Five at 8 – 9/3/09: Should you retire?

1) I don’t have anything to do with coming up with each day’s Today’s Question, but if I did, this might be the one I’d use today: Do we have a moral responsibility to retire? It’s my takeaway from an article in the New York Times today — A Reluctance to Retire Means Fewer Openings.

A Pew Research survey scheduled for Thursday release found that nearly four in 10 workers over age 62 say they have delayed their retirement because of the recession. (Though the data omits some people who have retired and includes some who are still working, the Social Security Administration said that about 2.3 million people that age started collecting benefits last year.)

Part of this — a big part of this — is the fact that potential retirees savings have been depleted by the stock market crash. Part is a fear that they will. But the situation is reminiscent of the controversy over the “Age-60 rule,” which required airline pilots to retire. Originally, the rule was imposed for safety reasons, but when it was scrapped a few years ago, the debate wasn’t so much about safety as it was about creating job opportunities for younger people.

Do we have a moral responsibility to retire?(polls)

2) Why yes, actually. One guy can make a difference. A guy bought a bunch of cushions for people who want to sit on the grass in a park in Boston. Nobody has ever stolen one. Not one.

The Other Side of the Coin Department: A woman in Florida stole a case of beer, by hiding it between her legs.

3) A few years ago, a doctor friend of mine revealed everything about how he gets paid by his big HMO. The more tests he orders, the more money he gets paid. Then he sent me down for some tests. Today, NPR is holding Fairview as a national model of health care reform. Fairview has moved from a fee-for-service billing to a system based on fixed payments.

“It’s kind of interesting that Washington is reforming health care, when they’re not the ones in the room with the patient, and that’s really what this project is about: letting the people in the room with the patient reform health care,” says nurse practitioner Val Overton, who helped oversee the redesign of care at the Eagan clinic.

President Obama is going to address a joint session of Congress on the health care issue. Is that such a smart idea? Nate Silver at says “yes,” while suggesting the average non-political person hasn’t been paying attention to what Obama has been saying. Is he right?

It’s a compelling story and — if we didn’t choose political sides, hyperbole and hysteria instead — could be the basis for a productive conversation about improving health care.

Or we can just bite the fingers off of people with whom we disagree.

Marketplace last evening provided four easily-followed ways of improving health care. None takes an act of Congress.

4) On the subject — sort of — we’re celebrating the birthday of the Internet. In the Guardian (UK) Joe Moran argues that while its interactivity is nice, it’s a darned poor substitute for the public sphere:

But part of me also feels that there is something control-freakish about the desire for perfectly reciprocal communication. It takes too little account of human individuality and uniqueness. “Billions of consciousnesses silt history full, and every one of them the centre of the universe,” wrote the late John Updike in his memoirs. “What can we do in the face of this unthinkable truth but scream or take refuge in God?” We could spend our whole lives texting but there will always be part of us that is infinitely remote.

I wonder if one reason that so much discussion on the blogosphere deteriorates into the humourless taking and giving of offence is that people assume the words printed on the screen are aimed at them personally. In a culture which values interactivity, it makes a sort of sense to treat every form of communication like a text message. But not every public statement requires, or merits, a response. All language is a leap into the dark, with no certainty that we will ever be understood or even heard. Books get remaindered, blogs remain unread, and tweets fall on deaf ears. If it were easy to interact with others, no great literature would ever be written. Shakespeare’s sonnets are unsent letters, addressed to unnamed and shadowy people, or simply spoken into the air and to eternity.

5) You are who you eat with. A study finds that how much tweens and teens eat can be influenced by how much their friends weigh.

Bonus: In The Loop’s great idea: Cold calling people to find out what’s up.


A British public-service video offers a graphic depiction of a car accident involving teen-agers who text while driving. The video has spread quickly around the Web, but it’s unclear whether the gruesome images will actually change anyone’s behavior. Could a gory video make you a better driver?


I have another interview this morning for my The Unemployed Series, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post it. I won’t be writing today because I’m volunteering at the MPR booth at the State Fair. I’m a cashier today. I’ll make change. Change you can believe in.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Does high-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Chicago make sense?

Second hour: Reading is losing the competition with other media for our attention says the book editor of the Los Angeles Times. He found it difficult to find space in his mind to allow him to concentrate on books.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: T.R. Reid answers questions about health care systems around the world, which is the subject of his new book, “The Healing of America.”

Second hour: Stephanie Curtis, talks all about the movies, with a nod to the health care debate. She has a top-10 list of best movies featuring doctors and nurses.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Ted Koppel, Richard Haas and Zalmay Khalilzad discuss the future of the war in Afghanistan.

Second hour: Lessons learned from the Jaycee Dugard case.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR revisits a medical clinic where a pediatrician was concerned about the computerization of health care records. Susan Sharon looks at the pending vote in Maine on gay marriage.

  • BJ

    You volunteering any other days at the fair?.

  • Bob Collins

    I’m there tomorrow, which is MPR Day at the Fair. I’ll be in the NewsQ tent.

  • kennedy

    An obligation to retire? That’s wrong on so many levels.

    Quite the opposite, I think we have an obligation to be as productive as we can for as long as we can. If someone else can do a better job, they should get the job.

    Our choice of jobs, howver, may change over time. Do we want to do something fulfilling, maybe even volunteer? A senior with a nest egg may choose fulfillment over a higher salary. That is a personal choice though, not an obligation. It is also a less feasible choice for anyone that has seen their savings shrink significantly.

  • Ben B

    I think you should work as long as you want/willing/or able. And these days you might not have a choice if you have bills to pay. Oh and could we drop the “moral” thing? Why is it that this regularly injected into questions etc. Seriously…think for your self, treat youself and others well and keep on truckin!