Retirement Shutdown

October 1, 2013

Retirement Shutdown

Today, according to Social Security calculations, I am now officially counted as being at the full retirement age of 66. It’s hardly a moment when I am able to celebrate; for reasons mentioned in an earlier post, my application for benefits languishes in the indifference of the Social Security bureaucracy. And now, even if I were to get access from another bureaucracy to the information that SS claims I need to finish processing my application, there will be no worker on the job to move things along.

I suppose I will be told not to take this personally. The GOP’s apologists are undoubtedly eager to explain that their opposition to affordable health care insurance is not meant to infer that they resent in any way having to pay me retirement benefits. Yet, as I face the possibility that a lifetime of time-certain work will not be recognized with an on-time payment of my hard-earned benefits, the suspicion lingers that the GOP is rather like someone eating out at a restaurant and having a great time ordering food and eating it with relish. When the bill arrives, the financially strapped customer realizes that the only recourse is to complain with flustered indignation about the cost of eating out and thereby reduce the bill. The fact that the food has already been eaten gives the customer a sense of entitlement. “I’ve gotten what I want. But I dare you to collect what you deserve. I’ll throw a tantrum in your restaurant and see how much your other customers enjoy their meal.” The employment systems have extracted their labor from me, but any willingness to reciprocate seems to have vanished with ideological rapacity.

There is no social contract in sight, only social contractions. One can see in this instance the disparity between the estimated centers of power and the exact centers of power. Temporality is still an outcome; when I was young, the chant went, “On strike. Shut it down.” Almost a half-century later, the GOP is marching to that chant with more efficiency than my cohorts ever did.