Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ramblings on Retirement/Subsidies for Rich

"In the future, there wont be any retirement." That's the quip I got from a relative when we discussed social security. Just last night, I was thinking about how if life expectancy keeps rising, we may very well have to reconsider the social norms on retirement. Then, like an omen, the Drudge Report posted this little bit of science/science fiction
Life expectancy may balloon to 100 years old in rich nations thanks to scientific advances, but such progress could widen the gap between wealthy and poor nations, according to researchers.

Within the next 10 years, state-of-the-art, anti-ageing technologies could -- if they come into widespread use -- radically start altering global demographics, extending people's lifespans by 20 years, according to Shripad Tuljapurkar, a Stanford University biologist.
If people are really living to be 100 yrs. old at an appreciable rate, we will have to reconsider the retire at 65 dogma. It may sound cold, but contribution to society notwithstanding you can't have a large percentage of the population free-loading for 35 years without crippling the economy. I didn't derive that result rigorously, but I think its common sense is compelling.

What's more, the former liberal in me has a very negative reaction to state sponsored retirement. It sounds good in your ear, but in practice it is a huge subsidy for white-collar upper class folks (who live much longer). That sort of rubs me the wrong way. Think of free college in Europe: who can argue with free education? Leveling the playing field. The reality is, you don't get any change in your student demographics and the "free" education amounts to a huge subsidy to very wealthy people (who otherwise would be paying for college) /rant>


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