A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 23, 2009
Greedy Geezer

The term “greedy geezer” (old people who demand government entitlements) was coined in The New Republic, March 28, 1988, to describe the front-cover story, “Talkin’ Bout My Generation,” by Henry Fairlie (1924-1990). People who used the term “greedy geezers” were soon called “granny bashers.”

A similar term to “greedy geezer” is “Generation Greed (generational theft).” Deficit spending (leaving future generations with the bill) has been called “fiscal child abuse.”

Images of Aging
Encyclopedia of Aging | 2002 | Kleyman, Paul
Geezer bashing
The provocative phrase, greedy geezers, was embossed on generational politics by a dramatically illustrated cover of the New Republic (see Figure 1). It showed a fearsome old man leading a charge of elders evidently bent, as the accompanying article would claim, on draining the nation’s economy through massive entitlement spending for their own comfort. Since then, the term geezer has been increasingly applied to older adults, despite the word’s obvious use by proponents of one side of a political controversy who want to diminish sympathy for the beneficiaries of public policies they would like to reverse.

30 March 1988, Los Angeles (CA) Times, Metro, section 2, pg. 7:
Forget the Greedy Geezers and Put Long-Term Back on Our Health Agenda
By Robert Kuttner

3 April 1988, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Geezers of the World, Unite Against This Bashing” by Jim Wright:
The really dedicated progressives have taken up geezer-bashing in a big way lately, I’m not exactly sure why. Note the recent New Republic and its cover story on “Greedy Geezers.’ The magazine may not be thoroughly liberal, but the approach is.

6 April 1988, Miami (FL) Herald, pg. 1D:
Worse, Henry Fairlie, in a New Republic story called Greedy Geezers, knocks our elderly for opposing needed taxes.

23 April 1988, St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press, “Senior Speaks Out,” pg. 13A:
Your April 3 editorial and Ron Clark’s April 9 column attacking senior citizens’valiant attempts to win reinstatement of the pension exclusion revealed something startling and obnoxious: The Pioneer Press Dispatch is promoting the “greedy geezer” slurs started in the New Republic against the elderly.

30 December 1988, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Economists and academics face potent lobbying groups”:
WASHINGTON—Some call it the battle of the “greedy geezers” vs. the “granny bashers.” On one side are potent lobbying organizations for the elderly. On the other side are a smattering of economists, academics and former politicians. (...) The elderly lobby that often gets hit with the “greedy geezer” label is the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

2 July 1989, Elyria (OH) Chronicle Telegram, “Basjing granny is a no-win game” by Jim Wright, pg. A5 col. 2:
The new line has been taken up by those media outriders who are using the “greedy geezers” approach to stir conflict between the generations.

28 December 1989, The Capital (Annapolis, MD), pg. D6, col. 1:
Keith expects that he will collect at least $1 million more in federal pension income before he turns 90.

But don’t call him a greedy geezer.

16 January 1990, Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, pg. 4, col. 1:
The Rockefeller plan proposes limited catastrophic coverage for the “seriously disabled.” It is less generous than the Medicare expansion repealed by Congress after greedy geezer complaints.

Google Books
The New Politics of Old Age Policy
By Robert B. Hudson
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press
Pg. 267:
Greedy Geezers
A dominant theme in such accounts of older Americans is that their selfishness is ruining the nation. The New Republic highlighted this motif with an unflattering caricature of aged persons depicted on the cover, accompanied by the caption “greedy geezers.” The talbe of contents “teaser” for the story that followed announced: “The real me generation isn’t the yuppies, it’s America’s growing ranks of prosperous elderly” (Fairlie 1988). This theme was echoed widely, and the epithet “greedy geezers” became a familiar adjective in journalistic accounts of federal buget politics (e.g., Salholz 1990).

Google BOoks
Bite the Hand That Feeds You:
Essays and provocations

By Henry Fairlie
Edited by Jeremy McCarter
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. 217:
Greedy Geezers
(The New Republic, March 28, 1988, originally titled “Talkin’ Bout My Generation”—ed.)
Thirty percent of the annual federal budget now goes to expenditures on people over the age of 65. Forty years from now, if the present array of programs and benefits is maintained, almost two-thirds of the budget will go to supporting and cosseting the old. Something is wrong with a society that is willing to drain itself to foster such an unproductive section of its population, one that does not even promise (as children do) one day to be productive.

Stack of Stuff Quick Hits Page
July 22, 2009
Now, you’ll remember this when I give you the details.  The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in 1988 required Medicare to pay for severe and prolonged illness as a protection against catastrophic expense. But once the elderly beneficiaries found out that their premiums would go up to a top rate of $560 more, they threw a fit—and that is when I think a bunch of them surrounded the car of Dan “Rosty” Rostenkowski in Chicago. They repealed the act.  The AARP, the American Association of Liberal Old People, whatever it is, they were the first to demand this.  And then when they found out it was going to cost just $560 more they blew a gasket and they had to repeal the act. It was $560 additional annual premium at a top rate. What? I don’t know if the term “greedy geezer” was coined then.  That’s a good question.  I don’t know when the term “greedy geezer” was coined.  But Congress repealed the act.  So we’ve already tried it.  But Medicare is supposed to be free. 

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