Keep youngsters' snouts out of the election trough

20:26, Aug 14 2014

Watch out oldies, the youth are getting mobilised. Research released last week suggested last election's voter turnout in the under-25 demographic was abysmal. These figures were bad enough that a bunch of up-and-coming young types have gathered together to produce strategies to encourage young people to vote.

They've got apps, viral videos, young entrepreneurs, hope, vision and a real desire to shift voter demographics. If I were a baby boomer still coming to grips with this internet business, I'd be waking up on my expensive sheets in a cold sweat.

I sit in a demographic where young people think I'm old and old people think I'm young; so I'm just an observer to the change in power and influence that will take place over the coming years.

If I were an older person I'd be scared to death of young people voting in large numbers. What mayhem this would create. If young people did vote, politicians might have to start paying attention to what they think and then where would we be? We'd be back to free tertiary education and a minimum wage you might actually be able to live on. And where is this money going to come from? Out of rich old people's pockets of course. That just wouldn't fly would it? We'd be like those socialist Scandinavian countries that always rate so highly on quality of life studies and less like America where the rich and poor and the old and young are more clearly divided.

Cities like Christchurch would no longer be able to pass their "young adults, piss off" policies banning everything that's any fun, and instead of heading off overseas or to Auckland or Wellington as soon as school's finished they'd still be here cluttering the place up and making it more difficult for seniors to get mobility scooters along the sidewalk. We'd probably have to wait until we're 110 to start collecting our pensions.

Another problem with young people is that they don't stay young, so you'd forever be working to discourage each new bunch that's coming up to voting age. Of course, the aged are like the young in that nobody's born old. If you live long enough, at some stage you stagger into the oldie bracket. But unlike the young, the aged have the bitter experience of years. They've learned that to get more than your fair share of pork from politicians you have to have them by the throat and the only way to do that is to vote en masse. Just try and keep your granny away from the voting booth.

Some of my best friends are codgers and codgettes, and I love them dearly, but you have to think that if scarce resources (health dollars, for instance) were being allocated in a way that provided the best bang for society's buck, you wouldn't spend a huge wad of it on people who the actuarial tables show should either be dead or who will be dead in the next year to 18 months. In a rational system, new hips and quadruple bypasses for octogenarians would give way to free doctor's visits for everyone until they've finished their education, free grommets and properly funded childcare.

Like everyone else up till now, I want more than my fair share, too. We can't have young people messing up the natural order. We just can't. So if your teenager or niece or nephew shows any interest in voting or politics of any kind, make sure you tell them their attention's far too precious to waste on boring old-people's stuff. Tell them they'll understand when they're older, and boring like you are. Try to keep a straight face when you say it. By the time this lot wakes up, it'll be too late and they'll be on our side helping blindside the next lot of boat-rockers.


The Press