Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Will the pension stretch to Wii games and ritalin?

Posted by occidentprone on July 9, 2008

People on the single aged pension are struggling and are making sacrifices that they shouldn’t have to just to get by, according to a story in The West Australian on Monday.

The story, “Rising costs hit make-do generation” on page 17, was not posted on the West website so I can’t link to it but it quoted Bunbury woman June Wood who had lived through the Great Depression of the 30s and now was battling to afford food and shelter on the pension with the rising costs of living.

It seems unfair that Ms Wood should have to bear such heavy burdens at both ends of her life but the questions it raises are these:
Is her generation better equipped to handle the frugality and restraint required post-retirement?
What will happen when the first consumer generation, the Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom are now 62, start relying on social services en masse, supported by the even more self-absorbed generations beneath them?
Even more scary, what kind of world will we have when Gen X and Gen Y have to scale back their consumerism and me-itis and line up on pension day. (Of course we’ll all be reliant on self-funded retirement by then and the financial landscape will look a whole lot different.)

Nearly everyone born and raised in Australia after WWII has had a fairly cruisy economy compared to those scarred by the wars and the Depression. These left lifelong habits – using leftovers, keeping chooks, cutting coupons, helping neighbours in trouble, wearing clothes till they fade or don’t fit – that younger generations scorn. But people born up to the 1940s have built resourcefulness and resilience the rest of us might one day need.

In Western Australia, all this is exacerbated by the boom. It has heightened Gen Y’s sense of entitlement and already overinflated self-assuredness because they can walk into any job they want, practically, even if they haven’t earnt it and aren’t qualified for it. And it has sent the price of accommodation careening off so that pensioners and other low-income sectors can barely pay the rents asked or afford a mortgage. All on top a world food and oil crisis.

It’s about time we all got a bit of that community mindedness and resourcefulness because our day will inevitably come, unless they develop a pill to fix it for us – it’s got us this far.

Read more about a Perth Gen Y perspective and the debate that follows at Sunili’s blog.


5 Responses to “Will the pension stretch to Wii games and ritalin?”

  1. Kace said

    Hmmmm, an interesting one.
    First of all I think the currenty interest rate rises, rent rises, fuel rises and general living cost rises have made some of us think about being a bit more resourceful and thinking that maybe things won’t always come as easily as we’re used to.
    But also, as a gen y-er, why should I have to feel guilty for getting the easy shift? It’s not my fault?
    I’m sure the current issues we’re facing are not much compared to those of previous generations, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Some people end up spending a fortune on therapy to deal with these issues of guilt and spoilt-ness, so it’s not all plain sailing!!!

  2. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptPeople on the single aged pension are struggling and are making sacrifices that they shouldn’t have to just to get by, according to a story in The West Australian on Monday. The story, “Rising costs hit make-do generation” on page 17, … […]

  3. occidentprone said

    I forgot to mention that maybe the make-do generation are getting a raw deal might be that they take it – they’re make do, don’t make a fuss! Younger people have been brought up to question, to know that doctors aren’t God, to make a scene if you feel your rights are being squashed. As you’ve said, many have sought counselling but that’s because they want any problems fixed, not because they’ve necessarily got more problems. Older people don’t want to make waves.

  4. Rolly said

    The constituents of the “make do” generation, as you chose to call it, tend to be less strident in their demands because they understand that the world does not owe them a living.
    They do, however, feel that they should be shown a little more respect and support by those who are benefiting from the decades of input that they have given to develop present day living standards to their currently absurdly high level.
    They justifiably see a decent pension as a right, not an act of charity, since a tax on income was imposed during their working lives to enable such pensions to be paid.
    The monies thus raised were never deposited into a discrete fund but paid into consolidated revenue, only to be plundered by subsequent governments and used for general budget purposes which have contributed to the development of infrastructures which were non existent as little as 60 years ago, but which we all now take for granted and which are often not being properly maintained by current administrations.
    In the main they also see financial prudence and self reliance as desirable and respectworthy qualities.
    “Waste not, want not” being a foundation on which they built their lives.
    The now fashionable catch-phrase of “re-use and recycle” was, and still is, a fundamental guiding principle.
    Unfortunately, by setting up such a firm foundation for their childrens’ prosperity, they have also set unsustainably high expectations in subsequent generations which is leading inexorably to the depletion of natural resources and irretrievable degradation of the natural environment.
    Get wise young people; take control of your destiny. Involve yourselves in politics and social administration. Get informed and get away from the “they orter do…” mentality and take an active and involved approach to social and governmental affairs.
    And remember, with due respect, those who created the foundations on which you now base your aspirations.

  5. occidentprone said

    Rolly, have you got your own blog? You should, you’ve got lots of interesting, pertinent stuff to say. And the world could use more polysyllabic blogs with complete sentences. Anyway, thanks for the intelligent comments.

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