May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« How Much Water? | Main | Why Your House Isn’t Energy Efficient »



At one time the Social Security retirement age, pension, IRA, Medicare, and other retirement age linked things were set to just below average life expectancy for males. This was based on the assumption that men were the primary wage-earners and that they tended to leave poor widows when they kicked the bucket.

Things have changed.

So the first thing is to have an automatic retirement age reset at, let's say, 90% of average life expectancy for humans. That will sort-out much of the cost burden. If we can twist the arms of other countries to also work their own populations to death, so to speak, then we'll be able to afford longevity while we're waiting for Moon and Mars colonies to become economically sustainable.


"...young people who wish the old people were dead ...", so long as those old people aren't their great, or great, great grandparents.

By the way, the title reminds me of Invalid Coach
(disabled vs. null & void)


It is monday and I am feeling slow. I just got the "youth in asia" joke. Boy, I am dumb.

spoilsport engineer

Suicide needs to be illegal so that people who make inappropriate attempts to kill themselves can be committed long enough to get the help they need.

It is difficult for doctors to assist suicide because every doctor takes an oath that begins, "First, do no harm."

It is unlikely that human lifespan will ever extend beyond 130 years. The parts just wear out. I suppose we might eventually engineer creatures that resemble human beings but have better self-repair capabilities, but these creatures won't be human beings. You won't be able to mate with one, though the sex may be wonderful.

The same society that puts resources into achieving maximum human lifespan is hardly going to be excited about assisted suicide. These are two different possible futures, not coexistant ones.

And totally forget people choosing to off themselves to make way for their ungrateful children. In fact it's the opposite thing that will happen. People who plan to live 130 years will not have children, because it limits their wealth and damages their bodies. Instead of assisted suicide, think retroactive abortion.

Bill in San Diego

You betcha!
Logan's Run!

Actually, I am surprised that we cannot legalize it now. If someone is physically ill and does not want to suffer any longer, isn't a good thing?

I'm all for it. With conditions.

Old Jacques

Once it becomes that much more common for many (normal) people to live beyond 100, it won't be far behind that the minimum retirement age will be pushed back as well, as has already started happening in Europe, pushing back rediculously low public sector retirement ages (sometimes < 50) so that both the total number of workers and the total number of retirees rebalances to the new values. in twenty years you might not become a "senior" citizen until 75 or 80 maybe...

In your specific case, how hard can it be to push a digitizing pen at 120? Aren't they (extra low resistance) teflon tipped? You could work to 139 and leave everything to the kids that way.

Or just show off to the actuaries, and live to 160 and still enjoy 21 years of laziness.


If it's only medicine and machines keeping me alive, the passive "assisted suicide" of not taking my pills or of turning off the ventilator that's breathing for me would end it naturally (i.e., without the hemlock), though perhaps not as quickly or pain-free in all cases.


In that future there will be a LOT more car wrecks


Assisted suicide may be inevitable, much to my dismay, but for different reasons than age. I think you're too optimistic about long life spans, so I don't think that will be a factor. With most of this technology/drugs/etc. there usually comes a lot of crap that does just as much damage, for which we are left trying to figure out a fix.

Doubting Thomas

I'm pretty sure they offer this service in Vegas already. You gamble, you hit the strip clubs, maybe a whore house if that's your style, and then you check in to the assisted suicide club, where you get pampered to death.


Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama had a great idea to solve this problem: public suicide booths!

For just 25 cents you could step inside one of these booths and end it all in seconds! They even had two settings: quick and painless or slow and painful. What an industry that would be!

We could have wheelchair lifts into the booths... Just a thought :)


Look, we all have to die sometime of something. I say screw the "assisted" part--if it comes down to that, man up and do it yourself. If you can't stand that, you aren't ready to go. Also, when you're done, what are they gonna do, kill you? Oh yeah, too late... Bonus: your death is on no one's conscience but your own.

Caveat: Make sure your family understands so they don't guilt trip for the rest of their lives. A note won't do--you have to sit them down & have a serious conversation about it. Maybe a few of them.

Simon Leinen

Unless I'm mistaken, assisted suicide is already legal here in Switzerland. There are decent airports, as well.


maybe that's why one-way plane tickets are more expensive than round-trips....


Sanjay stole my comment. But I was going to say it like it was a good thing. Soylent Green is made of People, Mouthwatering, Delicious People. Mmmmm.

Antoine Borg

This is already legal in Switzerland.

A few articles in the British press last year highlighted this issue:

The court in England wants to prevent people from travelling abroad to commit suicide.

The Germans are a little more efficient:



Hi Scott,

I would say, not inevitable. It is not the acceptance of the idea that needs to change, but our legal system. Under current malpractice laws you won't get a long list of doctors lining up to start a practice. Malpractice and tort reform need to be addressed not attitudes towards the right to die.

Just pull the plug,


Possibly it'd be possible to upload your folks consciousness onto the internet where they'd live in utopia forevermore. They would have to deal with the spam problem first though.

Slap D. Monkey

To reach that age, meds will be required to counteract the effects of aging. Duh, right? That means that meds will be needed to clear arterial build-up, to keep muscles and organs strong and functional, and to maintain energy. We won't need assisted suicide. Just stop partaking of medical science when you are ready to be worm food. Quit taking the longevity meds and wear a Do Not Resucitate bracelet. Voila!! Don't take two of these and call the morgue in the morning.


Paul K;

Be sure to remind your Mom that:

1. Drugs meant for animals should not be used for people, and

2. Drugs can become risky or ineffective with age.

Your Mom's plan sounds dangerous. She could get really hurt, or even killed, if she is not careful.


PS: yes, this is intended as a morbid joke. seemed appropriate for the subject.


Its been legal in the Netherlands and Belgium since 2002 and theres been an adapted form in Oregon since 94.


I already heard someone talking in french of the concpet of "vie rectangulaire" (a rectangular life).

The idea is that health care programs will enable people to be cured and kept in good health until a given age, set by contract. Your health care will run until, say 97, and until that age you will be kept is perfect health. After that, it's time to die.

Setting an age limit for health care is a kind of programmed collective suicide.


I knew a girl in high school who was supposed to do a paper on euthanasia. She actually started the paper on Youth in Asia before the teacher noticed and corrected her. This was in an Advanced Placement History class...

Scott Seltzer

You should read Kurt Vonnegut Junior's books and stories, particularly the stories "Welcome to the Monkey House" (see Wikipedia for synopsis) and "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" (both in the collection of short stories, "Welcome to the Monkey House") which are both about future overpopulation as well as the incentives for "ethical suicides."

Vonnegut is my favorite author and I encourage you to read all of his books, several times.



I don't know about inevitable, but there are other options. One, which I might have originally read about here, is that the government starts paying folks to off themselves. If you kill yourself at, say, 60, then your heirs get a check for $1M; at 70, it drops to $500k, etc. This gives folks a potential reason to self-control the percentage of elderly.

Another choice is the Logan's Run scenario, where folks simply are given a lifespan at birth. At some pre-designated age, they're, um, invited to a special party. In Logan's Run, the party was a 'rebirthing' event. True believers look forward to it; others are hunted down.

The comments to this entry are closed.