People will soon live to the age of 150! I read this recently from a scientist working in bioresearch and I have seen it several times before. If this is an accurate prediction then there are some questions that arise.
Right now, the rich (the 1% we hear so much about) are getting richer while the 99% are losing financially. That means that most people will be less able to save anything for retirement. Consequently, social security and welfare will become ever more important for our elderly. But, both of those sources are funded by the government and they get the funds from taxes. So as we move into the future, more money will need to come from fewer people until one day all of the funds come from the 1%.
At the same time, people will live longer, stretching out the typical retirement period. Eventually, a person will be dependent for the first twenty years, work about fifty years ( 20 to 70) and then live in retirement for eighty years (70 – 150).
Now, to complicate this even further, automation is eliminating virtually all unskilled job and college costs are driving young people away from higher education. So we should be expecting a continuous increase in the numbers of unemployed people. Of course, this means there will be ever increasing unemployment payments and welfare expenses.
That all sounds scary but there is still more. The wealthy are not raising families at a self-sustaining rate. There will be fewer and fewer people with assets as time goes on. And, even with wars, murders, starvation, disease, contraception and abortions, the rest of the population is increasing.
So, what might be coming? I can see several possibilities.
We may see increasing misery for more and more people until there are riots and chaos to such a degree that our society disintegrates. Then, most people will die and the fittest survive. With the equipment available today, the fittest will be the most ruthless people with the best guns. Then, after fifty or sixty generations we may see civilization rising from the ashes once more.
Another possibility is that our society changes to an oligarchy (which it nearly is today) run by the 1% and the masses become serfs of the few. The “lords” would then live in unlimited luxury and care for the poor as they individually see fit. Some of the ordinary people will live reasonable lives while others will suffer through short, miserable lives and die in the dirt.
Both of the previous possibilities are really just repeats of history. A third possibility is that society will begin to see activities other than “productive work” as useful and valuable. People will be provided a living income for doing something they like. That could be working at a conventional job or singing on a street corner or picking invasive plants or playing social games or, essentially, anything that doesn’t cause harm to others.
In this scenario, people would attend school longer, at least twenty years. Then, they start an activity. If they like it, they continue. If not, they try another. In all cases, when they leave school, they begin to draw a living income from the government. If they choose to start a business or get a job, they still get the living income and they get the benefit of their additional earnings.
This scenario has never worked before and may never work due to physical and psychological obstacles. One of the most difficult physical obstacles is that there is a lot of unpleasant work that must be done like cleaning sewers, working in hot and miserable mines, putting roofing on houses in the hot sun and many more. If no one has to work, then who will do these jobs?
Robotics and other improved technology have been replacing people in these jobs and will continue to do so. Eventually, the menial, dirty jobs will be nearly eliminated. But, it is unlikely that they will ever be completely eliminated so, as a society, we must accept the idea that a miserable, menial job is worth more money. The people who want to earn much more than the living income will do these jobs if they are paid very well for doing them.
However, the difficulty with that obstacle pales in comparison to the psychological obstacles. Most difficult of these is the extreme greed of some individuals. Corporate executives and entertainment industry idols frequently have annual incomes in eight figures. The top 5 US executive incomes in 2012 came to a total of $378 million. Even number 100 on the list took home over $15 million. The five top paid movie stars took home a total of over $218 million last year. The top five athletes made over $325 million. The top 5 drug lords make bazillions, but that is a different problem that would need to be solved.
If we assumed that no one needs to make more than $5 million per year, then just those fifteen individuals made $846 million in excess income. If we said that a living income was $25,000 then the excess income of those fifteen individuals would pay a living income to 33,840 people. So, if those fifteen, and the rest of the one percent, could accept the idea of limiting their income to $5 million per year, we could provide everyone with a living income.
Once we succeed with that, we then have to work on the greed of the rest of the people. People would fraudulently try to get multiple living incomes. Some would make other income and hide it from taxes. Robbery and other crimes would enrich other greedy individuals.
We would need to change peoples minds about owning expensive jewelry and clothing. They would need to forget about fancy cars and expensive toys as status symbols. And, they would need to stop paying billions of dollars to drug dealers.
So, it seems we are faced with certain ruin unless we can accomplish several miracles. Do we just give up and try to get everything we can while we can still do it or do we start working toward a better solution? Will our children or grandchildren live 150 years in relative happiness or die after thirty of forty years of misery?
I would love to hear what you think.