Complete and utter shortsighted bullshit

got this from the shortsighted nitwits at Financial Times

October 16, 2010

The Financial Time Bomb of Longer Lives


FIRST the good news: We’re living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

We’re already so used to the idea of greater longevity, in fact, that it may seem ho-hum to learn that boys and girls born in 2008 in the United States have life expectancies of 75 and 81, respectively.

Those life spans, however, represent a bonus of about three decades, compared with Americans born in 1900, according to a report last year from the Census Bureau. And, by the way, Spain, Greece and Austria fared even better, proportionally: Life expectancies in those countries doubled over the course of the 20th century.

Now for the bad news: At this rate, we can’t afford to live so long.

And by “we,” I don’t just mean you, me and our often insufficient long-term-care insurance policies. I mean “we the people.” I mean the bureaucratic “we.”

For the first time in human history, people aged 65 and over are about to outnumber children under 5. In many countries, older people entitled to government-funded pensions, health services and long-term care will soon outnumber the work force whose taxes help finance those benefits. This demographic shift also means that the number of people living with dementia, whose treatment is estimated to cost $604 billion worldwide this year, is expected to more than triple, to 115 million, by 2050, according to a report this year by Alzheimer’s Disease International, a group representing 73 Alzheimer’s associations around the world.

No other force is as likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances and national policies, according to a new analysis on global aging from Standard & Poor’s, as the “irreversible rate at which the population is growing older.”

How are the most developed countries handling preparations for the boom in the elderly population – and for the budget-busting expenditures that are sure to follow?

For a majority, not very well.

Unless governments enact sweeping changes to age-related public spending, sovereign debt could become unsustainable, rivaling levels seen during cataclysms like the Great Depression and World War II, according to the S.& P. report.

If the status quo continues, the report projects, the median government debt in the most advanced economies could soar to 329 percent of gross domestic product by 2050. By contrast, Britain’s debt represented only 252 percent of G.D.P. in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II, the report said.

So what is to be done?

For starters, governments should extend the retirement age, says Marko Mrsnik, the associate director of sovereign ratings in Europe for S&P. and the lead author of the report. Another no-brainer, he says, is that governments should balance their budgets.

Alas, private citizens often don’t see the logic in curbing public benefits in order to maintain national solvency. Witness France last week, where more than one million people took to the streets to protest pension reform that would raise the minimum legal retirement age to 62 from 60.

Moreover, global aging experts say, measures like pension reform are inadequate, piecemeal responses to the giant demographic shift that is upon us.

If the cost of maintaining aging populations could lead to World War II-era levels of government debt, a solution to the crisis will require a mass-scale collaborative response akin to the Manhattan Project or the space race, says Michael W. Hodin, who is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and researches aging issues.

Governments, industry and international agencies, he says, will have to work together to transform the very structure of society, by creating jobs and education programs for people in their 60s and 70s – the hypothetical new middle age – and by tackling diseases like Alzheimer’s whose likelihood increases as people age.

What we need is a very fundamental and profound transformation that is proportionate to the social shifts that are upon us and that is truly innovative in the public arena, innovation that is driven by industry,” says Mr. Hodin.

Here’s one simple suggestion: Influential international organizations, government agencies, companies and academic institutions should take up aging as a cause, the way they have already done for the environment. Although the United Nations, for example, set eight “millennium development goals” – ensuring environmental sustainability, promoting gender equality, and so on – for 2015, the list did not include ensuring the sustainability and equality of aging populations.

This is quite unacceptable that aging hasn’t been included in these goals,” says Baroness Greengross, a member of the House of Lords in Britain and chief executive of the International Longevity Centre U.K in London.

Here’s another suggestion: Governments with national health programs or other state coverage could start curbing the growth in medical spending ahead of the looming elderquake.

If countries wait to act, says Peter S. Heller, a senior adjunct professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University, they will have to scramble reactively to cut their budgets in response to burgeoning older populations, the way Greece, Ireland and Spain have done recently. At the same time, he says, politicians must also start educating citizens to understand that greater longevity may entail personal sacrifices, like increased savings and a willingness to pay higher shares of their medical and long-term care costs.

But the carrot may be a better approach than the stick, says Laura L. Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford and the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. She describes her outfit as a multidisciplinary research center whose “modest aim is to change the course of human aging.”

Rather than uniformly extending the retirement age, she says, governments and the private sector could develop incentives that motivate older people to remain in the work force. Those incentives might include bonuses for people who work until they are 70, exempting employers from paying Social Security taxes for employees over retirement age, more flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, and sabbaticals for education and training.

Maybe culture needs to change first,” says Professor Carstensen, “and policy will follow.”

FINALLY, some governments and companies may need attitude adjustments so they can view aging populations not as debt loads but as valuable wells of expertise.

I rather dispute your calling it a problem,” said Lady Greengross when I called to ask her how governments could better handle global aging. “It’s a celebration.”

As one example of how to embrace aging populations, she cites an equality act, recently passed by British legislators, that prohibits discrimination against older people (among others) seeking goods and services like car rentals or mortgages. Separately, she says, Britain next year will eliminate its default retirement age of 65, allowing people to remain in the work force longer.

In the long run, I’d like to see age irrelevance,” Lady Greengross says, “where people aren’t just labeled by their birthdays.”

Yes this is total and complete drivel. Yes it is a perfect summary of the facts but it is also a summary of the most shortsighted, dry, cold, cynical facts. And better history will know this a hundred years from now and they will say, FUCK the Financial Times was a bunch of total douchebags.


Well lets take an analogy. Assume I said that somewhere beginning of last century that things like giving women a right to vote, or giving poor classes proper hygienic ways to reduce infant mortality, or that providing children with proper education – would have been very bad for the most powerful political entity in 1900 (The British Empire) and consequently it would have been bad for ‘civilization’ I would have been branded a total and utter fucking douche.

I state that the claim and rationalization that we can not afford an ever older population, ‘in a fiscally prudent’ manner (or whatever fucked up euphemism you’d care require) is fucking evil. Even the suggestion is ruthless as pol pot.

The three above examples – (suffrage, health care to lower classes, universal education even to the very poorest) were in a historical context signs of progress. They signified the emergence of the modern age, over merely the Victorian industrial age. I can also lump in giving people of color equal rights as human beings, or giving destitute people welfare or letting homosexuals marry as the same generic entitlements

You acknowledge fair and verifiable rights of certain groups of people and you liberate societal means to help these people. And then to the shocked amazement of the trickledown marie-antoinette douchebags society becomes better.

Fuck you financial times. You think we can no longer afford as long? I say that suggesting that is like suggesting ‘we can’t afford to have so many jews anymore’ or ‘we really need to deal with inner city homeless people’ or we ‘can’t sustain all these orphans’.

Anyone who is over 45 should heed this article and its sentiments with scrutiny because it has a big fat ‘fuck you old people’ written all over it. It’s the earliest far right wing clarion call to find a final solution to deal with those whiny, sniveling old people that cost society (richer people) wayyy too much.

We’ll see about that.

Sure I agree, our budgetary systems are a total mess. Sure, the capital divisions of entitled pensioners and prepensioners, and their worth in the current economical paradigm is totally out of whack. Sure our current society is headed for total financial doom if we continue down this road. But if I remind you readers all that the current economical paradigm is not anything approximating Justice, but rather the most cynical, expedient manner to leverage off hidden economic costs (pollution, unemployment, medical care, safety, healthy food, access to living space, educational requirements) to societies most vulnerable, then, sure it makes sense to have the wolves look sideways at the lambs and start a discussion forum who will be next for dinner.

Every year someone else is made to live longer, is in terms of societal value equivalent. It makes just as much sense from a humane, or even a fiscal, sense, to take actions to reduce child mortality as it takes to reduce pensioner mortality. That saving babies is more pleasing and charismatic (by and large because fifteen years later most babies will start growing into suitable young fucks) does not make pushing oldies on the proverbial ice-shelf any less evil.

I have zero faith in top down, paternalistic, suck my ass bullshit programs to give old people more work. I don’t think that old people (say those over 70) can do anything like meaningful work – work that does not cost society more money than it costs to keep these people bullied around in the first place. All that well-intended envy crap will only make the lives of old people feel more miserable. It won’t work, except in the same tired douchebag manner this kind of stuff always work – leveraging hidden costs away to the vulnerable in the same manner your IP or telecom company leverages hidden consequences away by implementing a new cost saving help desk.

The answer should be fucking staring you all in the face and if you cares any shred beyond this weeks cooking with the stars I strongly suggest you consider voting that way.

Every dollar spend on dis-empowering old people is a dollar closer to stealth euthanasia programs for the old. (And yes that eventually includes you). Every dollar spend on functional life extension means a dollar spent in making sure someone over 60 does not need economy incapaciting medical care, or entitlement-hoarding pensions.

Yes that’s right financial times – life extension research is the only thing that will safe your ass.


3 thoughts on “Complete and utter shortsighted bullshit

  1. To the poster,

    On the contrary the Financial Times is simply stating a fact, we can’t afford to keep the elderly in tip top shape, and you have to ask yourself why. Well it’s because of the poor international GDP. People simply aren’t producing anything anymore, and those that are have become a minority. We have heralded ourselves into the “information age”, as indicated by your blog, but the exchange of information is useless if it doesn’t result in an actual tangible output. Yes yes, look at sites like Google and facebook, how have they been surviving? Well through simple marketting, they sell advertisements, but tell me, do you think websites like Facebook result in real business meetings? Do they result in real medicine being made to help the elderly? The number of “creative” outlets for the newer generations has increased, but the number of productive outlets have followed below a slope of 1. The plight of the elderly can be likened to a village that’s on the brink of being washed away by a massive flood. The government goes, we’d love to help but we don’t have the money or the resources to build the dam. You go, oh yeah, well let me look at your books, and you go scanning and scanning, and you’ll probably read for a year or so (if you’re that dedicated), and you’ll definitely find some corruption, but will it be enough to scrounge up the money to build the dam. Then you look at taxes going in, and go oh that’s the problem, there’s not enough money coming in, raise taxes. You don’t say it because you are a member of the taxable population, so you look for an alternative method: raise taxes for the very wealthy, use the money raised from the wealthy to cover the elderly welfare. Excellent idea, except you’re hurting the wealthy class now, who you so claim can spare a sum of their fortune since they didn’t work as hard for their money as the commoner like you. But you see, you’re imposing your will on a minority people, because you’re part of the middle classed majority. So what must happen, what if we increase taxes for everyone, and everyone just gets off their fat ass and goes to work? What if we make people produce rare earth metals from mines, what if we work to produce cheap toys, what if we try to turn lead into gold? Well that’s what China did, which was essentially everyone’s dirty work. Now China’s ascension to money is one built on hard work and currency manipulation, but current manipulation is practiced by every single country, espeically the Brits. The only difference is the Brits are so proud of their currency that they overvalue it, if you disagree tell me what Britain exports (if you say money, then you should understand why the Brits have no real international power). So, let’s go back to the dam example, you’re going to spend forever to catch the government in a bind, and by then the people will already be dead. What you could do is ask everyone to donate some money and work to build them a dam asap to protect the town. With that analogy, if your new generation has no concept of hard work and actual clandestine output (creative computer images are only useful if they can help people, as is music), then you can kiss your elderly population good bye, and if you believe in ghosts, well they’ll haunt you from the grave for wasting all their efforts on future generations who are doing worse than them. What is humanity? What is to be human? To be human means you take control of the situation and you change it to your advantage (usually via tools). Animals wait for food to wander in their “territory” so they can maybe hunt it down. And what happens when someone takes control of your territory, well you lose your habitat and start going extinct. If you care about your old folks, work hard (instead of cheating taxes) to ensure that they will have a future, or you could pay for their lifestyle, but we’ve seen how that usually ends up.

    1. You have no idea what I just wrote and you replied to a ghost article you thought I wrote. Look at an earlier, highly sarcastic, post of mine.. As it turns out I am highly aware of your analysis and I think it catastrophically shortsighted. Yes I do agree our western world economic foundations are built on quicksand. Yes I agree we are headed for the perfect storm of societal disaster. But I disagree with the components of this storm and the eventual outcome. Let me summarize:

      1. Our educational systems are a sham. This is short of a disaster. We have been training children for 30 years as factory workers. School is an exploitative, outdated, alienating system that kills spirits. Our kids do no longer believe that school is marginalizing. This is a cornerstone of the reason why we do no longer have motivation in people. That and television. Or passive entertainment. We are a society saturated by authoritarian factory worker values while we long since drifted from that to an automation society and from that to an information society. Kids as a rule are untrained to deal with the society we are in. They do not have the aptitude to deal with our society, do not feel affinity with it, and by far to big a degree do not trust in it. Everyone under 30 is in some degree tainted by it, especially anyone trained for a middle class and ‘lower’ job. The younger they are the more likely the kids are to realize they get a shitty deal.

      2. Capitalism in its current form is a sham. I am not saying it doesn’t work or that I make an ‘anti’-capitalist argument here. What I am saying is that capitalism, in the definition that a small corporate elite gets to impose their design on society, irregardless whether or not we as a society can trust them. I say we cannot. I say corporations are a people hostile entity. I say ‘corporatism == kleptocratism‘. And it isn’t just the dead cliches of environment or third world exploitation or producing weapons or dumping waste – the real problem with corporations is they they have become transnational and can use people as raw material. That’s right, our problem is that corporations can blackmail any government to provide them with the lowest tax regimen and in doing so benefit all their shareholders (and in some cases, scam their shareholders and only benefit their highest executives as well) . I think in ten years time this will have sunk in and all these people will literally go to prison. It has been an international societal pyramid scheme and the whole corporate system has been a confidence scam.

      3. We are as a modern society not merely slowly collapsing out of apathy, or because most of us have lack of faith we can have it as easy or as rich as the generation before us, no we are also collapsing because of short term vision. We as a society are blind to resource depletion. This is a catastrophe beyond words. Implementing alternative energies at the maximum pace would only be a fragmentary solution. Implementing alternative energies would ratchet up prices of minerals and metals on the international markets by an order of magnitude greater than the already unsustainable prices we have today. On all fronts we are sailing into cliffs of unsustainable economical growth curves. We cannot move into anything else than collapse because all this has been institutionalized by pathological, production oriented short term thinking. There are alternatives to this way of doing business or conduction democracy but they would decapacitate our leadership and corporate elite classes from their plush positions.

      4. However by far the worst crime enacted on the people by the currents system is the lie perpetuated we have something like ‘economic growth’. We do not. We have for the last half century have had massive increases in productivity, and only a small portion of even that ended up with the average shmoe like you and me. The fact of the matter is we don’t actually need all these people to do anything like “real work’, and the work done is either soul-deadening, exploitative, very dirty or dangerous. I dare to say we have had economic shrinkage, as the input energy price squared against human labor has been going up, the amounts of people competing for the share of available work and income has been going up sharply, the price of commodities and life in general has been going up, while the marie antoinettes of this world have cheated all of us out of an ever bigger slice of the proceedings. The biggest crime perpetuated on you and me is that we can have a fair share. We can’t. There isn’t enough work left to be done, squared against the appreciable reward we get for it. This is because corporations have intentionally and systemically been degrading the value of human labor against that of machines, computers and robots. This is going to get far far worse. I predict you that from before 2000 effective unemployment has gone up and will continue to go up by at least a % per year. This is in effect predation.

      Now what do we do with old people?

      The fact of the matter is we have on the one hand an undermotivated work force (anyone under 30), and on the other end a demographic of people (most people over 55) that no employer will ever hire, while corporations outrace each other to replace jobs and automate and streamline and outsource. How much economic value do you think a generation of people forced to become diaper changers will do? Because that is where we are setting ourselves up to become.

      What we do is to offer these things to the old and the young:

      offer a world, as quickly as possible, where the operating paradigm isn’t an atrocious cycle of birth, consumer, taxpayer, mortgage wage slave, pensioner, corpse. This is not a way to live anymore. I can’t believe in it and I’d rather be dead than become a wage slave. I happen to have severe mental issues that disqualify me from being implemented in the labor force, but you can bet the next decades of my life won’t be easy. In fact it will probably end in me being poor as a rat, toothless, slowly dying from neglect and utterly depressed and medicated up the eyeballs at age mid 70s in some half decaying and overcrowded old age home. You can bet your ass that before I am there I’ll walk in a corporate or govenment building with a jerrycan of kerosine, a gun and a phosporous torch and cause me some damage while saving me a shitload of pain. If they catch me while trying what will they do with an old woman in her 70s? Berate me?
      So how do we do that – simple, by giving anyone a credible chance at extended life. We can do so now – aging is clearly a disease. At this stage aging is a personal disease, an existential disease, a philosophical disease and a societal disease We can fix aging. We don’t need a generation of scientists or a manhattan project to research it. A modest investment of money, a fraction of an average war these days, could easily create a series of treatments that could extend everyone’s life, at the very least in the rich nations, by decades.

      We stumbled in this nightmare because of demographic shifts that allowed people to become far smarter in little over a century. Look at population education levels in 1910 when compared to 2010. Now square that against population levels in 1910 squared against 2010. We went from 1.7 billion to over 7 billion in a single century. All the world’s people woke up in ways we haven’t seen ever before in this planet. We are now collectively not merely a biological force, we are an extinction event and a geological motor. And what for? To get screwed over my those in charge? Because arguably that always seems to happen, irregardless whether or now we have enlightenment, industrialization, democratization, popularization, commercialization, emancipation, unionization, automation, capitalism or communism. We cannot trust our fellow humans anymore than we can trust ourselves. We are an unsanitary, unchaste, incontinent species of pathologically self-interested short term thinkers.

      As soon as society extends the biological lifespan of humans this will signify a massive change in the thinking of everyone – we’ll have to deal with the shit we leave behind. Right now we can all arguably say – what the fuck do I care, for as long as I live I am screwed over by ‘them’ and in a few decades I’ll be dead anyways, what the fuck do I care?

      So – that was what my objection the the OP article was all about.

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