OCTOBER 27, 1950
NEW YORK, Thursday—There is a very interesting report put out by the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Problems of the Aged, which bears the inscription, "Young at Any Age." I like the opening paragraph of the introduction by Senator Thomas C. Desmond, who was chairman of the committee. It reads: "If youth must be served, age merits its own rewards. For it has served. And is eager to continue serving."
We discovered during the war how well people who previously had been dismissed from active work could resume doing that work. It is perfectly understandable that large corporations prefer their employees on the whole, to be young, particularly when they bring them into service. But it seems to me that the retirement age should come in line with the individual's health, not in line with his age. Some men and women at 70 are not much older than they were at 55, and some at 55 are not as vigorous or alert as 70-year-olds.
There are problems, of course, of those who must retire or slow up to a great extent—what recreations can be provided for them, what hobbies can be developed, what kinds of part-time work can be found, so that if they have a limited pension they may be able to supplement it by working for such periods as they are able to keep going.
By far the largest question, or course, is the concern for men and women who could go on working full time and would like to do so, either in the work they are doing or in work for which they could be retrained.
This is a problem, it seems to me, for industry and government representatives to work out together. Just as industry and the country as a whole can profit by employing physically handicapped people—and removing them from total dependence or even partial dependence—so the same thing can be done for the aged.
The brochure sets the problem before us and gives us some very good ideas and I think other states throughout the nation may be interested in reading it.
I have found the Max Lerner series in the New York Post, called "Morals on the Campus," very interesting. I picked out sentences in yesterday's article to which I think we should give some thought: "Despite the woeful plaints of many parents, it isn't in any sense true that our youngsters are going to the dogs morally and immorally. There is no 'revolt' as there was in Scott Fitzgerald's period of the 'lost generation.' What is true is that the young people are bewildered."
I wonder if young people have not always been bewildered at the age when they now find themselves in college. They are freer, they are on their own, they are not protected as they were when girls did not go to college. That doesn't mean that the situation is worse or better. It simply means that both young and old should understand the situation better and be more frank about it.
A man for whom I have long had great respect said to me the other day that he was discouraged by the state of the world, by the moral and ethical standards of those around him, and he wondered if the real answer was not that religion had failed. He hoped it was not his religion, but he couldn't claim that even his religion was handling the problem completely satisfactorily. I don't think it is all the fault of religion. I think we are all involved in this question because we are living in a changing world and we have neither adjusted our religion, our homes, nor ourselves to the demands made by these changes.