60-year-olds

Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation

7 July 2011

Society today may show great solidarity with women, young people, immigrants and different minorities, but it is freezing older people out of the market, leaving them victims of discrimination.

When Cascos announced his participation in the latest Asturian elections, some of his opponents sought to disqualify him by labelling him as a 60-year-old. The same thing happened with Rubalcaba, whose appointment has been considered as a step backward and preferring him over "younger person" as a mistake.

The truth is that, in this country, you are not really "cool" if you are not a woman or a young person. And I have no doubt that having them in the political arena or in business is fine, some because they will be tomorrow´s leaders and others because they need to overcome a past of unfair deferral. But neither of these challenges should imply discrimination against the elderly, who can find it difficult to access certain jobs or are asked to leave early when they are still in possession of their physical and mental capacities.

The Spanish Constitution obliges us not to discriminate on the basis of birth, race, gender, religion or opinion and, even though our Magna Carta does not expressly refer to age, the constitutional court has considered it as another condition that cannot be used for the purposes of exclusion. It is good that legal texts proclaim the principle of equality among people. However, in the case of age, it is biology that imposes its arguments: how can you describe a 60-year-old as old when he/she can expect to live an average of 20 years more? Today´s 60-year-olds are like the 40-year-olds of 25 years ago. Were 40-year-olds considered old then?

Some of the friends with whom I share my arguments say: "Careful Puyol, we can see what your game is". But I reply: "What I want to show, like many other seniors, is that my capacities, especially my mental capacity, are still fit for a few more battles yet". So, now you know: do not discriminate against women, immigrants or Buddhists; and not against 60-year-olds either!

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