The whole argument here is relatively spurious with regard to tech. The older degrees and coding standards were tougher and there were fewer people able to do it, the decrease in brain capacity at 40 is minimal and generally would be compensated by experience. I think we’d all be happy with a 40 year old surgeon instead of a 27 year old.

IBM wanted to get rid of people who had in fact just gotten too many raises in their time. It’s also odd to decry the cost of welfare for the old and also demand the old be fired. There’s little evidence that older people are causing young people in tech to not get jobs.

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My observation is elderly Americans are least likely to mask, while young Americans are most likely to mask. Furthermore, lockdown policies were horrific for the elderly. At least in America, "Zero Covid" has been recognized as a political loser and one reason is because the elderly are not on board.

In China either the elderly have different beliefs about Covid that make Zero Covid politically acceptable to the people or the rulers are simply demented tyrants. I lean towards the latter.

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Nov 21, 2022·edited Nov 21, 2022

You make some good points. But most people like their parents and don't want to see them poor and ALSO don't want to be personally responsible for their care/support in retirement.

And practically speaking if you told me "Hey we're cutting your parents off from SS and MCR and also no SS or MCR for you either but ur getting a 15% raise." I would not be excited and suddenly feel like I could afford more children.

U seem to be leaning towards death panels and assisted suicide to help lower the costs of health care spending on the super old. I get where u are coming from, just not sure it is the right approach. Perhaps doctors explaining to patients more about expectations and realities so that older folks can be smarter about decisions. Although that may not work either since elderly Doctors (who should know better) seem to statistically be no different than regular folks when it comes to "Do anything u can to save them" mentality.

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Correction: Most old people don't want to be burdens on their relatives, but they are perfectly happy to be a burden on society as they demand their social security and pension checks. They merely displace the burden from someone they know to the anonymous everyman.

But in reality social security taxes the working age young parents who should be having children. They have fewer children because of the tax burden to support the elderly.

Such societies will all collapse due to lack of children in about 4 to 5 generations from the initiation of socialism. This is being seen in both China and Europe.

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"It’s the social security recipient who is able to stay in a house with two extra bedrooms he doesn’t need because of monthly government payments taken from couples deciding whether to have a second baby."

You do realize it's actually their own money, right? They paid in to ss to their older counterparts, and you want to strip them of it? Also, I don't know any of these old people. Both my parents had barely enough money in retirement to pay their normal bills because of inflation. I prefer to respect the hard lives lived rather than throw them away. My solution to this problem is this: We take care of those who got us here. Forced retirement at age 57, cut welfare programs for everyone except retirees. Allow them to live a bit of life after years of being born and working all their lives. Younger people get the workforce and chance to move up and get better paying jobs, their grandparents are taken care of and they can focus on themselves and won't need the entitlements. I'm in my 40's, but I can't stomach asking old people to live like paupers for the rest of us.

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Tyler Cowen wrote that in academia: "I suspect age discrimination is far more extreme [than gender and race discrimination], at least when it comes to the final stage of the process, namely the actual interview and hiring decisions." I agree with Cowen.


In tech, Hanania highlights a small number of high profile age discrimination lawsuits. But age discrimination is deeply ingrained in the industry, there's broad consensus of that, I don't find these arguments at all convincing.

Next, lots of brain-centric career tracks peak later in life, because it requires decades to develop and excel at some particular niche. Some older workers really offer unique value. There are millions of young people with young brains that aren't generating high dollar value. That is a large part of the story.

The government is welfare for lots of people, old people are just one set of constituents. Government workers, are arguably the primary welfare recipients. Hanani's mentor, Caplan, frequently says that government gives charity to the old, not the poor, but I suspect that is not entirely true. A lot of young poor people consume enormous amounts of resources. I bet a motivated researcher can dig through government spending data to tell a very different story.

I am sympathetic to some arguments that some older people have entrenched their privileges, and blocked access to the younger generation. Overall, this post is glib caricature.

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Damn - this is a real issue but this comment feed is simply dripping in cognitive biases and heuristics (some of it approaching sorcery.) What kind of listeners and commenters do you attract? I expected better!

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We need to revisit this essay when Mr. Hanania is 64. ;)


1. As you say, people want to survive to get old. Even if 19% of them don't make it, we have a hard enough time convincing young people not to do dangerous things. I think too many people expect programs for the old will be there for them when the time comes and want to protect them.

2. I don't think enough people believe in the superiority of Western culture anymore. On the left it is the most evil culture that ever existed (I strongly disagree but that's not the point here), and on the right (a) conservatives lean old so this is going to be a hard sell (b) one of the main features of conservatism is respect for the past and that ties in with respect for your elders.

Frankly I am starting to wonder if the Chinese have the edge over us--the West and East trade dominance every couple hundred years, this could be Beijing's time in the sun.

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Normally I’d read something this superficial and incomplete and assume it’s just low-effort propaganda but I’m wondering if you’re really this clueless about why the system works the way it does. You hinted at awareness in mentioning that some people die before collecting retirement benefits. But everyone else does receive them -- unlike all the other entitlement categories we can all expect to become old and benefit from this system. So it’s not typical welfare in the sense of taking from winners and giving to losers. We all start young and all get old and seem to have chosen to rob our young selves to pay our old selves.

Supposedly Social Security was enacted because elderly poverty used to be a thing. Not sure you can look at currently successful olds and assume the whole system is worthless. Presumably the current system is why those olds aren’t broke and miserable.

I’m sure lots of workplace protections are excessive but I suspect there was at some point an implicit deal of “work hard while you’re young, we’ll take care of you when you’re old” but thanks to incompetent management IBM now wants to renege on that deal and unload the olds.

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Nov 21, 2022·edited Nov 21, 2022

I actually really like this as a theory about old engineers contributing to the ossification of companies. As companies age, their workforce does too. But while once upon a time a new CEO could come in, clear out the old-timers and refocus the company, now the law prevents this.

Though my thought would be, if you can't fire them, maybe it's still permissible to find some other approach within the bounds of the law. E.g., reshuffling all of them into the same business unit, and then spinning it off -- chopping off a gangrenous arm to save the body.

If you're a bright young engineer fresh out of school, you probably want to work with other engineers that are somewhat more experienced than you but still very much "with it." Say, guys around age 25-30. The thing about having an engineering department with lots of 50-somethings is that it's actually an impediment to hiring young guys.

It's from 2016 but I found this graphic showing average age of engineers by company. And yep, IBM, Oracle, and HP are at the back of the pack there.


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You are definitely onto something here. It looked to me as if many older boomers in the US were perfectly willing to throw the young under the bus to save themselves from covid.

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Much of what Richard says I agree with, but he overeggs the pudding. Yes, I transferred wealth from my young self to my old self (I'm 70 and retired). My wealth is higher than it was when I was 30, 40, or 50, but guess what? My income is lower, for the obvious reason that I get no paycheck. I'm living off my savings (yes, social security too). I read an analysis some years ago to the effect that my parents' generation (the so-called Greatest Generation) got a great deal from Social Security in that they paid little into it and got a lot out, but the deal has been getting worse for every succeeding cohort.

But yes, too many programs and policies favor the old, most egregiously the recent COVID policies, which have been devastating for children, teenagers, and young adults.

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As a member of what some are calling the Boomer II generation (born '55 to '65) I have a burning resentment of Boomer I. They crowded us out of jobs and wrecked everything they touched on their way through life. Now they're sucking up the budget. I won't see a dime of Social Security. Instead I will have maximally contributed to their benefits. Good thing I have known the game since the '70s and never expected any Social Security or Medicare. A politician once called Social Security a Ponzi scheme and his career was KILLED for it. (Can't remember who that was, his career was so thoroughly destroyed.) It is a Ponzi scheme and always has been and it has treated like a cookie jar for all kinds of crooked schemes. Any serious attempt to fix it has been shown to be the third rail of politics.

You are correct that governments used to cater to old people because a huge proportion of them vote. Now that "certain parties" can harvest their ballots without them even being alive (in fact it is preferable if they are not), I have noticed a distinct trend toward wanting to kill them off early. Your letter is a more reasoned example of the genre. Those old people take too much money and medical care. Kill 'em. They have too much money saved. Rob 'em. Never mind that it was saved because we never trusted the Ponzi scheme in the first place. I will put it all into a pile and burn it in their faces.

As for your take on China. Wow. As if ANY vaccines work on the Crud. I doubt it is a deference to the aged. Commies don't care about anything but power. I do agree with you that we often think they are smarter and wiser than they are. Commies are always and everywhere incompetent. We are fortunate in our foes.

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I dont view this as a priority really aside from pensions. Im in my 20s, I feel good knowing that there are laws which will ensure I get to stay working as long as I would like to.

The generations following the boomers and gen x are thoroughly unhinged, so i hope the boomers (xers are mostly nonentities) stay in power as long as possible. I assume the generations that follow my own will be even worse

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This is an easy sell to me as I think the old should die already, consider expensive end of life care indefensible, and just generally can't imagine anyone wanting to get really old. When people offer me the idea of immortality it gives me dread rather than awe, I don't want to put up with this bullshit forever!

But let's get critical about what would happen if they cut SS and Medicare. They absolutely would NOT just blow the money back into lower taxes for the young. What would probably happen is that they would spend it on the Green New Deal or some other bullshit. Or they would claim that spending it on "education" was a way of "investing" in the young. These people are never going to just cut taxes and give you your money back. All In tax rates in the developed world all basically converge into a pretty narrow range that are as high as they can get away with. Instead you'll pay the same taxes and now have to pay to support your elderly parents. I suspect cutting SS and Medicare would mostly just mean less money for my parents and more money for my enemies.

I think the best way to approach this is just try to give money to young families hand over fist as fast as you can. Pass a giant and irresponsible universal child tax credit. Make dependents part of the standard deductible. Offer private school vouchers like Arizona. Make IVF free. Give people free diapers. Anything.

The government is going to bankrupt itself anyway, only then are SS and Medicare going to get cut (at a minimum by stealth inflation and leaned out benefits). Spend it on your allies first. Eventually the young will have to dig their way out, better to have more of them when the time comes.

On the older end, we ought to be willing to offer seniors the ability to trade away end of life care for inheritance for their children.

Lastly, I think its ridiculous to think that most dumb schlubs are going to save for retirement. If you get rid of SS and Medicare, then you need something like a Force Savings program like Singapore has. It gets taken right out of your check and put into an account for you so you aren't broke when you need it. The difference is that its in your name and you control it rather then pay-as-you-go.

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I too, long to live in the world of Logan’s Run.

In seriousness we only have these systems because in the past 70 years we’ve destroyed the extended family that would usually take care of the elderly. It makes more sense to start there then at unpopular proposals like cutting social security.

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