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The problem with old people

an illustrated editorial by Bob Alman
posted June 22, 2016

The problem gets worse and grows faster with each generation. There's just a little good news, which I'm saving for an upbeat ending. So we'll start with the bad news.

A lot of the bad news you already know. Old people are everywhere, and they seem to think they're entitled. They seem to think they deserve more than the rest of us--just because they're old! In fact, the opposite is true: after a certain age they lose their youthful value to themselves, their families, and yes....even to their croquet clubs. To their credit (I suppose) lots of them move to Florida after their productive years, which has driven me to editorialize furiously on the subject because I'm reporting from the middle of the problem--West Palm Beach.

Young people watching old people in Florida play croquet.

I don't mean to say that I'm personally the problem. I'm only 77 years old, after all, which is young enough to be labeled a "spring chicken" in South Florida, especially if all your parts are working, as mine are (most of them, anyway, most of the time.)

In South Florida, I'm a 'spring chicken' and comment accordingly.

I'm not talking about, for example, the extraordinarily large population of driving elders in Palm Beach County as well as St. Petersburg's county, on the other coast, stats on which are the usual explanation for the high per capita rate of auto accidents in Florida--one reason auto insurance is virtually mandated by law and inescapable.

(The entire insurance industry in the US is a scam, by the way, in synch with the state government and the federal government, both controlled by THEM in a world where everything has become commodified in one big global market place with no real boundaries and no walls big enough or strong enough to prevent the constant cross-border exchange of goods and people and ideas and....well, you get the point.)

In the croquet club

Old people being youthful and vital and happy and just fine.
Now let's get real, and specific, and local. In the croquet club if you try to put together a special event to begin to shift the median age down just a few years, much less a few decades, maybe even down into the age when young people actually want to be around other young people whom they have good reason to value more than old're just inviting trouble. Those people are young enough to be up on the latest things and prefer to be around other young people with whom they have something in common, and with whom they might make professional and business connections, or actually want to date. The regular members (meaning the old members) don't belong anywhere near such a group.

Who wants to be around old people?  I certainly don't!

But the old people in the club will say, "It's not fair to not allow the regular members (the old people) to be at the bar on Wednesday nights, because we've been around a lot longer than they have, so we rightly demand full access to the bar on Wednesday nights, because until now, the bar has been open only on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and we want to go on Wednesday nights as well. It's only fair. And we're going to leave well before nine, anyway, to go to bed, so what's the problem?"

They have a point: It's only fair. It doesn't matter that when the young people come and see all the old people at the bar, they quickly lose interest and go back downtown, where they can bar-hop with more confidence that they don't have to put up with so many useless, boring, and totally irrelevant old people. Who wants to be around old people? I certainly don't!

Old people having a good day at the Home for the Terribly Confused.
So Wednesday night at the bar is soon depopulated because of the unstoppable organizational contamination of old people, who decide within a month or so that Tuesday and Thursday are really enough social nights anyway for regular (old) club members. The only novelty about Wednesday night, anyway, was seeing a lot of people there under 50. (Really old people consider "under 50" young, and in the croquet world, it really is, believe it or not.)

So it's too bad, some would say, that the special night for the younger, corporate crowd didn't work, but it really wasn't fair anyway. It really wasn't a good idea to encourage young people to come to the club because they are mostly interested in connecting with other young people and drinking with them, and maybe even creating romantic liaisons with them. They would likely become "pat and chat" croquet players, at best. Not serious at all about croquet.

Real fags don't want to be associated with anything as faggy as croquet.

The dreaded "pat and chat" player under, say 40, plays croquet to meet a hot girl--or another hot guy, if they happen to be gay, which is very unlikely, indeed, and kind of ironic, since everybody knows croquet is really a fag sport, and real fags don't want to be associated with anything either faggy or old. (As everyone knows, fags like to do active sports, where the guys get all hot and sweaty and shower after the games, and then maybe have a drink at the bar...or whatever.)

And then there's the problem of deadness

Elders with joy sticks in The Home.
No, not mortality. Actual dying--leaving the body, passing away, checking out, the final peg-out, going to meet the lord, flying instantly to paradise, rejoining your ancestors--however you want to say it in your particular tribe--it not actually a popular topic of conversation at the bar. Conversation on religion and politics is extremely ill-advised. So instead, among the regular (old) members, there is ENDLESS CHATTER about particular personal adventures in the game such as, "....and since he refused to clear my deadness by going through one-back, I finally had to take a wild shot at one-back from the boundary and missed, so then...." Yada, yada, yada.

The detailed story of what exactly happened in the croquet game of any style or code is told with similarly deadly effect wherever there are bars by croquet lawns throughout the world, and whether or not there is a tradition of the winner buying the loser a drink to balance out the pain/pleasure equation for both parties. (An admirable tradition, I must say, which needs to be adopted in America as well as Britain.)

Another popular topic at the bar, of course, is about medical issues--including the modern medical miracles wealthy regular members (old people) can buy to extend the time of their actual, physical, bodily peg-out and burial ceremonies. Nothing could be more tedious to young people hardly old enough to imagine such issues. TEDIOUS! BORING!

And finally: the good news

Senior citizen trying to use white-out on a computer screen.
But that's only the croquet world we're talking about; what about the great big world beyond, including everything and everybody? That's the good news I was saving for last. In fact, the mortality stats for old people are actually rising in the United States and other "developed" countries, as well as many so- called "third-world" countries, perhaps partly because of grinding poverty at the bottom combined with a fiercely regulated for-profit medical system maintained eternally by the built-in profits thus made by medical conglomerates, insurance companies, and all the corporations at the top of the food chain.

Conservatives lambast "socialized medicine" and other liberal government initiatives aimed at treating everyone in the society as part of one national family as part of the problem. At first glance, that's kind of ironic, because those programs seem to work so well in a few places in the world where they've been tested over time--especially spectacularly successful social democracies like Canada and countries in North Europe with comparatively small populations.

Old people trying to suppress bad thoughts.

So (therefore) the conservative right wing claim that such programs would never work that well in the United States because it's such a huge country with a huge population--which is kind of strange, since the Federal system divides and sub-divides geographical political units into states (most of whose populations are smaller than Canada's and some of which are smaller than Sweden's) and then into counties, and then into local jurisdictions, all with their own independent choices and administration and voting booths.

But let's not get hung up on small details:

"Real democracy" as surely everyone should know by now, requires worshipful respect of the untrammeled and absolute "free market," as expressed by "the will of the people," as possibly influenced by gazillions of dollars lawfully spent by corporations and lobbies to influence outcomes which, they insist, benefit everyone, operating freely at every level of government and every sector of "the free market."

Moreover, the funding corporations are often willing to draft the actual legislation offered up for vote in the House and the Senate by the politicians the corporations put into office with their gazillions of unlimited "donations" to the candidates' super pacs. It's a wonderfully efficient system, and it costs the ordinary voter absolutely nothing! (I'm talking about "direct cost," naturally.)

Old girl invited to dance by attractive young man.
The entire mega-system works, over time, to ensure that the "problem" will very likely solve itself, as the thriving international arms industry continues to inspire the most violent solutions invented by the religious fanatics and their prophets and corporate supporters of wars all around the globe. In the US, at least, the combo of the first and second amendments virtually guarantees their freedom to buy guns and to kill people, as commanded by various gods and prophets.

Old people, even the very rich old people in the USA--long a national security state requiring the distribution of an ever-escalating supply of guns for everyone with re-loadable magazines for maximum fire-power to protect the people--are especially at risk. Because they're old, and slow.

How all these problems are solving themselves

Young people producing the old people of the future.
You now see how the imagined "problems" actually solve themselves, over time. If the free market allows the criminals and fanatics to buy military arms under the first amendment (freedom to bear arms) and some of those people use the second amendment (freedom of religion) to guarantee their advocacy of violence as urged by their holy scriptures, you can see that over time, looking at the big picture, everything happening now is actually okay, because it includes:

  • Observance of freedom of religion
  • Observance of the right to bear arms
  • Job creation everywhere, as a benefit of more and more arms production and sales, not even to speak of the armies of security personal required to guarantee those freedoms everywhere.
The result is...of course: FEWER OLD PEOPLE as well as fewer young people to produce the old people of the future.

Freedom of choice: open carry or concealed carry?

The growing demand for "open carry" laws in the US as well as "concealed carry" permits is helping a great deal to create the necessary and inevitable future justly guaranteed by our constitutional and god-given freedoms. I frankly do not understand why one or both should be necessary, as the police are inclined to assume that if you're carrying openly, you must have a permit, so it seems to me that the "open carry" permit is the best. Your potential assailant is thus warned!

The best protection from bad guys with guns is good guys with guns.

As an aside: there was a riot in a Florida Walmarts not long ago when two big, tough-looking men came into the store with holstered pistols. The police were called and made no arrests, because those men had permits. The customers should have felt REASSURED rather than terrified; surely concealed weapons are more threatening than holstered ones, right? They should have known that those holstered guns actually made them SAFER, because if bad guys wanted to shoot somebody, those good guys would quickly use those guns to enter the fray. Same thing with schools: the teachers need to be armed, obviously.

The National Rifle Association has been saying all along: Your best protection against bad guys with guns is good guys with guns.


With a population bursting towards eight billion degrading the global BioSphere at ever-increasing levels, one may observe over a remarkably brief period of contemporary historical time the BeingSphere's vital self-balancing mechanisms and processes. As everything on the globe is commodified, the "survival of the richest" impels the poorest towards extinction on a planet on which the rich and the super-rich consolidate their ownership of all the resources on the planet. The same class of super-rich survivors has attained absolute control over the military/industrial/scientific complex, assuring the continued for-profit development of technologies enabling and perfecting the mass production and distribution of more and better guns and weapons of mass destruction, now available to virtually everyone in the global marketplace. This marvelous and self-balancing ecology of the BeingSphere we all inhabit constitutes the ultimate guarantee of both incremental population control as well as the promise a sudden and radical reduction of the population, which will be--as the politicians are fond of saying--for the ultimate benefit of everyone

But the Walmart riot is just an early "growing pain" on the way to returning to the good, clean, righteous days of the Old West, when you could feel absolutely safe walking down the street because half the population were carrying loaded arms.

States like Texas and Florida could soon resemble the Old West of song and story and legend. You can freely choose whether to carry openly or conceal your weapon to protect yourself from others who might be carrying openly or concealed. Which is another way the problem tends to solve itself. Inevitably, a lot of those old people will be shot at the OK Corral. But that could actually be good for the tourist business as well as reducing the population! Adventure travelers love such exotic sights in primitive societies, and a video of such an event would surely go viral and stimulate the tourist trade to Orlando and other popular sights--stimulating even more job creation in Florida!

Do you begin to see big picture? More guns! More tourists! More jobs! More killings! (Undertaking is a fabulous business, too.) Fewer old people! Ideal.

Even more good news

Old guy sermonizing the joys of elderhood and the promise of paradise.
Now you see how these problems actually do tend to solve themselves, over time: a surfeit of old people with no political will to spread the wealth (or the food) where it is most needed results in so many young people dying in Asia and Africa and Central and South America who will never become old enough to produce more people to sneak over the border to eventually become, themselves, old and not very useful people...all of that spells out a problem that solves itself. See how it works?

And that's not even taking into account the millions of people who can't reproduce because they are killed in countries destabilized, largely, by huge factions separated, they claim, by religion doctrine, when their leaders tell them that their god wants the other side killed. (Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?)

Fortunately, there are just enough religious fanatics in the world--let's say 100 million out of the billions of the faithful of many religions with many gods and many holy scriptures proscribing almost anything one wants permission to do or needs scriptural authority for killing people for doing or not doing something--that there's a very good possibility of a sudden and radical reduction in the overall population of the world, when just one or two of them get access to nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to their targets. Usually the targets are mostly the big wealthy countries with lots of REALLY old and wealthy people who can afford to buy a few years of temporary immortality via very expensive medical procedures--unless, of course, they are nuked by the religion fanatics.

If you're old and very wealthy, you can buy temporary immortality.

Lots of those people are in South Florida, in a dark bar, and some of them have had so many exotic procedures it's hard to distinguish them from genuinely youthful people. (If you see next to you on the barstool a heavily made-up kewpie-doll face, that's a clue.)

So I say, take heart, young people--meaning, in this instance, anyone under, say, 50; soon there will be a lot fewer old people and also a lot fewer young people who produce the old people of the future, but--as of course you realize--they may never live to be old enough to have a lot of children themselves; or if they do, to feed them to maturity. That's a big part of the good news.

So don't despair! Follow the advice of my constant companion, Little Miss Mary Sunshine. Look for the silver lining and you may very well find it. (And we're not talking about your gray roots or that rug on top.)

Really weird young guy being ignored by old lawn bowlers.

There's plenty of reason to hope--even to expect--that there will be A LOT FEWER OLD PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET in a couple of decades, at most. Which, to quote Little Miss Mary Sunshine again, will save the planet by reducing the expensive pollutants so many rich old people over-use to poison our environment by living so long and so uselessly. But in another editorial I can explain how rich old people are able to pollute the planet more lavishly and in so many ways just by being old, wealthy, nonproductive, and (preferably) infirm.

If you're lucky and rich, you may live to see it. But of course, by that time, you'll be a lot older, yourself. So here's the final and best good news, for you and you alone: As long as you can stand up, you can play croquet!

Bob Alman, at the age of 77, has seen a lot of life already, but is close to the median age in his local croquet club, and therefore qualified to comment on the seemingly growing and insoluble problem of old people--especially in South Florida, which is called in America, even by secular humanists, "God's waiting room." It's said that people move here to die, but unfortunately, that's not completely true and many take a long time doing it. A lot of those old people, with or without old spouses, move here to buy expensive cosmetic surgery and other exotic medical procedures which unnaturally prolong their lives. (And yes, he realizes this creates more much-needed jobs in Florida.) Old people can find plenty of companionship and fellow travelers at the croquet clubs. Will the day ever come when croquet clubs begin to significantly shift their demographics downward just a few years? "Frankly, it's extremely unlikely," Alman says. "They tend to vote for themselves and against anyone who isn't very much like them."

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