I have come against a bit of a problem, and [...] thought it might be interesting to hear what you think on the subject. It is generally to do with ageing and ageism and cultural attitudes.
A recent (2005) government audit of the 'National Service Framework for Older People' , points to 'a deep rooted cultural attitude to ageing, where older people are often presented as incapable and dependent'. Despite a mandate set out in the Framework that treatment and services will be provided regardless of age and on the basis of clinical need alone, local NHS services were 'hampering' its implementation, and not considering older people when designing their services.
I've been looking at this 'deep rooted cultural attitude', trying to decide if it exists and if it does what can be done to change it.
However, all of the texts that I have found that address the issue are very left wing. Ageism and any form of prejudice/oppression are seen as the fault of capitalism, and to change cultural opinion we need to challenge capitalist ideas and herald in a new era of democratic socialism/communism/other nice but un-workable political ideal. It's doing my head in I'm sure there must be an alternative view, I just can't find it.
Do you right of the centre people have an opinion, and or written any interesting books on the subject?
So, has anyone out there got any thoughts—or, of course, literature on the matter?
I jotted down a few really swift thoughts that ran thusly.
Socialism/communism, etc. encourages dependency since, by its nature, it removes responsibility for the well-being of communities from the people and transfers the responsibility to the state. (This is the kind of attitude that Mrs Thatcher was criticising when she said that there "was no such thing as society".)
Thus, it is not ageism that leads to 'a deep rooted cultural attitude to ageing, where older people are often presented as incapable and dependent' but the state that entails that attitude.
Look at it from a libertarian perspective. Currently, the state forces retirement at age 65 (or 60 for women), thus ensuring that older people must become dependent for their income on something other than there own freely exchanged labour. Often, these people are left entirely depedent on the state pension and, hence, the consequence that older people are perceived as 'incapable and dependent'.
Unfettered capitalism, or the free market works differently. Generally, would you rather have a still sprightly 66 year old -- who knows his job (and your company) inside out -- or spend money recruiting and training some new lad of 19? Most companies would go for the experience and knowledge any day.
Then a social libertarian would argue that people should be able to work for as long as they like and that they themselves should provide (in the main) for their own retirement. Thus, although they would need to provide their own pension (as many of us already do) they would be able to continue working for as long as they liked -- and thus increase their pension payout -- and their pension would be dependent on their own hard work (and not, as the state pension essentially renders them, dependent on the hard work of others).
In this way, it can be perceived that it is, in fact, the state's interference (as regards retirement age and in the provision of a state pension as the main source of income upon retirement) that creates this cultural attitude to ageing. Thus it is 'socialism/communism/other nice but un-workable political ideal' (which we libs generally refer to as statism) that creates the dependency and the culture.
So, over to you people. Any ideas? Please feel free to leave them in the comments...