Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
July 25th 2017 print

Michael Copeman

A Modest Proposal for Managing Seniors

Oblivious to Gaia's needs and rights, old people have long burdened society with their selfish expectation of a warm and toasty, carbon-spewing radiator by the rocking chair. Finally, in Victoria's proposal to legalise assisted suicide, we see the first step towards addressing this societal curse

seniors signThere will be many doubters and critics of Victoria’s proposed assisted suicide legislation, but this may be exactly what the Garden’ State needs. One must look beyond the grave to see the many benefits this initiative might bring. Let me assess the likely blessings.

Consider first the state’s looming crisis in generating electric power, a consequence of shutting down the Hazelwood coal-fired plant, formerly the source of better than 20% of all Victoria’s electricity, while doing nothing to bring on-line a reliable replacement, greenish or otherwise. Often it is the elderly who have their heaters or air-conditioners on the highest settings. The system need be overloaded only by a few percent, but that will be enough to trigger a massive blackout.  Remove those selfish oldies, the ones who refuse to accept blankets and hot water bottles as the wholesome alternatives to environmentally obscene radiators, and there will be less chance of everyone else’s lights going dark.

How noble are those wrinkled Victorians who first turn off the split system, then switch themselves off as well!

Next, ponder the housing crisis, which has seen many young Victorians cruelly denied their right to live in the hip, cool and inner-city locales they prefer. Many elderly home owners persist in clinging to life in Carlton, Fitzroy, Northcote and Yarraville, quite likely operating electrical heaters as well. If they can be persuaded to take up the assisted suicide option, it will be a win-win outcome.  Death-related body temperature will be only marginally lower than an unheated bedroom, so the transition will be hardly noticeable and no great imposition. If enough seniors can be persuaded to top themselves, the departeds’ former homes will flood the market, driving down prices.

We could also use tax policies and other persuasions to encourage a degree of altruism in recycling the many Victorian homes the elderly will trade for silver-handled pine boxes.  If there are no relatives desperate for the money — and we must concede their moral right to inherit as payment for efforts in persuading parents to quit the temporal world — these homes could be turned over to young male refugees currently housed in less comfortable conditions. As many advocates of emptying Manus and Nauru also reside in inner-city environs, they will undoubtedly rejoice in living cheek-by-jowl with so much cultural enrichment. Jewelry-store proprietors will likewise have the range of their workaday experiences considerably and consistently expanded.

Turn now to the beleaguered public hospital system, stressed by the ever-expanding healthcare needs of a greying public. We know it is the last six months of life that consumes the most healthcare resources.  Do away with this last six months and the state will save billions.  These savings can then be re-distributed to ensure culturally progressive health imperatives are adequately funded. It is to Victoria’s shame that the Royal Women’s Hospital female genital mutilation clinic currently operates only on Fridays; likewise the grim shortage of cosmetologists and penis-tucking consultants who should be available to help primary schoolers master gender fluidity.

The societal gains to be achieved by ushering seniors from this mortal coil do not stop there. Victoria will find it much easier to recruit nurses once assisted suicide is dispatching their most vexing patients, the ones who insist on continuing to draw breath.

Up next is the matter of Victoria’s carbon footprint. True, there are plans for “carbon neutrality”, but this isn’t scheduled to happen until 2050 — a daunting timetable, given rising populations of far-commuting, car-owning, travel-loving urbanites. Why impose punitive carbon taxes on activities the younger set loves when, instead, we can simply remove the older set in its entirety? Old-fashioned environmental activists cling resolutely to the conservative notion that not having children is the best way to save the planet. They mean well but are entirely in the wrong. Without an adequate supply of children, Safe Schools gender consultants will be unemployable, denied the opportunity to pursue their chosen careers within the pedagogic establishment.

How much quicker, easier and more efficient to eliminate the oldest segment of the population, perhaps adjusting the annual cull with every fresh Bureau of Meteorology alert that this year’s temperatures, like all before, have never been higher?

Finally, let us consider the prosaic.  Have you seen the traffic on Victorian roads every Mothers’ Day?  Millions of Victorians feel compelled to visit Mum, prompting Sunday traffic jams and — need it be said? — unconscionable carbon emissions. The government of Premier Daniel Andrews recently spent more than one billion dollars not building a freeway. Just imagine the number of additional freeways his government can avoid building if the elderly are no longer on the road.

Road safety, too, will improve, as many oldies consistently neglect to turn off their indicators, confusing and slowing fellow motorists who would be better occupied speeding. If it costs so much not to build one freeway, the bill for not building many freeways will require every dollar that can be squeezed out of Premier Andrews’ revenue speed cameras.

Finally, think about those marginal electorates that might just swing to the Liberal Party at the next state election — an unlikely prospect, it’s true, but hypothetically possible. Everybody knows the elderly have an unfortunate tendency to lean conservative, and some in their confusion and dotage might mistake the Liberals for such a party.

A few thousand-or-so elderly Liberal voters removed from each electorate would do much to get Labor over the line. Malcolm Turnbull cannot be expected to achieve that result all by himself, although — give him credit — he is certainly trying.

Comments [12]

  1. whitelaughter says:

    We should probably be glad that Andrews is unlikely to have read Swift’s Modest Proposal, he’d probably take it at face value.

    • Jody says:

      Mmmm. That’s a delicious account of what can be done with the poor. If Shorten has his way Swift will be turned on his ear and it will be the rich who are worth cooking, since Billy boy believes that’s what they’ve been doing to their books for years anyway!

  2. Simon2808 says:

    Please – Do you know how much it costs to boil the electric jug for the hot water bottle? No, I’m afraid you’ll have to get by with blankets only

  3. Bill Martin says:

    How sad and disconcerting are the circumstances that make the parodying of such a delicate subject possible and legitimate. Very astute writing.

  4. HowieS says:

    Forgot to mention Soylent Green.

  5. Warty says:

    Michael Copeman clearly penned this article in the early hours of the morning, an increasingly more common phenomenon of ‘sleep writing’ following a single session of reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
    Prescient, yes, and immensely witty too, but it’s good to laugh as the ship goes down. It becomes de rigueur to laugh at the devil, when facing your imminent demise. It gives those of us who remain something to natter about as we sit in our tightly knit circle, rubbing our hands, staring into the consoling embers of what remains of the Office Works computer tables and filing cabinets, stacked up in the centre of what used to be Albert’s sitting room, once lavishly furnished in Georgian Chippendale.

  6. en passant says:

    Michael,
    Your suggestion is not new and has been tried by many of our ‘betters’ over the years. Several years ago I watched an old film talk given by a ancient George Bernard Shaw advocating that after 60 years old everyone should have to appear before a ‘Committee’ to justify their existence by demonstrating that the provided a positive contribution to society. GBS apparently did not see the irony in the uselessness of playwrights (shouldn’t that be ‘playwrites’?), and people over 60 like himself. Then again, he was a Fabian, so reality was not a strong point.

    Anyway, we have taken the first step by appointing Gillard as ChairMAN of ‘Beyond Blue’ as I am sure she will make a determined contribution to this ‘suicide prevention’ organisation.

  7. Ian MacDougall says:

    A laboured piece of nonwittery, Michael. (I am summoning up all the charity I can.)
    Was it ghost-written for you in one of his free moments by Cardinal Pell?
    My doctor tells me I am in excellent health at the moment. But should life ever become unbearable, I would like the option of choosing to continue. Or not.
    With no permission required from priests, prelates, pontiffs, politicians or poseurs.
    Just from me.

    • PT says:

      Ian, you can do that right now. It’s the involvement of a third party that’s the issue, and the fundamental change. Medical “ethicists” are already talking about withholding treatments to the elderly (and smokers and others who don’t match up). It’s not such a stretch, especially given Nitschke’s actions, to think an expectation that the elderly should take this option could develop. The high rate of abortions shows how things can escalate beyond what reformers thought. Similarly with the vile gay activist brigade and their growing totalitarian instincts. We have to address this. Invoking Pell is a cop out like yelling “racist” in debating immigration levels.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Most of the opposition will come from Pell and his ilk.
        We can protect the vulnerable from coercion by door-to-door salesmen. What is so special here? Medical ‘ethicists’ can talk and expect all they like and so on through all the usual scenarios.
        My father died from complications following cancer surgery, and was in a lot of pain and on constant medication for it. At one stage he slipped into a coma, but he came out of it. He was asked by hospital staff in my presence “Mr MacDougall, if it happens again, do you want us to revive you?”
        His answer was a definite “no”.
        So he died of pain relief while in palliative care.

        • Jody says:

          I think some sections of the legal profession are acting up about this too. And you can die in the final stage of illness from ‘pain relief’, yes, but not before lots of suffering already. I don’t fear or worry about death; it’s just the ‘gettin’ there’, as my father used to say.

          The great conductor Carlos Kleiber died alone in his little holiday house in a village in Slovenia, just over 6 months after his wife died suddenly. He had incurable prostate cancer, missed his wife and didn’t want to suffer. He tidied up his affairs in Munich, wrote final letters and drove across the Alps to Slovenia. A neighbour remembers him arriving but phoned his daughter in Munich when he hadn’t emerged from the house after 2 days. It must have been a cocktail of pills and booze – I don’t know – but the family said “it was a relief; he was unable to cope without his wife and was perpetually anxious and unhappy”. So, it can be done but obviously requires some planning. The world wasn’t alerted to Kleiber’s death until a week after he’d died and was buried.