To bring up a somewhat delicate fact: the Covid-19 lockdowns are benefiting those most likely to contract the disease—the elderly—while the younger generations pay the price. It’s a wonder the inter-generational conflict has not surfaced with more intensity. It will, especially as governments go broke and the young are taxed to pay for their elders pensions and medical care. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
In an article for the LA Times earlier this month, Laura Newberry contends that the COVID-19 panic has “amplified” ageism in the United States. This is likely true, yet the article completely misses the true cause.
Certainly, ageism is a problem for many people. Reprehensible crimes such as elder abuse deserve our attention. Thanks to our highly mobile society, fewer people spend time with their elderly parents or grandparents. This has in many cases reduced the degree to which the elderly are regarded as important members of society.
But it’s unclear why the presence of COVID-19 should amplify any of this. The elderly have always been more susceptible to disease and disability. In bad flu years, do we claim that the additional deaths “amplify ageism”? That does not appear to be have been the case. If we want to really understand how the COVID-19 panic will amplify ageism—assuming it does—we need look no further than the politics of the government-forced economic shutdowns.
How do the shutdowns increase ageism? Because the extreme and damaging nature of the policy response could lead many to perceive the current economic crisis with record unemployment as the result of a set of policies designed to protect the elderly effectively at the expense of younger workers, parents, students, and families.