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Living Longer, Contributing Longer

Robert N. Butler, MD
JAMA. 1997;278(16):1372-1373. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550160092044.
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IN 1988, the image of the "Greedy Geezer" was born. Depicted on the cover of The New Republic magazine, the advancing army of angry-faced older persons wielding garden trowels, fishing poles, and golf clubs looked menacing, poised to assault America. The essay inside by Henry Fairlie1 described what the cover expressed visually: Older people are selfish and drain the country of resources that might otherwise be channeled elsewhere, especially to children. There have been other similar negative attacks on older people in this country. The Concord Coalition, for example—a membership organization dedicated to federal deficit reduction—has, in its concern over the solvency of public entitlement programs, scapegoated older people. The image of the affluent Greedy Geezer and his or her arrogant sense of entitlement has become a powerful symbol in this time of negative attitudes toward government and increased tax resistance, and it is helping to foment an artificially


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