vrijdag 16 juni 2017


Translation of an article in Dutch I wrote some time ago.
In a kingdom, far away the population traditionally showed great respect for elderly people. This was reflected in the way they were treated. Earlier, it was usual that relatives such as children took care of the oldest in the family. This changed however, because of the increase of the number of people getting older than 65Of course, they started to use robots being able to keep elderly care payable. Nice friends without a soul, however it is possible that you don’t notice this when you are at a certain age. Until that time usually a person who reached the age of 100, got a nice cup made of solid silver.

This was done by the government of the country and in this way, she showed her appreciation for the elderly. However, more and more men and women reached this milestone and got even much older. The number had increased to such an extent, that it led to a discussion in the government. Although it was very unusual, certainly in this case, the prime minister went to the king, who immediately wanted to know what amount was spent regarding the cups.

The minister bowed deeply and said that his personal assistant could of course answer this question. It appeared that during that year 59,000 persons had received the gift, at the total cost of $ 2,1 million. The king was shocked and asked the politician to create a cheaper system. Sometime later people could read in the newspapers that the government had decided to replace the solid silver cups by silver-plated ones.

However, that was not the end of the story, because the number of people in this category increased further rapidly. Therefore, also the cheaper gift became too expensive and at the end of the day a cup of coffee was served on their birthday so that the tradition could be maintained.,From the first to the last gift had been a long road but it had not led to a fundamental change. 

A commission started to study the cost of ageing and had to find the answers to ethical questions. It appeared to be not easy to develop laws for this dilemma. Someone wanted healthy people to start thinking at the age of 75 whether their lives had been accomplished. If yes, the state could help them with a death without struggle.  Another had an idea to limit the age for medical treatment. When do you stop. Without clear guidelines healthcare, could become unaffordable.  Even the use of more robots was not leading to sufficient cost reduction. At the end of the day nobody had a real solution.

Many elderly people however were in great shape. From studies, it appeared that they contributed to society as volunteers and by other valuable activities. More and more organisations used their brainpower. Gradually they started to realise that they had become an important economic factor and turned that into political power. Therefore starting to influence and determine the rules themselves, preventing in this way a worst case scenario!

Wim Verhoeven