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The current trend of dismissing mature age people as part of the restructuring of industry and favouring younger persons holds dire consequences for the nation. For in that disposing of ‘surplus workers’ the accumulated experience, understanding and wisdom born out of generational practice is forever lost. This dispensing with human values for the sake of economic gains, paves the way for superficiality, lack of vision and the disintegration of the social fabric. Worse, it accelerates that trend foreseen  – early last century – by the ethnologist Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West where: “a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses” gathers in the cities as tradition-less dwellers, “utterly matter-of-fact, religion-less, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous” of the aged and the past.

At this point is worth remembering Spengler’s view that: “Economic thought…sets in only where art and philosophy have irrevocably passed away”; and that whilst:” Politics sacrifices men for an idea… (The) economy merely wastes them away”. This is the point that we have now reached in Australia, a country that in the 19th century led the world in social reform, work ethics and fairness. But, that now, is unable to even deal fairly with those retrenched workers that, toiled a virtual life time for its wellbeing. And now considered untrainable. Are we all totally unaware of Portia’s aside to Lord Bassanio?

” Happy is this, she is not yet so old

                                          But she may learn, happier than this,

                                          She is not bred so dull but she can learn”.

        [Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.]

 

Have we become so dislocated from our past as to forget Marcus Aurelius injunctions?

 

And whatever thou doest, do it in conjunction with this…

                              The being good… Keep to this in every action”.

 

And for those with power and those that govern:

 

(Policy) must proceed only from a certain persuasion,

                               As what is just or of common advantage…

                              Not because it appears pleasant or brings reputation”.

 

And how about: “This one thing, thoughts just, and act social, and words which never lie”!

                                               [Meditations Bk. lV. 10, 12. lX. 33.]

 Do we not realize that in dispensing with the mature workers, knowledge diminishes and with it discernment and distinguishing “without which little knowledge is attained” [Locke, Concerning Human Understanding]. Can it really be said that a young person interviewing a mature age individual by means of a questionnaire based entirely on empirical thinking – hence reproductive [William James  – Reasoning.] can really gauge the inherent knowledge, reasoning power, experience and the  accumulated wisdom of  that one applying for a job? Yet, that is precisely what is happening today, throughout the employment agencies of Australia.

And what of wisdom, where the individual alone can grow in it? Are we to assume that every young person these days, ranks with ‘The Younger Pitt’ and is able to steer a cabinet through policies and life’s vicissitudes with such dexterity as to render experienced people: Useless?

 

Neither art, nor science nor learning can attain to soul’s wisdom. It comes with age and experience. A country that loses sight of that, fares blindly onwards at its peril. For in shedding its elders becomes a decapitated nation. For it is wisdom that unites knowledge and action. And, according to Plato, “ascending to wisdom and returning enlightened to the realm of action” is the ultimate good. For it brings with it those four virtues: Wisdom, Temperance, Courage and Justice that properly guide a just society. Qualities usually gained with maturity, but readily disposed of in these days of efficient production and balanced budgets.

There is a desperate need to reconsider the path that we have embarked upon in Australia and in the West. A path that is serving an economy that grinds human values, destroys communities, and wastes the environment. To which, even those who appear to be in charge, are swept along as hapless victims manifesting a: ”dullness of wit; boldness of stupidity, contentiousness in judgment” [Montaigne].  Of late, amply demonstrated throughout the parliaments of the Western world!

It is worth remembering that it is Jove’s eldest daughter ‘Folly’ that shuts men’s eyes to their destruction. That she was flung from Olympus by her exasperated father to Earth, to thereby taunt mankind [Homer, Iliad]. That according to Aquinas, “folly is to withdraw our sense from spiritual things and to plunge it into earthly things”.

We cannot act for the rest of the world, but we can certainly strive to regain those lost values that were once an essential part of Australia, and made it foremost among democracies. It means pausing, reconsidering and seeing what this nation is currently experiencing:

“A crisis of love: a collapse of empathy, manifesting in epidemics of loneliness and depression”. [R. Flanagan – The Australian Disease: On the Decline of Love and the Rise of Non – Freedom].

It means giving a fair go to everyone on this land. Especially the refugees, the elders and the unemployed. Of making things better for the people and not budgets. Of having the courage to alter laws, trends and customs. And face outcomes for the genuine betterment and common needs of the people. It means vision. And the gift of wisdom to:

“Direct man’s actions to the sovereign good which is the last end,

By knowing which man is said to be truly wise” [Thomas Aquinas].

 

Marcello R Serini

The author Marcello R Serini

1 Comment


  1. Unfortunately, Australia seems to be in a period of denial about these truisms. Nothing highlights this more than the inability of the public debate to acknowledge and, importantly, act on the points made earlier (unsustainable living standards and budgets) – Dr Martin Parkinson
    – Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies 2015

    The trend of dismissing mature age Australian workers as part of industry restructuring is claimed to be an act of injustice.

    The claim does raise an important question for Australia. Not from its argument, rather, from the pretence of virtue it’s is based on.

    So .. What of virtue?

    Although we have no means of attaining to the wisdom of ones soul, but given, it is wisdom that unites knowledge with action,
    the same does not apply to ones actions.

    Australia- one of the best managers of adversity the world has seen –
    and the worst manager of prosperity”

    – The Economist

    The careers (virtual lifetime of toil for a nations wellbeing) of these now mature aged Australian workers, coincided with the longest terms of trade boom any country has experienced in modern history. This prosperity would last 26 years, continuos economic growth for 104 consecutive quarters. The previous record was held by the Netherlands – economists would later label it the Dutch disease.

    What of courage?

    From 1995 – 2010 the now mature aged workers, produced one the most rapid declines in productivity performance ever seen from a developed nation.

    “It would seem surprising that such a dramatic deterioration in Australia’s productivity performance has attracted so little public concern.”
    – Australia’s Productivity Challenges, Grattan Institute, 2011

    Within my own employment, the enterprise agreement has a clause that allows the now mature workers, the right to refuse any training and skills development programs but agreed for participation on behalf of all future employees.

    Skills Development Program
    * Purpose 
(a) It is the policy of the (removed) company to provide accredited training and development activities to maintain and increase the skills of all employees. 

    * Participation 
Participation in the Programme will be voluntary for current employees and automatic for employees hired after the 23rd April 1994

    What of temperance?

    In this period of prosperity, the now mature aged workers, either in ignorance or arrogance but ultimately by there actions, altered our nations values.

    Lacking temperance, their appetite to acquire and accumulate grew into our nations dominant emotion.

    When a democracy becomes predominantly appetitive, all appetites must be equal and through their equality chaos must result.

    Driven without due temperance, our nation proudly began to feed its growing appetite from the cornerstone of society, our own housing market.

    Even the use of the phrase ‘Gamblers Luck’ can be misleading; it suggests a knowledge of risk and insecurities, when it is a feature of Australian life not take insecurities into account.
    – The lucky country Donald Horne 1964

    What of wisdom?

    The Australian rental price increase has remained consistent with inflation for 39 years, 1979-2011.
    This consistency demonstrates no increase in demand for our housing sector.

    In 2011 Economists Gerard Minack , Reported; Australian property market produced gross rental yield of about 3% implying a net rental yield of less than 1%. Rational investors can make better returns from term deposit accounts. Obviously, they are not in the property market for the expected rental income, but for capital gains

    Australian residential housing is an investment asset with a price to earnings ratio of more than 100.
    In prospective, comparing this to the fundamentals of investing in a stock – A P/E ratio of 20 or above is considered overvalued. Leading into the Dot Com crash the P/E ratio reached almost 50, with investors willing to take the risk for the hope of larger return. We are at 100 and growing.

    During the same period the rapid decline in productivity occurred, 1996 to 2010, The value of the residential property stock has risen by $2.5 trillion over this period, delivering a massive gain to property owners. This increase in property values reflect unearned income that is neither attributable to the labour of property owners nor the profits stemming from the productive use of capital. Simply put, taxpayers are forking out more than $53 billion per year to property owners as they privatize approximately $2.5 trillion in economic rents or unearned income. This represents one of the greatest transfers of wealth in Australian economic history.
    – Bubbling Over, Philip Soos

    Not ignorance,
    but the ignorance of ignorance,
    is the death of knowledge.
    – Alfred North Whitehead

    For its wisdom that unites knowledge with action, here is what we can attain from their actions ..

    Our household debt to GDP has surpassed the Swiss, to become the most indebted households (not government) in the world.
    160% of GDP. Three times higher then during the Great Depression.

    Their continuous disregard for future Australians, has escalated the household debt to income ratio
    from 56% in 1990 to 177% in 2012.

    This ratio is now larger then the United States reached going into the GFC.

    Gerard Minack, Chief economist of Stanley Morgan Australia, reported our housing market is overvalued by every value metric.

    As housing prices are not based upon fundamentals, a correction in prices will have to occur. Estimates are between 20% – 40% overvalued, or $800 billion – $1.6 trillion adjustment to return to true market value.

    Over two decades, the now mature aged workers, lack of concern for the declining productivity performance has naturally lead to a decaying industrial sector. As the nations terms of trade start returning to true (pre boom) levels, this alone would prove tough for hardworking Australian. But, when our ‘elders’ have also overvalued our housing market to around $1 trillion in their favour.. these are the actions that will decapitate a nation.

    The hardest thing to explain is the glaring evident that everyone has decided not to see.
    – Ayn Rand

    What of justice?

    “ascending to wisdom and returning enlightened to the realm of action”
    – Plato

    The ultimate good and its virtues are not qualities that merely come with maturity as suggested.

    They are gained, not from the accent to wisdom but through the motivation to return: If one has everything they want, there will be no benefit to return to the realm of action. It can only be an act of fraternal love – completely selfless
    The ultimate good.

    To put this in context, our government has long been advised of the policies that are desperately needed for Australias future. They do not act on these fair and just policies, because there is no benefit for these now mature aged workers who make up 50% of voters.

    The Age of Entitlement, Gratton Institute 2016 advised – the removal of rebates and concessions for these mature aged Australians of $1 billon per year. They serve no rational policy and were not available to previous mature aged Australians and will not be available to the next.

    (Australian) Government can choose to prevent the next generation being worse off than its parents. Targeting the Age Pension, reducing superannuation tax concessions and shifting towards asset taxes could reduce the transfers between today’s younger taxpayers and older retirees. These reforms would fall most on those who have benefited from windfalls, government largesse, and paying lower taxes while deficits accumulated. And we shouldn’t delay: later implementation may leave a younger generation even worse off, as they miss out on the benefits their parents enjoyed. . .

    Voters at or near retirement (50% of voters) would strongly resist policies that would reduce superannuation (tax concessions) and pension entitlements.
    But most would undoubtedly care about the next generation. . And could be ultimately persuaded if the benefit for the next generation is made clear.
    – Wealth of Generations, Gratton Institute 2014

    We need wisdom, courage, temperance and justice
    There will be no benefit received except the virtuous gift itself, The ultimate good.

    Sadly, I don’t believe my generation would of done any different in the same situation. Nor, am I suggesting ‘it’s not fair’ because they had it better or easier or anything else along those lines.

    But simply, it is not right ..

    I am 33 year old father of three and if I can lose out today so my children would be better off in the future .. I would do it in a heartbeat.

    I would (do) want to carry as much of the burden as possible, it would not be a ‘fair’ thing but it would be the right thing.

    So, if they are our virtuous elders as claimed, then act like it.

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