We like you…but could you please stop robbing us :)

The recent debate and negotiations this week in Congress over student loans has me fuming.  The primary question is whether or not to increase interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans, loans that go to students from families that earn less than $70,000 a year.  Regardless of whether they agree to raise or maintain interest rates on Stafford loans, it could very well be the case that young people will still get burned.  Graduate students may have to start paying interest on their loans while they are still in school and the government will no longer cover the interest on subsidized loans during the six month transition after undergraduate students graduate.  These changes could cost young people an extra $20 billion dollars over the next decade added on to a cumulative student loan debt that has surpassed $1 trillion.  Student loan debt is one of those things that haunts you well after you graduate, and as a person who is still trying to pay off a small part of that $1 trillion, I can imagine how much tougher it will be for these new lower-income students throughout their lifetime.  So, I am a bit angry; not only because of what this means for student loans but how this contributes to a troubling pattern in today’s policy making that only seems to be getting worse.  I must ask:

How long must the old continue to eat the young?

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Elderly Couple in the Outdoors

How old is old? Is 80 the new 65?

Most of us have heard talk about the Baby Boomers and how they will impact the U.S. population in the next few decades.  The Boomers are the large group of people (76 million) who were born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964.   The oldest members of the cohort have just started turning 65 in the past year, and they are starting to become eligible for many benefits that are provided to the “elderly.”  But more and more, it feels strange to categorize these individuals as “elderly.”  The words elderly and senior conjure up the notion of someone far more frail and feeble than the many vibrant, active people age 65 and older with whom a lot of us interact on a daily basis.  According to the American Community Survey, 1 in 4 Americans age 65 to 74 are still in the labor force, and many of the others are retirees who still actively volunteer or provide care for grandchildren or even their own parents.  These are folks who run in marathons and go back to school.  So why are we calling them elderly?

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