Jay Fox weighs in on social security and age-related frailty:
Can this be avoided? Ironically, people who oppose life extension technology - i.e., people who claim to value the dignity of human life and of our elders - are the very people who may ensure that this collapse arrives. People who oppose life extension and medical research are in fact going to cause frail people to overburden society to collapse. Needless to say, society will not go down without a fight, and frail people are the ones who will suffer at the hands of the disenfranchised young.
If you truly care about our elders, you owe it to them to make sure that we find a way to prevent the crisis of the impending tsunami of frail people that will flood society in the next 50 years. You owe it to them to find a way to make frailty the exception among the extremely old, rather than the rule.
I've had my say on this before; quite aside from pointing out that all these "problems" could be dealt with through individual choice in insurance and charitable giving, it strikes me that the light and noise surrounding the social security debate is simply more displacement behavior. Most people work very hard to avoid thinking about the realities of age-related degeneration and its consequences, sad to say. This is a big problem, since this sort of attitude helps to delay work on a cure for aging - large scale research requires a vocal, supportive, educated public.
Glenn Reynolds is another person echoing these sorts of thoughts:
Plague, of course, was once seen as inevitable, and there were even those who thought that efforts to fight it represented a challenge to God's will. We got over that, and I think we should recognize that aging is just another disease that science can't address -- yet.
But as the developed nations face a huge unfunded retirement liability, lots of people are talking about extending the retirement age to cut down on payments. I wonder if we might consider extending the retirement age through making people live longer, healthier lives -- perhaps by diverting a small portion of retirement money into aging research.
Given that the four major alternatives discussed above have major downsides why not consider science as a potential solution? After all, science will eventually produce solutions that cheaply cure or prevent all the major diseases. The only question is when. Acceleration of the rate of advance could not only reduce the size of future liabilities but could also have the very attractive added benefit allowing us all to get healthier and stay healthier for much longer.
My modest proposal for funding medical research: Change the major medical entitlements programs to require that 10% of all medical entitlements budgets go to fund medical research. Then when medical entitlements spending inevitably goes up medical research spending will go up proportionately. Yes, that will make the financial numbers for the medical entitlements programs look worse in the short run. But the money thereby spent will produce much larger savings for those programs in the longer run and will also produce treatments that will lead to great improvements in the health of the vast majority of people.