People do not like chance, but governments and generally all institution positively hate and ignore it.
The old saying that the generals are always entering a war with the skills gained in the previous one, and the other saying that genius requires 30 years to be recognized point to the same conclusion, “let us ignore change”.
The refusal to accept and manage change is nowhere more evident than in the “aging” revolution. We are daily confronted with examples of people well past their retirement age performing like young/middle age individuals.
We have extreme cases like the Belgian cyclist running the one hour challenge at the fresh age of 101 and completing with a not too bad 36 km and complaining he could have done but for his doctor constantly requesting him to slow down! Or the New Zealender training at 105, or the Presidents of major nations, like Italy, in their nineties,
Nobel research winner continuing her research work until the age of 101, and every day citizens climbing mountains at 80 … the list never ends..
The reality is that thanks to better life style (exercising, eating the right stuff,.. ) and improved medical care, people at eighty enjoy the lifestyle of my grandfather at fifty.
On the other end of the scale we find “children” more and more dependent on their parents until their mid twenties and over, chasing the golden pot of the good job as it was promised to them by the fata morgana of the university degree, or simply fading in a life of inactivity..
We are facing a major change in our society, the birth rate is luckily falling, but so are the number of elderly needing assistance at age 65. Most of this 60fivers are still very productive, are not interested in sitting on a couch and play golf. They are still active consultants, managers, plumbers,….
And why should society, not encourage the “old” to continue to work, and keep on paying taxes, if for no other reason that we need their skills and the state needs their money to pay both pensions as training for the young.
We should, as a democracy, allow everybody, independent from age, to perform at their best. We certainly have week, sick, or whatever people who need assistance. Why stop the people who can be productive not to do so and help financing those who cannot.
In a previous column I did raise the issue of “growth”, that word most loved by our political leaders, here and in Europe, that always turns out to be an empty eggshell.
Well, it is obvious that an eternal “growth” is impossible and also not desirable, but I think “growth” has become a short cut for the promise of a far better life.
Unfortunately even this more modest target is never presented with the policy/tool/method/etc that will allow to fill the promise.
Why? Because it is impossible for any activity not to produce pollutants, these being heat, poisons, waste. For example any physical activity produce heat, it is a law of nature.
Therefore we cannot fill the bellies of our fellow citizens, and provide jobs for them we must consider how to avoid the destruction of our biosphere by our incessantly growing polluting.
But here lies the worm: our leaders want to get the economy to grow by encouraging consumption – a reasonable road to growth – that unfortunately clashes with our other urgent need: reduce pollution!
And here lies the difficult equation: to grow me must consume but by consuming we kill ourselves.
First of all let us look at the second part of the equation: does the growth of consumption really impair our biosphere? The answer is unfortunately a resounding: YES.
Forget the poor carbon dioxide (we produce betwwe three and five porcent of the CO2 in our atmosphere, roughly the quantity produced by a vulcano in a bad mood), I am talking about the real issue: the poisoning of the soil, water and air with all kind of chemicals, still peacefully produced and dispersed through our world.
Poisons plus a thoughtless use of natural resources like trees and water, are already killing animal and insect species.
We see around us the constant reduction of the bees and birds population but as Einstein said ” humanity will survive four days if the bees die”. Maybe a bit exaggerate, but not all that much.
The so called recession that is plaguing our Western economies has reduced our consumption, so we should applaud, but we cannot, because the same recession has deprived too many of us of a job and a decent life.
We must therefore find a new equation able to provide a decent life to ALL of us, WITHOUT increasing consumption: we need to dance on a new music.
I am certainly not able to provide the details of the new music , but the general picture is reasonably simple and many of us are already dancing by it: they have cut unnecessary purchases, have reduced unnecessary traveling, have …consumed less.
Against their will and often very painfully they have contributed to the salvation of our planet but the suffering cannot be allowed. We can do it but first we must all agree that we cannot continue to encourage useless activities and frivolous expenditure. We need a society, free of the demon of the dollar and conscious of our role as steward of the planet and not exploiter of the same.
Can we find a formula that allows a decent life without the poisoning of the biosphere and the destruction of species, both animal as vegetable?
We sure can but we need qualified teachers to provide our children with quality education they deserve and require, wee need nurses and support staff to take care of our sick people, we need mechanics, bricklayer, carpenters, farmers, foresters, ….
There are million of jobs available, both in North America as in Europe which do not get filled and …. millions of unemployed, some thirty percent young – who where told that an university degree would be the key to wealthy living – that do not have the skills (and in some cases the will) to fill them.
Unfortunately working with our hands has as the stigma of the second class, while trading pieces of paper sitting in front of a computer screen is a clear sign of success!
Reversing this view of the world, realize that a teacher should be paid more than stock trader, a nurse more that a advertising staff is where our political leaders should lead us. Forget increasing consumption, we shall try to make consumption more equally shared between all of us, and recognize that we need the people who keep the engine going, just as much as those who drive it.
Forcing consumption down our throat to create jobs? The sure way to disaster for us, our youth and our planet.