Luis Cuende


How to dethrone the gerontocracy

Required read:

How boomers destroyed the West | Luis Cuende
Lately, I have been asking myself: why is art and culture worse today than a few decades ago?
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So, let’s start with the current state of the world:

As a society, we are:

  • Burning the planet
  • Allowing a psychopath to control 6,000 nuclear warheads
  • Massively mishandling a brutal pandemic
  • Misleading an entire generation with their life path (degree, then buy house etc.)
  • Screwing the housing market
  • More
  • The lack of long-term thinking is astounding, did anyone seriously not think about the long-term effects of:

  • Running the economy on burning fossil fuel
  • By doing that, financing a dictator controlling the #1 nuclear power
  • Mismanaging virus research (because of a US law to disclose gov information, it’s been now proven that the US mismanaged and hid this badly)
  • Completely polluting the job market by being extremely prescrictive about what new generations should do
  • By doing that, denying an entire generation of affordable housing where they can start their families, further strenghening an inverted population pyramid
  • What the hell are we doing letting the gerontocracy govern us?

    It’s easy to see that their incentives make them completely shortsighted.

    But why haven’t new generations taken over already?

    Well, I believe we cannot really oust the gerontocracy by playing their game.

    Their game is naturally tailored to them, and it’s what has made them keep in power for so long:

  • As the population pyramid has inverted, gerontocracy has too much voting power in democracies
  • As wealth compounds over time, gerontocracy amassed crazy amounts of wealth
  • As life expectancy has grown, the two issues described above agravated even more
  • That’s how they keep their power grab.

    And because they have perpetuated their Industrial Age education system, newer generations are mostly subdued, brainwashed, and blind to see what’s happening before their eyes. Carl Sagan predicted this more than two decades ago:

    As we can see in mainstream culture, grimdark is the new mainstream, and hopeful is now considered punk (see hopepunk, solarpunk).

    Alexandra Rowland on hopepunk, grimdark, story and imagination
    “It’s about how the first step to slaying a dragon is for one person to say, probably drunk in a bar somewhere, “I bet it can be done, though”. These are the words of fantasy author Alexandra Rowla…
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    I get why: most people I grew up with will never own their own home, maybe will miss the opportunity to start a family, or even be forced to stay with their parents until in their 40s. And this is not in some emergent country: this is happening all across Southern Europe.

    We cannot play their game and win

    We have seen this movie already (literally). Someone comes over, fed up with the status quo, and starts a new country in a platform on the sea. People with guns show up. The UN changes its charter to push the boundaries of national waters, and writes a clause so that a new country can only be considered so if it rests on natural land.

    Republic of Rose Island - Wikipedia
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    We literally cannot win their game. Democracy is 1-person 1-vote. In a totally inverted population pyramid, who has the power? Who will make sure to impose even more draconian taxes to the youth, so that we can keep the pension system? And don’t get me wrong, elderly should get pensions. But not if that means completely jeopardizing the youth and their lives. So, can we reach a balance? Can we have a peaceful generational handover?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be trivial. Because of terrible mismanagement, a lot of economies are in a pretty bad position. In Southern Europe, there’s no money to reach a compromise.

    The Spanish pension fund, worth 66bn euros, went down to 2bn as they spent most of it to rescue the banks in the last recession. So, you see, it’s not all boomers being evil — some boomers are screwing the rest quite badly.

    So, it’s the hunger games out there. And the outcome is clear: the boomers will likely get their pensions, but cause an economic death spiral. Taxes and inflation will go up to fund these mismanaged governments even more, the youth will continue being hopeless (from 2009 to 2021, hopelessness in teenagers has nearly doubled). And at some point, the party will stop, the economy will crash, and both the youth and the elderly will despair.

    There is only one way to win this game: playing it by our own rules.

    How do we ensure generational takeover

    We agree that we need people in power with long-term skin in the game — youth.

    Youth doesn’t even need to be the ruling stakeholder, it just needs to be represented enough so that we aren’t constantly screwed over. We don’t even a specific age range for youth, but we can agree this is not youth:

    There are three possible ways we arrive to that:

  • We wait 30 years for nature to do its thing, as our world burn to ashes, economies crash, and we come back to sticks and stones. Unfortunately this is not an option, both because we have pressing issues and because without a thoughtful change in the system, we will be the next gerontocracy
  • We change democracy from 1-person 1-vote to a system that favors those with skin in the game, from a lifespan perspective. Again, you cannot win the game if others write the rules, so not an option either
  • We create wealth significantly faster than gerontocracy and purchase decision power with our wallets (which is what capitalism really is). This option is viable, since we can leverage technology more effectively, but not necessarily desirable — we might end up with another cartel in power. And since wealth compounds over time, we are again fighting an uphill battle
  • There’s even more to this, since we also have to keep in mind the children of the ruling gerontocracy. They incentive is to create yet another gerontocracy, when their parents pass away and they inherit all their assets. I’m not saying these kids are evil. But show me the incentive, I’ll show you the outcome.

    And currently youth is mainly working for companies that are gerontocracies as well. We are helping perpetuate their ruling, we are helping perpetuate the destruction of our society.

    Who’s a successful young worker? Maybe working in finance? Having a nice fat paycheck, in exchange of keeping the gerontocracy in power? But again, it’s the hunger games out there, so most likely if you want to have their scraps — which is more than most youth will get — you have to play their game. Even the less lucky youth is financing gerontocracy by paying taxes and engaging with their currency.

    Up until now, I have been quite realistic. But these times don’t call for realism, but for hope.

    As we mentioned before, the gerontocracy base their power on two things: the political system and wealth compounding.

    So we need to both get wealthier than them and dethrone the current governments.

    I’m hopeful that crypto will achieve the former, but without a structural change, it will lead to yet another gerontocracy — just with different faces.

    So the latter is where I think we should focus: the governmental organizations that run our planet have miserably failed us. It’s time to rebuild them.

    Technology will help us reach exit velocity

    The reason I started Nation3 is that I don’t want my (future) children to inherit this complete mess. Cloud nations offer us a way to grow communities faster, to inspire hope in youth and show them the life that has been stolen from them.

    Now, the cloud nation thesis is a moonshot in itself. But it’s the only path that can meaningfully solve the root of our current issues. We need to handle other more pressing issues faster (like climate change) however we possibly can. But to ensure a thriving civilization in the long run, we need to build a real alternative to these crooked governments.

    There are many things that can go wrong. For example, we can end up just imposing our own cartel. We can end up with violent revolts that divide parents from their children. Society often overcorrects, and it’s important to keep in mind that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. After all, boomers gave us the most important thing: our lives. It’s useful to remember that the root of the issue is probably a cartel of boomers that have enticed their fellow boomers into doing this.

    My parents have loved me more than anything in this world. And they even respected my choice to not go to the scam that most universities are. I want nothing but the best for them.

    And that’s the attitude to have. Let’s ensure generational takeover, but with respect and dignity.

    UBI as a compromise

    Technological progress is one of our hopes. However, it’s creating a divide between younger generations — who can leverage it — and older ones — for whom it’s more difficult. Because of such divide, we are slowing down progress. It’s understandable, you don’t want to leave people behind. But in slowing down progress, we are inadvertently creating an economic death spiral.

    I hear a lot that creating jobs is good. Why? Because we need more jobs! More factory workers! More public workers! Do most of them hate their job, and could a big chunk of these jobs be automated? Yes, but what would you do with the workers then?

    Let’s say you are the CEO of a company. You have all these technological advancements and you could bring to market, and you know they represent big upside. But you got some employees — even in leading roles, since they have more experience — slowing down the entire team. They are fearful of adopting the new advancements that your company is producing.

    They have a severance package lasting 10-20 years — which is a lot.

    But you know that you could bring really meaningful upside to the company if they were not slowing it down. What do you do?

    Well, you pay them their severance package. Or as they put it in Idiocracy: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. You let them get out of the way.

    I’m talking about UBI for whoever might be slowing down progress — which is different to pensions. There are likely people in their 70s bringing great value to the table, as well as people in their 60s (or even 20s) slowing us down. In a brutally capitalistic society, this wouldn’t fly. But again, we need to treat the elderly with dignity — let’s do things different this time.

    What do we need to make this work

    As described in How boomers destroyed the West, we need credible hope.

    How do we create credible hope? We need to inspire an entire generation. We need to dream harder. We need to reunite confidence in ourselves by knowing that we can get here:

    And we need children. Children bring joy, naïveté, hope to this world. A society without children is a society without hope. We have overpopulation issues, for sure. But in first-world countries (which to date rule the world) the statistics are alarming. Who can give us the energy we need to rebuild this society, but children? After all, I cannot imagine how tough it must be to look to your kid in the eyes and tell him: I’m sorry, when you grow up half of the country will be a desert because of our inaction.

    Again, for me this is what network states are about. And I finally feel the same energy of that 15-year old version of me who went to the streets back then, protesting when the banks got bailed out – and after my family almost got kicked out of your apartment because of greedy bankers.

    Enough is enough. It’s our turn.

    Still a lot of ideas to unpack, more posts will follow.