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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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


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


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


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


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


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


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


Drang nach Osten

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Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


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E. G. West, Education and the State


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill