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November 05, 2008

Political Elsewhere

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Steve Sailer looks at the exit polls. My two favorite facts: 1) 96% of blacks voted for Obama; 2) Obama took unmarried people by 65% to 33%. As far as I can tell, what that means is that the defining political division in the U.S. isn't between Dems and Repubs, let alone lefties and righties. It's between married people and single people.

* Responding to the "well, everyone's just gonna have to work until later in life" solution for Social Security, Jenny makes an excellent point: "Not everyone ages well." I've known a lot of 70 year olds, and many of them weren't good for much beyond traveling, reminiscing, and worrying about inflation. Not a putdown, by the way: I like old people and consider them a much-underappreciated resource in youth-obsessed America. But they're a life-resource, not an economic resource.

* Austin Bramwell proposes a "non-movement conservatism."

* DailyBurkeman1 ventures some hilariously wry musings about local government. (For those who aren't aware of this: In conservative mythology, local solutions are nearly always to be preferred to national ones. That's my own preference, for what it's worth. Still: Local governments, eh?) Example: "Councilmen are like mini-senators, in that they know nothing about anything. Unlike senators, they are more than willing to admit this, in order to avoid responsibility of any kind."

* Some political wisdom from Veronique de Rugy, in a piece reviewing the scandalously irresponsible spending habits of both parties:

When it comes to out-of-control spending, conventional wisdom says the Democrats are most likely to bust open the coffers. That's why many fear an increased Democratic majority in Congress topped by a Democratic president. And we should be afraid. Democrats are indeed big spenders. Second only to the Republicans.

* I don't find a lot to quarrel with in this recent Paul Craig Roberts rant, do you?

* A fresh, brainy, independent, full-of-surprises political blog that I've just discovered: The Left Conservative.



posted by Michael at November 5, 2008


With all due respect to Jenny, she's completely wrong when she writes:

Ironically, the popularity of running, biking, and other sports that hasten the deterioration of joints may make this an even bigger problem for the Baby Boom generation than it was for our elders whose idea of "exercise" was more likely to be a gentle stroll around the golf course rather than training for a marathon.

There is no fitness boom among the over-35 set. Joggers, bike riders and so on are a tiny minority; the fact that they are highly visible in a few spots such as Central Park doesn't change things. Out here in Suffolk County it's relatively uncommon to see a jogger, and most of those that do exist are no older than 30 or so. Sports leagues for the over-30 set are rare outside of Manhattan. Those that do exist are most commonly for softball, which by and large doesn't cause much joint deterioration. Gym memberships? Every time I go to the gym - and I go all the time, and the gym itself is one of the biggest on Long Island - the age of most patrons makes me think I stumbled into Chuck E. Cheese's by mistake.

In short, for most members of the Baby Boom generation, a "gentle stroll around the golf course" is the full extent of their physical activity.

Posted by: Peter on November 5, 2008 11:55 AM

"Not everyone ages well." What's missing here is a reminder that, when Social Security was first sold as a policy in the 1930s, even living to 65 was somewhat unusual. It was not imagined that the vast majority of us would collect much from us; it was only for the oldest and weakest among us. (And the poorest; now, of course, the elderly are a wealthy demographic. But don't get me started. Oh wait; you already did.) I have a few questions about how to interpret this table, but it looks like the equivalent to a 1930's 65 would be close to 80 for those of us living today.

Posted by: Fredösphere on November 5, 2008 1:29 PM

And let's not forget that the Boomers' social security benefits are supposed to come from today's (and tomorrow's) wage earners, a disproportionate number of whom are undereducated immigrants and their children. To put it charitably, we are expecting a demographic cohort that is short on human capital to sustain an economy and produce enough taxable income to keep the system solvent. This is like trying to suck a bowling ball through a garden hose.

Posted by: Sgt. Joe Friday on November 5, 2008 3:33 PM

I think the Fredösphere exaggerates a little: in 1940 a 30-year-old white male could expect to live to age 69; in 2004 to age 77 - an increase of 7 years. Women and non-white males have increased their life expectancies by 10 years, and non-white females by 14 years (amazing). I'm not sure what this means, except that we probably can't raise the retirement age by much more than 5 years or so.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on November 5, 2008 7:17 PM

" increase of 7 years."

Duh, 8 years.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on November 5, 2008 7:19 PM

People need to continue to work, no matter how old they are.

Retirement is death for most people. In fact, it's surprising how many people retire in good health and die quickly afterward.

Without work, the vast majority of people are lost and useless. The lack of work is precisely what leads to the physical and mental deterioration of older people.

I meet a lot of retirees in my travels. Loneliness is often an overwhelming and devastating reality of their day to day lives. Without work, people are socially isolated.

Certainly, people lose physical and mental quickness as they age. This is offset by better judgment and good work habits.

We are going to have to find a way to put our older people to work... not just to pay the bills, but because retirement is a death sentence for most people.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on November 5, 2008 9:43 PM

88% of blacks voted for Kerry. In the context of that the 95% number isn't very surprising.

Posted by: John Emerson on November 5, 2008 10:01 PM

The more I think about Jenny's article, the more it bothers me. It manages to be demeaning to older people and, by playing up their (alleged) helplessness, is a not-too-subtle demand for more and more Social Security and other benefits.

One thing that might make her viewpoint a little easier to understand is that it appears in a diabetes-related blog. Years ago I heard that diabetes generally adds ten years onto a person's chronological age. In other words, a 65-year-old diabetic is physically similar to a 75-year-old without the condition. I don't know if things are quite so dire today, but perhaps it may be true that expecting an over-65 diabetic to work is not always reasonable.

Posted by: Peter on November 6, 2008 9:49 AM

Above, I wrote:
"It was not imagined that the vast majority of us would collect much from us[.]"

At first, I was embarrassed by my typo, but then I became convinced it was one of those inspired mistakes that encapsulate a profound message of truth for us, if only we have wisdom to understand.

Which I don't.

Posted by: Fredösphere on November 6, 2008 1:08 PM

Another thing that became obvious to me from a quick look at that table of life expectancy is that Social Security constitutes a transfer of wealth from short-lived to long-lived demographics. For example, from men to women, from blacks to whites, and from the flabby to the fit. This is an outcome so obvious, yet startling, that I'm surprised it is not discussed much. At least, I had never heard of it before.

Posted by: Fredösphere on November 6, 2008 1:12 PM

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