was never intended to supplant one's income – Originally it was to go into effect three years AFTER the average life span... I have parents and in-laws who are having to work when they should be retired. But it is up to us, their families, and not the government to take care of them and learn from their mistake.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  121. Paddy from Canada

    Hi Jack, I think it shows how bad things have become for the average person while the rich keep raking it in.
    Wouldn't a better question be: Why is the dow getting higher while everyone is suffering so much. Seems to me the dow has risen more than 20% while the rest of us are losing all our savings. How is that possible? One more thing, isn't the new bill passed by congress making pizza a vegetable a perfect example of our problems today. Big business gets quick unreasonable help while they let the rest of America suffer due to inaction or protection of companies!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  122. Joele D. from Kentucky

    It means 'the golden age' part of the 'american dream' is disappearing. Without the assurance of a healthy economic future in america, there is no assurance for a healthy american retirement. Without having a 'golden' future to work towards, we, as americans, are losing our 'dream'... and stepping into a REAL nightmare.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  123. Robert Dean

    The cancer in Washington needs to be surgically cut out in the November 2012 elections ... congress wants into that 1% and need to elect the blood suckers out.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  124. jeff in hawaii

    Jack,
    It means the American Dream is over. A huge decline in the value of homes, pensions, 401k's, a GOP hand in hand with corporations and the rich waging a silent war against the middle class are all factors. It means that even though I have invested well, I too will have to work longer to enjoy my "Golden Years", which seem to be quickly turning to my "Brass Years"

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  125. donald

    it means that a lot of retirees will find out they can not make it on social security alone. When there serious medical problems hit there will be a flood of retirees trying to get on Medicaid. But the illegials and the cronic welfare scum will keep the system st the breaking point. And the money will just not be there.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  126. Brandon from Denver, CO

    The American dream is dead and buried. Experienced older workers will continue to work depriving the younger generations of opportunities and experience which will completely undermine the skill level of the entire American workforce once the older generations are gone. It poses yet another long-term problem for our country that our short-term minded leaders will ignore until we're teetering on the edge of the cliff.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  127. Mike

    Jack, These folks were never in the middle class. They just spent like it without saving for retirement.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  128. brian

    you know what it means jack! that you will have to ask these pointless questions until you're in your 80's. I will have to listen to more idiots responses to these questions until you retire.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  129. Holly Hodges

    I think older people have mortgaged their future for the good life they believed they should have lived and now can't pay for. The selfish boomers wanted it all and the family broke down with divorces etc. Americans don't want to take care of their elderly, we have lost sight on what's important. You no longer see grandparents living with their childrens family or even in the same town. If we can't pull together in our own families, how can we expect our leaders to?

    Holly
    California

    November 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  130. Robert

    In short, it means that most Americans are finally waking up to the reality that saving money is more important that spending it. The statistics around savings are appalling and very sobering. After waking up to years of overspending, instant gratification, and always finding an excuse to not deal with their financial health, the harsh reality is now setting in. My parents were fortunate and smart enough to live a modest lifestyle and save - the same lessons they taught me. They are now fully retired, in their mid 60's, and living the golden years. Congratulations to them!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  131. Matt in New Jersey

    If they are in New Jersey it means they must NOT be public employees. They all retire at 55 while the rest of work till were 80 to pay for it.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  132. Bill - Upper NY State

    Jack, I closed my business and went bankrupt in the last recession 10 years ago and forced to take an early retirement. I recently lost my part-time teaching job because of budget cuts. Now I'm far worse off than I was last year because of rising prices. But this month, I've started a new career teaching young engineers and designers, on-line from my home, what I became an expert at from years of hard work. Oh, I forgot to tell you – I'm 75 years young and plan to work for another 10 years.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  133. M. Murphy

    Right now taking a vacation is a luxury, and having an illness is a termination worthy offense. Retirement was the last hope people had to slow down and enjoy their lives. Those who must work until death will despair and those needing to enter the work force will rely on the older generation even longer. Taxes helped to lighten the burden people inevitably faced when they were older, but now political parties are encouraging an everyman for themselves attitude.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  134. Randy

    It means that the average Americans have been fooled by the rich for so long that they are silly enough to believe that there'll be any jobs left for them to work at. The wealth worship in this country has contributed to loss of jobs, homes, healthcare, education, and now their retirement for these geniuses, and yet they still hold onto this fantasy that the rich actually "earned" their wealth. I'm literally waiting for some corpora- thug to propose charging these idiots for breathing and watching them agree.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  135. Walter Clayton

    II don't consider working an issue, I WANT TO WORK! Most of my relatives lived into their 90's and with good faculties too! But what does it mean, that so many will need to work? It means we need an AFFIMATIVE ACTION policy for older adults. I am 58 and had a career as a corporate trainer in Telecom. I stopped looking for another job two years ago, as people who actually invited me for a interview (very few) seemed "insulted" or "disgusted" that I, grayhair and all, thought I could still do the job after 30+ years "experience?" I got notes they needed people who "more closely fit their jjob description." So, I am currently in the process of starting an ornamental plant and vegetable plant Nursery–if its mine, they can't not hire me. Walt Clayton, Dallas, Texas

    November 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  136. Robert Dean

    The cancer in Washington needs to be surgically cut out in the November 2012 elections ... congress wants into that 1% and we need to elect those blood suckers out. They written the laws to benefit themselves. Stand up AMERICA AND CALL YOUR CONGRESSMAN DAILY UNTIL THEY CHANGE THE LAW!!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  137. TERRY MARION

    It's fairly easy to figure out these octonarians. They plan to die on the job, thereby collecting on the job death benefits, which in some cases amounts to three times there yearly salary. There heirs could become fairly wealthy.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  138. Kathryn Sanderson

    It means that for the first time, I actually mean the words to "My Generation": I hope I die before I get old.
    It also means that there's something seriously wrong with this country

    Kathryn, Ann Arbor, MI

    November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  139. mike sey, Ottawa

    It means the US is heading toward becoming the Imperial China of a century ago and that Republicans have been in charge for too often and too long during the last 50 years.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  140. Chuck Wright, Georgia

    It means that greedy Corporate and Governmental leaders(?) skimmed the gains instead of letting it 'trickle down'. But they were not alone. Many Americans from the Middle Class bought into the loan-consumption and risky investment habits prescribed by these leaders. Like those who regulary eat too much or borrow too much, it will take a long time to get rid of the pounds and debt. We are looking good to the rest of the world and our children.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  141. Jo Mooy

    Harness the energy of the movement & vote. Be the change you want to see.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  142. Tammy, Bozeman, MT

    One example of what it means Jack is the pilot of your plane could be 65 (thank you former President Bush). This was done to save money. Think of the physical and mental health of the some people age 65. Do you really want them flying your plane?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  143. Jane / Dover DE

    Means we better create a job market for 70 and 80 year olds. Oh wait, we can't create a job market for the 20, 30, 40 or 50 year olds. Guess we'll need death panels in the healthcare bill.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  144. Dr. S, Chicago

    It means that Milton Friedman's economic policies (aka "Trickle Down" or "Reagonomics") has done to the U.S. what it has done around the world to other countries using brutal military dictatorships and CIA-taught torture techniques coupled with the "disappearing" of opposition but with a propaganda machine and timely use of fear at times of widespread disasters (man-made and natural). The corporatists have learned how to manipulate the world's economy so well that Friedman has come home to roost and most Americans are clueless about what is really going on, especiaally with the IMF and World Bank. Ross Perot sounded the warning loud and clear in 1993 but was out-maneuvered by the joint efforts of a broken two-party system (and there really is no "dime's worth of difference" between these two parties as Nader claimed). The U. S. is well on its way to becoming a third-world country. We need to clean house and Congress needs to pass legislation that gets corporate and banking money out of our political system.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  145. Jim Broadway

    Klamath Falls, OR – Jack, it means just three things to me. First, the younger people in this country are not as well educated as their parents and grand parents and rely on the same for support much longer than necessary. Second, These same children as well as the parents and grand parents have lost all faith in the system (Social Security) that was to help assist all of us in our 'Old Age'. Third, it appears that the political "Dogs" in Washington as wellas Corporate America in general have turned their backs on all us Seniors and would rather work us to the grave than to pay out any of the benefits we have earned, and why should they care, they can retire after 4 years with what it took me 40 to earn in benefits for ourselves. No One cares anymore about the elderly!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  146. Jeanne Walsh

    It means revolution! World and national history shows large disparity between rich and poor leads to war. The wealth in this country better start investing into the future of our country or they'll be waking up to dead horse heads in their beds.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  147. Stephanie Collins

    It means that we have lost (or are losing) the privilege of calling ourselves the greatest nation on Earth. What kind of country with our wealth abandons its youngest, its eldest, and its most vulnerable, and then kills the base in society that could support them? Welcome to Caste Society. Welcome to the second golden age of the Robber Barons.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  148. Brady in Boston

    Jack, it means we need to elect the only presidential candidate who has been warning us about the destruction of the middle class for decades. While others in the GOP race are only now jumping on the bandwagon, Ron Paul has always warned us that manipulating interest rates and printing money causes economic bubbles, leading to bail outs for millionaires and billionaires who gamble with our money. The middle class loses their houses, their jobs, and their retirement while those who caused the mess get to retire early. The American dream has become a nightmare for the 99%.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  149. Meade Wildrick

    The answer lies with the 47% of Congress that are millionaires. Congress keeps passing social and entitlement programs for scores of people that CHOOSE not to work or contribute. As such, the recipients will continue to vote for these politicians to keep getting free money! To add insult to injury, some of these programs are accessible, if not targeted, to illegal aliens.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  150. Cheryl

    If we are concerned about illegal immigration we should also look at the problem of emigration if people have to work until age 80 we will have people emigrating to India and China for jobs.
    Now we will be at the other end of the immigration issue because other countries want jobs for their own people.
    It is bad enough that our students are way low on the academic totem pole we will have serious brain drain. too.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  151. John Jones

    Jack,

    Planning to work until 80 means that those people were fiscally irresponsible for many years. These are exactly the same people that bought houses they couldn't afford, then refinanced them to buy a new Lexus and refinanced them again to play for a trip to Australia, whereas I lived a life that was lower middle class, paid off my house, paid cash for my cars, put two kids through college with no loans for either me or them and saved for my retirement from the time I was 30 years old.....

    What did this all cost me? In 40 working years I never took a vacation that was longer then 2 or 3 days – – all my vacation time was invested in working on project to improve my home and increase its value. I always drove inexpensive cars that got good mileage. My family was nicely dressed from Penney's and Target. Christmas presents were limited in value and paid for in cash. Nothing was every financed, we used credit cards and paid off the cards on the first of every month. My wife clips coupons and shops for items on sale – – if it's not on sale we don't need it.

    I am now retired, owe nothing and have enough cash in the bank to carry me for at least 30 years.

    It's really the old story of the grasshopper and the ant.... Live to today or save for tomorrow; you can't have both.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  152. common sense

    work on explaining to future employers why they have a criminal record....or pray Obama gets re-elected so they can guaranteed to receive money from the U.S. welfare state off the back of hard working Americans who have jobs and pay taxes.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  153. david from michigan

    it means we have let the wallstreet money changers take the value of our savings our house values and 401k's. the biggest tom foolery was pulled on the baby boomers when the goverment raise the witholding taxes for social sucurity in the 1970s to creat a suplus of money for the baby boomers retirement. the amount of money borrowed from the account to be spent on other things like wars and tax cuts for the rich that will never be paid back is at $2.4 trillion thats $2,400,000,000,000. what it means is people who planned and saved have been taken to the cleaners. its not hard to figure out what the OCCUPIERS are angry and feed up with!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  154. Karen, Idaho

    It means that the "golden years" are not the same as they used to be. People who are barely making ends meet will soon have to cut back even more when Congress starts hacking away at Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid–sacrificing the older Americans in favor of the filty rich.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  155. Bob M. from Long Island, NY

    If you watched that show "Mad Men" you would have seen Don's older secretary pass away at her desk. Then covered up and wheeled out before a client saw her. Well that’s our future! Toil with the yoke around your neck till you drop then get dragged out with the rest of the trash.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  156. j stern

    Sounds like it means the corporate agenda is winning in Washington...they are keeping their efficient little monkeys working desperately until the bitter end of what is becoming a sad existence

    November 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  157. Travon McCoy Columbia SC

    It reminds of a book by a author entitled "who took my money" wherein the author mentions that the majority of the baby boomers who are set to retire were going to find themselves not having enough money to retire on ...his book was classified as irrelevant and not in line with the status quo ...the irony is that the material is bearing forth fruit today...because now people are going to asked if they aren't already "who took my money...." GREED GREED GREED and lack of honest and true oversight

    November 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  158. Jason in PA

    Jack,

    I think it means that people like you who incessantly spew polarizing rhetoric to further his or her own agenda, ideology, career, etc, yet offer no solutions are doing huge damage to this country. Our news has gone from something closer to "Journalistic Integrity" to something that looks much more like sensationalist propaganda for our political party, religion, to boost ratings for commercial sales or just to make the "reporter" famous. The time has come to bring people together, not drive a wedge...

    Maybe it means people like you should do a little research to offer solutions to problems rather than just offering problems?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  159. John Bekisz

    It means we're in trouble. Do we really need to say more?

    November 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  160. Keith

    Jack, It will be great! In fact in may even help the government get their finances in order. Just think, on the average, the government would be deducting Social Security taxes and income tax for 2 years after the people were dead. Nothing is sure in life but death and taxes.
    Seriously, I think people who have worked hard all their life deserve to have some years at the end when they can afford to enjoy what life they have left.
    Keith, Tucson, AZ

    November 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  161. Robert in Louisville

    Jack,
    It means it will take longer for the top 1 percent to bleed the rest of us dry. But that won't stop them from trying.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  162. Gigi Oregon

    It means our government had better gets it's house in order. They have a big job a head of them. How do they expect Seniors to live. They have wasted a year of Seniors time. Republicans stalling to make President Obama a one term President. Every day that passes with out cooperation from the Republican party is a day of debt building. The Republicans gave President Obama, as a house warming gift the huge debt of eight years of war and destruction charged on a Chinese credit card. Corporate America rob them of their pensions. President Obama tried to give the American Seniors and their families a sound medical care program. Which was badly needed. We brag about being number one in the world, but the world sees a country with their head in the sand. Corporate America has robbed them of their pensions so they will not be able to pass on the good jobs to the college graduates. Or government can do to seniors what Reagan and corporate America did lay off anyone near retirement age close down the plants and move to a new location or out of the country and hiring the young better educated graduates for less money. Don't you just love the Republican "Trickle Down"

    November 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  163. Marc

    It means you live, you go to school, you work, and you die. Same as for 99.999% of humans throughout history. And in the middle you pay a whole heck of a lot of taxes. Don't forget about that. Enjoy! It worked for Steve Jobs.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  164. Donna Wisconsin

    The Republican plan to have two classes, rich and poor, is working. But of course to them, these folks didn't take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY and save for themselves!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  165. Jennifer

    My grandmother just retired at the age of 81 by her own choice, not out of necessity to continue working. If an older person can, and wants to continue working, as my grandmother did, then they should! She wisely saved her money and lived within her means all of her life, while sending three children through college and continue to generously to others in need. She set the standard in my family for hard work, dedication to a job, and wise money management. I'm lucky to have had such a great example to look up to as I begin my career in the workforce.

    Jennifer in Birmingham, Alabama

    November 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  166. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    I have noted that at three of our local McDonald's FF places that the eighty year olds seem to outnumber the youger gens and that they man the registers. I guess the corporation can trust them with the money but not the french fries?
    Really most of them have made a sly career move, getting a job near the food !

    November 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  167. Bob

    If our parents are part of the greatest generation, we are clearly part of the stupidest generation. We have allowed business to eliminate just about all defined payment retirement plans, lower our wages, and dramatically shift the cost of health care to the middle class during the last decade. To add insult to injury, we decreased taxes on the rich and have put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in jeopardy. Baby Boomers have clearly shot themselves in the foot.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  168. dave in nashville

    Means a lot more young people will be unemployed longer, the double and triple dippers make it even worse with their greed.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  169. Han

    This is a story of how self interest prevailed over group interest.  Mega corporations interest is nothing but the all mighty green dollar even if it comes at the expense of the American people.  Why would they produce anything in North America anymore where they have to deal with high minimum wage, unions, bureaucracy, massive material, and overhead cost.  Corporations with the aid of Washington shifted production overseas in the name of globalization, leaving major industrial American cities looking like ghost towns.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  170. Arthur, Sarasota , Florida

    It means the government has failed and so has Wall Street, the SEC and all the Harvard, Yale, etc. grades working for companies like Goldmen Sacks, Morgan Stanley, AIG, Moodys, Standard and Poors, Banks,and others who are raping you and me and the small invester. Why is what happened with credit default swaps, CDO's and mortgage backed securities not being looked at as a ponze scheme? They all have their head in the sand, especially CNN in that they only cover news about the Republican campaign. We need reform and someone needs to go to jail over the happenings of 2008. Why do we spend so much time looking at who's running for the US president when who ever runs is just more of the same. We should be looking at a major changes in Washington and especially the Senate, term limits are a must. Someone has to explain what happened in 2008 and why thw Govt won't talk to the people.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  171. Jerry in Alaska

    It looks like the Older, smarter folks see the writing on the OUTHOUSE WALL of they will have to help support the younger stupid THE WORLD OWES ME A LIVING class with the OBAMANATION OF DESOLATIONS SHARING EQUALLY DREAM ACT survive.

    Where is John Candy with his Trucker buddy with the load of AvGas in Armed & Dangerous when ya need to clear the roadways?
    OOPS!! i was talking about your first question Jack, sorry for the mix up as its hard getting over 60, ain't it??

    November 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  172. James Ehiemere

    This a byproduct of wages not keeping up with inflation. We wouldn't have this problem if middle class wages kept up with the wages of the "decision makers". Whether its corporate executives, Congressional office holders or wall street investors, their wages have kept up with inflation. So, why haven't the middle class wages kept up? Simple greed. In addition, the middle class pays more tax on a percentage basis. The combination of higher taxes and no increased wages in 30 years leaves nothing left to retire on! How un-american is this? Especially, when this country was founded against the principle of the rich minority controlling the poor majority!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  173. Joe's Mom in OR

    It means that many people think they will have to work until they die.....or starve. This has been the Republican's 40-year response to Johnson's war on poverty. LET'S BE CLEAR; Liberals make war on poverty, conservatives make war on the middle class, and by extension, children, the elderly, and the vulnerable. Time to make a choice.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  174. Ted In Phoenix

    It means many, many more people will be joining the OCCUPY MOVEMENT in the weeks, months and years to come.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  175. BS in AZ

    The idea that the average person could acquire enough resources to live on for 20 years after "retirement" is as inane and insane as expecting the "American Dream" to come true for all of us. When our federal government declared bankruptcy in 1933, they demanded that all gold held by the people be returned to them, and then gave all that gold to the bankers as partial payment on that debt. Our debts were due and payable in gold - and only gold. We had borrowed 30% MORE than was available in worldwide gold, and more than 50% than we held in gold as an entire country!! We are STILL paying on THAT debt, plus all the borrowing done since then.

    Ask yourself WHY governments have been making decisions which increase the debt, increase the wealth held by corporations, increase the taxation on the people, and limit our constitutional rights to hold clear title to any property, petition the government for grievances, and live reasonably free from state intrusions. Those answers will clearly show why the wage-earner is no longer able to save more than a few thousand dollars, yet the bankers and politicians acquire wealth quickly and easily

    It's time the media AND my fellow Americans look at WHY we live as we do, and then INSIST on appropriate changes.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  176. KT in California

    There are many "boomers" who are physically & mentally fit to continue working, and WANT to work, but there are precious few jobs even for college grads, let alone for us! Additionally, "retirement" savings have disappeared (IRAs, 401Ks, etc.), along with the middle class. At least those younger have more time to save, plan, and hopefully are learning lessons from the present situation.

    Btw, What have the 1% and Big Business –with their $$$$ and tax breaks– done to create jobs for anyone???

    Michael/Seattle – good op-ed: "...unfortunate, both for those who cannot retire and those who would really like to work."

    November 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  177. Tony

    In the 50s and 60s, my Dad worked as a machinist and raised four of us on a single salary. As we grew up, my Mom went to work full-time as an R.N., went back to school for administration, and attained a respected position at a good hospital. We all went to college, and my parents enjoyed a comfortable retirement between pensions and Social security.

    Now, corporations have no loyalty to their employees beyond hiring and firing as necessary to achieve a better bottom line for stockholders. Pensions are a thing of the past, a victim of corporate greed if not outright theft. The American dream has vanished, corporate lobbyists determine who we get to vote for, and most of us still believe that this constitutes participating in a democracy. (Are you listening, OWS?)

    I am one of those who will probably work until I physically cannot. The game has been intentionally changed by the 1%, our government is complicit, and retirement is a casualty of that change.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  178. Fuzz

    What does it mean? Simple, It means that ¼ of us have accepted economic slavery as inevitable. I personally am thinking of working to 65 then finding a .01 percenter and going Kamikaze.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  179. Cheryl

    I am sure our founding fathers put a premium on truth,honesty,moral,ethics and discipline that made America great.
    What has happened is unadulterated self-destruction where $$ buy power,the entertainers and celebrities make salaries over the top and the average Joe that works hard following the advice of his/her forefathers are just used and tossed aside Criminals are found not guilty and the American dream has become the American NIGHTMARE.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  180. Bill - Upper NY State

    Call it by any other name, it's the result of the economic and social rape of the middle-class and the elderly in the attempt to sustain that worthless economic theory called "Trickle Down". This theory overlooks one extremely important element – GREED! Do you think the 1% buy American products and services? Hell no! They vacation overseas and buy luxurious foreign-made products with the money they made from our sweat. That puts the emphasis on "trickle". What's really sad is that those Tea Party peons haven't yet realized that they've been sold out by the GOP to the greedy few. You know the ones – the hell with the country as long as I make a few more million.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  181. Michal from Pittsburg, CA (UK expat)

    You think the youngsters have difficult time now finding work. Trying to find a job with millions of additional elderly in the workforce will be near on impossible! Personally, I have felt that you work to live and retire happy. It increasingly appears that people live to work and probably not retire, but die working.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  182. Geoff

    Jack, it means a number of things. But one thing many are forgetting is that credit cards aren't personal bank accounts. Money management skills are lacking these days – pay off most expensive debt first, start saving for retirement when you're young, and you'll be surprised at how much you'll have when 65 rolls around.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm |