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Michel Huysseune
Wed, 15/01/2020 - 13:54
I agree with the diagnosis, but I am perplexed about the solutions you propose concerning the transformation of institutions. They are too much determined by a contrast young-old that I find problematic for various reasons. Perhaps it's because I'm myself over 55 that I find the idea of limiting the voting weight of older people profoundly disquieting. I don't doubt the good intentions of those who propose it, but I have noticed for some time that there is a societal tendency to consider aging people (and that starts really already from 40) as insufficiently productive, and paying pensions as a burden. I also notice that many proposals for activating older people are profoundly irrealistic (and in fact the entrepreneurial organizations who campaign most fervently for them are the last ones to implement them). The whole discussion of raising the age of pensions is a perfect example, as an ex-president of a social economy organization I know that for many categories of manual labour this is profoundly irrealistic (or is "realistic" in the sense that it will lead to a faster deterioration of the health condition of the people involved, and hence "saving" on pensions paid). Demeaning the voice of older people (and this proposal does this) will make it easier to formulate such proposals, because one cannot expect younger people to automatically acquire such social insights. More in general, such a proposal blames older people for an attitude (limited long-term responsibility) that is in fact a logical product of our political system. Representative democracies have as an in-built problem that elections (and as a consequence the politicians who are elected) tend to focus on emotions and on short-term narrow sectional interests. The media system as it exists only reinforces this tendency. How to correct these in-built systemic vices is, I admit, a real conundrum. Contentious politics are for sure the beginning and an absolute necessity (and therefore I do admire very much all the young people who mobilize for climate), but to translate them into workable institutional solutions remains indeed an open question.