The Marie Antoinette disorder [in politics]

low carb hazelnut cakeMarie Antoinette pirouetted in front of the mirror, admiring her milk-white neck, or perhaps the priceless diamonds that nestled there. She really should have asked for matching earrings…

A timid knock on the door interrupted the Queen’s weighty deliberations.

“Entrez!” she trilled, not at all pleased.

The door opened to reveal a haggard man in full court regalia. When he bowed, the light streaming in through the windows of the Petit Trianon lit up the bald spots on his head.

“Majesty!” he said.

“Lord High Chamberlain,” she replied. “Why are We being disturbed?”

“Deepest apologies, Majesty,” the Chamberlain replied, absently brushing another hank of hair from his shoulder. “A delegation has arrived to petition the Crown. It seems the people have no bread…”

“No bread?” the Queen said, her perfect forehead creased in a tiny frown. “Why then, let them eat cake!”

Marie Antoinette, born on 2 November 1755,  beheaded by guillotine on 16 October 1793.

* * *

There is no historical evidence that Marie Antoinette ever said those infamous words, however the willful blindness behind them could well have been true. Sadly, modern day ‘rulers’ seem to be afflicted by the same disorder.

I am, just at this moment, thinking of our estwhile Treasurer,  Joe Hockey. Apparently Joe Hockey is trying to float the idea of pushing the retirement age out to 70…perhaps to claw back some of the money Prime Minister Abbott wants to give extremely well off women in the form of paid maternity leave.

It goes without saying that women capable of earning $150,000 per annum are in desperate straits, and need all the help they can get. The same cannot be said for Baby Boomers, such as myself, who selfishly refuse to pop off, and will soon become a huge burden on the welfare system.

Mr Hockey’s brilliant plan is to make Boomers keep working until they hit 70, at which point they may, or may not get a pension.

Now, I have to say that I never planned on retiring, at least as a writer, but given how hard it is to find a job at 61,  I do wonder what jobs Mr Hockey has in mind. Bricklaying? Plumbing? Garbology? Or perhaps some of the high flying CEO’s will burn out at 40 and make way for us mature types?

Or perhaps Mr Hockey doesn’t really care that there are no jobs out there for us. I’m sure his number crunchers have already worked out that having Boomers on the dole NewStart Allowance, is preferable to having them on the Age Pension.

Let’s do the sums. A single Pensioner at the maximum rate gets $842.80 per fortnight, or $421.40 per week. An unemployed person on NewStart gets $508.00 per fortnight, or $254.00 per week. I’m no maths genius, but even I know that’s a saving of $167.40 per person per week. That is $8,704.80 per year. Now if the retirement age is raised from 67 to 70 [for men] and from 65 to 68 for women, the government will save $26,114.40 per Boomer during those 3 extra years of -cough- work -cough-.

Another benefit of pushing the retirement age out to 70 is that many of the poorest Boomers may well die of starvation,  freeze to death in winter or die of heatstroke in summer as they try to juggle the conflicting needs of buying food, or paying the utilities out of $254.oo per week.

Of course, not all Baby Boomers will be affected by the new retirement age. Those on big incomes and hefty superannuation payouts will be fine. They will be able to access their superannuation at 60, and use all those lovely dollars to replace their ageing Mercedes with a new Beemer, and still have enough left to last them till they reach 70. With luck, and judicious spending, they should then be eligible for the full pension because all of their superannuation will be gone.

So let’s take those Boomers out of the equation. Who have we got left? Hmm,  apparently there will still be quite a few Boomers with a disability [and no superannuation], unskilled manual workers [men and women] with very little superannuation, single parents [mostly women] with little to no superannuation, and divorced women with grown children who never managed to accrue any superannuation at all…

* * *

Tony Abbott is staring into the mirror, admiring his spandex when his deliberations are interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Enter!” he growls, not at all pleased.

The door opens to reveal a haggard man suffering from severe alopecia.

“What is it Joe?”

“Um, I got the budget into surplus, Tony, but there’s a delegation of Boomers outside, and they’re not happy. They say they can’t get a job…”

“No jobs?” the Prime Minister said, his forehead creased in a tiny frown. “Why then, let them have NewStart!”

* * *

I rest my case.


p.s. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

22 responses to “The Marie Antoinette disorder [in politics]

  • EllaDee

    Fantastic post. Had me laughing and growling at the same time. It appears Joe Hockey et al are simply giving the appearance of balancing the budget… via a Nimbyist Liberal elitist solution which subsequent realist governments will have to revisit. Baby Boomers, aged pensioners, unemployed, disabled are their soft targets. Unlikely they will look to a solution which redirects the wealth from truly high income earners, Big Business, bureaucracy, politicians… and regardless creates jobs for people who want to work – whatever age, whatever location. Budget balancing that simply, only, looks good on paper, preferably soft recycled paper that we can all at least make one practical use of.


    • acflory

      LMAO!!!!!! I just bought some of that ‘soft paper’ but I’ll gladly volunteer to use some of theirs. 😀

      And you’ve put your finger on the hypocrisy hidden behind their agenda. Direct Action will give bucket loads of money to polluters, Paid Parental leave will give even more to those that don’t need it, and the rest of us will foot the bill. <>



    You know it is just the same in any other field.
    You’d think experience teaches us at least anything, but alas.
    Disagree if you will but the world changes rapidly, and we have no control whatsoever over it.
    E.g., imagine Obama had any balls to put Russian bear to his place, but it seems like it’s never happening, welcome WW3.
    A very deep post, thanks!


  • Candy Korman

    Thank you for laying it out so neatly! I’m so used to the muddle of U.S. politics/economics that your Aussie summary — complete with the charming introduction — was a wonderful education/distraction. In the U.S. the top one percent, or more accurately the top .01% have a huge and hugely disproportionate part of the the nation’s wealth. This skews and skewers ALL the math. I think there’s a ‘let ’em eat cake’ story here, too.


  • davidprosser

    The change on a sliding scale happened here a few years ago so that anyone born in 1951 gets their pension 6 months later than they would, 1952, a year late and so on until 1956 when they have to work to 70. So far 70 is the tops but those born before 1951 due to collect have the option of working longer to increase their pension rate.
    It’s damned inconvenient that enough people aren’t dying off yet before reaching pension age so there are withdrawals of certain benefits for the disabled which can then be reassessed under a different name, and of course some may be entitled to more than they were ( Like that ever happens). The firm who do the assessments are not medically trained but have always been expected to save the Government money. Perhaps the disabled will oblige while popping off early then…….
    Experts have assessed that the money avoided in taxes by just one ‘coffeehouse’ alone would be enough to cover the shortfall needed to restore all the disabled living allowances withdrawn by necessity from those people expected to get off their deathbeds and work.But finding a way to get those taxes is proving a little difficult for the Westminster minds to whom ‘Then Cease Trading for Profit in the UK’ is too hard to grasp.
    It seems personal wealth for the already rich and Corporate Wealth for some large companies is to be guarded from being hit for the public good.

    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


  • metan

    I hate it when they talk about cutting the aged pension or assistance for the most needy (like their new idea of getting rid of the Medicare Locals). These are people who have no other way of earning and have already stripped their lives back to nothing just to afford the barest of essentials.

    It is hugely unfair and I’m sure if Hockey or Abbot were to try existing on a pension they might realise what they are doing. Sadly, no hope of that. They’ll keep on going along, thinking they are of the people when they really have no clue. 😦


    • acflory

      Well said, Metan! The Age Pension is more generous than NewStart but you still have to be incredibly frugal to survive on it, especially when almost every utility bill includes a fixed amount that is just a ‘service charge’. So even if you never turn on a light, or the oven, your electricity bill will still be something like $100 per quarter. As for NewStart, I can’t see how anyone can live on that. You’d have to cheat somehow.

      I’d love to see the Spandex Wonder forced to survive for just one week on $250.


      • metan

        Oh. Yes, the service charges are bigger than the bill itself! Grrrrr….

        I wonder what it will be like for my kids (and the Daughter) when time comes for them to retire. The news told me today that the median house price in Oz is now $600,000. Eeek! The only way you can survive on a pension now is if you own your own home, imagine what they’ll be up against when their time comes? Generation after generation will be staying in the same house!


        • acflory

          Hold onto your hat but Nillumbik rates are now something like $700 per QUARTER. 😦 I literally won’t be able to afford to pay them, assuming I even get the pension. I”ve already told the Daughter she’ll have to build a kennel for me out the back when/if she ever gets a place of her own.


          • metan

            Whaaaaat? Per quarter? Blimey.

            We had that very conversation with some friends this afternoon saying that our kids will never be able to afford to buy their own house. We think houses will just get bigger and bigger and a few generations will all live under the same roof, a bit like the old days, just with more ensuites!


          • acflory

            -grin- That sounds like a great plan – so long as Mama and Papa aren’t left to do all the work around that enormous house 😀

            If I’m to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have a house either if not for an inheritance, but I doubt The Daughter will be getting much from me when her turn comes.

            Let’s just hope that unaffordable housing is the worst thing we leave our kids in the future.


  • pinkagendist

    “Let them eat cake” (brioche, to be precise) was coined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in reference to Marie Thérèse, wife of Louis XIV (and not even the Royal family disputed she said that). She lived 100 years before Marie Antoinette
    The latter being foreign, a woman and powerful she was an easy scapegoat and symbol for the revolutionaries to rally against- hence the intentionally misleading attribution 🙂


  • Carrie Rubin

    I suspect in the US, we’ll see that retirement age pushed off as well. There’s already talk about it. And many people are already working past the age of 65 just to keep their heads afloat. Used to be a person could look forward to their retirement as a way to finally enjoy things they never had the chance to before. Not so much anymore.


    • acflory

      Baby Boomers are a problem all over the world, and from a purely logical perspective, I can see that things have to change, but I question the knee-jerk direction of that change.

      For example, here in Australia, affordable child care is almost impossible to find, which makes returning to work, or staying at work, hard for women. Why not get creative and harness all this grey-power by setting up grey-care centres? i.e. cheap, affordable daycare centres for kids – run by either paid or volunteer retirees?

      At the moment, the only places you see us oldies ‘working’ are in op shops [thrift shops?] or at school crossings as lollypop men.

      Boomers could be useful in all sorts of places, but governments have to think outside the current box, and they’re not doing so.


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