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Clash of generations

Here is a terrific piece on the problems posed by the mounting costs of funding retirement, and the tax implications thereof, from Reason’s Nick Gillespie. It is obviously written from a US perspective but as always, the lessons are broader than that.

I particularly liked how he lampoons old Baby Boomers calling for a return of the draft. That bad idea never seems to entirely die off.

17 comments to Clash of generations

  • I particularly liked how he lampoons old Baby Boomers calling for a return of the draft.

    I’m a young Baby Boomer (b. 1960), and I oppose the draft. Draftees die in wars. Don’t want to kill off the people paying for my retirement 🙂

    Seriously, I don’t plan to retire until I’m immobile. To quote George Burns (from memory): “What do you do when you retire? Twiddle your thumbs?”

  • Jerry

    ‘To quote George Burns (from memory): “What do you do when you retire? Twiddle your thumbs?”

    If you don’t have a life outside of work and your work IS your life – maybe.

    I like my father’s version much more –
    ‘I don’t know how I ever had time to work !’

    I’m on the same track. My job did not define me and I can find FAR more interesting, fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding things to do than ‘work’ – to say nothing of the elimination of the stress !!!!

  • Alisa

    FWIW Jerry, I take your point wholeheartedly, but it doesn’t stand for the few people who get paid to do the thing they really enjoy doing, because it comes so naturally to them – and in extreme cases they are very passionate about it. I would like to presume that Burns was one of those. For such lucky people, their work may not define them, but it certainly reflects, at least partially, who they truly are – in the best possible way. It all really boils down to what one defines as ‘work’…

  • Andrew Zalotocky

    One of the reasons for the abolition of conscription in the US and UK is that professional armies are more effective. Volunteers are more motivated. They stay in for longer and gain more skills and experience. They pass this knowledge on to the new recruits, helping them to avoid potentially fatal rookie mistakes. The entry standards can be higher, and the army doesn’t have to waste a load of money on make-work jobs to give unfit, unmotivated conscripts something to do. A return to conscription means a significant drop in standards and less effective armed forces.

    So a good response to anyone who calls for a return of the draft is “why do you hate the military?”

  • RRS

    On conscription:

    The changing technology of weaponry, and the capacities for mass destruction, have lessened and will continue to lessen the original requirements for large-scale Manpower in combat forces.

    As before in history, we are returning to specialization in the matters of combat, as well as widespread changes in the objectives of mass violence.

    The original purposes of organizing a large masses of combatants which required ” nationalism” to supplant the other motivations for fighting are now declining and taking with them the importance of that particular degree of ideology. Nationalism is no longer the basis for patriotism. However patriotism remains a motivating factor in the development of a specialized class of our society.

    Conscription for military or other services would only serve for other ideologies, such as imbuing collectivism.

  • Alisa

    A very good point about nationalism vs patriotism. I’m not sure the terminology is correct, but the underlying argument is.

  • Another good thing that comes from discussing the merits of conscripts versus professional, vocational soldiers is that it makes the argument between a state-monopoly and private defense arrangement easier to make.

  • Stonyground

    When old age pensions were first introduced, life expectancy was such that most were lucky if they reached the age of sixty-five, and if they did, would only live for a small number of years more. Life expectancy has, since then, grown in a very gradual and predictable way. So the current crisis seems to me to be like a car crash that has happened in extreme slow motion, plenty of time to take avoiding action but for some reason we didn’t.

    Maybe the fact that we have government initiatives advising parents about how to talk to their children about negative body image at the same time as we have government departments sending parents letters stating that perfectly normal children are grossly overweight is a clue. Our government hasn’t a clue.

  • veryretired

    When the original retirement plans were passed, there were a dozen or more workers for each retiree. Now, there are only 2 or 3. Its like suddenly finding out you have an extra grampa or gramma you didn’t know about, and she’s coming to live with you.

    But let’s keep one thing straight—boomers, for all our many and varied faults, are not responsible for the vast retirement and medical schemes that are now threatening to sink the country’s financial ship.

    Those programs were designed, passed, and repeatedly enlarged by our grandparents and parents. I don’t care much for a lot of my generations’ legacy either, but we didn’t invent this crap, we inherited it, along with a lot of other worthless, statist lunacy.

    The future belongs to the young, and they will have to decide how to deal with these situations as best they can.

    They will need all the wisdom and strength they can generate to answer questions that no other generations have ever had to confront.

    I am content to trust in their judgement.

  • Richard Thomas

    Veryretired: Completely true, And as someone significantly over the age of thirty, I propose we collect and destroy all copies of “Logan’s Run” lest anyone get any ideas.

  • Tedd


    I take your point, but I think baby-boomers have disproportionately supported politicians and parties that resisted doing anything to improve the demographic problems inherent in most government pension schemes. The issue has been on the table since before most baby boomers (demographically speaking) reached voting age so, to that extent, we have to shoulder the blame, too.

  • veryretired

    Let me be clear.

    I think the boomers are a self-indulgent, badly educated, and undisciplined, in the sense of self-discipline, group of whiny little self-righteous bitches.

    I depend on the sympathy of my children for my coming age of infirmity, and the support of a wife so loving and kind that it is all a complete mystery to me how she can feel that way towards the likes of me.

    From the public, and the children of others, I expect and demand nothing more than the simple respect due any man of any age.

    I do not fear the future because it contains the smiling faces of my two grandsons, with more to come, I hope.

    For doesn’t the book say, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

    Next year, t-ball for the soon to be 4 year old. Then my season of joy and wonder will begin again, as I get to relive the best of times once more.

    And then there’s “Intro to fishing with grampa”. Good times.

    I can only hope the rest of you have such pleasantries to look forward to.

  • Jerry

    Thank You Alisa.
    I agree with you as well. There are a few, proportionally VERY FEW, people who earn their living doing what they thoroughly enjoy and probably really do not view it as work at all.
    Would that we could all be as blessed !!

    There are also a few ( I’ve met some ! ) who are completely convinced that their work is paramount to the survival of their company and if they were to retire, quit, leave, their company would flounder, fail and blackness would cove the face of the earth !!

  • Alisa

    Indeed. Also, the former and the latter groups rarely, if ever, overlap at all: people who do what they truly enjoy rarely work for companies as understood by most of us: they tend to be self-employed, freelancers, run their own companies etc. (Whoever I was arguing with a few threads ago here about the role of freedom in happiness, seems to get a point from me now…:-))

  • RRS

    V R (and certain others):

    There is a catch phrase:

    Living outside of one’s self

    Which may capture the essence and value of experience.

  • Paul Marks

    Cultural institutions such as the family have been undermined by statism – as has much of civil society.

    The old cultural institutions (whether relgious or secular – such as the “Friendly Societies” or “Fraternities”) are not what they were.

    The state will prove a bad replacement for Civil Society. What Mark Steyn calls the modern doctrine that people should only work “for toys” (important things like the education of their children, health care, old age maintanence, even a basic income for those who are not working) will be soon be shown not to work – in DRAMATIC fashion.

    As for us (the ordinary folk) – we will work (if we can find work) till we can not work anymore, then we will die.

    The only comfort is that our lives will not be long.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have pointed that by “toys” Mark Steyn means things apart from the essential things in life (some of which I listed) that the state (with its “liberal” ideology) claims it is its role to finance.

    The state financing of all the basic things in life (leaving people under the “new freedom” free to spend their money on nice toys, leaving their basic requirements [and those of their aged parents and young children] to the state) will prove not to be practical – when applied to the majority of the population.

    And it will prove not to be practical very soon.