Donna came home after playing bridge and said the ladies were discussing the comment of a young college student that “all people must retire at 65 to give young people jobs.” Pretty dramatic statement. Easy for a twenty-something to say. . . . .
Now if I had been given the “boot” from my firm upon turning 65 (last February), who would lose? Me — sure. But the firm too. I have a knowledge base which has value. The firm would be deprived of some work. And the firm would lose one who is reasonably effective and efficient at his job – and one who provides mentoring for other – younger – attorneys.
I’ve read that commercial airline pilots must retire at age 60 (in Europe retirement age is 65). Now if I’m flying along at 35,000 feet and there is a sudden major emergency, would I rather have Captain Chesley Sullenberger (who was on the verge of retirement when he landed in the Hudson) or a 28 year old “newbie” sitting in the left seat? Most of us would choose “Sully” in a heartbeat. Or perhaps a 64 year old Lufthansa pilot.
Dealing with this question of mandatory retirement is complicated. What about need? What about the 68 year old Nordstrom’s saleswoman who desperately needs her job? What about the small shop owner who is 74? The small town doctor who just turned 80? Much too will depend on the benefit of retirement. For teachers, military and public workers, there is an incentive issue since they can get pensions after a number of years. And perhaps get another job. And retire again.
From my perspective, there is no all or nothing conceptualization on this issue. Much depends on the circumstances. I’d love to be around to ask that college student his opinion on the subject when he turns 65. If he is let go from his job, he’ll probably sue for age discrimination. . . . .