Monday, September 19, 2022


This is Joseph.

Do royal ascensions bring out bad takes? Here is one that I think is worth talking about: Should Charles abdicate at 75 years of age?  

There are two ways to answer this question. One is to ask if it ever makes sense to have a hereditary monarchy, even a constitutional one? Because if your concern is a gerontocracy, then this is an institution that is likely to make this a common concern. Nor can one king abdicating bind any future king -- it'd need to be a constitutional change. 

Two, is to note that this confuses group and individual incentives. King Charles waited 73 years (almost 74) to ascend to the throne. Given that his birthday is in November, he would resigning after something like 15 months on the throne should be abdicate at 75 years of age. Now, his mother could have resigned at 75, with a half century on the throne, and that might have made sense in terms of setting a precent. But, in this case, we are correcting the excesses of the previous group by asking the succeeding group to make a sacrifice and that has some issues in terms of natural justice. 

About 30 years ago, the mandatory faculty age for retirement in Canada was overturned. Current faculty are benefiting from the lack of a retirement age which often delayed the careers of the succeeding generation. If we then dropped it back to the original 65, the group that would be penalized are not the current faculty who benefited from the change in rules, but their successors who had a delay to the start of their careers.

But there is no way that I would expect the person who waited 73 years for the throne (his entire working life) to quickly give it up because of a concern about gerontocracy in the context of a monarchy!  

1 comment:

  1. As the adult in the room compared to you whippersnappers, allow me to comment.

    Aging is complicated. For example, elderly drivers cause a lot of accidents, but the only way to predict said accidents is (according to something I read once) to actually test elderly drivers for driving ability; if they pass, they'll be fine for another year, if they don't it's time to get them off the road. Science had a great overview article on a particular corner of biology by the bloke who had created said corner on the event of his 100th birthday, and his obituary a week or two later. I used to play in a big band (standard jazz) with blokes who were all way older than I, and they played amazing music until way into their 80s. (They had lived through wartime Japan, and the bass player once said "Never let the military run your country. It ain't nice.") Being over 80 can be tough: the pianist couldn't raise his arms high enough to put on a jacket by himself, but he could play the livin bejesus out of jazz standards.

    On the other hand, Japan has lots of problems with older blokes with too much power extorting money out of weaker parties. Recent examples include Nihon University (see the tax evasion discussion in the wiki article) and the Olympics.

    As someone who retired at 67, I definately think 65 is a tad too young, but I've got other things to do with the rest of my life than translate semiconductor device manuals. My previous dentist was forced into retirement at 65 (he worked for a chain), and he did really good work up to his last week. But would he have if retirement was 70? That's a question I'd rather not be a data point in the answer to.

    Anyway, the problem with monarchies is not that the monarchs are too old, it's that they are monarchies, which are inherently silly.