The longevity gap

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The longevity gap

Picasso at home in his villa in villa at Notre-Dame de Vie in Mougins in 1967 surrounded by his latest paintings. He was 85 at the time. Photo by Gjon Mili/Time Life/Getty

Costly new longevity drugs could help the wealthy live 120 years or more – but will everyone else die young?

Linda Marsa is a contributing editor for Discover magazine, a teacher on the writer’s programme at UCLA, and the author of Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health (2013).

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The disparity between top earners and everyone else is staggering in nations such as the United States, where 10 per cent of people accounted for 80 per cent of income growth since 1975. The life you can pay for as one of the anointed looks nothing like the lot tossed to everyone else: living in a home you own on some upscale cul-de-sac with your hybrid car and organic, grass-fed food sure beats renting (and driving) wrecks and subsisting on processed junk from supermarket shelves. But there’s a related, looming inequity so brutal it could provoke violent class war: the growing gap between the longevity haves and have-nots.

The life expectancy gap between the affluent and the poor and working class in the US, for instance, now clocks in at 12.2 years. College-educated white men can expect to live to age 80, while counterparts without a high-school diploma die by age 67. White women with a college degree have a life expectancy of nearly 84, compared with uneducated women, who live to 73.

And these disparities are widening. The lives of white, female high-school dropouts are now five years shorter than those of previous generations of women without a high-school degree, while white men without a high-school diploma live three years fewer than their counterparts did 18 years ago, according to a 2012 study from Health Affairs.

This is just a harbinger of things to come. What will happen when new scientific discoveries extend potential human lifespan and intensify these inequities on a more massive scale? It looks like the ultimate war between the haves and have-nots won’t be fought over the issue of money, per se, but over living to age 60 versus living to 120 or more. Will anyone just accept that the haves get two lives while the have-nots barely get one?

We should discuss the issue now, because we are close to delivering a true fountain of youth that could potentially extend our productive lifespan into our hundreds – it’s no longer the stuff of science fiction. ‘In just the last five years, there have been so many breakthroughs,’ says the Harvard geneticist David Sinclair. ‘There are now a number of compounds being tested in the lab that greatly slow down the ageing process and delay the onset of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.’

Sinclair, for instance, led a Harvard team that recently uncovered a chemical that reverses the ageing process in cells. The scientists fed mice NAD, a naturally occurring compound that enhances mitochondria – the cell’s energy factories – leading to a more efficient metabolism and less toxic waste. After just a week, tissue from older mice resembled that of six-month-old mice, an ‘amazingly rapid’ rate of reversal that astonished scientists. In human years, this would be like a 60-year-old converting to a 20-year-old practically before our eyes, delivering the tantalising dream of combining the maturity and wisdom of age with the robust vitality of youth. Researchers hope to launch human trials soon.

And earlier this year, two teams of scientists – one at the University of California in San Francisco, the other at Harvard – announced that blood from young mice rejuvenated the muscles and brains of their elderly brethren. They also identified proteins in the blood that catalysed this growth, suggesting the possibility of another longevity drug.

Extensive research on centenarians reaching age 100 and beyond show it’s not healthier habits or positive attitudes that contribute to longevity, but largely genes. Now scientists are busily sifting through millions of DNA markers to spot the constellation of longevity genes carried in every cell of these centenarians’ bodies. The hope here is to concoct an anti-ageing pill by synthesising what these genes make.

Within the next 50 years, advances in the science of longevity might make the dynamic elderly the rule rather than the exception – think Pablo Picasso, Pablo Casals or Dave Brubeck, all of whom remained dazzling artists or musicians into their ninth decade. People in their forties and fifties today could be the beneficiaries of this seismic shift. ‘It could happen in my lifetime,’ says the 44-year-old Sinclair.

As novel compounds slow or even reverse ageing, the longevity divide could become a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon. The wealthy will experience an accelerated increase in life expectancy and health, and everyone else will go in the opposite direction, says S Jay Olshansky, a longevity researcher and professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. ‘And as the technology advances, the gap will only grow.’

Daily Weekly

What will the new world look like? We already have a clue.

Being poor, in of itself, is stressful because it circumscribes every aspect of one’s life. Scraping to come up with routine living expenses – food, shelter, medical care, transportation – can cause chronic insomnia and anxiety, which boosts levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in the blood. This already makes the poor more vulnerable to a cascade of debilitating, life-threatening ills, from diabetes to high blood pressure and heart disease. ‘Poverty is a thief,’ Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, recently told a US Senate panel. ‘Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.’

In stark contrast, the privileged in the US already have distinct advantages that give them a toehold into a better, longer life. These range from simply growing up in less toxic environments with two financially stable parents to the ability to secure good jobs that provide decent salaries and adequate health insurance. They live in more prosperous communities with less crime and decent public schools, ample doctors and hospitals, better food and nutrition, and superior social services that cushion any fall.

Caleb Finch, a gerontologist at the University of Southern California, calls them ‘the healthy elites’. ‘They engage in health-promoting behaviours, they don’t smoke, and they’re more likely to have time to exercise,’ he says. ‘People who are poor get sick more often. They live in higher-density households, and when one gets sick, everyone gets sick. And these disparities are going to expand.’ 

To be sure, as baby boomers age, there’s been a great deal of hand-wringing about the swelling ranks of ‘greedy geezers’, the oncoming grey tsunami of the sick and frail elderly who will be an emotional and financial burden on their families and friends, and whose infirmities could bankrupt the healthcare system. The stereotypical image of an octogenarian is someone enveloped in a cloud of confusion tottering around with the aid of a walker – not Clint Eastwood, 84, energetically helming the movie Jersey Boys (2014), or the US Senator Dianne Feinstein, 81, riding roughshod over grandstanding colleagues and even the President himself when she senses an injustice. But hidden in these alarming predictions about the unprecedented ageing of humanity is an entirely different story – about the escalating numbers of people such as Eastwood and Feinstein.

Recent studies show that nearly 30 per cent of people over the age of 85 – a milestone that is often considered the benchmark of the old-old – remain in excellent health, and 56 per cent of them say their health doesn’t stop them from working or doing household chores. In the future, for those who avail themselves of the pricey new drugs, the healthy super-old could be more common at age 100, 120 or more. ‘The experience of ageing is about to change, and older people will have substantially different age-health trajectories than their predecessors,’ says Olshansky – especially if they have access to drugs unlikely to be covered by insurance, since ageing is not a disease.

It could be grounds for revolution if the wealthy lived twice as long while the poor died even younger than their parents did

The 74-year-old Finch could be a candidate for that bounty, if it comes soon enough. Long one of the nation’s leading gerontologists, the lanky scientist shows no signs of slowing down. Sure, he has friends and colleagues who have long since retired – or ‘unplugged’, as he calls it over a salmon salad lunch near his office on the USC campus. It’s an apt metaphor for what I’ve seen happen to lifelong friends who opted for the gold watch when they turned 65, and their gradual retreat from the daily pressures of working life that force us to stay mentally sharp and current. They seem diminished, fading like old pictures from their once vibrant and fully engaged selves.

But for Finch, his career is a fulfilling calling rather than just a 9-to-5 job. His busy office is the nerve centre for a full plate of projects, including a recent scientific expedition to Peru where he autopsied the mummified remains of people who died 1,800 years ago, plus he swims regularly, ever since he was on the Yale University team as an undergraduate.

Think of the drugs that might make all 70-somethings – or eventually 90-somethings – much like Finch. What if the mantra ‘80 is the new 50’ could apply to us all? But the coming longevity gap might set us up for something else instead: a rage-filled conflagration that would make Occupy Wall Street, the US movement against the one per cent of top earners, pale. It could be grounds for revolution if the wealthy lived twice as long while the poor died even younger than their parents did.

Instead of allowing the wealth gap to turn into a longevity gap, perhaps we’ll find a way to use everyone’s talents and share the longevity dividend at all levels of income. This kind of sharing could leverage the wisdom of elders, forestall the economic collapse many have predicted when the grey tsunami picks up speed, and avoid an all-out revolt against the one or so per cent. We stand at the threshold of two distinct futures – one where we have a frail, rapidly ageing population that saps our economy, and another where everyone lives much longer and more productive lives.

Read more essays on economics, fairness & equality, human enhancement and medical research


  • Ydre

    And all the while, you hear everywhere that money does not matter. We can therefore say that before long we will die with justice in hand.

  • Marco Costa

    Congrats, great article. But i Sugest one name to the list: Manuel de Oliveira ( he has 104 years and still makes movies :)

  • Veronica

    Well this sounds wonderful - I am 74 now - already taking niacin (the precursor substance that breaks down into the above researched substance) BUT where are they going to PUT everybody ??? We HAVE to reduce the population somehow and if this research proves correct and the prosperous start living to 120 there WILL be a backlash
    because that 'grey' explosion (including me?) will be in the way of the coming generation. No more retiring at 65-70 ? The logistics of aging and replacement by younger people moving into their jobs will have to change - WAR !!!!!
    I already got a sense of that when I was still working at age 73 (now finally retired and 'out of the way' ) - problem is all that knowledge and experience now starts to decay and is lost - oh well - I am still mentally active reading up on everything I can get my hands on, but my personal contribution will be gone. Looks like we need a smaller population who can live for hundreds of years, and a plan to unload the knowledge and experience into younger brains as we finally fade away. I have said for many years - there are 'way too many of us'.

    • Anarcissie

      And yet there is much hand-wringing over the decline of birth rates in the more developed countries.

    • thefermiparadox

      We really need synthetic brains. This bio-meat brain is not meant to last hundreds of years. I agree with you on longer lives, less people and pass on the knowledge and experience. It's great to retain all that but the person is still lost. A library burns every time someone dies and some really large libraries from the older folks. Ideally we need to find a way to keep the actual person. The brain won't last so I propose a gradual process to make our brains synthetic. Some type of "mechanical" neurons to replace our organic neurons and everything else. There is still so little we know of what makes us, us but I don't think we need to completely understand the brain to make big strides.

      • Tom

        I like the way your bio-meat brain works, Veronica. I've always said the problem with living to be a hundred is that you can't remember the last 99 years. We should be able to have backup copies (flashdrive?) to reload if our harddrive goes bad.

        • Tom

          Sorry last comment was meant for Fermi not Veronica

  • KDW

    You mention two mouse studies, but not the most important one, where DePinho reversed aging in mice?
    You write almost 2000 words on aging and not one mention of the telomere or telomerase?

    • Belisarius85

      With respect, telomerase is somewhat old-hat. It's really important for killing off cancerous cell lines, so until we find a way to cure just about every type of cancer, it won't significantly increase human lifespan.

      • KDW

        Telomerase is hardly old-hat, considering this forum's spellcheck software doesn't even recognize the word. But besides that, you're focusing on the wrong thing. It seems you've dismissed telomere biology by throwing the baby out with the bathwater because you've learned that telomerase is how a cancer cell tries to stay alive, and that's what you've focused on.
        But I'm not talking about cancer cells turning on telomerase, and then us trying to cut off the process, nor am I talking about increasing lifespan per se.
        I'm talking about making those people who might go downhill and only live to 60 become much healthier and more youthful so that they do live as long as possible, and live well, by maintaining their telomeres.
        That might mean turning on telomerase in somatic cells through telomerase activators, or maintaining telomere length through nutrients that turn on telomerase (vitamin D, resveratrol, some of the adaptogens and amino acids for example), antioxidants that protect telomeres, or even hormone therapy, since telomeres have hormone receptors on them and gauge how old your body should act through this communication.
        There are numerous studies which I can't possibly list here but which I've read over the least three years of research that show how much shortened telomeres correspond to illness and disease. Maintaining telomere length can mitigate those, and possibly more.
        Don't get me wrong, everything in this article is good, welcome news, and figuring out how to cut down cancer cells is amazing work. But not mentioning the telomere when it controls aging, and when maintaining them is the key to a more youthful and disease-free life? It's either an oversight, or it's an attempt to belittle telomere biology, even though it won the Nobel Prize in 2009.
        This happens often, since there are companies selling products designed to maintain telomeres that aren't drug companies, and the mainstream doesn't really like any therapy that doesn't involve pharmaceutical drugs, or surgery. A shame, really...

        • Belisarius85

          Perhaps I am throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but the application still seems very limited until we can cure cancer quickly and with a high degree of success OR control telomerase activation/reactivation with some amount of finesse.

          Frankly, I wish we were funding gene therapy research much more heavily. Genetic and epigenetic editing is already showing tremendous potential.

        • KentComments

          It's hard to become much healthier and more youthfulif you're in a cancer ward.

  • schallb2157

    they might live longer but it doesn't get them stronger or quicker, and somewhere along the line they get out numbered and probably hated

  • jake_901

    As long as there are those who can make bad decisions, party instead of do their homework, gt high now instead of think ahead, we will always have the poor. Some of my friends are among them. Some of my family are among them. I may be among them once I tire of the work routine. Unless we want to embark on the ultimate big-brother adventure and engineer everyone's behaviors and choices so that everyone has the same outcome we will have this divergence. Sure there are many who luck into wealth because of who they know and far more deserving poor who can't get off the downward spiral. But studies show that these ways of categorizing people is weak. Most of us vary between well off and in need in the course of our lifetimes. The real question is what is it you want to live to 120 for?

    • thefermiparadox

      Well said. There will always be the poor as long as we live in a free society and retain genetic variation. North Korea is the place to go for income equality. Also, the poor today are better off than middle class 50 years ago. It's the best time ever to be poor.

      However, I would like to challenge you on your last question. I know it's popular to not want longevity and most people can't imagine living past 100 which evolution probably instilled this in us. It's sad people think this way. Shit, torouises and few other species live longer than us. We got stuck with a mammalian primate body from our evolutionary history. There are several reasons why people would want to live to 120 or longer especially if you have the "robost vitality of youth". Think about our lifespan is so short we can experience very little. The curious, intelligent and educated could entertain themselves for hundred of years. Travel, books, hobbies, careers, I could go on and on. Endless. Granted many Americans like the reality tv show watchers would be bored out of the mind if they had longevity. Putting them aside if I had good health and youth, I would like to live at least thousand years. I have no exact amount of time but it would be nice if I could choose when. Perhaps 300 years would be enough or 2,000 or maybe after a million years I would be bored. I would like to see the heat death of the Universe. Think about the technological advances every 100 years. Go into suspended animation if your bored and you get to time travel as a bonus.

      By the time people are 70-80 you are a more complete person with experiences, wisdom and knowledge. It's unfortuante this is the time our frail bio deteriotes. Use your imagination. Look at it in terms of years and don't think about a body that ages and withers away, don't think about it in short human perspective or society's dim depressing lense of time. When you just look at it in years compard to cosmic time 120 years is not long in 13.7 billion years of the Universe. 120 years is nothing. We should dream for a thousand. We just need to change our perspective. I don't want to hear from anyone about where would we put everyone. This always comes up and it's stupid. Aubrey de Grey has smashed on the ridiculous excuses for why longevity is not a good thing. We humans always figure it out. Space is really big people and when people live longer they will have less children. I personally think a couple billion people living for a really really long time and only bringing in a certain amount of humans each year is better than flushing everyone on the planet down the toilet every 100 years and restarting the process. Repeat, Repeat, boring. The goal of humanity has always been life. Living is what gives life meaning :-)

      -Damien Broderick says it more elquotently than me:

      It is a compliant slave's self-defeating question to ask: what would we do with our freedom? The answer can only be: whatever you wish. Yes, freedom from imposed mortality will be wasted by some, life's rich spirit spilled into the sand, just as the gift of our current meagre span is wasted and spoiled by all too many in squabbles, fatuous diversions, bored routine, numbing habits and addictions of a dozen kinds.

      Others, bent by the torment of choice and liberty, will throw it away in terror, taking their own lives rather than face the echoing void of open endlessness. That would be their choice, one that must be respected (however much we might regret it). For the rest of us, I think, there will be a slow dawning and awakening of expectations. People of exceptional gifts will snatch greedily and thankfully at the chance to grow, learn, suck life dry as never before. But so too, surely, will the ordinary rest of us.

      With a span limited to a single century, a quarter devoted to learning the basics of being a human and another quarter, or even more, lost in failing health, it's little wonder that we constrict our horizons, close our eyes against the falling blows of time. Even now, of course, any one of us could learn in middle age to play the piano or violin, or master a new language, or study the astoundingly elegant mathematics we missed in school, but few manage the resolve. But to make such efforts would be regarded by our friends as futile, derided as comic evidence of `mid-life crisis'.

      • Crispy Sock

        "North Korea is the place to go for income equality."

        Or Denmark. Or Sweden.
        I don't think the generals who run North Korea have an equal wage to the rest of the population.
        Come on, just because there's leftist dogma in this debate doesn't mean we have to resort to tiny-minded Libertarianism and Randroidism.

        • Jon Jo

          Japan actually has more equality than any scando country.

    • Kevin279

      While I don't think complete economic equality is either achievable or desirable, it seems rather deluded to think that making poorly thought out decisions, prioritizing partying over studying, or regularly getting high are significant causes of poverty. The better off a person is, the more they can afford to engage in these behaviors due to the availability of buffers they can expect to minimize the negative consequences of their actions.

      As for why you would want to live to 120, you could just as well ask people in the middle ages why they would want to live to 60, people in early agricultural societies why they would want to live to 40, etc...

  • Brandon

    As a futurist, my opinion is yes. Costly longevity drugs will help the wealthy live to 120 or more, but everyone else will die least at first.
    When technology is first introduced, it is very expensive and it does not work well. As interest increases in a technology (in this case, longevity technology), investments increase, competition increases, and advancements build upon each other. Over time -at an accelerating pace I may add- the cost decreases while the efficiency increases. This is how technology works. Cellphones used to be brick size, cost thousand, and barley work. Now a $99 smartphone gives you access to the sum of human knowledge. Computers used to cost millions and take up a building. I don't have to tell you how ubiquitous computers are now.
    Longevity tech will eventually be accessible by everyone. However, like all technology, it will start off expensive, and only obtainable by the wealthy. An unfortunate reality of this type of technology is that ones economic status will determine their health and life expectancy. Rest assured, as the market and demand for a longer healthier life is enormous, you can be confident that competition will quickly increase and the price will plummet while effectiveness skyrockets. We will all be living longer, healthier lives soon enough, so take care of your body the conventional now way as technology runs its course.

    • Jason Braun

      I don't hink that longevity drugs or technology will be available for everyone because for the global elites it won't be helpful to have so many people living for so long. My bet is that, as robotic technology evolve, and the robots become capable of perform tasks that only humans can do today, it will be far more interesting to the rich that the world population decreases. "Let them die young, or perhaps we could make some virus to wipe out all these poor people that consume our resources".

      • Toby Fox

        You're assuming that global elites wield ultimate power over everything. In a future of kitchen-table gene sequencers and biological 3D printers, even if the same market forces that have brought smartphones down to $99 don't do their thing (due to the evil global elites), hackers and pirates will do it anyway. You'll be able to download the recipe from your (by that time) $20 smartphone, plug it into your $99 printer, and have your longevity meds. I agree with Brandon.

        • Jason Braun

          Yeah, that's a good point, and I hope you're right.

      • arsesame samesame

        this gets reposted time after time on the internet, do the elites keep you from using the internet or using your cellphone? (well they do, in some countries, but those countries didn't invent neither)

        • ritadshreve

          my classmate's aunt makes $68 every hour on the
          computer . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was
          $15495 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

        • robertlfrisch

          as Thelma
          explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
          on the internet . more info here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

    • AndersSchmidtHansen

      I agree, yet experiencing the move Tesla Motors just did with sharing their patents, something tells me that there could be a tiny speck of chance that a zillionaire with his/her own biotech facilities will do the same move in order to accelerate the process. For whatever reason, be it to gain some underlying strategic advantage business-wise, simply for the act of good or as a prestige-project, I can't completely exclude the thought even if it seems very unlikely.

      • arsesame samesame

        we should encourage people to seek this kind of prestige... much better than dancing around on a stage and throwing innuendos at the crowd.

  • dwpittelli

    A lot of the pessimistic stats shown here don't necessarily mean what they sound like. For example, in the 1970s, the top federal income tax rate was 70%, yet income tax revenues weren't higher. That's because rich and upper-middle-class people used more deductions and tax shelters to lower their reported income. At the same time, business executives typically had company cars, so that the company could pay them for a car, yet the value of the car was not reported as income. There is much less of that now (the only major consumer good that people receive from their employers without paying taxes on it is health care "insurance"). So the top 1% reported less of their effective income in the 1970s than they do today. For this reason, claims that the 1% have radically increased their share of national income since the 1970s are exaggerated.

    Another factor with a similar effect on lower and middle incomes is the decline in the size of the average household. More households today consist of one adult (with or without children), whereas the household of 1970 more often had two adults (and more children). So statistics on income quintiles, which are calculated per household, not per person or worker or worker-hour, likewise exaggerate the relative decline of the bottom half of the income scale.

    A third factor making a claim in this article misleading even though it is literally true, is that more people now graduate from high school and go to college than was the case in decades past. When 80% of the adult population hadn't graduated from high school (prior to WWII), that cohort did not look especially dysfunctional in terms of health or any other factor; perfectly functional and even highly intelligent people frequently did not graduate from high school for economic reasons. In contrast, the population that now doesn't graduate from high school amounts not to the bottom half, but rather the bottom 20% or so. So the relative health of the bottom 20% today is worse than the relative health of the bottom 50% or 80% of decades ago. That does not mean that things are getting worse in economic or health terms; it is a reflection of things getting better in educational terms.

    • Jack Daniels

      So would you be okay if we went back to the same tax structure as the 1970's if it wasn't so different?

      • dwpittelli

        No. Having high rates means people waste time and capital investing primarily with taxes in mind, rather than investing with real profit in mind. We are better off with fewer bright people becoming lawyers and salesmen for tax shelters, and more people trying to grow real businesses.

        • Jack Daniels

          So the tax structure 1970's was wrong and what we have today is wrong. Could you name one FIRST world country today that has a libertarian government?

          • dwpittelli

            There is no country, first or third world (or of any other type), with anything resembling libertarian government. This country was pretty much libertarian prior to WWI, and the countries of Europe were pretty close to libertarian prior to WWI, and generally had about half as much government as they do now, as recently as the 1950s.

    • dabble53

      You're missing a major point. "Income" for the wealthy is taxed at a much lower rate than "income" for the middle/lower class. Although the top rate might be 33%, the wealthy tend to average more along the line of 17-20% because of this unequal treatment of income (capital gains and such.)

      • Belisarius85

        That's true, but there is a good reason for that. Capital gains entails investment and risk. Taxing it at the same level as income would discourage investment, which is a bad thing.
        I'd rather have a progressive consumption tax + a few others than income/capital gains tax. Discourage frivolous consumption, not work and investment.

        • dabble53

          You imply that if capitals gains rates went back to what they were (regular income rates), there'd be no investment? Not likely. What would the wealthy do, just stick it in the bank (which is an investment - lower risk, lower reward)? Stick it in their mattress? (No risk, no reward ...well, actually slight risk and negative reward - you might be robbed.) Go back to when the rates were the same...there was LOTS of investment going on.

        • reason60

          But taxing work would discourage working, so...

      • dwpittelli

        1) Your "major" point does not contradict anything I wrote.

        2) Almost half of the people pay no income tax at all, so no, the wealthy do not pay a lower rate than them.

        3) Since capital gains are essentially voluntary for the very rich, raising the rates on capital gains does not increase revenue. Notably, someone with stock worth $100 million never has to sell it even if he needs cash; he can borrow against it with no taxable event.

        4) Since capital gains are not indexed for inflation, a lot of people are sitting on long-term assets with paper "gains" that are not real at all. Lowering the tax rate is not an ideal way to offset this, but it is better than nothing.

        • dabble53

          We're not talking about people making so little they don't need to pay taxes. I'm sure you'd like to see the poor houses brought back.
          Good grief, even Warren Buffet admits he pays a lower rate on his income than his secretary. The rate is taxes-paid/'s not that hard. Mitt was what, paying 19%? Yet a person working and taking in as little as $100,000 pays like 25%.....doesn't sound all that fair.
          Capital gains are voluntary in your view, for everyone. After all, you don't actually have gains (or losses) until you realize them (i.e., sell the assets.) And the borrowing is no different than people borrowing against their homes. That has nothing to do with tax rates. Eventually, the assets get sold (and taxed.) (I'd do away with the inheritance loopholes too.)

          Tax RATES do not need to be indexed for's a RATE. (If you index the rate, then eventually it will exceed 100% - or 0% depending on the direction of the indexing.) What gets indexed with income tax is the personal exemption. It would apply to capital gains as well once you treat capital gains like any other income. In reality, there doesn't HAVE to be indexing of the personal exemption if you get rid of it and adjust the rates lower. Same net effect if you then just index the brackets.

          • dwpittelli

            Warren Buffett is full of sh*t. He almost certainly pays more in taxes than his secretary, and the whole schtick where we're supposed to believe in this nonsense because EVEN Warren Buffett says so, is a lie. Buffett owns several insurance companies. His profits depend on high income and estate taxes. Look up "variable life insurance" to understand how part of this works.

            It's not the rate that should be indexed for inflation. It's the cost basis of an investment which should be indexed for inflation, when calculating capital gains.

            Because rich people never have to sell assets and realize capital gains, their reported gains (and income) are strongly negatively correlated to the capital gains tax rate. (For middle class people, who may have to sell assets when they need cash, reported gains are not so strongly negatively correlated.) So increasing capital gains rates brings in little or no extra income to the government.

          • dabble53

            Are you truly that dense, or are you just trolling. I talked rates, not absolute dollar amounts. Buffet's overall rate is lower than his secratary's.

          • dwpittelli

            I too was talking rates. It is highly unlikely that Buffett pays a lower rate than his secretary, although it cannot be proven one way or the other, as neither Buffett nor his secretary have released their tax forms.

            More significantly, we know that more than 99% of millionaires pay a higher proportion of the income in taxes than do middle-class people. See, for example,

            There are some exceptions. It is possible, for example, for a rich person to pay nothing on a high income, if he has all his money in municipal bonds. But municipal bonds likewise pay lower interest rates than taxable bonds, and municipal bonds are indeed another way that rich people subsidize government, even though one can look narrowly at their income taxes and falsely believe they are getting away with something.

          • dabble53

            1. You were not talking rates. I'm quite sure Buffet knows his overall rate, probably to the 3rd decimal point even. If the majority of his income is long term capital gains and/or municipal bonds, or other equivalents, then his rate is going to be in the range of 15-19%. Much like Romney admitted that despite having income in the millions, his rate was only 19%. I'm also quite sure the Buffet knows how much he pays his secretary and can easily compute the approximate overall tax rate she's going to pay - hint, it doesn't take much to hit 22% and above with an income of just 100K (which for a executive secretary is entirely reasonable.)
            2. You are back to absolute dollar amounts. Yes, the wealthy pay a significant portion of total absolute dollar taxes. But they also have the absolute majority of the income. The article references what I consider a ridiculously low income definition of "middle class." I'm pretty sure people making $70K per household to be (bottom) marginally middle income, and their rate (depending on deductions) would easily beat 18% and even 20%.
            3. It's very hard for a high income (rich person) to avoid all taxes as an individual because of the AMT. Corporations are another matter. Of course, it's not all that hard to incorporate yourself any more.
            4. One major issue is the definition of "middle income" and "wealthy" and "uber wealthy." My argument is, forget all the different types of income and treat them all the same. Income is income. Taxed at the same rate. You can argue what the rates should be, even if they should be progressive, but treat all the income the same.

          • dwpittelli

            I am not responsible for your inaccurate mind-reading (and just plain reading).

    • Rick Mossop

      Also income mobility is quite high. For example 12% of american adults reach the top 1% of income for at least one year of their life. 39% make the top 5%, 56% make the top 10% and 73% make the top 20%. Of course raising income taxes makes that kind of mobility more difficult and keeps the middle class from growing.

  • Patrick Ramser

    Let's just give all these drugs to Bill Murray and call it a day. The rest of us don't need them.

  • Bahamut5098

    Just a matter of time before these drugs are leaked or stolen into the public and made available world-wide. Just look at Oxycontin.

  • Helmut_Schmidt69

    It's 2014. It's not 1965. Virtually all human differences are due to genetics, but none more so than longevity. This persistent faith in the blank slate theory is becoming absurd. This religion is bunk! Learn some science!

    As has been known for about 25 years, and eloquently described in Geoffrey Miller's _Mating Mind_, IQ is the best predictor of genetic load, i.e. the prevalence of genetic mutations.

    This is why sexual reproduction evolved. Every species has its "song" that are complex and expensive, but signal good genes. We don't have peacock feathers, or big horns. We have brains. This is why intelligence evolved.

    The less intelligent do not live as long, and are also not as successful in life. It's that simple.

    Please stop this marxist craziness. How many millions have been killed to force your religion on the world? It's evil. It's anti life. It's anti nature. It's a monstrous vision of the world that has only inspired death and destruction.

    Equality is simply a myth, for all creatures of this earth. Deal with it.

  • Thomas McGovern

    More envy and resentment from the liberal fascists. The only way that we can all be equal, other than in the sense of political rights as specified in the US Constitution, is to be equally poor, low, and sick. We are all different and therefore

    • reason60

      Then why bother with concepts like individual liberty? Why not embrace social Darwinism?

      • Thomas McGovern

        You comment has no bearing on what I said.

        • reason60

          Isn't the premise of individual liberty, the idea that everyone has it, and deserves it?
          How can that be true, if we embrace naturally occurring inequality?

          • Thomas McGovern

            It can be true very easily. Liberty is the right to use your own means to attain your own ends, as long as you do not infringe on others in their pursuit of happiness. It has nothing to do with outcomes.

            It has everything to do with property rights and the obligation of a government to protect a citizen's property rights, which means that the government should not confiscate from some to give to others.

            Social Darwinism, as the name implies, is a social policy and has nothing to do with individual liberty. Individual liberty includes the right, but no political obligation, to give material support to others.

          • reason60

            Other people are obligated to protect your property??
            Are they allowed to say no? If they say yes, are they allowed to set terms and conditions under which they render you this valuable service?

          • Thomas McGovern

            The government is obligated to protect my property; that is the basic function of government, and that is what I would pay taxes for in a free society. Police, courts, and national defense (not foreign aggression) are the valid functions of government.

          • reason60

            Right- other people are obliged to pay taxes to support the police function of a government. Other people, meaning me. So I am obligated to support the defense of your property?
            Without setting my own conditions?

          • dwpittelli

            Everyone apart from anarchists accepts that people have to pay taxes to support government, and that the decisions of government cannot be subject to the veto of one voter. As Thomas McGovern wants the leanest possible government, and as the people with the most property to protect will generally be the ones paying the most in taxes, I don't see how you would have reason to complain of paying taxes under his proposed system.

          • reason60

            The concept of "I will pay taxes, in exchange you taxpayers will protect my property" is a contract.
            We, the taxpayers, are the counterparty in this contract. Aren't we allowed to stipulate our terms and set conditions upon our compliance with the agreement?
            Terms and conditions such as demanding contributions to a welfare state?
            Or are we compelled to simply comply with the terms of "taxes, and nothing else" without right of refusal?

          • dwpittelli

            You can indeed vote for politicians who themselves vote for the welfare state. I am not so libertarian as to say that the constitution forbids welfare, at least at the state level, but perhaps another commenter here is.

          • TrueConservative

            This is a good day to revisit what you said. The document that we celebrate today defines our "inalienable rights" as "life, liberty, and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS." The original phrasing of that declaration, "life, liberty, and PROPERTY," was wisely rejected by the Congress. If property is necessary to your pursuit of happiness, you are entitled--but not at the expense of keeping it from others by "hoarding it." The only way they could "pursue happiness" is by taking it away from you, as you have, in effect, taken it away from them. Further, if you can only be happy by accumulating property, you will never be satisfied--there will always be more to be had. The role of government is NOT to insure "property rights," but to prevent the infringement of rights of any kind. That is the way to "insure the common good."

          • Anony Mous

            The idea that everyone is equal is defective from word one.

            Try this on for size instead:

            To everyone we shall hope and strive to offer equal opportunity; and what they make of it shall be their lot.

            As far as I'm concerned, that should have been the target from the very beginning. Because baby, I *know* I am not the equal of Einstein or Beethoven or Ghandi or King or Lee or Picasso or Long Dong Silver.

            However, I find immense pleasure in trying to reach as high as I can. Too busy to be jealous... admiration is all I have to offer, because it's a very easy, positive emotion that doesn't slow me down, ever.

            I'm probably not your equal in many ways. But you won't mind if I look up to you, will you?

  • Darryl

    The best studied longevity increasing intervention is caloric restriction (with adequate micronutrients). About half of the effect arises from protein restriction. Given willpower, caloric restriction diets are available to everyone. Given an internet connection, you can spend years reading the publically available literature.

    The compounds of most commonly examined in experimental gerontology are caloric restriction mimetics, which trick cells into believing they're calorically or protein restricted by activating AMPK, Sirt1, FOXO1 or inhibiting mTOR. Some are quite cheap (aspirin, glucosamine, the old diabetic drug metformin). For example, Sinclair's team used the expensive research compound NMN, which seems to actually enter cells as the much cheaper compound nicotinamide riboside.

    GDF11, which seems responsible for effects in the UCSF and Harvard studies, would not be more expensive to produce at scale than recombinant human insulin.

    The major difference in aging outcomes will not be due to wealth, but knowledge.

    • dwpittelli

      For rodents, sure. But nobody has any real evidence that caloric restriction leads to longer life for people, except that the obese live shorter lives than the rest of us. Studies of actual people also show that the slightly "overweight" elderly live longer than those who are skinnier.

      • Darryl

        That's last assertion is a matter of strong debate. Some studies, including the one you're gesturing at, don't adequately control for smoking and reverse causation. I believe the best study of BMI and longevity remains this, and given the above concerns the bottom line of table 2 is most interesting.

        Few of us will live to see conclusive demonstrations of CR in human longevity, so for the thousands who presently practice it seriously, its a speculative leap. The short term effects are in accord with those seen in mammalian models, and it appears the evolution of human longevity didn't involve CR pathways, so they're not already constituitively upregulated.

      • Jerome Bigge

        Most likely the benefit from caloric restriction is lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. The obese are also somewhat more subject to cancer. Being a Type Two diabetic (adult onset diabetes due to obesity) also will shorten your life. There is a difference however between "overweight" and being obese. Obese makes you subject to any number of diseases like high blood pressure, cholesterol, high blood sugar (diabetes), all of which do in fact shorten your likely lifespan.

        • dwpittelli


  • EndDishonestHeadlines

    Please, let me die young. At least I won't be tempted to read this Chicken Little drivel anymore.

    • Belisarius85

      No one is forcing you to read this. The sky isn't falling. On the contrary, it's look quite bright. But this may be one of the issues we as a society have to grapple with in the next 50-100 years.

  • dabble53

    Guess we'll have to set retirement age based on your drug schedule. Take these longevity drugs, and your retirement age becomes 90. Don't take them, and you can retire at 60.
    Personally, I have no interest in living to 120. I guess I'm unAmerican because I don't believe in the typical American attitude of "life at any cost."

  • terry nugent

    Only the wealthy can afford longevity. The rest of us are worried about outliving our retirement funds. The resultant anxiety may resolve the issue by shortening our lifespans.
    The quest for corporeal immortality is a by-product of the decline of religion. The reality is that at some point you've got to go.

    • Crispy Sock

      Very flawed arguing. The desire is not for immortality, it is for longer health. Longer health leads to longer life. Stating that we all have to die some day does not mean that we have to die at 80, we can still live to 120 *and then* die.

    • KentComments

      I think the bit that you're not thinking about is that keeping people healthy and vigorous for longer means they can work longer, thus delaying the need to tap into retirement funds and actually letting them grow them. If you lived long enough, even very small savings on a barista income could eventually build into a comfortable retirement through the miracle of compound interest.

  • joe average

    The merely affluent are stressed as well. They know their handhold on the upper economic rung is weak; worse, they know their children are doomed. Longevity for these people will drop as well. Time for a new revolution.

  • Nick Hart

    Evolution. Survival of the fittest. And with a global population rapidly outgrowing its non-sustainable resources, not such a bad thing?

  • Y V Chawla

    If the difference of life span between rich and not-rich grows, the definition of richness will also go on changing. As not-rich will decrease in numbers. Material security up to a certain level is essential. Body decays and brain slows down not
    with the passage of time but when the auto renewal process is vitiated. And the
    auto renewal process is vitiated when brain is not interested (or less
    interested) in actual functioning, in actual usage, in actual interaction, with possessions, relations,
    situations, ideas but in seeking stable relief through them or becomes
    complacent in respect of possessions, relations and so on. It escapes the
    uneasiness of disturbing the complacency. This escaping conceals the friction
    (it is uneasiness for the present brain), which is the basis of auto renewal.
    error is that we want ‘to deal with’ the uneasiness that is generated when we
    face loss, defame, rejection. We fear touching this sense of uneasiness. To let
    this uneasiness be is to connect to the inexhaustible energy.

  • Anony Mous

    Is it really rich and not-rich? Unlikely. I rather think it is the gap between the uneducated and educated; the educated-but-ill-informed and the educated and at least moderately scientifically literate; those who can deal with objective reality and those who choose superstition. In a sense, Fox News watchers as opposed to those who frequent PhysOrg.

    Face it. You don't *have* to eat McDonalds. You don't *have* to smoke. You don't *have* to avoid vegetables. You don't *have* to suck down alcohol, and/or drugs. You don't *have* to watch TV. You don't *have* to not exercise. You don't *have* to have posture like a humpback whale. You don't *have* to lie down on a tanning bed (ever.) You don't *have* to drink soda and coffee. You don't *have* to have a teacher to learn from a book, or the net, or from life experience. You don't *have* to be a couch potato. You don't even have to get angry, most of the time -- don't let others manipulate you into irrational behavior, it almost never brings you any benefit at all, and lots of harm comes out of it.

    In fact, most of these choices lead to *saving* money, not spending it. These are things more likely to increase your net worth at the same time they enhance your health than they are to require you to be rich before you can take advantage of them.

    Bottom line? If you do many things harmful to yourself, you're not doing so because you're poor. You're doing so because you're a nitwit (and you should fix that.) Contrariwise, if you're doing the right things, it's because you've faced reality, realized that what you do and what you choose has consequences, pulled up your big girl/boy undies and did what *obviously* needs to be done. It isn't because you're rich. No, it's because you used your head.

    If you want to argue that being poor makes you a nitwit, that's fine, but I wouldn't waste my time addressing such an argument, because it simply isn't true. It is your choices that make you what you are. Those are entirely your responsibility, and you can make new ones right now, today, and I encourage you to do so in any area where you're the one causing your problems.

    • arsesame samesame

      yeah, teenagers in russia do all those things and they aren't poor by warzone standards but they manage to optimise their nutrition, build fitness and get ahead. its a kind of a cultural movement there.

      obviously if you are the kind of person who goes from sit to sit has an unplanned family and thinks anything else is too much willpower you aren't going to be rich

      and then there is steve jobs, what an anecdote did he provide the world in his death , maybe the people who said death has a collective role were right in his case.

  • SeoulMike


    This is one case where society will have to have some type of national health insurance. Otherwise, we're heading for a "Gattaca" world x10.

    • Belisarius85

      I wouldn't mind living in the world of Gattaca, as dystopian as they tried to make it out to be.

  • Crispy Sock

    "There are now a number of compounds being tested in the lab that greatly slow down the ageing process"

    And none of them are expensive.

    "Sinclair, for instance, led a Harvard team that recently uncovered a chemical that reverses the ageing process in cells. The scientists fed mice NAD, a naturally occurring compound"

    And it isn't expensive. Producing it is no different to producing aspirin.

    This nullifies and demolishes your entire arguments about poor people not being able to afford these wonder drugs.

  • virtualCableTV

    I believe what is now starting to leak into the blogs and such is already a done deal in the secret labs of the black works projects and policy has already been made.

    I also believe that conflict is evident. America and other nations are already being undermined and weakened by the presence of the Negro race and its history as the poster child for "poor" despite what we know of India et al. which has equal numbers of poor.

    It doesn't take much of an imagination to understand there is going to be very little incentive to provide longevity to racial sub-species several of which have already become populations of 1+ billion useless eaters, predators and parasites.

    I do not envy the children of our children's children as they will not be living in any society of peace and prosperity made possible by modern science without having to cope with the conflict which is to come.

    • Michael Hanlon

      Are you for real?

      • virtualCableTV

        I and my comments were and are as real as it gets however I did not discuss other clearly obvious and evident concerns there being many which will become evident.

  • Francois Theberge

    Amusing to read predictions that assume the future social and political situation (such as enormous wealth inequality) will merely be a continuation of the present.

    Before 2020, this country will have changed in remarkable ways.

  • SigmetSue

    This is not a new issue. A hundred years ago, the life expectancy of the lower classes was about 50. Some had their causes of death listed as "overwork." The life expectancies of the better off were more like 75. And during the Roman Empire, slaves engaged in physical labor didn't make it past 30 where as upper class free persons often made it to 50. There were no revolutions over this discrepancy then, and I doubt there will be now. The poor are just trying to survive - no energy left for revolution, which is usually a middle class effort.

    • Michael Hanlon

      Beware of extrapolating too much from historic 'life expectancy' figures, which are always massively skewed by high infant mortality rates. Saying that life expectancy for a free Roman citizen was 50 may have true, but actually tells you nothing about how long adult Romans could expect to live, which was closer to 65 or even 70. In Biblical times life expectancy was around 40 for people in the Middle East and yet the consensus (and Biblical) view that a good lifespan was three-score years and ten. The discrepancy was simply down to high infant mortality pushing the mean down.

      • Jerome Bigge

        The rate of infant and early childhood mortality was extremely high. Mothers also died in childbirth quite often because no one knew about germs. No window screens meant too that you had flies swarming around, and the housefly is a known carrier of disease.

  • Michael Hanlon

    Hard to draw too many generalisations from the United States (c.4% of global population), which is an outlier in health terms. By far and away the richest country on Earth, America's health/longevity statistics resemble more the upper echelons of the undeveloped world, than economic bedfellows such as Europe. The US has a lot of money but its healthcare economy is hugely inefficient, with vast sums being siphoned off by insurance companies, and millions without proper access to healthcare at all. Inequalities are huge, the diet (of the poor) is almost uniquely terrible for a first-world country and stats such as infant mortality compare poorly even with countries such as Cuba. In Japan life expectancy is not only much higher than in the US but also much more poorly correlates with wealth.

  • KNO3

    Meh, scientists are going to splice the enzyme to a yeast and then churn it out by the vatload.

  • MaryJane333

    When I read stuff like this where people want to live as long as they possibly can I become so puzzled why would anyone want to live that old even if they could feel and look younger. Is it fear of what comes after physical death, or do they just have difficulty accepting something that is as natural as birth? I guess it is a combination of fear and the inability to move forward. I for one look forward to throwing off the material and returning to a natural state of being, one that doesn't involve such limits as we have being stuck in an organic monkey suit. Besides, I don't want to be stuck here any longer than I have to with the elite sociopaths.

    • Wayne

      ...or it could be some people find meaning and purpose in a long and healthy life. Whatever the reasons I doubt longevity treatments will be forced upon a person who didn't want it so those that want to die the old fashion way are welcome to.

  • grant

    A disparity of what, thousands of a percent, in income is barely tickling the the top money, let alone overthrowing anything. This article is part of the tickling stupidity. As long as the dumbed-down rich follow their dogmas of fear and entitlement to the best of everything and the middle and lower classes follow their dogmas of fear and entitlement to shabby consumption, both sets sold by writers writing for the priests and paid for by the princes of power, the revolution will remain a fear-soaked fantasy, entertainment for rich and poor. A most glaring example in healthcare is access to opioids for pain relief. In America, it has been hard fought, but most of us can get pain relief by compassionate docs and nurses who have cut through the fear-of-opiates-and-pain lag. But because this is an exclusive privilege of the rich, and most people die without any relief, the UN (health) and other international health organizations have adopted resolutions that declare pain relief to be a human right, encouraging every government to provide opioids through their healthcare systems. The right to die without pain. Wow!

  • Kapundaboy

    A Scientific Pandora's Box who's time has come or a nightmare scenario. If this is to come about and we have populations who can live for vastly extended or indefinite time, it will forever change Human evolution. We are going to need to invest big time in Space travel to discover other Planets to live on and provide raw materials, lest this Planet be just too crowded and polluted to live on by the numbers of us. The young generations bring on new ideas and youthful thinking, the thought that the need for procreating to generate new generations won't be there is daunting. We seem to be a genetically hardwired to reproduce and have children, this is something that would be hard to overcome. There are many who won't wish to be around too, if a tragedy occurs and they experience the loss of loved ones or their partner in an accident. We are not Gods to bring back the dead, so I suspect suicides will still occur. Prolonged Life will forever change the Human Race, but I have to wonder whether we are hardwired for Indefinite life or whether we get the spark of vitality and genius from being born, raised and absorb it from the other young we mix with whilst here for a relatively short time. If the need to produce new generations is removed by making compounds to live eons of time, what genius's may the world indeed miss out on. Maybe, it would be a far better idea to only dispense these compounds of vibrant long lives to those who are doing productive work to make the World a much better place. I would think the rest of us would be happy enough to live a happy healthy life to say 120 and then drop off the perch. Before we reach this Utopian society, we need to keep our Planet healthy. We have been poisoning this Earth for decades and over populating it, so before we can start getting too carried away with youth Compounds, we better clean up our mess first. Clean food, water and air and sought out Population Control before we seek to extend every ones life......

  • Nick Hart

    This reminds me of the cosmological debate about why there is something—the universe—rather than nothing, and why that something is perfectly suited to the evolution if intelligent life.

    On a rapidly over-populating planet, perhaps it makes evolutionary sense that those best equipped to survive and multiply, and to fulfill the purpose—if there is a 'purpose'—of intelligent life, do so.

  • Don DeHart Bronkema

    Nick--it's 'perfectly suited' only because we happen to be here & say so [exobeings would marvel at their own good fortune]--the anthropic principle…the ontological conundrun is unresolvable, & there's no demonstrable sense in anything…volition & consciousness are illusions…the megaverse seems to be an infinite nest of matrioshka holograms…quod erat argumentum.

  • Leon Haller

    Interesting but flawed article (though the topic was worthy of a longer discussion). There already is a longevity gap, much of it based on harmful but voluntary choices - but much of it not. I do not expect to live to 80, and possibly not even to 70, due to mere bad genetics. I am elite educated, a white man (not sure the relevance of that fact, but author mentions it), and have always been smart about my health and lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, I have various birth conditions that militate against my expecting great longevity (absent new medical advances).

    Should I engage in "rage"? If I only get to live to 65, despite all my health consciousness, ability to understand and apply medical information, and self-discipline, surely that is a greater tragedy than some underclass hoodlum who dies at 25 in a gang shootout? Indeed, author neglects to disprove the hypothesis that voluntaristic, self-destructive behaviors, by unnaturally eliminating a disproportionate number at the socioeconomically lower end of society, rather than poverty or wealth inequality per se, are artificially skewing the actual overall longevity discrepancy numbers. I strongly suspect that, controlling for behavioral deviancy on the one hand, and, OTOH, the harsh fact that poor health is often a major cause of poverty (rather than the convenient 'progressive' fiction that poverty itself is a causal agent in bad health), poor people are not much different in their health profiles than the non-poor.

    I once knew a man who lived to be over 90 (he would be 110 or something today), and he was healthy, more or less, right to the end. He grew up very poor, in a home in which some of his siblings did not survive childhood. He was a lifelong blue collar farm and ranch worker. He was a peaceful, happy, spiritual sort. He never had much money, but didn't need it to do most of what he wanted to do. He never had children, and his wife had died before I knew him. The only violence of his life was his service (in near middle age) in the Navy during WW2. He lived very modestly at the end, and I suspect for his whole life.

    My point is that this man's lifestyle was a healthy and grounded one, and it's hard to see how lack of conspicuous consumption (or the ability for it) shortened his lifespan. The longevity gap today (in the USA, anyway), considered as a group or class issue, is overwhelmingly behaviorally based. And why should we worry about that aspect of it? The real longevity unfairness involves the teen who dies of cancer, not the fact that upper class persons who eat right and watch their weight live longer collectively than lower class persons who abuse drugs and eat sugary processed foods instead of [much cheaper] vegetables.

    Thus, if miraculous longevity drugs do appear, I suspect only sensitive, upper class (overeducated) souls will be the ones mooning over the 'injustice' of their living longer. The underclass will continue to engage in their dysfunctional activities in blissful ignorance of their betters becoming their 'super-elders'.

  • Samuel

    There are a couple fallacies in this article. The author states that old people use more resources for their health care than younger people and, thus, drive up costs for everyone but, if it is the old, rich, White, people (as implied in the referenced statistics) who benefit the most from life extension and youth restoration then these people will have a commensurately lower effect on health care expenditures (except for the specialized drugs and treatments they pay for themselves) and it will be the poor who end up costing more. The second flaw is in thinking that 'health care' is somehow something we all pay for so everyone has it like a single pool of water everyone drinks from and shares in common. Without the imposition of "socialized" medicine one person's expenses are not foisted onto everyone else to pay and costs do not rise for everyone just because some people's expenses are higher than others. Life extension coupled with youth restoration would be treatments many, if not most, people would want and be willing to pay for. This willingness would funnel more money into the industry and foster the growth of a larger industry to provide these services to more people at lower prices but this will not happen so long as "health care" is viewed as a "right" that anyone can exert so long as they can use legislation to force someone else to pay the bill.

    • Jerome Bigge

      The seniors have Medicare (which is paid for by the payroll tax) and then Medicaid (funded by taxes) once they spend down their assets paying the nursing home to keep them alive. Granted the rich can afford the private nurses and everything else, but even a million dollars can get used up pretty fast in our "for profit" health care system.

  • Virginia Solomon

    I don't know what's more disturbing, this silly article or all of the comments below going on about it as if they don't understand that we aren't meant to live forever. We don't have the reproductive cycle of a tortoise. We have no business trying to live forever. We need to get past this infantile fear of death and work on living a good, fulfilling life. That's what this article should be about. Why we are working ourselves into an early grave just to have worthless goods. Poor people used to grown their own food and trade with neighbors, etc. Good, healthy food. The suffering of the poor is because those skills have been removed from the population for the most part as well as better home remedies, etc. We would do well to combine traditional home remedies with modern non-evasive medicine and move forward from there. That is what progress is isn't it; keeping what works from the past and improving and mixing it with the best of what works from the new? Nothing can be said for you if you desire material goods and you are willing to work to death for them. Have at it but I'll be damned if I act like you are a victim if we are talking about living the same lifestyle as a rich person instead of talking about having the best, most fulfilling life you can based on your own pleasures and goals and not ones you're being beat over the head with. Let those fools be rich and empty for 120 years. If they want to prolong their suffering, let them. Meanwhile, I'm going to have the best life I can have and I bet you a million it will be more fun than that 10% even if I checked out tomorrow.

  • Virginia Solomon

    Anyone else ask themselves why having a high school diploma or not would determine how long you live and how one would come up with that correlation? Or even why? There is only the illusion of a correlation. If people actually had the skills and resourcefulness of their ancestors with the progress we've made thus far in many areas, having a diploma or not would make no difference in their quality of life. We know there are many rich people with no diploma. Resourcefulness and removing the shackles and systematic programming is what will free poor people. Poor people are conditioned to stay poor and to engage in activities that will keep them poor and I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about having your needs met and then being resourceful enough to do the things you enjoy in life. I could go on and on but what's the point. Some one will argue about poverty being real. Oh yes, it's real. I know. But we can't keep letting money be the only gauge for success.

    • Jerome Bigge

      The high school diploma today (unless you are lucky) will only get you a job close to the minimum wage in most cases. There was a time when a young man could drop out of high school, go down to the nearest factory and get a job. Assuming that the individual in question lasted through the probationary period, he'd be welcomed into the union, his pay and benefits would be enough to put him into the lower middle class. This was the sort of life that your parents or grandparents had. It was truly a "Golden Age" in many ways. It started right after WW2 was over and ended with the swearing in of Ronald Reagan in January of 1981.

      Today these jobs are gone. History. Even where a union still exists, the pay will be lower than it was for the previous generation. The benefits will be less. The job might "disappear" at any time if the company decides to move to Mexico or ship the work to China for bigger profits. That company pension is now a 401k where it is up to you to plan for your retirement. Your health insurance (assuming you have it) will have big co-pays for everything. Your actual standard of living is likely lower (unless you went to college) than your parents had. And if you did go to college, you'll have big student loans to pay off, something that your parents likely never had. That's life in 21st Century America...

  • older and wiser

    Nuts, all that healthy living only leads to one thing - years of dementia with no one who gives a s**t about you and lots who wish you were dead. Been there know about it.

  • Anita

    I am reminded of the saying "Be careful what you wish for ---You might just get it." Having worked as a nurse with the elderly in long term care I have seen what turning 100 years old looks like today. It is not for the faint hearted. I think there is a natural order to the universe for a reason. It would be great to get a handle on diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease to lessen the complications of these diseases if nothing else. As a nurse I have given as many as 15 meds at a time to the elderly on their daily med orders and I don't think it helped them at all. If anything it just seemed to prolong them to a a life or situation that they no longer wanted. I think about my life at present --I am 55 yo & I don't wish to see my children as 70 yo. I applaud the research & certainly wish a healthy life to all but I would not want to be one who lives that long.

  • LaFarge

    If shared it would extend the work life of the peons. Making retirement and the accompanying entitlements ,if they exist , available 25 years later. Forcing people to work until 85-90 years of age. Get the most out of the populace. But, more people requires more jobs and food. Quite the conundrum.

  • nature knows best

    a long human life is about 80 years, humans evolved around this number for a reason. new ideas and new energy must come along to unclog the system, to sweep out the dysfunction and allow new growth to take over. too many people living too long leads to stagnation, the tyranny of the status quo. read the 4th turning.

  • arsesame samesame

    death is a disease , if you broke your arm and you walk into a room full of people with broken arms in the ER does having a broken arm become normal? if a company decides to introduce engineered breakdown to a car so they can sell more new cars, is this car model in perfect condition??

    funding for gerontology should come from the so called retirement fund. I think that the rich actually, given their financial ability and surplus labor force in fields such as biochemistry are doing a rather poor job at keeping their health as whole.

  • Jerome Bigge

    It would be interesting to determine whether or not the same "wealth-age" effect applies in countries where there is universal health insurance for all citizens. In these countries do their poor live longer lives than their American counterparts? Or does the same income-long life ratio apply there too?

  • pablo4twenty

    The article starts with the stat that educated people live longer than the uneducated. That makes sense because educated people probably make better choices related to lifestyle that are going to enhance their longevity, at least within the confines of their genetic potential. Somewhere in the article the focus changed to wealth, which is not tied to education. There are a great many highly educated people in this world who are not wealthy. And making educated choices on lifestyle to benefit your health does not require wealth. But making stupid lifestyle decisions will cut short your time on this planet no matter what's in your bank account.

  • Harvey Smith

    This article is very funny! I like this man Finch, I would like to be so active when I will be 74 years old. Of course to be poor is stressful. My family was very poor and when I was in college nobody could help me. So, I worked as waitress but still couldn’t meet expenses. My room mate was used to get payday loans. So, I decided to use this debt service too in emergency. To be honest I think such loans have very high interest rate and better to borrow money from friends or relatives but I didn’t have other choice. Keep in mind that in emergency you can visit Payday Loans Online Service.

  • Fabian

    25 years ago, I started losing my hair. At that time came a revolutionary product on the market; Rogaine. That stuff is sand paper for the skull and I'm still half bold. It didn't destroy my life I assure you. But my point is; these "scientists" can't grow back my hair (do you imagine the money you could make if you could that? You'd be able to buy AAPL within 6 months) and they make you believe that you could live until 120 whilst learning Irish tap dance? They are f*&cking with your brain and trading your money for snake oil. As to tests on mice; the best laid plans of mice and men.... By the way, a friend of my wife just died of brain cancer way before her 50s in the hospital of a famous American U. She could have been in Bangladesh and she would have met the same fate. 20 years ago a famous politician in my country of origin died of the same desease at the same age; 20 years later and not one inch of progress. Keep your hope in check. Now, if (IF) these magic pills ever come to the market, it will not be long before they spread to the general population and that will cause a lot of problems.