In Australia recently, many of us were exercising our right to vote. And now that the dust has (kinda) settled, you could have asking what was the fuss all about.
While it did not get much hot-air time in the election lead-up, but we oldies could be causing a problem. Australia's population is aging with ABS figures showing that the proportion of Australians over 65 years could increase to 25% by 2056. (In the US, more than 10,000 people every day turn 65.) An aging population could be a threat to our economy and political system.
Our aging population will place increasing stress on a variety of sectors, a decrease in the labor force, and a decline in the associated tax base. So, you do not need to be Albert Whatshisname to figure out that increased expenditure coupled with decreased revenue makes deficit, debt, and possible economic downturn.
Two related things seem certain. People over the age of 65 are likely to take a pretty conservative situation to changing the current system involving their welfare and there is a need for Governments to invest in a much more cost effective and comfortable situations for this aging group. Most oldies have priorities that often differ from those of younger generations – think climate change, crumbling infrastructure, youth unemployment, access to education. By their inaction, very few politicians seem too worried that nothing much can be done about this division without bolder, more meaningful changes.
We all nod our heads in agreement that the interests of future generations are important to all in a democratic society. We know it's the next generation that will be expected to pay the debt, cope with the insufficient infrastructure, experience declining prosperity, and pay for a hopelessly insufficient educational system. Yet, on what we're experiencing at the moment, we'll die waiting for a dysfunctional political system to make the reforms that might promote growth that will inevitably cause discomfort to an aging majority. OK, it's a global issue, but governments the world over are doing practically nothing of note to help.
If it's so that 'politics is the art of the possible', suggesting that all politics comes down to negotiation and compromise between the different factions and viewpoints that make up a body politic, there may be hope. Otherwise Plato's idea expressed in The Republic (380 BCE) may become a reality within Australia: 'It is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit'. Or maybe Sam Cooke sang it right, 'A change is gonna come'.