The economist weighs in on death.

Although, as he himself acknowledged, actuarial calculus was not his specialty, he considered himself sufficiently knowledgeable about the subject to go public and to ask just how, in about twenty years’ time, give or take a year, the country thought it would be able to pay the millions of people who would find themselves on permanent disability pensions and would continue like that for all eternity and would, implacably, be joined by further millions now regardless of whether you used an arithmetic or geometric progression, disaster was assured, it would mean chaos, disorder, state bankruptcy, a case of sauve qui peut, except that no one would be saved.  Confronted by this terrifying vision, the metaphysicians had no option but to button their lip, the church had no option but to return to their weary telling of beads and to waiting for the end of time, which, according to their eschatological visions, would resolve everything once and for all.  In fact, going back to the economist’s worrying arguments, the calculations were very easy to make, if a certain proportion of the active population are paying their national insurance, and a certain proportion of the inactive population are retired, either for reasons of old age or disability, and therefore drawing on the active population for their pensions, and the active population is constantly on the decrease with respect to the inactive population, and the inactive population is constantly on the increase, it’s hard to understand why no one saw at once that the disappearance of death, apparently the peak, the pinnacle, the supreme happiness, was not, after all, a good thing.

José Saramago, from “Death with Interruptions” which, need I even say it, is a most thoroughly kickass book.


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