Monday, November 28, 2011

The ageing population is big business – but please don’t involve the planners

There is an article in today’s FT entitled: “Time to end the taboo and have an industrial policy again.” Sorry, it is paywall protected.

The gist of the argument is that we need to let the planners loose on the economy rather than have the the markets sort it out. 

The example they give for why we need gaggles of planners is the ageing population. If only we could get everybody around a big table, knock a few heads together, do buckets loads of coordinating (employ lots of consultants like the article’s authors) then the promised land would heave into view – old people would have the benefits of ‘new technology’, the UK would ‘grow’ and cows will fly.

I have sat through more meetings of the type proposed, contributed to more UK and EU studies (costing zillions) about ageing and business and heard more ‘strategic’ claptrap than most people. Are they worthwhile – do they work – is this the way forward. No, no, no and thrice more no. 

There is a wall of technology and good ideas to aid the older age group. There is a library full of reports about every last aspect of demographic change and its implications. So why don’t all of the pieces fall into place and things start to work?  

Listening to experts - I mean people who really know what is going on and who work day in and day out in this area – not a couple of strategic thinkers – the message is crystal clear. The problem is government and government institutions. 

The thought that the very people that are the biggest barrier to the adoption of technology are capable of planning its development is beyond ridicule. The FT should be more careful who it selects to write its articles. Dick Stroud

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