In our free society where age discrimination in employment is illegal, retirement is not mandatory for most but comes when a person is ready, willing and comfortable with idea. This only happens when the person feels secure in his or her ability to live out the years remaining with dignity and a degree of certainty that he or she can be independent in heath care and living expenses.

Now, on the very heels of the recession that severely eroded many near-retirees' IRAs and 401(k)s, there is this steady, unrelenting drum beat from Washington to overhaul Social Security and Medicare, scaring the heck out of many ready to retire. Calls to extend a cap, to means test for benefits, to increase the retirement age, etc., all the while constantly reminding us that insolvency looms for these programs within the span of one generation.

For many, the idea of ever voluntarily retiring is off the table thanks to Washington's foolhardy insistence to unfairly and inaccurately link Social Security to the wildfire of national debt and deficit. If people perceive retirement as unsustainable, whether because what scared them is grounded in fact or manufactured out of political posturing or not, they stay frightened.

No wonder then that the numbers of unemployed young people, many highly-trained and college educated, have exploded. If everyone is afraid to move off to greener pastures, the good career openings at the entry level vanish. For everything there is a season.

James Hagerty, Westminster