All throughout the French protests one question has vexed us: Why are young kids so angry about an increase of the retirement age? Why does a 19 year old freak out about something that affects people around 60, or that won’t affect them for more than 30 years?
Over at NetNet, on-the-ground reporter Leora Epstein asked this very question:
“I understand that the protest is against raising the retirement age, but can you tell me why there are so many young people here?”
“Because we have to fight. Now it’s 62, but tomorrow it will be 64, 66, 70! Who knows!”
“So you already think like this? You think this far ahead into the future from such a young age?”
Oops. I guess that was the wrong thing to say because what came next felt like an attack. “And you, YOU! So you’re for this retirement age?”
“Uh…je ne sais pas…I don’t have an opinion.” Best to be neutral, right?
“You Americans. You want to work until you’re dead?” Ouch.
The kids really do think 40 years in the future.
If the pension reforms fail, they will probably face higher taxes today, and yet they’re OK with that to ensure that their future selves don’t have to work until 62, rather than 60.
This is really, really admirable. Capitalism fails when people can’t think long-term, and put their current selves too far above their future selves.
The Austrian economists talk about time preference, and laud those who aren’t too current oriented.
The Austrians should love the French anarchist protesters.