Live longer = work longer?
Sept 11, 2011 – Today’s Observer subhead says: “Retirement age rise to be speeded up”. It quotes the pensions minister: “Everybody knows we are living longer. It is like an express train […] we think now we have got to move on these things”.
Two strands of “logic” here:
1. We’re living longer, so we must work longer.
2. Express trains require immediate action!
The minister (Steve Webb) explains further: “In a way, successive governments over the decades were so behind the curve behind all this. If you think of male pension age, it hasn’t changed for a century. How much has life expectancy improved in a century? So, in a way, what is going on is a big dam that is finally breaking.”
So, we’re on a train hurtling into danger. And the dam is breaking…
Let’s pause the action-movie DVD for a moment.
The male pension age hasn’t changed for a century? Life expectancy has increased over that time? What does rising life expectancy indicate, if anything, about socio-economic conditions? How do “structural” weaknesses (to extend the “dam breaking” metaphor) lead to a gradual improvement in life expectancy?
In a recent article for CNN, Douglas Rushkoff suggests there’s a “backwards logic” to the notion that we must build bridges, railways (etc) in order to “put people back to work”. The “live long &
prosper slave away” logic seems not just backwards, but express-train-in-reverse-with-idiot-driver backwards.
• ‘BOY-POLITICIANS LACK SENSE & VISION’
• ‘MORE LEISURE, MORE LIFE’
• ‘NEW DAWN OF CONTEMPLATION’