“It captures the human desire to control the key moments of our lives, and the inability to recognize that we can’t. Even someone as smart as Ginsburg thought she could.”

I agree with you that this is a big part of it. Humans love to feel in control, and we do many things to feel certain even when we’re actually surrounded by uncertainty. Our culture’s pattern of ignoring/denying death is one example of this. We pretend as if death isn’t coming for all of us—possibly today, regardless of our age—and (as of yet) there’s nothing we can do about that. This lack of acceptance of death leads to making it “gauche” to bring up when someone is old and statistically more likely to die.

Strangely, while calls for old politicians to step down is labeled as ageism, I actually think ageism in part fuels them not stepping down… There’s an association between being old and “being useless” and between being retired and “being useless.” Our culture equates working (a job) with being worthwhile. Also work in which you’re not paid (aka parenting, caregiving, volunteering) is devalued. Therefore there is so much identity and self-worth tied to our jobs (for many people, not just politicians), and relatively few models and messages of graceful and restful yet still meaningful retirement/aging. People don’t view rest and retirement as attractive options.

Not sure how to change this, obviously. And it’s more complicated than just these things. But wanted to share what your post brought up for me. Thanks for your writing!

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"housing affordability in San Francisco, which is probably the city’s biggest problem"

Housing un-affordability has been shown to primarily be caused by wealth inequality. Nancy Pelosi's net worth is north of $100M, in large part due to stock trading of companies she was writing legislation for. Clearly, housing affordability will not be solved as long as she's in office.

But it's doubtful this will improve with any successor, even one unrelated by blood. You'd have to find a leader both so willing to solve the problem they'd sacrifice their own future $100M, and so capable at getting elected in SF and working within the existing system in DC that they could out-perform all of the other scumbags who will gladly take the money.

The housing problem in SF is merely one symptom of wealth inequality in this country, a problem enabled -- and taken advantage of -- by Congress. Aging politicians are simply another symptom, and it's hard to see how a bandaid on one could fix them all.

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Sep 21, 2023·edited Sep 21, 2023Author

I don't want to downplay wealth inequality, which is a huge problem in its own right. But I've never seen or heard any evidence that wealth inequality is the "primary" driver of housing un-affordability. Almost everything I've read says that the main driver of rising housing costs is a lack of housing supply. As demand rises for housing with more people, especially concentrated in a few superstar cities, but not enough housing is built to accommodate them, housing prices rise.

I can see ways that wealth inequality contributes to this picture. Some people can spend enormous amounts on housing, which - given limited housing supply - forces others to either pony up similar huge sums or get priced out. But this seems like a sorta-related issue, not the main cause.

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