Saturday, August 14, 2010

More on the “111 Year Old” Mummy

Janne in Osaka has a long and thoughtful comment on a previous post. I responded there to the technical and administrative points. I didn’t have anything useful to add to the broader issue that he raised: in short, How much do we want Big Brother to be our keeper? As Janne says, that’s a social and cultural issue.

Also, Anonymous kindly reminds me that 15 September used to be Respect for the Elderly Day (敬老の日), which the government celebrates by giving new centenarians gifts. In 2004, the national holiday was switched to the third Monday of September, but I suppose that it still makes some sense if only to retain the old date for making year to year comparisons.


Anonymous said...

"How much do we want Big Brother to be our keeper? As Janne says, that’s a social and cultural issue."

Well, the more financial services we want from the government, the more we require that they inquire into our privacy. A lot of people fail to see this, and thus want to have their cake and eat it too.

Also, for a comparison, to what degree have privately funded pension plans also faced this problem. I don't know the answer, but as a *guess* I would think very little.

Jun Okumura said...


Your point is a highly valid one that I failed to take into consideration. My excuse is that the biggest question has already been settled in Japan—we have a social safety net that is universal, albeit cobbled together over time from disparate parts—so I only had Janne’s opt-out in mind. But yes, my comment would have been much richer for thought.

I think that privately funded pensions actually have the potential to be more intrusive because of adverse selection and moral hazard issues that do not in principle come up in a universal coverage. This problem comes into even sharper focus in the healthcare insurance system. We have to weigh this against the thought of having the government collating all that information. Then there are income taxes. Yes, Big Brother is watching you.

Jun Okumura said...

Hey, Anonymous, you're good.