The Clare Spark Blog

March 5, 2016

Is the promise of a golden “retirement” hot air?

shorthandle-revIn her lament for the “shattering” of the Republican Party, big-hearted Peggy Noonan chastised elites today (3-5-16) for not facing the “facts” of people’s lives who were non-elite, distancing herself from any variant of noblesse oblige.

She didn’t get down and dirty with the “facts” so-called Republicans should face, but I will try to at least introduce the subject here.

We are inundated with images of aging couples of roughly the same generation, taking glamorous cruises up the Rhine, hosting big family dinners, drinking wine, and playing with their pets or sports as if such activities were the norm, not the exception. Here is one article among many seeking to explain (genetically) why women outlive men: But Scientific American did not factor into their prognostications class differences, nor did they factor in the laboring classes and their shorter period of pain free health, owing to lung diseases and repetitive motion injuries. (When I looked for pictures of repetitive motion injuries, all the images were concerned with bad posture by computer users.)


Indeed, my physical therapist informed me that the latter painful ailments frequently hit his laboring patients by their early fifties. By contrast, I, who have led a relatively privileged life, did not experience joint pain and tears from various inflammations and “wear and tear” until the last two years, roughly around age 76 (I am in my 79th year now).

So instead of the idyllic “retirement” promised by the mass media (remember the golden watch ceremonies celebrated in ads directed at the successful middle class when I was growing up?) the “facts” we should be looking at are the physical travails of the working classes, both male and female. But Peggy Noonan and her colleagues at the Wall Street Journal have blotted them out in favor of the most vulgar and costly conspicuous consumption.

This is not the first time I raised this issue. See

West Virginia coal miners, 1907

West Virginia coal miners, 1907

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