Archives for posts with tag: Australian Prime Ministers

The last couple of decades in particular have seen us make huge advances in communication and other areas of technology which seem to have affected the lives of many people in the world. The ones who have missed out are those who seem to miss out on everything- food, clothing, shelter and medical expertise. And we don’t seem to care.

Does humanity have to be like this? Is there one country in the world which is going against the trend and reducing the gap between the top rich 1% and the bottom poor 1%? If there is such a country I would guess that its leaders are not rich, as are currently the leaders, and potential leaders, in the most influential countries in the world.

Citizens in the USA seem to be heading in the direction of having to choose between two rich citizens for their next leader even though I am sure that there are many, many, people who would make better leaders because they have more knowledge and ability and are not tainted by being money addicts.

So many countries in the world have this problem of admiring the rich, presumably because they wish they were in that position themselves. In Australia the media is listing the top people on our rich list presumably lauding them for having this particular trait, which in the field of medicine would be labelled an addiction. In the past so many rich people have used their wealth to honour their names and families by putting their money into charitable trusts or noteworthy buildings, both of which honoured their memories for generations to come. Today’s rich seem more intent on spending as much of their wealth on themselves and leaving their offspring in the same situation rather than leaving a lasting memory. Is this because the Christian church, which encouraged the former behaviour, is no longer as influential as it was?

Is there no one today with the power and influence to encourage a fairer sharing of resources? Could I be right in feeling that if we did have fewer rich people and fewer poor people the world would be a much better place? We can’t just assume that those at the bottom leg of the ladder are brainless and untalented. Many of those who have reached the top today have done so because they got a leg up and opportunities from their rich families, rarely just from their own abilities.

Could we measure the degree of success of today’s world by the extent to which the basic necessities are available to all, and all have access to a good education and the opportunity to make use of it to the best of their ability? If we could make such a measurement I suspect today’s world  would end up with a big ‘FAIL’.

This isn’t good enough. In the past the plague affected everyone, rich and poor, and today’s superbugs are threatening to do the same. We need to pull together to make this world a happier successful place which we all share. Technology and other modern advances can’t do this on their own- it needs a caring human race to facilitate it.

I was listening to an interview with an Australian woman who has been fighting for equality for women for decades. It was a reminder that there is still a long way to go before people are judged on their talents, knowledge and ability rather on their gender. At about the same time the Prime Minister had called a meeting of a wide variety of groups to obtain their input into how to create a better, and more prosperous, Australia in future. I didn’t hear of any group representing older people being present and I suspect that there weren’t any. The trouble is that there aren’t any. The two major ones, both of which used to, and maybe still do, accept major grants to keep  afloat, don’t seem to believe in employing older people themselves so they certainly wouldn’t have an appropriate seat in the discussion.

Canada recently announced that it had more people over the age of 65 than under 15. I’m sure it will soon be joined by many other countries. We are so keen to promote ageism, just as for centuries we have promoted sexism, that we don’t look on older people as being a valid part of the economy. In both cases the country misses out on the talents, knowledge and skills, potential or otherwise, of a huge section of the population. I argue that in a highly competitive world we can’t afford to do this.

If we start fulltime work at 20 roughly, allowing for trades and university, and work until we are 65 then we have worked for 45 years of our lives. With the average life expectancy at roughly 85 (it soon will be) then we have another 20 years of life left if we retire at 65. For most of this time we will still be relatively fit. Do we really want to spend these years just filling time, finding things to do or would we prefer to be achieving, doing all the things we always wanted to do and achieve? One piece of research I came across found that people who leave work, retire, as soon as they can are people who feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in their work. What a sad reflection on employers. One senior public servant told me that this happened in the public service. It certainly did with me but a found several other jobs which were more satisfying!

From the figures available we know that we are under-utilising our workforce based on gender and trying to fix it up but how long must we go on doing the same with problems based on age? I am not saying we should all continue with work, particularly fulltime work. What I am asking for is the opportunity for older people to use all our unused skills and ideas. It will happen in a more free thinking world in the future but what about missing out on them in the meantime. We live in a very competitive world. Can we afford to miss out on blatantly obvious solutions to many of our problems?

This heading was inspired by an interview with a previous prime minister (our first woman) last night; her first interview since she was deposed. I always feel that our political systems, both here and in the UK are not a good way to elect our leaders although I am not sure the Americans, or any other country, has a better one.
The two Australian Prime Ministers I really admired, as I know many others do, were Paul Keating and Julia Gillard, who were to me real visionaries. What is interesting is that both of them went on to have another life after politics, in both cases in academia. The rest seem to sit around hoping the phone will ring to ask their opinion on something, a decreasing possibility the longer they are out of politics. The longer this drags on the more pathetic they seem to become.
I’m not the only one to feel that our political scene is being more and more manipulated by the media which makes the situation even more frightening. Julia told the story last night that two of our newspapers, including one we should be able to respect, had both printed a completely false report that she and her partner had split up. The influence of the media is even more scary when we realise that the current holder of the office of Prime Minister had the backing of a very large newspaper group, owned by a foreigner who presumably felt that Tony Abbott would best suit his financial goals.
So how does this fit in with ageing, the focus of my interest? Once they leave office our Prime Ministers are very nicely provided for financially, with a generous pension and support staff no matter what their age. This means that they don’t need to do anything else in their lives, no matter at what age they leave office. Both Keating and Gillard have moved on to new careers, in academia, so that the real talents they have, which are not dependant on party numbers and/or media backing, can continue to be utilised by the country. Isn’t this what we as a nation should be aiming for, so that our achievements and contributions are lifelong, not just a fleeting moment, whether what we do is paid or otherwise? These should be our aims at a time when our lives are being elongated thanks to improvement in our knowledge of healthy living and in medicine.
It will be interesting to see whether these two recent prime ministers, who have had enough talent to go on to other careers, will be judged by history as outstanding contributors to our country compared with others who seem to move on to obscurity. The introduction of support for the disabled will certainly enter Julia Gillard’s name into history.
For all of us I believe we are accountable for our whole lives, even if it only to leave a legacy for our grandchildren and those who come after us. After all how much poorer our lives would be if some of our great composers and musicians for example had called it a day when they reached 65.