Marie 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!