Jane Bowron: Brave old world with harsh toilet paper realities
OPINION: The Commerce Commission for Financial Retirement's recent prediction during Money Week that a Kiwi couple would need $250,000-$300,000 to fund basic groceries for a 30-year retirement was a nasty wake-up call.
A chum and I were discussing the estimation for the cost of toilet paper – a princely sum of $4000, which she scoffed at, saying she would get round that by using ripped-up bits of newspaper.
This led us to ponder about the poisonous long-term effects of applying newspaper to the nether regions of the elderly. While lead in newspapers and magazines have been in a thing of the past for more than 20 years, we argued that the harsh quality of the publications could cause rips and lesions to delicate elderly flesh.
Always the harbinger of doom, I pointed out there would probably be no printed newspapers by the time we retire, but agreed that there would be always be some sort of advertising material arriving through the letter box.
These publications could be put to good use, whether to be cut up and used to put food down on to feed the microchipped, curfewed cat, or tucked down the inside of coats as insulation against the cold, should a roof no longer be over one's head or the bill from power companies prove too prohibitive for home heating.
An estimate for $11,000 for the purchase of baked beans produced snorts of derision. The bowel-moving preferred food of cowboys would further increase the necessity for toilet paper and should be considered a fiscal high-risk food with knock-on effects. Ditto the inclusion of Weet-bix on the list.
The price of eggs was put at a trifling $400, which seemed ridiculously low as we vowed to keep hens if we were still living in houses, rather than having been moved out of them and off the land by the government to erect apartment blocks for new low-paid immigrants.
Tea, estimated at $3000, could be replaced by the growing of herbs to be dried and made into leaves with the flavour of lemons from home-grown trees added.
Toothpaste also came in at $3000, which would be replaced with baking soda, while the luxury item of chocolate estimated at a whopping $17,000 seemed a ridiculous luxury item to be included in the supermarket trolley of 'basic' groceries.
No discussion about the cost of retirement and the cost of supporting the elderly can be had without mentioning the E word. Euthanasia would not only be a legal option for the terminally ill and those in terrible pain, but would become the norm for those who have the temerity to live past their allotted time on the planet.
Every year the retired poor would have to queue at warrant of fitness stations, where they would be required to be put through their physical and mental paces to perform a series of tests before having their papers stamped to give them a hard-won extension for another year.
A person's entire history while on the planet would be reviewed and points awarded to those who had led blameless lives and made a significant contribution to society.
Those deemed Waste of Spacers would be herded into a room and unceremoniously shuffled off the mortal coil by lethal injection in the manner of a vet putting down a sick animal. For those who had passed the examination, stamped papers would have to be carried on their person at all times, while underground networks cobbling together fake birth certificates would flourish and become highly sought after.
Even the rich who had lived to a ripe old age with all their faculties still intact, would be ruthlessly hunted down and destroyed for having the audacity to keep breathing and for selfishly taking up vital resources. The aged would become outlaws on the run (or on the shuffle) from the authorities and have to take to the hills to live off grid.
Bounty hunters would pick up signals of the wrinkled who had flouted their own community bylaws and warnings not to play loud music and attract attention, and had defiantly indulged in the playing of heavy metal greats such as Metallica and Iron Maiden. (Even the Bee Gees and Joni Mitchell would be considered too dangerous to play as the high pitches of their voice would be easily picked up by radar.)
Such fantasies of retirement drew us to the conclusion that it wasn't money we will need for retirement but a reinvigoration and embrace of the sixties notion of an alternative lifestyle.
Strengthening elderly communities and growing old disgracefully by becoming a rogue element would be a spirited defence to being herded and coerced into saggy retirement villages. What do you need to plan ahead for your retirement? Amazing old bugger resistance and the happiness of a warm gun.
- The Dominion Post