I had the pleasure recently of traveling to New Albany with Marie Beason and Marissa Manlove of Indiana Grantmakers Alliance. IGA has received funding in a national program of Granmakers in Aging entitled The EngAGEment Initiative. This is an effort to elevate awareness of aging issues within the philanthropic community and, secondarily, assist funders in developing their endowments through attention to these increasingly imporant issues. These roundtables, along with other forms of outreach, will continue into 2010. A recent survey of Indiana members of IGA revealed that only one in five funders saw aging issues as a priority for their foundations. Yet, 60% were interested in learning more about aging issues in their communities. Given that $66 billion will be transferred from the oldest to the next generation in Indiana alone in the next ten years, philanthropic organizations would be well advised to develop stronger relationships with and a better understanding of the older population and its concerns, not merely about itself but about the generations to follow.
The IGA survey has helped inform research being commissioned by the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce Foundation (see NEWS at www.agingindiana.org ). The Chamber has identified the aging workforce as a pillar issue this year and it’s great to see increased public attention. Being on the advisory group and having conducted some research on this as well, the issues are pretty fascinating. In the coming weeks, the Chamber will be going public with the findings and discussing the implications for the future economic health of Indiana.
Public discourse has noted the current reality for many, many Americans – that health insurance is inextricably tied to work. Insofar as capital benefits greatly from a flexible, mobile workforce, it is hard to understand why there are objections to more “portability” for insurance consumers. I have not heard anyone comment yet that many baby boomers might choose to leave paid work should a viable public option (or private) be made available outside of the workplace. Would that not be desired by many pre-Medicare folks who would like to retire. Would that not be desirable for young persons trying to break into careers? Would that not be desired by employers seeking to re-calibrate wages and salaries at lower levels? Now the issue of brain drain is one that would have to be addressed should people start retiring earlier (again – as was the case until about ten or fifteen years ago). The downside might be that, if people begin taking Social Security earlier, the pressures on that system will increase. Social Security has been fairly stable as people extend their working years – paying in for longer periods of time while delaying “pay out.”
It’s a complicated issue. Glad I am not the “czar” on this one!