The Coming Generational Conflict

I forsee a generational conflict in humanity’s future and it’s not pretty.

The human population of nearly 7 billion souls is rapidly aging, people are living far longer than they used to.  Of course we see this here in the United States but it is also true in China for example.  This is mainly due to advances in medical care and better nutrition.

The question is how many old folks are younger working folks willing to support?  Are we nearing that point where young workers will start to revolt?  It is a delicate issue, but it is being raised, for instance in the “death panel” controversy over the health care reform act two years ago.  Back then it was the Republican meme that “government panels” would “turn off granny’s life support.”

I think it is time to have an open debate over how much old people can expect out of the society as a whole.   It seems to me that the older generation is controlling an extroardinary amount of the national economy, and directing much of it to it’s own generation in the form of health care costs.  Yes the older generation is being selfish, at least in the United States.

It is a touchy subject.  How do you look Dad or Granma in the eye and tell them they are living too long and breaking the back of the economy? 

Barely a hundred years ago in the U.S. the life span was around 40 give or take.  People died and left their inheritances to their children who were young enough to do something with them.  Now those children labor into their fifties and sixties and beyond while their parents draw down those inheritances paying for medical care.

Older people and those approaching old age need to start thinking about these things before they find themselves being dropped in a snowbank.

By the way, if the above seems harsh just take a good look at the Republican voucher plan for elder health care.  The voucher will provide a nice discount to the half of the population who have supplemental insurance or enough cash to make up the difference with health care providers and the other half of the population will simply be denied health care.  No need for death panels the triage will be automatic and economic.

My own personal opinion is yes, people in general are living too long.  There is too much emphasis on longevity, staying alive at all costs, and quality of life.  My own personal opinion is that once a certain quality of life disappears that death is an option that should be considered.

The idea that older people should be killed off is unthinkable.  So is the idea that medical care should be withheld for them.  It stirs up emotional responses like the “death panel” furor.  And the Republican voucher proposal is just another way to cull the population, just by a different demographic.  So though we are all horrified by these thoughts both sides of the political spectrum are proposing their own variants.

We need to come to a better understanding, a cultural understanding,  and more acceptance of death as a natural (and necessary) process.

We need to do this now or some day the young folks will do it for us.

have a peaceful day,

Bill

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