Allan Takes Aim Blog

Keep on keeping on

Posted on: 5 August 2009


Published The Chronicle: Tuesday, July 28

I’ve long held the opinion that the secret to long life is play harder and work less, a regime I’ve tried to stick to. Unfortunately, like some who might share this philosophy, I failed, sometimes spectacularly, although I confess that, in failing, I enjoyed myself immensely.

Recently, however, I concluded statements made by policy makers that baby boomers are likely to find life difficult financially when retirement comes if they haven’t saved any money, are doing more harm than good. And while only a sneaking feeling I think their statements are preludes to later statements announcing that retirement age will move beyond the mooted age of 67 years.

No doubt they thought their statements would start boomers saving, but all they seem to have done is succeed in making worried boomers more worried and non worried boomers start worrying. But perhaps in making the statements the policy makers were trying to get boomers used to the idea that, with certain exceptions, State age pensions eventually will disappear and if people haven’t made provisions for retirement then “hard cheese.” A more cynical observation: perhaps policy makers hope that by creating worry among boomers the number of people needing an age pension will decrease.

As is usual people in policy areas have their own language. They talk about a demographic time bomb not that because people are living longer the Government will not be able to afford paying age pensions. And to add emphasis they say that in the future old people without the necessary savings will have to carry on working. If this happens, many old people will fall apart bit by bit and end up dying on the job. Not that the government will say so, but this will help it avoid having to pay to keep them repaired and alive.

Indeed, Government might see it also as a means of getting those currently worrying about the retirement age moving to 67 years, to start getting them used to thinking about voluntary euthanasia if they think they will never save enough to keep themselves in retirement. Perhaps too, it is to introduce people to think about mandatory euthanasia and also provoke them into considering making Eugenics legal?

When I discussed the latter with older people some said they weren’t worried because, even if it happened, they wouldn’t be around. Some, however, already accepting of their fate, had retreated into their shells and become empty carapaces on the shore of the sea of life waiting for a wave to wash them into the sea’s deepest parts as if they had never existed.

By way of contrast some thought age was simply a life calendar that every day offered challenges which, even when young, they had taken up not only because they made life enjoyable but that they opened the gateway to further challenges some of which, after tackling, they sometimes wish they hadn’t. However, as one remarked, it is the not knowing if you will win a challenge that makes life exciting.

These are the people who have observed the adjuration of Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that goodnight”/Old age should burn and rave at close of day/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” They are also the people who fight death all the way, who work and play hard and even if not famous when death comes not only will they will make the people they left behind remember so too will people in the future.

Now, a few more words of Dylan that would make a marvellous epitaph: “Though wise men at their end know dark is right/ Because their words had forked no lightning they /Do not go gentle into that good night. / Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright/ Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, / Rage, rage against the dying of the light./ Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,/ And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,/ Do not go gentle into that good night./ Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight/ Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

For Canberra Comunity News get The Chronicle. Published every Tuesday

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