dNot By Age But Life Expectancy - Road to the Middle Class - by Christopher Chantrill
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Not By Age, But Life Expectancy

by Christopher Chantrill
October 23, 2007 at 4:10 pm

THE GOVERNMENT’S entitlements like Social Security are based on age entitlements.  At age 62 you can get early retirement on Social Security.  At age 65 you start Medicare.  But government researchers are looking at another approach, writes Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution

The current practice of measuring age as years-since-birth, both in common practice and in the law, rather than alternative measures reflecting a person’s stage in the lifecycle distorts important behavior such as retirement, saving, and the discussion of dependency ratios.

Get the idea?  Change the entitlement for Social Security from age 62 to the age at which you have a 15 year life expectancy. 

The chaps at Marginal Revolution seem to think this is a great idea.  But I wonder.

As a 61 year-old, I really don’t want to be forced to work until 70 or something before I get my Social Security.  The fact is that most people, once they have raised their children, start to slow down.  And our brains, as well as our bodies, slow down too.  We get ready to get out of the rat race.  If only we could.

Of course, with a judicious combination of work and savings, I can adjust my work effort and income to suit myself.  But with a mechanical government program, that’s not possible.  Somebody else sets the rules.  And the rules are not necessarily in anyone’s best interest.

In fact, the trouble with the government’s entitlement programs is that they respond only too readily to the universal human willingness to live at the expense of others.

Hey!  I’ve worked hard for ___ (fill in the blank) years.  I deserve it.  The folks in Europe certainly do.

And once you have the government program in place then you are reduced to arguing over whether to juggle the benefits this way or that way, or change the eligibility upwards or downwards.  Individuals and families are not longer in control.  But the monster stays.

The entitlement problem will not be solved by mechanical means, juggling this or that parameter.  It will be solved by raw political power.

That may not be a pretty sight.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill