Baby boomer urges other boomers to give up senior discounts

Sure, we boomers like to think we do not act like senior citizens … not, that is, until we’re offered a discount just for having lived so long! Then, we’re “senior” from our heads to our toes, aren’t we?! Well, boomer writer Lorie Eber has a proposal, and you might not like it: Let’s Give Up Our Senior Discounts.

Reputable economists are predicting that the boomers will bankrupt Social Security and Medicare, leaving our kids and grandkids to fend for themselves. The Millennials are none too pleased by this prospect, and some have even taken to calling us parasites and leeches. At the risk of offending my fellow boomers, and in an effort to foster inter-generational harmony, I propose that we give up our senior discounts. It seems like the least we can do. After all, every time I get 20 percent off the cost of my hotel room, a Gen-Yer is subsidizing me by paying a higher price.

Lorie Eber

Lorie Eber

As a 57-year-old, I qualify to purchase a host of goods and services at prices 10-20 percent lower than my under-50 friends. I’ve racked my lawyer brain, but can’t come up with any firm logic to support this “youngster tax.”

If you wonder why these discounts haven’t been challenged as a form of age discrimination, you’re not alone. While they seem like a form of reverse-age discrimination in that they favor the old over the young, they don’t run afoul of the laws that prohibit age discrimination because those laws only protect older workers in workplace settings. It may not seem fair, but it’s perfectly permissible for Denny’s to discount its prices for anyone over 50 who walks in the door between 4:00 and 10:00 p.m. Though this age-specific pricing may be legal, it amounts to a regressive tax that typically benefits people who don’t need it. Some argue that senior discounts breed loyalty, but today almost all retailers have club programs to reward repeat customers.

Speculation is that these discounts have been around since the 1950s and were instigated by AARP, which currently lures the 50+ crowd with promises of hundreds of special deals. These price breaks pervade almost every industry — from restaurants to hotels to clothing stores to national parks. Did you know that once you reach your 62nd birthday you’re entitled to a lifetime admission pass to all national parks for a mere $10? Meanwhile, the younger generations have to fork over $80 every year to commune with nature.

(Source: CNN/Money)

(Source: CNN/Money)

Perhaps there was some justification for giving oldsters a break 60 years ago, when Social Security benefits were stingy, people retired at 65 and expired soon thereafter. But things have changed. Today people over 65 are not only less likely to live below the poverty line; they enjoy higher net wealth than any other demographic group. The average lifespan in the U.S. has increased by ten years since the 50s and many boomers are delaying retirement.

To illustrate the absurdity of the current situation, I’ll use myself as an example. My dad is currently 94, so I expect to live to 100. At this rate, I’ll be entitled to senior discounts for one-half of my life. I, like a lot of boomers, don’t need the price break. A 20-something, fresh out of college and unable to get a job, is probably more deserving.

So, I’m appealing to my generation — why not be a little magnanimous and give up your senior discount. If nothing else, it might buy you some goodwill with your kids. Think about it.

Follow Lorie Eber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EberLorie.

Used by permission of the author from HuffingtonPost.com.


 

9 Comments

  1. I mostly agree with Lori on this. When the offer to join AARP arrived on my 50th birthday I threw it in the garbage. I honestly would feel guilty getting discounts when I make a very good living with my law practice and writing career. Lori’s correct, it just doesn’t seem fair.

    However, where I differ with her is that it DOES seem fair once a person actually reaches an older age, can no longer earn a good living, and is on a lower fixed income. It does seem fair to help support our elderly folk with senior discounts and the like. But certainly not at age 50, or even 60.

    Of course, for me there’s also the vanity issue. Judging by Lori’s photo, she may identify with this as well. No one has ever asked if I would like a senior discount. Not at the movies, not at a restaurant, nowhere/never. If it’s because I don’t look old enough to qualify, I’m quite happy to keep it that way as long as possible. Eventually, perhaps in the not too distant future, some young store clerk, waitress, or ticket taker is bound to ask, “Sir, would you like a senior discount?” Once I recover from the startling revelation that I’m now, officially, perceived as a senior citizen, I might just take the discount. LOL

    1. Maybe a lawyer or writer is a mere youngster at fifty or sixty but after 30 or 40 years in the occupations of many Americans they are ready for their discounts . Why does the government always warn about social security benefits running out. I never hear about welfare benefits or foreign aid running out

  2. Mike,

    When the AARP stuff started arriving after my 50th birthday, I pitched it in the trash. Then, I talked with Greg Dobbs, and we launched BoomerCafé.com. That was 13 years ago.

    David

  3. I don’t mind giving up my senior discounts. I would mind it a lot less if the companies paying no taxes
    by going offshore would pay their fair share. It’s time to look at the free ride the churches in America have enjoyed by not paying taxes. Of course I’m not complaining about the ones doing good charitable work. I do resent that there are some who will only help members and not the public who foots the bill for all this. There is one denomination that builds its church next to parks and uses the public weal to foot the bill for the church recreation. It’s confusing now. Anyone with a collar and a Bible can ride the backs of those who must support them through honest work. We pay through the nose for politicized congregations who weld huge influence on local and national elections. One political party managed to pack the supreme court so that election funds no longer need be accounted for. Just like the banana republics, elections are now bought and paid for. And who is running the country? Why the corporations, whose pitiful contribution to shareholders, who supposedly “own” the company they buy shares in lose every penny when a computer “decides” it’s time to sell institutional holdings. The banks laugh in our face as we pay them outrageous fees and interest because some Harvard hotshot took a finance class in “B” school, skipped the ethics lecture, and considers only the bottom line. But we seniors, as some call us, can pay the extra buck for the show, the four bucks on the hotel room, or the two bucks at the salvation army, where many of the old shop for their winter coat or a thousand other things that might save a few pennies’ on the meager Social Security check. Many lost their pensions promised by corporations when the hotshot “B” school cat pointed out how the company could go bankrupt, reorganize sans pension fund, and eureka! No more funded liability for a spanking new start. The banks used taxpayer money to get back to the business of taking more and more of it. But they wouldn’t lend the money to Joe and Sally for a new house, or even a car. Now that the speculators(including the lenders) have bought up most of the cheap properties, all the pent up demand is driving prices for homes into a new bubble. Of course the feds have stepped in and loosened the money supply so that rates are low but housing is out of the range for many.
    The next scary scenario of course is every fixed income recipients nightmare. All that printing press money for the war, bailing out everyone who whined or threatened enough, is going to cost those who can no longer work. Those elders lucky enough to be able to get a job will get by. I’m sorry for bringing this to readers attention, Lorie. You seem like a truly caring person. Thank you.

  4. Lorie, your full of crap! While I understand what your saying about the younger generation. But, are you talking about the younger generation of today, that are dis-respectful to everyone?? When I was growing up the old geezers treated us like crap. Most of those died off, thank God. But, now it’s my time in the pickle bucket to get the perks that those old geezers got for us. And, I for one am going to suck it up!!

  5. Regarding senior discounts, as has been pointed out, there are a lot of seniors on fixed incomes. To them, the discounts helps them get by from month-to-month. So doing away with senior discounts would hurt them. Rather than do away with discounts, those of you who can afford it don’t have to take the discounts.

    As far as AARP is concerned, I wouldn’t use their unrelenting marketing offers to even line my bird cage.

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