26 Jan 2020

Society and the Old

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Aché Indian, shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest, 1970s, eastern Paraguay.

With so many geezers in the democrat presidential field this year, Ann Althouse is moved to reflect upon the role of the aged in society:

    “I customarily killed old women. They all died, there by the big river. I didn’t used to wait until they were completely dead to bury them. The women were afraid of me.”

Said “a man from the Aché, an indigenous tribe in eastern Paraguay,” quoted in “What happens when we’re too old to be ‘useful’?” (BBC).

As another anthropologist, Jared Diamond, points out, the Aché are hardly outliers. Among the Kualong, in Papua New Guinea, when a woman’s husband died, it was her son’s solemn duty to strangle her. In the Arctic, the Chukchi encouraged old people to kill themselves with the promise of rewards in the afterlife….

Some think we’ll need a more radical shift in our attitudes to old age. There’s talk of retirement itself being “retired”. Perhaps, like our ancestors, we’ll be expected to work for as long as we’re able. But the varied customs of ancestral societies should give us pause, because they appear to have evolved in response to some discomfortingly hard-nosed trade-offs….

Once we relied on elders to store knowledge and instruct the young. Now, knowledge dates quickly – and who needs Grandma when we have schools and Wikipedia?

8 Feedbacks on "Society and the Old"


I think that for the millennials the idea of paying into Social Security irritates them and they would like to see it ended. But in fact SS is not the best retirement option. If my and my employers contributions to SS had been put into an IRA instead I would have 2-10 times as much saved for retirement. So if tomorrow the government made that change, essentially privatizing future SS we could all retire even earlier than 65.


You didn’t/don’t pay into Social Security to pay for your own retirement; you pay for those already retired. It’s a government run Ponzi scheme.

Yes, it needs to be ended, but how do we deal with those already drawing benefits? The young have always cared for their elders. In previous ages it was directly; more recently they pay the government to do it.


A too old quote about such a river-side “retirement”: This wasn’t as “Earthy” as the original, but gives some idea of the message. It comes with a T-shirt: That other old pharte will back my play. WE know where to get the big fish and the tasty furry snacks. Your Momma didn’t keep me around because I was pretty. Oh, about your older brothers…….

Gerard vanderleun

Dear Anon, “Now you grow dull.”


A line was clipped in the post above; I think Crosby might have used a family-friendly variation.


Maybe it was the wedgies. “I brought you into this world and can take you out, and enjoy making your replacement.”


Social security returns only two percent on your payments. Normal investments return eight percent. If your social security was paid into your investment account it would work harder for you and for America, providing a flood of investment money for the economy. Instead, social security is a transfer payment that mostly subsidizes dysfunction. That difference between the two percent you get and the eight percent you could get, that missing six percent is a measure of the lost capacity social security inflicts on Americans and America.

Fusil Darne

Hope I die before I get old.

Ah, nuts.

Too late.


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