Is this what Bob Dylan had in mind?

Come Senators, congressmen, please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall…

Ah, how simple it was in 1964. You knew who the good guys were, you knew who the bad guys were. You listened to that raspy voice of Bob Dylan, to the underproduced harmonica, and you were positive you had the whole world figured out.

But now there’s a new generation of senators and congressmen standing in the doorway and blocking the hall, and it isn’t as obvious who are the “progressives” and who are the “reactionaries.”

As governments threaten to implode on unsustainable debts, let’s remember that the “seniors” who are fighting to hang on to their threatened benefits are the very same people who were inspired by such lyrics as…

The loser now will be later to win…

and

He who gets hurt will be he who has stalled…

and

The present now will later be past, the order is rapidly fadin’

But now the radicals of the past are the established majority of the present – and they (we, because I’m one of them) have no intention of letting go, either of our power at the ballot box or the entitlements we believe are ours. In fact, we want more – forget about cutting pensions (a distinct possibility in the USA, where the Social Security Administration openly acknowledges there isn’t enough dough to feed the entitlement stream), the ones we’re getting aren’t nearly enough…especially since we’re all going to live to 100.

But is this really a conservative or reactionary position? It could equally be argued that we – the Boomers and seniors – are still the true revolutionaries. We have come to realize that the “established” order of things – massive government deficits – are not sustainable. We are questioning the idea that government bureaucracies should have as much control as they do – and we’re questioning it not on ideological grounds, but on pragmatic ones: government has bitten off more than it can chew, it can’t deliver services effectively, government bureaucrats should not be immune from the same pressures and consequences as the rest of us (i.e., being fired for incompetence), etc., etc.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Tea Party represents a radical departure from the established order in the USA – and look at the average age. Compare voter preferences between Republicans and Democrats, or in Canada between Conservatives and Liberals, based on age. And look at which parts of the political spectrum – so-called “progressive” vs. so-called “conservative” – are actually defending the established order, and which parts are calling for radical change.

Because make no mistake – dismantling big government, untouchable bureaucracy, and neverending deficits is a radical¬† change. So you could argue that Bob Dylan’s audience is simply running true to form: we were ready to overturn the established order when we were young, and we’re still ready to overturn it today.

I don’t know if Bob Dylan would see it that way, though…


How old is old?

In the Middle East and Africa, 17% of people think being “old” starts at age 40. By contrast, only 1% of Latin Americans agree, and only 5% of North Americans agree.

On the other hand, 43% of North Americans think you can’t be classfied as “old” until you hit age 80! In Asia, only 7% of people share this view.

These are just a couple of the interesting findings in a new study published by Nielsen, “The Global Impact of an Aging World.” (You can get the full report here.)¬† Nielsen asked people in 53 countries at what age they would consider someone to be “old.”

Some highlights:

  • In the 14 oldest countries (median age 42), not surprisingly, “old” is older. 70% think “old” doesn’t kick in until age 70, and almost a third say you’re not “old” until you’re 80.
  • In the 14 youngest countries (median age 27) – equally unsurprisingly – “old” starts younger. 27% say you’re “old” once you hit 60, and about the same say “old” starts at 70. Less than 1% are willing to let you wait until age 80 before you’re labeled “old.”
  • The age of the respondent also matters. The older you are, logically, the older you think “old” is. Globally, about a half of those over 60 think “old” means 80. Talk about defining your way into youth! Those under 60 can’t agree, though – the votes for 60, 70 and 80 are all pretty even.

How old you do think “old” is? Take our my poll – I’ll be writing about this and posting results and comments not only here but on www.50plus.com.

Welcome to the revolution in aging!

We are at the beginning of one of the most profound social revolutions in history. The Baby Boomer generation is literally re-inventing the entire process of aging, and it will never be the same again. My book, ‘The New Old,’ describes some of the major aspects of this revolution — and how your organization can better deal with it. This web site will feature updates on the book — new ideas, trends, opportunities — and will also be a place where we can interact. I welcome questions, comments, and new ideas, and I hope you will check in often!