Dr Harry R. Moody Keynote for OGA 2010

Uploaded by PCCvideos on 24.09.2010


It’s time for me to introduce Dr. Harry Moody. Some of you probably know him through
his textbook, Aging Concepts and Controversies, now in the 6th edition.
Some of you probably know him because of his beautiful book,
The Five Stages of the Soul.
He’s written hundreds of journal articles, many, many books.
He has several new book projects he’s working on.
You probably know that he’s the Director of Academic Affairs for AARP
in Washington, D.C., though now he’s bi-locating between Washington D.C.
and Boulder. He’s working on a wide range of initiatives from social entrepreneurship
to healthy aging. He is one of the most important thinkers in the field of gerontology.
And I’m so honored that he was able to come and be our keynote speaker today.
So, with that, I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Harry Moody.
[ Applause ]

[ JOYCE DE MONNIN ]: Good afternoon.
I’m Joyce De Monnin with AARP in the 21st century.
And I want welcome you to a very special event.
We have with us today one of the oldest living humans, Dr., or Mr., Harry R. Moody.
He was born back in the year 1945 and now, as you know, it is the year 2067.
So that makes our guest 122 years old. Why, he’s even old enough to remember
the assassination of President Kennedy.
Mr. Moody has agreed to share with us some of his memories of the 21st century,
right up to the present day. So join with me, please, in welcoming our guest,
our very special guest, Mr. Harry R. Moody.
[ Laughter and applause. ]

Good afternoon, Mr. Moody.
I want to welcome you and thank you for being with us today.
I can see it’s not easy for you to get around, so we really appreciate
your willingness to be here. They tell me today is your birthday. Is that right?
What year were you born in?
[ HARRY ]: Well, Ellen, I was born in 1945, yeah.
[ JOYCE ]: Okay, so that would make you 122 years old.
[ HARRY ]: Yeah, I guess that’s right, if you say so.
You know, I don’t remember things so well anymore.
Did you say your name was Susan?
[ JOYCE ]: I said it was Joyce.
[ HARRY ]: Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
[ JOYCE ]: Tell us a bit about your life back in the 20th century.
[ HARRY ]: Well, I remember World War II, the Cold War, my father was in World War II.
And I avoided the draft in Vietnam. With the collapse of Communism in 1989,
we thought war was all over. And then came the World Trade Center attack in 2001,
and Iraq and Afghanistan, all the wars that followed. In terms of my personal life,
I got a degree in philosophy, which of course isn’t the most practical thing to do.
So instead of driving a taxicab, which was my main opportunity,
I went to work for a bank for awhile. Then I went into gerontology.
And things were okay for the first years of the 21st century. For a while it was okay.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, tell us more about the early decade of the 21st century.
[ HARRY ]: Well, you remember the World Trade Center attack and all
the wars that followed: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and all those other wars.
And the president said that war would last for decades,
and he sure was right about that one. It never seemed to end.
The military spending just came higher and higher and more attacks came.
The September 11th attack, you know, was followed a decade later by that dirty bomb
nuclear device that went off in Philadelphia July 4th, 2011.
A lot of the city was radioactive. People had to be evacuated and the attacks
and the counter-attacks just went on. India, Pakistan went to war with each other
with nuclear weapons. Millions killed in that exchange. But, I guess you remember that
that went on even after the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Arabia.
The wars just never seem to end! It never ended.
[ JOYCE ]: What about the U.S. economy?
[ HARRY ]: Well, all that military activity was terrible for the economy, which was
in bad shape to begin with. It started with the stock market collapse of 2008,
which recovered for a year or two, and then it went down a second time,
worse than before. That was after Greece and Spain went bankrupt.
The government tried to bail out the banks and the insurance companies
like they did before. It worked for awhile, but the deficits just got too big.
Then the big banks, City Corps, Bank of America, they held treasury bonds,
and the Chinese stopped buying American bonds.
So eventually, they all went bankrupt. There was nobody to bail us out,
and so there was an international market panic. Unemployment went up to 15%,
then 25%. Both my kids lost their jobs, and I was forced into early retirement.
The stock market held on for awhile, but then it finally collapsed in 2013.
That’s when the baby boomers started cashing in their mutual funds.
For the next 20 years, all the money went out of the market.
The Dow went down to 4,000 where it stayed for most of the mid-century, I guess.
Federal government tried to use deficit spending to get us out of depression 2.0,
but it didn’t work. And soon the Chinese owned all of America.
Then the big inflation began. Oh, I remember that! It was 25% every year.
People said it was like the Weimar Republic in Germany.
And here in the U.S., we thought it could never happen here. But we were wrong.
[ JOYCE ]: Tell us about your health.
[ HARRY ]: My health. Well, Mary, what did you say again? Sorry, yeah. My health.
Well, diet has been very important to me.
You know, because we all got to be pretty poor, and meat became impossible.
So after the age of 60, I ate mostly fruits and vegetables.
Did I mention the plagues? Oh, there were so many of them.
Uh! Hemmorhagic plague, that was the worst. The bleeding and all of it.
Oh! It was terrible. It was like the Black Death in the Middle Ages.
It started with the first bio-terrorism attacks, but then it got out of control.
And of course the antibiotics didn’t work anymore because they’d used them for
farm animals and the germs developed resistance. So, when the big plagues came,
millions of people died just like they did in 1919. Come to think of it,
our global plagues started 100 years later in 2019.
Oh, I lost a lot of friends back then, a lot of friends.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, what about … Didn’t Medicare help you?
[ HARRY ]: Medicare! Oh, ho, ho! Medicare was supposed to help,
but you remember when it collapsed, don’t you? Oh, it was a sad story.
We all counted on Medicare, but by 2015, it became partly privatized.
And I was retired by then, so I couldn’t afford it anyway. And then
when the plagues came 4 years later, Medicare started rationing. It’s been pretty bad.
It’s been pretty bad.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, how about other people your age?
[ HARRY ]: Well, you know, I was just a year older than the oldest of the baby boomers,
so I consider myself one of them.
And as a generation, we never thought that bad things could happen to us.
But by 2030, we had 14 million cases of Alzheimers disease. Fourteen million!
It was an epidemic.
There’s still no cure today, but at least they have that new euthanasia law.
So, that puts a limit on health care.
You know, it was the great philosopher Woody Allen who once said, he once said,
“Death is the best of cutting down on expenses.” And he was right about that one.
Yeah, he was right.
[ Laughter. ]
[ JOYCE ]: Well, it sounds like old age didn’t turn exactly what
the flower children expected it to be during the sixties.
I’m sure younger people in this century were sympathetic, weren’t they?
[ HARRY ]: Well, well, Paula, don’t get me started on that.
The young people really weren’t prepared to cope with the world they inherited
:the bankruptcies, the health care costs, and all those old people like me who
depended on the government. My kids ended up paying 30% of their income
to support the old folks. And they resented it, I’ll tell you.
But you know, the kids, they weren’t prepared for the world they had to face.
The education system was out of control. First was grade inflation,
standardized tests for everything, and that cure was worse than the disease.
Schooling become one big factory system. Oh!
[ JOYCE ]: How did you support yourself after age 65?
[ HARRY ]: Well, I’m sure you remember how Social Security went bankrupt.
Oh, they just weren’t able to fix it in time. So down it went.
It was a big shock to all of us. And after 2030, they cut the benefits drastically.
There was, you remember, there was that big march on Washington to protest.
And that was when president Chelsea Clinton was in the White House. [ Laughter. ]
And I remember that. She behaved herself better than her father, though,
I’ve got to say. [ Laughter. ]
I’ve got to say, it was a rough time for Social Security. You know, on paper,
Social Security still exists, but it doesn’t pay enough to live on, so the old people
don’t get anything, but the young people are angry because they pay so much in taxes.
[ JOYCE ]: Are you okay? It looks like you’re sweating!
[ HARRY ]: I’m okay, but it’s just the heat this time of year.
It’s global warming, you know? We had a few hot summers in the late 20th century,
early 21st century. But nothing like what came later.
It just kept getting hotter and hotter. Then the ice caps melted.
The ocean levels started rising, we lost the Netherlands, then lower Manhattan.
All gone. Submerged. That happened when the Ross Ice Shelf slipped off Antarctica.
You know, down on Wall Street, which is under water now, when I was young, when I
was young, I was there. But now it’s a great spot for scuba diving, down by Wall Street.
[ Laughter. ]
[ JOYCE ]: I haven’t asked you this, but did you follow some kind of special diet
or anything that helped you live so long?
[ HARRY ]: Yeah. Well, you know, I went to my doctor when I was in my 50’s,
and he recommended this low calorie diet, caloric restriction or something like that.
So, I asked the doctor, if I follow this low calorie diet, will I live longer,
or will it just seem longer. And he really, he couldn’t answer. But I guess that diet
must have worked, because here I am. And actually, after the economy collapsed,
we didn’t have much choice about what to eat.
Low calorie was a necessity, not an option.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, after you became a centenarian, what did your doctor say?
[ HARRY ]: By then, my doctor was dead.
[ Laughter. ]
[ JOYCE ]: So, tell me: Is it hard being your age?
[ HARRY ]: Well, aging isn’t so bad, when you consider the alternative. Not bad at all.
[ JOYCE ]: Okay. Well, one last question.
What is the best thing about being 122 years old?
[ HARRY ]: Eh! Let me think about that. You know, there’s less peer pressure.
[ Laughter and applause. ]
You know, I’m, Mary, I’m getting a little tired now. I think it’s time for my nap.
It was good talking to you.
[ JOYCE ]: Good talking to you.
[ HARRY ]: Thank you very much.
[ JOYCE ]: Thank you, Mr. Moody.
[ Applause. ]
It’s amazing a man that old can still walk without a walker. I think that’s very impressive.
Well, that was a pretty frightening glimpse at what the future might hold.
We’re going to be seeing more of Mr. Moody, but for now, you might ask the question,
how much of what you heard might actually come true. We had a lot of laughs about it,
but there was some very depressing predictions of a dark future
:Alzheimers epidemic, Social Security bankruptcy, global warming, and all the rest.
Later on, you’ll get a chance to ask questions of our presenter, and he’ll give
some basis for whether or not any of these future outcomes is likely or not.
So far, we’ve seen one version of the 21st century, a pretty negative one.
Now it’s time for a more optimistic picture of the shape of things to come.
Why are you all laughing, is what I want to know. [ Laughs. ]
This afternoon, we have as our very special guest, Mr. Rick Moody who has just
been named winner of the Special Senior Olympics competition for super centenarians.
[ RICK ]: Hey, babe, let’s get together. Oh, boy! We’re looking good, looking good!
[ JOYCE ]: Ladies and Gentlemen: You’ve heard about Superman.
You’ve heard about the bionic man. Now let me introduce the 122 year old man.
[ RICK ]: Okay.
[ JOYCE ]: Okay, good afternoon, Mr. Moody. I want to welcome you and
thank you for being with us. You certainly look brisk and bouncy this afternoon.
[ RICK ]: Yeah.
[ JOYCE ]: Didn’t I hear that you were winner of the Special Olympics?
[ RICK ]: The Senior Olympics, yep, that’s right. That’s right. I won the race. Of course,
most of the other people were competing in wheel chairs, but I was still the winner.
Did well.
[ JOYCE ]: How old are you, actually?
[ RICK ]: Well, today’s my birthday, so I’m 122 years old. Actually, not all of me.
My knee replacement is 30 years old, my hip replacement 45 years old, and you know,
I have some other organ replacements, you know.
But different parts of me are different ages, but yeah, today is my birthday, 122.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, that’s very great.
Is this unusual? Do many people live as long as you do?
[ RICK ]: Oh, we have about a million people, maybe more, who
are over 100 years of age. And 122 is still unusual, yeah.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, what memories do you have of the 20th century?
[ RICK ]: Oh, the 20th century. Boy, that seems like a bad dream now. Mostly wars.
There was that modern 30 years war between 1914, 1945, then the Cold War
for most of the rest of the 20th century. Lots of little wars in between, all over the world.
But that’s long past now.
[ JOYCE ]: Okay. Let’s see, well, tell us, I need my mike on here!
[ Laughter. ]
[ RICK ]: Yeah. See, you’ve got some memory problems, babe!
I’ll give you some pills for that one.
[ Laughter. ]
[ JOYCE ]: Tell us about your reminiscence of the early decades of the 21st century.
[ RICK ]: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
[ JOYCE ]: What did the economy do?
[ RICK ]: Oh, the economy. Well, you remember that long wave of prosperity that
began right after the recession ended in 2010. After that, the growth just continued.
It’s been a great century. Just one problem for me. The Dow Jones average last week
topped out at over 100,000. I had a chance to buy when the Dow was cheap,
when it was only 40,000. And I missed out. I missed out.
If I had bought stock back then, I’d be a rich man. But I guess you can’t look back.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, what about politics?
[ RICK ]: Well, in politics, there were some problems right after the turn of the century,
with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Took awhile before democracy started to
spread throughout the Middle East, then all over the developing world.
That’s made a big difference. Peace came, the terrorists disappeared.
Life has been very good, very, very good.
[ JOYCE ]: It sounds like you have a great memory.
You don’t have any problems in that area at all, do you?
[ RICK ]: No. I notice you had a few problems, but not for me, not at all. [Laughter.]
But then again, why should I? You know, back around the turn of the century,
they used to have a disease that was called Alzheimers. You may not remember that.
You have. Yeah. It’s called Alzheimers.
A lot of older people began to lose their memory. But you remember Dr. Banfield,
the man who won the Nobel prize for discovering the cure for Alzheimers in 2015,
don’t you? Well, with his Alzheimers vaccine, dementia, become a thing of the past
just like SARC and the polio vaccine in the 20th century.
So everybody today gets inoculated early; no one develops Alzheimers at all.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, when you look back on more than 60 years in this century,
what accounts for the remarkable prosperity enjoyed by the world?
[ RICK ]: Well, that’s a good question. It’s a big question.
We haven’t got time to go into all the details. But I would probably say that
the single biggest development was the emergence of controlled fusion energy.
That happened, you remember, in 2017. Wow!
That’s a half century ago now, but it seems just like yesterday.
Fusion energy, controlled fusion energy, it made a huge impact.
Powerful magnetic fields maintain a controlled thermo-nuclear reaction.
No waste products. Sea water, the ultimate cheap fuel.
Now, of course, with that, the need for energy went down because of nano-technology.
Everything today is so small compared to what it was when I was a child.
Now, take a look at my computer right here. See that?
[ JOYCE ]: Yeah, yeah.
[ RICK ]: A thousand mega-bytes, gigabytes, a thousand gigabytes
right here on my wrist. And this model right here, it’s already out of date.
Bill Gates IV is trying to sell me an even faster wrist computer.
But hey, look. I want to show you something else. See this?
[ JOYCE ]: Oh, yeah.
[ RICK ]: Yeah, yeah.
[ JOYCE ]: What is that you’re holding in your hand there?
[ RICK ]: Well, can’t you see my hearing aid?
I know it’s microscopic, but you better get your eyes checked.
Somebody your age ought to be able to see a micro-hearing aid. You know,
you can get an implant like this for your eyeballs, ears, everything else, no problems.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, what about global warming?
Wasn’t there a lot of concern about that at one time?
[ RICK ]: Global warming. Global warming.
Boy, there’s a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time.
You may not be old enough to remember.
People actually used to worry about global warming. It’s amazing, you know.
After fusion power came in, that made possible the planetary cooling system.
It completely ended the threat of global warming. But some of us old-timers
do remember the phrase global warming, the environmental problems of the old days.
Well, that’s a phrase for the history books.
Global warming [ chuckling. ] It gives me a laugh.
[ JOYCE ]: Can I ask you a personal question?
[ RICK ]: Sure.
[ JOYCE ]: Are you married?
[ RICK ]: Well, I’m not married now, but recently I went into a retirement community and
I was walking across the dining room when a woman ran up to me and said,
“Stop!” She says, “Stop!” She says, “You look just like my third husband.”
So I asked her, “How many did you have?”
And she said, “Two!”
[ Laughter ]
Well, what I’m trying to say…
what I’m trying to say is the women are always after me, you know?
I could get married pretty easily if I wanted to, but I’d rather play the field,
you know what it’s like.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, did you ever have a mid-life crisis or anything like that?
[ RICK ]: Well, actually, I had my mid-life crisis at the age of 65,
which is around mid-life for somebody of my age. So I asked myself,
“what are you going to do for the rest of your life?”
You know, in the 20th century, retirement used to be a third of people’s lives.
But for me, it could have been half of my life. But it turned out very differently.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, tell us about your career. When did you actually retire?
[ RICK ]: Well, retirement today, as you well know,
isn’t what it used to be back in the 20th century. We don’t retire just once.
We retire over and over again, many times. Because each time you start a new career.
So I’m on my third career now. I’m working as a labor mediator, actually.
After I left academia, I then had a long career as a radio interviewer.
At my age, it might be a little too late to start another career,
but I’ve had a pretty good run, don’t you think?
[ JOYCE ]: I think so.
So, in order to enter a new career, did you continue your education after age 65?
[ RICK ]: Of course! Doesn’t everybody? I mean, you know, back in the 20th century,
I used to be on the board of the original group called Elder Hostel.
And that was a program that was located on college campuses. And after I left,
they started mergers and acquisitions and telecommunications, retirement housing,
all kinds of things. It was a simple idea, you know, housing exchange, foreign countries.
It was great. So, I got retrained to become a radio broadcaster, then a labor mediator.
Today, people look upon retirement as really just the beginning of a new phase of life.
It’s called the third age.
[ JOYCE ]: So how has the educational system changed for younger people?
[ RICK ]: Well, yes, it’s changed a lot.
Because kids today actually have more appreciation than ever for liberal education.
The reason is that they know that they’re going to have to spend so many
different careers in their lives.
So instead of specializing early, what they do is to explore.
And that’s what makes the liberal arts so popular today.
You know, I used to be a philosophy professor once.
And in those days, philosophy was not a hot subject like it is today.
It’s a really hot subject with young people as well as older people.
So, I guess I got out of the field too early.
[ JOYCE ]: So what about your health? You seem pretty vigorous.
[ RICK ]: Well, I’m feeling great! I’m feeling great.
You know, there aren’t those terrible diseases anymore.
Heart disease was declining in the late 20th century.
Then came the totally implantable artificial heart. That took over the rest.
Cancer was completely eliminated by 2040 with gene therapy.
And when other things go wrong, people just get an organ replacement.
Or they get things fixed by genetic engineering.
It’s a very simple process, you know, a pill.
So regenerative and regenerative medicine has really made a big difference.
But I can still remember what old age was like back in the early years of this century.
[ JOYCE ]: Are you saying that people today can live forever?
[ RICK ]: No, no. We don’t live forever.
It’s true that I’m one of the oldest people living in America.
But there are others who have made it to 130. I don’t think much beyond that, though.
Parts do wear out that can’t be replaced, in the brain, for instance. So, no,
we don’t have immortality. But we do have what you might call the longevity society.
And that’s made a huge difference.
[ JOYCE ]: Well, I want to thank you so much for speaking with us this afternoon.
This has been so interesting. Do you think we can do this again next year?
[ RICK ]: I don’t see why not. You look like a perfectly healthy young woman.
[ JOYCE ]: Thank you, Mr. Moody!
[ RICK ]: That’s great!
[ Applause. ]
Hey, babe, let’s get together.

[ JOYCE ]: So, that was Rick’s speech. No, I’m just kidding.
He’ll be back and give us some more insights into the 21st century, aging, philosophy,
and anything else that happens to pop into his mind.
So, get ready for an enjoyable conversation.
[ Applause. ]
[ RICK ]: It was the great physicist, Neils Bohr, who once said,
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
So, I don’t have any predictions to offer. Instead, what I’ve tried to offer here is
two very different conjectures or scenarios or images of the shape of things to come.
There are lots of folks today who subscribe to one or the other of these images.
Alot of hope, a lot of fear.
What I’d like to do in a few minutes here is to go back over some of the issues
raised in these two different scenarios, including things like fusion energy,
nano technology, the future of Social Security, Alzheimers disease, on and on.
And try to settle on some facts. Senator Daniel Moynihan once said
everybody’s entitled, people are entitled to their own opinions.
They’re not entitled to their own facts. So I’d like to focus on what the facts are.
What the future will be is anybody’s guess. I haven’t got a prediction about that.
But let’s begin at the beginning. Is it possible for someone to live to be 122 years old?
The answer is yes. Can everybody hear me, by the way?
[ RICK ]: I was in a restaurant recently.
My wife said, “Excuse me, Rick. Would you speak up;
“there’s still a few people in this restaurant who can’t hear you.”
[ Laughter. ]
So, I have a loud voice. True story, by the way.
That’s why I’ve been married 41 years, a record in my generation. The…
I had occasion, when I was working for Robert Butler some years ago,
to meet Jean-Marie Robine, who was the biographer of this lady,
Madame Jeanne Calment, who actually did live to be 122 years old.
We can’t prove that anybody has lived beyond that. There are claims about that
of people who live, usually, in out of the way places without birth records.
But this one is for real. And he did her biography. When she was 120
or something like that, the reporters would ask her, “how did you make it this long?”
and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “God must have forgotten me.”
You know, she didn’t know.
This is what it would be like. She was 14 when the Eiffel Tower was built.
She knew Van Gogh. So I got to thinking. What would it be like if I,
born the last year of World War II in 1945, if I lived to be 122 years old.
It’s a thought experiment, an exercise. It would change our attitudes, I suspect,
towards the future, towards things like global warming.
And I’m going to come back to that. Also, I’m going to come back
to the question of what kind of education is a preparation for a world of longevity.
And it’s not entirely a joke to say that it might be to study philosophy.
Truth in advertising, I really did get a degree in philosophy in 1973 and
thought about driving a taxicab. I didn’t, but as I said, the other day,
I went to work for City Corp and they were hiring medieval philosophers in those days,
which might explain why City Corp got into trouble.
Okay. This is more about Jeanne Calment and what it would be like to
live a life as long as she did. And this is me, of course. So what I want us to really do
this morning, and then I’m going to go into the future of gerontology in terms of theory
and research and practice and all the rest of that.
But we can’t do that until we get a sense of what the world in the future would be like.
And I want to give you one brief concept of what that world will be like,
that was given to me by Bill Clinton who was the speaker at my son’s graduation
two months ago. This was at Yale. And he stood up there, brilliant speaker that he is,
and he said to the graduating students, he said,
“The world that you’re entering is a world that is unequaled, unstable,
“and unsustainable.” Unequaled, unstable, and unsustainable.
And if anybody doubted that,
take a look at your stocks over the last few years in terms of volatility.
And think about, it’s a hot day today and what it might be like in 10 or 20 or 30 years.
So, I take what Clinton said very seriously.
I said we can’t predict much about the future, but guess what?
There are a lot of people … I’m 65 years old, as you do the arithmetic.
There are a lot of us folks around today. Some will die, like my good friend Patrick
who died at 66 last year. If there’s 77 million of those baby boomers, a lot of them
are going to live, and they’ve already been born.
So, some predictions are relatively easy.
And one prediction is that most of those people, barring bubonic plague,
or hemmorhagic plague, or nuclear disaster, or something else like that.
I’m going to exclude that for the moment.
Those people are going to continue to be alive and as you see, what’s going to happen,
big growth.
So, anybody here studying gerontology? Raise your hand.
Here, I’m going give you some good news. And I’m going to come back to this.
The good news is that you’re in the right field. Right?
The bad news is you probably have the wrong product.
Not that gerontology is the wrong product. But the product probably doesn’t exist yet.
Because we have to re-imagine what the product will be like for me 10 years from now
when I’m 75. Or 20 years when I’m 85.
And that requires an active imagination. You can’t predict that.
But some things we can predict. We can.
And one of them is that most of those people are going to be around in 10 or 20 years.
And therefore, they are your customers. That’s good news.
But the bad news is that you’re going to have to re-imagine who you are
and what you do. It’s called re-inventing yourself. Which is what I had to do in 1973
when I got my PhD from Columbia in medieval philosophy and discovered
there were no jobs for medieval philosophers! So, early on, I had to learn that.
And you have to learn that, not once, but over and over in our lives.
Over and over in our lives we have to constantly be re-inventing ourselves.
So that’s the first prediction, population aging. Very easy to make.
I only make predictions that are easy. The second prediction is volatility.
And that’s what we’ve already seen in the stock market in the last two years.
Up, down, up, down, etc., etc.
If you watch Fox news or TV, the business, you’re going to see that they’re running
all over, you know, bl,bl,bl,bl,bl,bl,bl,bl,…
And you don’t know what to think.
But the thing that you can be confident of is that China and India were going to be here
with billions of people 10 or 20 years from now and those folks want oil.
There’s a limited supply of oil. We know that. We know about BP and the oil spill.
So, as we look to the future, we’re looking to a future with lots of global competition
for finite resources. You’ll see where I’m going with this. This is very important.
Because some of us at my age remember very well the oil shock of 1973 and 1979.
And many people in this room remember that, too.
It may not come as a shock next time, but when the price of gas goes
from $4 a gallon to 6 to 10 to 15, that has lots of implications for where people live,
for Meals on Wheels, for example. For what shopping centers of the future will look like.
For what livable communities will look like. So, it’s easy to make the prediction that
with population trends globally and China and India and all those people want cars…
That has implications for an older population.
Remember, that’s already my first prediction, here in the U.S.
So we need to be thinking about that, anticipating it. That’s my second prediction,
that we are going to have a world of economic demand, volatility, etc..
The third prediction relates to this environmental issue.
And I’m going to come back to that at the very end, that we’re living on a finite planet.
The good news is that populations are growing older and in some cases shrinking,
like in Italy and Japan. So, the best possible news for the global environment is
population aging, the shrinking of the human footprint. I’m going to come back to that,
because people are very pessimistic about aging, very gloomy.
Aging’s terrible, blah, blah, blah.
I’m not, probably because I spent many years, I really was chairman of the board of
Elder Hostel. I really did teach in Elder Hostel. And that’s one of the reasons why
I’m very optimistic. Not only about my own aging, but about other people, too.
So, I want you to keep those three mega-trends in mind: Population aging,
economic volatility on a global scale, and environmental threats of one kind or another.
This is what you know already. You’re in the right business.
You’re absolutely in the right business. Couldn’t be better.
The increase in longevity has very little to do with medical breakthroughs.
It just has to do with education and living right, etc. It may not happen
if boomers end up being obese and depressed and other kinds of things,
which is a trend that’s happened. We can’t predict how that’s going to turn out,
but it may not be that those longevity trends will increase.
We don’t really know what’s going to happen to those boomers,
because almost anything you can say about boomers is wrong. Why is that?
Because there’s so many of them. And that means there’s so many subgroups.
So the idea that the boomers were all at Woodstock or something like …
My brother happened to be at Woodstock. But that was 200,000 people, all right?
That’s not a lot of folks.
And a lot of people, many more than 200,000 at Woodstock time in 1969,
they were in Vietnam. There were more than 200,000 boomers in Vietnam in 1969.
So, we don’t think of that, you know, boomers in Vietnam, but they were.
So, that’s my real point.
They’re larger in numbers, and almost any generalization you can make about them
is wrong, partly because of the age period cohort conundrum, a technical matter.
We can come back to that later. But there are many faces of boomers.
The thing that is true about boomers is that there’s lots of them.
And they’re that pig in the python that’s moving through.
And they’re going to be there, and that’s good business for people in gerontology.
And here we are, states with the highest proportion of 65 plus.
And what about the boomers? Boomers are all in the same state: the state of denial!
[ Laughter. ] And that means that if you’re in gerontology and you say,
“hi, I’m here from Aging Services to help you…”
Oh, no! I don’t want you! I’m not aging. Right?
And Gloria Steinem will come and say, “this is what 70 looks like.”
But most people, they ain’t going to do that, you know?
I was brought up as a protestant.
My sister, my sister who’s 6 years younger than me, tell the story, Jerry.
Okay? I told you last night about the rabbi. She’s 6 years younger than me.
So after 25 years of being married to a Jewish guy, she converted to Judaism.
She’s Jewish. She and her husband just spent the weekend with us last week.
So, our whole family went down for the wedding in Orlando.
And we go to the ceremony. The rabbi stands up there and he says to the couple,
you know, they’ve been married 25 years, he says, “well, usually at this point in the
ceremony I ask the couple, ‘do you really know what you’re getting into,’
okay? And I’m going to ask you that question.”
And after the ceremony, remember, she’s 6 years younger than me,
we’re on the receiving line and the rabbi shakes my hand.
He says, “Are you the bride’s father?”
[ Audience groans. ]
So I said, “No, I’m the older brother.” The poor man was mortified.
Because, you know, to hide or go through the floor.
I said, “no! Rabbi, don’t worry. I’m from AARP. I’m in the aging business.
I’ll use this as a story.” I just did! [ Laughter. ] I just did.
And I’ll tell him the next time because I’m friendly with him.
I’ll tell him that in fact, I used it with a group here in Portland.
People don’t like it, okay, when I say, “you don’t look 65.” “Oh, you’re so energetic.”
Right? Just remember Gloria Steinem. This is what 65 looks like.
This is what 70 looks like. It’s tremendously heterogeneous, to use the technical term.
And the story of the two year old, the terrible twos, right?
Remember those, any parents in the room? You can predict terrible twos.
You can predict … When you’ve seen a two year old, you’ve seen a lot.
When you’ve seen one 80 year old, you’ve seen one 80 year old, that’s all.
No predictions there. All right?
So, you’ve got to remember heterogeneity, but you also got to remember denial,
because denial is not just the name of a river in Egypt.
Denial is true; it is powerful; it is tremendous force in people’s lives.
And when we look at the global trends, we can see that this is a global phenomenon,
global aging. That’s good news.
It’s happening mainly because there are fewer and fewer younger people being born.
Declines in fertility, not that people are living to 122. Declines in fertility. Why is that?
They sent the women to school. And so as a result, women’s education …
This is not a joke.
Women’s education is the most powerful predictor to changes in fertility.
And that in turn is the most powerful trend toward population aging.
Which is actually the salvation of the planet, in my opinion.
Now, not everybody agrees with me.
This is Pete Peterson who I had occasion to meet a few years ago. Nice chat with him.
Pete Peterson is a man, he’s a billionaire. He established a foundation and
his job in life, he could do anything with his life, right?
He could live on the Riviera or something. But he doesn’t choose to do that.
He chooses to spend all his money, and I give him credit for this, by the way,
because he’s a sincere man. And he’s sincere in his pessimism. He believes that
an aging population is terrible! On a global basis, and bad for the United States.
Bad for everybody. He said to me, he said …
He wrote this book called Grey Dawn, which is, again, early for Halloween right now,
I admit, but he wants to scare you! He wants to scare the living daylights out of you.
Because we’ve got all these old people.
10,000 turning 60 every day in the United States.
And he said to me, he said, he said, “Yeah. I wrote the book.”
He said, “When Ted Sorenson introduced me at a meeting recently, he held up my book
and he said, ‘This is the kind of book that once you set it down,
you won’t be able to pick it up’. Okay?”
[ Laughter. ]
He was right! He was right!
Didn’t we learn from Ronald Reagan, it’s morning in America?
Didn’t we learn from Barack Obama the audacity of hope?
What sells in America is a positive vision of the future. This is America!
This is the west coast. We got here by, you know, risking everything to
come to the east coast and migrating. We believe in the future. If you’re trying to
sell people an image of the future which is gloom and doom, you’re not going
to succeed. And you shouldn’t succeed. So, we have to find a basis for hope.
And that’s what we’re trying to do.
Now, there is a problem that Peterson’s pointing to.
And that is that because we got all those boomers,
we have fewer workers of working age to support them, all right?
Not just in the United States. This is true all over.
This is part of what’s meant by population aging.
And so when we look at Social Security, we do see an issue.
And we had a whole session yesterday on this, two hours I think it was,
on the future of Social Security. In fact, it was kind of a town meeting.
I hesitate to use that metaphor; it’s misused these days.
But, it was great, because we had a lot of people on Social Security.
We had people who were unemployed. We had people for whom
Social Security is their vital lifeline. And if those folks and younger people …
Anybody here under the age of 30? Raise your hand if you’re under the age of 30.
Come on. Somebody’s under the age of 30. I don’t believe it. Okay.
Now, I am concerned about you, like my two kids, 22 and 25, because we,
and I’m not going to give a speech about Social Security and AARP.
Jerry Cone is standing back there. Raise your hand, Jerry.
Okay. He can tell you all you need to know about this. But we at AARP believe that,
yes, there is an issue with Social Security. There are some things that can be done
to strengthen it to make sure it’s there for my kids. And we should do those things.
It won’t solve the federal deficit problem, but it’s something we should do.
And there’s lots of ways to do that. We’ll have a question and answer
later on this morning. I’d be glad to go into it. We went into it in lots of detail yesterday.
But, remember, we don’t know what the future will be like.
These are alternative scenarios, depending upon economic growth rates.
If we really had serious economic growth, we’ve got anemic growth right now,
we would solve any of these problems. But we don’t know what the future will be.
All right? This is not the future that we wanted to create.
And therefore, we stopped that, successfully.
But having stopped it, that doesn’t solve the problem, because the people
who raised their hand and said they’re under the age of 30, I’m not going to take a poll,
but most of you don’t think you’re going to collect Social Security.
That’s what all our public opinion surveys show, okay?
That means we have to …
[ Laughter. ]
You didn’t know what happened. Okay, look. Look, I give Bush credit.
He was not running for reelection. He’s a sincere man.
He really believed that privatization was the way to go.
And we need to have debates about this. I don’t think it’s the way to go, but
I can respect people who have that view. And let’s hear from them and
let’s have a debate and find out how we secure Social Security.
Winning is crucial to my retirement. This is not going to work.
A lot of people, this is why a lot of people have turned off the stock market these days,
because they think of it as a giant lottery. It doesn’t have to be that way,
but you have to be there for the long term.
“If we take a late retirement and an early death, we’ll just squeak by.”
[ Laughter. ]
Well, we are increasing the age, people are staying in the work force longer.
They plan to. We know this from their behavior over the last 10 or 15 years.
The age of early retirement is probably over.
But while we’re doing this, let’s remember Social Security has been a huge, huge,
it’s by far the most successful anti-poverty program that was ever launched.
By far. By far.
So, we’re not interested in promoting any kind of war between generations, because,
hey! They’re my kids. That’s why I want to make sure Social Security
is secure for them, so someday they’re going to collect it.
And we need to be paying attention to how we create solidarity.
And this is where I’m going to come back to the environmental issues, because
those of us who are old like me, now I’ve joined the medicare folks,
we have to be concerned about, hey we had a pretty good ride on this planet.
Are we going to leave a good planet for our kids? Well, I was a Boy Scout, by the way.
I was an Eagle Scout, actually. And one of the things that they taught us was
when we go to a campsite in the wilderness, we clean it up. We take all our stuff
out with us. We don’t leave garbage behind. You go into the Pacific ocean today,
way out there, you’ll find that there’s a whole island of garbage right out
in the middle of the Pacific.
What’s wrong with this picture? Obligations to future generations.
And I mentioned something about Alzheimers disease
in the negative scenario of the future. Alzheimers disease is a problem.
And anybody here, I won’t take a poll, who’s had experience of it as a caregiver
in your own family, you know it’s real. You raised your hand. Thank you.
You know it’s real. And it can be a terrible burden. A terrible burden in people’s lives.
I wish I could tell you that a cure for this is right around the corner, that Dr. Banfield,
as in the scenario, Dr. Banfield will invent the cure for Alzheimers in 2015.
I will tell you, Robert Butler was my mentor and my boss and I had dinner with him
a few months ago. He just died this last month, as you may know.
And I asked him about the future, because he’s the founder of
the National Institute on Aging. And he shook his head and said,
“I’m not sure that we’ll find a cure for decades.” And that view was corroborated
by other neurologist friends of mine, Peter Whitehouse, others who I know.
Now, I hope I’m wrong. I hope they’re wrong.
I hope the amyloid hypothesis turns out to be correct, or something turns.
I hope all these things happen. But, we have to deal with the possibility that we really
could have 10 or 12 or 14 million cases of Alzheimers by 2030 with those boomers.
We also have to avoid panicking. And people of my age or older frequently panic.
I’ll tell you a story about that. Elizabeth and I, this is a couple of weeks ago,
we were sitting around having our dinner. And I said to her, my wife, I said, “Would you
pass that green stuff to me? For the salad.” And she said, “Yeah. What’s it called?”
And I said, “You know what it’s called.” Okay.
We call it, now I call it the guacamole problem, okay? Because usually,
over the course of the evening, you know, 5 minutes later, an hour later,
“oh yeah! That’s guacamole.” Okay.
That evening, neither of us could remember the word for guacamole.
[ Laughter. ]
Has anything like that happened to you? All right. All right. Anybody here who
has not had a sort of a memory issue in the last day or so? Okay. No hands are up.
If your hands had gone up, I would say to you,
“I’m a bio-ethicist and we need to talk about truth telling.” Because we all
have this vulnerability. We’re over-exposed to the Internet and the news. We’ve got
too much coming in. So, of course I’m going to forget what guacamole is called.
I gave a speech, actually, after that. And I forgot even then.
And some lady in the audience said, “Oh, you mean guacamole.”
True story. True story. It doesn’t mean I’m losing it. But I could. It could be.
And we at Hunter College at the Brookdale Center on Aging were the founders of
the National Brookdale Respite Program. Anybody heard of that program? Okay.
Alzheimers disease, respite for caregivers. We started this 15 years ago.
And I had a kind of a come-to-Jesus moment when that program started because
I had discovered that there were retired judges and surgeons who had dementia.
And I realized this could be me.
And, yeah, I do exercise. This is my digi-walker that Bob Butler gave me.
I got 3200 steps. You may wonder why I’m always walking back and forth here.
That’s the reason. I’m trying to get some steps on, okay?
[ Laughter. ]
It’s guilt. It’s guilt, right? You know guilt, don’t you?
Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving, as Erma Bombeck calls it. Right?
Oy! Jewish guilt, the guilt the Jews invented it.
The Catholics perfected it, and the protestants turned it into the work ethic.
That’s it. So, everybody’s got guilt.
[ Laughter and scattered applause. ]
Everybody’s got it. Everybody’s got guilt. Everybody’s got it. And the thing about it is
we want to believe that if only we do some good things, if we walk more,
we eat anti-oxidants, then we’re going to be protected from Alzheimers disease.
This is called magical thinking. Magical thinking. You’re magical thinking.
And it’s not true. This is a spectre and we need to think about how we care for people
and why we valorize and celebrate cognition and memory and intellect.
This is true for folks like me, people who are PhDs. “Oh, I have a PhD! Oh!”
And I can’t remember the word for guacamole, right? Who the hell are you, anyway?
This is an issue.
We’ve forgotten about the great influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919 when
for the first time, longevity went down. It’s going down in Russia, too, by the way.
But, this was the big event.
And could we have an Alzheimers epidemic in 2019 onto 2030? Yes, we could.
The point about antibiotics and farm animals is absolutely valid. It’s something
we need to be worrying about. Anybody who’s in the medical field here knows about
resistance to antibiotics. MERSA, if you don’t know that word, get to know it.
It’s a very important word. Next time you check into the hospital, be very, very worried.
Now, this is something that we have to pay attention to. I am not in favor of
death panels. I am not in favor of suicide as a way of cutting down on costs.
I have to acknowledge the reality because I was there on September 11th
in New York City. I was at La Guardia airport, getting ready to take off on a plane
at 9 o’clock in the morning. We turned back at the gate.
I came out as thousands of people looked up and saw the World Trade Center burning.
So, this is real. But how we deal with it should not be a matter of fear and panic.
We need to be paying attention to this issue.
And I had part of that as my negative scenario.
This is already happening, despite what the deniers say. This is happening.
And environment is an aging issue for all the reasons that I sketched out so far.
We are going to have to learn to live in a world of higher carbon dioxide.
And we’re going to have to live in a world in which India and China, now
very small consumers of fossil fuels, become much bigger consumers of fossil fuels.
We’re living on a finite planet. We face many … I’m not a gloomy person.
You know that from seeing me here already. I’m quite the contrary.
But, I believe in realistic hope, realistic hope.
And therefore, we need to pay attention to how we develop economic growth in ways
that are consistent with our environment.
This doesn’t really pan out so far, but who knows? It may in the future.
Fusion power.
For the last half century, fusion power has always been 20 years in the future.
And it still is, okay? They haven’t figured out how to contain the energy
in magnetic fields. If it ever happened, it would be one of the greatest breakthroughs
in the history of civilization. Because it would yield us this kind of limitless power,
the power that moves the sun and the other stars, as Dante said in The Divine Comedy.
The new longevity. I want to say a word about people living very, very long.
Age denial is a great business. It’s a great business.
It’s sometimes based on falsehood. It is deeply rooted in our entire civilization.
It’s not new. But the problem with anti-aging medicine is that it doesn’t work.
There are no interventions, except for caloric restriction. Remember that joke?
The low calorie diet. Will I live longer or will it just seem longer?
Yes. That’s the only thing that will really work.
I’m sorry to have to give you that bad news before lunch, but that is the bad news.
It’s long been our hope, our dream, our aspiration to solve aging as a disease.
And Aubrey DeGrey who’s a colleague I’ve gotten to know,
really thinks that you can do it. I can’t prove him wrong.
After all, the scientists claim that heavier than air flight was impossible.
And then in 1903, the Wright brothers went into the air and proved everybody wrong.
They’re still not quite sure how that airplane worked, by the way, the Wright brother’s
I’m not joking about this. It’s a very complicated process. But Aubrey’s theory is that
for us to live 500 years old or 1000 years old, which is possible, there’s nothing
in principle that prevents that. It’s not like there’s a speed of light kind of concept
that limits our longevity.
I’ve written about this. Leonard Hayflick and I have written an article together called
“Has Anybody Ever Died of Old Age?” And the answer is no. Nobody dies of old age.
Old age is in some ways an artifact. And it could become very different from everything
you’ve thought in the future. I’m not terrified by that, Leon Kass is,
I’m not worried about it. I’m not expecting it, because I think that if we really did
live to be 500 years old, it would take, it would make us have a very different attitude
towards the environment, towards nuclear fuel storage, climate, etc., etc.
What I do think is that for people like us in this room who are in the aging business,
the population aging is the best possible news.
If only we can figure out how to appeal to people in terms of their best hopes.
And that means moving up Maslow’s ladder. And don’t forget this.
Folks down here who are worried about falling, who are worried about crime,
who don’t have enough to eat.
So, when I talk about positive aging, as I like to do, by the way, I think about this,
but I also think about that.
And Bill Thomas, my dear friend and colleague, he has a version of positive aging that
applies to nursing homes. So, even in nursing homes, people have deficits,
we can find ways to enhance their lives.
This has got to happen. Because we cannot ignore this tremendous population change,
not only in the U.S., but on a global basis, and the way it’s going to happen is
by re-branding aging. And here’s the re-branding that’s going to take place.
We’re going to move, I hope, towards health promotions.
That’s why we have a new health promotion institute at AARP that I’m developing
with the American Federation for Aging Research.
We’ve got to move towards productive aging, which means working longer.
And not just working, volunteerism. I spent a fair amount of my time on volunteer work,
helping small nonprofits with fundraising. I don’t get paid for that.
There’s plenty of other folks out there. I had the great good fortune once to run
a program called Faith in Action for the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.
There’s tremendous good will in America. We can enlist productive aging.
All those older folks are assets, not liabilities. And conscious aging.
That’s what we’re focusing on in the positive aging work.
So, we need all of these things. We need a vision of life which is positive, positive,
not that gloom and doom,
oh my god, how are we going to deal with all these old people.
We need to look upon every person at every age as an asset to society.
And the question is, what can we do.
Somebody in the session yesterday raised the question, well, how are we going to
find enough jobs for all these old people with young people? And I said,
that’s the lump of labor fallacy that there’s only a limited amount of work to be done.
I don’t believe it. Economists don’t believe it.
We just haven’t organized to tap the talents of people to enable them to do the work.
Now, this is changing. Some people, the graying of the work force is better,
better news than you think. That’s going to be big news for people in business.
The big news for us is that early retirement really has started ending. It’s turned around.
And people are going to have to work longer,
because of home equity decline, stock market, etc.
So this historical artifact of the last century, that’s over. That’s the past.
That’s your grandfather’s Oldsmobile in retirement. That’s not going to be true.
Have you given much thought to what kind of job you want after you retire?
It wasn’t just a joke that you retire not once but multiple times.
Now, my whole focus, as I’ve told you, is on, and these two gentlemen were
great inspirations to me, Ram Dass, who said to us at the conscious aging,
“Aging is learning to become a nobody.” So I appreciated your introduction.
You know, I’m a somebody; I’m a blah, blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you something.
When I stopped working for the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, I expected my phone
to ring. Nobody called me.
[ Laughter. ]
I was all of a sudden a nobody. Because I didn’t have any money to give out.
And when I leave AARP, I’m going to be a nobody again.
So I need to go to school in the school of nobody-ness.
Like Emily Dickinson said, “I’m nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody, too?”
That’s called, by the way, there’s a name for that. That’s called spiritual growth.
That’s called detaching yourself from what other people think you are.
And there’s another dimension to this. Zalmon Schacter, Rabbi Zalmon.
Read his book. Wonderful book from Aging to Sageing, we talked about.
We were in a restaurant once, Rabbi Zalmon and me, and he said,
“You know, Rick, this aging business is really very simple,” he said.
“The real question is are you saved.” And I thought, well, he’s a clergyman.
What does he mean by that. And “no, no,” he said.
“I don’t mean it in a theological sense. I mean it in a computer sense,” he said.
“Are you saved. Have you downloaded your life experience for the next generation?
Have you started doing your legacy work? “
Have you started doing your legacy work? By the way,
there’s a Reb Zalmon legacy project. Reb Zalmon lives in Boulder, or I do now.
I’m going to see him, actually, in a week or two.
So, Reb Zalmon, although he can’t travel much, and Ram Dass can’t travel much,
because he had a terrible stroke. And read his book, Still Here, in which he talks about
what it means to recover from stroke. Don’t set up dualistic thinking that says,
oh, here we’ve got the positive aging. We’ve got the, you know, the happy good elders.
I’m going to go to … Once when I was chairman of the board of Elder Hostel,
a woman wrote me a letter saying, complaining that our insurance policy didn’t cover
bungee jumping, okay? [ Laughter. ] We want to be the bungee jumper, okay?
We don’t want to be the … We want to be the well-derly and not the ill-derly.
But that’s a mistake. That’s a mistake. I learned it when I cared for my dear friend,
Larry Morris who lived in our house until he died at the age of 97. And I cared for him.
He was a Yale graduate, too, 50 years older than me. And he got to the point where
I had to … diapers, transfer board, wheelchair. He did everything right.
You can do everything right. It doesn’t matter. You don’t control your fate.
What matters is, who am I when I lose all the other things. What matters is
what do I do for the people that come after me. That’s what matters.
And we can learn lessons from the great artists. I have a whole session which I do on
Rembrandt’s self-portraits and Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keefe, others like that.
I’m not going to talk about The Five Stages of the Soul. I wrote a book about it.
But that’s what this is all about.
The Five Stages of the Soul is The Road Less Traveled for aging boomers.
And so, we can talk about living a long time. We can have pro-longevity dreams.
We can hope that we’ll have medical breakthroughs. We need to fix Social Security.
We need to change our vision of retirement. It’s not going to be the same as it was.
We need to promote life-long learning. We need to remember that our brain
has the capacity to grow, even if we can’t remember guacamole.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
We need a vision of positive aging. That’s the only thing that will sell. It’s the only …
especially for people in long-term care or people like Larry Morris who are bed-bound.
And the day he died, he was reading. He was bed-bound, but he was
reading The Life of St. Francis Assisi and Rumi that I would read to him.
You’ve got great prospects in the aging business.
These are the … I want to ask … Here’s a trick question.
How many people here come from financial services, raise your hand? One, two, three.
How about travel and hospitality? Raise your hand. One. Okay.
How about retirement housing? Anybody in that field? Okay.
Guess where all the rest of you are from? What’s wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong with your picture, with this picture, is that you’re missing 3/4 of the growth
of the silver industries that are going to grow over the next 20 years.
You need to get on the train. It’s pulling out of the station.
What we are doing at AARP is trying to re-imagine America in a positive way.
And, you know, [ laughter ] we have a problem, I admit.
I admit that we have a problem, okay?
Jerry, this is the branding problem, right, Jerry?
[ JERRY ]: We’re going to the dogs on this one.
[ RICK ]: We’re going to the dogs! You’ve got a good dog there. Okay? He’s an old dog,
okay? We’ve got a problem here.
“I’m going to need a hug, Maurice. It’s from the AARP.”
There she is, holding her letter, you know? We know where you live.
We’re very good at finding you when you turn age 50. What we’re trying to do is
be more relevant to help you re-invent yourself for the rest of your life.
Because that’s what you not only have to do, but you want to do, people over 50.
And at the same time, Ethel Percy Andrus, who was the founder of AARP,
her motto is “What we do, we do for all.”
That is, we do for younger generations.
How to save Social Security for the next generation. This is a picture of babies, okay?
So, this is where we’re at right now. We’re at a great moment of crisis.
It’s not about materialism. It’s about hope. It’s not about materialism. It’s about hope.
You do not become happier the more stuff you have. We know this empirically.
You become happier when you’re connected as the little one is with the old one.
So, that’s my presentation, reminiscences of the 21st century.
I’m sorry that I took too long, as it looks like by the clock, I only have 5 minutes.
But, raise your hand. Let the rumpus begin.
[ Laughter. ]
[ Woman in audience asks question ]

[ RICK ]: Right. Removing the cap on, $106,000 cap, on income subject to payroll taxes.
It’s one solution. And it could be part of the solution.
The problem is that there’s a name for it. It’s called raising taxes.
And a lot of people don’t like raising taxes.
[ Woman comments ]

[ RICK ]: I’m not giving you my point of view. I’m just saying that at AARP,
we see this as one part. There are many solutions, raising the retirement age,
changing the consumer price index, raising the payroll tax.
To summarize a long discussion yesterday, we’ll probably at the end of the day
split the difference. Democrats, Republicans raise taxes a little, cut benefits a little.
That’s usually how things work. That’s politics. Yeah.
[ Man speaking ]

[ RICK ]: That’s right. Right. There are many. It’s a great debate.
Let’s have it in this country. Let’s not demonize people who disagree with us.
Let’s have honest, open debate. That will be part of the debate.
Comments and questions. Sir.
[ Man in audience asks question ]

[ RICK ]: Two words for you. Fight it. Okay? Just as if we pit law enforcement
against higher education, you can construct a budget. As soon as it
becomes a zero sum game, people will fight. You’re right.
The solution is increase the pie and develop alliances and find constructive ways …
I’ll give you just one example. People think that the new health care law cuts Medicare.
It doesn’t. It extends the life of the Medicare trust fund from 7 years to 19 years.
That story has not gotten out. Okay? No benefits are being cut.
All they’re doing is taking Medicare Advantage and putting it on a level playing field
with the rest of Medicare. Okay? If you want to call that a cut, I’ll accept that.
But we’re not talking about cutting that. We’re talking about reducing growth.
We need to do that to ensure that it becomes sustainable. We need to figure out
ways to help those kids, because they’re going to be the workers who
are going to support me.
So, let’s have the alliances. We can talk later. I’m going to be here through lunch.
We can discuss how we make those alliances.
You deserve to be called on because you’re in the back and you raised your hand,
and I saw you!
[ Woman in audience asks question ]

[ RICK ]: Yes. Thank you. Anne Basting, a wonderful friend and colleague.
Her book, Forget Memory. We so much celebrate memory and cognition in our culture,
that we forget that that’s not really what spiritual, religious, traditional, artistic teachings
are all about. They’re about something else. They’re about the heart.
They’re about the heart.
So, if we have that … If we can shift the focus, as Anne is doing
with her time slips and other programs, then we’ll discover new things about people,
as we have in the MRDD field, and Jerry can point that out, too.
Thank you. That’s a great question. Other comments?
And I don’t want to go on too long, because I know you deserve a break.
Isn’t that a commercial – you deserve a break today? Okay. Yeah.
[ Woman in audience asks question ]

[ RICK ]: They are too big to make generalizations.
A lot of them are out on Tea Party marches. Many others joined Move On.org.
They are too various to be categorized in any one way, but they are
in denial about aging. They do have higher education levels than others.
And there’s lots more of them. What we need to do is to communicate how
their interests actually can align with everyone’s interests.
We need to move from me to we.
We can do that, actually. It’s possible to do that. That’s appealing to America
at it’s best. I’m concerned that our time is over. I want to give you two final thoughts.
One is if you’re interested in continuing this dialogue,
Jerry Cohen and the AARP table over there, I’m sorry, Joyce, my interviewer.
[ JOYCE ]: And driver.
[ RICK ]: And driver. Yes, she is. Anyway, Jerry and Joyce. And I do remember her
name, by the way. It’s not Mary or Sue or… They’re going to be over there.
And they have lots of materials. Either there, or at the table back there,
you can sign up for a newsletter that I do,
an electronic newsletter called Human Values and Aging which is
all about positive aging. And it’s free. I’m not selling anything.
You can become one of my 9,000 closest friends. And just give me your email address.
And second, I am selling books and signing them back there.
Thank you very much. I’ll be here for the duration. Let’s continue.
[ Applause. ]