Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Contemplating Geronticide: A Response

After reading yesterday’s post “Contemplating Geronticide”, our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan was moved to add his own ideas to the mix, and sent us this response.


Contemplating Geronticide: A Response
by H. Numan


There are many possible solutions to this problem, apart from turning Europe in a labor camp or exterminating those who can’t labor anymore. In fact, I’m somewhat surprised our statisticians never addressed the problem before it started to show its ugly face. Only somewhat surprised: show me a politician who wants to address a problem before it occurs and you have shown me a true white elephant.

In high school we learned a bit about demography. Like the bell curves, and that the inverted urn was the best model. While the teacher explained all this, I as a teenager was a bit puzzled. The inverted urn relies on one single factor: a growing population. You can do lots of nice things when business is booming. What if the inverted urn stops? When a nation, for whatever reason, does not grow anymore? Should the government not try to strive for a demographic equilibrium?

Trees normally do not grow into heaven. Neither do countries.

My teacher found my questions very interesting, but told me not to worry about it. After all, I was a high school student, and those running the statistics were highly qualified math experts, etc. That was way back in the early 70’s.

Today we are looking in Pandora’s box and what we see isn’t very nice. So, what can a nation do?

If they don’t want to convert their citizens into labor slaves, that is. Japan might be a good example how this problem can be tackled without turning the nation in a labor camp producing Soylent Green.

Japan does not want to import guest labor. Given the problems with long-staying guest laborers in Europe, I can’t really blame them.

The first solution is the techno solution, and that’s what Japan is trying out right now. Some jobs can be done by machines. Giving an elderly person a bath can be a job that can be done (up to a degree) by a computer. Japan is trying out automated bathing systems, that will rely a lot on robots and computerized bathing, and much less on humans doing the job. Very un-personal, but what is the alternative? Not bathing at all?
- - - - - - - - -
Another approach, also implemented by Japan, is to set up retirement villages in other less expensive countries nearby. This is currently a booming business in o.a.Thailand. Entrepreneurs can set up a village developed for and dedicated to elderly people. If they meet Japanese standards, the Japanese government is willing to empty a bag of money in it. In other words: to guarantee funding and subsidize occupancy.

Such a village much have — I’d almost say ‘of course’ — Japanese-speaking staff, doctors, nurses, shops. Some of the staff are Japanese, but most are Thais who can speak Japanese and have learned how to work with Japanese clients. The government doesn’t just empty a bag of money, the villages are monitored on a continuous basis on how well they do. (Europe could learn something from this.)

I see this as a win-win solution for everybody: retired people have a choice of living in Japan but not in much comfort. Or live in much more comfort and care in another country where the price is far more affordable. For the costs of caring for one elderly person in Japan, at least five persons can be cared for in much more comfort if they choose to live somewhere else.

The government (= the nation, in other words: the taxpayer) does have to pay a price, however. A price Euro governments are not yet willing to pay. Caring for elderly persons within your own country recycles tax money within the system. Caring for your elderly people abroad doesn’t.

In Europe, the governments would like to encourage guest labor to make up for the deficit. But why? Does a guest laborer have to stay in Europe, marry and have kids? Is it discriminatory to offer contracts with a limited time period? I think not. Many people would be more than happy to work on a contractual agreement for — say — one, two or three years, and then go back to their own country.

To give an example from closer to home, I lecture occasionally at tourist (hospitality) universities that would LOVE to send their students to Europe, to get practical experience and on-the-job training. But they can’t. Even for a limited period of less than a year, it’s horrendously complicated to comply with the EU or local rules. Hospitals and hotels in the Netherlands would be more than happy to house a Thai student for a year, and have them work in their organization. But the rules are so fiendishly difficult, complex and far-fetched that it isn’t worth it.

The reason is “anti-discrimination”. The immigration system is massively abused by some, therefore we penalize all. We can’t discriminate, so we can’t target those that abuse it. Which is actually discrimination too, but in reverse.

I think a civilized society that lowers itself to levels where the citizens are turned into slave laborers is not a civilized society at all. No matter the reason. I don’t see much difference between national socialist Germany gassing their problems and international socialist European governments changing their citizens into slaves so they can remain in power.

In brief, my solutions:

1. Examine how technology can be applied in human care. This is an expensive solution.
2. Award temporary contracts for jobs. This solution is also expensive, but at least won’t add to the current ethnic problems that are already there. The contract would pay normal wages. As the laborers cannot claim social benefits afterwards, they would receive it as a bonus when the contract ends. In the Dutch army we used to have short time volunteers, who received such a bonus. In fact it was their accumulated pension that got paid off in advance. In other words: there already is a (politically correct) precedent.
3. Set up retirement projects in low wage countries. This is probably the cheapest solution.
4. Set up a policy that works with a stable population. This is long term planning. No politician likes it, but it will have to be done.

8 comments:

costin said...

that's a common sense solution. there might be others. i wonder if there are still to be found common sense politicians to apply something like this. maybe not exactly this one, but something that makes any sense. of course, they would have to start tomorrow, 6th of may 2008 implementing something like this. Opposing Eastern Europe pessimism to American (or even Dutch) optimism I would tend say El Ingles is closer to what will happen. I only wish I will be proved to be wrong!

Francis W. Porretto said...

When I contemplate the demographic declines of the industrialized nations, I can't help but think of the dystopian future depicted in P. D. James's novel The Children Of Men. It appears to be drawing near in Europe, Russia, and Japan. Do they have anything to look forward to but a choice of demises?

pasta said...

@H. Numan:

"I’m somewhat surprised our statisticians never addressed the problem before it started to show its ugly face."

In Germany, population scientists did cry alarm in 1970 or so over the plummeting birth rate, but a political discussion was suppressed by likening all policies targeting to increase the birth rate to Nazi policies. (The Nazis did try to increase the birth rate, with only modest success.) To some point this attitude lasts on even until today.

"4. Set up a policy that works with a stable population. This is long term planning. No politician likes it, but it will have to be done."

Did you mean to set up a policy to target the population to become stable in the long run? Sorry, but I don't understand this last sentence of yours, because just working with a stable population won't do, because we won't have a stable population, but a perpetually shrinking one, as soon as the baby-boomers die off. It will perpetually shrink at a fast pace and the "overhang" of old people unfit for work will persist until the moment when we reach a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman again plus 70-80 years, the time it takes for the older, larger cohorts to die off.

@Francis W. Porretto:

"When I contemplate the demographic declines of the industrialized nations, I can't help but think of the dystopian future depicted in P. D. James's novel The Children Of Men. It appears to be drawing near in Europe, Russia, and Japan. Do they have anything to look forward to but a choice of demises?"

As soon as they achieve replacement fertility rates (2.1 children per woman) again, their situation will begin to improve 20-25 years later (after these children join the workforce). We discussed government policies aiming to achieve this in in this older thread.

Personally, I am convinced that replacement fertility rates cannot be achieved without applying very severe penalties (for example, a very high tax) against those who willfully don't have their fair share of children. Without such a policy, our peoples will most probably die off. In the age of the contraceptive pill, a people living in a liberal society cannot survive in the long run on its own, without the government forcing it. Therefore, unless we get to live under a government dedicated to protect our continued existence real soon, we are irreversibly doomed. "Holding out" over the course of several generations, like the Jews did in medieval Europe or the Jews and Christians in the Islamic world, won't work anymore.

Considering that native Europeans will possibly not succeed (and not even want) to install such governments dedicated to protect their continued existence until they are overwhelmed by an alien majority - what could be done? I have been toying with the idea of founding a "home state" for us, in a similar way as the Zionists worked on creating Israel. This may be a silly and non-workable idea, but I am at a loss about what else to do...

Sagunto said...

@pasta,

like other people concerned about negative consequences of low fertility rates - people who might have read the book by Mark Steyn ("America Alone"), I see the point very much bound up with the ongoing process of the Islamization of Europe. Signalling these facts and putting them into some kind of larger perspective is the easy part. Difficulties of course arise as soon as possible solutions are suggested, and that brings me to a quote on your part that worries me:

"..Personally, I am convinced that replacement fertility rates cannot be achieved without applying very severe penalties (for example, a very high tax) against those who willfully don't have their fair share of children. Without such a policy, our peoples will most probably die off.."

From a conservative standpoint, I'm already deeply concerned about the far-reaching power the State (EU, federal govt) has acquired to meddle in our personal lives. The decision of people to have children and start a family is not, and should never be subjected to the power of the State, not even when you and I might be convinced by evidence of its "good intentions". I don't think that handing over yet even more "private territory" to the State would be the right solution, to whatever problem for that matter.

I think that any solution must separate the issues of Islamization and indigenous procreation. Islamization can and must be delt with along the lines suggested by Geert Wilders. On the other hand it would be wise to free the issue of low fertility rates from doom-o-graphic scaremongering (somewhat akin to the cataclysmic hot-air propheteering by overzealous Gorists). Just approaching it as the serious challenge that it is, will do just fine. When it is obvious that - ceteris paribus - the general population will decline, and it is also obvious that this is a current feature of technologically and otherwise advanced Western societies, then - suppose you want to preserve key aspects of the Western way of life - it would be wise to invest in a free society that can deal with that serious issue, not by wasting our money on unchecked immigration neither by hysterical attempts at outbreeding muslim colonists (which would not guarantee in any way that anything would be done about muslim immigration, which must be halted/reversed, full stop), but by innovation. At least in Holland most "baby-boomers" are paying for their own economic "cost to society", but the mythical proportions of the population decline after they die i.m.o. predominantly serves the agenda of the current political elites to run state-controlled programmes of mass immigration and/or breeding. The key-word to keep a close eye on here is: State-control.

My 2 cents,

Sag.

Johnny said...

This is all nonsense. You would have used the arguments about burdens on the working population to have prevented the elimination of child labour... if they made any sense.

Back in the fifties women stayed at home - not paying taxes. Plus families had children - not paying taxes.

Don't you get it yet? The problem is the government spends too much money, not that there aren't enough taxpayers.

Quite apart from that it's a fool's game to predict the future. Ten years into the last century, a world war broke out and killed millions of people, followed by a world-wide flu epidemic that actually killed more people than the war. Later, WW2 and millions more, closely following Stalin's purges of millions, etc.

What on earth makes you think governments of various sorts and for various reasons won't kill hundreds or even thousands of millions this century - all historical precedent implies governments will be killing people in larger numbers this century than the last.

Stop governments doing what they're doing and we'd all be a lot better off. You're certainly dangerously crazy if think it's a good idea to be encouraging government-sponsored murders - they don't need any encouragement. Government is force and they have to kill people to keep it going.

Charlemagne said...

If you're not familiar with the 1976 movie, Logan's Run I highly recommend it.

Since Social Security is funded by current workers to pay to current retirees do I, as a parent, have a greater right to the benefits of their labor when I am retired than those that have remained childless? Have I not sacrificed and made the investment to raise the next generation of taxpayers? The way the current system is set up the childless wind up being freeloaders who take but have not contributed by having children.

Charlemagne said...

c

Unfrench said...

I've got a better solution to this issue yet: don't try to solve it. It is not for us or the pols to solve it. Society shouldn't try and solve people's problems. Nobody will take care of your old age but yourself or your family. If you think otherwise you are in for a disappointment.