30 November 2007

A Small Flaw in Democracy

Bernard spoke from behind his newspaper. “We’re a gloomy lot, aren’t we?”

“We?” I said, looking up from my game of solitaire. “Who is ‘we’? I’m having nothing but fun here. You’re the one reading the news.”

“We have cures for baldness, erectile dysfunction, we eat like kings .... Yet what do we do with this miraculous capacity for speech?”

“Complain about people complaining,” I guessed.

“You twit,” he said before continuing. “You know what we’re complaining about today?”

“Slow service,” I said, looking for our waiter.

“No,” Bernard said, staring at me. “We come here because the service is leisurely. It gives us time to read the paper and talk.”

“Oh. Right.”

“I’ll tell you what we’re complaining about. The projection that social security won’t be able to pay full benefits in the year 2042.”

“Well, I think that’s something that should be addressed.”

“A projection 35 years into the future by the same pundits who can’t tell me what my portfolio is going to be doing 35 hours from now? We’re complaining about this?”

“It’s like climate change,” I said. “These are big problems that take a long time to change. You can’t be cavalier about the problem just because it’s a long way off.”

“Look at me,” Bernard said.

I looked. He’s in good shape for man close to 80. Lean. Intelligent eyes. Wrinkles. Thin hair where hair is left at all. Lots of wrinkles.

“I look like a man who is worried about 2042?”

Come to think of it, his skin looked a bit like parchment. He had a point.

“This is the problem with democracy,” Bernard said. “To cast an intelligent vote you need time to research the issues. Everyone but us retired folks is too busy to read anything. The rest of you, you’re busy doing whatever,” he said, gesturing dismissively at my game of solitaire. “So, you leave your future in the hands of people who have no future.” He turned the page. “Whoever thought that was going to work?”


David said...

Your point?

Ron Davison said...


cce said...

I like Bernard...he's really nailed it this time.
If old people don't care about SS and young people are too busy being barraged by pop culture and music videos of Rhianna, then, really there's no one left to vote on this issue. And seeing as I'll be 69 years old in 2042, I think I'll go on and turn off the ipod now and sink in to a good book about my future like Social Security for Dummies.