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 Response Page - J. Hively  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Jan Hively Interview of

The Questions:

On a scale of (0) most disagreement , to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on the following:

1.  _7.5 average response_____  Businesses will increasingly have to rely on older workers as a critical part of their knowledge base.  

2.  _7.9 average response_____  Governmental pension plans should be redesigned to reflect the realities of an aging workforce.

3. _8.4 average response_____   Employers should offer variable compensation options to older employees to increase the attractiveness of continuing employment.

4. _7.2 average response_____  Current employment policies related to the age of employees should be redesigned to ensure an appropriate mix of both younger and older employees.

To respond, click “Reply”; fill in your responses; click “Send”.  Or send a separate email   Thank you.

Chris Stedman (6) (7) (3) (8)

Brent Olson (9) (10) (10) (8)

Kent Eklund (10) (10) (10) (10)

Rick Bishop (10) (10) (10) (10)

Don Fraser (8) (8) (8) (8)

Charles Lutz (9) (9) (9) (9)

Jerry Fruin (10) (10) (10) (5)

Fred Senn (7) (10) (10) (10)

Arvonne Fraser (8) (8) (8) (8)

David Broden (10) (10) (10) (10)

Question 1:  The shift in demographic related to age profile of works, skill sets etc. demands that business must change its policy and view regarding the structure and mix of the workforce. Business together with government must be sensitized to this need and begin to respond not to continue to act and manage according to the old school. The term older worker must be eliminated from the vocabulary of the HR departments and others who address workforce issues. The topic must be available workforce period.

Question 2:  The workforce structure must set the stage for pension plans and people, business , government cannot use pension plans as a crutch as they are now used. 

Question 3:  Compensation  options must be part of the overall picture of the changing definition of the workforce. To make this happen business and government must work together. Both are currently locked into the old model of get old retire and go on SS or pension etc. No more of that; a new time has arrived. 

Question 4:  First there is not supposed to be any age related policy in any company--it is against the law and is the basis for age discrimination. The policy must be that one can work as long as they like with no mandatory retirement or discrimination policy. 

Terry Sluss (3) (0) (7) (2)

Mark Ritchie

Nice new format - takes a little longer to read but worth it.

Jim Keller (0) (10) (10) (0)

I am unsure what a correct mix of employees is and who should decide?

Alan Miller (8) (9) (8) (9)

Don Anderson (10) (8) (8) (10)

Wade Athey (5) (5) (9) (9)

Peter Hennessey (0) (0) (10) (0 or 10)

First of all, by the time you get to be retirement age, there is no such thing as typical. Much more so than in childhood, everyone's abilities and everyone's health conditions are different. I aged more in the last two years than in the last 20, for example. My ability to recall ancient details have grown surprisingly sharp, yet I have a hard time remembering anything from yesterday or last week. I should say I have a hard time understanding why I remember some things and not others. I see it from my own son's frustrated reactions that I am not as good as I used to be.

Old people definitely do not have the energy, predisposition and adaptability to be good employees, in the sense that young people are, and they do not have current knowledge that young people fresh out of college have. We can't put in 14-16 hour days, though we are awake more hours than that, and we can't juggle school and work and family life as young people like to pretend they can.

Given all that, the value of old people is in the ability of some, but by no means all, to become a fountain of wisdom of the eternal truths that, while taking on different specific forms as time marches on, nevertheless illustrate some principles that are valid and applicable throughout the realm of human affairs. But there are no employers who can, would or even should accommodate old people for all this wisdom, because once you fill up your ranks of managers, there is no more room or need for experienced guidance in a typical enterprise. In spite of vast increases in productivity since we were young, still there are extremely few serious jobs that can be done on a part time basis, and few employers who would be able to accommodate part time workers and still run their business successfully.

Question 1:  Employers need employees who are reliable, energetic, durable, smart, and up to date with the technical details of their jobs. Generally that means younger, not older people. If necessary, employers will import the workers they need, or off-shore the entire operation. 

There are precious few old folks who are hip to all the latest fads, or even care to learn the latest in the applicable technology, law, etc. that are required knowledge in most jobs. There are far too many old people who effectively lost their ability to contribute because their job, if still being done at all, is done in a completely different way, with which they are not familiar unless they happened to have worked for a decent employer who did not mind spending money on keeping his workforce up to date. But why would he, if his reward is to watch his best people being hired away by his competitors?

In my own (former) profession as technical writer, the required skill set progressed from specific technical knowledge and serious ability to write, to writer and (self-) editor, writer-editor-illustrator, writer-editor-illustrator-publisher, and pretty soon the primary requirement shifted exclusively to expert level familiarity with the employer's favorite software tools at the expense of any skills as writer, editor, illustrator, printer, publisher, archivist, etc. I went from being a writer with a secretary who did all editing and word processing and a draftsman who drew all the illustrations, to a one-man operation from composition through shipping printed manuals, and eventually just e-mailing them. The software tools themselves are subject to fads much like haute couture fashions, and you can't get another job unless you can demonstrate several years of experience with the other employer's favorite tool set -- which has not even been on the market for a year.

Question 2:  The government has no business designing or redesigning pension plans. If there is anything to be redesigned, it is tax policy to re-incentivize saving, not spending -- through reduced tax rates, savings accounts completely tax-free on both ends (contribution and distribution), personally owned privatized retirement (Social Security) accounts, and keeping inflation to zero so the purchasing power of our money will not erode. Retirement age and level of productive activity in the retirement years must be an individual choice, not a concern for government.

Question 3:  Duh.... Let the free market work, which means, let each employer and older employee work out their terms of continued employment.

Question 4:  Score = 0 if "employment policies" means government will dictate the terms. 

Score = 10 if it means the same thing as Question 3.

Who is to decide what is the "proper mix"? Who is to say there should be a mix or no mix? 

Who else but the employer? 

Europe's answer to their aging workforce has been to import an increasingly hostile muslim population to replenish their workforce. America's answer is to turn a blind eye to a massive and increasingly hostile invasion from Mexico, Latin America and muslim countries. The result is ethnic cleaning of entire cities and counties, as in southern and central California, and entire professions, such as gardening, construction, the hospitality industry, etc. As long as it is US government policy not to control immigration and defend our borders, immigration will overshadow and obviate all other efforts to boost gainful employment among older workers and retirees. Not every older person has a PhD, or an ability to work in a teaching, lecturing, guiding, advising capacity. Not every older person has the health and energy to be on their feet all day or even half a day in a store, restaurant, warehouse, etc., where they spent their productive years. And not every older person will take orders from a younger boss who is clearly lacking in judgment and experience; most bosses will be reluctant to hire an older person precisely because of that reason. We can be ignorant and call it "ageism," but the problem has very deep psychological, not cultural or political roots. It is so much easier to hire younger immigrant workers, and let the boss be the token oldie.

Clarence Shallbetter (8) (8) (6) (6)

Wayne Jennings (4) (9) (8) (8)

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (10) (6)

Former Lt. Gov. Lou Wangberg back in the early 80's used to give an excellent seech on our "upside down Society." He emphasized our worship of youth and down grading of aging Americans.  As life span has increased, the age of retirement has decreased. I like your new "classy" format.

Mina Harrigan (7) (8) (10) (5)

Paul Hauge (8) (8) (8) (8)

Dan Schultz (7) (7) (10) (5)

Vici Oshiro (8) (7) (10) (7)

Bert Press (0) (0) (0) (0)

Gene Franchett (10) (10) (10) (10)

Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (10)

Dane Smith (7) (8) (8) (7)

I really was intrigued and inspired by  Jan’s presentation and I’m following up to see if we can partner somehow on message and policy around  harnessing the Silver Tsunami.   I like the improved look of your product, that’s no small thing.

Bright Dornblaser (5) (10) (8) (10)

Question 4:  Yes, to eliminate any perceived barriers to employing older workers.  But the underlying problem is the perception that older workers are physically less competent than younger workers and that they were before.

Marianne Curry (10) (10) (10) (10)

Question 1:  Only if business feels the pain of labor shortages and becomes more flexible negotiating terms of employment.  Outsourcing to cheap labor in third world is the enemy now.


Question 2:  Unfunded liabilities are not even being discussed as part of the MN fiscal crisis.


Question 3:   Portable health insurance options are a must today when the average worker may be employed by 7-10 different employers in a career.


Question 4:   As Jan Hively has noted, "ageism" is an insidious prejudicial attitude in our society.  Just look at ads on TV depicting elders as frail, needy, dependent, sick, helpless.  This old attitude reflects the Youth Culture that has held sway in the U.S., but it does not fit the current reality of living long, productive and healthy lives for the majority of seniors, who contribute mightily to this economy now.  Seniors are not the problem.  A small slice of this population is sucking the big bucks out of Medicare/Medicaid including the young whose lifestyles are creating a crisis in diabetes, which can be corrected by redesigning incentives.  It is time to adjust our perceptions and capitalize on this valuable human capital called seniors.


Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (10)


Bill Hamm (8) (9) (9) (3)

It was a pleasure reading Hively's perspective, gives one much to think about.

Question 1:  While that is already happening in some maintenance skills, this younger generation is far more resistant to listening to any one older than them whom they consider technologically inferior even when they are educationally superior.

Question 2:  A 9 for what should be, politically a 6 based on how much resistance Public Employee Unions will give.

Question 3:  Again a 9 for what should be and probably a 7 for what can politically be accomplished in this real world.

Question 4:   I don't see any way that this concept should ever be mandated or legislated upon anyone and that is my greatest fear for this seemingly innocent suggestion. Make your case at the Chamber of Commerce  with this one, leave the legislature out of it.

Nice to see a particularly multi partisan issue on table, it tends to bring all sides into the conversation with less protectionism and hopefully in a more solution based mode.

Terry Stone and John Carlson (10) (5) (5) (0)

Question 1:  Partly as a result of automation and partly as a result of a decline in our education system, a number of vital skill-sets are found uniquely among older workers.

A generation or two in the past, home ownership implied a skill-set that was required to do basic home maintenance. Home ownership typically required a working knowledge of carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing and the ability to use a range of tools. This skill-set is vanishing at a frightening rate while older workers retain these skills.

Question 2:  Government pension plans are symptomatic of a system in which pay is not tethered to productivity. Once this problem is mitigated, opportunities for older workers will arise in the public sector.

Question 3: Perhaps AARP could abandon its social planning agenda and conduct a national employer awareness program on behalf of older workers. Ultimately, however, the marketplace must determine the work environment of workers of all ages.

Older citizens who are working consume more goods and services than retired citizens. The best thing for both the nation and for opportunities for older workers is full employment born of unfettered free enterprise that is uncontaminated by government social planning and regulation.

Question 4:  Free markets quickly sort out qualification, productivity and return on investment for any given worker. Policies on sexual orientation, age, gender or race have a bleak history.

Minnesota government has been creating little Departments of Happiness for each special interest claiming to be unhappy or disaffected. The bureaucracy that attends each program has brought our state to un-sustainability. The last thing we need is for the government to engage the idea that the private sector is incapable of (or shouldn’t be) hiring the most productive employees.

Governmental efforts at social planning that involve employer tax credits, phased retirement plans and flexible career paths for older workers are unwelcome intrusions into free markets. Social planning is an extra-constitutional function of government, regardless of how well intended.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (7) (8) (7)

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (10) (10)

This was a good discussion. Unless we make use of the skills of the older people there will not be enough people in the labor force to serve the population since there are relatively lower birth rates and increasing life expectancies.

Bill Kuisle (10) (10) (7) (5)

Question 4:  Are you talking about those working in public or private employment? I am not sure the government should do anything in the private side. Companies that are going to stay in business will do this on their own.

Shari Prest (2) (3) (8) (8)

Question 1:   I don't believe they will have to but that they should and that they will experience an economic advantage if they do. 

Question 2:    Incentives should be offered but the planning of people who have earned for invested according to their expectations needs to be honored.

Question 3:  I believe the wealthiest segment of our population overall is senior citizens. Therefore we must be careful not to over-shift opportunities to them and away from younger people with greater financial responsibilities. 

Question 4:  The challenge is to define "an appropriate mix." 

Shirley Heaton (10) (10) (10) (10)

The statement "Since the '50's retirees have segregated themselves in retirement communities to enjoy eternal leisure" certainly doesn't hold true in the retirement Village I live in. Only a few unhealthy ones fit that description. The rest of us are busier than one-armed paper hangers as a visitor once noted, contributing to the health and welfare both inside and outside our environs. And in the Village church, acknowledgement of birthdays are for those 90 years and older; anniversaries 50 years and over ! Yes, we have a wealth of active seniors who just haven't found the time to adapt to the couch potato way of life.

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10) (8)

Redesign group health coverage for government and private  health coverage  so that wellness is rewarded.  Medicare premiums and withholding  should also  have reduced rates for healthy practices.

Tom Swain (10) (10) (8) (9)

Larry Schluter (6) (8) (9) (9)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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