One of the areas that most concerns people today is the economy and where we are headed. With unemployment high and more and more Americans having to work later in life to earn a living, perhaps it’s time to re-examine why some Americans are still able to retire early and make way for the next generation to step into the positions they leave behind.

It’s not unusual today to find people still working well into their late 60s and early 70s, even after they are eligible for Social Security.

On the other side, many other Americans don’t have to wait on Social Security, they aren’t too worried about it, and they are able to retire and enjoy life long before they need to rely on it. Some have parttime jobs, even though they still enjoy a full pension at age 40. These folks work just to stay active.

Meanwhile, some people aren’t even looking for work. They are simply enjoying life on their own terms.

These factors, of course, depend on where they worked, for whom they worked, and whether they had a pension plan that allowed them the pleasure of early retirement. In some cases, whether or not they belonged to a union played a role in their ability to leave the workforce before 65.

Last week, I read in the papers that Gov.-elect Nikki Haley is already putting up a fight against working people and the unions that represent them. Haley has asked a lawyer, Catherine Templeton, to head the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Haley did so not to help the working men and women of South Carolina but to better represent the business interests of our state.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Catherine Templeton on our team,” Haley said. “Catherine understands that LLR’s mission should be to serve the businesses and taxpayers of our state. She’s taken on unions and knows our state’s right-to-work status makes us more competitive.”

Haley apparently wants Templeton to keep the employees at Boeing from unionizing. Prior to Boeing’s announcement that it was moving its Dreamliner plant to North Charleston, its employees here voted to disband their union. Haley apparently believes Boeing’s employees hope to reunionize.

It’s also interesting to note that Haley has tapped former BMW spokesman and government liaison Bobby Hitt to be commerce secretary. Hitt, a former editor with The State newspaper, is undoubtedly capable of spinning a story to convince the public that unions are bad for the people. And when his job in the Haley administration is over, he will most likely return to a very lucrative business salary and package deal, but I could be wrong.

Hopefully, newspapers across the state will open up a fair-and-balanced dialogue about unions so that the people will be better informed about the issue in its entirety.

Life is not about lawyers, government, or businesses. It’s about the working men and women of America. Without business, where would any of us be — but if it was not for the people, where would business be?

It’s about time the people knew and fully understood both sides of this important debate. After all, public opinion is often shaped by ideas from the public at-large, and sometimes government is persuaded to follow that opinion, especially when the number of people supporting it is large enough.

We should ask ourselves these questions: Are unions still good for America? Should the employees of Boeing be allowed to unionize?

When it comes to these matters, we the people should have the final say, not Haley and her team.

Harvey Elwood Jr. of Orangeburg is a retired educator of government. Educated in South Carolina and New York, he served in local and state government and taught in South Carolina and New York at the secondary and collegiate levels. He may be reached by e-mail at