Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

I Grow Old, I Grow Old…

Posted by hyperpat on August 25, 2006

…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

At least, that’s what T.S. Eliot would do. But how about the rest of us, faced with not just our own slide into superannuated states, but a good portion of the society around us. This aging of the population has some serious consequences, anywhere from Social Security no longer having enough income to pay projected benefits to having enough young people to fill the job positions vacated by those retiring. Does this problem have any solutions?

A few possibilities:

1. Open up the immigration gates so that the balance between young workers and older retired people can remain at near the current ratio. This has obvious implications that many may not like: people coming here from different cultures won’t necessarily think the way current ‘Americans’ do (remember that in some fashion, almost all ‘Americans’ were immigrants at some point), and their votes may change how this country is run; the influx may need to be so rapid that cultural assimilation may not happen, leading to a form of Balkanization of the populace, we may have to truly become a multi-language country.

2. We could kill off all the excess ‘old’ people. If you think this idea is outrageous, you don’t know your history. In many cultures, once a person had outlived his usefulness, he was frequently cut off from any support, or even voluntarily went off to die. In a way, if we do not adequately fund medical care for the elderly, this is exactly what the effect would be.

3. We could implement a mass campaign to get everyone capable of it to have lots of babies, quickly. Given the total world population, and the strain this population is already putting on the resources of Mother Earth, this doesn’t sound like a good idea.

4. Just have the government print money to keep those Social Security checks coming, and live with resultant inflation.

5. Force people to start saving a good portion of their income now, so that when retirement came, the government would not have to provide so much in benefits.

None of these ‘solutions’ are terribly nice, but I think everyone should be doing some serious thinking about this problem, as it’s not going away anytime soon, and unless someone can come up with better solutions, your old age may be very far from golden.

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