Why do these EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE exist?
Who is supporting them?
This time let us answer these questions first:
• this magazine exists because a number of people believe that the phenomenon of a longer life-cycle (extending little by little to the whole world) is a crucial factor in the present and future development of our society. This is a true revolution, concerning culture, economics, social justice, individuals, family life and political institutions. Fundamental issues are at stake: intergenerational solidarity, the capacity of the younger to better manage their future life cycle, the capacity and possibility of the older to integrate in an open society. In other words, to provide and manage hope, vision and results for everybody’s life. This ‘problematique’ (as The Club of Rome calls it) is so challenging that it should mobilize more and more all those who feel they should also look beyond their immediate interests.
• the only costs incurred and paid for this publication concern the pure printing costs, the distribution and the translation of the articles. They are covered in part by subscriptions, by the sponsors mentioned at the end of magazine and above all, personally, by those involved directly in this venture (including all the work which one can describe as secretariat). We are a typical case of the ‘Service Economy’, where a considerable amount of real value is produced by non o semi-monetarized activities. Of course we benefit essentially of a long experience and worldwide contacts with researchers, professionals, academics, economists, social scientists etc. who contribute, motivated by the importance and value of the issue we deal with. If, in some cases, the authors represent some specific institution, interest group or company, this is not a reason not to consider their arguments, which can always be criticized or contradicted.
And then let us insist on the following points:
• the better organization of welfare has to do essentially with enhancing what economists call ‘Human Value’, but which includes culture, creative capacity, being sensible to a civilized vision of man (and of course women), and not only productive capacity. Today a priority effort in this area concern those over 60 years of age. It is the advancing counter-ageing society, maybe equivalent to the discovery of a new continent.
• welfare has to do with work — productive work — and the necessary improvements to achieve in this area. The abstracts at the end of this issue propose some ideas on the matter. In particular the issue of part-time work, as a basis and not as a marginal instrument for full employment.
• within the perspective of the ‘four-pillar strategy’, in the future work, pensions, subventions and incentives will be more and more considered jointly (including the issue of a negative income tax). See on this the articles on pensions and partial work in Sweden. The contributions from Finland and the United States provide further useful insights.
• modern technology and culture are bound to improve the quality of work further and further (see the descriptions in the textile industry no longer than one or two centuries ago). Work, good productive work is necessary to the human being to live a healthier and more satisfactory life (accompanied by lifelong education).
• all this has to do with the evolution and changes within society and in particularly in the economy. We have long insisted on the importance to understand the potentials of the modern economy, as a ‘Service Economy’. Practice is well advanced in most areas in this direction: a little effort is still required by macro-economists, where some fundamentals demand revision. In particular concerning the notions of risk and uncertainty and their management. It is here that economics reveals deep philosophical roots, embedded in the wider general cultural ground. An adequate consideration and promotion of ‘productive work’ needs to start from here.
• dealing with such issues in the European context, we can only insist — as we have done on many occasions — that although each country has a long different economic history, the issues of the ageing and counter-ageing society are similar (even for the rest of the world). The European social policy will little by little move to a more similar pattern, and become a central issue for the whole integration process. Realistically this will probably take one or two decades, but the experiences in each country will be increasingly compared and the best solutions will little by little emerge.
We understand that ‘political reality’ (still too often national) is conditioning the debate and the policies in this area. But not following the best necessary solutions will indicate the loosers of tomorrow, both on the economic and the social ground.
Let’s finally just recall some other fundamental questions, dealt in this issue, and which we have considered also in the previous European Papers:
• the management of health and health costs, on which the whole welfare policy largely depends, and where again feasibility has to be combined with social justice. Here again public and private systems have to find the best practical and possible compromise;
• the developments of scientific research and of technological applications which are the very central motor of all the changes we are dealing with. In this issue we establish a link between the studies on brain and longevity;
• longevity and the risk of the enterprise, integrating these problems into the analyses of vulnerability of a country (the vulnerability index), which we hope to deal with in greater detail in future issues.
In order to make our work more accessible, we are setting up an access to the internet system, where all the articles published can be downloaded (www.newwelfare.org). We aim thus to disseminate our work and make it available as far as possible also to attract contributions, discussions and counter-proposals. Maybe also from you.