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Feeling Old? Crouch Says To Join The Crowd

This article first appeared in issue 26, and was written by Staff.

"We're telling too many people they're old before their time," says Ron Crouch, director of the Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville.

He travels the state correcting our misconceptions.

"The good news is we're living a lot longer," he says, "The bad news is we're living a lot longer."

Longer life combined with lower birth rates has caused many societal challenges in Kentucky and the nation, too. The major crisis of the federal budget is not defense, nor welfare.

The problem, Crouch contends from all his research, lies with the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare, federal employment retirement and how to keep them going. In 1900 there were 77,000 Kentuckians 65 and older. By 1990 there were 465,000. That number could balloon to 656,000 by 2020.

"Our leaders must tell us the truth," he says, "That we cannot afford to have folks retire at 65 years anymore and live 20 or 30 years longer at taxpayer expense."

It's a harsh message for anyone who is already living on too small a retirement budget, but he believes there simply may not be enough working, tax-paying young people to fund the retirement of the older people if some serious changes are not made.

Changes he has recommended are:

* Guarantee that every student leaves school as an educated, skilled and productive person since there will be fewer young people to fund entitlement programs with their tax dollars.

* Life long learning and re-training as we age to give the mature work force the tools it needs so that most persons can work into their 70's and 80's.

With fewer children born to take on jobs, that leaves positions open for older people who want to keep working.

This story was posted on 1999-10-15 12:01:01
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