I am coming to the end of a fortnight with my mother in law. I will not bore you with the details - believe me, we would be here a while - but it has certainly focussed my mind on the many issues with how we are dealing with our ageing population.
Last week, we were told that the average life expectancy in the developed world will soon be ninety. Whilst this is amazing, it brings with it a whole new raft of problems. When I was sixteen and studying A Level Economics, I remember being told that in thirty years time, we would have all sorts of issues with not enough revenue or working-age people, pension deficits, etc. And here we are in the midst of what was clearly so predictable that our education system was teaching it as fact.
Why are we not putting more energy and resources into dealing with this problem? Besides it, immigration pales into insignificance as a 'problem'. By the time my kids are their dotage (unless Trump has blown us all to kingdom come by then), life expectancy may well be nearing a hundred for the lucky majority. Who will look after them? Robots?
We have a responsibility to those who have worked and put into the system so far. And we have a responsibility to future generations. Our care system is broken. Our precious National Health Service is at breaking point. Despite the best efforts of very devoted staff. Despite quite frankly a huge number of hard working immigrants who keep it from grinding to a halt altogether.
None of the people who voted for Brexit in order to get rid of immigrants seem to have thought about the many people who undoubtedly keep their lives running at the moment. They certainly have not joined the dots to think about the future. This is not just happening in the UK either. The part of the world which has been clever enough to develop medicines and technology with its disproportionate wealth is now trying to pull up the drawbridge to those who provide the nuts and bolts of its privileged existence. It's not just health. As another example, on a recent UK hotel break I worked out that if only the British-origin staff were available, there would be just one waiter, a maintenance man and a deputy manager from what I could see and hear of the staff and their accents. Of course, if Trump, Le Pen and others have their way, we will not be able to welcome people from other countries to help us plug these gaps.
Mind you, if you look at Nazi history, it was a relatively short step from restricting the Jews and others to 'solving the Problem' with killings. Maybe we should also be worrying about the threat of ageism as well as the rampant racism and sexism from these people.