Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Contemplating Geronticide

We’ve been thinking the unthinkable lately here at Gates of Vienna.

Fjordman, El Inglés, Paul Weston, and I have all laid out future scenarios that lie beyond the pale of acceptable speculation. Regardless of the accuracy of our projections, or the fact that we are not advocating what we anticipate, the possibilities that we contemplate here are considered out of bounds.

So we may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a goat.

I’d like to take a slightly different speculative tack this time. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the West has acted on Zenster’s recommendations — that Muslim immigration has been curtailed, and the immigrant population in the West has been reduced by deportations or “incentives for reverse migration” — so that the presence of large numbers of Muslims in the West is no longer an issue.

What happens next?

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Henry PerigalIf Western countries follow the Japanese example and refuse to ameliorate their declining populations by importing immigrants, they will eventually face a demographic crisis. The United States will get there eventually, but Europe will be first.

So let’s look ahead a quarter of a century, to a time when the survivors from my generation — the Boomers — will be drooling geezers, and the young folks among our readers (you know who you are!) will still be in their maturity.

No matter what transpires in the meantime, the population of native First-Worlders will be a lot grayer by then. Even if Westerners start whelping out babies like crazy during the next decade, the birth dearth will make itself decisively felt during the coming years. Next year’s cohort of European babies will just be coming online in twenty-five years, and in the meantime much of the adult population will have retired and started drawing their pensions.

For the sake of this argument, we’ll make a few assumptions. These conditions are of varying likelihood, but I am listing them as premises; that is, we take them as given and make deductions accordingly:
- - - - - - - - -
1. Third World immigration, including Muslims, is no longer an issue, and is not significant.
2. The existing European social welfare systems, including pensions and state-funded health care, continue in more or less their present configuration.
3. Given premises #1 and #2, tax rates have risen to make up for the demographic deficit, so that social programs are still being funded.
4. In order to assume #3, we must also assume that technological innovation has allowed productivity to increase so that an adequate tax base exists.
5. Also, the retirement age has been incrementally raised to maintain a larger base of productive taxpayers.
6. Finally, we assume that medical technology is still available to allow retired citizens to survive well into their ninth and tenth decades.

Note that these are best-case scenarios: under our existing circumstances, these predictions represent the best that we can possibly expect. No assumption is made about changes in Western birth rates, because the effect of any such changes will not yet be fully felt in our societies during the next quarter-century.

So, given all of the above, imagine that you live in the year 2033. You’re walking the streets of Oslo, or Bremen, or Cardiff, or Zurich. What do you see?

The first thing you’ll notice is that there are geezers everywhere. Lots and lots of them.

The mods, rockers, hippies, yippies, disco divas, and hopeless squares of my era are now drooling and nodding in geriatric wards and assisted care facilities all across the heartland of the West. They’re not just listening to “Stairway to Heaven” on the digital sound systems of their nursing homes — they’ve actually got a trembling foot on the first step.

The ratio of retired people to employed workers has increased from the 1:6 or 1:3 or 1:2 that prevailed in 2008 to 1:1, or even 2:1 in some countries — that is, twice as many retirees as workers. The remaining workers not only have to pay more taxes, they have to be more productive to keep their parents’ generation in comfortable retirement.

Medical technology and the mandates of patient care serve to keep more and more people alive far past their allotted three score and ten.

And every year of life after seventy gets more and more expensive. Bypass surgery, organ transplants, hip replacements, pacemakers, MRIs, CAT scans, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, blood work, and all the accompanying medication: the cost of keeping a senior citizen alive into the ninth decade has risen astronomically. Not only that, in 2033 centenarians have become a commonplace: there are hundreds of thousands of them.

Living to a ripe old age has become very, very expensive.

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Imagine that you’re a working person living in this Brave New World. You’re in your maturity, between the ages of forty and sixty-five. You have no chance of retiring any time soon, because the retirement age was gradually raised during your youth to make sure that you and your cohort would continue being productive and paying taxes for a longer time.

If you live in one of the countries (for example, Sweden) where the tax rate was near or over 50% in 2008, then your taxes now consume 75% or more of your income. Even those countries (for example, Ireland) that used to be low-tax havens have been forced to raise tax rates above 50% just to maintain state social programs at their accustomed levels.

Depending on what country they are from and when they retired, many of the elderly you see around you have been relaxing and drawing state pensions for well over thirty years. A centenarian in France may well have been existing on state subsidy for more than half of his lifetime.

So you’re a man who works hard and struggles to make ends meet. Because of your economic circumstances, you and your wife put off having children for so long that it’s now too late to have them. The burden of taxation leaves you with just enough to be barely comfortable, giving you no hope for any real prosperity.

Walking along the street on the way to work, you push past all the elderly people with their walkers and wheelchairs. You see them crowding the park benches and nodding over their tables in the café or the library.

So how do you feel about all this? Are you well-disposed towards all these crowds of geezers? Do you wish them only the best, and gladly surrender the bulk of your income to keep them in their comfortable retirement?

Or are you just a tiny bit angry and resentful at this, the endgame of the Socialist state?

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Given the above outline — which, remember, is based on a best-case scenario — I see several possible outcomes. I’ll list them below in order of increasing likelihood.

1. The use of draconian incentives to keep people employed well past the age of sixty-five.

As the demographic disaster looms ever closer in the coming years, the planners of the Socialist state may choose to make old-age benefits unavailable to those who are certified as “fit to work”. In Europe, at least, all the certifying physicians will be state employees, so the criteria for determining “fitness” can be ratcheted downward until the required numbers of citizens are removed from full-time retirement at state expense and kept in employment.

Another tactic that would provide incentives for workers to remain employed would be to require that retired people on state pensions live in dormitory-style facilities, which — given the normal tendencies of centralized bureaucratic Socialism — would be very unappealing places to live.

2. The removal of the franchise from those citizens deemed no longer competent.

The full menu of Socialist care will be sustained for a while by the voting power of the elderly, who can be expected to vote their interests as a massive bloc. However, the EU is already an undemocratic political structure, and will become even more so in the next few years. Presumably the interests of the technocrats in charge will allow them to veto the opinions of ordinary citizens, so that the franchise can be taken from anyone the state deems incompetent.

Once again it will be physicians employed by the state who will do the certifying, so the competency of potential voters will be weighed with the interests of the state in mind.

3. Massive civil unrest of the young and the fit against the cosseting of the parasitic elderly.

The geezers will outnumber the young and fit, but they will be no match for them if civil society ever begins to falter. A crushing tax burden and the manifest unfairness of the system can be expected to bring angry masses of young men and women into the streets in protest.

Which will be more important to the nervous authorities at that point, the votes of the ancient and decrepit people in nursing homes, or the mob howling in the street outside their windows?

4. A gradual reduction in the quality of medical care for the elderly

State-financed health care, plagued as it is by chronic shortages, is already rationed in one form or another within the welfare states of Europe.

It would take just a small bureaucratic shift to push the rationed care away from old people, thereby hastening their demise and easing the burden on a highly stressed welfare system.

5. The widespread increase of officially-sanctioned euthanasia.

The Netherlands presents a model for the gradual introduction of state-sponsored euthanasia. It begins with “mercy killing” — assisted suicide for those who have stated unambiguously their desire to die. The next step is for relatives, in consultation with doctors, to affirm that dear Mama or Papa “would never have wanted to live this way”.

The final stage will be a determination by the state — certified by those ever-busy physicians — that the quality of a patient’s life has been so degraded that his or her continued existence is detrimental to the common good of society.

This process will be expedited by the vast numbers of childless old people, who will be much less likely to have anyone to intercede on their behalf.

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All five of the above scenarios could emerge in various combinations, and the first four will tend inexorably towards the fifth. As the state gradually withdraws decision-making power from old people, it will become much easier to shunt them aside, subject them to degrading conditions, and eventually exterminate them.

But, in any case, something will have to give. Things cannot continue as they are indefinitely.

Some of the outcomes described above — or maybe some additional and even less pleasant ones that I haven’t thought of — are inevitable.

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All of this is a fantasy, because the best-case conditions I used as premises are highly unlikely to occur.

In a futile attempt to bolster the existing system, immigration of Third World people, especially Muslims, will continue unabated, and probably increase.

Despite these last-ditch measures, the welfare state will become insupportable and will eventually disintegrate piece by piece.

The effort to postpone the inevitable through high taxation and central control will cause an economic collapse, either in slow motion or as a sudden and catastrophic discontinuity.

The above conditions make it likely that the rule of law will erode, and that the social contract — the hard-won result of centuries of struggle — will at last be abrogated.

The exact configuration of the final outcome depends upon the order and magnitude of these events. But there’s no escaping it: massive and fundamental change lies ahead for the West, and will arrive within the lifetimes of those who are now under forty years old.


Anyone who concludes that I am advocating any of the outcomes described above has failed to read the text carefully.

I realize that adding this disclaimer is unlikely to do any good, yet I disclaim: this post is descriptive, not normative.

32 comments:

Sir Henry Morgan said...

I have long considered that when I can no longer prepare my own food, or wipe my own backside, then it's time to die.

A little "help" on my way would be most welcome, but not entirely necessary. I have long considered that I will die by my own hand - ask any doctor: letting nature take it's course is rarely merciful.

My family (two brothers, two sisters - youngest in his forties) all know this. We have discussed dying between ourselves many times over the past couple of decades. We've seen member after member of earlier generations of our family die slowly. It's not pleasant to contemplate, and there is no dignity at all in it.

I even know where I want to die, and it's in a place where hopefully no one will find the body. Let the wildlife have me: I'd prefer it if I was eaten by things a bit bigger, brighter and more mobile than maggots.

Nothing morbid about this - just sensible preparation. Others may differ in their opinion.

Johnny said...

what this analyst fails to understand is that a very large majority of the workers are only recycling taxes - they are in government make work schemes involving pointless regulations and paper-pushing. People on poverty-level social support of various sorts are actually less of a burden on the economy and the environment than a large proportion of the working population.

We're a post-industrial economy, all the manufacturing is being done in countries with plenty of young workers. It's all just smoke and mirrors and you're not paying attention to the man behind the curtains.

KGS said...

There is one scenario left unmentioned, the implosion of the socialist ideal, and a return to the more sane system of individualism.

Martin said...

If we assume that there wont be any unbearable crisis, civil wars, global conflicts and things like this (which I doubt), I think that scenario number one is quite sustainable if done in proper way....

State will continue to pay some form of pension, but too low for comfortable life (just for basics like meal, rent and things like this), so it will force pensioners to have at least part time job even without need of draconian incentives :) And because there will be chronical lack of personal in "productive age", companies wont have any other options than to employ those who would be today considered as too old.......

I think that many old people prefere low-end part time job over sitting at home and watching TV :)

Described situation is based on situation where both parts are prepared and willing to act in this way....

Another quite easily imaginable situation is, when state acts on behalf of pensioners and prescribe quota of people over 65, 70 demanded to employ by law (or even more:)) ..and if you do not take them in, you have to pay huge fines.....

Martin said...

By even more I thought even older....

randian said...

I second kgs. Not likely, though, since the socialists control the eduction system.

Risto A. said...

Main problem is not in sustaining a decent life, but how to sustain 'current' power foodchain. The massive infrastructure etc. This is the blackhole where all the money sinks in and where the EU - byreucratic beasts rises.

Second. Problem will go away naturaly in few decades and whoops, people are in society where there is nothing but a memory of the boomers. If however, this problem is "solved" by importing people from middleages the problem has a lifespan of nuclear waste - hardly an honorable heritage to leave to grandkids.

Listen now dear friends. System is not the purpose of society. Society is the purpose for the system. At the moment this fundamental is twisted in the spinmachine of neo-communism that aims to create a SYSTEM (EU) to be the mother of all systems.

Instead of this beast, all the current national systems would need to be re-evaluated and TOSS ALL THE USELESS bureucracy out from the window and deep in to the sea. This solves 'it'. And what's best, todays kids can actually cherish the memory of their grandparents for creating a modest system that only serves the purpose of everyday lifes functionality.

Zenster said...

4. In order to assume #3, we must also assume that technological innovation has allowed productivity to increase so that an adequate tax base exists.

This is the tricky one. An “adequate tax base” will depend on a number of factors, not least of which is retaining and generating new jobs to create those taxable incomes. Our current crop of politicians is so beholden to foreign interests that this one issue has become critical. In addition, what were once major American-based corporations continue to go multi-national and offshore their financial base as a way of lowering taxation to increase profits.

Both of these trends need to be reversed. Service economies DO NOT create wealth. They shift an existing pool of wealth around in what amounts to an overstuffed shell game. As one economist said, “A national economy cannot subsist by taking in each others’ washing.” So, while bumping up the population numbers is important, revitalizing America’s manufacturing base is an equally significant goal as well.

That major campaign contributors derive substantial wealth from outsourcing production to overseas locations assures near-total lack of action upon this by our politicians. Far more likely are further instances of the mass-betrayal Americans witnessed with the recent Z-visa treason that republican and democratic party members alike tried to sneak past the electorate. None of this bodes well.

You have no chance of retiring any time soon, because the retirement age was gradually raised during your youth to make sure that you and your cohort would continue being productive and paying taxes for a longer time.

This is not an unreasonable development. Advances in medical technology have increased longevity to the point where roll-back of the retirement age makes perfectly good sense. Plus, it is the current generation’s tax dollars that have helped finance many of these medical marvels and that merits some sort of compensation.

Depending on what country they are from and when they retired, many of the elderly you see around you have been relaxing and drawing state pensions for well over thirty years. A centenarian in France may well have been existing on state subsidy for more than half of his lifetime.

This is an issue more unique to socialist Europe and one which it has consciously bred up for many decades. The “geronticide” in question has already begun within the British National Health plan whereby the very elderly are unilaterally being denied heroic measures. Additionally, “self-imposed” conditions such as cirrohsis of the liver from excessive alcohol consumption or hip and knee replacements for the morbidly obese are being used to disqualify individuals for transplants.

… the criteria for determining “fitness” can be ratcheted downward until the required numbers of citizens are removed from full-time retirement at state expense and kept in employment.

Again, these sort of measures are already happening. Unemployed German workers are being denied continued state benefits unless they sell their luxury automobiles and this is just the beginning of such disincentives.

However, the EU is already an undemocratic political structure, and will become even more so in the next few years.

Which—in light of the two foregoing examples—will likely make for some very unpleasant times ahead in Europe. The term “Old World” will take on an entirely different meaning.

Which will be more important to the nervous authorities at that point, the votes of the ancient and decrepit people in nursing homes, or the mob howling in the street outside their windows?

That depends upon who will be running the show. In the EU’s case, it stands to reason that the power-hungry elite currently in place will seek to maintain their status for as long as possible. That summons up the possibility of a “gerontocracy” which simply will not relinquish its grip on political power.

I refer you to one of the most widely translated science-fiction books in history, “The Space Merchants” by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth. In its hilarious futuristic sendup, a low Social Security number confers privilege and status in a population where the very elderly enjoy medically-extended lifetimes that allows them to retain their hold on power.

The final stage will be a determination by the state — certified by those ever-busy physicians — that the quality of a patient’s life has been so degraded that his or her continued existence is detrimental to the common good of society.

Which is why any sane person should quake in fear at the prospect of being subjected to comprehensive government controlled health care like that being suggested by America’s democratic party.

Despite these last-ditch measures, the welfare state will become insupportable and will eventually disintegrate piece by piece.

Combined with ongoing Muslim colonization of Europe, the predictions of El Inglés continue to resonate. Like all Socialistic structures, Europe’s numerous governments are headed straight towards economic collapse. Even without the added drag of Muslim welfare addicts, there still remains little hope of avoiding a widespread fiscal meltdown.

Europe’s economic irresponsibility has literally guaranteed that it will—according to the ancient Chinese epithet—live in “interesting times”.

randian said...

Service economies DO NOT create wealth

That's backwards. Service economies are evidence of wealth, that we are so productive that we can pay others to labor for us. Have you forgotten that measure of 19th C wealth, the servant? Wealth isn't in the production, which has little value added, it's in the design. Besides, in the US at least, manufacturing isn't in a decline. Yes, manufacturing employment is in decline, but revenues, profits, and wages-per-employee are at all-time highs.

NJArtist said...

1. Retirees who are still able bodied will find a retirement job to supplement pensions or social security; governments should respond to this by using incentives: increasing age discrimination penalties, lessening taxes on retirement income, and pressuring companies to raise mandatory retirement ages.

2. Other retirees who own their own businesses will be discouraged from retiring or at least closing their businesses.

livfreerdie said...

While reading/researching today I learned a new word today-raubwirtschaft, the plundering of existing resources(tax base) without creating any new resources. When more are on the dole the tax base is burdened even more while the ruling landed elite are tax-exempt. A class of non-resource-producing has been created(NGOs anyone?) requiring massive subsidies resulting in ever more bureaucracy and infrastructure. Maybe when their subsidies dry up they will see the light. Yeah, right.

Tom

Zenster said...

Randian: Wealth isn't in the production, which has little value added, it's in the design.

I'm not disputing that. The point remains that there are three basic ways of creating wealth: manufacturing, agriculture and mining. Well-paying jobs in all three of these sectors are disappearing at a phemonenal rate.

Besides, in the US at least, manufacturing isn't in a decline. Yes, manufacturing employment is in decline, but revenues, profits, and wages-per-employee are at all-time highs.

If you look at a distribution chart of American wages there is an hourglass shape whereby the most numerous positions are at the very top and very bottom with a severe constriction in the middle region.

We have vast numbers of minimum wage earners and a corps of elite CEO types at each end with an ever-shrinking middle tier of positions that pay between $50K and $100K. This is exceptionally unhealthy for America's economy.

Yes, our workers are among the most productive in the entire world, but our politicians and corporations are actively abetting the destruction of America's middle class. I have a problem with that.

randian said...

Well-paying jobs in all three of these sectors are disappearing at a phemonenal rate.

While the number of well-paying jobs in other sectors is growing. Why is that of any more concern than the disappearance of well-paying buggy whip jobs?

If you look at a distribution chart of American wages there is an hourglass shape whereby the most numerous positions are at the very top and very bottom with a severe constriction in the middle region.

Irrelevant. The middle class isn't shrinking because it's getting poorer, it's shrinking because it's getting richer. Look at the quintiles, the top is growing while the bottom isn't. That's a good thing in my book.

This is exceptionally unhealthy for America's economy.

Please explain why.

Diamed said...

Here's some good reasons:

It takes money to make money. Only the middle class can become entrepreneurs, pay for college, buy a house, or invest in the stock market. Poor people on minimum wage are shut out of the ladder that can advance them to the halls of the rich.

Poor people are more likely to do crime or riot, thus destroying far more than if you'd just paid them more in the first place.

Poor people won't be able to afford children without state support which a) increases government b) instills bad habits in the people or c) yet again decreases the population of our country.

As to the larger question of what to do with all these old people, I think the solution is simple, strip them of social security and health care benefits and let the chips fall where they may. This won't happen though because old people will vote themselves money in an unstoppable block. After that it becomes murky. Civil war, economic collapse, or who knows what. It's insane that we've seen this coming for around 30 years and done nothing about it. Immigration is making this rather irrelevant though, since the future will be determined by muslims, not old french or young french. And I doubt muslims will care much for either.

Zenster said...

Randian: Please explain why.

From the Economic Policy Institute

Economy's Gains Fail to Reach Most Workers' Paychecks

by Jared Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel

… this report examines the wage and employment trends in the 2000s and finds:

Real wages have been stagnant for many workers in the 2000s.
After rising quickly in the second half of the 1990s, most workers real wages have been stagnant in the 2000s, especially since 2003. This result holds for a wide variety of wage and compensation measurements, including those that add the value of fringe benefits.

The productivity/wage gap has grown.
The gap between productivity growth and workers wages, especially those of middle- and low-wage workers, is at a historically high level.

Wage growth has been unequal.
Wage growth in the 2000s followed a highly unequal pattern, and higher-wage workers gained the most ground.

Despite low unemployment, workers' bargaining power has diminished.
Though the unemployment rate has been low in historical terms, it does not capture the erosion of employment relative to the population caused by weak growth in (or withdrawal from) the labor force over the past few years. The bottom line is that many workers still lack the bargaining power to claim their fair share of the productivity growth they themselves are helping to create. This is partly due to weak job creation over the course of this recovery.

More downward pressure on wage growth is likely.
The recent slowing of productivity growth and rising unemployment are likely to place further pressure on most workers' real wages in the near to medium terms.

... the wage trends in the 2000s represent a pronounced downshift for middle- and low-wage workers relative to the late 1990s.

[emphasis added]

Furthermore, the chart of relative per capita earnings growth between 1973 and mid-2007 in Figure A, shows that while there has been disproportionate growth in the 96th percentile (CEOs), median wages (~$50K annual) increasingly track the very lowest 10th percentile in terms of earnings growth.

Note: I urge readers to please go to the above link and examine the chart. It bears out the totally unjustified increase in boardroom compensation even as most other workers' wages remain relatively flat.

Pay for Performance

According to Business Week, the average CEO of a major corporation made 42 times the average hourly worker's pay in 1980. By 1990 that had almost doubled to 85 times. In 2000, the average CEO salary reached an unbelievable 531 times that of the average hourly worker.
[emphasis added]

Randian: The middle class isn't shrinking because it's getting poorer, it's shrinking because it's getting richer.

This is not what I consider upward mobility in wages. Please submit metrics that counter these observations.

DP111 said...

Rising oil prices are already affecting the economy of Europe in a major way. More worrying for European regional governments and our self-appointed federal EU government, is the rising anger of truckers. They are openly pressing for considerable reduction of fuel duty, and causing traffic chaos. Other groups are waiting in the wings.

The authorities are thus caught in a steel trap. If they give in, they lose tens billions of Euros each year - a sum they cannot afford to be without, to keep state dependents in a happy state. If they don't give in to the truckers, the truckers threaten to do serious damage to the economy of Europe - again huge loss in tax revenue, and resulting potential civil unrest. Strikes, civil unrest, strikes, power shortages, brownouts, civil unrest. The cycle is then downward.

Given such conditions of unrest and shortage of real money, xenophobia will rise, and Muslims, being Muslims who believe they have allah given rights that surpass native rights, will start the fight. Of course they will lose, and voluntary repatriation will start - hopefully in a humane manner.

I'm not too concerned about demographic collapse. It will recover, for without the burden of a mass of Muslims on welfare, social security will be able to cope. If not, the family as a social structure will re-start just to cope with the stress - which would be a blessing in many other ways.

More people will likely have children as they do not have to work just to support immigrant welfare scroungers, particularly Muslims. Besides, European work ethic will reassert itself. It has taken a knock recently, because of a large number of immigrants readily accessing and scamming the Benefit system.

In any war, and this is a war, let us first secure the home front i.e., safe from demographic conquest by Muslims - the rest we can deal with at peace, leisure and very likely, pleasure.

whiskey_199 said...

I would add that there is another aspect people have neglected:

CRIME.

A society of mostly older people, with a very few young people, is very vulnerable to crime. Who's to stop them? At it's worst it's Mike Tyson (who at 17 mugged old ladies for their social security checks) with no other people to stop them. Only a large pool of young people with a vested interest in keeping order and suppressing crime can prevent it.

Europe's aging is likely to produce horrific crime waves, even with no Muslim presence due to pixie dust and magic wands.

As for Zenster's documented wage / productivity gap and falling wages, after a period of rising wages, that is the classic signs of a "pre-revolutionary" situation. One in which people expect better for themselves for several generations then find themselves disappointed. It can lead to Bastille's being stormed or the NSDAP being voted in. Take your pick.

Europe is well and truly messed up. Only an emergency dose of traditional values, more women having kids as they are able, and raising them in two-parent households. The likelihood of this slightly less than that of Unicorns being found prancing about Trafalgar Square.

Zenster said...

whiskey_199: Europe's aging is likely to produce horrific crime waves, even with no Muslim presence due to pixie dust and magic wands.

Especially so with nary a concealed carry license to be found on the entire continent. America's second amendment rights may yet prove key to its salvation.

xlbrl said...

I have always found strange the idea that an older generation of citizens were entitled to tax another generation of citizen at a rate far higher than they themselves paid, to be assured they would not suffer from their own bad decisions. The solution is to tax the younger citizens at the same rate the older paid and have them face the same reality that is due the younger.
Or face the consequences of not doing so.

Lombard1985 said...

In any war, and this is a war, let us first secure the home front i.e., safe from demographic conquest by Muslims - the rest we can deal with at peace, leisure and very likely, pleasure.

I am inclined to agree with DP111. If the issue of third world immigration, and the Muslims inparticular, are dealt with then Europe's future is more secure.

Secure may not mean it will be a pleasent experience, but its better that there is a Europe dominated over-wehlmingly by their native inhabitants.

If America and Europe could survive and pull them selves out of the Depression, then they could survive whatever economic crisis that'll come. It wouldn't be pretty but it wouldn't be permanent either.

Concerning a possible young vs. old rivalry...

I'm 23 years old and hope to start a family before I turn 30. If I felt that my ability to persure this goal was hampered due to economic constraints brought upon either directly or indirectly by the seniors, I would be P'OD to say the least.

But I think increasing the retirement age, along with a cutoff point for benefits (I.O.W. people born after a certain date won't get such and such) would make a young/old clash less likely to occur.

With benefit cutoffs it won't be easy because, as the saying goes, once you give something to the people it's a bear to take it away from them. It will be easier to cut off state benfits for people around my age and younger as more and more us believe we won't ever see a social security check.

As to the retirement age increase, it would be much easir to implement as medical technology is making us live longer and healthier. I personally would figure that fit adults would still want to work.

I would also encourage real tax relief to encourage European natives to reproduce more. ex. for every 2 newborn children would result in 1 year of no income/property taxes (whichever one takes a bigger bite out of one's paycheck), and an extra year off those taxes for every new child after that.

Saharians said...

I'm young, educated, and with children. I see no reason not to go out with a bang, as it were.

Now, who has the newest rifles?

Profitsbeard said...

Just raise the retirement age to 100.

That will cause so many coronaries that, within a year, you could re-lower it to around 70 where it belongs, in the modern era.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

This scenario has already happened in parts of Eastern Europe and the former USSR, where a state welfare system has progressively broken down and been replaced bottom up. There are (were) towns that seem to be populated entirely by geezers.

The pensioners could vote themselves benefits, but that would almost certainly cause the state to be hollowed out faster as the working cohort stages a quiet revolt (not as in mobs, but concluding that they're being exploited they will stop playing fair and start cheating - as more or less happened in the former communist block).

Percieved inequality of taxation lead to massive evasion. Governments were eventually forced to respond with low tax rates.

Most of the generous and early Soviet era pension benefits were inflated into small ones.

Resulting poverty meant its now no big deal for people to work into their 70's.

The extreme burden on complete state funded health care lead to it being overburdened and verging on useless. Hence a flourishing system of underground private medicine for those who can pay (state doctors moonlighting), which is now becoming legalized.

You don't need no official euthenasia. The lack of real medicine, poverty and helplessness is quite effective, as it has been throughout history.

And a little bit of depopulation on its own won't hurt most of Europe, its some of the most densely populated land on the planet. Some ghost towns, less farmland and more forest. There is a migration threat obviously, but who wants to immigrate to a land where welfare is dead? I don't see queues forming up to live in Belarus or even Poland. Will frosty Sweden still be attractive as the lights begin to go out (literally)?

Besides, the irony of watching ageing hippies trying to survive on subsistence agriculture is rather attractive.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I don't know about anyone else but I plan on being able to take care of my parents without having to resort to care homes or government funding. They looked after me for nearly 20 years. It's only fair I return the favour. I expect my brothers will be in on it, too.

But then that's always been the way with us. Family first.

Ironically, the tax regime in this country is designed to punish anyone who does this, as well as impoverish anyone above the age of 60 who actually planned for their retirement. Most european countries are similar in this regard, placing huge tax burdens on anyone who was sensible enough to put money aside for their twilight years, or simply seizing your property to pay for your care whether you want it rt not.

nimbus said...

Peacekeeper, what a great post! Yes, The former Soviet Union is a good example of what the future may hold.

spackle said...

Zenster said -

"Service economies DO NOT create wealth. They shift an existing pool of wealth around in what amounts to an overstuffed shell game."

Right on brother. Well said. And even those service jobs are getting hard to come by.

On a seperate note. I know several elderly people who cant even get volunteer work! Some places make you jump through so many hoops just to volunteer for fear of being sued that it just isnt practical. One place asked an individual for Drivers license, SS# , fingerprinting and computer skills.

Peggy Snow Cahill said...

Well, I'm glad someone else is seeing the same things I am....

"4. A gradual reduction in the quality of medical care for the elderly
State-financed health care, plagued as it is by chronic shortages, is already rationed in one form or another within the welfare states of Europe.
It would take just a small bureaucratic shift to push the rationed care away from old people, thereby hastening their demise and easing the burden on a highly stressed welfare system."

---------------------------
Already, I read of many cases in Canada and UK where a different kind of medication (cheaper, and with higher risks) is given for elders than if the patient were younger. Serious risks, like going deaf, don't seem to matter if the patient is elderly. And I am sure that there is so much going on that we do not see.
--------------------------

"5. The widespread increase of officially-sanctioned euthanasia.
The Netherlands presents a model for the gradual introduction of state-sponsored euthanasia. It begins with “mercy killing” — assisted suicide for those who have stated unambiguously their desire to die. The next step is for relatives, in consultation with doctors, to affirm that dear Mama or Papa “would never have wanted to live this way”.
The final stage will be a determination by the state — certified by those ever-busy physicians — that the quality of a patient’s life has been so degraded that his or her continued existence is detrimental to the common good of society. This process will be expedited by the vast numbers of childless old people, who will be much less likely to have anyone to intercede on their behalf."

------------------------
Indeed! Reminds me of the bit in Ben Stein's movie "Expelled" where he is talking to the German lady
(the one who spoke of "useless eaters") in the labs, and he says the ones who were the nurses and doctors were the insane ones, and she says, no, I wouldn't say that...they had their purposes.

That is scary. The value of human life has become so misunderstood. Mother Theresa said once we accept that a woman can kill her own child, no other violence is as bad, so it all becomes acceptable. I expect that euthanasia will become the "savior" of the cradle-to-grave welfare state, but with many fewer cradles, and many more graves.

ScottSA said...

Risto said: "System is not the purpose of society. Society is the purpose for the system."

This is it in a nutshell. Immigration from the third world is an attempt to maintain the system at the expense of society, and that's harebrained at best. In the final analysis I want my kids to grow up in an ethnic european society run by european enlightenment values, and I don't give a good G-damn if the "system" is "equitable" or whatever the latest catchphrase is.

Zenster said...

Peggy Snow Cahill: "useless eaters"

One philosopher (possibly Honoré de Balzac) refered to such people as:

"mere passageways for food"

An ancient Chinese epithet for such individuals is:

"rice bucket"

I tender these suggestions in the hope that people will always have the precise and properly offensive insult at hand for any occasion.

J.P. said...

There is another unmentioned, or perhaps mistakenly mentioned situation:

The system breaks down or is severely curtailed, and old people have to rely on their children for the extra's beyond the very basic essentials.
Somebody called it breakdown of the socialist ideal and reverting to individualism. I would call it a reverting to communalism, were family wealth becomes important.

It also would balance the people with children and those without, as the latter group has had time and leftover money to save for the future (againt inflation which will rise significantly) but will have to rely on those savings to help them through "pension"

Children, they are not just a hobby, they are your pension if you treat them well.

Baron Bodissey said...

J.P. --

You are exactly right, but I think the problem of childless old people will loom very large in the next 30 years.

In order to get to the average of 1.3 or 1.4 children per woman (which is what a lot of Europe has right now), there must be many families with 2 or 3 kids, and a lot of people with none at all.

This is significant. Not all of the childless people will have savings, and as a result they will either be supported by the state or left to fend for themselves as best they can.

Either way, I see a problem looming ahead.

Dickingtonbar II said...

i see nothing wrong with solution 5... it's the most simple and immediate and cleanest... i for one would happily pop a pill at 75 or 80 if it meant the world were a better place for my kids and their kids... it's not just a question of old people overtaking young people now, it's population in general.. it's natural resources... the earth cannot support us all anymore... if i top myself and it means my great grandkids get a decent shot at life then i'm 100% well up for that