Protests were held in Madrid, Barcelona and other citiesPutting the final touches to tomorrow’s Newshour show at 1200, 2000 and 2100GMT, when Claire Bolderson will be taking an in-depth look at old age, which, as someone once quipped, is a high price to pay for maturity. It’s also a more explosive political issue than ever. In Spain, there have been mass protests this week over plans to raise the retirement age; and right across the industrialised world, the economic downturn has intensified the debate about how best to support people in old age. Occupational pension schemes face an uncertain future, government finances are in crisis, there’s a rapidly ageing population, and many young people have no retirement plans at all. So we’ll be asking: what is the best way to look after our older citizens? Does the idea of retirement have a future — or does it need a far-reaching and radical rethink? Is it right for younger workers who don’t have pensions to support older colleagues with generous retirement plans? Or should the industrialised world learn to value the elderly more, whatever the cost?

16 Responses to “”

  1. February 26, 2010 at 22:32

    Salaam gang…I think that the most important establishment that must take over the responsibility of supporting elderly people (both emotionally and financially) is their own families… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  2. 2 Guillermo
    February 26, 2010 at 23:24

    The Essenes, which was the Primitive Church preached about this theme.You must look for the orphans, the widows and the elderly people. When a Society like the Essenes said this, it was a mark in the so called Western Society. Other civilizations and cultures held the elderly in esteem. In the industrialized world of today this thought has been converted in a machine idea. Machines when they are new they are fitable for everyone. When their time of use comes then you must discard it and buy another machine. The slaves that make machines are in their hands or maybe their screws, panels and the such.
    The knowledge of the elder is precious for the young. Ideas and revolutionary movements have their root in the elder. Not in the young people. To discard this treasure is a mistake. A society that thinks first in how I will retire is wrong. A society that has movement allows children, young and elder to take part in the destiny of the society. To be still, like a machine is eventually the end of society. Evolution means that the human brain never gets old. Maybe the body, but not the mind. A society like the anglos who have invented the retired homes overcoming the warmth of a family is wrong. Money is an invention of the industrial society to acquire a reason of its existence. Human
    values have no price. Elderly people are not machines that become useless.
    They are the future of society.

  3. 3 Nigel
    February 26, 2010 at 23:40

    There was a time when old people were loved and cherished for their wisdom and wonderful company. They were respected and in fact celebrated. Now they are a nuisance and require grudging support. We as a world are really going downhill. As Lubna says the best people to look after them are those who have benefited the most from their lives and that is their family.

  4. 4 Tony Palfrey
    February 27, 2010 at 00:46

    I know that this your peoples way but it not ours and leads to a soaring population as each married couple feels the need to have many children to ensure their wellbeing in old age. The world cannot withstand a popultion that trebles every 50 years as is the case at present. Bearing this in mind, I think it is better that people cover their own old age by a national insurance deduction. This would have worked well had we not had succesive governments that failed to ensure that the right amount of money was used for this purpose and not muddled it by including it with our national health service. That however is still the wayto go forward. In the UK we are now flooded with so many immigrants for one reason or another but mostly through our membership of the EEC and fast breeding of our Muslim population, that any solution is going to be a difficult one. I think it is imperitive that wherever possible the old look after themselves by keeping working while they are able. Maybe the retirement dream is about to pop. In case you are thinking these are typically the words of a young person, I will tell you that I am myself past seventy.

  5. 5 Tony Palfrey
    February 28, 2010 at 06:50

    Re above: have just heard that there is no earthquake. It is just a high Tsunami alert. Than God.

  6. 6 Subhash C Mehta
    February 28, 2010 at 07:17

    When you get elderly or old, you’re most likely to be valued as much, if not more, as you value your elderly now.

    February 28, 2010 at 12:49

    What has happened in my own thinking is that we have developed an economic model that has shortchanged morality and this has affected the weak in the society – elderly people being some of them. It is not just the elderly – our cities are filled with people who are unable to cope as more and more people are pushed to the periphery.

    At the moment, the economic system we have only favor a few well placed individuals with others aspiring to the same. When humans are faced with hardships they start searching for what is expendable. The elderly have been subjected to this latter role and have suffered more before even now that this became a topical issue. The elderly are likely to suffer for purely economic reasons which are driving our opinions right now. A lot of people too are increasingly opting for an early death to avoid the pains of living when society consider to be worthless.

  8. 8 gary
    February 28, 2010 at 17:47

    At just 65 year +, I think of myself as a nascent old person. Thus, I’ve given a good bit of thought to death, and am especially not pleased with the potential horror of being maintained past loss of lucidity. I am currently active and in fair health, and so long as these continue, I will continue to work. I cannot imagine retirement and I certainly do not wish my own, or any other children, to maintain my life past my own abilities so to do. Each soul gets one life, and the individual beliefs that prompt some people to imagine other lives are owed them, are responsible for every evil in the world.

  9. 9 viola
    March 1, 2010 at 02:35

    Remember that one of the primary reasons for establishing publicly funded old-age pensions was to ensure that there would always be a bloc of citizens with some money to spend that would prevent the total collapse of buying power as occurred in past depression times, which would require no lengthy, rancorous debates within countries and governments to implement. That’s a powerful tool that should not be eliminated lightly.

    This was to offer no long-term danger of emptying the treasury, as retirees were expected to die shortly after retirement age and after paying into the system their whole lives for those currently drawing from the public fund. However, as people became more affluent and educated, the birth rate fell, negatively affecting the forecast revenues available.

    In the U.S.A., such pension plans freed women to enter the work force in large numbers, whose contributions often were not combined with her (likely dead before her) husband’s when she retired because the system allowed her to claim the larger of the two, which in most cases were the husband’s. The result, while allowing her a larger pension based on her husband’s larger contributions, also meant that the contributions she made went into the national pension pool and were used to supplement someone else’s pension.

    In Canada, each spouse’s public pension is based on their individual salaries, although it is supplemented by an amount based on her or his deceased spouse’s contributions. Canada also provides a guaranteed income supplement for those whose pension income is still below a certain threshold.

    I daresay there is less resentment and hardship created by a national pension plan, which takes some of the burden of supporting the elderly off individual families and distributes it across the whole working population, than is widely recognized. To expect it to be perfect and to suit everyone, however, is not realistic. I’m not so sure that means it should be scrapped or promises broken.

    When I was young, raising a family, and in and out of the work force, I never resented paying into the social security fund because I knew it was supporting my parents. It may not have been perfect, but it was better than the alternatives.

  10. 10 T
    March 1, 2010 at 14:29

    What’s one way to treat older people with respect? Pass single payer health care for all.

  11. 11 audre
    March 1, 2010 at 15:12

    Unfortunately, when we are young we rarely think we will ever grow old. It benefits the current economic system to have people greedy for today. By the time we realize our vulnerability it is often too late to prepare. It is time for a huge shakeup in the way we think. All humans have the same value, unless we buy into economic slavery as the sole reason for our existence.

  12. 12 Clamdip
    March 1, 2010 at 17:31

    Older people can be easily exploited so a protective lid needs to be placed over them before they suffer from physical,mental and financial abuse from friends and family. This is a looming crisis that could be easily prevented if there is the will in place to do it. Dementia patients in particular need to be assessed early on by their care physician and placed under legal and social protection. Social services needs to expand in order to best serve this population of society so that their needs are well taken care of. Good planning and prevention is what is needed so that time and money can be strategically targeted to helping this extremely vulnerable population of people.

  13. March 1, 2010 at 18:10

    This is a big,big problem.I certainly do not want my children to feel obligated to look after me,I don’t want to be burdensome to them,which would be the case,no matter how much love they have.Compulsary individual payments to a single fund,for that pupose only,perhaps councils could run lotteries,for that pupose only,employers should contribute a percentage of their turnover,over and above taxes,for that pupose only.A few suggustions that may help balance the books.

  14. 14 patti in cape coral
    March 1, 2010 at 18:22

    I agree with Lubna, families should be first in line to help their elders. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it’s done most times in the US. An acquaintance I have in California just called me this weekend to tell me they are taking the in-laws to a group home that costs $4000 a month. She is currently not working. She told me the only thing that bothers her is that at that price, if the in-laws live longer than 10 years, there won’t be any money left to inherit. I couldn’t believe what she was saying to me. I wanted to tell her, if you want the money so bad, take them home to live with you and take care of them yourself, but I get the feeling these poor people would get better care from strangers.

    That’s not to say all of us in the US are unfeeling jerks, but the socioeconomic structure definitely makes it hard to care for elderly family members.

  15. 15 Anthony
    March 1, 2010 at 19:22

    Wait, 40 is over the hill, but now over the hill is more like 50. Of course we should raise the age of retirement.

    What we should do is make euthanasia legal in the U.S. I have know many old people who just “want to die already”.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  16. 16 JanB
    March 2, 2010 at 17:29

    “Salaam gang…I think that the most important establishment that must take over the responsibility of supporting elderly people (both emotionally and financially) is their own families… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…


    That may work in the Arab world where every couple has 5+ children, living expenses are low, the elderly aren’t continually kept alive by medical innovations and divorces are almost unheard of. But it won’t work in the West where couples barely have 2 children on average. When the oil fields run dry and the population outgrows the food production you too will only be able to afford to give maybe 2 or 3 children an education and then ti becomes very difficult to continue caring for your elderly, especially when they get older and older. You don’t have many elderly above the age of 70, but if you get Western medical care you will soon have many sickly people above 70, 80 or even 90 years old (these are the people in the retirement homes in the West) and then it will be really difficult for you and your one or two siblings to take care of them for decades on an end. Then imagine what it must be like if you’re an only child, or if people are unfertile and have no children and so on…

    The World’s population will eventually have to stop growing and stabilize with a sustainable retirement scheme. Legalizing euthanasia will certainly be a step in this process while other tricks will be invented by Western Europe and Japan, the world would be wise to learn from their experiences. The ultimate retirement scheme will likely be a single payer system with a rather high retirement age due to a high life expectancy (say 67-70 years) with legalized euthanasia for those who wish it.

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