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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Defending Sun City

Andrew Blechman is the author of a book titled Leisureville. In his book he is casting a critical eye at retirement communities like Sun City which he feels are eroding community values in the U. S. He doesn’t believe that senior citizens should live in an area of relaxation, play a lot of golf, enjoy a senior center, and generally drop out from the "rat race" world of the younger generations. He calls it "living in a world of exclusion."

Blechman thinks that seniors should embrace their younger neighbors outside of Sun City and not live in the world of age segregation. In other words, they should allow younger families to move into Sun City. He states that residents don’t like kids and schools but fails to mention they are paying Maricopa County property taxes, of which about 50% goes to schools. According to Blechman, places like Sun City represent "an acknowledgment of societal failure."

Andrew Blechman lives in Massachusetts, and from his photo, I would guess that he is 35 to 40 years old. I’m sure he worked hard researching his book, but, how can he be an authority on Sun City or its residents from his Eastern vantage point and looking through the eyes of one his age? I compare his opinion to that of a 16 year old girl who is convinced that her current boyfriend is the one she wants to marry NOW. In a few years she will laugh at such a notion as being the silly thought it was. The same applies to Blechman. He is viewing Sun City through the naive eyes of his youth. He has no way of knowing the feelings of its citizens and he has no idea what it is like to be 70 years old.

Blechman takes himself too seriously. Many Sun City residents work part time and are big into volunteering. Many also leave in the summer and plenty of Boomers who are now retiring say they are not going to quit working at all. This is not the selfish utopia that Blechman thinks it is. The residents simply want to live out their golden years in peace and quiet in a sane community devoid of children and crime. Besides, do younger families really WANT to live with the golden-agers next door? I don’t think so.

Although age wise I could live in Sun City, I prefer not to. However, I defend the rights of those who enjoy that lifestyle. Even Blechman admits that Sun City is "a powerful vision that has proved to be very appealing to a sizable segment of aging Americans."

That’s good enough for me.

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