Monday, October 18, 2010

The Aging World

Yesterday's NYTimes Magazine had an article about the aging of the world. The article was heavy on statistics from an economist's point of view. For instance, in the US at present there are as many people over 65 as there are people under 28. A similar balance between you and old [the article said "old" not me] is rapidly happening in China and has happened in Europe. The author seems to think this is a bad thing in terms of a work force. He attributes it to lower birth rates once women become educated and longer life now that most the industrialized world shares the same medical knowledge which is helping people live longer. Call me blind or badly educated, but I cannot see that as a problem. It surely calls for rethinking how we live, a new balance of how we view both young and older people. The article seems to be saying that productivity is the purpose of life, industrial productivity, GNP as if making more stuff -- all kinds of stuff -- were a positive good. He doesn't seem to imagine that perhaps a redefinition of just what is needed for a good life might need some rethinking in light of what we are doing to our environment through industrialization.

The author is Ted C. Fishman who has written a book called “Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World’s Population and How It Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival and Nation Against Nation,” The article is adapted from that book which will be published later this month. Why, I wonder, do certain thinkers always couch their considerations as a war, an either/or situation? Maybe it's the publisher who suggested that jaw dropping subtitle, they want to sell books. I find the title entirely appalling, I find such a mind-set appalling. The very best thing about the article, finally, was that it was illustrated with many, many head shots of seniors, none of whom looked dangerous to me [although, of course, they're my contemporaries].


Kass said...

When I think about the youth of today, I feel somewhat better when I realize we probably out-number 'em.


June -- this is an EXCELLENT post. You so succinctly saw right through his article -- that productivity is really the important thing. Scary in some ways. It seems that he was making a case against aging and the folks who fit that description. Is his article an argument in disguise of how to rationalize dispensing with our elders as they do not fit in our society anymore? -- barbara

Once Known as The Badger said...

They can all go to hell... don't trust anyone under 60! They don't know squat.