February 17, 2016

"Are we using all the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?"

"Older people who are not very old could be making a very useful contribution to civil society if they were given some incentive or recognition for doing so. We’re prepared to say to people if you’re not looking for work, you don’t get a benefit. If you’re old and you’re not contributing in some way, maybe there should be some penalty attached to that. These debates never seem to take place."

Said Lord Bichard —— great name — an ex-chief of the Benefits Agency in the UK.

ADDED: "So who’s going to pay for you to live to be 100?"

77 comments:

eric said...

When the economy falls apart, you have to find scapegoats.

In America, we will start with the illegals. Then we will move on the old and the infirmed. Or maybe it'll be the criminals, homeless, and drug users. The slugs of society.

Whoever it is, you can rest assured, if they are looking for a scapegoat, it means things aren't going to well in your society.

Then again, maybe one could argue they aren't scapegoating the elderly in the UK. Maybe they just want them to get off their lazy butts and work.

Peter said...

There are the old-elderly and young-elderly.

Old-elderly is what happens when an older person develops a chronic, debilitating disease. Young-elderly is when an older person has accumulated many years but is still mentally and physically capable.

There's surely no reason why the young-elderly should not be required to perform community service in order to collect their pensions. Assuming good, productive use is made of their labor, there's an expected benefit to the pensioner, society, and government.

MadisonMan said...

My assumption is that Lord Bichard as suckled off the public teat for his entire life. I doubt he has run a business, or worked at anything but politics and government.

buwaya said...

Not very practical, though one could use some peoples skills in say education/tutoring.
Not everyone of course.
Among other things this would step on a lot of public union toes.

buwaya said...

The main problem here is simple demographics.
Way too many old people, way too few young people.

Clayton Hennesey said...

With close to $20T in debt in the U. S., isn't that the handwriting on the wall? Geriatric extermination camps...ooops...I mean, special retirement villages.

The Senior Citizen Security Act of 2030 provides free food, boarding, and a wonderful array of fellowship and entertainment for life for everyone 55 and older in exchange for full power of attorney. Although some might selfish individuals might naturally object, making it universally mandatory simply means making it universally fair to all.

All those assets, private and public (e.g., claims on Medicare and Social Security) locked up in the hands of miserly, no longer productive old people could instead be redirected to fund a young, diverse society that certainly deserves its full day in the sun, too, don't you think?

It's just a matter of setting aside the old, selfish thinking of the past that got us into this mess in the first place, isn't it. Of course it is.

mikee said...

There are positive as well as negative incentives. Death to those without taxable incomes would be a real and significant incentive to work until one keels over, but perhaps would not be popular among the over-50 demographic.

Perhaps government could simply ignore old people, other than sending them the regular monthly SocSec check, instead of working on incentives? I don't think it will be long before my modest proposal above is suggested, otherwise.

Rick said...

We’re prepared to say to people if you’re not looking for work, you don’t get a benefit. If you’re old and you’re not contributing in some way, maybe there should be some penalty attached to that. These debates never seem to take place.

Why not? When government feels empowered to change agreements whenever it feels some kind of equity demands it you're always at their mercy. This is how business people feel all the time. They make agreements, organize their lives and futures around it, then on a whim someone not even involved decides to change the rules.

Right now this attitude is rarely public because the left needs elderly votes. But look down the road a couple of generations to when the left has full control and think about how they'll act without that need. It's really a shame we can't let the far left get the society it wants without screwing up everyone else. They deserve it.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It would seem that Lord Bichard does not believe that a person who spends all day on the internet complaining about politics is a positive part of society.

Eric said...

I will not be happy if, after paying into a public pension fund for 45 years, I find my pension subject to the whims of petty bureaucrats looking to give me some "incentive" to make me a "positive part of society".

zipity said...



Seen on Twitter:

"My "Free Tequila, Guns, and ATVs For Seniors" plan will help contain spiraling Medicare Social Security costs"

Michael K said...

I'll be 78 next Sunday. I am attending a conference on type 2 diabetes and genetics.

It has convinced me that I have to go back and make another try at reading my Genetics book except it is now out in a new edition. I can't read them fast enough.

There are far too many people half my age who have not earned the oxygen they breathe.

Michael K said...

Th next speaker just told a lame Donald Trump joke and then commented that "I guess there are no Republicans here."

Turesome.

AJ Lynch said...

Govts can't afford to pay seniors, although the seniors likely paid into a govt retirement system for years, and millions of lazy, Muslim refugees. Tough decisions have to be made.

Anglelyne said...

I assume most of the "able elderly" would be happy to make themselves useful. When somebody like Lord Bichard starts talking like this, however, one assumes he means "useful" in a quantifiable economic sense, not in any intangible "social capital"/family support roles traditionally open to the aged. Iow, one suspects that somebody is looking for cheap/free labor at the bottom end to maintain support for the lavish public pensions at the top end.

His lordship is a career civil servant. It's an open question whether his "usefulness" in that role was equal to his handsome salary and benefits while he was "in work", or whether his post-retirement (at the advanced age of 54) directorships and chairmanships are really delivering £120,000 p.a. (his pension) worth of "useful contributions to society".

AJ Lynch said...

It is a shame that the media rarely does the kind of research that Angelyne has done to add some facts plus colorful hypocrisy to the Lord's proposal. But alas, the media are just govt stenographers anymore.

ALP said...

I imagine a huge, slow, bureaucratic system will have to be put in place to determine who is "physically able" and who is "too old and let off the hook".

AJ Lynch said...

ALP points out another excellent question a real reporter might have asked his Lordship.

Robert Cook said...

"There are far too many people half my age who have not earned the oxygen they breathe."

It's disturbing to hear a physician assert the belief that people must "earn the oxygen they breath."

Levi Starks said...

It's like these people can't even hear the words that come out of their mouths

CWJ said...

Governments routinely threaten or actually change the rules in ways that anyone other than the government would be criminally prosecuted. The rules of games they themselves made, and for which not playing is not an option. Saying that society is reluctant to have the debate is rich. The debate is constantly ongoing just below the surface which is where everyone other than the people directly affected wants it.

I wish I could remember the handle of the Althouse commenter who mocked me when I wrote that I fully expected that society would eventually kill my wife or me or both of us. Done in the name of mercy or some such, but done nonetheless. The ethical rationale is not yet there but our betters keep working at it.

Michael said...

Robert Cook

I was on another website when I heard you sniff. I believe the good doctor was making a point using what we call hyperbole. You could be very disturbed about a great many things if you do not recognize this rhetorical devise that is often used.

Michael said...

I have taken a "test" on a site that estimates how long I will live. It appears to be 93. Actuarily, I am sure that if I take it again in another year with similar responses on the test that the 93 will be closer to 100.

Absent insane inflation I can make it. Still working but might give it up in a year or so.

chuck said...

> If you’re old and you’re not contributing in some way,

What is the meaning of "in some way". Does bank robbery count? It provides entertainment for the tabloid readers. It all sounds vaguely Marxist, "From each according to his ability..." and all that.

Carol said...

It's disturbing to hear a physician assert the belief that people must "earn the oxygen they breath."

At least he wrote it correctly.

Levi Starks said...

People just don't seem to get that when government makes the grand promises of free education, housing, food, drugs, Healthcare, and so on, there comes a point where they have to start moving the goal posts. You can't have at the same time both unfettered freedom to do aa you please, unlimited resources to make that happen....

William said...

What differentiates an English gentleman from the sweaty strivers is not his fine manners, good education, or tailored clothes but rather the productive use he makes of his leisure time. That point was dramatized in a recent episode of Downton Abbey where it was shown that if the valet could not perform as a valet, then his life would be pointless and debased. In return, the gentry class are somewhat infantilized but that's a sacrifice that they're willing to make to keep the lower orders gainfully employed. Surely some of these old pensioners could comfortably perform activities of light housekeeping and gardening for proper county families and thus regain a sense of dignity and self worth. The better off could use their enhanced leisure time to think up new ways of giving the lower orders a sense of purpose. Perhaps the government could even subsidize their salaries. Win win for everybody.

Terry said...

When you define man as economic man, and you put the government in charge of directing society, of course the government will come to the conclusion that some people are not useful enough to exist.
In socialist governments, people are problems to be solved. They need to be managed like any other economic resource.

David said...

Lord Bitch. Perfect.

Char Char Binks said...

That's coming from a lord who likely never had to work a day in his life. Why doesn't he tell the queen to get a job?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Merry Ole England still hates their subjects. I bet the old timers wish now they were Americans and had big ugly Assault Rifles and Ammo. Then they could explain their value to all the LORDS of Death to others who are sneakily trippling the Utility bills to pocket mega loot from totally useless Windmill Farms.

Michael K said...

"a physician assert the belief that people must "earn the oxygen they breath."

I wasn't talking about money. Surely you have met a few.

Isn't worth the powder to blow him/her to hell" is another example.

Mary Beth said...

24 Oct 2012, so I guess not much came of it.

n.n said...

Are we using all the incentives at our disposal to encourage women to forgo abortion rites?

Can't we derive more value from a whole human life than a redistribution of its organs, tissue, and clumps of cells?

Is burden an unqualified concept, similar to progressivism, liberalism, conservatism, etc.?

Ah, I see. Another trigger word. Burden is to pleasure as baby is to wealth.

That said, with monopolies at the top, welfare at the bottom, denigration of individual dignity, and rejection of intrinsic value, the corruption and dysfunction are unavoidable and progressive.

Michael K said...

I can think of a few who don't earn their oxygen.

The Godfather said...

In this country the old folks demographic is too big (and we actually vote) for this kind of thing to be a real threat to the Boomers (and pre-Boomers like me). But if you're a member of the baby-bust generation, you better not count on your Social Security too much (and they may nationalize your IRA, so I recommend a retirement plan based on gold buried in your backyard, along with your AR-15 and several thousands of rounds of ammo).

jaydub said...

I got my first job at 10 and was continually employed for the next 58 years, including during seven years of college and graduate school. For 26 years after college, I was employed by the government fighting government identified tyrants overseas. Then I built green field manufacturing operations that currently employ a couple of thousand workers. If those contributions to society were not enough for the bureaucracy, then we should talk. However, they should come well armed because I will be, and Im not opposed to fighting tyrants at home, too.

Gusty Winds said...

Maybe the English could just walk them out to the forest and abandon them like the Native Americans used to do with widows.

Gusty Winds said...

You know the Logan's Run reincarnation zapping trick seemed to work in the movie for a while.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Oh, come now, euthanizing old people to liberate their assets will become as habitual as circumcising male infants. The mask or the cannula simply delivers CO2 instead of oxygen.

Old people may vote, but their physical strength fades rapidly, and they are easy to corral into a medical establishment where young, strong, diverse orderlies may easily stand between them and their firearms, if they even own them.

It will be everyone's poignant little secret, the increase in admissions, the much shorter stays, the statistics that plainly show healthcare costs overall dropping. One can't argue with such positive statistical outcomes.

Michael K said...

"Old people may vote, but their physical strength fades rapidly,"

Cleaning the AR 15 and keeping it from rusting will be a factor.

Danno said...

I can't think of a more hypocritical example than having someone of the English nobility lecturing about being productive to ease the burdens on society. The common folk need to crank up the guillotines and let the royal and noble heads roll.

Rae said...

Soylent Green is people!

buwaya said...

Someone should have thought of this (pensions and medical costs crises) before they went all out against tobacco.

Iapetus said...

It might benefit all centenarians if the government managed the economy sufficiently well that a dollar of savings earned in Year 1 did not lose 95% of its value by Year 100 as has been our experience since the Federal Reserve was established.

Iapetus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CWJ said...

Mary Beth,

Good catch. And all the linked related articles are from 2012 as well. But The Telegraph's banner carries today's date, so what are we to make of that? Why now?

Big Mike said...

I retired last year at age 69 after having paid in the maximum social security contribution for each of the last 35 years (and quite a few years before that, I might add). Based on the tables that the Social Security Administration so thoughtfully provided me, if I make it through the next three decades and three months and collect that maximum social security payout to which I'm entitled, I still will not collect all of the money I paid into the system. And that's assuming constant 2015 dollars and does not factor in Jimmy Carter's inflation.

The article "So Who's Going to Pay You to Live to be 100?" makes a number of misleading assumptions, starting with the assumption that one needs to make the same before-tax income that one made while working. Among the things I no longer need to pay for are:

1) As much gasoline as I used to use. I used to fill up roughly once a week; now that I'm retired it's more like once a month.

2) Lunch in the company cafeteria. I understand that the company partially subsidized the lunches, especially the healthy food (versus hamburgers), but even so it cost me on the order of ten dollars a day. And of course it was worse when I was assigned to projects in branch offices that didn't have a subsidized cafeteria (or any cafeteria at all).

3) Suits, sport coats, ties, and the dry cleaning thereof.

4) Stuff around the house that I had to pay to have done because I was too busy at work to do it myself.

And it has not escaped my notice that I no longer need to live in the high cost of living Washington metropolitan area. One doesn't have to move far to the south or west to find gasoline as much as thirty cents a gallon cheaper than it is around here, cheaper (and fresher!) groceries, and much lower property taxes. I plan to stay in Virginia, which does not tax social security.

So the bottom line is that one doesn't need to save 31%, as that article blithely assumes, in order to live comfortably in retirement.

Birches said...

Someone should have thought of this (pensions and medical costs crises) before they went all out against tobacco.

That earned a belly laugh.

Do retired people really just sit around all day, watching TV collecting a paycheck? My grandmother does, but then again, she's 93 and can't remember what year it is. My own mother is 71 and "retired," but she moved my grandma in with her to care for her, so that's job #1. She also does some sewing for a lady that makes gymnastics clothes a couple of times a week, so that's job #2. She also volunteers with our Church twice a week for about 4 hours each go, so that's job #3. All the "retired" people I know are similarly engaged. There are a lot of older people around my neck of the woods watching grandchildren for their working children.

Birches said...

The article "So Who's Going to Pay You to Live to be 100?" makes a number of misleading assumptions, starting with the assumption that one needs to make the same before-tax income that one made while working.

Yep.

If I still have a large monthly mortgage payment when I'm 70, well, then I've done something wrong.

The Godfather said...

@ Big Mike: I've got this huge (or Yuuge!) collection of expensive neckties, that I never wear anymore. During most of my professional life as a lawyer, I wore a tie every day, and my (then) wife and (then) mother-in-law usually gave me an expensive tie for Christmas or my birthday. Now, I'm mostly retired. I wear a tie to church most Sundays, and two or three times a year I appear at a hearing wearing a tie. Other than that, who needs a tie?

So if the Government wants to confiscate my ties, they ought to pay me what they were worth in each of the years that I paid the Government my Social Security taxes.

samanthasmom said...

I volunteer as a receptionist at a local hospital. The front desk is entirely run by older volunteers. It saves the hospital a lot of money and also costs younger people at least 4 full-time paid jobs. Do younger people want the boomers to "earn the oxygen we breathe" or would they like a job themselves?

wildswan said...



Most older people are someone's parents and are helping their children or being helped by them. Forget about dragging the grandparents off to be euthanized. It's the people with no children who think the state is going to look after them who need to worry Socialists like Bernie Sanders keep on saying the state is going to look after everyone. It won't because the welfare state goes bankrupt when depopulation happens - as in Europe. The greatest crime of socialism is that it doesn't really care when its programs go wrong; it doesn't acknowledge any need for reform; it just goes on bleating about its own pure heart. And sends out the kill wagons.

First will come the slogans: "if you like your life, you can keep your life." "Euthanasia should be safe, legal and rare." Then executive orders take the guns from the elderly. Then the round-ups.

glenn said...

I did exactly what society said I had too. Plus. My Social Security is mine. I paid for it every day. For well over 50 years.

Meade said...

As her husband/caretaker/gardener/research assistant/mountainbike technician/ski instructor/bodyguard/handyman/food taster/court jester,I just want to say thank you, everyone who keeps doing your shopping through the Althouse Amazon portal over the next 35 years. And bonus thank you if she makes it to 112!

FullMoon said...

Oh, great ! Not bad enough illegal taking jobs from the young, now they want me to destroy some young persons life by ripping opportunity from his soft hands,

Seriously, the biggest problem for me is not knowing how long I will live. Mothers side? Into their 70'sDad;s? 90's.
Now, if I am going to live into my nineties, I have plenty of time for projects and adventures.
If seventies, I want to get rid of a bunch of stuff so the widow doesn't have to deal wirth it.
Now, a govt. program dictating an expiration date would solve this problem. A guaranteed lifespan of , say, seventy five years seems reasonable. Would be hard to accept at first, but as time passes, new generations would accept it as fact, much like we boomers accepted the idea our social security would be there for us.

William said...

Leisure is its own reward. I retired relatively early--in my late fifties. There is nothing more pleasurable than sleeping in every morning. The only drawback is that it sometimes interferes with my afternoon nap, but that's a price I'm willing to pay........From what I understand, if you live past 78, then you get more out of social security than you paid in. I hope I live past that age. Doing nothing is pleasurable enough, but the realization that someone else is picking up the tab adds immeasurably to the pleasure........I should have been born as an Edwardian gentlemen. I've got a real flair for doing nothing.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Are we using all the incentives at our disposal ...

Before reading more, I'm already wondering who the "we" is. Could it be some manifestation of Government? If so, wherein is the charter for Government to "encourage [insert here any cut-out grouping of citizenry] to [insert here any form of behavior]."

Last time I looked, the Great American Dream was not home ownership, a car in every garage and a chicken en every pot, an Obamaphone, free feminine hygiene products, or any of that; rather it was to be, to the largest extent possible, left alone by Government.

Temujin said...

"So who’s going to pay for you to live to be 100?"
Answer: young people who vote for Bernie.

Laslo Spatula said...

FullMoon said...
"Now, a govt. program dictating an expiration date would solve this problem. A guaranteed lifespan of , say, seventy five years seems reasonable."

A 'Logan's Run' we can agree with!

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

'Logan's Run' > 'Soylent Green."

All done. Don't need no Advisory Groups.

Add in2 Girls 1 Cup i and everything is accounted for.

I am Laslo.

Terry said...

"Now, a govt. program dictating an expiration date would solve this problem. A guaranteed lifespan of , say, seventy five years seems reasonable."

I don't think you want to give a number. People might try and hold you to it. Instead call it a 'full life." The government will be allow you to live until you have lived your 'full life', and that number will be adjusted by a bureaucracy from year to year.
Also, you shouldn't have a murder-date, like in Logan's Run. Instead just triage people. After you hit your 'full life' age, nothing but over the counter drugs, no medical attention, other than assisted suicide.
With a little luck, that should reduce the average lifespan of Americans to their useful economic life.

The Godfather said...

John Scalzi's Old Man's War (available at Amazon through the Althouse portal http://www.amazon.com/Old-Mans-War-John-Scalzi/dp/0765348276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455762827&sr=1-1&keywords=old+man%27s+war+john+scalzi) begins: "John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army." Old timers are given new bodies to go and and fight, and mostly die, to defend Earth from the aliens. That new body bit might be just the incentive that Lord Whatsis is searching for.

Lonetown said...

What happened to our laws requiring retirement at 65? Only some occupations could go to 70. It was late 70's these laws were passed. Do we not care anymore?

buwaya puti said...

Logan's Run > Soylent Green entirely because of Jenny Agutter.

Terry said...

Blogger The Godfather said...
John Scalzi's Old Man's War (available at Amazon through the Althouse portal http://www.amazon.com/Old-Mans-War-John-Scalzi/dp/0765348276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455762827&sr=1-1&keywords=old+man%27s+war+john+scalzi) begins: "John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday.

And so my Scalzi hatred began. Not because I don't like his politics, but because he is a bad writer. Cliche'd, hackneyed, and lacking in imagination, as in "the off-world colony looked like Florida, except there were two suns and instead of birds, there were flocks of small flying lizards. Also, unlike 20th century soldiers, the future space soldiers have guns that shoot exploding bullets."
You know how in STOS they were stuck with alien makeup and special effects that could be done on the cheap, and stories that could be written and filmed in a few weeks? Scalzi writes like he faces the same limitations.

buwaya puti said...

I thought "Old Man's War" was decent enough Space Opera, and had a pretty new SF McGuffin to kick it off, but the sequels underperformed and the rest of Scalzis stuff I've read (something about a sheep) is pretty awful.

Eric said...

Last time I looked, the Great American Dream was not home ownership, a car in every garage and a chicken en every pot, an Obamaphone, free feminine hygiene products, or any of that; rather it was to be, to the largest extent possible, left alone by Government.

It changed while you weren't looking. Young people today want government to be the daddy they never had.

Terry said...

buwaya puti said...
I thought "Old Man's War" was decent enough Space Opera, and had a pretty new SF McGuffin to kick it off, but the sequels underperformed and the rest of Scalzis stuff I've read (something about a sheep) is pretty awful.

It was okay as space opera. It began well enough, but seemed to get worse as it went along. Old Man's War didn't live up to its premise or its hype.
Heinlein's adult SF novels don't hold up, either. His Juvie's are good, but are anachronistic. They have a future-seen-from-1950s outlook. I think Heinlein thought that spaceships would be operated like WW2 battle ships, with some kind of atomic flux rather than steam.
As a conservative, I suppose that I should to love the Golden Age pulp SF and hate the New Wave SF, but I don't. The good SF of the 70s and lateris better than the good SF that came before. Except for Bradbury, Vance and Bester. They are really good. And Harlan Ellison is crap. Ever notice how Ellison's Harlequin attacks common people from above? F'n elitist.

buwaya puti said...

I don't know, I keep an open mind, or try anyway.
Best SF novels ever (idiosyncratic I suppose) - "A Canticle for Leibowitz", Walter Miller, and Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" set. Followed by everything Jack Vance ever wrote.

buwaya puti said...

And honorable mention to "Mote in God's Eye", Niven and Pournelle.

Terry said...

buwaya puti said...
I don't know, I keep an open mind, or try anyway.
Best SF novels ever (idiosyncratic I suppose) - "A Canticle for Leibowitz", Walter Miller, and Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" set. Followed by everything Jack Vance ever wrote.

I am embarrassed to say it to say it, buwaya puti, but I had to read Book of the New Sun twice before I realized that the episode with Severian and Typhon was a retelling of Christ's fast in the wilderness and His temptation by Satan.
You might want to take a look at George MacDonald's Lilith. MacDonald has the reputation of writing sappy Victorian Christian morality stories, but beneath the surface his stories could be . . . I dunno. Weird. Profound. Lilith makes me think that the one person from antiquity I would like to meet is Adam, because he is father to all of us, and all of our wickedness and kindness. There is nothing in any human being that is not in Adam.
Lilith is in the public domain: http://manybooks.net/titles/macdonaletext99lilth11.html

rhhardin said...

The same people pay as pay when your house burns down -- the other holders of insurance policies whose houses don't burn down.

In this case, social security contributors who don't live to 100.

Social security is an insurance policy against outliving your savings.

Just set the premium and benefits right -- raise the retirement age for benefits until it works. If you want to retire earlier, do it on your own dime to bridge the gap.

Roy Jacobsen said...

I dunno, but it seems to me that the best response to Lord Bichard is a hearty "eff you!"

Ideally with a Cockney twang.

Kirk Parker said...

Buwaya,

Good start with Canticle, but surely you have a place high on the list for Lucifer's Hammer, don't you?

Kirk Parker said...

Glenn

"My Social Security is mine."

The Supreme Court disagrees with you.