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Juvenile pensioners
July 28, 2009 6:28 AM   Subscribe

"I once proposed a solution somewhat tongue in cheek to the problem of pensions: turn retirement upside down ... people would be supported by society up to the age of 30. During that period they would study, travel, prepare for a profession, reproduce and give full-time care to their young ... After 30, they would work until they dropped dead or became incapacitated." Letter from physicist Cylon Gonçalves da Silva to The Economist in response to this original article on the problems of an ageing global population.
posted by rongorongo (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
ah ha! now you are all old we'll support the young! nothing can go wrong with this!
posted by litleozy at 6:36 AM on July 28, 2009


I'd pay attention to most anything uttered by a guy named Cylon.
posted by Mister_A at 6:39 AM on July 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


As someone about to turn 30, they had better not ever fucking try this shit.
posted by Jimbob at 6:47 AM on July 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I can totally see a bunch of spoiled, navelgazing 30-year-olds totally springing out of their beanbag chairs to "work until they drop."
posted by hermitosis at 6:51 AM on July 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


What happens to their young after the age of 30? DO they just get left by side of the motorway or something?
posted by Solomon at 6:51 AM on July 28, 2009


It would be like Logan's Run in reverse. Instead of trying to stay alive, people would off themselves as their 30th birthday approached.
posted by dortmunder at 6:54 AM on July 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


What happens to their young after the age of 30?

Well assuming everyone starts breeding when they're 15 or so, they'll have some possibly self-sufficient teenagers by the time they have to go work... teenagers who will have to get their babby-making on pretty much immediately too. The resulting population explosion from such short generation times should be countered by everyone offing themselves by age 50 or 60.
posted by Jimbob at 6:57 AM on July 28, 2009


Seems perfectly logical to me. As it is, I'm going to have to work until I die without ever getting the good life of retirement.
posted by Balisong at 6:58 AM on July 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


What happens to their young after the age of 30? DO they just get left by side of the motorway or something?

I think if all goes as planned they end up as something useful. Like a politian.
posted by litleozy at 7:01 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Watching the troops of the 18th Light Octogenarians drill I was impressed by the crisp snap as they stood to attention. It was only after a moment that I realised it was the sound of hips cracking like twigs in the cold morning air"
posted by longbaugh at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I can totally see a bunch of spoiled, navelgazing 30-year-olds totally springing out of their beanbag chairs to "work until they drop."

Well, considering a lot of kids don't have to go and get a real job until they graduate from college, it's only eight more years or so of support which isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things. In the Victorian era it wasn't all that uncommon for children to start working in mines at the age of five, and these days in a lot of developing countries sweatshop work is routinely done by children, so in those sorts of societies our current system wouldn't seem much less goofy than this reverse retirement scheme.

There are a lot of reasons why this proposal wouldn't ever work, but getting people to go get a job once the free ride runs out probably isn't one of them. Once the rent money runs out and you can't afford to buy food, there's a big incentive to start bringing home a paycheck.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:20 AM on July 28, 2009


I wholeheartedly support any initiative that puts a bunch of babyboomer dicks into labor camps so I can fart around Europe smoking hash.
posted by The Straightener at 7:24 AM on July 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Moving the bookends doesn't change the books.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:24 AM on July 28, 2009


I must have missed the bit in the Benjamin Button film where he expounded his theory on how to cure the pensions crisis? Was it before or after he started knobbing Cate Blanchett, out of interest?
posted by MuffinMan at 7:33 AM on July 28, 2009


Well, in Germany the average age of graduation from university is 28.8, so they've arguably got the best of both worlds.
Of course, one of the reasons why (male) students graduate so old is that they still have compulsory military or civil service, which hardly qualifies as "retirement". And Germany has also raised the retirement age to 67, so that Mr. Gonçalves' dream may still be achieved.
posted by Skeptic at 7:34 AM on July 28, 2009


I proposed this to my father-in-law 33 years ago when I first started working for him. As I was about to marry his daughter, he was not entirely amused. I always thought it would be a great idea, but his response was along the lines of "youth is wasted on the young."

I got the last laugh. He only lived for two years after he retired, having been fucked over mightily by a corporate giant he only too late realized was not the benevolent employer he had always thought it would be. And me? I left the company over 25 years ago to work in an automotive related company that went Ch.11 in the first wave of asbestos litigation, so my pension and stock and retirement savings vaporized, so I got my wish! I will be working until I drop! Yay!
posted by beelzbubba at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2009


This is pretty much how I've lived. I stayed in university until I was over 30, and I do plan to work until I drop. There are plenty of opportunities for older, less financially needy workers.
posted by No Robots at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2009


People would be ARE supported by society THEIR PARENTS up to the age of 30.

At least, that's the trend I've noticed...
posted by Brodiggitty at 7:51 AM on July 28, 2009


can we change this to 35? i just found my aritistic calling--Tiny Sculptures Made of Dried Food!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:25 AM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm okay with this as long as there is a Sanctuary.
posted by katillathehun at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2009


Pragmatists. I'm still waiting for the glorious days of robo-servants catering to my every beck and call for the whole of my life.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on July 28, 2009


As a member of the tail end of the baby boom, the world was our oyster when we were becoming adults. It wasn't that hard to work a summer to earn the next years' tuition, if college was our plan. Otherwise, there was no shortage of decent paying unskilled jobs that one could get into after highschool. I flunked out of uni after a couple of years but I still found several great opportunities that led to a decent skilled career.

Most of the parents I know these days expect and intend to fund their kids' post-secondary education, as much as they reasonably can. This is sometimes overindulgence but mostly it's because it's unspoken knowledge that it's tougher now to get a good start in life. Even before the meltdown. So that part of it is happening already.

Re retirement... I didn't ever have the expectation that I'd get a gold watch and a pension at age 65. I've always believed that staying active and useful is the key to a happy retirement, so it's my hope that I spend those golden years still doing maybe 20 hours a week at a job I love, and since I'm in my 50's I'm already looking for that niche that I can retire to (current fantasy - boat mechanic)

However, I'm already noticing age-ism. Alot of the recent layoffs have targeted older workers, instead of the younger, lower-cost employees. I suspect that alot of employers have used the excuse I am finding that i have to do selective editing to my resume so that it doesn't scream old guy.

Time for the gray revolution. Don't trust anyone under 40!
posted by Artful Codger at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Old guys can't type :-(

second last para should be:
-
However, I'm already noticing age-ism. Alot of the recent layoffs have targeted older workers, instead of the younger, lower-cost employees. I suspect that alot of employers have used the economic crisis as an excuse to shed older higher paid workers, even though it means losing experience. I am finding that i have to do selective editing to my resume so that it doesn't scream old guy.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2009


Well, in Germany the average age of graduation from university is 28.8, so they've arguably got the best of both worlds.

Might be because German universities are basically free.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:45 AM on July 28, 2009


Wouldn't this just mean extending college graduation by about 5 years? On the other side, the average retirement last 20 years -- according to a financial services ad I saw a long time ago ("The average retirement last 20 years -- will you have enough money?" I remember wondering about the judgment of reminding potential clients of their own mortality)

So in order for this to be equivalent to retirement, it would have to last 20 years. Rather then working from 25-65, you would work from 45-85
posted by delmoi at 9:58 AM on July 28, 2009


Civil_Disobedient, not only that, the students actually get paid.

However, there are of course other reasons. For starters, German university curricula are packed with stuff. Each professor figures that his particular subject is the most important thing in the world and goes into the tiniest detail. As a result, graduates know their stuff to a t, but even good, dedicated students usually need a couple of years more to graduate than advertised.

Also, in Germany as in most of continental Europe there wasn't until recently any equivalent to a bachelor's degree. The traditional German "Diplom" was roughly equivalent to a master's, and took at least as long.

And then, of course, in most German states, high school graduation is at 19.
posted by Skeptic at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2009


So in order for this to be equivalent to retirement, it would have to last 20 years. Rather then working from 25-65, you would work from 45-85

Added to which, I know school is great and all, but it is not the equivalent of backpacking aroung Asia or riding the Trans-Siberian Railway. (or whatever floats your particular retirement boat)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:49 AM on July 28, 2009


That is, for those espousing the "in school till X" as equivalent.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:49 AM on July 28, 2009


"I once proposed a solution ... people would be supported by society up to the age of 30."

As someone who received so many grad school loans that my last name ought to be "Stafford" .... I was supported by society until the age of thirty.
posted by jayder at 11:05 AM on July 28, 2009


See, I'd agree with this, but...isn't part of the point of getting older workers to retire is to get them out of jobs before they ah....start to decline and are unable to do them any more? However many "good years" you get before then is kind of luck of the draw, but realistically speaking, a good lot of 80-year-olds can't keep plugging away at the 8-5 still. At the very least employers would be bitching about all their absences to go to the doctor and not be happy to pay that health insurance.

That said, I do kind of like the idea of having till 30 to finish your schooling and not HAVE to worry about juggling a job at the same time, should you be inclined to do so and to take that long about it. But that's not going to work.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but as a 21 yr old I'm absolutely rabid to help society out. In a meaningful way, that is. And actually helping. There are tons of problems in the world, but nobody wants to pay me to solve them (not even the bare minimum), or there are no obvious avenues to go about making a change, and on top of that existing institutions either passively or actively prevent a change from being made. Seems the only options are to get some crap job and muddle along, go throw bricks at corporate windows with the black bloc and live off of dumpsters, or (like i'm doing now) something in between (not exactly a satisfying solution). I've quoted this bit before, but it takes on a new significance in this context:

"in most cultures, people have well-defined roles that they can easily fill and make life meaningful. But in western civilization, and especially in the American middle class, your role is not to do a certain kind of useful activity -- your role is to succeed, to gain ever-higher material wealth and status. If "success" is defined relative to other people, then every winner requires losers. And if it's defined relative to yourself in the past, then almost everyone will be a loser when energy consumption declines. And if you reject the whole game, then you have no social role at all, which might be even more depressing than having a role that you fail at."
posted by symbollocks at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


All staplers would be electric and interoffice memos would be delivered - slowly - in a walker with a mail bag attached. Brave old world
posted by Cranberry at 1:20 PM on July 28, 2009


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