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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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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


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


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

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E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

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Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

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James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


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


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

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Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill