Sister Anne’s Retreat

Last-minute hesitation, or tactic to attract even more attention, I don’t know, but we have the opportunity to reflect on what a so-called “pay-as-you-go” pension reform could and should be.

Attention :

such reflection risks upsetting received ideas, such as “I have contributed, I am entitled to…”.

It is pension only by capitalization

The term “distribution” is opposed to “funding”: one could therefore, taking it literally, think that the social security pension does not in any way resort to the accumulation of capital. Well, that idea would be crazy. The so-called “pay-as-you-go” pension only works thanks to the mobilization of the most important form of capital: human capital. Concretely, the “distribution”, which it would have been preferable to designate by another word, consists in exercising rights over “human capital”, capital made up of people: you and me and all our fellows.

Let’s understand: from an economic point of view, you and I are “human capital”. Certainly, I am and you are not only human capital! But when we want to study the functioning of so-called “pay-as-you-go” pensions, except to close our eyes and ears and ask our intellect to sleep, it is clear that the functioning of so-called “pay-as-you-go” pensions is entirely based on the recourse to human capital – you and me and all our fellow human beings, all human beings. Man is the most important factor of production! It is a capital, the most precious. Of course, it is not only that, but this capitalistic dimension of humanity is neuralgic with regard to the functioning of our so-called pay-as-you-go “. Because this form of retirement is essentially based on the formation and implementation of human capital, that is to say our ability to work, to produce goods and services.

The notion of human capital is not reductive

This human capital has a fantastic importance, a real value greater than that of all the installations, machines and inventories. Considering our fellow human beings and ourselves as “human capital” is not reductive, since we recognize affective, intellectual and spiritual dimensions in human beings, and we attach to these dimensions a greater importance than what constitutes sort of stewardship. The notion of human capital in no way carries the project of reducing human beings to their dimension of actors of production and consumption. Still, the production of goods and services is an important activity, and an activity that can fortunately be exercised by giving it meaning and objectives that are not limited to consumption and comfort.

Economic analysis based to a large extent on the notion of human capital in no way requires reducing the human being to his quality ofgay faberproducer of material goods. But we are producers, and also users or consumers of multiple and varied goods and services. Each of us has a productive potential, an ability to render services and to manufacture objects. Fortunately economists, with some exceptions, do not reduce human beings to this productive capacity, they recognize that producing and consuming goods and services only has real value if these activities make it possible to give meaning to our lives. Friendship, affection, love, are more important than goods and services, but they would not develop without the activity of production and consumption which is, in a way, the ground on which this which is emotional and spiritual.

Retirement as a transition from doing to being

We have just proceeded, admittedly quite succinctly, to an analysis of production as a human activity. But what happens when, with age, productive activity declines, with, for the majority of human beings living in rich countries, a fairly long period of semi-free consumption, in the sense that is it made possible by the work of adults who have not yet retired?

It would be inaccurate to say that retirees no longer produce, but they produce less, and their production is often, for a much greater part than before, domestic or associative. From the third to the fourth age, production is further reduced. The human person, as he grows older, becomes less active – but rarely inactive, as long as we avoid a confusion that is unfortunately quite frequent: reducing activity to the exercise of a profession.

A decline or absence of professional activity does not mean that one becomes “a vegetable”! Many retirees carry out a significant activity, sometimes equal to or greater than their professional activity. In fact, all the scenarios meet. But they have one thing in common: who they are becomes more important than what they have and what they do. Their bodybuilding and the areas of their brain that are devoted to action see their importance decline in favor of what relates to being. Retirement facilitates this change of priority: by reducing their productive activity, then their relational activity, the aging person refocuses on the essential, the emotional and the spiritual.

It is the possibility of this progressive passage from doing to being that is the great business of retirement. The pension economy cannot dispense with being familiar with philosophy in a way: it would be quite insufficient, quite insignificant, if it did not lead us to the threshold of metaphysics!

Sister Anne’s Retreat