“Fame …. I’m going to live forever
Baby, remember my name”
It was no surprise to hear at the London Business School this week that we had moved into an era where there was a fair certainty most would live to a hundred. Hurray… that’ll keep King William pretty busy. 80 million telegrams….or will they do it the other way round - send e-mails to the families of those whose members miss the century - “hard luck!”
The thesis is this. Governments and Corporations don’t know what to do with the oldies. But we can’t afford to support people for 35 years after retirement. Pensions used to pay out for only 5 or so years and then “aagghh!”
So we’ll have to work to 80….and the question is doing what exactly? Bricklaying, digging, riot policing?
The plan on paper looks fine - we learn up to 22 then hone that learning into practical, high earning work for 20 years then take a new learning sabbatical and emerge to do good work but much less well paid and at age 65 - 70 pause before embarking on a decade or so of creative mentoring before, aged 80, heading for Southampton for the cruise ships.
Talking about an abrupt change to pension arrangements is not something governments will ever do - suicide is something they tend to try and avoid.
Do you remember the film 1976 Logan’s Run which depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty thereby preventing overpopulation? Thought not.
Nature will use its cocktail of plague, pestilence and natural disaster to control population growth but what are those who make it through this going to do? The alarming data from a US University who’ve conducted research into MBA graduate aspirations over 20 years is that the new cohort is a bit different.
- 1/3 say they won’t have children
- 1/3 say their work is all
- 1/s say they’d negotiate equal work rights in marriage (if they got married…. If!!!)
We are considering the intractable problem of irreversibility. If you marry at 20 and make a mistake it’s an 80 year error or worse - it could turn out to be 4 errors of 20 years each with a devastating impact on your wealth.
But don’t despair.
The solutions are threefold:
- Creative thinking
It’s seriously time to stop thinking about WORK but to see work as life and creative and fun and carry on doing it as long as we can disguising our visible age by technology and cosmetics.
After all did anyone know the genius PD James was 90 odd when she died still writing? Oh and Melvyn Bragg above is 80.