Last Gasp of White House Conf. on Aging

WHCOAA Sad Reflection on the State of Aging in the U.S.

“One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens.”

“We have to work to do more to ensure that every older American has the resources and support they need to thrive.”

There were a lot of hackneyed slogans at the seminal meeting of the once-in-a-decade White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) – including the above observations by President Barack Obama.  U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez observed that “age is a state of mind.” Assistant Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee issued a memorable pronouncement that “a good old age is too good to lose.”

Innumerable middle-aged mostly-federal bureaucrats fawned about “this momentous day” and “this extraordinary conference” and a bevy of “experts” attempted to hawk products and services to viewers listening via the internet (i.e., Uber, Peapod Grocery Delivery, Eversave Technology, AARP brand partners,, etc.).

Greenlee was the moderator of the elder justice panel, which largely focused on the financial exploitation of older Americans. She was harshly critical of paid caregivers who financially exploited a veteran acquaintance, the perpetrator of a scam that targeted a grandparent, and a crooked financial planner who ripped off two older Americans. She never mentioned the mostly anonymous Wall Street pirates who were never prosecuted for stealing the homes and retirement savings of literally millions of older Americans during the Great Recession (2007 –   ) Continue reading “Last Gasp of White House Conf. on Aging”

Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?


What a difference a decade makes – unless you are The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA).

Then it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Today, the once-every-decade conference will hold its signature event after months of low-level activity sponsored mainly by the AARP, America’s leading purveyor of health insurance to older Americans (not to mention vacation travel, car repairs, telephone and internet service, etc. etc.).

The WHCOA  sent out emails Saturday detailing the agenda for the big event.

Apparently there was no time in the jam-packed schedule to discuss the financial havoc wrought upon older Americans by the worst recession in America in 100 years. Similarly,it does not appear the conference will address the epidemic of age discrimination in hiring that relegates older workers to chronic unemployment, low-paid work and a financially improvident “early retirement.” It’s almost as if this unpleasant chapter of American history, attributable to Wall Street pirates who were never prosecuted, never happened.

The conference will focus on care-giving, “planning for financial security at every age,” nutrition, “the power of inter-generational connections and healthy aging,” universal design and technology and the future of aging.

To add insult to injury, the organizers of the WHCOA are asking Americans to complete this sentence: “Getting older is getting better because …”

Is getting older getting better?

Continue reading “Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?”

White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again

The White House Conference on Aging issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.


The White House Conference on Aging  issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.

This WHCOA’s Retirement Security policy brief is focused upon the following three areas:

  1. Protecting and strengthening Social Security. “Current beneficiaries should not see their basic benefits reduced.”
  2. Increasing retirement security and employer-based retirement savings options. “Automatically enroll Americans without access to a workplace retirement plan in an IRA.”
  3. Ensuring workers receive retirement investment advice in their best interest. Require “more retirement advisers to abide by a ‘fiduciary’  standard—putting their clients’ best interest before their own profits.”

The WHCOA concedes in the policy brief that Social Security has become the main source of income for older Americans, especially women and minorities, but fails to inquire into the reasons for this. There is no mention of the bogus down-sizings and restructurings that are little more than ploys to rid the workplace of older workers who earn high salaries or just don’t look “hip” anymore.  There is no mention of  overwhelming evidence of age discrimination in hiring, which robs older workers of the ability to find meaningful work and save for retirement. There is no mention of  evidence that older workers are disproportionately subject to chronic unemployment, which forces them to spend down their savings, take low-paid work and, eventually, to retire as soon as possible, resulting in at least a 25 percent cut in benefits for the rest of their lives.  There is no mention of age discrimination at all, just as there was no mention of age discrimination in the WHCOA’s earlier policy briefs on Elder Justice, Healthy Aging and Long-Term Services and Supports. Continue reading “White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again”


What is the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) … Really.

Is it a serious examination of the problems facing older Americans that occurs once every decade, or is it a public relations opportunity?

At its fourth regional forum on Monday, the WHCOA held a panel discussion on retirement security that featured a panel of  bureaucrats who failed to even mention age discrimination. That’s like talking about California’s drought without mentioning climate change. A spokesperson for the Obama administration promised the President would protect Social Security and said the administration is working to make the process of retirement savings easier and more transparent. No one is asking why so many older Americans  are poor and struggling

Numerous attempts in recent months to contact Nora Super, executive director of the WHCOA, to urge her to address employment discrimination based on age have failed to elicit any response whatsoever. Why does the WHCOA seems to be focusing upon soft issues like “healthy aging.”

On its web site, the AARP says it is “co-sponsoring” and “co-planning” the WHCOA’s regional forums, along with a lobbying group called Leadership Council of Aging (LCAO), which describes itself as a coalition of 72 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans. The contact person for “all questions” regarding the LCAO is Nicholas Barracca at I emailed that address on Monday and received an unsigned reply stating that the AARP is the “current chair organization” of the LCAO, which rotates chairs each year among five different organizations. I inquired again about the LCAO’s source of funding and Barracca replied that the LCAO is funded through membership dues.

At some point, it is fair to ask whether there is a conflict of interest with respect to the AARP’s dominating role in the WHOA forums.



“Obama will fight job discrimination for aging employees by strengthening the Age Discrimination in Employment Act … .”  Source: Blueprint for Change (2008)

I was surprised when I recently read that President Barack Obama pledged in 2008 to strengthen the nation’s primary law prohibiting age discrimination, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

Surprised because the ADEA is much weaker today than it was when Obama was running for President in 2008 . The ADEA was decimated by an adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009. Congress could have legislatively “fixed” the Court’s ruling but has failed to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act for five years.  But I was most surprised because Obama himself is responsible for weakening the ADEA.

Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that allows federal agencies to discriminate against older workers by hiring “recent graduates” –  which is in direct contravention to the ADEA.  What message does it send to private employers when the U.S. government deems it appropriate to discriminate on the basis of age? Whether intended or not, Obama’s executive order serves as a green light for employers to engage in harmful, invidious age discrimination.

Meanwhile, Obama’s administration is in the process of planning a White House Conference on Agingthis year . Organizers so far have completely ignored the unaddressed epidemic of age discrimination in the workplace that is catapulting older workers into chronic unemployment, low wage jobs and forced early “retirement.”

The Conference recently announced it is partnering with the AARP, the nation’s leading purveyor of supplemental Medicare health insurance, to co-sponsor five regional forums to hear from the public “on issues such as ensuring retirement security, promoting healthy aging, providing long-term services and support, and protecting older Americans from financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect.” Promote healthy aging?  Hmmm … Do you have supplemental Medicare health insurance?

Obama’s unfulfilled campaign promise points to yet another reason that the problem of age discrimination is so prevalent in America today. Older Americans have failed to effectively marshal their resources  to insure that their interests are not forgotten by politicians the day after the election.   In hisState of the Union Address last week, President Obama focused on young families and the middle class and failed to even mention issues of particular concern to older Americans,

In my new book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I explore the reasons that age discrimination is treated like a lesser offense when compared with discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.  I show that age discrimination is about perception, not reality.  It is about unfounded stereotypes and deep-seated animus. And it has a devastating impact on the health and welfare of older Americans.

* Originally published at on January 25, 2015.