Too many old people are being supported by too few young people and its getting worse. It’s unsustainable. We need to think the unthinkable
Like many Asian cultures, the Japanese view their elderly with a respect and reverence which has been largely lost in the West. Which is why it was especially surprising that the Finance Minister, Taro Aso, publically called for elderly Japanese to “hurry up and die”. It got me thinking. In a Britain where we have more over 65’s than under 16’s, should there be a Logan’s Run style upper age limit?
Hear me out. This is actually quite good…
When our pension system was devised there were 12 wage earners for every pensioner. Today there are 4. Within our lifetime that will drop to 3. In addition, state pensions were launched when only a few hardy souls would actually make 65 years of age, and the pension would spare them from destitution for the last few years of life. Today, people can expect to live 30 years after they retire. Add your infant and school years to that, and you’re spending less than half your life actually working, with a full third of it on state pensions
All Western nations are facing the prospect of an ever decreasing number of workers supporting an ever increasing number of pensioners. We can’t even fling the doors open to immigrants because of public hostility to the notion, ironically a hostility most prevalent among the elderly.
Britain is in danger of becoming a floating retirement village, a demographic nightmare of spiralling costs and dwindling resources. We need a plan, not just tinkering with brackets. A proper ballsy plan. I’m talking about a cull…
There are great benefits to reducing the number of elderly people. Most obviously, the pension bill would drop like a stone. We would have less people claiming for a shorter amount of time. Secondly, a huge strain on the NHS would be alleviated, with both long and short term care requirements dropping hugely. Tens of thousands of new houses would become available, slashing the cost for first time buyers, and reducing the need for new homes to be built on green field sites.
Admittedly, there would be economic downsides. Wether’s Originals may have to target a new demographic, and Saga Holidays could go into administration. However the hipster market should be able to take up most of the new found slack in the sales of cardigans, flat caps and corduroy trousers.
Nobody is advocating a geriatric Hunger Games.
So how would it be done? Clearly, hunting down and killing pesky silver foxes is currently illegal, and there’s no reason to assume that that will change. Equally, nobody is advocating some sort o geriatric Hunger Games. The prospect of watching Albert and Ethel shuffling to within colostomy-bag-throwing- range of each other on a disused industrial estate in Ipswich is just depressing. No, rather we could simply build on existing, more passive methods. For example, it is common knowledge that medical staff issue instructions that some patients should not be resuscitated. The threshold has already been crossed; the sanctity of life has already been desecrated, so why not take it a step further?
One option would be a sliding scale of reduced care. If we were to say that the retirement age is 70, the state would reduce the level of resources allocated to an individual for every year of life after that date. A relatively simple matrix could be drawn up that factors in your contributions throughout your working life (which would count in your favour), as well as health and mobility problems (which would count against you).
Under such a system, your total tax contributions would be tallied up, with the sum being whittled away each year of life past 70. The reverse would be the case with health and mobility issues, as these get worse with age. This minus score would accelerate with every year after 70, increasing the speed with which your health ‘ration’ runs out.
Alternatively, or in addition to the above, the state could offer incentives for suicide, or as I would call it, Voluntary Expiration Initiative. For a one-off lump sum, or perhaps waiving Death Duties or Inheritance Tax, citizens would receive a painless lethal injection when they reach retirement.
With dignity, comfort, and surrounded by loved ones, they would slip away content in the knowledge that they had left this mortal realm with majestic stoicism, securing too some form of financial benefit for their offspring. It would be rather beautiful.
This, surely would be better than clinging onto life, left alone in an cold, empty house, found weeks after your death, crumpled in a heap on the floor, a mountain of junk mail your grim, post-modern pyre.
A more direct approach, for those with the stomach for it, would be to encourage nature to take its course. Heating could be cut off, and flu jabs could be denied. Winter, wonderful free Winter, would do the rest.
The more statist and corporatist among us may even wish to wring some usefulness out of the people first by putting them to work picking fruit or clearing leaves from railway tracks.
As regular readers will attest too, morals are not my strong point (two stellar examples of inhumanity here and here). But even I can recognise that there would be some degree of revulsion at the idea of embracing the Grim Reaper rather than fending him off. But ask yourself, why are we devoting resources to keeping people alive after they have ceased to be useful, particularly when every day brings pain, loneliness, suffering, and the haunting memories of what they used to be.
Like the terminally ill, we keep them alive for our benefit, not theirs. We do it so we feel good about ourselves. That, surely, is the real evil.
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