Take a look at this latest news item from the BBC. The headline reads:
According to this latest ‘British study’, we all need to go on working till we drop, because if we don’t, we’ll become sick, depressed, and in the long term there’ll be a ‘drastic decline in health’.
Could that be because, in the long term, we all die?
It all seems a bit disconcerting to us older folks, till we read that the study was published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The BBC merely describes the IEA as ‘a think tank’, and then devotes a page of its website to the results of a study that becomes progressively more dubious as one investigates its authenticity.
Apparently, the ‘study’ was published in conjunction with a rather shadowy charity known as the, “Age Endeavour Fellowship”. This organization has no website, but is listed on “OpenCharities.Org” as, “a grant making charity for the elderly”. The name, Dr Edward Datnow, is listed as a contact, and the address as, 130 Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UE.
Most interesting are the incomes and expenditures for this charity over the last few years. Since 2008, its income has dropped steadily from 34,000 GBP to less than 8,000 GBP in 2012. In fact, for the first time in five years their 2012 expenditure outweighed their income by 800 GBP. That’s bad news, particularly as Zoopla lists 130 Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UE as: a 6 bed freehold terraced substantial Victorian House (Circa 3800 Sq Ft) Arranged Over Five Floors And In Need Of Refurbishment. Apparently, it was last on the market in 2008 when it was offered for 2,300,000 GBP. Today’s mean property value for London W11 is a paltry 1,500,000 GBP.
Is the Age Endeavour Fellowship in desperate need of funds? If so, how could it possibly finance the study so lavishly publicized by the BBC?
The ‘study’ is entitled, “Work Longer Live Healthier – The relationship between economic activity, health and government policy”. Its author is one Gabriel H. Sahlgren.
It begins, as is usual, with the credits:
This paper is published by the Institute of Economic Affairs in association with the Age Endeavour Fellowship. The Age Endeavour Fellowship is a charity that has provided financial support for this project and the author would like to thank senior IEA staff and Edward Datnow and Andy Mayer for their initiative and support.” [my bold]
As already noted, Dr Edward Datnow is listed as a trustee of the Age Endeavour Fellowship, though he remains fairly anonymous to the internet.
Andy Mayer appears to be a relative newcomer. Here he is in an image from the website, ConservativeHome.blogs.com 
He’s not listed on OpenCharities.Org, but the Charities Commission website lists him, along with another anonymous individual, Ms Valerie Kent, and a Robert Datnow – presumably some relative of the doctor’s – as charity trustees.
The ‘study’ itself is long-winded (40+ pages), filled with an abundance of technical diarrhea, and comments such as…
…mortality is a rather crude
measure of health…”
Surely, mortality is a highly exact measure of health? Unless, of course, the author, Gabriel Sahlgren, considers being dead a measure of vitality?
He doesn’t stop there…
It is quite possible that retirement may benefit health at first due to a reduction in stress levels and an ability to undertake enjoyable and fulfilling activities: this might be termed a “holiday effect”. As time goes on, however, other influences may lead health to deteriorate. These may include the lack of social interaction and physical activity. Also, the initial psychic benefit of retirement might fade away. In general, furthermore, behavioural changes take time before they affect health. For example, if an individual starts eating, drinking and smoking more because they retire, or in anticipation of retirement, the health effects are not going to appear until some point in the future.”[my bold]
For what is supposedly a ‘scientific’ research paper, this paragraph (and many others) is littered with ‘may’, and ‘might’, and the odd, ‘quite possibly’. Not to put too fine a point on it, the whole paper is bullshit from start to finish. To intimate that the freedom felt by those fortunate enough to retire before ill-health and old age incapacitate them is mere ‘holiday effect’, smacks, at best, of ill-thought-out ignorance, and at worst, of a calculating deviousness designed for nefarious purpose.
One can only ponder on how many individuals eat, drink, and smoke to greater excess as the proximity of retirement looms. Experience suggests it is the young who abuse themselves to excess; the more mature realize the dangers of such habits and take steps to curb them in order to enjoy the rewards of much deserved retirement.
Who, then, is the perpetrator of such a set of ideas so wanton they scarcely merit the description, ‘research’?
Sahlgren’s had a varied career, which has given him little opportunity to study the needs of the elderly. He hasn’t yet made Wikipedia, or any similar journal, so his exact age remains a mystery, though he’s obviously still somewhat damp behind the ears.
Follow his career back far enough and the name Koch rises from the depths. Sahlgren was a ‘Koch Fellow’ at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a US think tank founded by Fred L Smith, a big buddy of billionaire and right-wing plutocrat, Charles Koch. Koch and his brother fund the US ‘Tea Party’ movement).
Later (2009),Sahlgren worked as a research intern at the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch.
Since January 2012 he’s been working as a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
So where does this all leave us? Andrew Marr, in his 2007 BBC documentary, “A History of Modern Britain”, describes the IEA as:
…undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history”
This begs the question, ‘influential’ to whom?
Think tanks are not devised to assist the masses. Their influence is aimed at government. US and UK government policy requires some degree of evidential credibility if it is to pass scrutiny with the electorate, particularly if said policy is detrimental to ordinary folks.
Since the (probably) devised financial crash of 2008, ‘austerity measures’ have been the policy of both European and US governments (remember the US ‘sequester’?) and Tory policy in Britain is set to systematically destroy the socialist system and replace it with a US-style, de-regulated, capitalist, society. This is already far advanced in the destruction of the National Health Service and its privatization.
The pension systems in the UK and the US are viewed by politicians as unwelcome financial burdens they would dearly love to do away with. They conveniently forget the basic fact that workers pay into these funds all their working lives to finance their retirement. The money belongs to them, not the government. But governments would like to steal that money, then shift the whole pension system into private (corporate) control.
The background to this sordid saga is a right-wing, corporate-controlled, free market think tank of enormous political influence. Their aim is to provide ‘evidence’ to government, supportive of a substantial rise in the retirement age of British workers (US workers, beware!). What better way to achieve it than by presenting it as entirely beneficial, nay, necessary, to the health and well-being of the working masses?
Of course, the IEA is hardly a concern likely to evoke a positive response from ordinary people, so they roped in a near-defunct, anonymous, London charity with a sympathetic name -the ‘Age Endeavour Fellowship’ – to front the show.
We know from the records that Dr Edward Datnow and his associates were incapable of funding Sahlgren’s research. No doubt IEA footed the whole bill.
Quite what the trustees of Age Endeavour Fellowship got out of it, one can only speculate.
In September 2011, the Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, wrote an article condemning free market think tanks and the secrecy surrounding those who fund them:
…whenever you hear the term free market thinktank, think of a tank, crushing democracy, driven by big business.”
The Institute of Economic Affairs is hell-bent on crushing the democratic right of every citizen to a long, happy, and healthy retirement.
 “Retirement ‘harmful to health’, study says”BBC, May 16th 2013
 “Work Longer Live Healthier” Institute of Economic Affairs, May 2013
 “OpenCharities.Org No: 209489
 “Charity Commission – Age Endeavour Fellowship” Charity Commission Website
 “130 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UE” Zoopla.Co.UK, Undated
 “Andy Mayer: A longer working life means a healthier life – policymakers should take note” ConservativeHome.blogs.com, May 16th 2013
 “Think of a Tank” George Monbiot, September 12th 2011