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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 83 reasons why right-wing ideologues have launched a campaign to get entitlements money out of the hands of the govern- ment and into the pockets of brokers. The privatization of retirement money would tie senior Americans to the stock market and its compulsive entrepreneurial values. How sad it would be if that should happen! It would turn potential elders into ner- vous, watchful, money-obsessed gamblers, living as if they might just be able to take it with them. But if elders take the course that wisdom dictates, the values they choose will be more than personal, playing a part in our ecological relations with the planet. If an aging population infuses our culture with values that weaken the drive to dominate and exploit, to conquer and waste, that may be how we at last find our way to what E. F. Schumacher once called “an economics of permanence.” From the viewpoint of makers and shakers throughout the industrial world, it may seem that the old, the infirm, and the dying are consuming far too much of society’s wealth and dominating far too much of the political dialogue. In the view of the conservative economist Laurance Kotlikoff, a major critic of entitlements, “every dollar the Treasury has to borrow is a dollar denied to the private sector for investment. Over time, that diversion of resources will curb economic growth and leave America poorer.” Is the longevity revolution, then, a limit to economic growth that none will be able to conjure away, the beginning of a dismal downward spiral? Or is the Amer- ican entrepreneurial community being as shortsighted as it was when it gambled the future of the automobile industry on a fleeting infatuation with SUVs? They overlook the possibility that longevity may be ushering in a booming health care economy that will prosper vastly in the years ahead. That is the lesson I learned from a lady named Mamie. I met Mamie at a California retirement community where I was lecturing. She was the first person to come up and shake my hand. She was eighty-four years old, bright- eyed, smiling, and looking not the least bit burdened by her years. “ Thank God NOV 78-103.indd 83 NOV 78-103.indd 83 8/31/07 10:44:52 AM 8/31/07 10:44:52 AM