The problem with living forever


Did you hear that science may be close to discovering the secret of immortality? I’m not sure being able to live forever is a good thing. Talk about bankrupting Social Security! If we all live forever, we’ll turn the entire country into Florida. Think about the lines for the early bird special. Here’s an image that will burn into your brain — Ted Cruz serving forever in the U.S. Senate.

How much money would you need to have in your IRA if it has to last for an eternity? Try answering that one, Harry Gross! Scientists better think about the consequences of what they are doing. Do we really want to be stuck with the Republicans in Harrisburg for the rest of time? Think about it. The Supreme Court serves for life, but in the future it would serve forever. How sympathetic toward contraception coverage do you think Antonin Scalia will be when he’s 105? Liberals won’t like every major case, 5-4, forever.

I have to think that AARP and the Tea Party will see their respective memberships rise when the average age in America is two centuries. That’s kind of a good news/bad news scenario. On the one hand, AARP will likely be able to pay for hearing aids for all its members. On the other hand, how long do we want to see that Tea Party guy holding a sign at rallies that says “Get Your Hands Off My Medicare?” Republicans will still be in denial about climate change, but they’ll be doing so from huts in North Dakota (where most of them now reside), and it will be 120 degrees in the shade. North Dakota will be a very big tourist attraction in the next century since both coasts will be under water. Incidentally, Dr. Oz will credit green coffee extract for our new found immortality.

Things wouldn’t change too much here in South Philly, even if we did live forever. Dental problems might cause the market for hard, crusty Italian bread to dry up, but families would still argue about which bakery has the best bread, even if we have to put the rolls in a blender and sip them with a straw. I’m less certain that with a really old population we would have fewer cars in South Philly, but I can assure you that we would illegally double park our wheelchairs — renegade parking — it’s in our genes.

Don’t think religion would escape its own problems. With all of us living forever, St. Peter would have to hang a vacancy sign in heaven. Pope Benedict will wonder why he retired at such a young age. And is it really a good idea to tick off Satan by denying him new members?

What will be the incentive to remain a law abiding citizen? The crime rates might go so high that even Commissioner Charles Ramsey would stop bothering Philadelphians carrying small amounts of marijuana. Taxpayers would probably still rebel at the thought of building new prisons, but will there be a choice? You think prisons are overcrowded now? In Philadelphia, would a Republican ever get elected to City Hall? Maybe Sam Katz could make another run at the age of 132.

Immortality would definitely have an effect on the Philly sports scene. You think the core of this Phillies team is old now? Imagine Chase Utley’s knees a couple of hundred years from now. The Sixers will still be in rebuilding mode. For 73 years in a row, they will have drafted an injured player who can’t get health insurance. Chip Kelly will have to adjust his up-tempo offense to accommodate his veteran team. Waltzes will be the new background music at future Eagles practices. And we still won’t care about soccer, except every four years.

Piper will keep on making poor decisions in Netflix’s TV series “Orange Is the New Black.” Nurse Jackie will never get out of rehab. Kevin Spacey’s “House Of Cards” will never tumble down. Those folks trapped under Stephen King’s dome will never get out — worse, that TV series will never end. “On Dancing with the Stars,” Billy Dee Williams will return in the distant future as a contestant, and he still won’t be able to fast dance with Petra.

Immortality will spread to the rest of the world with consequences. An aging al-Qaida will likely change its terror tactics. No need to blow up a synagogue when you can just kick the walkers out from under the congregants. Probably be tough to get really old terrorists to blow themselves up in order to meet 72 virgins. Exactly what would a terrorist do with them anyway?

An old Vladimir Putin might be easier to deal with — at least he won’t take off his shirt in public quite so much. Oil in the Middle East will eventually dry up, and we can finally afford to ignore those pains-in-the-asses in Saudi Arabia. Of course, we will still have “residual” forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 300 years from now, we might finally deem it safe to begin withdrawing troops who have been stationed in Europe since World War II.

Scary thought — what will that photo of me look like on the cover of the South Philadelphia Review when I will be celebrating my 500th year as columnist? My Uncle Nunzi says I’ll still be overrated. 

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