We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“Britons have longer, nicer lives” disaster!

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.

10 comments to “Britons have longer, nicer lives” disaster!

  • Also, if our tremendous lack of activity is causing us to all get cancer, diabetes and heart disease, why are we living longer?

  • Jake

    Ending smoking in the population is going to dramatically increase life expectancy. The Government’s Actuary Department is not going to like that at all.

    The Government needs a meeting of all the departments and decide which is the greatest crisis-people living too long or not long enough.

    Think how many departments could be eliminated if they decide that people are living too long.

  • David Gillies

    Anyone who makes predictions about life in 2031 is a drooling moron. That’s eighteen Moore’s Law doubling periods away, ferchrissakes. In other words, at current rates of growth, computers will be a quarter of a million times faster than they are now. I’m not saying they will be – that would be to commit the same fallacy I am accusing these idiots of making. But they will be a lot faster. If genetic engineering and nanotechnology are added to the mix, then it becomes clear that making predictions with a time horizon of more than, say, five years is a fool’s game. No-one has any idea what discoveries or technical advances will be made in the next ten years, let alone 27.

  • zack mollusc

    Yow! By 2031, with the advances in computer technology, the music industry could lose £1000,000,000,000 a SECOND to some unemployed kid in a trailer park downloading music videos. I wonder how they will stay in business? It is worse than home taping.

  • John Harrison

    If current rates of growth of government continue, by 2031 we will all be receiving personalised government targets for exercise downloaded to our personal forehead-mounted smart chips which will also double as heart-rate monitors and relay information as to whether we are meeting our targets back to the NHS central computer by wireless link. Also by 2031, the Government will be spending 250% of GDP and Tax Freedom Day for 2031 will fall sometime in March of 2033.

  • Jacob

    David Gillies,
    “Anyone who makes predictions about life in 2031 is a drooling moron”
    What would you say to the climate specialists which are debating whether the temperatures in 2100 will be 1.5 degree or 4 degrees higher than today ?
    Come on, don’t be shy, shoot!

  • RAB

    Then again folks, a wacking great asteroid could come along and hello stone age.Prediction is for fools and religious zealots.

  • Dave

    why are we living longer?

    Mostly medical technical advances I’d say myself.

    As a friend of mine often mentions. When he entered nursing in the 1960’s if a patient came in with a myocardial infraction (heart attack), you could make them comfortable and then wait and see if they died. Often they would.

    When he left nursing 30 years later, you’d slam them onto a course of medication to bring down their blood pressure, stabalise their condition and if necessary look at surgical options to correct the problem.

    Looking forward to the next 30 years myself. Although I must get back to the gym and shed 2003s extra kg’s inflicted by too much business travel.

  • Nathan

    1900: “Given current trends in population growth, New York City will be uninhabitable due to the stinking defecation of all those horses.”

    1970: “Given current trends, the world will descend into a new ice age within the next fifty years.”

    1980: “Given current trends, a nuclear holocaust is inevitable. Nuclear winter will trigger a new ice age. Which is coming anyway.”

    1990: “Given current trends, the icecaps will melt sooner than John Kerry’s hair. The oceans will boil, and Earth will look like Venus.”

    2003: “The Bush Oil Barron Hegenomonic Dynasty will overrun the world, killing, maiming, and stealing from the poor. Overpopulation due to longer life spans will deplete natural resources, leading to economic ruin and mass starvation. Fast food and tobacco will shorten life spans. John Ashcroft will usher in a new Dark Age. The reign of the Antichrist will bring persecution of the righteous, and the world will burn at the hands of a Jealous God. Bad people will make babies cry.”

    Given current trends, some drooling moron will be making ridiculous predictions based on inadequate in 2031 too.

  • Cobden Bright

    Answer – they are clueless goddam gimps who haven’t got a clue what they are talking about.

    Is that good enough? 😉