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France’s Retirement Age Just Jumped. Could It Happen Here in America?

Joe Biden

French President Emmanuel Macron raised France’s retirement age from 62 to 64 – without a legislative vote.

“The move sparked widespread outrage in the French Parliament and across the country as protesters took to the streets to push against the new law, which they have been demonstrating against since January” The Hill reported.

The news of Macron’s unilateral decision is being met with indignation across France – while raising concerns of the prospect for a raised retirement age here in America.

What happened?

Macron is arguing that he had to raise the retirement age in order to save France’s pension system, which was at risk of going into deficit as the French population ages and as the French population lives longer. The action Macron took was somewhat unorthodox, but legal.

“Minutes before the National Assembly was scheduled to take a vote on the bill, the Cabinet decided to invoke the special power outlined in Article 49.3 of the French Constitution,” The Hill reported. “The power allows the government to push through a bill without a vote in the National Assembly, which then has 24 hours to decide whether to file a no-confidence motion against the government.”

I feel detached from the news, not being a French citizen and all. I can’t speak in depth about France’s population or their related pension woes – but I am always wary of hearing of a move that skirts around the authorization of elected officials (in this case, France’s legislature), or reduces the quality of life for workers (in this case, raising the retirement age).

Selfishly, my first thought is of what Macron’s decision means for America and whether this might be a harbinger of similar moves at home.

Could it happen in America?

Raising the retirement age is an idea that gets floated every time people start worrying about Social Security and Medicare.

Both entitlement programs are at risk of running dry. So, the options here in America are to either let entitlement programs run dry or don’t let entitlement programs run dry. If the latter option is selected, which I firmly recommend, then a new slew of options becomes available – one of which is raising the retirement age.

I believe raising the retirement age should be a last-ditch option, one to be avoided. Raising the retirement age puts the burden of preserving entitlement programs on the worker (to work longer). Yet, alternative options exist, which shift the burden away from the worker, who, in my opinion, takes enough shit already.

What kind of options? Well, we could tax the rich, for starters. We could shuffle around existing tax revenues, say, away from excessive military spending and toward entitlement preservation. We can raise more money or spend the money we already have differently.

I know I’m speaking in generalities and that entitlement preservation is a deceptively complex problem.

But there are simple principles at play here that I want to promote. Americans work their tail off. Workaholism is the norm. And many people, whether they want to work hard or not, must work hard to survive. Entitlement programs are a light at the end of a four-decade tunnel, which for many people is a grinding slog.

America is the most powerful, affluent country in human history. If we can’t take care of our elderly or find a way to let people not work themselves to death, we’re doing something wrong.    

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.