Early Retirement = Unpatriotic?

The Albuquerque Journal chooses to run some pretty odd articles from time to time. I understand that articles dealing with local topics may not always be the most well-written, but at least they deal with topics relevant to Albuquerque or at least New Mexico residents. The Albuquerque Journal chooses to run some pretty odd articles from time to time. I understand that articles dealing with local topics may not always be the most well-written, but at least they deal with topics relevant to Albuquerque or at least New Mexico residents. This was the case on Sunday when it ran an article from Andrew L. Yarrow of the Baltimore Sun who argued that Americans who retire early from the work force are both “selfish and unpatriotic.”
Why is that? For starters, Yarrow argues, people who retire at 55, 62 or even 65 have many good, productive years of work yet and those people should be contributing to the nation’s economy and paying taxes. He goes on to make a few somewhat more valid points about our overburdened Social Security and Medicare systems and even discusses some incentives that could get older people to work longer.
While Yarrow makes some valid arguments about the problems with Social Security and Medicare, these are not really the fault of people who retire early. These programs are flawed in their very design and, if policymakers wish to alter their incentives, they must change them. The only way in which these people are being “greedy” is if they vote for and support policies that preserve the broken Social Security and Medicare programs rather than supporting market-based reforms that will benefit their children and grandchildren. Yarrow doesn’t even touch on real reforms to either of these programs.
Ultimately, Yarrow’s mistake is in approaching the entire issue from the collectivist perspective. In other words, he believes that Americans must work harder to strengthen the nation and preserve these government programs. He should be encouraging policymakers to find ways to alter these programs in ways that allow individuals to make the decisions that are best for themselves, without unfairly burdening others. That is the best way to ensure America’s future strength and make sure that Americans live long, productive, and fulfilled lives.

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