Letters to the Editor: ‘Geezers’ don’t have to prove their worth to society (but they are valuable)

Pasadena Senior Center
Nancy Sharrett, 78, a member of The Tap Chicks, practices at the Pasadena Senior Center on Jan. 3
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Steve Lopez is right to express disgust at calls to sacrifice the elderly and vulnerable for the sake of the economy.

I am one of the “geezers” with an underlying health condition (late-stage cancer). Though I’m at high risk, rather than dying from COVID-19 to “ease the burden on society,” I’d rather stick around and contribute as best I can.

As a geology professor at Cal State Northridge, I still design new courses and find I am a more effective instructor and mentor than ever. Though semi-retired, I am actively publishing my research to help improve our understanding of earthquake hazard and risk.

The blame game that so many play is utterly disappointing. Places like Germany and South Korea have shown the world that it’s possible, with the right leadership and adequate testing and tracing, to limit illness and death while keeping economies afloat.


Certainly the U.S., as Lopez states, can “do both” as well, but only if we get our act together. So much needs to be learned about COVID-19. Please be patient while science figures this out. And please, stop blaming others and pull together.

Hopefully that can also include contributions from geezers like me.

Doug Yule, Altadena


To the editor: Thanks to Lopez for giving a voice to the “geezers.”

I am a woman in my 70s. I am still healthy and active, and until the start of this stay-home order, I was a volunteer in my community.

But that’s not the point. I don’t need to justify my existence any more than the 20-year-old who hangs out at the beach or the 40-year-old who works all day and takes care of her kids all night.

To those who want to sacrifice the elderly and let the virus “cull the herd” of its weakest members, I hope you live long enough to realize that, when you are old, you are the same person you always were, and you, like every other life form on the planet, just want to live.


Laurie Jacobs, San Clemente


To the editor: I don’t think young people should be blamed for seeing geezers as expendable. After all, it was geezers who voted George W. Bush into office in 2000 in spite of the fact that it was clear that he didn’t care about climate change.

Then in 2016, geezers doubled down on the expendability of young people by electing a different climate change denier.


When I went to a Bernie Sanders rally in March, there were a handful of us geezers and thousands of young people. If geezers had listened to young people in 2016, we would have President Sanders today, the best scientists would be leading the pandemic response, and the death toll would be much smaller.

Scott Peer, Glendale


To the editor: Lopez is spot on, and we know where responsibility lies for this phenomenon: the great wedgedriver, President Trump.


He and his allies now use the phrase “strike a balance” as a placeholder for how many of the vulnerable it is OK to sacrifice in exchange for an economic uptick that will get him reelected. The president’s recent statement that the number of COVID-19 fatalities will exceed what was previously projected was a step in the direction of turning the daily death toll into a ho-hum statistic.

If the nation comes to expect a body count of 125,000 or more, 100,000 is just a number along the way. The tragic irony in Trump’s brutal calculus is that much of his base is made up of the very people he would throw overboard.

Mark Steinberg, Los Angeles