Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This is exactly the problem, the elites continue to think of the people as cannon fodder or cheap unqualified labour. With a declining, more experienced population (where people over the age of 60 won't be "elderly" but active) you can improve the standard of living even if GDP stops growing.

I was having a discussion with friends last night about the US.  In the US, there's a significant group that has sufficient private pension funds to retire, but is unable to because they are unable to get health coverage.

I would love to see the universal coverage that Americans over 65 are now eligible for (Medicare) expanded on a pay for play basis to those who are 55 and over.  Doing that could remove a large number of employees who have delayed retirement plans and have blocked the upward mobility of younger workers, that in turn would shrink the labor supply.  And we know that where the supply of labor is reduced and demand is constant, one of two things will happen.  Either wages will increase, or employers will substitute capital investement for labor..

That I believe is one vital distiction between Europe and America.  In Europe where the relative minimum wage is higher inefficient positions have been eliminated and employers either substitute captial  (ie machines) for labor, or invest in human capital (ie education) to make their workers more productive.  In the end both employer and employee survive the better for it.

In particular, the cheap labor conservatives deny America the full use of its investment in human capital because the capital investments to create skilled positions that are more productive doesn't exist when employers can cheat and pay their workers less than they are worth through market manipulation (ie encouraging workers with no legal right who ae supsectible to private coercion to emigrate without permit.)

As for the aging of Spain, right now would be a good time to invest in nursing homes (aka old age homes)  The force at work here is gender equality, as women leave the home for the workplace they can no longer care for the grandparents.  So first, families try to do at home with a nurse, and then later they end up in a state or church run facility.  The question for the long term is whether the provinces will create nursing homes, or whether they will leave that to the private sector.  With the federal nature of healthcare in Spain  you could see a patchwork arise.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 01:43:52 PM EST
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