What a Drag it is Getting Old -- in Upstate New York

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

I want to join my voice with the growing chorus of those who survived God and Darwin’s best efforts to enjoy life after 40. Despite the fact that most of my 40’s sucked, those of us who made it through the chaos our 30’s and resultant midlife crises have within us a wealth of experience, expertise, and knowledge that cannot be gleaned from a textbook or laboratory.

But in Upstate New York, they don’t want me anymore. Like some pathetic 70’s science fiction movie, persons over 40 are no longer welcome here. We are thrown from jobs in favor of lower cost younger employees, our government and civic organizations pour barrels of beer down the throats of the young to hold them here. Career fairs, job fests, networking events, and parties galore are extended to the babies. Meanwhile, the BabyBoomers are tossed to the curb for some Community Court slave to sweep up.

Seriously, where are the geriatric job summits for the aging? Many of us still have quite a bit of kick in our pants. You would think that with all the Age Protective Legislation on the books, people would be offended that the City of Syracuse would work so hard for only one class of people. Approaching 50, I am among the ignored.

The irony is that I did exactly what Syracuse and Jeff Brown have always encouraged. When I came to Syracuse from California back in 1988, I stayed in the market, built a business, and raised a family. Back in 2001, I left for what I believed were greener pastures. Instead, by mid-2002, my family chose to come back to rebuild a business, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately I was then unaware that being over 40 in Syracuse was to be a curse.

Like it or not Syracuse, we are here. Pray that one day you join us (as the alternative is not so pleasant). Presumably, a community starved for talent, fresh ideas and people with the expertise to implement those ideas, would throw open its doors for the likes of me. When do government and civic organizations step up and help me network and build my business such that I could take people off the unemployment roles? When does someone hold open a door on the Board of Directors at a Non Profit for me to lend my aging wisdom for the public good?

I truly wish the yung’uns well. But, to summarily dismiss and ‘dis’ entire generations of skilled and qualified people, is a major slap in the face. The older the population gets, the more wealth becomes concentrated in their hands. How many of these kids that you are financing and funding will keep their experience and income here in Central New York? From everything I have experienced, Syracuse is used by many as a stepping stone to higher paying and more urban markets. During my travels across the country, there were so many faces on local news channels that were once regulars in Syracuse … from Kansas to California. Investing in future generations is a good thing. What insurance is there that the training and money that you are giving them is ultimately going to end up here?

It seems that slamming the door at age 40, besides offending the Age Discrimination laws in this Country, sends a very ugly message. Building a better community requires reaching out to every resource, not just the pretty ones.

How about instead of focusing on a particular age group, you refocus your energies on helping people settle in. Help people of any age who are risking it all and starting up businesses to get saved seats of charitable boards of directors. It seems to me that it is a disservice to deny access to people because of their Age; especially in the area of employment. I assure you that as you age, your financial stresses are greater than they are when you are young. Ignoring us and sweeping us under the carpet is not the solution.

It hardly seems fair.

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