Alright, I wrote that quotation myself. But anyway, this is what I hate about the Guardian: it’s so damned gloomy (what I hate about the Telegraph of course, is the stair-lift adverts). Can anyone tell me exactly how the Guardian manages to publish this…
Newly revised predictions from the Government’s Actuary Department (GAD) reveal that the life expectancy for men who will be born in 2031 has risen to 81 years, compared with 75.9 years for those born in 2002. For women the figure jumps to 84.9 years, compared with 80.5 years for those born last year.
And now the bad news. The figures are around one and a half years higher than the GAD had assumed as recently as its last report in 2001, and will fuel further fears about the ability of future governments to cope with the profound problems associated with an ageing population.
…on the same day as this…
The full scale of the health timebomb caused by Britain’s descent into lazy lifestyles is to be exposed in a landmark report by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer.
Sir Liam Donaldson will spell out for the first time how two-thirds of Britons are now so inactive – with most people, particularly women, failing to do even the minimum recommended amount of ‘moderate’ exercise – that they are at risk of getting cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
I don’t know which is more shocking and dreadful, the fact that Brits are living longer or the fact that they take no notice of government fitness targets! Did you all get your fitness targets in the post? No? That’s strange, neither did I.
Professor Ken Fox, a social psychologist at Bristol University and an expert on how to increase activity levels, said: ‘To make a real impact we have to redefine what activity means. You don’t have to be sporty to be active. You could use your legs and do a bit more walking, which would really help you.
So, exactly how do they know we’re not walking much, or already “incorporating bursts of activity into daily life”, eh? Did they see how many times I run up and down stairs every day? No, they did not. They’re just being anti-evolutionary for the sake of it:
‘We have been conditioned, since Victorian times, to find easier and easier ways of living. We want lots of dishwashers and lots of cars.’
Right. We’re living longer because we don’t have to slave as scullery-maids or walk ten miles to labour at the cotton-mill each morning.
Readers of Samizdata will of course find the government’s attempts at nannying both predictable and irritating. I think what matters more than any “slippery slope” argument, however, is simply that we understand what the anti-capitalist worldview consists of, and work out how to persuade the left that they are wrong. The idea that the progress of human civilisation somehow corrupts and destroys us is as fundamental to anti-capitalism as the idea that a growing population means a growing fiscal burden, as opposed to a growing economy and knowledge-base.
What we need to share in 2004 is our knowledge of how capitalism works, and why it is good. The fixed-wealth theory must be replaced by a common-sense appreciation of economic and evolutionary dynamics. It’s not a glamorous job, and it’s not a matter of heroically rescuing the UK from certain Khmer Rouge tyranny. It’s just about spreading sensible ideas and helping things gradually improve. But few things are more important than that.