An ageing population - is it really an issue?

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The convention in terms of inward migration is that we have an ageing population and that we need people - migration - for the manufacturing and artisanal jobs in order to keep the fabric of the nation intact and the economy growing. A number of things make me question that.

I've attended various industry events where increased industrial automation is talked about. Robotics are talked about as complementing humans but it's clear that those presenting are fencing around the fact that robots could do an increasing amount should we want them to. That includes building housing.

There's increasing talk about how the next people to be automated out of existence are those in previously safe middle-class jobs such as accountancy - you can already buy apps for your annual accounts, for instance.

Telemedicine is on the rise. A friend of mine recently bought an Apple Watch and made the national newspapers because it picked up that he had a heart problem and he ended up having surgery.

At a prosaic level, a good mate of mine is a bricklayer and can't get onto sites that have effectively been taken over by Eastern European foremen and recruiters who only take on those from the home country.

Meanwhile, we have a social security system which even now allows people to sit back and it. That's not to say that everyone on the dole is aiming to be there but we shouldn't pretend that everyone there is forced to be there.

This ISN'T meant to be a racist thread and I hope it doesn't attract some idiot comments. What I'm trying to do is have a reasoned debate over whether unfettered migration is a good thing (for many reasons, I personally don't think it is), or whether we really, really need to have a long, hard look at some accepted thinking.

My first thoughts are about getting the education and training systems in step with what the country needs (nurses and HGV drivers for instance, not nail bar attendants and beauticians), and that some people are going to have to be obliged to go out and get skills, and to go out and work. We need to be making better use of the pool of potential labour we have here.

A problem - and it shouldn't be - is that I know plenty of local tradesmen - roofers and so on - who'd hire local talent but they can't because it's simply not there. Granted, some youngsters have a problem in terms of work ethic but a lot would really graft given the chance. Another mate of mine's son is an electrician and has just managed to get on the property ladder at the age of 24 in the south-east, so it's not all about feckless youth.

A hotch-potch of thoughts, but I hope people can see what I'm trying to get at.

Thoughts?
 
For me the problem with mass immigration is that its a vicious circle, more people need more infrastructure which requires more people.
 
As I see it there are 3 issues here:

1. Education - Education is geared to the brightest and most academic leaving those kids who aren't out in the cold. We need to be able to train and empower our current youth to be able to have a trade, pride in themselves. This allows them to contribute to society and reduces the requirement for immigration.

2. Immigration - Immigration will always be needed to fill job gaps, that is a fact of life. However it needs to be regulated properly and trades and jobs that need workers should be allowed controlled, managed immigration to fill those gaps. A points based system is a good move, but we need to address the current imbalance at home about Artisan trades.

3. Ageing Population - As I move to the latter part of my life I would love to take it easy and retire, however I can't do so because my pensions are taxed and if I take my MOD one now I would lose the lot to the Taxman, therefore I continue working, potentially taking a job from a younger individual. I realise that this isn't ideal but there is nothing I can do as I need to pay the bills somehow. A tax cut or remove it entirely from Pension income would do 2 things.
a) Allow more people to retire earlier, therefore freeing up space in the job market.
b) Give older people more free cash to pump back into the economy, and also rely less on handouts to stay warm.
 
It depends how narrow minded you want to be. In principle, nothing wrong with running the population down from 50 million to 30 million, would have given our country a chance to breath again and less public services required, that money could be plowed into infrastructure to make life better.

However, if your an economists and obsessed with GDP, taxbase and government debt then you need the population to rise from 50 to 75 million. With a rising population you need to grow public services and stretch the infrastructure, so debt rises and I find it astonishing how stupid a world we live in. If your an employer, then your focus is on the cheapest labour and lowest cost.

In other words, we don't live in a democracy that determines policy. We only get to pass judgement once in awhile and usually the focus of that GE is contrived by the media to distract us from realising one a crap system we have.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
It depends how narrow minded you want to be. In principle, nothing wrong with running the population down from 50 million to 30 million, would have given our country a chance to breath again and less public services required, that money could be plowed into infrastructure to make life better.

However, if your an economists and obsessed with GDP, taxbase and government debt then you need the population to rise from 50 to 75 million. With a rising population you need to grow public services and stretch the infrastructure, so debt rises and I find it astonishing how stupid a world we live in. If your an employer, then your focus is on the cheapest labour and lowest cost.

In other words, we don't live in a democracy that determines policy. We only get to pass judgement once in awhile and usually the focus of that GE is contrived by the media to distract us from realising one a crap system we have.
It's not about being narrow-minded - sorry if I've misinterpreted you. It's more that if quality of life is to be maintained - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having that as an aim - we can't go on as we are. More to the point, most of the economic indicators/trends that I see make mass inward movements an increasingly undesirable thing and not for reasons of racism or xenophobia.
 
Politically this is something that will keep being kicked down the road

Labour want it to happen because they assume immigrants will vote Labour, the Tories turn a blind eye to it seeing it as a cheap source of workers

Our politicians rarely look beyond the next election, even if there was the will to look at this sensibly I can't see it being addressed when the media are going to sell papers stirring up the xenophobia angle
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Labour want it to happen because they assume immigrants will vote Labour, the Tories turn a blind eye to it seeing it as a cheap source of workers
Actually, it was New Labour that opened the door on cheap labour (small 'l'). Labour likes a big welfare state - captive or sympathetic vote. Another reason why it's pushed immigration (whether publicly acknowledged or not).

The Tories, I'd suggest, would be rather happier to reduce the welfare bill.

Our politicians rarely look beyond the next election, even if there was the will to look at this sensibly I can't see it being addressed when the media are going to sell papers stirring up the xenophobia angle
There are polar opposites here. The Daily Mail, for instance, will highlight the so-called negatives ('so-called' because although it often goes over the top it also says some things which are reasonable). The Mirror, meanwhile, will play the 'Britain is chock-full of Nazis' angle.

The point is, we're not chock-full of Nazis. There are though reasonable concerns over standards of living, culture, crime, public services, public health and so on.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
...my question, though, is/was whether, given the directions in which technological development is heading, is the bluff statement that we need lots of people a credible one?
 
It's not about being narrow-minded - sorry if I've misinterpreted you. It's more that if quality of life is to be maintained - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having that as an aim - we can't go on as we are. More to the point, most of the economic indicators/trends that I see make mass inward movements an increasingly undesirable thing and not for reasons of racism or xenophobia.
I agreed with you..... The government had the option of downsizing the countries ambitions to make the smaller population happier and more content, but with a negative growth and reduced government income. The imperialists never went away, they still rule us and our obsession with GDP will drive this country into a sweatshop (if were not already their).
 
And that is the crux of why Labour want un-fettered immigration, they are losing the support of white working class people, they have been thrown out of Scotland, their hold in Wales is tenuous outside Swansea and Cardiff, even their strongholds in the North are dodgy.

The Conservatives approve of immigration as long as they can see a profit in it as has been said above, but as I said above and keeping with the is old age an issue premise of the thread.

I think that an aging populous is a double edged sword, especially at the moment as the aby boomer generation start to die off as they probably led the unhealthiest lifestyles in the post war years and are probably the biggest drain on the resources we have, you then have the relatively healthy kids from the 70's and 80's that will live longer and be more active into their old age due to the fact we smoked less and had a tendency to look after ourselves a bit more, then you have the post 80's kids who are likely to die earlier due to obesity.

However that more active older person, who has a good pension and has been healthier throughout their life will contribute more back to society and be less of a drain. The generation now from the 90's through to now, are probably going to be pegging it earlier due to their lifestyle choices so in theory would be a drain earlier than the current generation
 
An ageing population - is it really an issue?

In a word...Yes.

It's not a question of immigration as such, it's more to do with who pays the ever increasing bills.
An ageing population puts pressure on all public services. Once they reach retirement age they are taking more than they contribute. This is not a criticism, it's a fact.
There really is no simple solution to this. As we live longer we will have to work longer in order to keep the public purse even half full. It doesn't matter if you are a 10th generation Brit or just off the boat.
 
The fundamental problem with an ageing population is simply that when combined with modern day expectations on quality of life and treatments available, it costs a fortune to support, from a shrinking taxpayer base. The immigration gambit is just one (quick and in the short-term cheap) way of trying to counter that deficit. One could - by taking a longer-term view and encouraging larger families, counter that to a degree, but ultimately you're still going to be faced with an ever growing bill to support a larger, retired section of the population. A population which will continue to grow whichever option one chooses.

So fundamentally, a long-term fix needs to look something like this :

1. "Encourage" healthier living and "penalise" known detrimental lifestyle choices. The classic nanny state argument - level of encouragement / penalisation dependent on how brave you are as a political party.
2. Curtail expectations of what the NHS / Social care will provide "free at point of use" in terms of treatments/support etc. Anything above a certain level of care only available via additional health insurance or via some idea of "healthier lifestyle" credit.
3. As 2, but extras payable in cash only.

Any one of these will still result in a net increase in %age of elderly, but will at least constrain the funding required to support them. Then there's option 4, best described as the Logan's Run solution - only sadly without Jenny Agutter. Good luck getting that to fly (sorry).

It is I'm afraid, exactly that stark and full of really unpopular choices. Most people - myself included - don't take well to being told how to live by the state - particularly when the advice can vary and is often cluttered with PC nonsense. Lots of folk still clutch at the straw of "I've paid my stamp, so I'm due free healthcare and my pension" without any conception that it brings in only 9% of tax revenue, compared to a health, pensions and social care cost of something like 40% of government spending. Largely because successive governments have not dared to explain the full facts and scale of the problem (see Theresa May's dementia tax for what can happen when you do).

It isn't just healthcare and social care either. Every way you look there's some lobby group suggesting that the state should do this, that or the other, with only the suggestion that "someone else" (ie "the rich" or "evil corporations") will cough for it.

That "limit of ambition" is exactly the political conversation that should be going on now. But I'm not holding my breath.
 
The issue with immigration is simple, unless you want to argue that we can get the whole population of the world into the British Isles, which in theory we can, we have immigration control and we're just discussing the number.

So then rationally in the modern low carbon world I'd suggest that we need to reduce the population to one we can feed internally, which would be about 30 million. To achieve this we've got to reduce immigration to near zero for 25 years. The downside is that the % taxation is going to have to increase, I'm guessing but lets say 25% VAT and base rate PAYE 30% [also probably a freeze on free pay levels so they fall in real terms]. No government is going to dare propose this and expect to get re-elected so it isn't going to happen. Even if you say we'll live with 60 million it's still too costly.

So realistically we'll have minimal immigration controls until UK living conditions fall to meet those of the third world so there is no incentive to come here. One of the reasons we pump billions into foreign aid is to try and help the third world improve so the gap closes from both sides [a point to consider for those who thing foreign aid is a waste of money].

Then when no one wants to come to the UK we'll have to put the taxes up to pay for the elderly, but then all parties will be able to agree there's no option. I think the sh*t will hit the fan in about 30 years, so it's my kids I feel sorry for.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
An ageing population - is it really an issue?

In a word...Yes.

It's not a question of immigration as such, it's more to do with who pays the ever increasing bills.
An ageing population puts pressure on all public services. Once they reach retirement age they are taking more than they contribute. This is not a criticism, it's a fact.
There really is no simple solution to this. As we live longer we will have to work longer in order to keep the public purse even half full. It doesn't matter if you are a 10th generation Brit or just off the boat.
Yes but it's not the case that we've stopped breeding completely. My premise in the OP - backed by what I've seen at events and talks given by informed people - is that a greater level of technology will compensate. Both in terms of productivity and in terms of the tasks undertaken.

See @re-stilly's post above. I'm not convinced that the current generation will live longer. The post-Baby Boomers might but the current lot are heading for early graves in many instances.

I don't entirely agree with your argument. In fact, I'm not sure I do at all.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The fundamental problem with an ageing population is simply that when combined with modern day expectations on quality of life and treatments available, it costs a fortune to support, from a shrinking taxpayer base. The immigration gambit is just one (quick and in the short-term cheap) way of trying to counter that deficit. One could - by taking a longer-term view and encouraging larger families, counter that to a degree, but ultimately you're still going to be faced with an ever growing bill to support a larger, retired section of the population. A population which will continue to grow whichever option one chooses.

So fundamentally, a long-term fix needs to look something like this :

1. "Encourage" healthier living and "penalise" known detrimental lifestyle choices. The classic nanny state argument - level of encouragement / penalisation dependent on how brave you are as a political party.
2. Curtail expectations of what the NHS / Social care will provide "free at point of use" in terms of treatments/support etc. Anything above a certain level of care only available via additional health insurance or via some idea of "healthier lifestyle" credit.
3. As 2, but extras payable in cash only.

Any one of these will still result in a net increase in %age of elderly, but will at least constrain the funding required to support them. Then there's option 4, best described as the Logan's Run solution - only sadly without Jenny Agutter. Good luck getting that to fly (sorry).

It is I'm afraid, exactly that stark and full of really unpopular choices. Most people - myself included - don't take well to being told how to live by the state - particularly when the advice can vary and is often cluttered with PC nonsense. Lots of folk still clutch at the straw of "I've paid my stamp, so I'm due free healthcare and my pension" without any conception that it brings in only 9% of tax revenue, compared to a health, pensions and social care cost of something like 40% of government spending. Largely because successive governments have not dared to explain the full facts and scale of the problem (see Theresa May's dementia tax for what can happen when you do).

It isn't just healthcare and social care either. Every way you look there's some lobby group suggesting that the state should do this, that or the other, with only the suggestion that "someone else" (ie "the rich" or "evil corporations") will cough for it.

That "limit of ambition" is exactly the political conversation that should be going on now. But I'm not holding my breath.
Ultimately, you're back to a power grab and a captive vote.

It seems to me that you're not allowed to criticise unhealthy lifestyle choices. At the same time, anything positive is seen as elitist.

'Nanny state'? I don't think that there's anything wrong with inculcating a greater level of social responsibility. We've gone too far one way: it's become about 'what the state owes me' rather than a collective responsibility and purpose.*



*It's ironic, on that score, that the party which professes to be most about social cohesion engages most in identity politics.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The issue with immigration is simple, unless you want to argue that we can get the whole population of the world into the British Isles, which in theory we can, we have immigration control and we're just discussing the number.

So then rationally in the modern low carbon world I'd suggest that we need to reduce the population to one we can feed internally, which would be about 30 million. To achieve this we've got to reduce immigration to near zero for 25 years. The downside is that the % taxation is going to have to increase, I'm guessing but lets say 25% VAT and base rate PAYE 30% [also probably a freeze on free pay levels so they fall in real terms]. No government is going to dare propose this and expect to get re-elected so it isn't going to happen. Even if you say we'll live with 60 million it's still too costly.

So realistically we'll have minimal immigration controls until UK living conditions fall to meet those of the third world so there is no incentive to come here. One of the reasons we pump billions into foreign aid is to try and help the third world improve so the gap closes from both sides [a point to consider for those who thing foreign aid is a waste of money].

Then when no one wants to come to the UK we'll have to put the taxes up to pay for the elderly, but then all parties will be able to agree there's no option. I think the sh*t will hit the fan in about 30 years, so it's my kids I feel sorry for.
If immigration had been kept check, so would such as house prices. People would be able to afford more in taxation.
 
It seems to me that you're not allowed to criticise unhealthy lifestyle choices. At the same time, anything positive is seen as elitist.

'Nanny state'? I don't think that there's anything wrong with inculcating a greater level of social responsibility. We've gone too far one way: it's become about 'what the state owes me' rather than a collective responsibility and purpose.*
There's a healthy (sorry) balance to be struck. If you're a disgusting fatbody - it's your own responsibility to live with the consequences or do something about it. It's not a mental health ishoo or a victimhood ishoo - as I believe there's something called "fat-shaming" now. However, the strange industry / lobby / call it what you will that invents these terms is also the same one that castigates people for eating red-meat or enjoying the odd bacon butty, or not living on kale and soya.

There is no sense of proportion applied whatsoever - which is unfortunately the case for most of todays politics.
 

Boris_Johnson

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
One major elephant in the room is concept.

Let's assume for example, you've built a business up from scratch with a team of dedicated workers. The end product is a hugely successful, viable, prolific business that's given all of its members financial security as well as a sense of belonging, pride, responsibility and ownership...

Along comes a group of people who haven't contributed a single bean of effort who want to syphon from it, and live off of the fruits of other people's hard work.

You'd be a bit peeved, right?

So why should we, as a nation, welcome those who look upon our business with envious eyes, who wish to syphon our product without having put into it?

Home grown idlers, or economic migrants - race shouldn't even enter the debate. The bottom line is if you're expecting to take more out of it than you're prepared to put in, the case is closed and will remain as such until you're prepared to step up.

A successful business means the product is greater than the sum of its parts. To be able to eventually retire on a decent nestegg. To be able to help the wider community by helping them tackle their problems at source (and not just open the floodgates in a free for all type way).

Unfortunately as is the case for most problems in this world, it lies with the system. If it's open to abuse, people will naturally find ways to abuse it.

Get the concept right, and the other problems will disappear.

Asylum is one such concept.

Let's take Syria as an example. People fleeing in terror for their lives. Protect the most vulnerable, offer refuge until such time as it's safe to return. In the meantime, commit aid and resources to tackle the problem at source. Nobody ever solved a problem by running away from it, right?

Ah but the UK Asylum system are soft, they'll let anyone in. Including every Tom Dick & Harry pretending to be Syrian. Hence you have 35 year old males in secondary school in Ipswich clearly not Syrian, clearly not 15 years old. Oh but we'd best believe him as we don't want to look racist, God forbid. And rather than do the sensible thing as detailed above, let's just let everyone in, get Lily Allen and Bob Geldoff telling us to budge over in our homes and shout down anyone else as racists.

And until the concept changes, so these problems will continue.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
There's a healthy (sorry) balance to be struck. If you're a disgusting fatbody - it's your own responsibility to live with the consequences or do something about it. It's not a mental health ishoo or a victimhood ishoo - as I believe there's something called "fat-shaming" now. However, the strange industry / lobby / call it what you will that invents these terms is also the same one that castigates people for eating red-meat or enjoying the odd bacon butty, or not living on kale and soya.

There is no sense of proportion applied whatsoever - which is unfortunately the case for most of todays politics.
There truly is. SWMBO has Crohn's disease and is a bit of an expert on eating habits. Hence why I'm now able to accept the idea that not all obesity is about lifestyle. There are some out there with ailments and conditions which have an effect. But - but - they are in a minority. A lot of what we see is gluttony and laziness.

And then there's another unvirtuous cycle. Many of those who don't contribute can't because of the state that they're in, yet their not contributing is excused by the state they're in.

(As an aside, it's absurd that good home cooking seems to have become a middle-class sport. Many of those who eat the worst diets are those who have the most time on their hands and could be cooking well.)

I left the army with a back injury. It took two years to walk without a limp. But even by then I had on a pair of joggers and was hobbling to the end of the street and back. Why? A multitude of reasons: self-worth; to be economically viable and so on.

Trust me: from the state I was in post-army, if I can do it than so can the vast, vast majority of others.
 
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Yes but it's not the case that we've stopped breeding completely. My premise in the OP - backed by what I've seen at events and talks given by informed people - is that a greater level of technology will compensate. Both in terms of productivity and in terms of the tasks undertaken.

See @re-stilly's post above. I'm not convinced that the current generation will live longer. The post-Baby Boomers might but the current lot are heading for early graves in many instances.

I don't entirely agree with your argument. In fact, I'm not sure I do at all.
I never mentioned the birth rate. If people live longer (which they are) then the tax bill is higher whilst the tax receipts are lower.
Greater levels of technology might increase productivity, but require a smaller workforce to achieve it, reducing the tax receipts even more.
Any way you look at it, more people are sucking on the teat.
 

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