The presidential election campaign in the USA clearly shows the difference in the status of the elderly in Norway and the USA. Here at home you are too old, in the United States you are the country’s top leader.
Both young and old are losing out on the fact that we are to a far greater extent planning to park everyone who has lived for a while.
In the United States, as is well known the battle over who will hold the country’s highest office between 74-year-old Donald Trump and soon-to-be 78-year-old Joe Biden.
When I (76) meet people in Norway, and the question of elections to the Storting next year comes up, most people say to me: «Næmmen Carl, then. You’re way too old! ” Yes, even in my immediate family I hear it.
The big difference also appears in many other ways in the two societies.
We have been to Norway very concerned that age limits should not only apply to lower limits for when we can vote in elections, drive a car, drink alcohol, become a Supreme Court judge, marry, be imprisoned, etc., but also set upper age limits.
The upper limits apply when you are obliged to quit your job as a judge, professor, bus driver, official, police, officer, etc.
In the Working Environment Act it states that unfair dismissal is illegal, but at the age of 72 one can be dismissed without any other reason than age.
The limit was 70 until my party got through in government to raise the limit to 72.
There are quite a few who are forced to quit their jobs before they even want to.
In the US Congress, there are many who are also over 80 years old, among them the Democrats’ leading elected representative, the speaker in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg turned 87 years old.
In the Storting it is now only the Labor Party’s Martin Kolberg who is over 70 years old. I’m just in as a deputy.
This means that a very large age group is not represented. I will try to do something about that next autumn, if the nomination process gives me the opportunity.
It is difficult to shed light on what the reason for the big difference in the view of the elderly is, but both in the United States and in many African and Asian countries, people with experience and thus wisdom are looked up to.
In Norway there is talk often about work as something heavy, necessary and strenuous, and thus one can look forward to retiring and not having to go to work.
Those over 60 have one extra holiday week, and many talk about going into less stressful part-time work as soon as they turn 50. I hope and believe that this will eventually change.
There are many who miss co-workers and the exciting and pleasant at work after they have left. They miss having something to go to.
It is also important to remember that life expectancy has increased dramatically in my lifetime.
When the National Insurance Scheme was adopted in the late 1960s, an average pensioner would only live three to five years as a pensioner.
Men now live until they are around 83 years old, and get an average of 15-20 years as pensioners. Then it is natural to raise both the retirement age and many so-called upper age limits.
Fortunately, there are many who continue to work according to achieved age limits, and who see the joy of working as an important part of living.
At least that’s how I look at it.
Sitting on a bench in the park or a beach in Spain and waiting to die is not a very quality life.
The best example on an elderly person who goes to work with a packed lunch is probably Olav Thon (97), one of Norway’s richest.
For him, creating a few more jobs and seeing old buildings refurbished and re-established as homes and jobs is a good thing in itself, I should think.
We also see the change in journalists at NRK, who have sued when they are forced out because they have reached a certain age, even though they could very well have continued as debate leader or sports commentator for several years after reaching the age limit. The last to be squeezed out of her favorite life is Karen-Marie Ellefsen, who recently turned 70.
There is hope that the view of us old people changes, and that we respect and help those who want to work longer, so they can contribute to society as long as they are able to.
I also see that some young people are worried about the aging wave. They should, after all, fight against the elderly being pushed out of working life against their own wishes.
By the way, the young people today should be very happy that my generation has accumulated a large savings fund of over 10,000 billion, while my generation only inherited costs with the older ones when we started working life.
We old people are of course also different in nature, disposition, attitudes, desires, interests. Therefore, it is also important to respect the individual, and not look at us as a uniform group.
Those who look forward to reaching retirement age because they want to do something completely different, be it travel more, pursue hobbies, be more with family and friends, read books you have not had time for, or watch TV series on Netflix, must be respected for their choices.
At the same time, we must respect that those with heavier physical work leave working life somewhat earlier.
The Norwegian Pensioners’ Association and its leader Jan Davidsen, are offensive to get a better age composition of the Storting, with an increased proportion of old people.
In a municipal election, they launched the campaign “Throw on an old man!”, As an encouragement to voters to cumulate the oldest, also by listing older candidates from lists other than the one they voted for.
Then we’ll see when the parliamentary lists for next year’s elections are completed, whether there are many candidates who are over the retirement age of 70 years.
If we do not have more elderly people, a large and growing part of the population will not be represented in our democratic bodies. Society misses experience and competence.
Also: Those of us who are lucky and get older are getting a much duller old age.
So look to the USA!